Thursday, January 28, 2010

Holiday reading in Classifieds 'back editions'

Image of Fellomonger Park from

IF it's old, knock it down. That seems to have been the mindset of many Australians through much of our national history.
In Queensland, our noses are continually rubbed in the sins of past eras – notably, the loss of buildings with heritage value decades ago during the Bjelke-Petersen crane-counting regime.
Older readers will recall how, during the development boom of the 1980s, then premier Sir Joh measured the success of his leadership by the number of cranes he could see on the city skyline.

THAT wasn't all bad. But it left some long-mourned casualties and deep scars in the Queensland identity. When the metropolitan news editors scramble to fill space and time slots during the "silly season", they seem to simply assign the relatively easy task of yet another post mortem on a couple of the demolitions.
An episode of such "file vision" appeared during my holiday reading, which did not relate to Redland City Council's "10 hottest books in the Redlands this summer".
While the library and its devotees celebrated the words of list topper Bryce Courtenay's The story of Danny Dunn, back issues of the Classifieds provided my inspiring and relaxing read.
A PUBLIC Notice in the Times in September yielded an intriguing glimpse into the Redlands' colonial history, with the Department of Environment and Resource Management announcing Queensland Heritage Council decisions to add two local sites to the heritage register.
The sites are the Ormiston Fellmongery, Fellmonger Park, Ormiston, and Cleveland No.1 Cemetery at Lisa and Scott Streets.
The department's website has well-written detail on both sites, and answers one of the key questions: "The process of fellmongering appears in the early 1850s in the Moreton Bay region. A different process to wool scouring, fellmongering processed sheepskins in order to remove the wool in preparation for tanning. The wool was washed and dried, and the skins were processed into leather."
The documented history is fascinating. Browsers can almost hear the convict's chains clinking.
SO, I did learn quite a bit from my holiday reading, thanks to the Classifieds. For those more interested in the highbrow, here are the other books in the library's top 10: I, Alex Cross, by James Patterson; Nine Dragons, by Michael Connelly; The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown; The Silent Country by Di Morrissey; Maralinga, by Judy Nunn; Mao's Last Dancer, by Cunxin Li; The Brightest Star in the Sky, by Marian Keyes; The Five Greatest Warriors, by Matthew Reilly; and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, by Stieg Larsson.
Great books – I can appreciate that. But for me, the Classifieds will always win. They show the culture of our lives and times as well as any blockbuster novel.

This column has appeared in The Redland Times.

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