New Farm hidden lane

New Farm’s hidden laneways have a charm of their own…

THE recent Walking Tour of Historical New Farm was “fully booked”, and included participants from interstate, and Brisbane residents from New Farm and beyond, plus a junior student of history, eight-month-old Victoria.

For a short time somewhere near Elron Court in Moray Street, the group gained another three participants—which the tour guide accepted as an implied plaudit. Many of the walkers enjoyed being able to get up close to several of the homes featured in Gerard’s much-commended recent book, Homes with History on the New Farm Peninsula.

The popularity of these historical walks means that they are set to continue. Teneriffe will be the locale of the next one on Saturday 14 November 2015, 9-11.30am. Book now on 3666 0924. Why not organise your friends and make it a group outing! (Photos courtesy of Denise) —— SOLD OUT!

New Farm Cafe 63

Cafe 63 in Brunswick Street proved to be the ideal starting off point.

Book sells itself…

HOMES with History apparently makes the bookseller’s task very easy. It “just sells itself,” says Andrea Clifford at Mary Ryan’s bookshop in New Farm. No wonder the book—both in soft back and hard back—has been the shop’s top-seller for the eighth week in a row.

Homes with HIstory seems to appeal to a broad demographic,” says Andrea, “including those visiting from overseas.”

HwH is also clearly popular at the State Library of Queensland Shop, where it appears among the ten “Best sellers this week”.

ABC Radio Field Interview Terri Begley with Gerard at Wynberg.

ABC Radio Field Interviewer Terri Begley chats with Gerard at Wynberg (Photo: Chris Derrick).

THE elegant “blue” sitting room at Wynberg provided the perfect setting when Gerard was interviewed about Homes with History for Radio ABC 612’s Steven Austin show on Friday, 1 May 2015.

Terri Begley deftly elicited all sorts of interesting facts about Wynberg’s four owners, along with a brief biographical sketch of early local property mogul James Gibbon.

Of the portions which Gerard read from one of Gibbon’s letters (to his sister Emma in January 1852), the interviewer thought that this personal aside would inspire a smile from listeners:

I am sorry to hear that you consider William [their brother] “too fat and as a natural consequence too lazy to get married”. I am afraid you would think me much in the same position as I weigh very nearly 14 stone [89kg]…

The 33-year-old writer was clearly wondering if he needed to present a more winning profile before returning to England to secure a bride—which he did four years later!

Click here for more about the interview, including the sound file. Many thanks to Terri Begley, ABC Radio 612, and Leanne at Wynberg.

Wynberg in New Farm

Wynberg, seen from Holy Spirit Church, was one of the stops on the Historical Walk around New Farm

FOR the fourth week running, Homes with History on the New Farm Peninsula is the No. 1 best-seller at Mary Ryan’s Bookshop in Merthyr Village, New Farm.

The book was the inspiration behind “A Walking Tour of Historical New Farm” which Gerard Benjamin led on Saturday 18 April. The tour, which commenced at the End of the Park Cafe in Brunswick Street, included a visit to Coronet Court, where walkers enjoyed the unexpected good fortune of seeing inside a ground-floor apartment.

P1080332-GWynberg on Brunswick Street proves to be a mystery to many locals and passers-by, but tour participants enjoyed a closer look at the beautiful residence of the Catholic Archbishop when they were welcomed by the house manager for a quick “porch-stop”.

P1080339-GNext it was “off to the pictures”, when New Farm Cinemas‘ co-owner Peter Sourris offered a rest break and an informative tour of his recently-opened establishment. This included seeing one of the 1930s joists of the earlier Astor Theatre, as well as marvelling at the hi-tech projection room. The chocolate shop on the Cinemas’ Barker Street frontage, which sells “Brisbane’s Best”, was a sweet favourite.

P1080365-GWending their way back to New Farm Park via Langshaw and Moray Streets, Turner Avenue and Oxlade Drive, walkers stopped to hear snippets about several more houses featured in the Homes with History book.

Because the Walking Tour was booked out weeks before, organisers Bright Learning are planning a repeat event on Saturday, 20 June 2015.

Photos courtesy of Chris Derrick www.newfarmpark.com.au.


Homes Hits No. 1…!

MaryRyanNF-HwH-No.1-2Apr15THIS WEEK, Homes with History on the New Farm Peninsula has been No. 1 on Mary Ryan New Farm’s Top Ten. This followed a very successful book-signing on Saturday 28 March 2015 when several owners of homes featured in the book requested that their copies be inscribed by the author.

Book talks by Gerard to residents at Marycrest Kangaroo Point and members of New Farm Probus confirmed that stories from the book fascinate listeners. There is clearly a popular demand for historical insights about how people lived their lives in New Farm’s days of old.

MaryRyan-24March2015_0004AT Mary Ryan’s bookshop in New Farm, Homes with History has risen on their Top Ten Best Sellers, from No. 3 last week to No. 2 this week (as pictured). No doubt sales will be spurred this Saturday, 28 March, when Gerard is available for book signing from 10am until noon.

Last Saturday’s book signing at New Farm Editions yielded many sales, more stories, and a passing parade of hundreds who noted that the book is well and truly in the marketplace. Several homeowners have come forward with sufficient detail about their own homes, to warrant inclusion in a follow-up Homes book, if ever it were produced.

Meanwhile, the hard copy version of “Homes” is proving far more popular than expected.

Come along, say hello, and have Gerard inscribe your copy of Homes with History, on Saturday 28 March, at Mary Ryan’s during 10am to 12pm.


Artists David Hinchliffe and Jan Jorgensen at the Art Exhibition complementing the launch of “Homes with History”.

THE New Farm and Districts Historical Society’s book launch and art exhibition on Saturday 28 February was lauded as being successful in every respect. Around 250 attended the debut of Gerard Benjamin’s book Homes with History – on the New Farm Peninsula, and many more paraded past the artworks of six artists’ renditions of views and streetscapes of New Farm and nearby.

The Hon. Penelope Wensley AC with author Gerard Benjamin.

The Hon. Penelope Wensley AC with author Gerard Benjamin.

Kindly agreeing to do the honours for the book was former Governor of Queensland, The Honourable Ms Penelope Wensley AC, who travelled from Canberra for the event. In her keynote speech, Ms Wensley indicated that the book offered broad appeal: “The individual stories are absorbing and the wealth of detail used to construct each chapter… is sufficient to impress and satisfy the most demanding of professional chroniclers, architects, archivists, historians and conservationists.” She agreed with the author’s Introduction, that this book is really about people: “All who take the time to read the book will enjoy the parade of personalities that pass through its pages – their diverse interests and occupations mirroring the development of the colony, state and city,” she said.

The book sparked immediate interest…

The book sparked immediate interest…

On behalf of the Society, Lois Kennedy offered an overview of the Society’s activities, and touched on the broad range of topics covered in monthly meetings in recent years. Other distinguished guests who addressed the gathering included newly-elected State Member for Brisbane Central, Ms Grace Grace MP; Brisbane City Councillor Vicki Howard; and Life-Member of the Society, artist David Hinchliffe.

Almost 250 attended the launch and art exhibition.

Almost 250 attended the launch and art exhibition.

Author Gerard Benjamin briefly outlined the chronology of the project, and remarked about how circumstances had conspired to include a never-before-published 1850s sketch, plus letters from the same period. He took this opportunity to read out a letter from Tom Gibbon of London who had generously supplied five letters (1848-1852) written by his ancestor James Gibbon, builder of Teneriffe House. IMG_5213-GThe art show curator, Judi Kahn, exhorted attendees to view the works of David Hinchliffe, Philippa Webb, Liesbeth Thie, Stewart Free, Trevor Downes and Jan Jorgensen, and she also emphasised that the artists would gladly receive commissions. As it transpired, eight commissions eventuated on the day. Also present were National Trust of Australia (Queensland) President, Dr Ian Galloway, and other NTAQ members, along with many of the owners of houses mentioned in Homes with History.

The author lost count of how many books were signed…

The author lost count of how many books were signed…

Following the cutting of the “Homes with History” cake, afternoon tea was available for all, and books were still being signed by the author at 5.30pm. Music was supplied by multi-talented Stewart Free and Col the Accordian player. Congratulations to all who contributed to this truly impressive event – and thanks to Chris Derrick and Gayle Martin for the photography.

Newly-elected State Member for Brisbane Central, Ms Grace Grace (left), presents The Honourable Ms Penelope Wensley AC, with a painting of "Santa Barbara" by New Farm artist Stewart Free, on behalf of the NFDHS.

Newly-elected State Member for Brisbane Central, Ms Grace Grace (left), presents The Honourable Ms Penelope Wensley AC, with a painting of “Santa Barbara” by New Farm artist Stewart Free, on behalf of the NFDHS.

“Homes with History” is available in both soft back and hard back, and may be purchased at • Mary Ryan New Farm • New Farm Editions • Merthyr Road News • Ollie and Lloyd Gift Shop, Gasworks, and • the State Library Bookshop.


POSTSCRIPT about the Annie Street house in Homes with History, from the Courier Mail (7 March 2015): WHEN Channel 9 newsreader Melissa Downes inspected a New Farm house more than a decade ago, she had no idea she had found a missing piece of her family’s history. Read the full story here.


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