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.

Homes-with-History-FrontCover-19Feb2015-smallIF you’ve wondered about the history behind the houses as you’ve walked the streets of New Farm, Teneriffe or Newstead, you’re likely to enjoy the new book from the New Farm and Districts Historical Society, Homes with History – on the New Farm Peninsula. To be launched on Saturday 28 February, the book focuses on 20 homes in New Farm and environs, and has been written by Gerard Benjamin, co-author of the popular Reflections on New Farm.

Many are aware that the New Farm locality was once a semi-rural retreat for a few well-heeled families on well-chosen sites. Gradually, the large estates gave way to gentlemen’s villas and workers’ cottages. “Many of those original homes—whether modest or grand—have not survived, but luckily, an impressive variety of houses from earlier eras still remains,” said Gerard. “This book pays less attention to architecture and more to people.”

“In fact, it is really all about people—those who built the houses, the architects they employed, and the successive families who lived in them,” he said. Homes with History is likely to have appeal beyond the peninsula.

As two readers from Morningside explained, “If someone picked up the book who didn’t have an affinity with New Farm, they’d end up having a feeling for the place, and a good idea of how it developed. There’s lots of information, and there are many things we learnt.”


Roseville in Chester Street Teneriffe is one of the houses featured in “Homes with History”.

The 160-page softback book features colour images, and is available from the Historical Society (phone 0409 498 402), and from the Mary Ryan bookshop and New Farm Editions in Merthyr Village for $35. You may be interested in purchasing a numbered limited-edition hard cover version for just $59.50. Please contact the Historical Society for information about postage and handling costs.

IT SEEMS as if every day, delighted author Nanette Lilley, can report yet more accolades for her recently-published book, Welcome to Laurel Avenue, about Chelmer’s most famous street.

115 Laurel Ave 1Here’s a sample from ML which really says it all…

What a delight and triumph this book about my old street is! Congratulations! It is certainly amazing and brought back so many memories.

The old photos that JB gave you are terrific. She and I played together all the time when we were little. I knew her house nearly as well as I knew my own. Some nights I still dream I am back in our house or hers, and they are such happy dreams always.

It was also great to learn so much about our house and its previous owners. It will always be a part of me. The same with the camphor laurels in the street which we used to climb and play in so often.

Your book brought all that back to me. Thank you so much for making our street seem so important. I loved living there and now your book has made it so special. What an accomplishment!

Meanwhile, selected photos from the launch are here, courtesy of Brisbane News.

LaurelAve-Book-Launch-Nov2014-2AT a convivial and summery gathering at St Lucia Golf Club, on Sunday 9 November, more than 110 guests were welcomed by Nanette Lilley, and her family and staff, in order to mark the much-anticipated debut of Nanette’s book, Welcome to Laurel Avenue.

Current and former residents, one coming from Tasmania, relished the opportunity not only to renew acquaintances, but also to make new ones. As one attendee said, “We consider ourselves long residents of the area but soon realised how few people we actually knew…”

Another responded, “I loved meeting RT at the gathering, because I had not seen him since we played together as children in Rosebery Terrace, Chelmer.”

Doing the honours was noted Brisbane historian, author, and former alderman and MLA, Denver Beanland. Nanette responded by giving an account of how the book came to be, before presenting copies to several who had played key roles in the book’s production.

Finally, Nanette was presented with a striking arrangement of orchids set within a display of camphor laurel leaves.

Copies of Welcome to Laurel Avenue are available from the Nanette Lilley Property Centre, 291 Honour Avenue, Graceville, Queensland 4075 :: Phone: 07 3379 9322 :: Web: http://www.nanettelilley.com.au, as well as at selected retail outlets in Chelmer and Graceville.


WHILE Laurel Avenue is best known for its magnificent trees, grand homes and the abundance of space, the thoroughfare once voted ‘Brisbane’s best street’ (1999), will soon have another claim to fame: Nanette Lilley’s new book, Welcome to Laurel Avenue.

Chelmer-Graceville residents will know that Nanette Lilley is a by-word in real estate, since she has matched people to local houses for more than 30 years.

The seeds of this book were planted more than a decade ago. “The historic home known as The Laurels at No. 89 came on the market, so a booklet was prepared to do justice to its interesting history,” Nanette said.

“After the sale of the home, the obvious question arose, ‘Why not expand the booklet to take in the background of more of the avenue’s homes?’”

The result is an attractive and colourful publication which offers a compelling insight into the social history of selected homes in this notable street.

Word about the book has locals excited. “Some have already pre-ordered copies as Christmas gifts, and interest is strong among previous Laurel Avenue owners, as well as current residents,” said Nanette.

Gerard Benjamin assisted with the book’s editing, design and production. Welcome to Laurel Avenue will be available from 10 November 2014. More information and copies may be obtained from the Nanette Lilley Property Centre, 291 Honour Avenue, Graceville, Queensland 4075 :: Phone: 07 3379 9322 :: Web: http://www.nanettelilley.com.au.