Some places of interest in Queensland and beyond.

Torrens Creek – a north Queensland railway settlement

May 2024

Torrens Creek is a small railway settlement on the Townsville to Mount Isa line, 160 kilometres southwest of Charters Towers. It was established in 1885 when construction of the line crossed Torrens Creek. A settlement emerged as it was temporarily the terminus on the line. A police station and school was established. But Torrens Creek never developed into a town and only had a small population.

Today Torrens Creek consists of a hotel, store, caravan park and approximately 15 houses. No railway buildings survive.

The history of Torrens Creek is poorly documented – few images are in the public domain. Joseph Blake was the Headmaster of the Torrens Creek State School from 1916 to 1920. He was a keen photographer and his images of the town provide an insight into Torrens Creek in this period.

Torrens Creek

Click on images for larger view

Children working in garden at Torrens State School

Torrens Creek railway station

Sewing class of school children

School children and local residents at school event

Torrens Creek Church of England

School building and shelter shed

Red Cross fund raising event

Goats in school yard

Torrens Creek in dry season

Children making garden beds at school

Headmasters residence

Police station and residence

Loading wool at railway yards

Main street Torrens Creek

Train with cattle wagons crossing Torrens Creek

Building a church in a day – East Warwick

August 2021

(Image source

The East Warwick Methodist Church was built in a day on 13 March 1915. It was probably a record for the construction of a church in Queensland.

The Warwick Examiner recorded the construction of the church.

For the first time in the history of Warwick a church was built in a day on Saturday. The need for a Church at East Warwick, where there are about 32 Methodist families, has made itself insistent, and it was decided that the only method of erecting it in a single day should be proceeded with. The arrangements were left in the hands of Mr. D. J. Hutchings, and he had command of any amount of voluntary labour.

At 6 a.m., on Saturday, the site was pegged out, and about 25 workers commenced operations. This number was soon added to, and it was quite a sight to see the men with spud-bars engaged in the arduous labour of sinking the post-holes. By 7.15 am all the blocks were in the ground and levelled, thus enabling Mr. G. P Barnes to perform the stump capping ceremony. A halt was then called for breakfast, and at 8 am work was resumed. At about 10.45 the whole of the frame-work was erected, and the roof pitched.

Morning tea was then supplied, after which the floor and frame-work were made ready for the boards. After lunch work began in earnest. The workers, whose number had now been increased to 40, were divided into two batches. One commenced on the outside walls, while the second was engaged with the lining and ceiling.

The plumbers also started operations on the roof. About 5.45 a further halt was called, and the workers assembled outside the building, where a group photograph was taken by Mr. M. H. Poulsen.

Mr. G. P. Barnes took the opportunity to thank Mr. D.J. Hutchings, and his loyal band of workers for the wonderful amount of work put forward that day. It was, he believed, a record day’s work for Warwick

Thus, by 7.15 p.m., the new church stood erected and painted, wanting only a few minor details in the hardware line to be attended to.

The new church was erected at a cost of about £110, measures 26 ft. x 21 ft, and is constructed of hardwood weather boards on the outside, being fully lined and ceiling inside. Ventilation has been amply provided for, there being no less than nine awning windows, while there is a large double door At the front and a smaller door at the back. The colour scheme in the bodv of the building is dark brown, the facings being finished in white. Occupying as It does, a commanding site on high ground, the new church is certainly a great tribute to the zeal and energy of the Warwick Methodists.

A cemetery like no other -Woodland Cemetery (Skogskyrkogardent) Stockholm

June 2020

This cemetery is like no other. That it is probably the only 20th century cemetery on the World Heritage register indicates that it is something special. The cemetery was established on the site of a disused quarry in the 1920s on the outskirts of Stockholm . Architects Gunnar Asplund and Sigurd Lewerentz were responsible for the design of several chapels and the landscape.  The photos tell the story.

View from entrance

Sculpture outside the main crematorium

The Woodland Chapel completed in 1920

A distinctive feature of the cemetery is that the headstones are all of a similar size. Only headstones are used to denote graves. Also pine trees have grown up among the headstones to provide a naturalistic setting for the headstones.

Headstones in cemetery

The 34 foot house – a common Queensland house plan

December 2018

34 foot house plan

Workers Dwelling plan 880, 1926

Most houses built in Queensland in the interwar period were of timber construction and based on plans developed by the State Advances Corporation under the Workers Dwellings Act. One of the most common was plan 880 published in 1926. This house was 34 foot square and examples can be found throughout Queensland.

The popularity of this plan was possibly due to its simplicity, ease of reproduction and adaptability. Once a builder had constructed one or two of these houses, all he had to remember was how to add up to 34. The dimensions of 34 foot enabled the rooms across the house to have widths of 14, 12 and 8 feet. Lengthwise the dimensions were 10+10+14=34 for the kitchen and bedrooms; and 14+14+6 for the breakfast room, living room and entrance.

It was also very popular because it was very functional as there was no central hallway. The plan could also be adapted easily. The original plan had the front stairs leading to a small verandah. Later versions incorporated a gable over the front steps.

Another benefit was that the plan could be easily flipped so the verandah was on the left side rather than the right.

The understanding of this type of house based on the plan can demonstrate what are the common elements with interwar houses rather that differences such as roof form.

34 foot house plan

House built in 1928, Ashgrove, photograph 1985

34 foot house plan

34 foot House Ashgrove 2018

34 foot house plan

Variation on original plan with gable over front stairs.

Alligator Creek bridge – an unusual and remarkable bridge

August 2018

Alligator Creek is a tributary of the Fitzroy River about 30 kilometers north of Rockhampton near Yaamba. In 1877 a bridge was built across the creek to improve travel for the growing volume of traffic as pastoralists established runs to the north of Rockhampton. It was a most unusual and innovative structure that has featured briefly in the histories of Australian bridges. Colin O’Connor in Historic Bridges of Australia notes that it was the first known Australian designed long span bridge. Greg Nolan in his thesis The forgotten long span bridges of Australia commented that it was a remarkable timber girder bridge ‘with a complicated system of under-strutting and diagonal metal ties’. Neither O’Connor or Nolan mention a designer or the correct date.

The bridge was opened in April 1877 and was designed by Alexander Jardine, the Engineer of Roads for the Central District (Rockhampton Bulletin 26 May 1877). The bridge was of a Fink truss design. Albert Fink registered the design with the United States Patent Office in 1854. It was one of a number of early patented solutions to the problem of how to build long spans to avoid the expense of building piers.

When a bridge was needed to cross Alligator creek in the mid 1870s, Jardine opted for a bold and daring solution. He rejected the traditional approach of a trestle bridge with piers and instead opted for what would have been considered an innovative solution.

Alligator Creek bridge 1920s

The bridge was in operation for 83 years and was only demolished when it could no longer take the volume and weight of traffic.

Alexander Jardine (1843-1920) features in Don Watson and Judith McKay’s Queensland Architects of the 19th century. Jardine was the son of John and Elizabeth Jardine, early residents of the Rockhampton district. At the age of 21 years, he was a member of an expedition party from Rockhampton to Somerset at Cape York. He later became a surveyor in the Office of the Engineer of Roads for the Northern District. In 1874 he designed, in conjunction with Frederick Byerley, the Engineer in charge, a timber rail bridge over the Dawson River which was the longest timber bridge in the colony. The bridge comprised timber piers with laminated arches of spotted Gum. Jardine later became Chief Engineer of the Harbours and River Department.

In 1881 Alexander Jardine married the well-connected Charlotte Elizabeth Mosman. Her brothers-in-law included Sir Thomas McIlwraith and Sir Arthur Palmer, who both served terms as Premier of Queensland. Her brother, Hugh Mosman, was a member of the Legislative Council. Jardine died in 1920 in London.

Plan of Alligator Creek bridge. Remarkably original drawings survive in the Queensland State Archives.

For a detailed view of the plan click here.