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Pay a visit to our pioneers in petticoats

By Kate Lockyer

Tucked away in Bowen Hills, a quirky and thought-provoking museum commemorating some of Queensland and Australia’s most prominent settler families is opening to the public this October.

Heritage-listed Miegunyah House Museum, home of the Queensland Women’s Historical Association, was built in 1886 for William Perry, who lived in the house with his family until 1922. 

It is fitting that the house is located on Jordan Terrace, not far from Bunnings Warehouse, because William and his brothers George and Frederick were the original suppliers of hardware for the area.

A tour of the house will educate visitors on not only the inhabitants of the house, but also some fascinating historical artifacts from the settlers’ early days.

This includes taxidermied dogs, intricately painted ‘heat shields’ for ladies’ makeup when sitting by the fireplace, and a wine chest rumoured to have been at the Battle of Waterloo.

The historical significance of the house spans from Brisbane’s early days to WWII, when the house was the staging camp for the soldiers of Z Special Unit who successfully sank 38,000 tons of Japanese shipping in a dangerous mission.

The museum is currently running an exhibit called Pioneers in Petticoats that displays information about the Macarthur women, whose family was very influential in the early colonisation history of New South Wales and Queensland.

They were part of the first generation of women born in Australia and led a privileged life, marrying off to prominent men, but still faced their fair share of challenges.

Catherine Macarthur’s husband was Patrick Leslie, who opened up the Darling Downs for pastoralists in the 1840s, and Anna Macarthur’s husband was Captain John Clements Wickham, a police magistrate in Brisbane.

The exhibition features items such as the Macarthur women’s diaries, full of recounts of their lives, watercolour drawings and love poems, and a purple bodice and underskirt remnants which were picked apart and resewn in the making-do habits of early colonial women.

See these items and others at the Miegunyah House Museum’s annual, free-of-charge Open Day on October 8 from 10.00am – 1.30pm.

No need to book, but you can RSVP at www.miegunyah.org/event-details/miegunyah-open-day-2023.

Miegunyah is also open for guided tours, bookings essential, on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, and before or afterwards, for $10 guests can enjoy a Devonshire Tea on the verandah.

Photo Caption: Secretary Robyn Wallace and Vice President Janine Foreman are two of the very knowledgeable ladies who give fascinating tours of the museum for the Queensland Women’s Historical Association.

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