Queensland’s Cavity Express

Between 1929 and 1984, the Queensland Government provided regional communities with dental care by running specifically designed dentistry clinic carriages. The train consisted of a waiting room, two dental studios and a private living section in one carriage while the second carriage consisted of a storage area and a trailer compartment for a motor vehicle. This meant that, in addition to treating patients on board, the train could pull into a regional station and then the dentists could travel further out to communities and schools beyond the railway line. They even had portable dental chairs and drills that they could pack into the motor vehicle.

In 1948 a series of pictures was taken by the Commonwealth Department of Information that documented the work of dentist Mr J Kilby and his dental assistant and wife Mrs Kilby, and their life on board the dental train. In their living area, they had two bunks (it was the 1940s after all…), a kitchen, pantry, shower, toilet, and even a hanging garden.

In Australia in the 1940s it was estimated that by the age of 18 only one in ten people had ‘good teeth’. Resources around the nation were poured into improving the dental health of children and in Queensland, outreach care included dental trucks and a flying dentist service to complement the dental trains. In one year, it was reported that Mr and Mrs Kilby treated over 30,000 people from their railway dental surgery.

Rob Shiels
Collection Manager, The Workshops Rail Museum

Title image caption: Twelve year old Eileen Russell being tremendously brave while husband and wife dental duo, Mr & Mrs Kilby, clean her teeth, 1948. Queensland Museum Network Collection.

Queensland Museum’s Top 10 New Species of the Decade

Over the last decade our biodiversity team have been busy describing 1,171 new species. Here’s the top 10 species described by Queensland Museum scientists from 2010 – 2019.

Desis bobmarleyi

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Desis bobmarleyi is a small spider with a 6mm long body and long hair like his namesake

It uses this long hair on its legs and abdomen to create an air bubble around its middle that enables it to breathe and survive between the high and low tide zones. During high tide these extremely rare and unusual animals hide in the air chambers, but during low tide they are vagrant hunters found on corals, barnacles or debris. It was this behaviour that inspired us to name this new intertidal species in honour of Bob Marley’s hit song High Tide or Low Tide, which played during our field research in Queensland’s Port Douglas.

Saltuarius eximius

new leaftail gecko_Conrad Hoskin_9

A spectacular leaf-tailed gecko from Cape Melville, north-eastern Queensland, which was listed by Suny College of Environmental Science and Forestry (New York) as one of the top ten species (globally) for 2014. The lizards are about 20cm  long and are believed to be a relic species from the time period rainforests were more abundant in Australia.

Jotus karllagerfeldi

J. karllagerfeldi (Mark Newton) 2

A species of jumping spider of the genus Jotus described in 2019. The name of the species karllagerfeldi was chosen as the black and white spider was “reminiscent of the signature look” of fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld. The spider was found near Lake Broadwater, a lake near Dalby, Queensland.

Burwellia staceythomsonae

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Ranger Stacey’s Pinwheel Snail’ is about .25 of a millimetre and very intricate. It has all the attributes of a rainforest relict and is known only from a single shell specimen from the higher reaches of Mt Dalrymple (altitude 1144 m).

Litoria pinocchio

Foja Mountains story - NGM

A remarkable tree frog from New Guinea’s rugged forest covered mountain. The small green tree frog has a small spike like a short nail protruding from the tips of it snout.

Oristicta rosendaleorum

Queensland Museum - New Damsel Fly - Rosendale

The first new species of damselfly discovered in a decade, this new species described in 2017 is is about 4cm long and has a long, thin, mostly dark-coloured abdomen with a pale tip in the male. Damselflies are a small flying insect with two pairs of wings, similar to a dragonfly.

Pseudopataecus carnatobarbatus

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The goatee Velvetfish, Pseudopataecus carnatobarbatus was described in 2012 based mainly on specimens collected from the Montgomery Reef area, Kimberley, WA – which has the highest tidal range in Australia, with spring tides of 11+ m.

This species lays among the seaweed with its extraordinarily long fins waving gently in the current, in wait for prey of small shrimps and fishes. It is named for its goatee ‘beard’, composed of numerous fleshy barbels on the chin. These break up its outline and when wiggled, help to draw in prey. It allows algae to grow on its skin for camouflage, but periodically releases the outer mucus layer to reveal the mottled reddish skin within.  Despite being a sluggish swimmer, it copes with huge daily tidal currents. Its habitat ranges from a shallow rockpool to 10 metres deep within a few hours.

Antechinus mysticus

Buff-footed Antechinus

A new dasyurid marsupial from eastern Queensland, Australia: the buff-footed Antechinus, Antechinus mysticus was found in former Queensland Museum curator Steve Van Dyck’s kitchen cupboard in Samford, Queensland.

Plectorhinchus caeruleonothus 

Plectorhinchus caeruleonothus2QM

Plectorhinchus caeruleonothus or the ‘Blue Bastard’ is a previously undescribed species of Sweetlips living on the shallow reefs of northern Australia that has remained unrecognised by science. The ‘Blue Bastard’ can grow up to one metre in length, and undergoes an amazing transformation in colouration between juvenile and adult growth stages.

The often solitary fish also exhibits a unique ‘kissing’ form of aggressive behaviour between rival males, thought be in defence of their territory, where they will rush each other and lock jaws in prolonged and violent struggles.

Bazinga rieki

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Found in shallow water in the Brunswick River in northern New South Wales, the Bazinga jellyfish was named in honour of the Big Bang Theory’s character Sheldon Cooper.

Bazinga rieki could not be placed in any known family or suborder of rhizostome jellyfish, so a new family Bazingidae was erected; it represents a new sub order of Rhizostomae, called Ptychophorae. Bazinga rieki has a thick round translucent and colourless body, the aboral (upper) surface of which is covered in tiny warts with yellow centres.

Aircraft repairs at the Railway Workshops

One hundred years ago, spare parts for aircraft were difficult to find. There were few operational aircraft in Australia, and the new era of air travel was only just dawning around the world. So when Sir Ross Smith and Sir Keith Smith needed new engine components and a new propeller for their Vickers Vimy, in which they had become the first people to fly from England to Australia, they received an offer from Queensland Rail to manufacture the required parts at the Ipswich Railway Workshops. The required repairs resulted in a month of public engagements in Brisbane and further celebrations for the flight crew.

On 12 November 1919, pilots and brothers Ross and Keith Smith, with mechanics Wally Shiers and Jim Bennett, left Hounslow, near London, bound for Darwin in their Vickers Vimy bi-plane bomber, carrying the registration ‘G.E.A.O.U’, known as ‘God ‘Elp All Of Us.’ The aircraft, with its two Rolls Royce Eagle Mark VIII engines, carried the crew 17,910 kilometres across France, Italy, Greece, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, India, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia through difficult weather and landing conditions at an average speed of 137kph. They landed successfully in Darwin on 10 December and claimed the £10,000 prize awarded by the Commonwealth government as the first crew to fly from England to Darwin.

PlaneThe Vickers Vimy and crew with visitors in Darwin, December 1919. Thomas Macleod Queensland Aviation Collection, Queensland Museum Network.

Although they managed to complete the arduous flight from England to Australia in just 28 days, it took them almost twice as long to make their way from Darwin to Sydney. With the tired engines needing an overhaul but the wet season looming, the crew pushed on out of Darwin, hoping to reach Sydney in 5 days. However, after 11 days in hot conditions and with numerous running repairs, the damaged port-side propeller had split through and when leaving Charleville, there was a bang and a flash of fire out of the port-side engine and multiple parts were needed to repair it.

Offers of assistance came in from around the country. Famous overlander Francis Birtles said he could drive a new propeller and parts from Sydney. The Vickers Vimy crew sought spare parts around Australia, but could not secure what was necessary, knowing what they needed could be shipped from London. The Defence Department offered some of their aircraft so that the crew could complete their flight to Sydney and the other capital cities, leaving the Vickers Vimy behind. In the end, Ross Smith accepted the offer of assistance from James Walker Davidson, Commissioner for Railways, for new parts to be manufactured at the Ipswich Railway Workshops so that the Vimy could be repaired and complete its journey.

CraneDamaged Vickers Vimy engine being loaded for rail transport to Ipswich. Thomas Macleod Queensland Aviation Collection, Queensland Museum Network.

Vickers Vimy campVickers Vimy camp, awaiting repairs near Charleville. Thomas Macleod Queensland Aviation Collection, Queensland Museum Network.

The damaged engine and propeller were loaded on to rail cars and they arrived, along with Ross and Keith Smith, and mechanic Jim Bennett in Ipswich on 2 January 1920. Chief Mechanical Engineer C F Pemberton took supervision of the engine and propeller when they arrived at the Ipswich Workshops. Accounts suggest that Jim Bennett stayed at the Workshops as he was never far from the engine. Sir Ross and Sir Keith stayed at Bellevue Homestead.

The Workshops staff set to work on their projects. They did not have patterns or drawings to work from for the propeller or the engine connecting rods, so they were required to make exact copies based on the existing parts in front of them. According to Workshops records, the Pattern Shop used “nine layers of Queensland maple, stuck together with hot animal glue” to make the new propeller. The alloy connecting rods were forged with the same attention to detail and the Workshops built a stand for the engine and propeller to be tested on.

PropellerThe new propeller with Ipswich Railway Workshops Pattern Shop staff Guy Page, Clem Boyd, Frank Hazlewood, foreman J Millar, and Vickers Vimy crew mechanic Jim Bennet. Queensland Museum Network/Queensland Rail.

Damaged Propeller piecesPattern Maker Guy Page souvenired two pieces of timber from the damaged Vimy propeller and made them into straight edges, using them for his trade at the Workshops. H11250. Photos by Peter Waddington, Queensland Museum Network.

Valve inletA valve inlet believed to have been souvenired from the damaged Rolls Royce engine during its time at the Ipswich Workshops for repairs. H295. Photo by Peter Waddington, Queensland Museum Network.

Queensland MapleAnother souvenir from the airmen’s visit to Brisbane, a small block of Queensland Maple, signed on one side by Sir Keith Smith and on the other by Sir Ross Smith. Thomas Macleod Queensland Aviation Collection H22425. Queensland Museum Network.

While the work was underway, Brisbane took its opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the crew. Sir Ross Smith’s and Sir Keith Smith’s public engagements included a dinner at Government House, a reception at Brisbane Town Hall with Mayor Alderman McMaster, luncheons with The Returned Soldiers’ League and at the Queensland Club, dinner at the United Service Institution, and the presentation of an illuminated address by the King and Empire Alliance.

On 12 January, the aviators were entertained at a dinner held in their honour by the Queensland Section of the Australian Aero Club. As the Brisbane Courier described:

The distinguished aviators were entertained at a dinner at the Belle Vue Hotel last night by the Queensland Section of the Australian Aero Club, Mr J J Knight (president) occupying the chair. The table was appropriately decorated with the Australian Flying Corps’ colours – royal blue, maroon, and light blue – streamers being suspended from a shield, with the motto ‘Per ardua ad astra’, to the ends of the table. Overhead was a line of triangular shields, with the names of all the stopping places along the line of route. A miniature Vickers Vimy aeroplane was electrically driven over the heads of the guests, and on arrival at the end where the Australian Arms were displayed was greeted by the band playing ‘Australia Will Be There’. The table was decorated with crimson roses and candles softened with red, white and blue shades. The toasts honoured were ‘The King’, ‘Our Guests’ and ‘Future Aviation in Australia’. A tribute was paid to the distinguished airmen by Major Macleod, O.B.E., Lieut. Bowden Fletcher, D.F.C., Major V D Bell, O.B.E., and the chairman, this being the first gathering of airmen to greet the aviators in Australia, a number of those present being comrades of the guests Sir Ross’s and Sir Keith’s speeches were particularly appropriate.

Signed MenuSigned menu for the Australian Aero Club, Queensland Section, dinner congratulating Sir Ross Smith and Sir Keith Smith, held at Hotel Belle Vue on 12 January 1920. Thomas Macleod Queensland Aviation Collection, Queensland Museum Network.

Rangoon BadgeSigned table decoration, representing one of the stops on the Vickers Vimy flight from the Australian Aero Club, Queensland Section, dinner congratulating Sir Ross Smith and Sir Keith Smith, held at Hotel Belle Vue on 12 January 1920. Thomas Macleod Queensland Aviation Collection, Queensland Museum Network.

With the propeller and engine repairs complete, it was decided to hold a public test of the assembly at the Workshops on Saturday 31 January 1920, from 3:00pm. A special train was arranged to bring the public from Ipswich Station to the Workshops, and admission of sixpence (6d) was charged with proceeds going to the Ipswich Hospital and Ambulance Funds. It is estimated that a crowd of over 1000 people attended the engine test, as it was reported that 28 pounds, seven shillings, and threepence was raised in admission.

On what became known as ‘the day of the big wind’, the Queensland Times reported “Sergeant Bennett was seen making several adjustments adjacent to the engine. The object thereof was revealed a couple of seconds later when the propeller assumed a wonderfully increased rate of speed, which was accompanied by a dinning whir.” The success of the engine repairs were proved in the running of the engine from most of the afternoon, with the crowd impressed by its loud roar and cyclonic wind blast.

Engine TestingCrowd gathered at the Ipswich Railway Workshops to view the engine testing, 31 January 1920. Thomas Macleod Queensland Aviation Collection, Queensland Museum Network.

TicketTrain ticket to view the engine testing at the Ipswich Railway Workshops, 31 January 1920. Queensland Museum Network.

The engine, propeller, and crew returned to Charleville by train and proceeded on their route to Sydney where more celebrations were held in their honour. Their unscheduled stops in Queensland had proved entertaining and interesting to the public in Brisbane and Ipswich, who had seen little of aviation at that time. One hundred years later, an average of 2,977 domestic aircraft and 729 international aircraft move through Brisbane Airport each week.

Jennifer Wilson
Senior Curator
The Workshops Rail Museum