Contemporary collecting: Recording history as it happens

This blog post is part of an ongoing series titled Connecting with Collections. The series offers readers a peek inside the collections at Museum of Tropical Queensland, highlighting objects and their stories.

Global Strike for Climate march in Townsville, September 2019. Image by Sophie Price, Queensland Museum

What springs to mind when you think of museums? How about words like old, ancient, artefact or taxidermy? That’s not surprising.  Museums have a long history of collecting and displaying ‘curiosities’ just like that – ancient artefacts, taxidermy specimens, dinosaurs and mummies. In movies, they are often portrayed as dark, musty places filled with forgotten things.

But the concept of museums, and the theory behind what we collect and why, is constantly evolving. This topic is even more prominent right now, with the COVID-19 pandemic engulfing everyday life.

People all over the world are realising that we are living and experiencing a key moment in history, the likes of which have not been experienced since WWI, and the ‘Spanish flu’.

Covid-19 will be recorded in history books, and perhaps more importantly, in the form of quarantine memes and tik toks. It begs the question of how we can preserve these iconic moments in time, when they are happening around us.

Contemporary collecting is necessary in museums – world history isn’t just ancient history. It’s modern, it’s current, it’s happening as we speak and, it’s defining us.

History in real time

In March last year, Queensland Museum Network began collecting items associated with another contemporary, current phenomena: the School Strike for Climate movement.

The movement originally gained worldwide attention in August 2018, when the unwavering 15 year old Swedish student, Greta Thunberg, began striking from school outside the Swedish Parliament, to call for stronger action on global warming and climate change. Now the public face leading the worldwide movement, Greta is renowned for her hand-made sign which she used at this protest, with a simple yet effective message: “Skolstrejk för klimatet” (School strike for climate).

By September 2019, more than 7.6 million people joined Greta for a week of protests and strikes for climate action worldwide. In Australia alone, more than 300 000 school children and adult supporters took part in over 100 separate rallies during the nationwide strike on 20 September, to protest the lack of climate action by Government bodies and politicians. In Australia, 2,500 businesses allowed employees to take time off to participate in the strikes. To date, the September strikes are the largest climate mobilisation and protest in history.

The student driven School Strike for Climate movement focuses on one of the most important social and environmental issues of the 21st century: climate change and climate action.

There were three key demands of the September strikes and the School Strike 4 Climate movement in Australia. They were no new coal, oil and gas projects, 100% renewable energy generation and exports by 2030; and, for the government to fund a just transition and job creation for all fossil-fuel workers and communities. The campaign emphasised how Australia is already in the grips of the climate crisis, with the effects of prolonged drought, flash flooding, bushfires, cyclones and heatwaves causing damage to people and environments throughout the country.

The movement recognises that, as one of the greatest threats to future human existence, global warming and the ongoing effects of climate change directly threaten the future of today’s children. Young people will continue to drive the movement with unwavering passion.

Preserving the movement inside the museum

As the September 2019 strikes neared, staff at from Queensland Museum Network looked for ways to record the historical event. The answer was clear: what better way to capture the meaning of the movement than through documenting the messages of the protestors?

The following collection of protest posters and signs highlights the attitudes of the young people involved in the Townsville School Strike for Climate rallies, and whose livelihoods and futures depend on the outcomes of the protests. These items are now officially part of the State Collection, recording this moment in our history for generations to come.

High Res_Alice de Fouchier_photographer Matthew Lewandowski
Alice de Fouchier has carried her homemade protest sign in three climate rallies. She kindly donated the sign to Museum of Tropical Queensland after the September strikes in Townsville. The sign reads, ‘we need to save the world’. (Object no: H49889). Image by Matthew Lewandowski
Tia Goltl, William Loveday
James Cook University students Tia Goltl and William Loveday with their protest signs. Tia’s sign reads, ‘don’t be a fossil fool’, and William’s reads, ‘the climate is changing, why aren’t we?’ (Object no: H49893). Image by Sophie Price, Queensland Museum
Brookyln O'Hearn,
Local school student Brooklyn O’Hearn at the Townsville rally. The reverse side of Brooklyn’s sign reads, WORD OF THE WEEK ‘CLIMIGRATION’ (Object no: H49890). Image by Sophie Price, Queensland Museum

Extinction Rebellion (XR), an international socio-political movement with a primary focus on nonviolent civil disobedience produced the following two signs: The Rebel Agreement – a summarised understanding of the movement, and a poster that was distributed to participants.

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This poster was produced by Extinction Rebellion, a global grassroots organisation who promote nonviolent acts of civil disobedience in the protest for climate action (Object no: H49891)
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The Extinction Rebellion ‘Rebel Agreement’ (Object no: H49892)

Sophie Price, Assistant Curator, Anthropology, Museum of Tropical Queensland

The convict who got Australia’s wheels turning

Australia’s first wheelwright* was Hugh Hughes, a convict with the First Fleet in 1788.

He was the only wheelwright in the First Fleet so Hugh would have been kept very busy. Wheelwrights had to have the eye, skill and accuracy of cabinetmakers, but it was also a very laborious trade requiring strength and endurance. Hugh Hughes would have soon discovered timbers in this strange land were much harder than any he encountered in England.

There was no powered machinery at the time to saw and dress the ironbark, blue gum and stringy bark. Every timber component Hugh made was split, sawn, chipped and shaved with wedges, pit saws, adzes, axes, draw-knives and spoke shaves. Even the lathe that turned the wheel hubs was hand powered. Hugh, like country wheelwrights in Britain, probably even felled the trees he needed.  Yet Hugh Hughes was not making the big wheels, carts and wagons we might expect.

Continue reading The convict who got Australia’s wheels turning

Are these nocturnal raiders infiltrating your garden?

By Dr Chris Burwell, Senior Curator of Insects at Queensland Museum

Queensland Museum entomologist Dr Chris Burwell delves into the nocturnal raiders that are infiltrating gardens in south-east Queensland right now – fruit piercing moths.

My fellow curator Patrick Couper recently photographed some nocturnal raiders feeding on his carambola fruit. They weren’t the usual fruit bats or possums. They were moths, fruit piercing moths.

Most adult moths have a tightly coiled proboscis beneath their heads which acts like a drinking straw. They can uncoil this proboscis and use it to suck up liquids, usually nectar from flowers. The tip of the proboscis of a fruit-piercing moths is different that of other moths; it is hardened, has a sharp point and is armed with teeth. Fruit-piercing moths thrust the tip of the proboscis through the skin of ripe or ripening fruit and suck up the juices. A wide variety of fruits are on the menu including carambola, fig, guava, kiwifruit, mango, stonefruit, persimmon and ripening papaya. They can even tap the juices of fruit with thick skins like bananas, lychees and citrus fruits.

The most common fruit-piercing moths are species of Eudocima. They are large, stout moths with camouflage-brown forewings and brightly coloured orange hindwings. Despite their attractive appearance they are pests of the fruit industry. The flesh can become bruised or dry where the moths have been feeding. Microorganisms can enter though the moths’ puncture wounds causing the fruit to rot. Other moth species are attracted to the handiwork of fruit-piercing moths. They take advantage of the access holes drilled by the fruit-piercers to feed on juices or the fermenting fruit.

If you have fruiting trees in your garden try venturing out at night with a strong torch and you might catch a fruit-piercing moth in the act.

Image credit: Patrick Couper

Two fruit-piercing moths (Eudocima fullonia) sucking the juice of a carambola fruit.

Image credit: Patrick Couper

Other moths, like this Serrodes campana on the left, take advantage of the handiwork of fruit-piercing moths like Eudocima fullonia on the right, feeding at their puncture wounds.

Image credit: Patrick Couper

Another free-loader, a specimen of Ophiusa disjungens feeding at the puncture wound made by a fruit-piercing moth.

Ask an expert

To find out more visit our website here or if you have a specific question about ants or any other wildlife around your home submit it via ‘Ask an Expert.’ #DiscoveryQM


A step in the right direction for Magnetic Island’s giant clams

This is the third installment of a blog monitoring a bleaching event currently occurring in reefs off Magnetic Island, 14kms from the coast of Townsville in North Queensland.

Since February 2020, a team of local marine biologists have been monitoring 14 giant clams along the snorkel trails of Geoffrey Bay which were showing signs of severe bleaching.

The team returned again in March and observed that the level of bleaching and number of clams affected had sadly increased.

However, good news came this month when the team returned and reviewed the clams on 4 and 20 April.

All of the clams are regaining some colouration, the result of zooxanthellae algae returning to the mantle tissue. This is remarkable considering that many of the nearby reef-building corals are still stark white.

The seawater in Cleveland Bay has cooled to 27–28o C (recorded by the Australian Institute of Marine Science), down from 32o C in February 2020.

Some clams are recovering much faster than others. The most impressive recovery is by G1, which was 90% white on 15 March, 30% white by 4 April and only <5% white by 20 April.

N6 has also shown good recovery from 60% white on 20 Feb down to <5% by 20 April.

Others, like N4, have shown slower recovery, with approximately half the mantle still white.



Partially (N5) and fully (N4) bleached clams at Nelly Bay on 7 March (top), 4 April (middle) and 20 April (bottom). N4 has gained significant colouration around the edges of its mantle, and N5 (top left) has returned to normal colouration.



Partially bleached clams N6 (lower) & N7 (upper) on 7 March 2020 (top), 4 April (middle) and 20 April (bottom). Both have gained some colouration.



Bleached (G1) and unbleached (G2) clams at Geoffrey Bay on 7 March 2020 (top), 4 April (middle) and 20 April (bottom). G1 has made a rapid recovery.

Table 1: Level of severe bleaching over time for each giant clam at Nelly Bay. Numbers in the table are % of the mantle tissue that is white.

DATE N1 N2 N3 N4 N5 N6 N7 N8
Feb 20 0 0 0 >90 0 60 0 0
March 7 >90 70 70 >90 0 50 0 0
March 15 >90 50 35 90 10 50 30 30
April 4 45 15 10 85 <5 20 20 20
April 20 45 15 0 50 0 <5 0 <5

Table 2: Level of severe bleaching over time for each giant clam at Geoffrey Bay. Numbers in the table are % of the mantle tissue that is white.

DATE G1 G2 G3 G4 G5 G6
Feb 20 70 0 50 25 50 0
March 7 80 0 70 25 70 0
March 15 90 0 90 25 50 0
April 4 30 0 70 10 25 0
April 20 <5 0 50 0 <5 0

More updates to follow as the team continue to monitor the clams’ recovery process.

DSCF8176 - April 6 2020 - Beat Lehmann
Site of the Geoffrey Bay snorkel trail with Townsville and Castle Hill to the South. Two of four yellow buoys marking the trail are in the foreground.  Image: Beat Lehmann

Written and Compiled by Dr Robyn Cumming, Collection Manager (marine) and Bryozoan taxonomist, Biodiversity & Geosciences Program, Queensland Museum and Dr Rick Braley, Aquasearch, Magnetic Island.

Season of Adversity – The 1942 Brisbane Rugby League Season

With the museum temporarily closed and with many of us now having to work from home, I decided to do some research on a large donation of old Queensland Railway Institute (QRI) sporting trophies that we received last year. The one that instantly caught my eye was a 1942 Victory Cup Reserve Grade Rugby League Premiers trophy. As I started looking into how the Brisbane Rugby League (BRL) association tried to run a competition during war time, I recognised parallels with today and how Australian sporting competitions have struggled with the COVID-19 pandemic.

When the Brisbane Rugby League management committee met in February 1942 to discuss the upcoming season, the world had just become a lot more menacing in the eyes of Australians. The Japanese army was advancing on Singapore while the bombing of Port Moresby had just begun. The war was on Queensland’s doorstep. There was considerable debate about the appropriateness of staging sporting events during such a critical time of national emergency.

Despite the concerns, the BRL announced that although the 1942 season would be ‘without precedent in rugby league history’, they would strive to keep the competition running as best as they could as long as it’s continuance was “in line with the needs of the nation.” (The Telegraph, 11/2/1942, p6.)

A large part of the league’s desire to host a season was to provide entertainment for members of the armed forces, but perhaps this can also be seen in terms of defiance; not letting the threat of a Japanese invasion completely dictate how the people of Brisbane would traditionally spend their weekends in winter. In today’s age of national competitions and huge television broadcasting deals, we may forget how immensely popular and important the BRL was. The Brisbane and Sydney city competitions were the top Rugby League competitions in the nation and would continue to be for many many decades.

Thumbing your nose to the enemy aside, the BRL did have very real obstacles to overcome if they were to complete a season in 1942. One major issue was the inability to hire grounds. The Brisbane Cricket Ground (Gabba), the home for the past 10 years of the league’s most important matches, had become unavailable as it had been taken over by the military. The league then lost the use of Lang Park, and Davies Park in West End. Before the season even started, the BRL only had access to a handful of grounds, Oxenham Park in Nundah, New Farm Park and occasionally matches at the Brisbane Exhibition Ground (RNA). The lack of access to first choice grounds also had a significant financial implication to the administration.

Finances became a real concern for the league. Though in the black at the start of the season, there was a fear that the administration would be unable to make sizable takings from the gate at these lesser grounds.  As these were ‘open house’ grounds where spectators couldn’t be fenced and charged for the privilege of watching, there was a fear that the league would quickly burn through its capital and end the season deep in the red. The only turnstill ground the league had access to was Oxenham Park, but it was so far out from the centre of town that it was considered too unappealing for many spectators to travel there for games. The games at other venues would likely have to be run as entry by donation. It was declared in Truth that “it takes real money to run Rugby [and] Rugby won’t take real money from the please-give-a-penny aim seeking at free-for-all football.” (Truth, 3/5/1942, p7.)

As well as the grounds looking different, the teams themselves would be virtually unrecognisable as 90% of regular players were in the armed forces by this time. The teams would have to consist of younger players and senior men not required for military service. Many of the teams had to start building their player lists from scratch but as the season was set to open in April, the participating clubs were announced in March. The 1st grade competition would feature teams from Easts, Norths, Souths, Wests, Valley and Past Brothers. (‘The Telegraph’, 12/3/1942, p5.) Reserve grade was to comprise teams from Past Brothers, Wests, Norths, Valley, Easts and the Queensland Railway Institute.

By the beginning of April it was starting to look like the season might have had to be scratched. Other leagues around the state such as Ipswich and the Darling Downs were looking at canceling their planned seasons. The Brisbane clubs themselves were starting to get cold feet. The difficulties already faced by teams in having to reconfigure their line-ups with so many new players was compounded by the lack of suitable fields to practice on during the week. But in mid-April the decision was made to push on with the season, “until war or law stops it.” (Truth 12/4/1942, p7.) In a concession to the clubs, the league announced that they would put back the start of the season until the weekend of May 22 to give teams the opportunity to play a good number of trial games against each other before the season officially started.

The BRL felt it important to keep the league going to provide entertainment to men in uniform and in another concession to the clubs, it was announced that if required or desired, men in the armed forces were allowed to play for any of the teams in the competition (The Telegraph, 30/4/1942, p5.) That way if clubs got word of a good player on leave, or he had permission to play from his superiors, teams could get some fancied veterans in their sides if the timing was right.

Finally, after months of planning and negotiations, the season started. The team from the Queensland Railway Institute in the reserve grade competition got off to a flyer, racking up wins against Easts and Norths before having a bye. They then beat Wests 14-0 at Toowong Memorial Park (which had now become available for the league to use). QRI experienced their first loss of the season at the hands of Brothers, 20-3. The competition was often affected by player shortages, particularly in reserve grade, with teams sometimes playing with only 10 or 11 men or having to forfeit games outright because they couldn’t field a team. But despite these challenges, QRI finished the regular season on top of the ladder.

The BRL finals for both 1st and reserve grades were announced at the start of August. There would be three weeks of semi finals (principal, major and special semi-finals) played by the top four teams and then a Grand Final at the end of the month.

QRI started their finals campaign at New Farm Park going down to Valley 15-7. They then had to play in a major semi-final again at New Farm Park the following weekend, this time against Brothers on Saturday 15th August. They lost this match too, going down 7-0. This victory gave Brothers a spot in the Grand Final and the next weekend off, while QRI would now once more play Valley in a special semi-final, who had won by forfeit against Norths in their major semi-final, for the final spot in the Grand Final.

After dominating the reserve grade competition all season, QRI was staring down a straight sets exit in the finals, a huge disappointment for any Minor Premier in any league during any era. They had their last shot on Saturday August 22 on the No.2 oval at the Showgrounds. In a close and hard fought match QRI beat Valley 5-3. They had made the Grand Final the hard way.

The BRL tried to secure the use of the Gabba for the most prestigious games of the year but were unable to book it. (Courier Mail, 26/8/1942, p6.) The showgrounds were also booked out due to Rugby Union finals so the league was forced to play the Grand Finals at one of the suburban grounds.

QRI faced Brothers in the reserve grade Grand Final at Oxenham Park. With scores 8 all at full time an extra 5 minutes was played but with scores still deadlocked, the game was ended and a replay scheduled for the following weekend. This reserve grade Grand Final was played as a curtain raiser to the 1st grade final between Brothers and Souths, so it’s likely they couldn’t extend the game time any further to get a result due to time constraints. It was Souths’ first 1st grade Grand Final appearance in 10 years and as they had the youngest side of all the 1st grade teams, the match was billed as a ‘David v Golitath’ scenario against a Brothers side who had one of the largest forward packs the competition had seen in years (The Telegraph, 28/8/1942, p8.)

Despite the difficulties the league faced throughout the whole season, the day was a success, with a new crowd record set at Oxenham Park and a huge gate of £85 taken. Brothers were too good for the young Souths side and won 20 – 11. After the Grand Final it was announced that a special Brisbane V Ipswich representative match would be played the following week at the Showgrounds, with the reserve grade Grand Final replay as the curtain raiser. (Sunday Mail, 30/8/1942, p9).

The replay was played on the No. 2 oval at the Brisbane Exhibition Ground with QRI winning 18-14, denying Brothers the double premiership. The QRI side was christened the ‘Three-don’t-team’ by a clearly impressed Truth after their Grand Final victory:

“The three don’ts are: They don’t turn up to practice, they don’t train and they don’t lose matches [they must have forgotten those two semi-final losses]. Here’s a final don’t, R.I. Don’t lose the services of mentor-coach, Jack Olrich.” (Truth, 6/9/1942, p7.)

The BRL hosted their presentation night in late October 1942 where the QRI side was awarded the Victory Cup Premiership trophy that we now have at the museum.

Football Blog - Image 2The recently donated Premiership trophy awarded to the side from the Brisbane Rugby League association in October 1942.

The 1942 Brisbane Rugby League season is a fine example of determination overcoming significant adversity, an adversity that, at the time, Australia had never previously come close to experiencing. As I’m writing this now, we are in the midst of the greatest challenge faced by many of us in our lifetimes. Perhaps the only thing we have in our soon-to-be-extinguished living memory that we can reference is how Australia overcame the challenges it faced during the Second World War.

Although obviously a completely different equation to what we’re facing now, I found learning about how these administrators managed to stage these competitions during such difficult times an inspiration. There are greater things at stake than football at the moment, but through history we might learn a bit more about ourselves and how we overcame great obstacles in the past. Whether we see football again in Australia this year remains to be seen, but our clubs and codes have overcome countless challenges over the years, and if history tells us anything, they’ll overcome this most recent challenge too.

*A note on scoring: Many of you younger readers might be thinking that with all the odd number final scores in this article that these teams must have been field goal happy. That’s not the case. In the past rugby league had a different points system – tries were worth three points with conversions, penalty kicks and field goals all awarded two points.

Rob Shiels
Collection Manager, The Workshops Rail Museum

Title image caption: The all conquering Queensland Railway Institute Reserve Grade Premiership team photograph. Queensland Museum Network/Queensland Rail Collection.

Learning @ Home with Queensland Museum Network

by Jillian Roberts, Learning Manager – Queensland Museum

This term has begun differently to any other before it as the majority of Queensland students transition to learning from home. Thank you to the teachers across the state who are doing an incredible job transitioning to online learning and providing amazing support to students and parents alike.

Queensland Museum has a suite of resources that can complement the Department of Education Learning@Home Science units for students in Years 5 to 9. Our resources are hands-on, use every day materials and can be downloaded from They are also editable so students can type their answers and save them straight into the resource.


Year 5

Students in Year 5 can spend this term getting Lost in Space from the lounge room. In this resource students design a shelter to survive on another planet, use fractions to create a scale model of the Solar System, and construct a paper rocket to fly to another planet. You can also turn your house into the solar system with our Lost in Space Planet Posters, and help guide students using the Lost in Space Teacher Resource Booklet. It’s out of this world!


Year 6

In Year 6 students are learning about electrical energy. How about using circuits to construct a simple telegraph machine and send coded messages? For more information on this activity see page 50 – 56 in Physics of War.


Year 7

Send a rocket through a model solar system while learning about forces for Year 7 science. In this design challenge students will consider gravity, air resistance and applied force to create a rocket that can fly to a specific planet, or as far as possible! Complete the Stomp Rocket Design Challenge on page 45 – 65 in the Lost in Space Teacher Resource Booklet.


Year 8

Explore rocks, volcanoes and stone tools, then use rocks to travel through time and determine what Australia may have looked like in the past, and what you may find in the future in School of Rocks! We also have a STEM Video: School of Rocks explaining how rocks tell the stories of our Earth and a core sample you can analyse from the comfort of your own home. The School of Rocks Teacher Resource can help you guide your students through these curriculum-aligned activities.


Year 9

In Year 9 students learn about matter and chemical reactions. You can get the whole family involved in Mineral Madness, a card game similar to Rummy where the goal is make different compounds from your element cards. For detailed instructions and to print your own cards check out Mineral Madness on pages 5 – 15 in School of Rocks.

Explore all of our online resources at, and sign up to our Education e-news and social media channels for the latest in programs and activities to support you and your students in learning at home.

Len and Gladys: They wouldn’t take the likes of you

by Judith Hickson, Curator – Queensland Stories, Queensland Museum

He was Australia’s first and only Aboriginal fighter pilot during World War II. She was a driver for the United States Army in Townsville. Drawn together by fate, Len Waters and Gladys Saunders also found common ground in their shared cultural and wartime experiences. Their marriage, after a whirlwind courtship of two weeks, spanned 46 years and produced six children.

In breaking the bounds of social, cultural and racist limitations of the time, Len’s and Gladys’s story is one of courage and determination to succeed against the odds.

Len and Gladys

Gladys Saunders met her dashing ‘flyboy’, Leonard (Len) Waters, on her seventeenth birthday in February 1946. Today, Len is recognised and celebrated as the only known Aboriginal fighter pilot in World War Two. Yet on his return to civilian life in 1945, Len’s wartime flying achievements received little recognition. He said to most people he was ‘just another blackfella’.

Less well-known is Gladys’ contribution as a Women’s National Emergency League driver for the United States Army in Townsville – a job she applied for after a friend sneeringly remarked, ‘they wouldn’t take the likes of you’.

Black Magic

I’m just a fly boy

When Len Waters received his pilot’s wings in June 1944 it was the realisation of a boyhood dream.  When he wasn’t labouring in dusty shearing sheds in South-West Queensland, Len spent his time ‘engrossed in the feats’ of heroic aviators like Hinkler, Kingsford Smith and Johnson.

… there was so much history being made … I made a silent vow to one day take to the skies myself.  Little did I imagine that it would take a world war to realise my ambition … I … never lost my desire to fly.

… When the war broke out in ’39 I couldn’t get into it quick enough.

In joining the RAAF, Len himself made history, flying a total of 95 sorties, mostly ground attacks, from bases in New Guinea and the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia). Among Len’s awards were the Australian Service Medal, Pacific Star, 1939-45 Star, British War Medal and Dutch War Commemorative Cross.

Aircraftman Leonard Victor Waters in full winter flying kit – No. 2 Operational Training School, Mildura, 1944.
Curtiss P40 N-15 ‘Kittyhawk’ aircraft, ‘Black Magic’, (HU-E) Famous for its association with Len Waters, the aircraft known as ‘Black Magic’ was initially named by Flight Lieutenant Denis Russell Baker, DFC, 78 Squadron, RAAF. Australian War Memorial P02808.001

‘They wouldn’t take the likes of you’

In December 1943, eager to contribute to the war effort, Gladys – then aged 14 – altered her birthdate on her identity documents and applied for work.

… I was really down about what this girl said … the likes of you … the first thing that came to my mind was she was throwing off about [my] colour and I thought, jeez, I’m as good as anyone … So … I went in and I handed the papers over and I said I’m applying for the job.

Rejected first by the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF), Gladys then approached the US Army who at that time were recruiting drivers through the Women’s National Emergency Legion (WNEL). To her great surprise, they offered her a job.

… Anyway, they take the papers and holy hell! … they passed! And Captain Peterson said I could start straight away.  I got the papers and oh! Was I happy!

Gladys’ work for the US Army and her membership of the WNEL remains one of her proudest experiences.

Gladys_Waters_ Civilian_ID_2

Gladys_Waters_ Civilian_ID_1

Queensland Museum donation

In 2019, Gladys made a heartfelt donation of Len’s uniform and diary. It was only as we talked of Len’s wartime stories that Gladys’s own story of her previously untold war experiences came out, and subsequently one more donation – that of the gift Gladys received when she finished work with the US Army. Over the last two years Gladys has worked with Queensland Museum curators to share her stories of her husband, children, family and her own experiences. Many people have heard of Len’s wartime efforts, and we now have the chance to tell Gladys’s story – a unique glimpse of World War II in North Queensland.

Queensland Museum Network is fortunate to share these stories and objects.

Although Len passed away in 1993, Gladys Waters, now 91, has never let age or prejudice stand in her way.

Cultural Warning

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this material contains images and includes accounts of people who have passed away.

We also advise that any racist and derogatory language contained in this material is ‘of its time’ and does not reflect the contemporary views of Queensland Museum. We have preserved this to help our audiences understand both past and ongoing experiences of Australian First Nations people and as part of our commitment to truth and reconciliation.