There is a lot of questionable information doing the rounds on social media. Many contributions are distorted or exaggerated, and some are just plain wrong, rest assured we have made every effort to verify what follows. There is an old Australian term which can be aptly applied to a false rumour or theory: it’s a ‘furphy’. The use of the word ‘furphy’ for misinformation can … Continue reading Bring back ‘furphy’, an old word for a modern problem
By Jeff Powell, Curator Cobb+Co Museum Next time you catch a bus, have a thought for “commuters” of Brisbane in the nineteenth century! Cobb+Co Museum in Toowoomba contains over 50 horse-drawn vehicles, including a horse-drawn omnibus. The museum preserves the history of what was known as the ‘the horse and buggy era’, but we concede that most people could not afford a buggy, nor even … Continue reading Cobb+Co Museum’s Horse-Drawn Omnibus
By Jeff Powell, Curator Cobb+Co Museum. Transport museums are not usually associated with presenting medical advances, but few objects in any museum had a bigger impact on public health than our dunny cart. It is difficult for us in the twenty-first century to imagine a time when people were left to their own devices regarding human waste or ‘night soil’, as it was genteelly called … Continue reading What has four legs, two wheels and flies?
Many of us think nothing of picking up a few things for dinner on the way home, or purchasing a trolley load of groceries at the supermarket on the weekend. Shopping in supermarkets is a part of everyday life in Australia, but it is a fairly recent phenomenon. Large suburban shopping centres only sprang up in the years since car ownership became commonplace in the 1950s. Continue reading In every suburban street
By Jeff Powell, Curator Cobb+Co Museum. A caravan in Queensland Museum’s collection (H46579) was made by Duncan (Len) Macpherson around 1945. Although simple in appearance, the caravan is evidence that Len was a bit of a trendsetter. His wooden caravan is a tangible example of social changes that were about to sweep the nation. Caravans were not completely unknown in the late 1930s, but were … Continue reading Caravanning in Queensland
By Jeff Powell, Curator, Cobb+Co Museum Cobb & Co delivered mail and passengers to some of the most remote and dusty corners of Queensland such as Boulia, Croydon, and Thargomindah, but Cobb & Co was just as important to settlements around Brisbane and southeast Queensland. The opening of the railway between Brisbane and Ipswich in 1875 spelled the end of Cobb & Co’s original route … Continue reading To the beach, by Cobb & Co
2020 has been a year when many accepted practices have come under review; commuting to work, socialising with friends and family, how and where we take holidays to name a few. Covid-19 has also focused scrutiny on the origins and reliability of commodities we have come to expect as necessary for life. There was concern about the supply of toilet paper, antiseptic hand wash and … Continue reading Once Made in Queensland (including the kitchen sink!)
Cobb+Co Museum has always wanted a Queensland buckboard, and we think we have one… By Jeff Powell, Curator, Cobb+Co Museum The American buckboard was about as simple a four wheeled vehicle as it was possible to build. They looked like someone had taken a section of picket fence, attached a wheel in each corner and placed a seat on top and halfway back. Comfort was … Continue reading Is it a buckboard?
The newly federated Australia took steps towards meeting its defence needs in the early years of the twentieth century. In 1911 The Government founded the Royal Australia Navy and establishing the small arms factory at Lithgow, and factories in Melbourne to produce saddlery and uniforms. Lord Kitchener, head of the British Army, visited in 1909 and suggested that Australia have an army 80,000, mostly made … Continue reading NOT those wagons, we’re British!
This week on the Museum Revealed podcast we’re rolling back to the days of horse drawn carriages with Cobb+Co Museum’s curator Jeff Powell. Listen on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Let’s meet our guest: Jeff Powell Jeff Powell is the curator at Cobb+Co Branch, Queensland Museum in Toowoomba, where he has clocked up more than 30 years. Cobb+Co Museum is home to a collection of around 50 … Continue reading Museum Revealed Podcast [Ep 9]: Cobb+Co Museum History with Jeff Powell
1. Scales & Tales Reptile Workshop Come and join herpetologist and wildlife photographer Steve Wilson at the museum in a small group workshop experience like no other, exploring the amazing diversity and incredible adaptations of reptiles. Experience first-hand how the Museum scientists identify different species. Sessions available from $35 per participant on Thursday 24, Friday 25, Monday 28 & Tuesday 29 September Learn More 2. … Continue reading 7 things to do these school holidays
The mobilisation of the people of Australia and their possessions means that the country will be turned into one vast war machine. Every person whether civilian or soldier will be a cog in that machine… Women and children according to their individual capabilities, have a place in the wartime economy… ‘Mobilisation’, Queensland Times Ipswich, 14 March 1942. A pair of pilot’s goggles sit quietly on … Continue reading Remembering Queensland Mobilised
Italy has Ferraris, Germany the Porsche, England Aston Martins. Long before these marques hit the road, the sunshine state had the ‘Brisbane’, or maybe ‘Queensland’ sulky. These single ‘horsepower’ vehicles were so popular and commonplace north of the border Queenslanders didn’t realise they were a distinctive local style, rarely seen in southern cities. Indeed the name ‘Brisbane sulky’ was what they were called interstate. Sulkies … Continue reading The Brisbane Sulky
Henry Lawson remains one of Australia’s best known poets and authors a century after his death. Poems such as ‘The Lights of Cobb & Co’, ‘The Teams’ and ‘Andy’s Gone with Cattle’, and short stories like ‘Joe Wilson and his Mates’ flowed from his pen. His face has adorned banknotes and stamps. Henry Lawson’s life was glorious and tragic in equal measure. At once blessed … Continue reading Henry Lawson’s other skill
Biological science can inspire artists, not only with form but also display style. Continue reading A Story of artists and the museum
For decades across the Queensland Museum Network, hundreds of volunteers have generously given their time and knowledge to ensure visitors to our museums enjoy an experience to remember. This year for National Volunteer Week, we celebrate the theme, “Changing Communities. Changing Lives”. We know our volunteers do exactly that, with visitors often speaking of the lasting impression left after an encounter or tour with a … Continue reading CHANGING COMMUNITIES. CHANGING LIVES.
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.
“Who will forget the meal served at Loder’s mail change? Roasted goat, prickly jam and jelly, splendid home-made bread, to say nothing of the hot scones and ‘nanny’s butter’, which made up a real ‘rich’ meal, and one that cheered the heart of the traveller for the next stage of the journey.”
– William Lees, on the Loders of Waldegrove change station near Surat QLD, 1916.
Cobb & Co coach drivers like Whistling Tom Elms, Flash Harry Bruce and Let ‘Er Go Gallagher were almost legendary in their lifetime, but for every coach driver there was a host of other workers keeping Cobb & Co’s coaches and horses on the roads. Grooms at stables and bush change stations harnessed, watered and fed the horses and cleaned the yards. The cooks not only fed the passengers, they grew the vegetables, fed the chickens and collected the eggs, milked the cow or goat, separated the cream and churned the butter. The cook might have even shot the wallaby or cockatoos in the stew.
Couples like Mr and Mrs Loder at Waldegrove ran the horse change between them. If there were no men around the women got on and did everything regardless. Mrs Fox and her four daughters ran the changing station at Boonoo Boonoo, on the Warwick to Tenterfield route. Women publicans and their families ran many of the country hotels where Cobb & Co’s parched and weary passengers stayed overnight. Their hotels acted as booking agents for Cobb & Co as well. Women filled vital roles in Cobb & Co’s day-to-day operations ‘on the ground’.
Electric vehicles (EVs) are gradually becoming visible on Queensland roads. The pioneer of this cutting-edge electric technology was a plain 1980s parcels van.
The converted Bedford van carried the digital clock showing Robert de Castella’s time in the 1982 Commonwealth Games marathon in Brisbane. For a short time the van was perhaps the most watched vehicle in the world. The Lucas Bedford van was virtually silent and produced no exhaust fumes, making it perfect for use in sporting competitions like the marathon and 30 km walk. It has a range of 100 km and a top speed of 80 kph.
Many expressions we use today date back to the era of ‘horse and cart’ transport. Cars feature 21st century technology like sat-nav systems, but they also have reminders of travel in the 1800s. The dashboard was originally a timber or leather panel in front of a buggy which stopped mud from the ‘dashing’ horse flicking onto passengers. On rainy days buggy owners also rode with … Continue reading THE WHEELS ARE IN MOTION