Women of the North

Celebrating the fascinating lives of women in the history of North Queensland

Author Archives

Trisha Fielding

I am an independent historian and freelance writer, living in North Queensland, Australia. My research interests include: private midwives in early 20th century North Queensland, infant and maternal health in the early 1900s, and Bubonic Plague in Queensland. Winner of the 2015 John Oxley Library Award for contribution to Queensland History. Author of 2016 book 'Queen City of the North: a History of Townsville'

    Mary Jane Derrer – M.M.

    Late in the evening of 22 July 1917, four Australian nurses were working at the 2nd Australian Casualty Clearing Station, in Trois Arbes, France, when it was bombed by enemy aircraft. In an act of great bravery, Sisters Mary Jane Derrer, Clare Deacon, Dorothy Cawood and Alice Ross-King heroically rescued patients trapped in burning hospital tents. Witness accounts describe nurses running to tents shattered by bombs to rescue patients, either carrying […]

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    Dr Jean White – Australia’s first female flying doctor

    In 1937, a Victorian doctor named Jean White became the first female flying doctor in Australia (and probably the world) when she joined the Australian Inland Mission in Queensland. Stationed at Croydon, in North Queensland, Dr. White was appointed to assist Dr.  G. W. F. Alberry, whose base was 220 miles away, at Cloncurry. Together, the two doctors provided medical care to an area larger than New South Wales. After graduating with a […]

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    The Clever Mrs Cameron – Orpheus Studio

    Charlotte Cameron was an artist and musician who ran the Orpheus Studio, in Flinders Street, Townsville, between 1916 and 1923. On a number of occasions she was commissioned to produce illuminated addresses* or albums for high-profile Queensland dignitaries and other notable citizens, and she also composed many pieces of music for commemorative purposes, including the ‘Townsville Waltz’ and the ‘Canberra Waltz’. Charlotte, the director and business manager of the Orpheus […]

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    Myra Rendle Mackenzie – dentist

    When Myra Rendle was 14 years old she began an apprenticeship with a Brisbane dentist named Robert Thomason. After completing her training four years later she opened her own practice, which was situated on the corner of Queen and Edward Streets, Brisbane. This might seem unremarkable if it weren’t for the fact that Myra opened her practice in 1899. She was 18 years old, and she was the first female […]

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    Harriett Brims – photographer

    Harriett Brims ran the Britannia photographic studio in Ingham, North Queensland, at the end of the nineteenth century. Harriett Pettifore Elliott was born near Toowoomba, Queensland, in 1864. In 1881 she married Donald Gray Brims, a contractor and coach builder. In the early years of their marriage, the Brims’ made their way to Townsville, where Donald worked as a contractor, and from there they went to Cardwell, where Donald became […]

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    Female Publicans

    In 1909 almost half of Townsville’s 43 hotels were run by women. It was a similar story in other North Queensland towns too. In Ingham, 46 per cent of the hotels were run by women, while in Charters Towers, 41 per cent of pubs had female licensees. Of Bowen’s 11 hotels, 7 were run by women and in Cairns, a third of the city’s 30 hotels had women publicans. Some […]

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    Matron Margaret Monaghan

    Margaret Monaghan set up and ran Bay View Private Hospital, one of the most successful and longest-running private hospitals in Townsville in the first half of the twentieth century. Margaret was a popular and well-respected woman, who deservedly enjoyed a revered position within the Townsville community. Margaret Jane Lewis Monaghan was born in Durham, England, in 1883 and later migrated to Australia with her family – arriving in early 1890. In […]

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    Sarah Wheelhouse – midwife

    When Sarah Wheelhouse was 89 years old, she told a reporter from the Bowen Independent newspaper that during her time as a midwife she had probably delivered as many as 500 children, “and most of them without the assistance of a doctor”. This was 1950 – three years before her death. Sarah gave the reporter enough first-hand information to write more than 1,600 words on her life, and with it, […]

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