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Resumed in Protest: the Human Cost of Roads

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RESUMED IN PROTEST:

The Human Cost of Roads

By Nathalie Haymann

Resumed in Protest: The Human Cost of Roads

Copyright © 2016 by Nathalie Haymann
First Printing, 1994ISBN 064621232X

Bungoona Books
Greys Point, NSW

Shakespir Edition

  • INTRODUCTION*

This story is a blueprint – a written documentary and tangible map of a grassroots activist community initiative of people versus the machine.

In their own words, residents of a historical inner city suburb in Queensland describe their protracted and bitter battle with the Brisbane City Council, the hierarchy of the Anglican Church and two Queensland State Governments over the “Hale Street Ring Road”. The road project proposal involved the destruction of large areas which were listed as part of the National Estate of Australia, including the last remnants of an old cemetery beside an Anglican church, listed with the Australian Heritage Commission and the Queensland National Trust.

“Diverse in age, status, origin, life-style and outlook” (1), residents joined together to defend themselves, their neighbours, their street, homes and gardens, church grounds, cemetery and other Heritage listed buildings. Many were elderly and had been born in their houses, with one or both of their parents also born there – all linked to the earliest days of white Queensland. Without warning, confronted with the sudden and shocking news that their homes were going to be resumed for a road project, they were unaware of the relentless roller-coaster of emotions they were about to endure.

With no notice or consultation, no interactive public discussion, no political debate and no social or environmental impact study, approximately fifty properties were marked for resumption, with the plan effectively cutting the historical suburb of Petrie-Terrace off from all other residential areas and forcing it into the central business district area.

The circumstances this community was forced to accept indicates just how far our society has capitulated to the automotive industry compared to the welfare of the people it is supposed to serve.

There was enormous courage and love in the fight for the sake of the fight. But in the face of an overwhelming wall of intransigent opposition, the residents lost. Some died as a result.

David Engwicht, winner of the 1991 Qld. Division of the Royal Australian Planning Institute’s awards for Excellence in Planning and author (“Towards an Eco-City: Calming the Traffic”) observed that this ring road broke one of the most fundamental of all town planning principles – arterial roads should never be driven through the middle of functioning communities.

Residents know their own neighbourhoods best when it comes to planning. They know how intersections work or do not work. They know how things change through the seasons. They know the traffic danger spots, and why they are dangerous. It is impossible for planners to plan without this invaluable body of expert opinion. People do not need expensive noise measuring equipment to know when noise levels are too high. They simply listen. Children do not need

degrees and expensive analysing equipment to know when air pollution has reached unacceptable levels. They simply breathe. Residents who know nothing about VC ratios can tell when there is too much traffic on the road. They simply try to cross the road to visit a friend.”

Planners have a responsibility to the citizens they serve to liaise with them, and citizens have a responsibility to let planners know what they want for their neighbourhoods. The volume of traffic in a city is not something like the rainfall that has to be accepted. Urban traffic is limited, intentionally or unintentionally, by measures adopted by governments. If these measures were relaxed, there would be more traffic: if they were strengthened, there would be less. “We all have the power to change future traffic projections. Traffic doesn’t have to go on multiplying every year.”

It is important to recognise that the battles being fought at the moment are battles against an entrenched culture which is much more than the sum of the individuals involved. Ultimately the battle can only be won when enough pressure is put on politicians to intervene and change or supplant that culture.

There was a time not so long ago, when Australian cities had a strong sense of community – a spirit of care and nurture. Hale Street is not just a street in Brisbane. It is the incarnation of the loss of home and place we have all experienced due to massive changes in our cities.

While we must go forward to a new future, we must also go back and reclaim the Hale Street which lives in our psyches – that place where few of us have lived, but we still call home.”

TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER TWO: ‘Father Perry’

CHAPTER THREE: ‘The people’

CHAPTER FOUR: ‘The Cemetery’

CHAPTER FIVE: ‘No respite’

CHAPTER ONE: ‘breaking news’

Ron Gardner was at peace with the world as he stood watering his front garden on a warm June day. He was happy to have completed some long-planned renovations to his typical Queenslander style house, using his superannuation earned over the years. His wife Gwen relaxed on the verandah with a cup of tea.

They noticed a Channel 7 television unit pulling up further down the road and watched the crew unloading equipment and talking to some of their neighbours. Ron walked down to the gate to greet his old friend Primo who had been talking to a reporter and was now hurrying up the footpath towards them in uncharacteristic haste.

My neighbour Primo Marinucci came over and asked me if the T.V. people had seen me yet about our road”, said Ron. “I told him I didn’t know anything and hadn’t heard anything at all. Not long after that, some reporters came up to me and introduced themselves. They asked me how I felt about the Hale Street Ring Road and the fact that my house would be resumed. I said I wouldn’t be selling my house, that I had not been asked to sell it and if they did bother to turn up one day I would tell them exactly where to go. My wife and I were shocked and stunned. Two days later I received a letter from the City Council and it said that our house was going to be resumed and every other house on our side of Hale Street. That was it. I was born in Hale Street, and lived there all my life. My mother died in our house there. And then a stranger comes up and says, “you have to leave your house”.

I admit that I cried”.

At the other end of Hale Street the Christ Church Precinct – a church with the last remnant of Brisbane’s first cemetery beside it, the rectory and church hall – sat on the high ground of a hill overlooking Paddington. Brisbane’s first cemetery, now the Lang Park football ground, was beside the church precinct, both separated by a tall fence.

The church had its beginnings as a tiny mortuary chapel in the 1860s, when parishioners walked to evening services held by candlelight. As their numbers grew, concerns were raised about the chapel’s “low and disagreeable position … amid the graves” (2) and a stone and shingle church was erected in 1874, blessed by Bishop Hale “In memory of the Blessed Dead who lie in God’s Acre around us” (3). This church was irreparably damaged by a severe storm sixteen years later and funds were again raised for another church – slate roofed, the pews all carved by a single craftsman. The original font, which had survived the storm as well as a mortuary fire in the cemetery, was set in place.

Gale Perry, wife of Christ Church’s minister, Rev. Graham Perry, was working in her garden when she heard the news of the proposed ring road via a phone call.

Graham wasn’t there. I was filthy dirty, having been gardening around the front of the rectory. It was the Queen’s Birthday weekend and the Brisbane City Council had called a press conference in the car-park at the Milton Park-n-Ride. It was there, in the car-park, that it was announced to the world that the ring road was about to begin. There was no knowledge in our church that anything was going to happen. It was like a bolt out of the blue.”

Local Alderman Joe St. Ledger, while aware that there were some plans afoot for Hale Street, was shocked to hear about the magnitude of the proposal when he attended the press conference.

I first learned about the total concept of the Hale Street proposal at the Milton Park-n-Ride press conference. That was when some residents first learned about the plan for their street. Some learned about it when reporters knocked on their front door. Others when they turned on the T.V., or radio news. Some heard it from their neighbours. The newspapers carried a giant map showing which houses would be going. Imagine picking up your morning newspaper or seeing on television that your house is identified as one which is going to go. It was the most heartless thing I have ever seen by any administration anywhere.”

This was a unique area of Brisbane, with selected buildings on the left of Hale Street included in the Qld. National Trust suburb of Petrie-Terrace, which was built into steep hillsides. In 1842, sixty acres of land in the area had been surveyed for the Milton Cemetery which ran along the western side of Hale Street – then a little dirt track, known as “Cemetery Road”.

Petrie-Terrace and Milton were very beautiful. Historian and author Nehemiah Bartley described the area then as “a profusion of moss and fern and lots of rich black soil and cool damp air and big fragrant old trees…

In stark contrast to today, the Ithaca Creek then meandered through the bush, running alongside the cemetery and emptying into the Brisbane River – its beauty still virtually untouched – “…. banks lined with foliage whose beauty it was almost impossible to describe…an immense jungle…a tangled mass of trees, vines, flowering creepers, staghorns, elkhorns, towering scrub palms, giant ferns and hundreds of other varieties of the fern family, beautiful and rare orchids, and the wild passion-flower…kangaroos; possums; flying squirrels; emus; black swans; pelicans; ducks; turkeys; teal; cockatoos; white and black parroquets; bell birds; turtle; dugong; fish; eels and …kingfishers – some scarlet breasted, others white, all with backs of azure blue…”(4)

In 1984 a Brisbane City Council Development Control Plan had been designed with the aim of protecting the Petrie-Terrace area. Six precincts including Hale Street were to be protected, although two years previously the council had advised that Hale street could be part of an overall future road network …”some property would be affected by the need to provide connecting ramps for turning traffic…” (5)

In May 1987 a different plan emerged, involving a tunnel leading up to Hale Street and an over-pass, with the council announcing that it would be embarking on some negotiations “to resume several properties at crucial corners”. (6)

Most residents were still not unduly alarmed and blissfully unaware of what was to come only four weeks later. One of the residents, Steve Woolcock, wrote to the then Brisbane Lord Mayor and to the local newspaper, outlining some of the problems from residents’ point of view and offering constructive suggestions.

Four months passed before the Lord Mayor acknowledged my letter” said Mr. Woolcock. “She thanked me for my offer of assistance but by that time the project had developed greatly. The project itself was not mentioned in her letter.”

The project was in fact a $30 million inner north-western ring road with a carrying capacity of 50,000 vehicles a day and stage one still on the drawing board. It provided a four-lane freeway with a parallel service road and on/off ramps up to seven lanes abreast and a fly-over. Approximately fifty properties were to be resumed, with the plan effectively cutting the suburb of Petrie-Terrace off and isolating it from all other residential areas, forcing it into the central business district area. (7)

When news of the Hale Street plan in its entirety broke on the Queen’s Birthday holiday of June, 1987, Rev. Graham Perry (“Father Perry”) had decided to come home for a break from the Anglican Diocesan annual Synod meeting.

As I pulled up outside the gate, my wife met me on the path and said that there had just been an announcement that they were going to put a ring road through

Hale Street and half the church grounds would be going. She said she had had a phone call about it and not only would half the church grounds be wiped out but so would the cemetery.”

My immediately reply to her was “not on your life. What about the people down in the street?”

All of those houses are going.”

Father Perry headed straight back to the Synod to find out what was happening.

I wanted to know why. I didn’t think the council would go and make a statement like that. I thought they had more intelligence. So then I thought that the church must be under fire, because they must know this was going to happen, and why wasn’t I informed, being the Parish Priest? After I got back, I cornered the Bishop and the Registrar and neither of them could tell me anything about it. They didn’t know anything about it. The Archbishop didn’t know anything about it. I thought to myself, “This is strange.”

A grim Father Perry headed back to Hale Street and called in to see the people there. As he went from house to house, talking and comforting, he was confronted by scenes of shock and devastation.

They were in tears. They were really distressed. So we rang around and we got a public meeting going. We called a meeting in the Church Hall.”

A week later, on Saturday 13 June 1987, two hundred and fifty people crowded into the Christ Church Hall in Hale Street.

The place was packed”, recalled Father Perry. “The Lord Mayor said she would come out to Hale Street and explain to the local residents what it was all about. She said she would be there on Saturday afternoon so I called for the meeting to be in the hall rather than in the street. She didn’t turn up and sent a senior alderman in her place. He was so arrogant it wasn’t funny and all that was going through my mind was that in 1950 I used to do a bit of boxing in the ring. And the first thing I wanted to do was to give him a knuckle sandwich. He was so arrogant. And he said, “it doesn’t matter what you say, what you do, how much you protest. The road is going through.” So I jumped off the stage and I was fuming and I said to him, “well, you’ve been sent here by the Lord Mayor and the City Council to tell the residents of this community that the ring road is going through and I said, “I’m the Parish Priest. I’m the first cab off the rank. This church is the first place you are going to hit and I’m telling you now that it’s not going through at all. I’m going to stop it. One way or another, I’ll stop it. I don’t care how far I have to go. I’ll stop it. I’ve got support from half the people of Queensland because letters have already been coming in from everywhere. My main concern is for those people down there. Nobody has the right to tell somebody to get out of their house because it’s needed for a road.”

Kirsten Dyer was one of the residents who attended the meeting. She recalled the artist’s impressions of the nine proposed routes – “coloured maps and glossy pictures with green trees and so on.”

We were entitled then to find out how much of our property was threatened and who would be left behind and who would have to leave. This road seemed to strike a blow right through the centre of our community. We were perplexed as to why it had to do that. Everybody who looked at the map could see that Countess Street was the best option. It skirted Petrie Terrace to the east and would not divide the community. We were told that it was not financially viable because the overpass bridge near the Roma Street fire station would have to be moved and that was going to be far too costly, but in fact at no stage in any of the nine proposed routes would they have been able to avoid the railway. The Countess Street option, which did not affect private housing, would have meant using public money and public land instead of the local community having to foot the extra bill for the benefit of the CBD and cross-city commuters.”

Kirsten had bought her house in Petrie Terrace in 1985 after completing searches under the supervision of a solicitor. She carried out Main Roads Dept. and Council searches and her parents also did their own searches because they were concerned that their daughter would “get trapped because of being so close to the city.”

I still have the receipts. I had the searches done and then in 1987 all of a sudden this massive road appears, coming right past my property. So at the public meeting I asked the Council representative to answer why it had not been shown, and his reply was, which I will always remember, “there is a map for you people and a map for the Council.” He admitted that in front of at least two hundred and fifty people.”

Colin Elliott and his six brothers and sisters had all grown up in Hale Street, with Colin and his wife Jenny staying on after their marriage, bringing their children up there.

…I was incensed that this plan had been announced without any prior consultation with us…The Council had just set up a Brisbane Transportation Strategy Committee to examine inner city traffic among other things, and until this study had completed its deliberations, a decision on the ring road was premature…”

Residents asked the council to hold its plans until they had time to become acquainted with the facts and asked for a meeting with their newly formed committee, the Ring Road Resistance Group (RRRG). The RRRG was non-politically aligned, with members from every political persuasion, including the elderly as well as the very young. A sub-committee was formed to offer moral support to residents who had received Intention to Resume notices and the council granted the RRRG seven days to prepare its case, agreeing to provide requested documentation.

The National Trust of Queensland, the Queensland University Snr. History lecturer Dr. Rod Fisher and the Brisbane History Group all expressed anger and concern that the road would cut through areas listed as part of the National Estate of Australia…

“…the greatest impact historically will be upon the Christ Church precinct at the corner of Hale and Chippendall Streets where the War Memorial Wall and hall and cemetery reserve will be engulfed. Here the graves and stones are all that remain of some 4,600 of Brisbane’s early pioneers….”

Rod Fisher began to collect historical evidence on which to back the RRRG campaign and he and local resident Steve Woolcock also began research into an illustrative book about the area, describing in words and architectural drawings why and how Petrie-Terrace was so historically significant.

Despite the attitude of the alderman at the public meeting, the RRRG and church members remained confident that discussions could and would take place in the near future in a spirit of co-operation, with an open exchange of information between the council and themselves. They were aware however that the council had already spent a considerable amount of time and money on the plans and appeared to be determined that the Hale Street option was the only choice they would consider.

Regular meetings were held after work, an alternative plan was drawn up by engineers, hundreds of house calls and door knocks made, pamphlets designed, printed and delivered, letters written, hundreds of phone calls made (home phones only then, and facebook yet to be invented) and fund raising events arranged. The first social event raised $79, a meagre sum when compared with the council’s pool of funds. A benefit dinner was held, requests were made to local businesses for donations, a fund-raising raffle was held, a fun run and a garage sale were planned. Plans for the printing of signs and bumper stickers were made. A petition was drawn up – viewed with suspicion by some of the older residents who feared that they might be sued if they signed. One elderly lady said she didn’t think she should sign it because she had already been “served with her papers”.

The Minister for Main Roads, Russ Hinze, was invited to visit Christ Church. He viewed the hall and the cemetery beside the church, listened to residents’ and church wardens’ arguments and promised to review the road plans, saying he was prepared to consider the views of residents. In response to arguments as to whether the old Episcopalian Cemetery held human remains or not, he observed, “well it certainly looks like a bloody cemetery to me” saying that he would “take on board the views of residents who believed Countess Street would be a better alternative for the ring road.” (8)

Local resident Grace Ludgate agreed with the Minister regarding the cemetery. Her younger sister had attended the Petrie Terrace School during the second world war.

There was a panic on about split trenches because the school was so close to the Roma Street goods yard. My sister brought a note home asking for volunteers to please help out because the school had to have split trenches. Dad volunteered but needed a jackhammer because the ground was rock hard so he suggested that the trenches should be dug across the road in Lang Park which was once a cemetery. The school agreed and he used to go over there in his spare time. I visited him one day. He was up on the top corner near the Memorial Reserve next to Christ Church. It was very overgrown. My mother used to roll dad’s smokes for him and he would put them in his tobacco tin. He’d toss a cigarette ahead of him and dig until he got to it and then sit down and take a break. There was always a lot of kids jumping over the mounds of dirt, sliding up and down on them. While my dad and I were sitting there, a boy about nine years old ran up with a large piece of the back of a skull. It was old and brown, with wisps of black hair hanging off it. The side wall of the trench had fallen in and the boy had slid down the dirt into a grave. You could see remnants of bits of wood and lead and bones. Dad asked me to go up to the Petrie Terrace Barracks and tell the police. Two policemen came along for a look and shone their torches down and said, “It’s just a very old grave Mac. Just shore it up, fill it in and forget about it.” So he did.”

Although advised by Alderman Joe St. Ledger and the RRRG not to be pressured into selling, some residents were already negotiating with the Council. As well as the council’s desire to purchase properties as swiftly as possible, there was now pressure from real estate offices, with one local real estate agency now openly urging residents to sell.

90% of the houses on the western side of Hale Street bore large signs “RESUMED IN PROTEST”. Other personal signs were nailed onto houses and fences. ‘’PLEASE ALLOW ME TO LIVE/DIE HERE UNRESUMED’’ was painted neatly in white along a brick fence and ‘’HANDS OFF HALE STREET” on the side of a house further down the road. Another sign read “JUST RE-STUMPED NOT RESUMED”. Houses on the eastern side, not for resumption, bore signs reading “BRISBANE CITY COUNCIL DESTROYING THE VALUE OF THIS PROPERTY”.

Michael and Raffaela Servodios and their two children had lived in Petrie-Terrace for thirty years. “When our neighbours told us about Hale Street we didn’t believe them. We thought they made a mistake”, said Mr. Servodios.

We were asked to get an evaluation done. We had to pay for it. It was an independent valuer, but the valuer said that he was asked to do it on behalf of the Council in any case. He was independent, but a preferred valuer. We had three months to find another house to live in and we were very sad to move away because we loved it in Hale Street. We thought about our house all the time and wished we were back there. I planted grape vines, a fig tree, lemon and orange trees, paw paw, bananas and vegetables. One bunch of my red grapes weighed three kilos from a cutting I brought from Adelaide. My garden was beautiful and shady and the children loved playing there. A neighbour made some iron gates for us and the children and I painted them. I built a good extension onto the back. When our house was taken away and put somewhere else, they left the extension behind because they didn’t need it.

The Servodios’ neighbour Nell Fahey had moved to Hale Street with her parents in 1927. After her marriage to local Cyril Young, the couple continued to live at the large family home, pouring their energy into maintaining the house and garden after the death of Nell’s parents. Stunned by the news about Hale Street and the directive to sell, Mr Young was obliged to negotiate with the council which offered $60,000 for the house, although it had been valued by an independent valuer at $85,000 – $87,000. By the time it was settled for an undisclosed sum, Mrs. Young’s health had deteriorated to the point where a nursing home placement had to be found for her, while her husband searched for another house to move into in the same area so that he could be as close as possible. Unsuccessful in his search, he eventually moving into a small retirement villa in a nearby suburb. Friends helped him with the move and he travelled by taxi to and from the nursing home to sit with his wife for a few hours every day.

As residents grappled with their differing personal battles, the RRRG argued with the council the supposed necessity of using Hale Street for its ring road. The council maintained that its option was correct from an economic, engineering and environmental point of view with the RRRG responding that a complete traffic survey had not been carried out in the area, with suppositions made about the number and destinations of through motorists. It was argued that this was not a sufficient basis for future traffic estimates, along with the assertion that there was “nothing in the area worth keeping.” Melbourne consultants had constructed a computer map to reflect the quality of buildings in the area, only recognising brick and poured concrete construction (i.e. restaurants and office buildings) as positives, with wooden constructions with iron roofs classed as fair to poor, including houses recently sold in the $120,000 range.

The RRRG was still waiting for the documentation which the council had agreed to forward at the June meeting and voiced its concern that the council was now preparing to enter private properties to carry out survey work, with the power to impose fines if the owners attempted to stop them.

A Brisbane based research group “Marketshare” was contracted to the council to conduct a traffic survey, and it was announced that “the people of Brisbane want Hale Street widened…” Steve Woolcock responded that the Group’s survey was “designed to cover a wide range of traffic related topics. It was not about Hale street. Hale Street was not mentioned at any time”.

The eagerly awaited Main Roads Review was now released, recommending that the proposed Hale Street alignment should be slightly altered – away from Christ Church and the cemetery “in the belief that if practicable, it will remove all possibility of the desecration of graves in the Reserve for Memorials, as well as the need to acquire property from the Anglican Church.”(9) This option however required the destruction of the Baroona Special School (originally the old Petrie-Terrace School) opposite Christ Church – of equal historical significance as the area intended to be saved.

The fact that the path of the proposed road cannot be moved even slightly without destroying another significant site, demonstrates the historical value of the whole area” said the RRRG.

CHAPTER TWO: ‘Father Perry’

In the week leading up to Christmas, Father Perry spoke out publicly of his anger at the manner in which the council was handling the road issue and treating the people. He said that if the bulldozers came through at night, he would be “in there with the crowd…we have had five different sets of plans drawn up using Countess Street, but the Council will not even look at them. We feel we are being provoked.”

The only social or environmental impact assessment of the ring road ever carried out was now completed by post-graduate students at Queensland University who concluded that the use of Countess Street as an alternative to Hale Street should be investigated in more detail, and that social and environmental impact assessments should be included as part of the planning of all future major Council projects of this type. (10)

Phil Heywood, Snr. Lecturer of the Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering at the Queenland University of Technology, saw the key issue in the Hale Street controversy then as being the morning and evening surges of demand for road space as 70,000 city centre commuters attempted to get to and from work along major radials at roughly the same time. He predicted that the ring road would end up “largely as queuing space for commuters seeking the easiest route in the central area. (11)

After months of sleepless nights and intense lobbying by the RRRG, mostly after hours with members often keeping the campaign’s shoe-string budget afloat from their own reserves, there were signs of financial, emotional and physical exhaustion as Christmas approached.

…”Your financial and physical support is greatly needed. Father Perry of Christ Church will receive donations. We will keep you informed of any further developments.”(12)

Saving the church grounds, community hall, cemetery and people’s homes was Father Perry’s all-consuming passion as he shouldered a huge physical, psychological and spiritual load. In addition to playing a key role in the RRRG, a time-consuming task, he was waging his own private battle with the hierarchy of his own church as well as the council over the validity of the church cemetery as a burial ground. He also had his day to day Parish work to contend with, services to hold, a larger number than usual of parishioners to counsel, and he liked to have time to be alone with his family.

On Christmas Eve, Father Perry and his friend Father Power from the nearby Catholic Church met for a long and earnest discussion, one of many they had shared over the past months. Later, Father Perry wrote a signed statement outlining why he believed beyond any doubt that some of the headstones in the cemetery adjoining Christ Church hall marked the actual graves of several former residents of Brisbane, including evidence.

…Most cultures consider the burial grounds of their ancestors to be sacred ground. This is as realistic a concept in Australia as it is in other countries in the world. It is therefore, desecration of sacred ground to build a road through the graveyard adjoining Christ Church Milton. For this reason alone, the development of the Hale Street Ring Road should not continue…”

By mid-January of the New Year, the majority of residents were still resisting selling their houses. Only eight of the fifty-three properties required by the Council had been settled. An elderly woman who was refusing to sell her house told Father Perry that she had had a knock at her door early one morning.

They said they were SEQEB (South East Qld. Electricity Board) workers. She was in her nightgown and didn’t know what to do. She was a widow. They said they had come to cut the power off at her house. She managed to persuade them to come back later. Two days later a man came and knocked at her door at a respectable time now. He said he was from the council and what a pity she had been disturbed by the SEQEB people and if she signed these papers all of her troubles would be over. The council was offering a certain amount of money for her house. She didn’t ask to see the credentials of these SEQEB people. Six o’clock in the morning. Knocking at an old widow’s door.”

Citizens Advocating Responsible Transportation (CART), a Brisbane community protest group derived from the original Citizens Against Route Twenty now joined forces with RRRG in calling for an independent traffic study for the whole of Brisbane, asking that all major roadworks be halted until the study had been completed.

The council responded that Hale Street was independent to their Brisbane Traffic Survey, and would go ahead regardless.

There was widespread dismay when circulation of the local community newspaper was abruptly halted, with its management “viewing its economic situation in the short term…” (13) The newspaper had become a vital link in the RRG’s campaign of resistance, helping to keep relevant issues in the news and residents informed.

Pamphlets from a Paddington Ward candidate in the upcoming elections were now being received by residents, offering them assistance in moving house if she was elected to council. The candidate’s property valuer husband followed up with written offers of help with valuations and a few residents accepted his offer to assess their properties. The valuer acknowledged that he would be paid by the council for that work. His wife stated that she didn’t see any conflict of interest and that her husband had obtained the names and addresses of those affected by the ring road from his usual professional sources.

Anticipating a landslide of sales, an embattled RRRG now asked for a private indication of support from Hale Street residents and whether they still disapproved of the council’s plan, and whether anyone had felt coerced….”we do not need to know if you have, or intend to negotiate…”

The “Courier Mail” 9th February 1988 reported that Father Perry now intended to formally hand over documents to the Archbishop proving that there were graves beneath headstones to be disturbed by the Hale Street project. It was reported that he planned to discuss with the church hierarchy the possibility of going to court to preserve the church grounds and keep the gravestones and hall intact.

The RRRG, anticipating that the council would soon approach the State Government about legal restrictions preventing it from resuming the cemetery, wrote to the Minister for Justice pointing out that the Brisbane City Council had been legally appointed as Trustee for the “Preservation of Memorials” – an expression used to denote a disused graveyard. It also now revealed that it held absolute proof that the area in question was a cemetery and contained human remains..

We have made repeated attempts over the last eight months to present our information….to no avail…We ask that you allow us the time to discuss this situation with you…We request that you advise us if the City Council has already made approaches to the State Government for the use of the cemetery in question…”

…We tried to present the facts of the cemetery to the Lord Mayor for many months” said Steve Woolcock, “but she refused to allow an appointment to be made. We still thought that we could dissuade the council. We didn’t know at that stage that the Lord Mayor already knew that the disputed ground was a cemetery. She had received notification from the Archbishop. We would not give our proof away because we thought it would be hidden, or dismissed to the media as being incorrectly researched etc. We were only willing to present it in front of the media, to prove that the council had received it. The Lord Mayor absolutely refused to see us, but continued to claim that we had always had the opportunity but had not produced anything.”

On March 7th, 1988, “Time” magazine ran an article on Christ Church ….” Father Perry is determined that “these bones won’t go to the dump. If the church can’t stand up for ordinary people, it might as well close its doors.” The article described how City Hall had taken its case to the Brisbane Anglican Archbishop, Sir John Grindrod, who later phoned his priest in an effort to adjudicate

The matter appears to centre on whether you can prove there are bodies in those graves”

What do you want me to do?” asked the pragmatic priest. “Dig some up?”

Father Perry’s deep sense of personal responsibility and his feeling of abandonment by the church hierarchy was now crystal clear in his assertion, “they won’t disrupt those bones while I’m here. If the Archbishop won’t stand up and fight, I will”. The fact that residents were experiencing so much anguish continued to anger him...”If the authorities want your property they simply take it. And tell you to get the hell out. The extent to which this is happening and the tactics used are frightening.” (14)

The RRRG was finally granted a meeting with City Hall representatives. “The one and only meeting that we were able to get” said Steve Woolcock. The mood was patronisingly dismissive and cynical, with the chairman of the Development & Planning Committee expressing surprise that anyone might actually choose to live in an historical inner city suburb, asserting that the planned resumptions “would allow at least some of the residents to move away”. A civil engineer contracted to the council for the project remarked that it was “easier to deal with and move residents, than it is to deal with the railways.”

That was the end of any sort of negotiating we had regarding the re-routing of the inner-city by-pass. And that is what it is, a by-pass. It is not a ring road. It doesn’t ring the city or anything else.”

The RRRG now obtained a meeting with the Minister for Lands, Bill Glasson, hoping for some clarification. “We were puzzled when he started talking about our public protests and demonstrations and it took some time for it to sink in that he was referring to Route 20 and CART, Citizens Against Route Twenty, another nearby major road conflict – not to Hale Street” said Mr. Woolcock. He didn’t know the difference, so we started from scratch and left with the impression that although he did not know what was going on around him, the council had already approached the State government about getting the land they wanted.”

In what was now an unstoppable landslide of sales, thirty of the fifty-three required properties had either been bought or were under negotiation.

The RRRG wrote to Alderman Bob Ward regarding the potential acquisition of a section of Lang Park, next to Christ Church:

“…..On 14th March you assured us that no agreement had been reached with the Lang Park Trust, and that no discussions had yet taken place. Ten days later in the office of the Minister for Lands, we were assured by someone who had been present at the discussions on behalf of the Lang Park Trust that “serious discussions had in fact taken place ten or eleven months previously, and agreement had been reached with council then. We are not liars. We do not spread misinformation. We can prove every statement that we have made in relation to the proposed ring road and would appreciate the public platform to do so.”

The “Courier Mail”, 16 June, reported that the Brisbane Diocese Synod was ‘’shocked and concerned’’ at the Council’s intention to desecrate graves in the Memorial Reserve and under Lang Park….“The Synod president will tell the Lord Mayor that the Synod stands opposed to the Council’s deplorable action…”

A year had passed since the Hale Street news had first been announced to the public and Father Perry was again present at the annual Anglican Diocesan Synod meeting, this time with a prepared Motion to put forward, deploring the Hale Street concept.

“It was the first and last time Graham spoke” said Gail Perry. “He moved his Motion and it was seconded. But then it was vigorously opposed by the hierarchy. This was incredible. It took Graham completely by surprise because he had no idea at that stage of the opposition to him, or that the Diocese actually supported the council. Graham was gagged, and believed that the Motion was lost. These people were very astute and knowledgeable about the workings of Synod and how the Westminster System worked. Graham wasn’t sophisticated in those things. Just when he thought he had lost, a lawyer not known to him stood up and said, “you can’t do that”, and gave the reasons why. So Graham was then given the right of reply because of this challenge to the hierarchy’s right to gag. Graham had a prepared speech but he forgot about it and spoke from the heart. He had a standing ovation. The Motion was then actually carried. But the church hierarchy never acted on it. It’s a legitimate decision making strategy. It’s called non-decision making.”

Residents’ hopes were raised when Anglican Church members representing the whole of Southern Queensland now voted to oppose the Brisbane City Council’s property resumptions, condemning the Council’s actions and its attitude.

The council’s response was to call a public meeting, with invitations extended to those people living in the path of the road.

Design and construction engineers Antony Tod and Partners were now threatening to sue Steve Woolcock for remarks he had made regarding their competence.

“They demanded an apology” said Mr. Woolcock. “I refused to apologise, stating that I had used traffic figures from the company’s own published diagrams, and that they had used them incorrectly. I stood by my assertion and looked forward to proving it. The designers backed down, sending me a letter cancelling any formal legal proceedings, but threatening to take action at a later date if I continued to publicly question them. I did. And they didn’t.”

The RRRG’s newsletter urged residents – “DON’T SELL! DON’T NEGOTIATE! DON’T BE PUSHED OUT OF YOUR HOME!”

Deeply mindful of the responsibility he bore on behalf of residents and the trust and faith that they had in him, Father Perry was preparing for a meeting with Lang Park representatives, a source of renewed hope for campaigners.

Lang Park – once a cemetery and now a commercial football enterprise, was named after the “fierce, God-fearing, fiery” Rev. Lang, who consecrated it as the Milton Cemetery in 1840. Between 1866 and 1875, as it was being gradually transferred over to the Toowong Cemetery, it became a rubbish tip, then a people’s community park, and finally the present huge commercial football ground, with the stadium built over what was once the Catholic section of the cemetery.

Resident George Clifford recalled some of the Park’s earlier history –

“There was about fifty feet of rubbish and fill” recalled resident George Clifford. They filled it and filled it up until it reached the level it is now.”

An eyesore and health hazard it may have been, however it was used with gusto and imagination by local residents, especially Rosie the Tip Raker.

“She would be over there with old shoes on and she raked up all sorts of things” recalled resident Mrs. Kenn. “Morrows the biscuit factory and the lolly factory would dump stuff and Rosie would go through it. Rats were running everywhere but she didn’t mind. She was about twenty years old.”

Ron Gardner recalled a gentleman from Red Hill who regularly raked the tip for copper wire. “He’d sell it and he saved his fare for a trip over to England”.

“That dump provided a lot of amusement really” said Grace Ludgate. “When we walked home from the Paddington Theatre, we would cut across the corner of the dump to go up Judge Street and we always armed ourselves with the best rocks we could find. The ground was warm underfoot because it burned and smouldered for years. Every night when the sun went down it was over-run with rats as big as cats. We’d pelt them with bricks.”

June Langan recalled collecting discarded chocolates at the dump. “The drunks used to go there too and lose their money. Every Saturday and Sunday morning I would go there and collect the money they had dropped. One day my brother asked me if I wanted to learn to ride a bike. He sat me on it and sent me down, straight into the dump. In those days, Lang Park was over-run with spiky castor oil plant and I hurtled straight into it.”

The tip was gradually transformed into a people’s park known as “John Brown’s Oval”, used for a variety of different sporting activities, and the park’s then namesake John Brown, a City Council alderman, regularly mowed it with a hand mower, assisted by his two daughters. In 1959 the first football match was held after the signing of a City Council lease by the Football League four years earlier.

If the Lord Mayor goes ahead with this plan, it’s nothing more than grave robbing. They will be turning out the dead as well as the living to make way for their road…”

The Lord Mayor replied that she was not in a position to comment as she did not have the full facts with her…” I have always taken the view that their souls are in heaven and that’s what counts. I do feel sympathetic towards people’s views, although I am surprised at that view coming from a priest…” (15)

Everyone saw Father Perry’s anticipated meeting with Lang Park officials as a beacon of hope, as the RRRG distributed pamphlets urging residents to stand steadfast and hold out against selling. No-one could have foreseen the tragedy which was about to strike when the dearly loved and respected Father Perry died from a fatal heart attack as he prepared to leave for the meeting.

“What upset him most about Hale Street was the trusting reliance that so many of the residents had on the church as their last bastion of hope” said Gail Perry. “There is absolutely no doubt that if Graham had known it would kill him, he wouldn’t have stopped fighting. Because of those people in Hale Street. He did the very best that he could with what he had. He was a very confident, self-assured man and I think that contributed to his capacity to be humble. I don’t hold anyone responsible for his death. His strength came through his humility. He had a very good relationship with the Catholic Priest Father Power at the Sacred Heart. They were both honourable men and that’s what they had in common.”

Referring to the Lang Park meeting which never eventuated, Mrs. Perry said that their belief was that “Lang Park would be adversarial as it would have been in their best interests to get rid of Christ Church. They wanted that area. But then the State Government imposed on them the SEQEB sub-station, right across the road from the Boot Factory, beside the Police Youth Club. It was going to be put under their grandstand. We knew about SEQEB because they had approached a lady in Chippendall Road, across from the Church. She rang up very upset because SEQEB had knocked on her door the night before and said they would need her ground for their sub-station. Graham told her to tell them that she wanted double whatever they were offering her. She did, and they never came back.”

Alderman Joe St. Ledger’s wife had spoken to Father Perry three days before his death and recalled his farewell to her as he waved goodbye – “They’ll build this road over my dead body.”

Ron Gardner had also spoken to Father Perry before his death…”Father Perry said to me one day, “this road will kill me”. As true as I sit here, that’s what he said. And it did.”

The children and grandchildren of Evelyn Smith, parishioner of sixty years, were all christened – some married – at Christ Church. Evelyn’s mother-in-law Helen Smith had attended the church for sixty years and Evelyn’s husband, a church warden, died in the church.

…. ”Our church will never get another Graham. Never. He was very musical. He played the saxaphone and he played the trumpet. He was the most understanding, down to earth priest I have ever been lucky enough to meet in all my years. He would drop in for a cup of tea no matter how busy he was. He came in one day and said “what’s this drip in the landing? What’s this about? Next morning he came in covered in dirt and in his hand he had a piece of guttering full of thick, hard mud. He had sawed the downpipe off with a hacksaw. He fixed it and it was alright after that. Another day the door was stuck. He went off and came back with a saw and sawed a bit off the door and said, “it’s alright now.” He just did things. If you wanted him he was there. He was absolutely wonderful. Our Parish was down to bedrock and he built it up through sheer force of personality and getting out amongst the people.”

Two days after the death of Father Perry the planned City Council meeting went ahead. In the tradition of official public meetings, the Lord Mayor sat at a table on a raised dias, flanked by two officials. A minute’s silence was observed for Father Perry. For the mainly elderly people present, traumatised and grieving, there was a lifetime of important things to talk about in an impossibly short time. Questions were not permitted, with Rod Fisher and Steve Woolcock fighting for that right to be observed.

“The Lord Mayor tried to close the meeting before question time but we kept it open” said Mr. Woolcock. When I tried to speak, the microphone was turned off. I spoke anyway.”

The Lord Mayor reiterated that the Council would not change its plan, observing that it would “disrupt the lives of some people and it is our intention to minimise that impact wherever possible.”

Victor Feros, consultant to the Council, remarked that “some people have to pay the penalty for the good of the whole” (“penalty”: (1) A punishment imposed for breaking a law, rule or contract; (2) A disadvantage suffered as the result of an action or situation)”.

Steve Woolcock was furious. “Through no fault of their own, owners have been forced into obtaining unwanted mortgages, or into moving to an area that they would not normally consider. Surely a simple solution is to allow residents to choose a house of similar standing in the same area with the Council arranging the removal. If this road really is for all the people of Brisbane, then all the people of Brisbane should chip in. The existing mortgage should be transferred, with road beneficiaries – i.e. rate payers – to pick up the difference. These old people were happy where they were and were financially settled yet they were uprooted from their homes and then had to pay financially for it as well. No-one whose property has been resumed should be one cent out of pocket.”

Before his death, Father Perry had passed copies of two letters to the RRRG. The first one was dated before the official ring road announcement and was signed by the Archbishop. It stated that the land beside the church was a cemetery.

The second letter was the Lord Mayor’s acknowledgment.

“When it was claimed at the meeting that the Lord Mayor had no knowledge of the area being a cemetery, I produced the copy of her letter from the Archbishop” said Mr. Woolcock. “She claimed that it had been fabricated and that she had never seen such a letter. I then produced the second one, proving beyond doubt that she had seen it and had in fact replied to it.”

It was now clear that the Diocese was aware of the road plans before they were announced, and before the 1987 Synod meeting when Father Perry was assured by both the Archbishop and the Registrar that they knew nothing about the Hale Street plans.

The Council conceded that “mistakes had been made in the past but it had made its decision and now wanted to help people to relocate.” (16)

In September, the RRRG turned to the opposition government, appealing to it to call on the Brisbane City Council to carry out an independent Environmental Impact Study.

CHAPTER THREE: ‘The people’

September was also the month in which the Schifilliti family, residents for thirty years, reluctantly moved out of their house. Their daughter Maria had spent many weeks leading up to her parents’ departure, helping them to negotiate with the Council, searching for somewhere else for them to live, making arrangements and helping them to pack.

“We negotiated with the Council for my parents and we sold their Hale Street house for them. We bought another house for my parents but my father didn’t want to go and have a look at it. We had to do the job for him. My father wept when he left his house. We waited, and when he was ready we all left. After forty days, he left our mother Concetta and all of us for good when he died on the 8th November.”

Granddaughter Rosanna recalled their grandfather and happier times. “When my grandparents used to babysit me my grandmother would walk to the shop and bring fruit and vegetables for lunch and talk to the neighbours along the way. My grandfaher used to get a real fish and my brother Carmello would stand on the patio out the front of the house with his little fishing rod and throw it over the side and wait for a fish. Granddad would hook the fish on the end of his rod. It was one of their favourite games. My grandmother and grandfather knew a lot of people. My brother and I played cricket in the back yard and we would jump the fence and be in the Paddington Playground. My grandfather planted five fig trees and a big mango tree. After their house was knocked down, the mango tree was still there. It was huge. When I drove past one day, it was still standing there among all the roadworks and the rubble and I thought, “that’s where our grandfather’s house used to be…our grandmother doesn’t like to mention Hale Street. She regrets having lost her independence.”

In December 1988, with the RRRG still arguing that the project should be halted until the cemetery issue had been legally resolved in court, Intention To Resume notices were being issued to the remaining twenty eight Hale Street residents, including the St. Luke’s Nursing Service (part of Christ Church), Lang Park and the Police and Citizens Youth Club.

The nursing service was founded in 1904 when Christ Church parishioners (Mothers’ Union) became concerned about the mortality rates of women and small children in the district, deciding there was a need for maternity packs for mothers-to-be whose babies were then all born at home. There was a lot of confusion about how to use the packs, and parishioner Nurse Emma Packer, newly arrived from England, became the first district nurse, walking from patient to patient, showing new mothers how to use the packs. She later bought a bicycle, thus saving time, and probably lives. During the second world war the now retired Nurse Packer returned to “Ivy Lodge” to help out as cook, while the matron doubled as laundress and housemaid. Seven years later the Nurses’ Association bought their first workable car, an Austin 10 sedan, from the proceeds of a fashion parade.

By 1965 the service had grown to twenty-two staff – eighteen full-time, four part-time, and six cars. The Brisbane Diocese of the Church of England now took over responsibility for the service and it became known as the St. Luke’s District Nursing Association. (17)

Audrey Robertson (Robbie) and her daughter both worked for the Nursing Association….”we would get emergency phone calls at night and we would drop everything and go…we had volkswagen cars and two or three of us would go out on a round of about thirty patients. We would boil a billy at someone’s house and pull over underneath a tree and eat a sandwich…we sterilised our own instruments and dressings at home. We brought them home wrapped in calico. Some of the houses we visited had no electricity – only gas lamps or candles. This was in the sixties. At Christmas the nurses would collect and wrap small gifts like washers and soaps for the patients…”

When they received their Notice of Intention to Resume, there were eighty nurses and fifty cars at the Hale Street headquarters. Matron Gibbs said that she had to pack them all up with absolutely no idea of where they were going to go to.

…”It was sad but there was nothing we could do. We didn’t want to leave. We saw a lot of changes in this area and managed to battle through a lot of problems, but this was one thing we just couldn’t get around.”

Residents were also receiving Intention to Resume notices.

On 2nd December 1988, Ron and Gwen Gardner received a dreaded letter in the mail. It was dated 2nd December 1988, the day they received it,

….”It is necessary for the Council to acquire the whole of your land situated at 178 Hale Street Brisbane…”

A Notice of Intention to Resume, also dated 2nd December 1988, was enclosed informing Mr. Gardner he could *set forth in writing any* objection to the taking of such land”*.* The amount of payment of compensation was not grounds for objection.

There was no opportunity for Ron and Gwen Gardner to lodge an objection however, or to get legal advice, as preliminary work on Stage One of the roadworks began three days after they received the letter. The council now forged ahead without even any pretence at observing the required formalities, with major roadworks scheduled to begin on 26th December.

“We don’t know where to go to. We never intended to go anywhere else. We love it here.”

Wardens of Christ Church and the church’s Parochial Council now lodged formal objections against the Council’s Notice of Intent to Resume church property. Christ Church parishioner and barrister Lister Harrison QC wrote to the Diocese on 28th December urging their prompt action to protect the church property, offering to appear as QC and carry out any associated work required without charge.

Three weeks later the QC sent another letter to the Diocese – ….”I have been told that notwithstanding the resolution at the last Synod, the Diocese has decided not to take proceedings to preserve the cemetery. Is this correct? I would be grateful if you could let me know the position as soon as possible as if it is correct that the Diocese is not proposing to take any proceedings, my wife intends to take them herself and if she is to do that then she should commence them in the very near future….”

Time was running out and the remaining residents were now urgently searching for alternative accommodation. Eighty-four year old widow Doris Harris’s distress was shared by her remaining neighbours and friends.

“I don’t want to move. I don’t want the money they are offering me. I’m not old enough to go into a nursing home and I’m not ready for it. I don’t know how long it will take before they make me leave. If you go to another suburb you have to leave all of your friends, and you don’t know what sort of people will live there.”

Mrs Harris had moved to Hale Street in her early twenties and lived with a neighbour before she met and married her husband George. Like most of their neighbours, they spent many hours in their garden, an abundant jungle of giant colleases, crotons, elkhorns, staghorns, palms and ferns of every variety. The widowed Mrs. Harris still worked there every day, weeding, planting and watering.

The Schifillitis remembered her with warm affection. “She always waved over the fence to my children when they were playing. When my eldest son got married, Doris bought a present for him” said Maria. “She often walked down to the shops and would stop and talk with the shop keepers and her friends along the way. She spent a lot of time with her friend Mrs. Williams and Mrs. Williams did a lot for her.”

Alderman Joe St. Ledger took Mrs. Harris under his wing, negotiating with the Council and finding a comfortable house for her in a nearby suburb close to a park. Her property was offered to the council for $89,500, being $85,000 for the property and $4,500 for fees, removal costs and associated expenses. Council countered with $75,000 plus legal and valuation fees, and disturbance costs of $3,150.

Another independent valuation was obtained and submitted to council via Joe St. Ledger. With contemptible meanness given the circumstances, the council countered that it would obtain an amended evaluation from yet another independent valuer. Eventually the original $85,000 was the sum agreed upon, plus legal and disturbance costs of $4,500.

Mrs. Harris received a letter of congratulations from the real estate office setting out the steps she should now take: “Arrange an appointment with a financial institution; contact a solicitor; effect a cover note of insurance; check re deposit and second payment due if contract to be paid in two parts; organise a removalist; contact SEQEB for new connection; gas; contact Telecom; advise new address to banks, building societies, credit unions, department stores, credit providers, electoral roll, Main Roads Dept., magazine subscription, etc.

“I don’t sleep at night…I just lie there thinking about it.”

Friends took over the arrangements and packing and when the last box had been carried out, Mrs. Harris walked through the empty house and out through her garden, now destined for the bulldozers. Helped into the waiting car with her budgerigar and three cats beside her, she was driven to the neat new house waiting by a park at Chermside, a long way from the familiar and comforting sights and sounds of her neighbourhood and caring friends and neighbours. Nine months later her sadness and homesickness ended, with her friends and supporters saying their final farewells at her funeral.

As the Hale Street plans moved inexorably ahead and more and more people left their homes, Mr. Harrison’s letters were finally answered. The Diocese apologised for the delay, saying that it had acted in accordance with Synod requirements and did not consider that it had any power to enter into legal action against the City Council. It would not be instructing the presentation of an application to the Supreme Court.

Remaining Hale Street residents were finding the problems of re-locating within their familiar environment insurmountable because of lack of funds. According to Joe St. Ledger, resumption values varied from $60,000 – $100,000 while real estate agents claimed the typical two bedroom chamferboard houses on 16 perches would normally expect to fetch $130,000 – $140,000.(18)

Maria Kenyeres, who had run a boarding house in Hale Street for twenty years, was typical of many who were forced to move to other suburbs. She was negotiating to buy a two-bedroom house in an outer suburb of Brisbane after the last of her nine tenants had found a place to live. She had agreed to sell her five-bedroom house to the Council for $140,000. “There is no way I could buy another home big enough to house tenants with the money offered to me by the Council.”

“People are sitting like lame ducks, just waiting for the Council to accept the valuer’s opinion on the worth of the properties being resumed” commented Mr. Gardner.

After months of an intense emotional battering for residents and the RRRG, with raised hopes and optimism followed by disillusionment and disappointment and then swinging back again, culminating in the death of the beloved and supportive Father Perry, morale was shot to pieces. Colin Elliott, one of the key figures in the group since its inception, was now reduced to negotiating with City Hall.

…”We’ve had the fight knocked out of us….we have been fighting the council for nearly two years – I just can’t stand it anymore. We had hopes and dreams. They have been destroyed. The council has destroyed the fabric of this community. It no longer feels like home…” (19)

His wife Jenny echoed his despair.

…”You can’t imagine what it does to you. Every time there’s a knock on the door you think, “My God, this could be the council now. Everything that made our house priceless to us is worthless on the real estate market. We have fought for our house and our street because we did not want to lose them. But we have no more heart…”

Steve Woolcock now felt that much of the group’s heroic efforts had been a dead loss.

”The council won’t even listen to us…we have held more than fifty meetings, including public rallies, in two years. Many people are convinced now that you can’t fight City Hall…”

The Que Hee family were among those who had once lived in Hale Street. Rita and William and their children Doreen and Raymond, together with William’s brothers including Les Que Hee, had all lived in the house until the children left home. After Rita and William died, Les was alone and feeling lonely according to daughter Doreen,

“Uncle Les was lonely so he asked Uncle Bob to come and live with him to keep him company. They were very upset about Hale Street. Everyone was. Uncle Bob died in the middle of all the controversy and Uncle Les had help from the Blue Nurses but he was very independent and liked to do his own cooking. He always had a vegetable garden with everything in it he needed. We knew that eventually he would have to go into a nursing home but he didn’t want to go. He wasn’t ready. He said when he was ready, he would let us know. One day the lady next door hadn’t seen him for a whole day. He hadn’t been pottering around or watering his garden. He had died in his bed and the house was sold to the Council after that. At least we didn’t have to uproot him and make him go somewhere he didn’t want to be when he wasn’t ready…it had got to the stage where there was talk about hurrying people up to sell so they could get on with the road. We argued with them over the price for quite a while. We were luckier than a lot of the others with the price that we got. We were also more fortunate because we didn’t have to worry about finding another house to live in. Resumed houses were empty for quite a while and a lot of thieving and pilfering went on. Some men in a van backed up to the house one day and stole irreplacable things of sentimental value, as well as valuables. There was no-one to see them, or question them or stop them because everyone had left.”

CHAPTER FOUR: ‘The Cemetery’

On 21st April 1989, the Queensland State Government cleared the way for the Brisbane City Council to resume the Christ Church Memorial Reserve for its ringroad, with the headstones to be moved and re-erected elsewhere. A proviso was that if any bodies were found the council was to remove them and re-inter them, although the basis of the resumption was that the area was not and never had been a cemetery.

Christ Church parishioners now took the risk of a costly defeat when they announced that they intended to seek a Supreme Court Writ declaring the go-ahead from the State Government to be ineffective, and restraining the council from acting on it. It was a courageous move in the knowledge that if Christ Church lost the case, the council would be awarded costs which would be an intolerable financial burden for the church, possibly signalling the end of their Parish.

The council continued to deny claims that it had refused to accept evidence of human remains beneath the Christ Church cemetery. It maintained it had no record of any correspondence regarding meetings with community groups during the preceding year, saying it had called for evidence to support the claims twelve months ago.

The RRRG now hand delivered a letter to the Lord Mayor’s home after being unable to get a meeting with the council. Steve Woolcock also contacted her on a radio talk-back programme where he was told the matter would be looked into and that he should contact her office to make an appointment.

“I stated that I had tried to do this in the past without success and the Lord Mayor replied that if I rang her she would make the time to see me. I continued to ring to try to make an appointment without success.”

In May the council employed psychologists to help Hale Street residents to come to terms with their loss and offered counselling free of charge to those who were experiencing problems. Indignant residents were reminded by the council that the residents most in need were those who had resisted selling their properties. (20)

A month later Christ Church wardens Gaelene Harrison and Lorraine Schenke went before the Supreme Court to fight the Council’s decision to resume memorial reserve land belonging to the church. Judge Dowsett considered the evidence put forward and declared that it was:

…“unlawful for the defendant to construct a road through or, for the purpose of or incidental to the construction of a road, to disturb or interfere with, that piece of land situated at Hale Street Milton in the State of Queensland….A second question which arose (not ruled on) was whether or not the defendant as trustee was in a position of conflict in seeking to cause the land to be made available for road purposes…that to seek the government’s co-operation in bringing about a change in the…use of the land would be in breach of the trustee’s duty…”(21)

Seemingly deaf to the Court’s ruling, the council announced that it would not be changing its plans.

...”This is old ground we have been over again and again. It’s all history now. Hale Street has been selected as the route and the ring road is proceeding.” (22)

Churchwarden Gaelene Harrison had fought hard for justice and fair play for a long time. Exhausted and disillusioned but still full of the strength and courage which had kept her going, she now questioned the motives behind a $1 million Brisbane City Council donation made to the Anglican Church before the Court case. She spoke of her disillusionment at being abandoned by the Anglican Church hierarchy after their successful legal action against the road project…

”The day after we won the case in the Supreme Court, the council told us that they didn’t care what the Court ruling was. They said they would still be going ahead with the road. The hierarchy of the church wanted us to go away and hang ourselves and do it quietly please…The Diocese went to a Master in Court who is similar to a judge and asked his opinion about whether they should allow the council to go ahead or not. This Master’s opinion was like a judgment. We couldn’t do anything. The Diocese didn’t tell us they were going to do it and we couldn’t put our side of the story…”

The council responded that it “had not acted with disregard for the Supreme Court decision against the Council…. Christians would be shaken by the insinuation that the Anglican Church had been silenced on the Hale Street issue by the $1 million contribution. Most people will be horrified at such accusations… (23)

On 2nd August 1989, the “Westside News” newspaper reported that the City Council may possibly once again be reconsidering a realignment of the ring road towards the Baroona Special School if it was unable to overcome the Supreme Court’s decision. The Education Department responded that it “had told Council eighteen months ago that it was against the school’s resumption and it had not changed its position.” (24)

The RRRG now received information anonymously that the council was planning to breach its trust in relation to the Christ Church Memorial Reserve. The group expressed its frustration to the Minister for Main Roads and Deputy Premier regarding the secrecy within council, appealing to him not to participate in the actions it demanded. They asked him to to initiate cross-table talks if further clarification was needed and asked to be advised of any approaches made to the State Government by the council in relation to the Memorial Reserve.

After repeated letters and phone calls, the RRRG was finally granted a meeting with the Minister scheduled for 28th September 1989 but the day before the meeting they were notified late in the afternoon that the meeting had been cancelled.

…“Mr. Gunn no longer held the position of Minister for Main Roads and was therefore no longer responsible for that portfolio”…

On the day of the cancelled meeting – 28th September – Mr. Gunn introduced the Trust (Reserve 1030) Variation Bill to Parliament:

“….The sole purpose of this Bill is to facilitate the upgrading by the Brisbane City Council of Hale Street as part of the development of an inner ring road around the central business district of Brisbane….it is necessary to acquire a portion of land in Hale Street which is currently a Reserve for memorials…originally a part of a burial ground…the Supreme Court has recently determined that it is unlawful for the Brisbane City Council to construct a road over the land in question….It will be necessary to extinguish the existing Trust and to provide that the land may be used for road purposes. The Bill provides accordingly.”

Three weeks later, after prolonged and angry debate in Parliament, the Bill was passed without amendment. (25)

Hale Street residents continued to deal with their day to day problems. Seventy year old Gladys Williams had arrived in 1924 with her parents and sister and continued living there after her marriage to Cyril Williams. She and her husband were among those remaining on the eastern side of the street, not to be resumed.

“I like it here and it’s close to town” said Mrs. Williams. “We’re better off here

Than being out in the suburbs but I think this road is going to cause an awful lot of upheaval. I don’t know how the children are going to cross the road to their schools. I think the area should be renamed the “Isle of Petrie-Terrace” because it will be just like a tiny island cut off from anywhere when the road is finished…”

Early in October, Mrs. Williams wrote to the City Council about the general store, a popular grocery shopping and meeting place for locals, which had stood on the corner of Charlotte and Hale Streets for ninety years: “I am writing this letter on behalf of the people of Petrie Terrace and surrounding areas. They would like our Corner Shop to be operating as soon as possible. It was promised at the first protest meeting in 1987, three years ago, and still nothing has been done. It is about time you all got off your chairs and did something for the people, not monuments for yourselves. My first time at door knocking and believe me, there are some angry people – the elderly and mothers with small children and no store, other than Given and Latrobe Terrace Paddington. I thank my neighbour for his help as he has done most of it, going out after work…”

Ten weeks later, a reply: “The Council is keen to see the old timber shop retained and returned to its original use as a local shop to serve the surrounding residents…tenders will be called for the relocation and sale or lease of the shop. This is expected early in 1990….”

Another twelve months passed before an announcement was made that the shop was to be relocated to the corner of Mullin and Hale Streets, the closest available site to its existing position. Four years after Mrs. Williams’ letter, the shop remained closed, situated behind a high road barrier.

Calls, demands and pleas for a moratorium on the ring road continued as the 2nd December Queensland State elections drew nearer. Nineteen days before the election, the Council began building a security fence around the Christ Church cemetery, now looked upon as absolutely the last hope for road opponents.

Work began on the first working day after gazettal of the new legislation permitting the resumption of the Reserve.

Ron Gardner observed the work that was going on.

“All over the world they have these little graveyards by old churches. I suppose the City Council could just go around all over the world and look at these little graveyards and say, “Well, nobody’s buried there. Like the quote of the year.”

Sharon Sullivan, Executive Director of the Australian Heritage Commission, said that when the Commission had first become aware of the Hale Street roadworks through a newspaper article in June 1987, the Commission had written to the Brisbane City Council advising them of the heritage values of the Christ Church group… “The Council replied, advising that the heritage values of the property had been considered in the development of the proposed route, and that it proposed to relocate the church hall to adjacent land. This did not occur.”

It appeared from its actions that the Council had no concern for the fact that the whole of the Christ Church Group made up of the Church, Rectory, Monument Reserve and Church Hall, had been listed in the Register of the National Estate of the Australian Heritage Commission in 1980 as “one of those places….that have aesthetic, historic, scientific or social importance or other special value for future generations, as well as for the present community.”(26)

The Memorial Reserve beside Christ Church was originally part of the south-eastern section of the Church of England Burial Ground of the old Paddington Cemeteries which ran along the western side of Hale Street. The cemeteries were then divided into seven sections – Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Catholic, Jewish, Wesleyan, Baptist and Congregational. There was also a Chinese section which is not mentioned in official records, an unconsecrated section for “heathens and paupers”, and an aboriginal section, also set apart and unconsecrated. Diseases contracted from the first white arrivals led to the extinction of the Moreton Bay aboriginals within two generations, hastened by hangings, poisonings (poison was sometimes added to flour handouts), (27) enslavement and massacres. The aboriginal section of the burial ground fell into disuse and was taken over by the Anglican Church in 1862.

At the time of the Council excavation the Reserve contained twenty-four headstones, claimed to have been transferred there from other sections of the cemetery when it closed in 1911. The Council had originally attempted to close the cemetery in 1865 but it continued to be used for burials right up until the 1890’s. The new Toowong Cemetery, officially opened in 1875, was not popular in those day. It represented a long and tiring journey on foot or dray along a dusty track through the bush. It was also expensive, costing ten pounds for a horse-drawn hearse and mourning coach.(28)

Wishing to be buried as close to the church as possible in time honoured tradition and with prior knowledge that a church was going to be built on the hill on the edge of the Church of England cemetery, (29) a spate of burials occurred there in the early 1870’s. In 1872, one hundred and sixty-three people were buried in the Church of England section. (30)

Christ Church parishioners wrote in their 75th anniversary church publication published in 1948: “From early times Christians have requested that, after death, their bodies be placed in hallowed ground, preferably within the shadow of the church. And so it is appropriate that the last section of the Brisbane Cemetery is still nestled beside the Church…”

After the cemetery was finally closed for good in 1911, a 1914 Parliamentary report (“Paddington Cemeteries: Report of the Operations Regarding the Monuments and Remains”) stated that “diligent search has failed to locate the whereabouts of any old cemetery records but a total of 4,643 apparent graves have been located….” Advertisements were circulated requesting relatives’ permission for removal and reinterment of remains only; removal of remains as well as memorials; or removal and re-erection of memorials. (31)

Thousands of bodies and/or monuments of different denominations were unclaimed and their memorial stones “collected and re-erected within an area adjoining the Church of England reserved under the 1911 Cemeteries Act, sufficiently large enough to hold all the unclaimed memorial stones placed in rows with the inscriptions facing outwards, arranged according to religious denominations…” (32)

Local resident Grace Ludgate’s father James was at the cemetery during the exhumations of remains.

“My father was about ten years old and he had gone down to the cemetery with his mates to watch the work being carried out there. He said they had horses and drays and they went to the oldest part of the cemetery, down where the football field is now – right down on the low part towards Castlemaine Street. Some of the skeletons were relatively intact. Dad said he would never forget the skeleton of a little girl who was dug up – she had been buried in her finery and shreds of a silken dress were hanging off the small skeleton as the workers lifted her up.”

Violet (Catchpool) Templeton recalled the little cemetery next to Christ Church with headstones marking graves in place – before the unclaimed headstones from the rest of the cemeteries were carted up to be stacked around them. “I went to Christ Church from about 1907. My father and two older brothers would walk first and my sister and three younger brothers would follow on behind. The church used to be packed in those days. We had reserved seats and sat in the same seat every week. I remember there were about fifteen headstones in the cemetery next to Christ Church itself…the whole of the cemeteries in those days looked very old and uncared for. Some of the stones were leaning over and there was a lot of long grass. There was a dilapidated wooden fence around the cemetery, running up Hale Street. It was very old looking and I don’t think it was sound. A bit forlorn really.”

The additional memorial stones stacked up next to the church were reported to have remained there until they were removed and broken up to use as road fill as an unemployment relief measure in 1929-31. According to Len Leaver, Toowong Cemetery sexton, some of them were also taken by stone masons who shaved off their inscriptions and recycled them.

When the Council began to erect its hoardings, the headstones which remained in the cemetery remnant bore the names of some of Brisbane’s earliest white settlers and their children. No cemetery plan with allocated plots could be located to help refute the Council’s argument that there were no original graves in the Reserve, although an inter-governmental memo dated November 13th, 1940 to the Engineer in Charge of the Queensland Public Dept. of Works reported original graves shown on old cemetery plans, and the removal of a weeping fig tree from the grave of eight month old Arthur Bernays who died in 1865. His family had planted the tree at his burial and it had become entwined with a cypress pine planted at the head of the gravestone of G.D. Webb.

A second memo stated “Upon going into the old batches, I find the area now forming a Memorial Reserve was originally part of the old Church of England Cemetery and some 24 graves were located and are shown on the old plans…On a list of applications for the removal of remains and/or memorials, I find the name Arthur Stewart Bernays mentioned for removal of the memorial only, to Toowong. This was not carried out, so I am concluding in the absence of further information that it was found unnecessary to remove the memorial, as it was on the area already reserved for memorials…”

The Journal of the Historical Society of Qld. (1913 – 18) refers to the grave of twenty four year old Ernest Dalrymple who died in 1884…”brother of the better known George Elphinstone Dalrymple…I have been unable to get any details of Ernest Dalrymple’s end. He was buried four days after his death, unusual in Queensland in November….Ernest Dalrymple was buried in the Milton Cemetery, where his grave may still be seen. It is in the reserved portion, and has therefore not been disturbed by the recent operations there.”

Patrick (“Paddy”) Mayne is listed in the “Paddington Cemeteries Report of Operations Regarding the Monuments and Remains” as being buried in the Catholic section of the cemetery. His unclaimed headstone was probably one of the 505 brought up from different parts of the cemetery to the Christ Church Memorial Reserve.

The gravestone over Margaret Waugh aged sixteen months and her four year old brother who died the following year, was erected in 1972 by their parents Dr. John and Margaret Waugh, generous financial benefactors of Christ Church for many years…”the mortal remains of two dear children…”

Relatives of recently buried family members provided funds for the first Christ Church building “…as an offering for the sake of Thy Servants Departed and…with a view to preserving inviolate the adjacent hallowed ground…”*.* (33)

It is fortunate that those relatives did not witness events which were to take place in the cemetery 120 years later.

In 1988, Father Len Ridsdale was appointed rector in charge of Christ Church, replacing Father Perry. He recalled the scene at the Christ Church Memorial Reserve in December of the following year: “They put up a solid fence around the cemetery. It was twice as high as necessary – so that no-one could look in.”

“They blocked off the fire escape to the church hall, nailed the windows up and put 8-ply over them. They even nailed the vestry door shut on the church. Underneath the hall was a toilet which was used by the church and by the workers and they were going to put 8-ply over the louvres on the side of the toilet in case somebody got in there and looked out of the louvres. I told them that if they did that, I would have to lock the toilet doors and prevent them from using them because it would be a health risk. That was their own regulations, so they reluctantly left the louvres unblocked but they had a security guard standing by the hall and the church to prevent people from diving into the toilet to see what was going on.”

A Council official gave Father Ridsdale a key to the padlocked gates in case he needed to get into the site for any reason, telling him that the dig was to be an exploratory dig. Father Ridsdale was asked to be present as supervisor, and told that he could ask the grave diggers to stop if he thought it was necessary.

“When they started digging into the first grave, they came across some red honeycomb like material. They were digging with a pick and shovel and I asked them to stop. They paused for a while, then carried on. Underneath that layer there was a layer of grey plasticine-like material, with a black swirl through it. They dug it up and tossed it out and squashed it into the spoil. I told them I was sure the red material was the top of a coffin and that I thought they should excavate it carefully to get the shape of it, going down on either side, but they just kept on digging. The Council official said it was only Brisbane mud. “Plenty of that over there in the river” he said. “It’s only Brisbane mud.” There was a musty smell and the head grave digger said that it was a body. I thought there would be bones, but there weren’t, just clay.”

At lunchtime on the second day, the grave diggers went on strike and the Council informed Father Ridsdale that because “his people” had interrupted the digging, the job was behind schedule necessitating the use of a backhoe to take the first couple of feet off, after which the grave diggers would take over again.

When the backhoe came, it dug straight down to bed-rock. It did not stop at two feet. As the spoil was lifted out, I could see down the side of the cut…when he tipped up the bucket to empty it onto the ground, I turned around quickly before he could put the bucket in and squash a section of the back of a skull I could see there. I told him that he had just put his bucket through the head of a dead woman. You could actually see the shape of the skull. He picked a piece of bone off it and said, “that’s just a piece of stone” and threw it away. I went and got a plastic shopping bag and put the sample into it and put it in the vestry. I was going to give it to the Archbishop. You could clearly see the shape of a head you see.”

Father Ridsdale was approached two hours later by a Council official, accompanied by two policemen.

He said he had been informed that I had removed Council property from the site and that I had to hand it over then or he would instruct the two officers with him to charge me with theft. So I took him up to the vestry and gave him the bag. I told him that I disputed the fact that this was the Council’s property and said that it belonged to the church. He told me that if it was any consolation to me, the Council was going to have the sample tested. He gave it to the State Government Laboratory and they tested for protein but of course, when a body decays, there is no protein left. Then the Council went to the media and told them that there were no bodies there and that they had gone to all the trouble of having it tested and it had come back negative.”

It was very distressing to me”.

Another witness to the dig was David Engwicht, CART’s (Citizens Advocating Responsible Transportation) leader and spokesperson. He recalled that on the second day when they were still digging by hand, the grave diggers struck a very thin layer of black humus type material.

There was red material there as well”, said Mr. Engwicht. “When they hit anything unusual they didn’t try to follow it through. The red material was a layer of red cedar type timber. You could actually see the grain in the timber. The surrounding earth was very shaley. The whole thing had been compressed very thin – probably 3mm. The black humus material would have been about 15mm, and had a clay-like substance around it.”

There were chaotic scenes when the backhoe drove into the scene of the dig.

Security guards were on duty twenty-four hours a day” recalled Mr. Engwicht. “People were taking photos through the slats under the church hall. It was chaotic. There were carpenters trying to put up the hoarding while people were running around at the same time taking photos. Once the news was out that remains had been found in one of the graves and the media got hold of it, all hell broke loose.”

After blockading the gates and refusing to move, Mr. Engwicht was arrested, as well as an elderly pensioner who was also arrested the following day, pledging his support to the protestors.

Christ Church warden Lorraine Schenke also visited the graveyard during the dig when she took time out from a meeting with the Parish Council and the Archbishop.

We had a tense meeting with the Archbishop. The whole of the Parish Council was there and people were asking him straight questions. I felt overcome and decided to go outside for a bit of a breather. I was walking in the cemetery and at that stage four of the graves had been dug up. I saw a buckle sitting on top of one of the piles of earth next to the grave. It was a small, intricately engraved belt buckle and looked as though it would have belonged to a child. I was so astounded at finding this piece of evidence that I ran after the Archbishop’s car, but I was too late to stop him driving away.”

What we wanted, what we expected, and what didn’t happen, was that the Diocese would show a normal Christian caring, but it just wasn’t there. People from other Parishes and the local Catholics were far more supportive. The Archbishop just told us that we had to sacrifice our own interests for the greater good.”

The people of Brisbane did not come forward”.

According to Tatiana de Fircks, author of “History of Costume & Style”, the buckle found by Ms Schenke is dated from the Victorian era (c.1870), and was probably a woman’s small belt buckle.

People continued to protest. Nine prominent Brisbane historians and academics released a statement calling on the State Government to intervene under the Cultural Records Act to stop the excavation of the Memorial Reserve on grounds that the excavation was not being professionally managed and there was no archaeologist on site.

In mid November 500 people protested against the Brisbane Traffic Study. Other community groups joined Hale Street residents in the march, including the Urban Coalition, and groups from Murrarrie, Hemmant and Lytton, West End and South Brisbane.

The RRRG argued that the ring road broke one of the most fundamental of all town planning principles – arterial roads should never be driven through the middle of functioning communities. David Engwicht, leader of the community action group CART (Citizens Advocating Responsible Transportation, formerly Citizens Against Route Twenty), and later winner of the 1991 Queensland Division of the Royal Australian Planning Institute’s awards for Excellence in Planning, said that the Study “attempted to impose a modern plan, a developing city plan, on top of an established older style city, ignoring totally the existing residential areas.”

Mr. Engwicht also noted that no residential action groups had been invited to contribute in any way, and he questioned a perceived conflict of interest in that the Project Director of the Brisbane Traffic Study (which included an upgraded Hale Street), was also the designer of the Hale Street project.

CART now wrote to the then future premier of Queensland regarding his Party’s promise to have the Hale Street plans halted, requesting an urgent meeting. Legislation under the Cultural Records Act 1987 was cited as grounds on which the new government could take out an injunction to have work suspended on the Australian Heritage listed area.

Four days before the Queensland State elections, Kafka Pty Ltd. trading as Queensland House Traders, was awarded the tender for demolition and removal of Hale Street properties. A condition of the contract was that work must be completed within ten weeks of its approval.

The State Health Department forensic tests, not accessible to the public, were now reported to have found no evidence of human remains in samples taken from the Memorial Reserve.

Dr. Rod Fisher considered that “it was highly unlikely that anything could be analysed properly in such a short time without sophisticated equipment which the government did not possess…had the Council used qualified personnel such as trained historians and archaeologists, and applied recognised analytical techniques, its conclusion might have been different. Hurriedly digging beneath tombstones with a backhoe, or even a pick and shovel, and sending some fragments to a forensic laboratory was hardly professional or scientific.”

CHAPTER FIVE: ‘No respite’

After so many months of fruitless appeals, hopes were revived again when the opposition Labor government in Queensland was overwhelmingly elected to office. It was a landslide victory and a moment of wonderful conviction for protestors that justice would now prevail.

David Engwicht wrote to the Lord Mayor asking for work on the ring road to be suspended, requesting that the Hale Street Petrie-Terrace area be developed as a historical precinct, including a heritage trail connected to the river walkway by a pedestrian and cycle boulevard. He proposed that this could be created by narrowing Hale Street to two lanes and the pedestrianisation of some Petrie-Terrace streets, closing them to through traffic, enhanced with paving and landscaping. Some areas would be provided with drinking fountains, landscaping, seating, and regular resting places created, similar to one of the old cemetery sites shaded by large fig trees. The group urged Brisbane to conduct “its own bold experiment with road reduction by “narrowing Hale Street and monitoring the situation to see whether traffic levels became intolerable on other streets, or whether the same thing happened as in the Washington Park woonerf experiment”. Overall traffic dropped when residents managed to have a road through the park closed amidst dire forecasts of immediate and severe increases in the number of vehicles in nearby streets. None of the surrounding roads experienced an increase, with a decrease applying to some. (34)

The newly elected government expressed its regret that it was unable to prevent the Council from resuming Memorial Reserve land and that work would continue. Kafka began to demolish houses along Hale Street, as the newly formed Emergency Coalition to Save Hale Street Heritage called for an independent enquiry – asking the government to pass urgent legislation freezng the project until the enquiry was completed.

Roadwork continued unabated through the Christmas holidays.

George Clifford and his wife were among those who had moved out of Hale Street. Mr. Clifford’s Scottish grandparents were the original owners of the two story shop on the corner of Charlotte and Hale Streets – subject of residents’ recent petitions. George’s mother Annie was born in Hale Street, as was George, his six brothers, and a sister who died shortly after birth.

We triple bunked. Three to a bed, some on the verandah. At night we put a kerosene tin on the stove to warm the water for our baths. My brother Frederick died there in that house, and so did my mother and father. Ron Gardner was born in the shop across from us on the other side of Hale Street, and they bought our shop later on. We kept our horses and carts in the back yard and sometimes walked them across to Lang Park for a feed when the pound man wasn’t around. The cemetery was just across the road from us and when they were doing the sewerage works in Lang Park around 1928, a few graves were dug up. For some reason – we never knew why – a single tombstone was left alone in the old grave yard outside the church enclosure, directly across the road from us. It was in about fifteen feet from the road. Just a single headstone. We played cricket in Hale Street then. I used to hit a ball up against the sub-station there, just about opposite the Baptist Church. You could do that then.”

George wrote to the Council on 19th February, 1990, rejecting its offer of $96,000 for his house. He considered it to be below a fair compensation figure but he wished to make an advance compensation claim on the understanding that any monies paid would not preclude him from further negotiations. He reluctantly settled for the original sum offered to him after being advised by a valuer to accept the offer as a down payment. “He said there would be further negotiations but these did not eventuate”.

Roadworks were now well under way. Houses and gardens were being demolished and the cemetery excavation had been completed but the emotional roller-coaster suffered by protestors for so long had still not quite exhausted itself.

Hopes were again raised and there was short-lived jubilation when the new Heritage Minister announced that the Queensland National Trust listed boot factory on the corner of Hale and Caxton Streets would be protected under the government’s new heritage legislation. The listing was withdrawn a few hours later, citing “a typist’s error” and the boot factory had not in fact been included in the list of buildings supplied to the government by the National Trust.

The Boot Factory was built by Morris Shoes on the site of Austen’s wood yard. Residents recalled the wailing of sirens coming from the factory, as well as the smell of tanning leather and the noise of the overhead machinery whirring around in the ceiling of the factory.

Harold Kenn, fourteen years old when he began work there, stayed there for his working life of fifty years, as well as his sister Annie who worked there for fifty-four years.

We worked a forty-four hour week, including Saturday mornings. During the Depression we worked three quarter time, finishing at 3pm. Instead of sacking anyone, our hours were reduced and after work we would go and play tennis until 5 or 6 o’clock. There were three different departments. The first one was the clicking room where all of the patterns were cut out by hand at first, then later on by machine. Then the shoes went to the closing room where they were loosely put together and the laces put in. From there they went to the finishing room where the heel was put on, the shoes dyed and polished and the soles and heels smoothed around and buffed up. You were obliged to do a certain amount of work and someone would go around with a stop-watch so you had to work speedily and efficiently.

The employees decided to form a tennis club and the firm contributed all the materials needed and we all built it together.”

The Emergency Coalition to Save Hale Street appealed to the new government to halt work until an inquiry into the listing of the boot factory could be held, to no avail. The historical building was demolished and the hill it stood on excavated down to almost river level.

By the end of March only two of the resumed houses were still occupied. Ten of the fifty-three resumed houses were to be trucked to other suburbs for use by community groups and the remaining houses were being bulldozed into piles of rubble.

The battle was all but over.

Three years after the announcement of the road plans, in a final attempt at being heard, the RRRG wrote to the Department of Trade and Development pointing out that the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act stated in part that the Co-ordinator General was bound to co-ordinate departments to ensure that proper account was taken of the environmental effects in any development. As the Hale Street proposal affected such a large area, it was regarded as having major environmental effects...”It is now your responsibility to co-ordinate activities ensuring the environmental effects…We bring this matter to your attention and emphasise that the Minister is not required to give direction….”

The answer came in the awarding of the $6.7m civil works contract for Stage 2 of the ring road.

Among those residents not living in Hale Street itself, but severely affected by the new road construction was Kirsten Dyer, a strong and tireless RRRG member. She lived in Normanby Terrace, a quiet backstreet east of Hale Street until the roadworks began.

My house was at the end of Stage 1 and the beginning of Stage 2. There was a row of houses behind me facing onto Ithaca Street and the old cattle yards at the end of Victoria Park. They were all resumed. One family there owned three houses. Nobody would buy three houses in one street and suddenly lose the lot unless there was something very wrong with their forward planning at the time of purchase. My next door neighbour was an elderly lady who had had property resumed twice before. She was devastated when she lost a big chunk of her back yard. My back garden and main living area faced the roadworks and work would often start at 6am, finishing at 5.30 or 6pm. They worked 72 hours straight on Labor Day weekend, 1989, laying the plumbing and drains in Kelvin Grove Road. We were not notified apart from a very small public notice in the Council’s weekend information section of the newspaper. Our street was closed. Access was shut off. If you didn’t get the newspaper, there was no notification whatsoever.”

Very young when she first bought her house in Petrie-Terrace, Kirsten renovated, polished the floors, painted, repaired and established a garden. In the evenings she sat outside and enjoyed the view across the tops of trees and historical old houses. In June, 1987, like so many others, she was deeply shocked when she opened her morning newspaper and read about the plans for Hale Street. She joined the RRRG at the first public meeting held in the church hall and helped to start a community support group.

The older people felt threatened and frightened and had absolutely no idea of what was going on. A few of them we spoke to were too frightened to ask for help because they thought that if they did they wouldn’t be able to negotiate with the Council. They believed they would get a lesser price for their homes. Once the roadworks started, some of them were too scared to cross the road. They had to climb to the top of Hale Street, a fairly steep climb, and get across the Musgrave Underpass, or walk to the junction of Caxton and Hale Streets to get across at the lights. It became a daunting prospect to simply cross the road to get a carton of milk. From where I lived, I could no longer just go for an easy stroll and buy the paper or the milk, or get to the pub.”

People had to leave their homes a long time before the roadworks started and after a few months, squatters moved in. There was no water and the plumbing and electricity had been disconnected. When houses are left empty for long periods of time, squatters and the homeless will move in. It is just a fact of life. Garbage bins couldn’t always be collected because there were trucks everywhere. I gave up in the end and used to go out to the tip myself.”

Resident Dot Smythe watched “spare allotments being used as unofficial dumps and squatters opening and using cartons of goods packed and ready to be moved.”

The crime rate increased” said Kirsten. “Little things. They sound petty on their own, but when you add them all up they are significant. I have never seen rats around my property until the roadworks began and it was suddenly infested. I had to put poison down so often that my dog ate some remnants…He lived, but it cost me a lot, both emotionally and financially. The rats in the area were phenomenal. There was a huge upsurge. The Council said they were coming from the roadworks where they were dredging up old drains and pipes and so on.”

The roadworks were not lit. There was no security on them, there were no hoardings around them. It cost me $4,000 to put a security system through my house after I had had five break-ins in six months. I lost thousands. I had seven claims on my insurance in one year. In the seven years previously, I had had none. My premium blew through the roof. It didn’t matter whether it was night or day – I was there on one occasion when a man kicked my front door down. I had the Queensland Police Force almost sitting on my front doorstep for months. The local police called it Little Beiruit because it was such a devastated area. My elderly neighbour had bars on her windows and she kept her doors locked day and night. If that old lady was scared during the day, then at night she must have been truly terrified.”

The roadworks sometimes didn’t have safety signs on until I spoke directly to the Works supervisor and to my local member. Normanby Terrace had been a through road, then it suddenly became a dead end. There was no indication at the beginning of the road that it was a no through road. At the end of the road there was a big drop down a cliff of mud to Kelvin Grove Road. There was no retaining fence, and more than once I saw vehicles almost go off it.”

My next door neighbour was often unable to catch the bus because she couldn’t find it, it was so mobile. The bus stop was originally at the end of Normanby Terrace, then it was moved about four hundred metres down the road, then it was eight hundred metres up the road, then it was almost at College Road, then it came back to its original position, then it ended up back at College Road. I sat for forty-five minutes one morning, waiting for a bus that used to come through every eleven minutes.”

Street lights in our street were taken away bcause of roadworks and we had to go and request some lighting. I paid my rates and service bills for this. I paid huge rates. I had rates of over $1,000 for a 16 perch block facing a major road, that I had been lied to about. I couldn’t get an honest answer as to what the distance was from my back fence to the start of the road. I was told it would be one house block from my house to the start of the bitumen. It ended up being something like two metres.”

When the cemetery dig was in progress I came home from work one afternoon and there were film negatives slipped underneath my door. It was one of those poor-quality disc films and I wondered what it was and took it to be developed. I found that it was photographs of the cemetery being destroyed and it had been taken from inside the hoardings. This was after the demonstrations, when they had armed security guards up there. We used to climb underneath the church. Father Perry’s daughter showed us how to get underneath the church.”

I was called an obnoxious fool by a politician for having built a deck onto the back of my house, and for lifting and re-stumping the house. It had been planned for a long time and I couldn’t afford to reassess the plans. All I could do at the time was cry.”

It hurt. It still hurts. I lost so much.”

The politicians bleated and carried on and stomped their little feet on their political platforms saying that they would help us. They lied. They lied like pigs in mud. And nobody makes them accountable. As far as I am concerned, they are thieves. They have stolen from me and they owe me. I can’t say anything strong enough to tell you how hurt and distressed I am, and disillusioned…. we fought hard and we lost. We failed miserably and in the period after I had resigned myself to the destruction all around us and the gigantic great high speed freeway passing my kitchen window, my house was worth a great deal less than it had been valued at.

Kirsten tried to sell her house shortly after the roadworks began but couldn’t find a buyer at her asking price, $5,000 below the valuation at $170,000 – $175,000 after renovation. She took it off the market and after three attempts at selling, it was eventually sold two years later to an overseas investor for $135,000 for use as a rental property.

After my house was sold I no longer wanted to live in the area and bought land as far away as possible, on the north coast of Brisbane, an hour away from the city. This proved to be a mistake as my job entailed a lot of travel and I was studying in Brisbane. I sold the land within eighteen months and moved home to live with my parents where I stayed for approximately a year before moving into an old art deco apartment in the city with magnificent views and wonderful summer breezes, and hated it…I soon came to realise I had a snowball’s chance in hell of buying an old Queenslander like my original home. I eventually had to settle for a property that was to be an investment only – staid and unadventurous, but it’s home and I am settled again.”

On the western side of Hale Street the situation was similar. Previously quiet, tree-lined roads running parallel to Hale Street were destroyed. Kensington Parade was completely wiped out by the roadworks together with the Hale Street houses on the same side, and now lies under metres of concrete and bitumen, leaving Elston Street residents on the edge of the huge development.

Local Real Estate agents conceded in the “Courier Mail” of November 13th, 1991 that “more residents on the terraces surrounding the Hale Street project were selling up and more properties were being bought for rental purposes.”

Neville Swepson moved to Elston Stree close to Hale Street, in 1921 with his parents and brother. ..”My mother was born in Musgrave Road at the top of Hale Street – the last of thirteen children born in that house. My grandfather came out from England in 1870 and opened a grocery store in Musgrave Road. After he died my uncle took it over and I took it over in 1945 and kept it for about fifteen years. All the big combines started coming in and cut the prices lower and lower until in the end I could go and buy things from their shelves cheaper than I could buy it wholesale.”

Before the roadworks there was us, then there was Kensington Parade, then more houses and yards, then Hale Street beyond those houses. Our back yard faced onto Kensington Parade which has now gone. All of those houses have gone. Finished. I lost a lot of my neighbours. There is a big off ramp now, where my neighbours used to be”.

Out the back of my place there is a big fence which stops dead halfway up my yard because they didn’t finish it up to Musgrave Road. It’s neither one thing or the other. They should have left it out altogether or continued it on up to my boundary fence. There is no access into the back of my property but a neighbour wanted access and she got it through a lawyer. That’s why the fence wasn’t finished. A Council foreman asked me if I minded if he didn’t take the fence beyond the corner of my property and I said I didn’t mind but I would like something in writing. He went and got a piece of paper and wrote, “I the undersigned, do not wish the 2.4 metre timber fence to extend beyond my southern boundary on the Kensington Street frontage, 4/4/91”. He took a photocopy of it and I signed it and someone witnessed it. Now they have left the fence half built, halfway across my property. I could go to a solicitor, but at my age, why battle? I want to live my life out in harmony.”

They wrote to me and said they would construct a sewer line through my property. That was OK with me, but the next thing there’s a bloody big backhoe in my yard here. I was having breakfast and I went out and said, “what’s going on here?” I said had had no notification that they were coming through. My letter had said that they would be commencing construction of sewerage facilities but that “at this stage no actual date of entry can be given but the occupier of the premises, if any, would receive forty-eight hours’ notice before construction operations commence”.

The Council took out tonnes of soil from Mr. Swepson’s yard to put a manhole in. “But they didn’t put the soil back” said Mr. Swepson. “When I complained, the driver gave me a piece of paper there and then on the spot which said…”it will be necessary to construct a sewer line through the property you are occupying…the Council will be entering your property for this purpose on or about… but the ending was blank.”

I used to sit peacefully here on my verandah at night and have a few beers and see across the trees and houses right down to the Normanby Hotel. It was lovely. But it’s all gone now.”

He leaves his father’s graves behind, and he does not care.

He kidnaps the earth from his children, and he does not care.

His father’s grave, and his children’s birthright, are forgotten…

His appetite will devour the earth and leave behind only a desert…

You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the

ashes of your grandfathers.

So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich

with the lives of our kin…

Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit upon

the ground, they spit upon themselves.

This we know: the earth does not belong to man: man belongs to the

earth. This we know.

All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All

things are connected….

Chief Seattle

REFERENCES

#
p<>{color:#000;}. “The Ups and Downs of Petrie-Terrace Walk/Drive Heritage Tour”, Brisbane History Group, 1989, 2nd edition.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Brisbane Courier Mail, 7 March, 1865

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Bishop Hale, 16 January 1876

#
p<>{color:#000;}. “Brisbane Courier”, 22 March, 1930 – “The Brisbane River 100 years ago, by an old Brisbaneite”

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Brisbane City Council’s Message from the Lord Mayor, W.C.R. Harvey, “Petrie-Terrace Proposals for Public Discussion”

#
p<>{color:#000;}. “Courier Mail” 9 May, 1987

#
p<>{color:#000;}. “The Hale St. Ring Road”, 198798 (1 November, 1989) Dr. Rod Fisher

#
p<>{color:#000;}. “Courier Mail” 3 July, 1987

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Letter from R. Hinze, Minister for Local Government, Main Roads and Racing, to the Lord Mayor, Brisbane City Council, dated 2 November, 1987

#
p<>{color:#000;}. “A Social Impact Assessment of the Hale St. Ring Road”, prepared by post-graduate students of the Master of Social Planning & Development Course – Department of Anthropology & Sociology, University of Queensland, December, 1987

#
p<>{color:#000;}. “Traffic in the Inner Suburbs”, Phil Heywood, Snr. Lecturer, Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering, Queensland University of Technology

#
p<>{color:#000;}. RRRG Newsletter, November, 1987

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Ring Road Resistance Group Minutes, January, 1988

#
p<>{color:#000;}. “Time” Magazine, 7 March, 1988

#
p<>{color:#000;}. “Mackay Genie Gossip” No. 124, November 2008 (Since April 1988)

#
p<>{color:#000;}. “Courier Mail” 5 August, 1988

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Extracts from hand written log books of St. Luke’s Nursing Service, Milton, Qld.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. “Sunday Sun”, 2 April, 1989

#
p<>{color:#000;}. “Sunday Sun”, 2 April, 1989

#
p<>{color:#000;}. “Courier Mail”, 31 May, 1989

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Harrison v Brisbane City Council (1989 No. 144) Supreme Court, Brisbane (Dowsett J.), 23rd, 29th June 1989

#
p<>{color:#000;}. “Courier Mail”, 11 July, 1989

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p<>{color:#000;}. “Courier Mail”, 7 July, 1989

#
p<>{color:#000;}. “Courier Mail”, 7 August, 1989

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Queensland Parliamentary Debates, Vol. 313, 1989, 17 October, 1989: Trust (Reserve 1030) Variation Bill

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Australian Heritage Commission, Statement of Significanced: Name of Place: Christ Church Group Reg. No. 008430 4/01/001/0104/01

#
p<>{color:#000;}. “Tom Petrie’s Reminiscences of Early Queensland”, Constance Campbell Petrie, Watson, Ferguson & Co., Queensland, 1904 (Re-published in 1975 by Lloyd O’Neil, Hawthorn)

#
p<>{color:#000;}. “Historical Sketches of Brisbane”, John H.C. McClurg, jointly published by the Library Board of Queensland and the Royal Historical Society of Queensland, Brisbane, 1975

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Christ Church Milton Souvenir 75th Festival 1873 – 1948, published August 28, 1948

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Queensland Parliamentary Papers 1914, Vol. 2 “Report Regarding the Operations Undertaken at the Paddington Cemeteries”

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Queensland Parliamentary Papers 1914, Vol. 2 “Report Regarding the Operations Undertaken at the Paddington Cemeteries”

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Queensland Parliamentary Papers 1914, Vol. 2 “Report Regarding the Operations Undertaken at the Paddington Cemeteries”

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Christ Church Milton Souvenir 75th Festival 1873 – 1948, published August 28, 1949

#
p<>{color:#000;}. “Traffic Calming – The Solution to Route 20 and a new vision for Brisbane”, CART, published by CART, 50 Exeter Street, Ashgrove, Qld. 4060 in 1989, page 23


Resumed in Protest: the Human Cost of Roads

This story is a blueprint – a written documentary and tangible map of a grassroots activist community initiative of people versus the machine. In their own words, residents of a historical inner city suburb in Queensland describe their protracted and bitter battle with the Brisbane City Council, the hierarchy of the Anglican Church and two Queensland State Governments over the “Hale Street Ring Road”. The road project proposal involved the destruction of large areas which were listed as part of the National Estate of Australia, including the last remnants of an old cemetery beside an Anglican church, listed with the Australian Heritage Commission and the Queensland National Trust. Diverse in age, status, origin, life-style and outlook, residents joined together to defend themselves, their neighbours, their street, homes and gardens, church grounds, cemetery and other Heritage listed buildings. Many were elderly and had been born in their houses, with one or both of their parents also born there. Without warning, confronted with the sudden and shocking news that their homes were going to be resumed for a road project, they were unaware of the relentless roller-coaster of emotions they were about to endure. With no notice or consultation, no interactive public discussion, no political debate and no social or environmental impact study, approximately fifty properties were marked for resumption, with the plan effectively cutting the historical suburb of Petrie Terrace off from all other residential areas and forcing it into the central business district area. The circumstances this community was forced to accept indicates just how far our society has capitulated to the automotive industry compared to the welfare of the people it is supposed to serve.

  • Author: Nathalie Haymann
  • Published: 2017-02-09 11:05:12
  • Words: 20253
Resumed in Protest: the Human Cost of Roads Resumed in Protest: the Human Cost of Roads