Brisbane, QLD

Friday, September 28, 2012


I guess every city has its street of medical specialists. In London I think it is Harley St, in Sydney its Macquarie St, I don't know what it is in NYC someone reading this might tell me. Anyhow in Brisbane it is Wickham Tce. Last week we went to visit TOH's physician for a check up and after TOH* was given the all okay prognoses we went for a walk around that part of the city with our cameras.

Wickham Tce climbs up a steep hill, on top there is an old windmill which I featured on my last post. Opposite the old mill is one of our oldest hotels, "The Tower Mill" and as commenter Colin pointed out it was the scene of nasty anti apartheid demonstrations back in the seventies when the South African Springboks football team were staying in this hotel.

Tower Mill Hotel
Wickham Park opposite the hotel

The reason I say nasty is because we had, in my opinion an awful premier at the time. 

The Springbok tour party were staying at the Tower Mill Motel on Brisbane’s Wickham Terrace. They were separated from the 400 protesters by a line of 500 quasi-military style police officers. The turnout was poor partly because of the police intimidation and partly because Brisbanites bought the official line that “sport and politics should not mix”. That this cliché was a fiction easily exposed did not matter – the media at the time did not expose it.
Bjelke-Petersen, then still an untested Premier, used the tour to try out anti-democratic practices he would become familiar with over the next 16 years. Eight days before the game, he declared a State of Emergency to secure the Exhibition Grounds for the game suspending civil liberties for a month in the process. The legislation gave police carte blanche for the operation that followed against the protesting students.
On the night of the riot, the numbers of students, aboriginals and academics outside the Mill was swollen by plain clothes police as agent provocateurs. With no warning, the line of uniformed police marched forward and ordered the protesters to clear the footpath. The demonstrators were forced to flee down the steep and pitch-dark hill into Wickham Park. The police follow attacking with fists, batons and boots as their plain-clothes colleagues join in. Some protesters jumped an eight-metre high embankment into the busy traffic of Albert Street below. Others were simply thrown over.

One of those students, Peter Beattie, eventually became our premier and cleaned up the state and allowed demonstrations.

Wickham Park is a steep park dropping down to the lower part of the city. It is a clean cool place.

Unfortunately some people have made it their home. 

We have another new premier, Campbell Newman,who is axing thousands of jobs in the public service to try and get the state's finances out of the red. He has been likened to Joh Bjelke Petersen of the riots era. Heaven forbid.
*TOH (The Other Half) 


  1. Well done with the history of those days. However times have changed since then. I actually felt sorry for the "Springbok" team, they did come to play sport (Rugby Union), not to become political prawns. Even today sports and politics still get mixed up. Such a "pitty pointless" business.
    Pity that the Tower Mill Hotel revolving restaurant is now no more.
    Oh God - all those "lovely leaves" on the street, I hope the drains will cope with them when it pours rain. That will be a headache for "Can-do" Campbell and his successor as LM of Brisbane, Quirk.
    Ah yes funny/sad days of yesteryears, now the once called "Proteas" of South Africa, a name change was needed whilst they were isolated, are now re-called the "Springboks".
    And they now come here and win!
    Completely invincible on South African football fields.
    Great informative blog report, Diane.

  2. Pleased to read TOH's appointment outcome was good.
    People do change the times - don't they!

  3. i would like to see the rooms in the tower, i like that a lot. we don't have a street of specialist here, they are spread all over the county. we have 4 hospitals and each one has specialists close to it.

  4. Sounds like some in the US. We've got a park - Pioneer Park - here in Mesa that the city let go to 'those' who have made it their home. It's been going on 30 years or more and no one will do anything about it. Somebody needs to step up and allow families to go back there like we used to.

  5. An interesting story from the past, Diane. I suspect Joh was into double entry book-keeping - one set of books for him, and one for the public.

    I was living in Bundaberg when they passed a law saying the police had the right to stop, question and/or take anyone to a police station without having to explain themselves. Was very grateful when there was a reason to move to SA.

    Wonderful to hear TOH has been given a healthy thumbs up!

  6. Good news on TOH's prognosis!
    I guess every country has it's moments we'd like to forget.
    It's my humble opinion that politics and anything else don' mix. :)
    Lovely old trees in that park. Always sad about the homeless though.

  7. 'Dark days' and 'medical specialists' made my heart sink. Glad the two were not linked for you this time!

  8. Diane - regarding places in the USA where doctors are enmasse, is Rochester, Minn. the home of the first Mayo Clinic. The area where all the specialists lived in Rochester was nicknamed - "Pill Hill" by the locals.

  9. Oh -- sorry 'bout the politics right now there...but I have to tell you that when I saw the title of your post and then saw that it was about the "medical street" I was afraid that you were going to have bad personal news to share. ("We've" spent some time in Dr's offices ourselves this summer.) So actually the post sort of made me happy -- that everything is well with both of you.

  10. Seeing the fall and public disgrace of JBP was one of life's pleasures I will always recall. I can't really remember the 'riot'. It sounds appalling.

  11. Diane that's fantastic news TOH's appointment went well.

    It sickens me to read of such things as police brutality in particular in this news story. My heart also goes out to those who have to make a park bench their home; we also have homeless in my city, and it infuriates me. Alberta is the richest province in Canada and we can't even house our citizens, children and youth included. I'll spare you my rant.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  12. Whoops my title was a bad choice as I see how a thumbnail could be misleading. So I have added to the title hoping to make it less worrisome for my friends.

  13. Joh's tactics were certainly draconian. The big worry for my parents and others are the time was that their children would go to university and become 'radicals' joining all the student demonstrations. There were a lot of anti-Vietnam protests going on at this time too.

    The big thing I remember from this event was that the university went on strike which seemed ludicrous to me because who cares if students are on strike. It was also my first encounter with union politics ... we sat in the quad listening to all the 'solidarity' speeches then when lunch was over most students headed off to their lectures. I happened to have a chemistry prac in the building by the quad. Once the crowd had dwindled to just about nothing and only die hards were left THEN the vote was taken.

    I did have some friends who attended the demo at the tower mill and didn't suffer any harm.

  14. It must be pointed out that the Queensland Police FORCE at that time were the premier's personal weapon against anybody opposing his tyranny. An an official enquiry later found the commissioner corrupt, loosing his knighthood and ended up in jail. Together with some of the premier's ministers.

    Dark days indeed.

  15. Politics seem to be awful world wide lately. I do not like to see the police use force if it is just a peaceful demonstration. On a brighter side I am glad to hear that only good news came from the doctors visit. Great post, Diane! Have a lovely weekend!

  16. It is always disappointing to see that our rich societies can not cope with extreme poverty of homeless people.


  17. Who knows if QLD will ever fully recover from the JBP era?? God forbid the new premier becoming the NEXT JBP - surely one was enough??

  18. We don't have any medical specialist streets. They work usually in their homes or in a hospital. Sometimes also in a "Medical Center". Of course what happened in Australia in the 70th I have no idea at that time it seemed to be at the other end of the world.

  19. I found this all very interesting Diane, thank you.

  20. A great post, Diane, pointing out the time when our "Boks" were unfortunately in the middle of all the nastiness of apartheid. I remember it all well. We also don't have a "street" of medical doctors but I find that there are blocks/suburbs in the cities where specialists ply their trade! Jo

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