On this day: the Australian Women’s Army Service

Awas_in_wa_1943Northam, West Australia. 1943-04-20. The Minister for the Australian Army, the Honourable F.M. Forde, inspecting personnel of the Australian Women's Army Service at the We

Minister for the Australian Army, the Honourable F.M. Forde, is photographed inspecting members of the Australian Women’s Army Service in Northam, Western Australia on the 20th of April, 1943.

The AWAS was formed in August of 1941, two years into Australia’s participation in the Second World War. Tens of thousands of women served in various positions in the Australian Army, including several hundred who were sent to New Guinea.

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On this day: Cyclone destruction in Queensland

StateLibQld_2_182515_Destruction_of_part_of_Townsville_Grammar_School_caused_by_Cyclone_'Leonta'_in_1903Cyclone Leonta was a tropical cyclone that caused severe damage in North Queenslan

Rubble at Townsville Grammar School. X

Cyclone Leonta hit the north of the state of Queensland in Australia on the 9th of March, 1903.

StateLibQld_2_187151_Destruction_of_the_Burns,_Philp_and_Company's_Bulk_Store_in_Townsville_caused_by_Cyclone_'Leonta',_1903Cyclone Leonta was a tropical cyclone that caused severe damag

The ruined Burns, Philp and Company’s Bulk Store in Townsville. X

One of the most damaging storms recorded in the tropical region at the time, the storm lasted for around twelve hours.

StateLibQld_2_188687_Storm_damaged_Anglican_Cathedral,_Townsville,_1903Cyclone Leonta was a tropical cyclone that caused severe damage in North Queensland on 9 March 1903. It lasted for

Townsville’s Anglican Cathedral lost its roof. X

Significant destruction was recorded in Townsville, with buildings such as schools and churches suffering major damage.

StateLibQld_2_182511_Destruction_of_the_Townsville_Hospital's_Harvey_Ward_caused_by_Cyclone_'Leonta',_1903Cyclone Leonta was a tropical cyclone that caused severe damage in North Queensl

Destruction at Townsville Hospital. X

At least fourteen lives were lost in the storm, twelve in Townsville and two inland in the town of Charters Towers.

StateLibQld_2_85280_Australian_Joint_Stock_Bank_at_Bowen_after_the_1903_cycloneCyclone Leonta was a tropical cyclone that caused severe damage in North Queensland on 9 March 1903. It las

The damaged Australian Joint Stock Bank in Bowen. X

Severe damage was also recorded, with many houses lost, in towns such as Bowen and Ayr.

 

The Australian Women’s Land Army

A_papier-mache_cow_on_Mrs_Mellor_s_car,_1944A papier-mache cow, used for milking demonstrations at the Werribee experimental farm, Women's Land Army Australia Seconnd World War World W

Field Officer Mrs Mellor of the Australian Women’s Land Army ties a papier-mâché cow to the back of her car on the 29th of February, 1944 (1944 was a leap year).

The cow was used in milking demonstrations.

The AWLA was formed in 1942 to combat rising labour shortages in Australia’s farming industry as the war in the Pacific intensified. The organisation was disbanded at the end of 1945.

On this day: Ballet in 1956

The Borovansky Ballet, an Australian company that was a pioneer for major dance companies in the country today, as featured in the Australian Women’s Weekly on the 8th of February, 1956. The images are from their production of The Nutcracker.
Borovansky Ballet's Nutcracker published in The Australian Women_s Weekly 8th February 1956.

On this day: the Black Thursday Bushfires

William Strutt, Black Thursday, February 6th (detail), 1864. Australian Art. Bushfires.

As depicted by English-born artist William Strutt in 1864.

One of the worst bushfire disasters in recorded Australian history, the Black Thursday fires took place on the 6th of February, 1851, in the colony of Victoria.

Severe drought in 1850 helped to create the conditions ideal for bushfires. An estimated maximum temperature of 47 °C and strong winds on the day of the disaster magnified the situation.

It is believed the fire started when two bullock drivers left burning logs unattended.

The disaster claimed the lives of twelve people and many animals, and caused significant damage to the countryside.

Fifteen Years

I’ve mentioned this disaster before, but today is the fifteenth anniversary of the freakish firestorm that tore through Canberra, Australia’s capital city. Unlike other bushfires, this one burnt into the city itself, claiming lives and destroying many hundreds of buildings.

Watch from 1:08 in to see what the suburban streets looked like that afternoon.

The images below (from Wikimedia Commons) are from before the sky turned blacker than night, and then bright red. All the photos are of places I was on that day. When everything went black, it started raining embers, and the flames started rolling down the mountains that surround us, things got really scary in this part of town. (What looks like lights in the first picture is all fire.)

People I know lost everything, but we got lucky and the firebombing helicopters were just over us and stopped it before it jumped the road to our side.

2003_Canberra_Firestorm-Woden 2003 Canberra Firestorm. 18th January 2003 Canberra_hills-18-01-2003

2003_Canberra_Firestorm-Woden Photo of Woden Town Centre during the height of the 2003 Canberra Firestorm. 18th January 2003

2003_Canberra_Firestorm- 2003 Canberra Firestorm. 18th January 2003 Canberra_hills-18-01-2003 2003CanberraBushfires.

On this day: a funeral in Queensland

Funeral service at Atherton War Cemetery, 12 December 1944 Queensland Australia Black and White Vintage Second World War Two

12th December 1944: A funeral taking place at Atherton War Cemetery in the northern Australian state of Queensland.

Built in 1942, halfway through the Second World War, the cemetery contains 164 graves.

From the collection of the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.