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Meanjin to Brisvegas: Snapshots of Brisbane's journey from colonial backwater to new world city

250 pages3 hours


In just one generation Brisbane has changed beyond recognition; it has grown from country town to vibrant modern metropolis. Yet it had a tough start. Until the last decade of the 20th Century it was a blue collar town, struggling under the weight of its history.  

Prior to European settlement - as Meanjin - it was a busy meeting place for the many indigenous clans in the Moreton Bay region. Almost 200 years ago newly-named Brisbane had an inauspicious start as a penal settlement poorly run by veterans of the Napoleonic Wars. It became a separate state with the less financial support from London than any other colony in the mighty British Empire. Almost a century later is was briefly the Allied Forces headquarters for the Pacific War, delighting and depressing its citizens in equal measure. Then it had to fight off corruption in high places before it could realise its great potential.

There was some intrigue along the way. Early Brisbane society was enlivened by its own aristocratic Lady Di; a gruesome murder started a dynasty; the Battle of Brisbane was hushed-up to maintain morale; and the local ‘Rat Pack’ played a rather different Joke.

Journalist and author John Tilston arrived in Brisbane just as it started to take off, and had a bit part in its development. In this book he explores key moments in the city’s rich history.

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