About the Project
This project conducts historical fieldwork by visiting and walking through localities and heritage sites relevant to convict Moreton Bay and the commandant Patrick Logan. In July 2020 I made the first of these field visits and drove to Queen’s Park and Cunningham’s Knoll in Ipswich. My findings, in the case of the Queen’s Park and Cunningham’s Knoll precinct, were that the Ipswich Council showed little interest in acknowledging or commemorating the convict heritage of the city. Instead in its place, the safer progressive myth of the Australian explorer and the achievements of the local Labour party were honoured at an official level in a public space.
The statement that a historian needs a strong set of walking boots is generally attributed to the British economic historian R.H. Tawney. Ironically, Tawney is alleged to have followed his own advice only on rare occasions. Despite this, Tawney’s statement on the fundamental value of historical fieldwork is championed by many leading figures in the discipline including Manning Clarke and the military historians Peter Stanley and John Keegan.  Although the benefits of visiting a location are perhaps not as immediately tangible as the discovery of a key written source in a library or archive, from personal experience I believe the act of witnessing and physically experiencing the geography of where past events occurred, facilitates both the process of research and the writing of history.
Finding the echoes of the colonial past in the urbanised environment of southeast Queensland however can be challenging. Our immediate landscape lacks epic battlefields such as the Somme or Kokoda or the extensive heritage listed Georgian era houses and farms and prison buildings of the Tasmanian convict experience. The subtropical environment and a progressivist culture which all too frequently prioritises commercial development over other considerations, has done much to obliterate the material legacy of 19th century Queensland. Walker’s Way in Nundah for example, ostensibly appears to be nothing more than a typical North Brisbane suburban street. There is little to reveal to a casual observer that it was once the site of the State’s first missionary settlement, Zion Hill. But to a researcher familiar with the written sources and mission histories, a stroll down Walker’s Way and surrounding streets becomes a rewarding and illuminating experience. One can see firsthand significant elements in the landscape such as the close proximity of the water way Kedron Brook to the settlement. Abundant vegetable gardens and rusting stockyard fencing behind an old Queenslander, bear witness to the agricultural legacy of the area. Public memorials to the German missionaries and their families at the nearby Nundah Cemetery, stand as evidence to the local community’s discourse and engagement with its own colonial past. British social historian Jonathan Healey argues that walking through a landscape is ‘like wandering over the greatest historical document we have.’ Ordinary features including ditches, fields, buildings and roads, combine to produce a ‘great treasury of the past’ which lies within the land itself. 
For this reason during the course of researching and writing my thesis, I intend to visit and take a walk through a number of localities and heritage sites relevant to convict Moreton Bay and the commandant Patrick Logan.
1, Clark, Manning 1976, A Discovery of Australia, 1976 Boyer Lecture, Australian Broadcasting Commission, Sydney, p.41; Stanley, Peter 2008, A Stout Pair of Boots, A guide to exploring Australia’s battlefields, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, p.2 ; Keegan, John 1976, The Face of Battle, J. Cape, London, p.33.
2. Healey, Jonathan, ‘A tale of two ditches’, The Social Historian, blog posted 3 July 2013. https://thesocialhistorian.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/a-tale-of-two-ditches/.
In July 2020 I made the first of these field visits and drove to Queen’s Park and Cunningham’s Knoll in Ipswich. Queen’s Park is a heritage listed recreation area, a few kilometres to the east of the city’s central business district on the main connecting road to Brisbane. The park is a significant area of public shared space with a range of facilities including a children’s playground, visitors centre, and a community theatre housed in a 1930s incinerator designed by the American architect Walter Burley Griffin. At a geographical level the centre of the park is dominated by a sloping ridge of limestone. Under a canopy of fig trees the exposed white mineral outcrops are a striking feature of the park’s landscape.
It was this geographical feature that attracted the attention of Logan during the second year of his administration in 1827. The area was named the Limestone Hills and became one of the first out stations established by the convicts of Moreton Bay. The botanist Charles Frazer visited the area in 1828 with Logan and Cunningham and observed,
The limestone is singularly disposed, in large masses… on the surface it presents ridges of detached portions…The summits of the lime ridges are studded with various species of Ficus [Fig Trees]. 
As can be seen from recent photographs, Frazer’s description is still applicable to the location some 190 years later.
3. Frazer’s Journal, 11 July 1828, in Steele, J.G. (ed) 1983, The Explorers of the Moreton Bay District 1770 – 1830, University of Queensland Press, St. Lucia, p.234.
The limestone outcrops were situated near a navigable stretch of the Bremer River, with a suitable landing point located on the river bend near present day King Edward Parade. A small jetty and some huts were constructed at this site with a rough track following a creek line up to the limestone outcrops. There the limestone was quarried and burned to create powdered lime in pit kilns.  The main area for the convict quarry did not lie within the boundaries of Queen’s Park but at an adjoining location which by the 1930s was named Cunningham’s Knoll. A postcard photograph of the site was taken in the early 20th century. At the time the image was made, the area still bore physical signs of its mining past, with horizon lines from the quarrying process visible on the slopes of the limestone hummock to the right of the knoll.
While the cultural memory of the residents of Ipswich recognised this location as the site of the first convict labour force in the district, they also identified the knoll and its cresting fig tree as the campsite of the explorer Allan Cunningham. After his expedition to the summit of Mount Barney with Logan and Frazer in August 1828, Cunningham separated from Logan’s party and travelled to the Limestone Hills. Here he rested his bullocks for five days at the convict out station before venturing southwest, determined to find a gap in the Great Dividing Range and a pathway to the northern plains of New South Wales.  In his journal Cunningham makes no mention of resting underneath the branches of a shady fig tree while convicts toiled away close by with picks and shovels, but it is a historical image that resonated with the people of Ipswich.
In the early 1930s a depression era work project supported by the Ipswich City Council, transformed the rough limestone slopes of Cunningham’s Knoll into one of Ipswich’s largest public monuments. Stonemasons and labourers shaped the site into a regimented arrangement of terraces and paved pathways reminiscent of a stepped pyramid. At the front entranceway two identical memorials were fixed on either side of the structure, in the shape of low obelisks formed of limestone rubble with pyramidal limestone caps. 
The first of the obelisk memorials commemorates Allan Cunningham with the inscription, ‘To Perpetuate the Memory of Explorer Allan Cunningham, who camped under these fig trees in the year 1828.’ The second memorial honours the life and achievements of the Labour politician and member for the seat of Bundamba, Thomas Glassey. Neither memorial makes any mention of the site’s convict past.
4. Queensland State Archives, Item ID ITM714313, Survey of the town of Limestone, 1843. https://www.archivessearch.qld.gov.au/items/ITM714313.
5. Cunningham’s Journal, August 1828, in Steele, J.G. (ed) 1983, The Explorers of the Moreton Bay District 1770 – 1830, University of Queensland Press, St. Lucia, p.234.
6. ‘Queen’s Park’, Queensland Government Heritage Register website. https://apps.des.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=602356.
7. ‘Queen’s Park’, Queensland Government Heritage Register website. https://apps.des.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=602356.
Behind the stepped pyramid of Cunnungham’s Knoll lies a smaller monument, a hummock of limestone enclosed by a small platform of stone work. At the front of the monument a plaque succinctly commemorates the physical connection of the site to Ipswich’s convict past, noting the contribution of the commandant Patrick Logan and the overseers and convict labourers who worked at the site.
The story behind the creation of the smaller convict hummock monument illustrates the choices made by different sections of Australian society, as to what parts of the nation’s history are remembered and preserved and what alternatively is swept aside and forgotten. On the morning of 1 December 1966, Ipswich residents heard the sound of a council bulldozer ominously clanking towards the limestone hummock adjoining Cunningham’s Knoll. By midday around half of the historic mound had been levelled. Large numbers of angry telephone calls were received by the Ipswich City Council and the Queensland Times newspaper demanding an immediate halt to the destruction of the site. 
Responding to the calls, Ipswich Mayor, James Finimore ordered the work to be discontinued. Cooperating with the newly formed Ipswich Historical Society, the limestone mound was restored by a team of council workers. A commemorative plaque was provided by the Ipswich Historical Society and unveiled in 1968 by Sir Raphael Cilento, the then president of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland. 
8. ‘When bulldozer wreaked destruction, locals had other plans’, Gladstone Observer, 8 January 2017.
9. ‘Council blunder gave society a purpose more than 50 years ago’, Queensland Times, 2 October 2016.
Local government in Australia plays a significant role in the remembrance of community history on a number of levels including the commissioning of public memorials and the preservation of heritage sites. In the case of the Queen’s Park and Cunningham’s Knoll precinct, the Ipswich Council showed little interest in acknowledging or commemorating the convict heritage of the city. Instead in its place, the safer progressive myth of the Australian explorer and the achievements of the local Labour party were honoured at an official level in a public space. The 1960s Ipswich grass roots protest against the destruction of a local convict site is indicative of the importance of cultural memory within a community and also of the social value of sites which French historian Pierre Nora refers to as lieux de memoire or the pathways to popular collective memory.