Wednesday, May 22, 2024


Tozer's Building was designed in 1895 by noted Brisbane architect Richard Gailey as solicitors' offices for Horace Tozer (later knighted) and his partner Anthony Conwell. Practising as a solicitor in Gympie from 1868 until 1898, Tozer was noted as an authority on mining law and as a Member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly, minister and Agent-General. These two storey purpose-built offices with basement, designed in a classical style have been used as solicitors' offices from 1896 until the present day.


Taken on the steps of the Gympie law office, along with my workmates. T

Picture taken shortly before I left a going-away party held for me

Photo taken for the Miss Australia many years ago...1963



From the moment I left high school to commence my working life in a local law firm, I planned, when possible, to leave Gympie, the town in which I was raised and educated. I desperately wanted to "spread my wings" and fly away.

Every weekend during the spring and summer months, and more…from September through to the long weekend in June, I spent at the Sunshine Coast, soaking up the sun, swimming and surfing. During the week, other pastimes filled my leisure hours. At one point, I was a member of the Gympie Drama Group, which turned out to be a lot of fun, and so very interesting. 

Amongst my group of friends there was always a party or a get-together happening somewhere. The parties were more “get-togethers” than actual “parties”. My friends and I enjoyed philosophical debates, to try and solve, and understand the world in which we lived. We were all keen readers. 

During those years my hungry mind eagerly devoured the writings of Kant, Kafka, Jung, Friedrich Nietzsche, among many, many others. I was introduced to the works of Kerouac, Dorothy Parker and C. P. Snow, the English novelist and physicist. I became enamoured of his series of novels, which began with “Strangers and Brothers”. His books still have pride of place among my personal library. I intend reading them again. Books were a major part of my life then. They still reign supreme.

Music always played a role in my life from as far back as I can recall. My mother played the piano brilliantly, and frequently. For five years I had piano lessons, and always did will in the exams. I learned ballet for a lot less time, but enjoyed the experience. 

Music was a constant in our household, whether it was the piano, radio or recordings. Of course, as a teenager, music featured heavily wherever I went. At the party/get-togethers, and in my private, alone moments, jazz, blues, folk, intermingled with good modern “pop” and rock ‘n roll of the day were the soundtracks of my life.

In 1963 I was asked to enter the "Miss Australia Quest" as a represenative of the Gympie area.  The Lions’ Club was the sponsor of the Gympie section of the quest. My boss. a solicitor, was the president of the local club. 

After due consideration, along with three other young women from the town, I joined in with the fundraising, which was fulfilling fun. I enjoyed the experience immensely. Being a participant in the Quest, which raised money for children with cerebral palsy, helped me gain an understanding of the lifelong physical disability they suffered, and awarded me confidence within myself.   

Along with the lessons learnt by being part of the Quest, I had a very good excuse to have a dressmaker make a new satin ball gown for me, as well as a fashionable Chanel-style suit made of golden yellow pure wool. I felt very smart, indeed! My teenage years in Gympie were eventful, and filled with fun, mostly.

Employed as a legal secretary in a local law firm during the day, this was to hold me in good stead throughout the ensuing years.

However, I was eager to leave my hometown behind, and move on to a “new world”. During lunchtime one day I raced home excitedly to breathlessly break my earth-shattering decision to my mother. My great “plan” had been concocted in my mind during my morning’s dictation session.

My mother, who was dressing and putting on her make-up in readiness to go shopping when I burst in all guns a-blazing, sat patiently listening as I carefully explained my decision to join the air force. Of course, by joining the air force, I would have to leave Gympie and head down to Victoria, which is a very long way from Gympie, hearth and home. After I’d finished gushing out my grandiose idea to my mother, she barely blinked an eye, nor did she turn towards me when she had her chance to offer her opinion.

Slowly directing her gaze away from her reflection in the mirror as she toyed at her lips with her tube of lipstick, she looked at me and said, “I think that is a wonderful idea, love.”

My mother’s blasé, calm and agreeable reaction certainly burst my bubble right there and then on the spot! I had been expecting a “Battle Royale”. However, I was bitterly disappointed and defeated in one foul stroke. To me it sounded like she was happy to get rid of me! I never did enlist in the air force. 

Nor did I become a nurse, which was another of my mind-explosions one morning, with a repeated effort of running up and down the hills of Gympie to my home during another lunch hour to announce I was going to Brisbane to train at the Princess Alexandra Hospital. 

Somehow the edges of my plans were removed when everyone agreed they were good ideas. I had to learn to beat “them” at “their” own game, I decided. I wasn’t going to be defeated.  I just had to go about the matter of my “escape” differently.

As it turned out, I didn’t really need any grand plans or schemes. The day came when it was the “right” thing to do. Very few obstacles or objections were placed in my way. On reflection, I don’t remember exactly how all the pieces fell into place, but into place they did fall, one by one. I announced I was going to move to live and work in the city of Brisbane.

Immediately I started turning the wheels towards that direction. My boss, upon my handing him one month’s notice, said he wasn’t surprised at my decision. He’d been expecting it. Immediately, upon my handing him my notice,  as I remained seated in front of him at his desk, he picked up the phone to call a solicitor/lawyer friend of his who was a partner in a Brisbane firm.

“I’ve a lass here who wants to live in the city. Do you have a place for her there? You do! That’s great!”

Looking to me, my boss, with a smile, said, “When can you start?”

“Umm…six weeks, I…I guess…I’ll need a little time to settle in etc.,” I stammered in return.

“Okay….she’ll be there at “such–and-such-a-time at such-and-such-a-day”,” he replied.

That was it! As simple as making a telephone call, I had a job. No interview was required. In those days, country girls were snapped up by city law firms like we were rare pieces of gold. My next step was to find somewhere to live, again by remote control.

I wanted to find a flat/apartment for myself only. Even back then I  desperately wanted my own “space” and didn’t take kindly to the idea of sharing my living area with anyone else. My mother and grandmother wouldn’t hear of it, though. That was one thing they put their collective “feet” down upon. 

Begrudgingly, I telephoned a girl I knew who had moved to Brisbane a couple of years previously. Explaining my plight to her, she agreed to help me out if she could. My timing was perfect, again. Fortunately, a workmate of hers had a younger sister who was looking for a “flat-mate” to share her expenses etc. Everything was falling into place for me, and as yet, I’d not even left Gympie to put the square pieces into the square holes or the round pieces into the round holes. All I needed to do was work through the four weeks to the day, of my departure, pack my meager possessions and buy a train ticket.

Once again, the winds were blowing favourably for me. Our neighbours’ house was being painted during this period. One of the painters drove back to Brisbane every weekend to spend time with his family. Willingly, he offered me a lift whenever I was ready to leave Gympie...

To be continued......