After travelling around this country when younger, I eventually settled down in what was then known as the City of Redcliffe. So, where is Redcliffe and what is it known for?
The Ningi Ningi people were the first known occupants of the area. In 1799 Lieutenant Matthew Flinders, noticed and named the red-coloured shore line Red Cliff Point.
In 1823 Thomas Brisbane, then the Governor of New South Wales, needed to expand his penal colony. John Oxley lead an expedition and recommended the establishment of the new settlement at Redcliffe. Ultimately eight months later, mosquitos, lack of reliable water and the attacks by the local indigenous peoples sent them packing! They moved to what is now the city of Brisbane.
Redcliffe is now known as the site of the first European settlement in what has become the state of Queensland. The area is a peninsula, surrounded by water and was (and is) a lovely place to raise a family. Which is why I decided to move here many years ago now.
The areas within the City of Redcliffe comprise of Scarborough, Margate, Woody Point, Redcliffe, Clontarf and Kippa-Ring. And we all would have lived happily ever after, if some clown from the Queensland Government hadn't autocratically decided to amalgamate some of the other local councils. We are all collectively now known as the Moreton Bay Regional Council.
Besides the humour in all of the cartoons (and being able to appreciate the skill that goes into their composition), the exhibition is a record of the past year in politics and in a sense becomes a future historical record. Mark Knight, Bill Leak and Alan Moir are just some of the cartoonists on display.
Of course, if you were planning on spending a day on the Redcliffe Peninsula simply in order to see this exhibition, you will be be most disappointed... as today is the last day of showing! I had a quick look last week just before an afternoon shift and I do hope to find some more time today to spend in closer observation of the works. I am not sure where it is travelling to next, but I do suggest you give it a look if or when it comes to your town. Highly Recommended.
Still, there are other reasons to visit the Redcliffe Peninsula. Other cultural identities of the past have had ties here. Some fellas by the name of Gibb spent their formative years here (once Cribb Island had been reclaimed to become Brisbane Airport). Now known a the Bee Gees, the local council seems to be spending no end of money in erecting monuments to their memory. Sure, I agree, the Bee Gees are world identities on the world music scene and the local tourist attraction Bee Gees Way, with all its photographic memorabilia of the group's history is a touch that the tourists all like. But do we have to spend another two million dollars of rate-payer's money to promote or expand on it further? Why don't we spend it on some local cartoonists?
I admit I am not (and probably will never will be) happy with the amalgamation. Mostly because it was done without consultation with the local people, and because there was never an opportunity to vote for or against the decision. Yes, it was a most political decision.
Now while we are talking about politics, it seems a prudent time to tell you that not only was Redcliffe the first European settlement, but Redcliffe is also the first to be hosting the annual travelling exhibition Behind the Lines. This is a collection of "the year's best political cartoons" from 2014. The Exhibition, being held at the Redcliffe Museum at 75 Anzac Avenue, showcases thirty-three different cartoonists with over eighty different cartoons from the past year. There is no entry fee. It is absolutely free to come in and have a look see....
Jason Harper, for example. I know most locals would say "Who"? But as an Australian cartoonist born and raised in Clontarf, surely we deserve to have the "Jase Harper Highway" leading into the Redcliffe Peninsula named after him? It certainly would sound better than the present "Deagon Deviation"!
No? Because Jason isn't well known enough?! What about naming something after Bil Keane, creator of the U.S. comic strip, The Family Circus -- now that's well-known. What's Bil's connection to the Redcliffe Peninsula, I hear you ask? I am pleased you asked!
In the early 1940s, Bil was a GI stationed in Australia. The Australian troops at the time were camped at Brighton, just over the bridge that connects Redcliffe with the Brisbane mainland. The boys from the U.S. of A. were stationed in Scarborough. Bil told me this in a couple of letters we exchanged in the late 1980s. He was artistic even back in those days and apparently adorned the Scarborough Hotel with caricatures of some of his fellow soldiers. Sadly, none now remain. Even the old Scarborough Hotel has been to allow to fall in such a state of disrepair that they have had to knock it down. Plans are to re-develop the site.
Ah, well, if no-one on Council wishes to remember Bil, at least Bil took a lasting local memory of Queensland home with him -- he met and married Brisbane girl Thelma in 1948. Thelma became the inspiration behind 'Mommy' in his world-famous strip! Sadly, Bil suddenly passed away in 2011; although I see on Facebook that his grand-daughter has returned to Brisbane to study... I just hope she comes to visit the Redcliffe Peninsula. I'd happily show her around.
Also visiting the local Redcliffe Art Gallery is the display of artist Shaun Tan's The Lost Thing: From book to film exhibition. This exhibition show the behind-the-scenes activities that brought the popular children's book into life as a 2010 Award-Winning animated short film. There are many of Shaun's original artworks on display: from working sketches to sculptures. Shown in conjunction with the support of the Australia Council, the Australian Centre for Moving Images Board plans to share this exhibition with other regional and rural communities. Peter Lewinsky, the Board's president, said it is "the largest the organisation has ever undertaken".
"The moving image is a potent cultural and creative space and our commitment is to provide a diversity of audiences with outstanding opportunities to engage with art and culture, and uniquely Australian stories, regardless of location" Mr Lewinsky said. I said: "It is an exhibition well-worth seeing. I will be going again."
The exhibition is free and will be on display at the Redcliffe City Art Gallery at 470 - 476 Oxley Avenue, Redcliffe until May 20th. I saw this on the same day I saw the Behind the Lines exhibition before work, and if I rated that as Highly Recommended, what do I rate this? Because I enjoyed it even more!
Years ago, there was a time when this local community was disparagingly named "Dead-cliffe". I have not spent much time in these Blog postings talking about my local community, mainly because I have always thought that there are too many other comic-related activities going on elsewhere. Perhaps once, though, I can appreciate some of the great comic-related history and events that are taking place here in Redcliffe. Hey, Dear Reader, if you are in the area, get in touch and I will be happy to show you around....!
...acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to elders past, present, and emerging, and extend that respect to all First Australian peoples.
Over the past decade (2011 - 2020) Nat has self-published ten comic-related books and was Publisher-Editor of Oi Oi Oi! - the last nationally-distributed comic book of original comics stories to appear on Australian newsstands. He edited Inkspot, the journal of the Australian Cartoonists Association for 14 issues from late 2015 to 2019 and is a current member of the ACA's Committee. In his spare time, he is a husband, a father (to six) and grandfather (to fourteen), and works in the Psychiatric Emergency Centre in Queensland's largest public hospital.
Comicoz is Nat Karmichael's publishing imprint. Nat is committed to preserving a permanent collection of Australian comic and comic strips. He feels that there is a need to recognise comics' contribution to and depiction of Australian culture.