People of the FOSBC

2020-21 Management Committee:

President: Tracey Olivieri
Treasurer: Rachael Hodgen
Vice-president: Marleen Paff
Vice-president: Alicha Harvey

Secretary: Chris Dawson

Sonya Kerslake

My sister Noela introduced me to the FOSBC Facebook page and thought I would be interested. I was. Our parents and grandma are buried in this cemetery, not far from the caretaker’s shed. Mother and grandma came down to Brisbane from Childers. My mother, Margaret Mckenzie, was 10th in a family of 10 and was left to care for her mother, Margaret Theresa McKenzie, who died in 1956 at the age of 79. Mum met Dad, Noel Forrest, and after marriage in 1961 they decided to adopt and so two little girls came along, myself and Noela. Mum died in 1988 and Dad died in 1996, and I thank my parents for the great upbringing and for the way I am today.

Since joining FOSBC and cleaning the headstones, I’ve put this activity on my list of volunteering. Since retirement due to throat cancer I have done a lot of volunteering, including with environmental groups, a Fire Ant Ranger, Clean Up Australia Day, Bushcare, Op Shop, and coordinator of Bayside Clean Up Crew, Wynnum/Manly.

In joining the team of the Guardians, I’ve made new friends and learned why they come to help. I’ve learned of residents who are buried here from all walks of life, from early pioneers to criminals from the Boggo Road prison, to the disease pandemic through to the Great Depression and the two World Wars and those who lost their lives through accidents. We must be fortunate for these people who lived a hard life in the past only to make sure our lives would be much easier in the future. I truly thank them for their sweat and tears. And I will sure be sweating myself to ensure that these graves are maintained for future generations to visit.

Sonya Kerslake.

Sandra Watkins

I got involved with FOSBC only in the last few years, but as I live on the southern Gold Coast, I can’t get to many events. It’s a wonderful group and I am always welcome there.

I am addicted to history that is relevant to me; the hunt, the sources, the glimpses of the past and the tiny pieces of information which gradually form a bigger picture. I think I was one of those kids in primary school who wished they could go back in time and show Arthur Phillip how to fix his situation or hand Burke and Wills a cold beer and a better map.

History is how we know who we are, how we got into this situation and what we can learn from it. It’s also the warm breathing people of our families many generations past, not just facts. As a teacher, I was glued to the ABC’s ‘The Colonials’ and anything else that showed people doing real things. I was lucky enough to know old people who showed me the tools, items of dress, beautiful crockery and unlocked the secrets that we’d long forgotten about. It’s such a gift to myself to tell my children about my life as a child and what I remember about my house, my parents, the shops, the school and anything else they’ll listen to.

'The History of the Ekka', one of several children's history books written by Sandra.

I love the South Brisbane Cemetery because it’s so quiet and peaceful, shady and sunny in perfect partnership, and full of stories.  Thanks to these friends, I have a new understanding of what it took to be part of Brisbane in the 1800s and 1900s.

You can see more of Sandra’s work here

Sandy Liddle

I am a true Wynnumite, having been born in St Kilda Hospital, Wynnum (as was my father before me). I grew up in Wynnum and Manly and despite moving “across the creek” to Thorneside, I am still heavily involved in Wynnum Manly through the Wynnum Manly Historical Society.

My working career started in a law firm in Brisbane CBD as a “gopher” doing all the deliveries around the city centre before moving on to become a legal secretary. I spent 25-odd years as a legal secretary before realising there must be something I could do that would “make my heart beat a little faster” and incorporate my love of history, both local and family. So, in the late 1990s, I undertook an external Advanced Diploma in Local, Family and Applied History through UNE. Whilst undertaking the course, there was discussion about where this Diploma could lead people and local history librarian was mentioned and my heart began beating faster. Upon completion of that course, I undertook a Bachelor of Arts (Library & Information Sciences) degree externally through Charles Sturt University which led to me becoming a librarian and I subsequently went on to undertake a Masters of Information Studies (Archives and Records Management).

Sandy Liddle

I could not escape the law though and my first job as a librarian was with a large Gold Coast law firm as its legal librarian. Most of my library career has been spent in special libraries such as law firms, Parmalat, Qld Fire Service, Federal Court of Australia, Qld Police Service before I finally broke free of special libraries and ended my working career in the collection management area of Redland City Council Library Service (which did include a short stint in the local history area so my dream was realised!).

I am a new member of FOSBC. Both my husband and I have many ancestors buried in the cemetery and I love wandering through the cemetery visiting all their graves. I am also part of the St Helena Island Community involved in researching warders and prisoners from St Helena Island Penal Establishment (and even those who resided and/or died on the Island before it became a prison – like my gg grandmother and her family who were there burning coral to make lime for cement). It is interesting how many of those we are researching we are finding were interred at South Brisbane Cemetery and I look forward to exploring their graves in the future.