The Early Years

The Queensland Women's Historical Association (QWHA) has had a very active life right from its formation in April 1950 at Newstead House, headquarters of the then Historical Society of Queensland.

Originally known as the Women's Historical Association, its aim was to stimulate interest in the history and heritage of Queensland and in particular, the history of pioneer families and the contribution made by women to the development of Queensland. It was to remain at all times an educational and cultural body.

Membership grew rapidly and by September 1950 the Association held its first exhibition 'Before 1900' at Newstead House. During the Commonwealth Jubilee Celebrations it combined with the Historical Society of Queensland for a 'Jubilee Junket'. Lady Lavarack (wife of the governor) agreed to become patron of the Association.

Although still allocated space at Newstead House, the flourishing Women's Historical Association soon became independent.

The Association undertook to collect documentary material, together with personal and household items that demonstrate our constantly changing lifestyle. This policy has resulted in a substantial collection available for enjoyment and research.

In 1954 Martha Young became president. She was a person with phenomenal physical and mental energy, a forthright approach to problem solving and organisational ability. Membership soared, and the collection expanded enormously.

In 1957 the Association changed its name to the Queensland Women's Historical Association.

Mrs Young initiated a scheme to identify and mark buildings, properties and sites of outstanding significance to Queensland. Between 1960 and 1983 the Association recognised and marked with either distinctive blue enamel or bronze plaques eighty-seven historic sites in Queensland, Britain and France. (See 'Not Only a Plaque but also a Story' - books and publications).

The Centenary year of 1959 was a particularly busy and successful year. The QWHA with the Royal Historical Society of Queensland held a Pioneers' Luncheon at Newstead House on 6 June, the 100 anniversary of the day on which Queen Victoria signed the Letters Patent creating Queensland as a separate colony. This was also the year in which the Association's first publication '1859 and Before That - 1959 and All That' appeared.

With its expanding membership and collection the Association needed a home of its own. Also by 1966, it was required to vacate Newstead House because the Royal Historical Society of Queensland was planning to furnish the house as a museum.

Fortuitously, the 1886 iron lace clad colonial house, Beverley Wood in nearby Bowen Hills, came on the market, but it meant raising a deposit of $13,000 within thirteen weeks to secure the property. The Association with the aim of maintaining the property as a Memorial to the Pioneer Women of Queensland led an appeal throughout the State to save this colonial gem from demolition to be replaced by a block of flats.

The purchase of the house, later given its original name of Miegunyah, was a triumph for Mrs Young and for all her stout members. Unfortunately, Mrs Young died suddenly on 18 March 1967 and, while her dream was not quite complete members then and since have seen its fulfilment.

The QWHA Today

Welcome to today's QWHA. Don't be fooled by the name. We are a lively organisation composed of both male and female members, all deeply enthusiastic about preserving and promoting Queensland's heritage.

Miegunyah first opened as a house museum in June 1968. The c.1886 Queenslander sitting quietly in its tranquil garden, is also home of the QWHA, the repository for its collection, and gracious venue for its regular program of historical talks, themed exhibitions, seminars and social events.

Become a Member

By becoming a member of the QWHA and a Miegunyah supporter, you are strengthening our and your ability to preserve our endangered heritage.

To join the QWHA contact Miegunyah on 07 3252 2979

What the QWHA provides for you

• Regular talks held at Miegunyah featuring historical themes
• Invitations to functions and special events held at Miegunyah and other venues
• Our quarterly newsletter ('Historical Happenings') with news, special features and details of events.
• Free admission to the house museum and displays
• Free access to the historical files (the result of 50 years of collecting)
• Details of other heritage organisations & events in the wider Brisbane area through our
• membership of Brisbane's Living Heritage Network

What you can do for the QWHA

• Become part of the team who cherish Miegunyah and its irreplaceable treasures.
• Come along and enjoy talks and seminars (also open to the public)
• Broaden your knowledge, and share your knowledge with others.
• Follow your special areas of interest - the historical files are open to you.
• Perhaps give 5 hours of your time once a month to show visitors around Miegunyah,
• or assist with recording and conservation of the archival and artefact collection.