2010

Authors

  • Elizabeth Nunn Nunn Elizabeth Nunn Nunn

This research is about the well-being of Queensland’s white children and young people during the inter-war period. There are three case studies covered in this thesis – mountain camps, seaside schools and sand garden competitions. Mountain camps were held in the temperate climate mountains of Southeast Queensland to the west of the semi-tropical and tropical coastal plain for urban boys, and subsequently girls. They were the working-class children of parents who could not afford to send them away from Brisbane’s heat during the enervating summer vacation. Seaside schools, which generally lasted for two weeks, were held at a variety of locations in Southeast Queensland and Northern New South Wales. Many of the children and young people who attended these schools had not previously moved away from where they lived, let alone visited a beach. Sand garden competitions attracted hundreds of young participants and thousands of spectators, young and old. One of Brisbane’s newspapers promoted them, and the majority of the competitors were from Southeast Queensland. Most of the successful participants were girls, and they prepared and practised for weeks leading up to each year’s competition. Although three or four generations have passed since the inter-war years, these aspects of the child movement in Queensland remain important topics to be studied. Not least, they illustrate how debate about the impact of the semi-tropics on the sickly and unfit urban children living along the Queensland coastal plain was translated into political and social action. Each of the case studies discussed in this thesis represents an attempt by contemporaries to address concerns about the relationship between environment and inheritance, through extending education to the outdoors. In each of the following case studies, progressive and philanthropic individuals and groups who ran these popular camps and competitions achieved their aims despite degrees of indifference from government. This thesis has set out to draw on a range of sources – ranging from government statements to personal accounts, snippets of film and newspaper reports – in order to better understand a seemingly forgotten chapter in the Queensland history of child health movements. In the process, it has aimed to bring greater recognition to events and programs admittedly often short-lived and sometimes elusive, but which were nonetheless significant to those involved in their promotion, as well as enjoyed by significant numbers of children between the wars.