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Forty-Five Years’ Experiences in North Queensland 1861-1905


W.R.O. Hill

With a few Incidents in England 1844 – 1861.

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Brisbane: H. Pole & Co., Printers, 1907. Octavo, red publisher’s cloth with gilt title on front board, authors monograph in gilt centre of front board, 153pp, 12 illustrations including frontis.

Very Good. Spine slightly sunned, head of spine pushed in, corners sharp, previous owner’s name in sepia ink on front paste-down, some foxing.

William Richard Onslow Hill (1844 – 1923) was a well-known Brisbane identity who  led a colourful life as a mining warden and police magistrate in Queensland during the years 1861 – 1905. His childhood years as the son of a prison warden in England exposed him to many shocking and unusual scenes and he attributes his “extra supply of nerve” to those early,  “exciting”, scenes and incidents (from the preface). His reminiscences are full of colourful tales, from courtroom incidents in pub dining rooms to drunken revellers falling down mineshafts. One particularly gruesome tale involves a publican’s wife exacting cruel revenge on a carrier’s wife, and despite the police building up a “splendid case of circumstantial evidence” the crown prosecutor mislaid the depositions and justice was not done. Coming to Queensland as a 17 year old, he first worked as a station hand before securing a post with the Native Police. He remained in government service until his retirement and was known as an able and earnest administrator. The “Glass Mountains” were one of the first sights Hill remembers seeing on his arrival as a young man in Australia and although he spent most of his career in the North-east, he eventually retired to the Blackall Ranges from where he could see their “weird, picturesque, and historic basaltic peaks and cones.” (p.18).