I sat down and read a newspaper the other morning from cover to cover. Given, it was only four pages, but I sat there in my pyjamas and fluffy slippers with my coffee at six o’clock on a rainy morning in the year 2009 reading the Brisbane Courier for the 3 September 1866.
I found out that the temperature was mild (18°C/64.7°F) and the day forecast to be cloudy. I read that the Queensland Club was forthwith going to be destroying any goats found loose on their property. I discovered that several companies offered berths to settlers heading to Ipswich from Brisbane. In fact, between two different services, you could sail to Ipswich every day of the week except for Sunday. I found out what houses were for rent and that you could purchase a confectionary store and bakery in Ipswich for a mere £500 including all stock, equipment, cart and horses. I read that there was a busy trade in land allotments and that C. Heussler and Co. offered land-orders for purchase in small or large lots. I read of mortgagee sales, insurance schemes, lending libraries and goods of every description for sale. Of the meetings of the Brisbane Philharmonic Society, the British and Foreign Bible Society (Queensland Auxillary), the Queensland Turf Club, the School of Arts, the Oxford Music Society and the Choral Union. I saw architects, stationers, doctors, hotels and commission agents advertising for business.
I read that 2000 Chileans had landed in Cuba to aid their troops in revolt and that the “harvest in California is the largest ever known” while new mines had been discovered in Nevada. This news arrived via the Anglo-Indian telegraphs and beat the SS Kaikoura with its delivery of mail and news from England. I read of shipping arrivals and departures and goods received and loaded to whose accounts.
In brief, I read about the everyday life of a thriving city 143 years ago. It was fascinating and exactly what I need to write about the Jaeckel’s arrival in Brisbane and travel to Ipswich.
The wonder of it all is that this is available online from the National Library of Australia. Take a look. You can even assist by correcting the text of scanned newspapers for the years 1803 to 1954. And you don’t even need to get out of your pyjamas.