McConnel candidate wants Herston as 1st gay heritage inclusion


gay heritage john dobinson herston
John Dobinson (inset) and the original Herston house. Main Image: State Library of Queensland

Independent candidate for the Brisbane inner-city electorate of McConnel, John Dobinson, has called for Herston to become Queensland’s first gay heritage inclusion. Queensland’s first Premier Robert Herbert and partner John Bramston made their home together in the area. They conjoined their names to invent a name for their property. That name survives as the name of the suburb.

John Dobinson lives in a home built on a lot subdivided from Herbert and Bramston’s farm. Despite the now inner-city location, he likes to picture Herbert’s horse Grasshopper grazing in his back yard. He can gaze from his back verandah to the creek where the Premier once caught plump prawns for dinner. Herbert and Bramston’s original house, demolished in the 1930s, once sat on the top of the hill above John’s home.

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Although not gay, John told QNews he thought the groundbreaking nature of the relationship between Herbert and Bramston deserved recognition. He has campaigned for years for some form of public acknowledgement. John quoted an opinion from a much respected and now retired Queensland judge.

“It is difficult from this perspective to reopen a relationship long since terminated by death. On the other hand, there are many Australians who might openly identify as fitting into a minority sexual orientation and gender identity classification. In these circumstances, it may be considered appropriate (as a matter of policy) to honour early people who put their heads above the parapet… Not long ago, many gay couples existed but held a face to the world that was entirely heterosexual.”

John said, “I believe Herbert and Bramston’s history is significant to Queensland. Herston is the place where people should gather to celebrate it. Put another shrimp on the barbie beside the creek, indeed. Their history belongs on a heritage list.”

john dobinson gay heritage
Herbert and Bramston’s original title deed for Herston. Image: John Dobinson

Herston

John described Herston as a great place to live.

“I can be anywhere in a short time on foot, bike or car.”

However, he said the speed limit on Butterfield Street should be reduced from 50km/hr.

“Thousands of hospital personnel exit the Enoggera Creek Bikeway each week and cross the road on foot, and indeed cycle onto the street. It should be 40km/h, and I don’t know why the Government doesn’t use common sense. Probably pigheadedness.

“What Herston does miss is a bistro strip. The market is here. The suburb has never had a village. Cars could park in back yards of Queenslanders converted to cafes, and Butterfield Street would buzz.

“But the powers that be have decided Herston is purely a residential zone despite the industrial and consultancy businesses already in place.

“We do have the Market Cart, Cafe Gia, and the bistro at Victoria Park, but a few nice Queenslander cafes would add character.”

John Dobinson supports retaining Victoria Park golf course.

“Brisbane must be careful it doesn’t destroy its character and heritage.”

Put their money where their mouth is

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Of course, Victoria Park was once a camping ground for the local Turrbal people, and John said governments need to do better for traditional landowners.

“They should put their money where their mouth is.

“We hear speeches prefaced with thanks to traditional landowners, but what about some cash as well? How about paying for that traditional land?

“I think Australia needs to look at giving the traditional owners dividend shares in government buildings.

“Canada compensated indigenous people. Australia should do no less.”


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