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Radical house – Austral Street

Austral Street St Lucia

The first radical house I lived in was in Austral Street St Lucia in Brisbane. I lived there from 1975 ~1977. At Austral Street I met people involved in agitating for public transport, independent media, opposition to uranium mining and export, radical films, opponents of high rise development and people wanting democratic rights in Queensland.

The house contained seven bedrooms. The rent was $10 each per week and we belonged to a food co-op amd contributed $7 each. I lived comfortably on the $30 a week. It cost only $2.10 to fill up my 1951 Morris Tourer and a tank lasted for a month.

Here is one of the stories from the house. We made a radio play about a drug bust by Det. Inspector Kevin Dorries.

To explain, Kevin Dorries was a much feared policeman of the Joh era; he intimidated people who lived in share houses and/or smoked dope (I did the former, but not the latter).  It was folklore that Dories was capable of every act of violence and intimidation depicted in the re-enactment.

A friend ‘Dandenong’ Dave played one of the people that Dorries busted, and I played Dorries (or someone like him) – no technical masterpiece but it reflects fears held at the time. Cops were backed 100% by the government. Police ran the drug trade and the corruption that went with it, something the Fitzgerald inquiry did not explore.

The beginning and end of the re-enactment feature Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish you were here’ which I have added. David Gilmour and Roger Waters collaborated to write the music, and Gilmour sang the lead vocal. In recent years, Roger Waters has come out in support of the Palestinian call for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Campaign against Israel.

Radical Houses: identity and public life in the Queensland House 1975-1989

A distinctive aspect of the Queensland house emerges in Brisbane in the 1970s and 1980s when the image of the house is transformed by new social and cultural uses. During this period, ‘Queenslanders’ in the inner city became associated with communal living, radical politics and alternative cultures, which came in contact with a burgeoning local music scene – all set against a background of social and institutional conservatism.

This forum will invite discussion of the Queenslander as a site of public action and the making of social and cultural identity from those who had direct involvement.

Speakers include:

  • Ursula Collie, Artist & Musician
  • Jeanelle Hurst, Artist
  • Vicki Gordon, Member of ’SPIT’, ‘Pink Palace’ and ‘Women’s House’
  • Anne Jones, Co-editor The Cane Toad Times
  • Alan Rielly, Member of ‘The Riptides’/Principal Architectus, Brisbane
  • John Willsteed, Member of ‘The Go-Betweens’/ Senior Lecturer QUT

Radical Houses: identity and public life in the Queensland House 1975-1989

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