Two to the Valley…

OQ11mcwhirters.jpg

Or, Tres Catholique [After Umberto Eco]

I had the very great pleasure tonight of showing a couple of friends from Melbourne the wonders of the Valley – or at least that we do good Jazz band (Kafka) and good bar (The Bowery) here in Brisvegas. Or at least, that being a regular at the said bar, I can get served a gin and tonic very quickly… but I started thinking – in the nostalgic vein that has pre-occupied me since my recent birthday, how much the Valley had changed. Our excellent Labor Deputy Mayor, and my local Councillor, David Hinchliffe (perversely we elected a Liberal Lord Mayor last year – “Can Do” Campbell Newman [whatever!] and a Labor Council – so there’s a rather uneasy powersharing Lib/Lab thing happening), who’s an artist as well, published a very good book of photographs about a decade or so ago named after the old tram request which is the title of the post… So, anyway, I digress, but I was reflecting on the fact that I first started going out in the Valley about twenty years ago… when it was sin city – the home of the Bellino Brothers, gambling joints, and all other things pre-Fitzgerald Enquiry (Russ Hinze famously announced on tv one night that [ex]Sir Terence Lewis, the then Police Commissioner in Johburg, had driven him around the Valley and showed him where the illegal casinos and brothels weren’t. Go figure… but hey, it was the Deep North back in those halcyon days…). One thing is certain, now, you can get a very good Whisky Sour. But, on request, they’ll still play New Order’s Blue Monday upstairs at the Beat. Which is owned by an “identity”. And “Mellinos”, a rather ordinary Pizza restaurant on the Brunswick St Mall, is owned by the Bellino family of Fitzgerald fame… do you reckon the Paris Hilton clones who head up to the GPO Hotel every night understand the ghosts who haunt the Valley?

Of course, in appropriate Sir Joh style, the suburb is actually called Fortitude Valley in honour of Lutheran missionaries who sailed out to Queensland (then NSW) and established a mission at this place in 1848. The same year that my German Lutheran ancestors came out to Australia. It’s a funny place, full of broken dreams – like the site of the Cathedral that Archbishop James Duhig laid the foundations for in the early 30s (once the stately home of Archbishop Dunne), only to give up on the whole thing when the Depression hit. When I was a kid, the Holy Name Cathedral site was a huge expanse of concrete surrounded by Helidon sandstone walls, with foundation stones inscribed in baroque Latin by Nuncios and Cardinals. The said foundation stones have been moved, and now form part of the transept of St Stephen’s Cathedral on Elizabeth Street in the City… the Church whose patron saint, St Stephen the Proto-Martyr’s feast day is 26 December. Now (since the Archdiocese sold the property in 1989 for $19 million), the once and future Holy Name Cathedral is an apartment complex already decaying into a postmodern slum. The crypt was preserved, because it (the only bit of the Cathedral built) was consecrated and for many years was a very spooky Mass centre, but I think it’s all walled in now. Mais ou sont les neiges d’antan?

Don’t let anyone tell you Brisbane is a normal place, it so isn’t…

If you wanted, and you were of an Aristotelian bent, or even a Scholastic philosopher, or devoted to the Doctor Angelicus, St. Thomas Aquinas, you could draw a conclusion about essences and appearances. And you’d be right…

NOTE: This post is dedicated to the memory of my late stepfather, Rev. Dr Donagh MacDonagh, SJ, late of Armagh and a missionary in China before Mao, who worked in the Valley as Editor of the Catholic Leader in 1948, before he fell out with Dr Duhig. Requiescat in pace, et lux aeterna dona eis, Domine. Dr MacDonagh was a colleague of Fr Teilhard de Chardin, SJ, in China.

PS: In case you’re wondering, I’ll write that job application for the Griffith Uni Research Fellowship today…

About Mark Bahnisch

Mark Bahnisch is a sociologist and is the founder of this blog. He has an undergraduate degree in history and politics from UQ, and postgraduate qualifications in sociology, industrial relations and political economy from Griffith and QUT. He has recently been awarded his PhD through the Humanities Program at QUT. Mark's full bio is on this page.
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C.L.
2022 years ago

Superb, Mark.

Archbishop Dunne’s three-story home (Dara) – which reminded him of the Palazzo Braschi in Rome (Byrne, NJ: 169) – was, I understand, demolished using dynamite. This occurred under the directions of his successor – the unsentimental James Duhig.

Another portent: of the Dean Brothers.

Alex
Alex
2022 years ago

Brings back memories … I was a Bris boy for a while. BTW, how do you clone something made of plastic?

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Alex, I think you hack a mobile…

Thanks, C.L. A number of limes died in the making of the post, and a number of gin and tonics assisted in its composition :)