Queenslander!: The rallying cry for flood recovery

Bill Dennison ·
14 February 2011
Queensland Floods | 

The Queensland floods touched something deep within the Queensland residents. The term 'Queenslander' has been used as a rallying cry for the State of Origin rugby league football team from Queensland since 1995 when Billy Moore called for team unity and spirit when they were underdogs against their arch rivals from New South Wales. Famously, the Queensland Maroons team was able to defeat the New South Wales Blues team and the cry 'Queenslander' has been associated with this indomitable spirit against the odds. In a best of three game series during the rugby league season, the all star athletes who first played professionally in either New South Wales or Queensland (thus 'state of origin'), compete at full capacity. Note this is a unique and very popular event where all star athletes are competing to their utmost rather than reserving their strength or avoiding injury for the regular season. Thus the rallying cry 'Queenslander' is very much a part of the culture of Queensland.

State of origin
Queensland Maroons celebrating during a State of Origin game. Photograph: Mark Nolan/Getty Images via guardian.co.uk

During the continuous coverage of the unfolding drama of the Queensland floods, the Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh, began calling press conferences from the emergency response center every two hours to provide updates on the flood levels and the various government responses to the flooding. Early one morning after yet another sleepless night, Anna Bligh was on camera visibly shaken with the news of more deaths from the flash floods of Toowoomba and Grantham. She said "As we weep for what we have lost, and as we grieve for family and friends and we confront the challenge that is before us, I want us to remember who we are. We are Queenslanders. We're the people that they breed tough, north of the border." Earlier in the flood, after learning of the rising death count she said "It [the flood] might be breaking our hearts at the moment, but it cannot break our will". Incidentally, Anna Bligh is descended from the famous Captain Bligh from the 'Mutiny on the Bounty' who was Governor of New South Wales in the early nineteenth century.

Bligh press conference
Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh during a flood press conference on Jan 12, 2011. Image courtesy of the Nine Network. 

The 'mud army' of volunteers that showed up in the days following the flood with shovels, brooms, rakes, rubber boots, their own food and water was simply amazing. Tens of thousands of people turned up and complete strangers would help flood victims carry out sodden mattresses and destroyed furniture for garbage pickup, clean out the stinky mud that was deposited everywhere and help fix broken households. People would show up with a barbecue in the back of their truck and begin cooking for the volunteers, passing out free food.

Another meaning of the word 'Queenslander' is for the houses built in the region which are adapted to the local climate. Queenslander houses are built on stilts to allow air circulation underneath, protect against insects, and avoid flooding. They have high ceilings, fretwork over doors, hallways running through the building, many large windows, and wide verandas to allow for air circulation and cooling. Kitchens often were somewhat isolated from the main house to avoid having the oven heat up the house. The corrugated iron roofs can be deafening in a rain storm, but the verandas and overhangs over windows mean that the windows and doors can remain open during rain. Hardwood floors and timber walls with vertical joints (tongue and groove), ceiling fans, colored leaded glass windows, and ornate 'gingerbread' awnings make for very attractive houses, particularly when the garden contains tropical plants.

A typical "Queenslander" home in Brisbane

About the author

Bill Dennison

Dr. Bill Dennison is a Professor of Marine Science and Vice President for Science Application at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES). Dr. Dennison’s primary mission within UMCES is to coordinate the Integration and Application Network.

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