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A Paltry Paradise - A history of the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum

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Written by Howard Guille

316 pages, soft cover

For 80 years Dunwich Benevolent Asylum was home to the Indigent of Queensland. It served the entire colony and was well used. In the late 19th Century, one in four of all Queensland men over 65 years ended up there. It was the states largest institution - bigger than any hospital or prison - and could hold over 21,000 inmates.

The Asylum kept the poor out of sight on an Island off Brisbane. It provided welfare on the cheap and relied on the labour of the local Aboriginal people. They fought their own battles against "protection" and for fair wages.

This book is a political, social and economic history of the institution and it's people. Inmates ranged from a Dane who was press-ganged into Nelson's Navy, a former Deputy Premier of Qld and a pacific Islander found adrift in the remote Pacific.

There were murders, suicides and lots of sly grog. The steamer that went twice a week from Brisbane to the Island was hit by practice gunfire from the U.S Navy and arguments raged in the newspapers about whether the Dunwich Asylum was a Shangri-La or hell on earth.

These are just a few of the stories to be found in this history.

Purchasing his book will directly benefit the North Stradbroke Island Historical Museum.