Day 96: Home on the hill

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Miegunyah

IT’S not hugely well known, but it should be … a slice of Queensland history tucked away on the slopes of Bowen Hills.

Miegunyah
QWHA’S Diana Strickland at the entrance to Miegunyah

Miegunyah, a classic Queenslander with fine examples of iron-lace balustrade, filigree columns and friezes, has been restored thanks entirely to the efforts of  the Queensland Women’s Historical Association (QWHA).

“A living example of Victorian elegance and charm”, it also houses the group’s research facilities and its ever-growing collection of fashions, furnishings and other memorabilia from Queensland’s past.

The first occupants, Herbert and Leila Perry, moved in soon after it was built by his father, William Perry, in 1886.

Perry Snr  arrived in Brisbane in 1860 and with his brothers, established a successful hardware (ironmongery) business in Queen St and became hugely rich.

The  family home “Folkestone” was on the crest of the hill above Miegunyah, where the Our Lady of Victories church now stands.

Miegunyah Brismania
The formal front room

It must have been an affluent neighbourhood, as two other big houses, Montpelier and Cintra are also nearby and the Perrys spared no expense on Miegunyah, which means “my home”.

Leila Perry became a busy society hostess, with her Literary Ball and Tray Party big on the social calendar of the day. She famously used her engagement ring to inscribe Leila Perry 1898, into the French window in the drawing room.

The parties were over by 1922 and the house had a series of  residents until World War II when Miegunyah was requisitioned by the government.

It was here in 1943, that the Z Special Unit prepared for Operation Jaywick, when they entered Japanese occupied Singapore Harbour in The Krait and sank 39,000 tonnes of enemy shipping.

With housing short after the war Miegunyah, like many grand houses, was split  into three flats in about 1946.  Its name was changed to Beverley Wood.

Two decades later, in 1966,  the QWHA purchased Beverley Wood and began the painstaking and expensive process of restoring it to Miegunyah and its former glory.  It was to become their museum and a memorial to pioneering Queensland women.

Miegunyah Brismania
Not downstairs, but out the back

It opened to the public in 1968 and after many more years of fundraising and hard work, it now would be possible for Herbert and Leila Perry to instantly recognise their home if they stepped through the big cedar front door.

Australia isn’t well known for its stately homes, but Miegunyah is on the National Estate register, the Queensland Heritage register and is classified A by the National Trust.

A converted gas light from Constitution Hill in London, placed as a bicentenary tribute to Captain Cook, is at the entrance.

A visit to Miegunyah is a glimpse of times past, from the house itself to its interior and its growing collection of artifacts, and on top of that, the QWHA stages displays highlighting different aspects of our past, which they change every four months.

Miegunyah, at  35 Jordan Tce, Bowen Hills, is open Wednesday  10.30am-3pm and weekends, 10.30am-4pm.

Groups can visit by appointment any time. A guided tour takes about an hour.

Miegunyah Brismania
When the QWHA exhibition featured hats