Belmont & Bulimba Creek Heritage Pages

Ebenezer & Kate Carina May Thorne -

Politician & Poetess - & Progenitors of Carina the Suburb

by John Godfrey- Project Convenor of Belmont & Bulimba Creek Heritage Institute


“ Posterity is just as likely to get it wrong as any one else .. . “---Heywood Brown .

Prominent residents in the Belmont district between 1880 and 1909 , the Thorne family are remembered today by the suburb names of Carina and Thorneside , two Carina streets named for them and the plaques erected in their honour in the recently refurbished Carina Shopping Centre by Belmont Historical Society , students of Carina Primary School and Brisbane City Council .

“ Whoever tells the truth , gets chased out of nine villages …” – Old Turkish proverb .

The progeny of Samuel and Mary Thorne, leading members of the Bible Christian sect [an independent movement later absorbed by the Methodist church and founded in Devon , England ] Ebenezer Thorne and his siblings , William , Serena and Susanna, originating from Birkdale , Devonshire , sailed for Queensland in 1863 .

William Thorne was to become an even more celebrated identity than his brother in the East Moreton district; initially acquiring an extensive landholding to the east of Tingalpa Creek including an area he named after his birthplace in Devon, and later, a residence “Thorneleigh " at Kangaroo Point ; while launching himself in business as a Printer in Queen St. and later as owner of “ Pugh’s Almanac “ . Surpassing his brother”s service in the adjacent municipality of Bulimba and Belmont Division , William Thorne became a Councillor and later Chairman of Tingalpa Divisional Board , and an alderman of Brisbane Municipal Council . He served as Mayor of Brisbane in 1898 .

“ History will be kind to me for I intend to write it as well as to make it….”- Winston Churchill .

Listed as a journalist in the 1878 South Brisbane electoral roll, Ebenezer Thorne had been an agricultural editor with a Brisbane periodical , who in 1876 published his own book , “Queen of the Colonies “; a lengthy catalogue of the natural and man-made assets of Queensland. He is believed also to have owned the “Wide Bay News” around 1870. His only child , a daughter Kate Carina [ the name "Carina" means “cute or petite girl “ in Italian, or "keel" in Latin - it is also the name of a constellation as well as a zoological term for a ridge on the sternum [ breastbone] of birds, along which the muscles powering the wings extend] May Thorne was born in May 1876.

Thorne’s property , “Carina “ stood behind the site of the present BP service station in Creek Rd . A Land Title map for the period however shows a property owned by Thorne some distance further south along Creek Rd .The homestead was located opposite the intersection of Narracott St and Creek Rd . Mrs. Grace Mischlewski nee Keenan remembers seeing the home in the 1920s-30s which by then was unoccupied . As a child Mrs Mischlewski used to play in the grounds which occupied several acres . She recalls a large grove of bamboo , a Moreton Bay Fig and a couple of Bunya trees from which she and her playmates would take the nuts to eat . Grace remembers the home as a large sprawling building of a dirty white colour, from which several later houses were to be built when the home was eventually demolished . Thorne’s wife, Kate Hoopill, who had received much of her formal education in France, gave French lessons to girls in the Belmont locality . She is supposed to have died in 1892 , and Thorne remarried, possibly in the following year .

Kate Thorne attended Belmont Primary School , arriving each day astride a donkey accompanied by a groom . From this modest apprenticeship in horsemanship, Kate developed into one of the most accomplished equestriennes in the district . Inheriting some of her father”s literary bent she contributed to the Women’s Pages of the old Brisbane Telegraph in the mid to late 1890s , with some often “stagey“, occasionally suspiciously derivative outbursts of poetry crafted in the florid style of the period ; when such efforts were intended to be recited after dinner in over- furnished drawing- rooms lit with pink-shaded lamps , but innocent at least of television and other modern distractions from authentic social contact and communication .

A volume of Kate Thorne’s poetry titled "Leaves of the Australian Forest" which was published in 1912 , is held by UQ’s Fryer Library .
Some of Kate’s poetry appearing in that volume is reproduced in the original at the end of this segment , but the item below first published on May 6 1899 is included here , as it eerily and poignantly seems to foreshadow her own early death and her leaving behind her husband 13 years later in 1912 .

“ When the Night grows Colder “

When the night grows colder and the sighing breeze
Stirs the little songsters nestling in the trees ,
Closer draw the curtains , let the lights burn low,
Do you feel my presence , passing to and fro ?
When the night grows colder!

There I see you sitting , in your lonely room ,
Hearing not my sigh , that answers in the gloom
And your bowed head trembles, in the fading light ,
But your lost one cometh, and will come tonight .
When the night grows colder !

All the past forgetting , all the griefs and tears ;
And we clasp each other , as in other years ,
And my unbound tresses mingle with your own ,
Naught to come between us as we sit alone .
When the night grows colder !

But there falls a shadow on the carpet floor
You, a voice seems calling through the open door ,
And it parts us , darling , hands grow cold and stark ,
And I say goodbye , love ; pass into the dark ..
And the night grows colder ! “



One of Kate Thorne’s surviving relatives, a first cousin twice removed, Joan Gibbs, mentioned in an interview that Kate was known to have loved a practical joke and that Joan’s father who was 15 when Kate died , had told her the story that Kate had once dressed up as a prostitute to accost and embarrass an uncle of hers in front of his new wife or woman friend outside his home at Sandgate

“A woman with a doubtful past, draws the most interest from men , because they hope history will repeat itself while she’s keeping them company… “.—Mae West .

In 2001, when I contributed historical material and supplied text for the plaques erected in the Carina Shopping Centre improvement project, I hoped to have the above poem and story included but was unsuccessful .A local businessman, Ross Vasta [ who later became Federal MP for Bonner, and subsequently a Brisbane City Councillor], and I were keen to seek funding for the construction of a statue of Kate Thorne in the commercial precinct but we were stymied by the want of any photograph of her .

Whatever the contemporary resistance to celebrating more extensively the life of its antecedent “First Lady “ , it can at least be said that the suburb of Carina has shown itself to be an early pioneer of the ethic of “equal opportunity “ in being the only suburb in Brisbane to be named for a woman journalist . The locality name was being used as early as 1895 by the local municipal authority , the Bulimba Divisional Board , during her father Ebenezer Thorne’s time as a Board representative .

“If voting actually changed anything , they’d make it illegal .
Vote early and vote often .”-Al Capone .
“A Conservative is a statesman who is enamoured of existing evils .
A liberal is a statesman who wishes to replace those evils with others .”- Ambrose Bierce .

Two years after the resignation of his predecessor Carl Friedrich August Bernecker, [whose own property “Belmont“ on the site of the Carindale Shopping Centre was to give the suburb to the east its name ] who had been censured for casting aspersions on his fellow Bulimba Divisional Board members , Ebenezer Thorne attained office on the Divisional Board in 1882. This followed his instigating litigation against the chairman of the newly established Board concerning the closure of roads adjacent to his property and allegations of irregularities in the election of some sub-divisional representatives . One might suspect he had been “duchessed “ into withdrawing his lawsuit because the Board almost immediately appointed him to its Improvements Committee .

Any strained relations lingering between Thorne and his colleagues must have eased later that year when the new Improvements Committee member suggested an improvement to the emoluments of Board personnel through a written request to the State Government that free Rail Passes be issued to all Board members . Not unexpectedly the suggestion met with the unanimous approval of all associated parties who must have felt that the new man was going to exert a kindly influence on Board proceedings after all .

In the same year Thorne also sought backing for his proposal to lobby the Queensland State Government for a dam to be built at the mouth of Bulimba Creek

Additionally he endorsed proposed action against Baynes’ Woolscour for their pollution of Bulimba Creek.

Minute-books recording Belmont Divisional Board proceedings towards the end of the 19th century mention some acrimonious exchanges between Thorne and the then Board chairman, F. Luckmann. During this time Luckmann actually ejected Thorne from one meeting, and in another, referred to Thorne's more boisterous and possibly undignified behaviour at the German Bridge Hotel at Holland Park

Thorne seems to have stood down from what became the Belmont Shire Council in about 1905, having held office longer than just about all of his fellow representatives.

He appears to have disposed of his Belmont home ca.1909, and later migrated to New Zealand, changing his name to Ebenezer Enroth and passing away in 1920.

Kate Thorne was married in 1904 to George Nicol, and died in Melbourne after a short illness at the early age of 36 in December, 1912

At the outset of World War 1 the widowed George Nicol enlisted in the AIF, and was later reported missing in the Gallipoli campaign. The couple left no surviving children, but Kate was known to have been pregnant at the time of her death.


This segment will have further material added later…………