Obscure Box

Thoughts from inside the obscure box

May 5, 2009

New Zealand has that affect on some people

Posted by : Michael Lund
Filed under : Media, Observation

As Brisbane prepares to go all Greek for this year's Paniyiri the event organisers are playing on one Greek woman's role in the foundation of Queensland.

The first Greek to set foot in the state was actually the wife of the inaugural governor Sir George Bowen.

He'd married Contessa Diamantina Roma, from Zakynthos, one of the Greek Islands, in a ceremony at Corfu in 1856, just two years before he was appointed the state's first governor.

The history is revealed in "The legacy of Lady Diamantina Roma Bowen", on the website of the Lady Bowen Trust.

After a long voyage from Greece, the Bowens arrived in Queensland in 1859 on a hot and dusty December day. Upon arrival, Sir George declared Queensland a separate State to the many joyous Queenslanders lining the banks of the Brisbane River, thus commencing his popular tenure as Governor..

She was apparently a big hit and impressed all with her dedication to help those less fortunate souls.

The website has a list of things that bear her name: Roma the place in Western Queensland; Diamantina River in Northern Queensland; Diamantina Shire; in Brisbane there are the Roma Parklands, Roma Street and Lady Bowen Park; the Diamantina Health Care Museum at the Princess Alexandra Hospital (which is on the site of the old Diamantina Hospital); the riverclass frigate former HMAS Diamantina at the Queensland Maritime Museum; and the Lady Bowen’s Wreck off Mission Beach in far north Queensland.

Her name also crops up outside of Queensland in the Diamantina Trench, a deep ocean cleft off Western Australia, Diamantina Falls in Victoria and Diamantina Street in the Australian Capital Terriroty.

My favourite part of her story though is her reaction at leaving Queensland after eight years when hubby was appointed governor of New Zealand.

According to newspaper reports at the time, Lady Bowen was so overcome with sadness to leave her much-loved new home and the community which had embraced her with such warmth, that she had to be carried on-board their vessel.

Kicking and screaming, no doubt.

I know how she must have felt.

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All thoughts and comments here are the honestly held personal opinion of Michael Lund and are based on the information available at the time of publication.