The Art Deco Mansion in St Lucia details my grandfather WA Back’s role in developing part of the land on which the University of Queensland is built. Who better than Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry to launch?
Professor Terry AO has been quoted in recent media about her moves to support victims of sexual misconduct on campus. She took the University of helm in Semester 2, 2020 to chart a difficult challenge of maintaining tertiary education in the brave new world of COVID.
This book draws parallels with the Spanish Influenza 100 years ago. It quotes letters from my grandfather that severe bronchitis in the Northern Rivers area prompted his move across the border to Queensland. The dry climate to NW Queensland, with his base in St Lucia, proved more healthy.
Many have been fascinated by photos of this magnificent mansion since it was built in the early 1950s. I grew up as ‘a girl whose grandfather built a lift in his house’.
Musical high notes
A highlight of my recent book launch was to hear alto Anne Fulton and organist Dr Phillip Gearing perform Angel Lovers by Dr Paul-Antoni Bonetti. Listen and watch around the 1 hour mark. My grandparents donated the organ to St Lucia Uniting Church and I imagine they also enjoyed lovely music by a great-grandson.
WA Back was an inspiration to his descendants and to others who encountered him. I learned more of his challenges when Camilla Ayala translated an article in a Finnish magazine, Australia’s Richest Finn, which is quoted in full in this new book. (A Finland-Swede, Grandad’s first language was Swedish, which is mercifully easier than Finnish!)
This third book of the Midnight Sun to Southern Cross trilogy pays tribute to a man who inspired me to ‘Go forward!’
‘His rags to riches trajectory from Finland to Australia had me spellbound. What courage, sense of purpose and faith…here is an important and thoroughly absorbing piece of Queensland history.’
Positive reviews are music to an author’s ears. Read more at