Commissioned Work

Expedition to the Great Barrier Reef


Author: Trisha Fielding

Contributors: Suzie Davies, Liz Downes

Low Island, part of the Low Isles group, far north Queensland, 1928.
Photo: James Cook University

Publisher: James Cook University Library

Expected Publication Date:

In 1928, a group of highly-talented young British scientists arrived on a small island off the coast of far north Queensland on a mission to conduct a year-long study of the largest coral reef in the world — the Great Barrier Reef. Through rigorous scientific investigation into the biological and geological complexities of the reef, they hoped to uncover precisely what coral reefs were, and in doing so, to better understand the life cycles of the animal and plant life on the reef and in the surrounding sea. None of them had ever seen a coral reef before. This is the story of their year on the Great Barrier Reef, and of the ongoing legacies of this ground-breaking expedition.

History of the Mount Isa Underground Hospital

Author: Trisha Fielding

Interior of the Mount Isa Underground Hospital.
Photo: MIMAG, December 1977.

Mount Isa Underground Hospital and Museum

Expected Publication Date:
Early 2023

In 1942, in response to the bombing of Darwin by Japanese forces, the Mount Isa Hospital Board was concerned for the safety of patients and staff of the hospital, should an attack occur on Mount Isa. A deep Air Raid Shelter was built by miners, working voluntarily after their eight-hour shifts underground, to provide shelter for hospital patients. Three tunnels were excavated into the side of a hill for a distance of 60 feet. These were connected up and equipped with an operating theatre and separate wards for men, women, and maternity cases. Initially named the “Onton Air Raid Shelter”, in honour of Wally Onton – the Mount Isa Mines Foreman who supervised the excavation work – the Underground Hospital was expected to be able to accommodate 150 people.

Asleep in the Deep: a love lost on the SS Yongala

Author: Trisha Fielding

Georgina O’Brien with daughter Cliffina, 1911.

Townsville Museum and Historical Society Inc.

Publication Date:

A young woman, whose husband of just six weeks disappeared when the steamship Yongala sank near Townsville in 1911, kept a detailed account of her search to learn of his fate. Georgina O’Brien collected, and lovingly preserved, every newspaper clipping she could lay her hands on about the missing ship (which wasn’t properly identified until 1958); every telegram and letter she received in answer to her inquiries about her husband Clifford’s whereabouts; every photo and keepsake of their short life together — and collated it in an album. Perhaps she kept the diary because she held the hope that he was still alive? Perhaps she wanted her daughter, who was born later that year, to have a record of what had happened to the father she would never know?

The sinking of the SS Yongala resulted in the loss of 121 lives — it was a truly calamitous event. But up until now, we knew very little about those people, and how their loved ones coped with the loss. Georgina O’Brien’s diary has revealed to us for the first time, the scale of suffering that follows such an event. But as tragic as the story contained within its pages is, Georgina’s diary also reveals an uplifting story of enduring love and hope — a final ‘love letter’ to her dearly departed.

Music and Community: Barrier Reef Orchestra at Twenty

by Jean Dartnall

Publication Layout & Design: Trisha Fielding

Music and Community: Barrier Reef Orchestra at Twenty. Cover design: Trisha Fielding, 2021.

North Queensland Ensembles Inc.

Publication Date:

The Barrier Reef Orchestra deserves its title of Community Orchestra for many reasons, not least as a collaborator with other artists and arts organisations within our community and within the wider musical community. Making music and performing with others is the driving force for the musicians of the Barrier Reef Orchestra. In pursuing this goal, they create opportunities for social and community ties between musicians, artists in other fields, and the many and varied audiences for all these works. They enhance the cultural life of the City of Townsville; they promote the image of the City within and outside its region and they have a lot of fun!

– Jean Dartnall, author.

A University for the North: James Cook University 1970-2020

Author: Trisha Fielding

Published by Bounce Books, Preston, Victoria, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-6450545-0-7

123 pages, 280mm x 260mm (portrait)

Stage 1 of James Cook University Library.
Photo: James Cook University.

James Cook University

Publication Date:

This 123-page, full-colour publication, commissioned to commemorate James Cook University’s 50th anniversary in 2020, explores 50 stories that celebrate JCU’s people, place, knowledge & legacy. There are biographical-style articles on some extraordinary people, as well as stories on the development and growth of the University; its remarkable legacy of research and knowledge; and its contribution to the cultural life of North Queensland and the Tropics.

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