For more than a decade in the 1920s and 1930s, a deadly disease menaced residents of Rannes and other small communities of the Banana Shire in central Queensland. My mother’s family, who lived on a property near Rannes (about 105 kilometres, or 65 miles, southwest of Rockhampton), was among those affected.

This deadly disease was a notifiable illness and one for which (at the time) there was no known cure. The case fatality rate, if untreated, was high (20%). The early symptoms of the disease were not unlike those of influenza, which made it difficult to detect, at least at first. People were spooked: Where will it turn up next? Who will be its next hapless victim? How will I know if I’ve got it? While most folk who contracted the disease recovered, sadly, some did not.

NOTE: A list of references I used in preparing this story is found at the end of the post. References are numbered and noted throughout the text by brackets: [X].

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Fatalities from the deadly disease

One fatality was my great-aunt Beattie. She and Josiah, her husband of just 4 years, and their 3 year old son Colin, lived at Lithgow, New South Wales, where Josiah was head surveyor at the Lithgow colliery. Beattie died after contracting the disease during a visit to Rannes in August-September 1929. A young wife and mother who had everything to live for, Beattie was just 28 years old. I have written about her previously in Mons: Whose house is that? (November 27, 2016).


On the trip home from Rannes, after travelling by train as far as Brisbane, Beattie came down with a fever and ‘flu-like symptoms. She was hospitalized in Brisbane, but failed to respond to treatment. She died suddenly on 7 September 1929 and was buried in Brisbane’s Lutwyche Cemetery. [1]

Beattie was the first, but not the last, of my mother’s family to contract the deadly disease.

Another victim was Ashton John Gray, a 27 year old farmer, of Biloela. (Biloela is about 60 kilometres, 37 miles, southeast of Rannes.) He died in the Mount Morgan Hospital on 9 April 1931. Mr Gray contracted the disease several weeks previously and was treated for some time at his home before being brought to the Mount Morgan Hospital. Although a healthy young man (“a splendid specimen of Australian manhood”), Mr Gray could not be saved. [2]

Yet another fatality was Henry William Barnes Farlow, a railway employee who fell victim to the disease in May 1932 while residing at a railway construction camp near Thangool. (Thangool is about 70 kilometres, 43 miles, southeast of Rannes.) In fact, the man’s wife sued the Commissioner for Railways over her husband’s death. She sought damages of ₤2000, although unsuccessfully, alleging that her husband died as a result of drinking contaminated water supplied by the Railways Department at the campsite. [3, 4, 5]

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I digress.

Before I reveal more about the impact of the deadly disease at Rannes and in the Banana Shire in the 1920s and 1930s, I provide examples of earlier outbreaks of the disease in Queensland, and Australia, to help put the Rannes-Banana Shire outbreaks in perspective. As these examples show, the disease was feared and caused havoc in many other communities from as early as the 1850s. Governments responded by enacting regulations to safeguard public health. (You may recognize some parallels with today’s circumstances.)

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Early outbreaks of the deadly disease

From as early as the 1850s, the deadly disease – typhoid fever – was an outstanding menace in the colony of Queensland. Hundreds of people died as a result of contracting the disease. In those days, there was no preventative vaccine and no antibiotic treatment. Not surprisingly, news of an outbreak or deaths due to typhoid fever spread fear among the populace. [6]

The following extract from a letter to the editor of Brisbane’s Courier, dated 7 August 1862, reveals concern that passengers from a typhoid-stricken ship be kept in quarantine for a suitable length of time before being allowed to disembark [7]:

Sir, — I noticed in your shipping report of today that the immigrants per Erin-go-Bragh would probably be brought up to Brisbane in a day or two. The Erin-go-Bragh, according to the account we have received, has lost, during a voyage of over 150 days, more than fifty of her passengers, and the Government Gazette has declared that “fever of a typhoid character” has caused some of the deaths. I trust you will warn the authorities, ‘ere these people are brought to Brisbane, of the great risk they are running of introducing ship fever amongst us. … Sir, I feel almost sure that the Government will not act hastily in this most important matter, for it should be borne in mind that, once landed here, each new case of fever may, and probably will, become a focus for fresh cases. B., Brisbane.

The Erin-go-Bragh was one of six immigrant vessels that arrived at the port of Brisbane in July and August 1862. Carrying 431 immigrants, the Erin-go-Bragh left Queenstown (Ireland) on 7 February 1862 and reached Brisbane on 31 July 1862. [8]

The Queensland Government Health Officer (Dr Hobbs), upon learning that passengers had been affected by typhoid fever, ordered the vessel be kept in quarantine off Brisbane for several days. Brisbane did not have sufficient hospital facilities and medical staff to cope with a major outbreak of the disease. Dr Hobbs, after further inquiries, gave the following report of the typhoid outbreak on board the ship [9]:

On the fourth day after leaving Queenstown, typhoid fever and scarlatina broke out among the passengers, and continued to operate with fearful effect until the 10th of July last, at which date—just three weeks ago—the last death occurred. During the voyage, we regret to state, that no fewer than 54 deaths took place, the great majority being confined to young children.


Advice about how to prevent spread of the disease

Around the same time (1860s), medical experts were advising people how to prevent the spread of typhoid fever. A Dr Budd, of Bristol (England), recommended the following rules be posted wherever typhoid fever may have become epidemic through previous neglect of sanitary precautions [10]:

The means by which typhoid fever may be prevented from spreading are very simple, very sure, and their cost next to nothing. They are founded on the discovery that the poison by which this fever spreads is almost entirely contained in the discharges from the bowels. These discharges infect – 1. The air of the sick room; 2. The bed and body linen of the patient; 3. The privy and the cesspool, or the drains proceeding from them. From the privy or drain the poison often soaks into the well and infects the drinking water. … The one great thing to aim at therefore, is to disinfect these discharges on their very escape from the body, and before they are carried from the sick room. This may be perfectly done by the use of disinfectants.

Australia’s largest typhoid fever epidemic (1890s)

Australia’s worst outbreak of typhoid fever occurred in Western Australia in the 1890s. Overcrowding in tent towns, poor sanitation and a lack of clean water provided ideal conditions for the spread of the disease, especially on the Western Australian goldfields. Here the disease reached epidemic proportions. Many deaths occurred because of lack of hospitals and nurses on the goldfields. The government responded by providing tents for emergency hospitals. [11]

Of those infected in the early years of the epidemic, approximately one-fifth – mostly healthy young men – died. Over a ten year period, around 2000 deaths were recorded, although the actual number of deaths was far greater. It is estimated that at least ten times more people were infected, making this the largest episode of epidemic typhoid in Australia’s history. [12]

An anti-typhoid vaccine (early 1900s)

An anti-typhoid vaccine became available by the early 1900s. It proved most effective in decreasing the incidence of the disease. Apparently, during the Boer War (1899-1902), more men died from typhoid fever than were killed by bullets. That was prior to the availability of a vaccine. In contrast, during World War I (1914-1918), typhoid fever hardly existed among the troops in Europe, due to universal use of the anti-typhoid vaccine. [13]


A typhoid epidemic at Winton, Queensland (1913)

In 1913, a serious outbreak of typhoid fever occurred in and around Winton, in central western Queensland. Winton’s population at the time was about 1000. The town is located 177 kilometres (110 miles) northwest of Longreach and 866 kilometres (538 miles) west northwest of Rockhampton.

The outbreak came to the attention of authorities in late April 1913. At the time there were 24 confirmed cases in the Winton Hospital. Reports indicated the disease was not confined to the township, but had broken out in the shearers’ camps within a radius of 100 miles (approximately 160 kilometres). Seven cases were confirmed at Kynuna and three at the Ayrshire camp, about 160 kilometres (100 miles) and 56 kilometres (35 miles) respectively northwest of Winton. [14]

Dr Booth-Clarkson, a government medical inspector, was sent from Townsville to Winton to manage the outbreak and prevent further spread of the disease. He strongly recommended residents be inoculated with the anti-typhoid vaccine. He believed the outbreak was most likely the result of a carrier (or carriers) coming into the district. Dr Booth-Clarkson advised against all itinerant workers leaving the district.


However, Dr Booth-Clarkson was well aware that he had no power to force the men in the shearers’ camps, and possible carriers, to stay put [15]:

The great risk is that the men at the camps may become frightened and leave their camps and spread the disease. Medical precautions in respect of such action do not at the present time seem to exist for legally preventing the men from leaving infected spots.

One month later, in late May 1913, the typhoid epidemic was still raging. [16] Since the beginning of the outbreak, there had been 11 deaths and 88 persons had been hospitalized. In response to Dr Booth-Clarkson’s plea, about 250 residents had been vaccinated. Nevertheless, the disease continued to have a negative impact on everyday life in the small community, as this report shows [17]:

A Chinese baker has been ordered to vacate his premises and the landlord has been instructed to pull the place down. Yesterday a man employed at a European bakery developed typhoid. The health officers left by Dr Booth-Clarkson ordered the immediate suspension of all bread making operations and consequently the town is left without a bread supply. The short notice of the stoppage has caused great inconvenience in the town and particularly at the hospital which is crowded with patients.

I’m not sure exactly when the 1913 outbreak was brought under control. But, according to the information on a plaque at the Winton cemetery (pictured), Winton reported its last case of typhoid fever in 1920.


The Queensland Government’s rules concerning typhoid fever (1920)

In March 1920, the Queensland Government enforced a new set of regulations concerning typhoid fever. [18] On notification of a case, a local authority was duty-bound to inform its health officer. An infected person had to be isolated and could be forcibly removed from home where home isolation and treatment could not be carried out with safety to the public health. For anyone unable to pay for the treatment, the local authority had to bear the cost.

The rules aimed to prevent the spread of the disease through the milk supply and from person to person in households. In certain circumstances, medical officers or other persons were authorized to conduct house to house visitations. Infected premises had to be examined and disinfected, as necessary.

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Rannes, the Banana Shire, and my family connection

In 1912 my grandfather, Donald William Beaumont (1884-1958) and his father, Thomas Bloomfield Beaumont (1853-1944), took up “prickly pear” selections at Rannes in central Queensland’s fertile Brigalow Belt. Up until this time my grandfather, his father and four of his brothers, ran teams of horses, transporting goods from Westwood (near Rockhampton) to stations in the Banana and Clermont districts. Taking up a landholding was a new venture, and a risky one, given that the land was known to be pear-infested. For more about the prickly pear problem they faced, read Prickly pear and its nemesis: A plain grey-brown moth (November 4, 2019).

Like many of the new settlers in the district, my grandparents and great-grandparents set out to make a living from the land. They cleared the land as best they could, planted crops, and took up dairy farming.


Rannes and the coming of the railway

The coming of the railway played a major role in opening up the Rannes district to new settlers. The railway line between Rannes and Rockhampton opened on 2 February 1915. It was the second stage in the construction of the Dawson Valley Branch Line from Rockhampton via Mount Morgan to Wowan and from Wowan to Rannes. The third stage, a line between Rannes and Baralaba, opened on 30 July 1917. [19]


In 1922, work commenced on the Rannes-Monto railway line (the Callide Valley line), which aimed to connect by rail Rockhampton (in the north) with Monto (in the south). [20] This meant that a large number of railway construction workers were employed in the district. Many of the men, including their wives and children, lived in tents in a makeshift camp at Rannes. The camp was erected on the site of the old Dawson Valley railway construction camp behind the township’s railway trucking yards.



By 1923, the population of Rannes had swollen to about 500 (this figure included the railway construction workers and their families). Rannes was a beehive of activity, and more substantial wooden buildings, replacing hessian and canvas ones, were being constructed in the town. [21]

An outbreak of typhoid fever at Rannes (1924)

It was in these circumstances, in March 1924, that Rannes recorded its first case of typhoid fever.

An outbreak of typhoid fever is reported from Rannes. The Banana Shire Council is awaiting a report from the health officer, Dr Ada Stuart. Several persons recently were sent to the Rockhampton and Mount Morgan Hospitals. The supposed fever is stated to be due to unsanitary conditions. [22]

It seems that the outbreak was brought under control within about 6 months and all of those who came down with the illness recovered. No deaths were reported. In September 1924, the following letter of thanks was published in “The Worker”, a newspaper affiliated with the Australian Labour Party [23]:

Mrs J H Smith, construction camp, Rannes, writes under date September 16: Sir. – I desire, through the columns of “The Worker”, as the official organ of unionism in Queensland, to express my heartfelt thanks for the kind and generous treatment extended to my husband, my family, and myself by means of subscriptions collected among the unionists of Rannes, Baralaba, Castle Creek, Many Peaks, Longreach and Bundaberg. The amount so subscribed has been of great assistance during the long period of sickness suffered by the whole family through the recent typhoid outbreak at Rannes.

In the meantime, in 1930, the Banana Shire Council offices relocated to Rannes. This move, from Banana in the south to Rannes in the north, was based on the Banana Shire’s shifting population hubs and access to the railway. [24]


Another typhoid outbreak in the shire

In early 1931 another outbreak of typhoid fever occurred in the shire, this time at Biloela, a town about 60 kilometres (37 miles) southeast of Rannes. It gave locals “a rather bad scare” [25]. Reports linked the outbreak to campers living in rough conditions in the scrub on the outskirts of the town.

Various Queensland newspaper reports on 25 and 26 March 1931 described the outbreak at Biloela as an “epidemic”. According to these accounts one person had died, up to nine cases had been admitted to the Mount Morgan Hospital and a large number of people at Biloela were stricken. [26, 27]

However, on 27 March, in response to these alarmist newspaper reports, the doctor in charge of the Mount Morgan Hospital tried to put the situation in perspective [28]:

Regarding the reported outbreak of typhoid fever at Biloela, in the Dawson Valley [sic.], Dr Thomson, who is charge of the Mount Morgan Hospital, stated yesterday that only two cases had been admitted from that township. The patient who succumbed to the fever was admitted from Deeford, which is also in the Dawson Valley. Five typhoid fever patients have been admitted to the Mount Morgan Hospital this past month.

The typhoid patient who died in the Mount Morgan Hospital on or around 24 March 1931 came from Deeford (Wowan), about 24 kilometres (15 miles) north of Rannes. Biloela may have been the latest hotspot of typhoid fever infections, but clearly residents in other communities of the Banana Shire (north and south of Rannes) were at risk of contracting the deadly disease.

The situation at Rannes, 1933-1934

It seems that the next outbreak of typhoid fever occurred at Rannes early in 1934. [29] However, my mother Evelyn often spoke about a Rannes schoolteacher who died in tragic circumstances in August 1933, suggesting he was a victim of typhoid fever.

The young schoolteacher, 22-year old James Gordon, was a friend of Evelyn and her family. Evelyn was 17 years old at the time. Mr Gordon was a popular teacher and an able sportsman. Like Evelyn’s father and brothers, he was a keen cricketer. [30]

In August 1933, Mr Gordon left Rannes to spend the school holidays with his parents in Bundaberg and attend the Brisbane Exhibition. On his arrival at Bundaberg he was thought to have a bout of influenza. However, without any warning, two days later, Mr Gordon took his own life. He swallowed sulphuric acid and could not be saved. He left a note stating he no longer wished to live. [31, 32]

The death of James Gordon was a mystery to all who knew him. The only explanation they could give for Mr Gordon’s taking of his own life was a fever-induced delirium, a symptom of untreated typhoid fever.

I know for sure that James Gordon’s death had a profound impact on a young Evelyn Beaumont.

What was very worrying for the residents of Rannes, and residents of the entire Banana Shire for that matter, was that typhoid fever was taking the lives of otherwise healthy young men and women. And these cases, and subsequent deaths, could not be attributed to unsanitary living conditions.

How were these victims contracting the deadly disease? And who would be next?

These questions were soon to be answered, in quite unexpected ways.

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Evelyn’s own battle against typhoid fever

In late December 1934, Evelyn herself became a victim of the deadly disease. At the time, she was 18 years old, still living at home with her parents, and in the prime of life. The insidious illness came on suddenly and with little warning.

It began this way.

Evelyn experienced a fever, unquenchable thirst and delirium while alone on horseback checking cattle in a back paddock. She was so thirsty she got down on her knees and drank the muddy water in a waterhole used by the cattle. Fortunately, she managed to get back on her horse and ride home.

Evelyn’s parents recognised the early symptoms of typhoid fever. They acted promptly, action that (in hindsight) saved their daughter’s life.

They took Evelyn directly to Rockhampton where, on Christmas Day 1934, she was admitted to Tannachy Private Hospital. Dr Charles Talbot, one of the doctors in charge of the hospital, attended to her. Evelyn remembered being packed in ice. She found out later that Dr Talbot took her parents to the Bluebird Café in East Street, Rockhampton, to have their Christmas dinner. It was a Christmas Day they never forgot.


Evelyn’s was a long battle

Typically, as in Evelyn’s case, the first symptoms of typhoid fever appear one to three weeks after infection. They include a low-level fever, headache, weakness and fatigue, muscle aches, sweating and dry cough, symptoms similar to an attack of the ‘flu. Over about a week the infected person’s temperature rises gradually, taking about a week to reach its peak of about 104 or 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40 or 40.5 degrees Celcius). The patient’s temperature may remain there for a couple of weeks, before returning to normal. [33]

Besides a very high temperature, other general symptoms of typhoid fever include headache, delirium, a slightly distended abdomen, diarrhoea (sometimes with constipation as a complication), enlargement of the spleen, and (in some cases) a rose coloured rash. [34]

In 1934, when Evelyn was diagnosed with typhoid fever, there was no quick fix, no antibiotic treatment available. The only antidote was medical treatment of the symptoms and good nursing. The patient was isolated and kept in isolation for several weeks. Nursing staff had to ensure proper disposal of bowel discharges and urine and thorough disinfection of the patient’s discharges and all articles such as bed linen, bed pans, urinals, etc., likely to have been soiled by the patient. These measures were put in place to protect medical and nursing staff, and others, against direct infection. [35]

The recovery

Evelyn spent about four weeks in hospital. I know this for sure, because my mother told me on a number of occasions that she “celebrated” her 19th birthday in hospital. She turned 19 on January 14, 1935. When she was well enough to be discharged from hospital, Evelyn’s family arranged for her to spend a couple of weeks convalescing at Yeppoon, a small town by the seaside, near Rockhampton.


During her stay in hospital, Evelyn started to lose her hair. By the time she left hospital, most of her hair had fallen out. At Yeppoon, Evelyn had her head shaved. She never forgot how much it hurt to lay her head on a pillow for a few nights afterwards! “It was cruel”, she used to say.

Gradually Evelyn recovered and was able to return home. At home, she received and appreciated the love and care of her family and friends. One of Evelyn’s closest friends at the time was Olive (“Ollie”) Hansen. Ollie and her family had lived near Rannes prior to moving to a property near Baralaba (about 38 kilometres, or 24 miles, from Rannes).

Evelyn (19) and Ollie (18) are pictured here, on one of Ollie’s visits to Rannes, not long after Evelyn returned home. Evelyn is the shorter of the two. Note the length of Evelyn’s hair – it is just beginning to grow again.


As an aside: Evelyn and Ollie remained friends for the rest of their long lives. Evelyn died in 2011, aged 95; Ollie died in 1999, aged 82.


The awful truth about typhoid fever at Rannes in the 1920s and 1930s

After Evelyn was diagnosed with typhoid fever, her parents wanted to know how she contracted the disease. Why Evelyn? She was young and healthy, and lived in a safe, clean home environment.

Five years had passed since Evelyn’s aunt Beattie died of the deadly disease following a visit to Rannes. Like Evelyn, Beattie was young and healthy when she contracted typhoid fever.

There was also the case of James Gordon, whom most Rannes folk believed had contracted typhoid fever, which led to his tragic demise.

Evelyn’s parents suspected that someone in the Rannes community was a typhoid carrier. Her father requested council health officers test all residents to confirm (or deny) their “carrier” theory.

A carrier is someone who has had a mild case of typhoid fever and, although he/she recovers and seems perfectly healthy, continues to have typhoid bacilli in his/her stools for at least a year. [36] The person is usually quite unaware that he/she has the disease and is passing it on.

Testing confirmed the Rannes “carrier” theory. But this news was devastating for Evelyn’s family.

The tests showed that a member of Evelyn’s extended family was a carrier. The person was extremely upset when told, realizing that he/she was responsible for passing on the disease. He/she was also very angry and, in Evelyn’s words, “had a big fight” with Evelyn’s father, given he was the one who requested the testing. I guess it was just so hard for the person to accept that he/she had caused the family – and others – so much harm and heartache.

●   ●   ●


About typhoid fever

Typhoid fever usually spreads through faecally contaminated food and water or through close contact with someone who is infected or has recently been infected. It’s a serious acute illness caused by the bacterium Salmonella Typhi. [36] Since the late 1940s, antibiotics have been used successfully to treat infected persons and lower the case fatality rate. [37] With such treatment, the case fatality rate is usually less than 1%. [38]

If untreated, an infected person is likely to become delirious and develop life-threatening complications. The most serious complications are intestinal bleeding and perforations (holes) in the intestine. The case fatality rate for untreated typhoid fever remains at about 20%. [39]

Typhoid fever is a notifiable illness in every state of Australia. It is rare in Australia today, about 150 cases reported annually and about 90% of these cases acquired overseas. [40]

However, typhoid fever remains a serious public health problem in highly populated non-industrialized counties in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America. People living in or travelling to these countries are at risk of contracting the disease. [41]

According to the World Health Organisation, most recent estimates suggest that between 11 and 21 million cases, and 128,000 to 161,000 typhoid-related deaths, occur each year worldwide. [42]

In 2020, typhoid fever remains one of the world’s deadliest diseases.



The following passages from the Bible are especially relevant as right now we face the danger of succumbing to another deadly disease, COVID-19, one (like typhoid fever in former days) for which there is no known cure:

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

(Psalm 23:4)

Unless the Lord had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death. When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.

(Psalm 94:17-19)

Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

(John 14:27)



Click here for details of references used in preparing this story.


  1. BREVITIES (1929, September 9). Lithgow Mercury (NSW : 1898 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved March 14, 2020, from
  2. DEATH FROM TYPHOID (1931, April 11). Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 – 1954), p. 6. Retrieved March 16, 2020, from
  3. TYPHOID INFECTION (1933, July 26). Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 – 1954), p. 5. Retrieved January 25, 2020, from
  4. LABOURER’S DEATH (1933, July 27). The Central Queensland Herald (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1930 – 1956), p. 28. Retrieved March 14, 2020, from
  5. LABOURER’S DEATH (1933, July 27). The Central Queensland Herald (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1930 – 1956), p. 28. Retrieved March 17, 2020, from
  6. TYPHOID FEVER (1935, July 4). Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 – 1954), p. 12. Retrieved March 14, 2020, from
  7. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR. (1862, August 8). The Courier (Brisbane, Qld. : 1861 – 1864), p. 3. Retrieved March 19, 2020, from
  8. THE ARRIVAL OF SIX IMMIGRANT VESSELS. (1862, August 16). The Courier (Brisbane, Qld. : 1861 – 1864), p. 3. Retrieved JMarch 19, 2020, from
  9. Ibid.
  10. How to Prevent Typhoid Fever from Spreading. (1869, June 29). Illawarra Mercury (Wollongong, NSW : 1856 – 1950), p. 4. Retrieved March 19, 2020, from
  11. Typhoid Fever: A Raging Epidemic (2017). Government of Western Australia. Western Australian Museum. (Website). Online: Retrieved on 17 March 2020.
  12. Ibid.
  13. TYPHOID FEVER (1935, July 4). Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 – 1954), p. 12. Retrieved March 14, 2020, from
  14. TYPHOID AT WINTON. (1913, April 29). The Northern Miner (Charters Towers, Qld. : 1874 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved March 17, 2020, from
  15. Ibid.
  16. TYPHOID AT WINTON (1913, May 22). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), p. 7. Retrieved March 15, 2020, from
  17. Ibid.
  18. New Typhoid Fever Regulations. (1920, March 13). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), p. 4. Retrieved March 19, 2020, from
  19. Dawson Valley (Theodore) railway line. Wikipedia. (Website). Online: Retrieved on 22 March 2020.
  20. RANNES-MONTO RAILWAY (1922, April 29). The Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 – 1929), p. 35. Retrieved March 22, 2020, from
  21. Nally, P. J. & Queensland Government Intelligence and Tourist Bureau (1923). The Upper Burnett and Callide Valley districts, Queensland: large areas of agricultural, dairying, and grazing land available for selection (1st ed). Queensland Government Intelligence and Tourist Bureau, Brisbane.
  22. TYPHOID FEVER (1924, March 22). The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 – 1947), p. 3. Retrieved January 25, 2020, from
  23. THANKS (1924, September 25). Worker (Brisbane, Qld. : 1890 – 1955), p. 20. Retrieved January  27, 2020, from
  24. Perry, Betty & Banana (Qld.) Council (2005). Two valleys – one destiny: A history of Banana, shire of opportunity’. Banana Shire Council, Biloela, Qld.
  25. BILOELA. (1931, April 10). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), p. 8. Retrieved March 22, 2020, from
  26. ONE DEATH. Typhoid Epidemic. (1931, March 26). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), p. 11. Retrieved March 14, 2020, from
  27. TYPHOID OUTBREAK. (1931, March 26). Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1907 – 1954), p. 7. Retrieved March 14, 2020, from
  28. Typhoid Fever (1931, March 27). The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 – 1947), p. 7 (LATE CITY EDITION). Retrieved March 14, 2020, from
  29. TYPHOID AT RANNES (1934, February 3). The Evening News (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1924 – 1941), p. 8. Retrieved January 25, 2020, from
  30. The Late James Gordon (1933, August 10). The Evening News (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1924 – 1941), p. 8. Retrieved March 15, 2020, from
  31. Ibid.
  32. RANNES SCHOOL TEACHER’S DEATH (1933, August 9). The Evening News (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1924 – 1941), p. 9. Retrieved January 25, 2020, from
  33. TYPHOID FEVER (1935, July 4). Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 – 1954), p. 12. Retrieved March 14, 2020, from
  34. Ibid.
  35. Ibid.
  36. Typhoid Fever. (2018). Australian Government Department of Health. Australian Immunization Handbook. Online: Retrieved on 17 March 2020.
  37. New Drug “Wonders” (1948, April 20). Kalgoorlie Miner (WA : 1895 – 1954), p. 5. Retrieved March 17, 2020, from
  38. Crump J. A. (2019). Progress in Typhoid Fever Epidemiology. Clinical infectious diseases: an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, 68 (Suppl 1), S4–S9. Published online: 15 February 2019. Online: Retrieved on 17 March 2020.
  39. Typhoid Fever. (2018). Australian Government Department of Health. Australian Immunization Handbook. Online: Retrieved on 17 March 2020.
  40. Ibid.
  41. World Health Organisation. (2019, December 9). Typhoid. Online: Retrieved on 16 March 2020.
  42. Ibid.


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A deadly disease: Rannes, Queensland, in the 1920s and 1930s via @jsalecich
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16 Comments on A deadly disease: Rannes, Queensland, in the 1920s and 1930s

  1. Judith I have just read your blog with a lot of interest. My father Jim Hooper was appointed Banana Shire’s Shire Clerk in 1941 at Rannes. I believe he got Typhoid fever in 1942. He told me he thought he got it from the Rannes Refuse Dump. He told me about the delirium and told me you won’t suffer when Your about to die because Mother Nature will cushion the experience of your death with this delirium. Your story suggests you could get Typhoid anywhere not just Rannes. Why didn’t everybody get the vaccine? I imagine the organisation we had for the polio vaccine didn’t exist in that era. I can understand why Dad didn’t like Hospitals. In the mid 1930’s he spent 3 month in the Brisbane Mater with the threat of his leg being amputated because of Osto Miolitis. His girl friend at Rannes who visited him at the Mt Morgan Hospital died of a brain tumour while Dad was in Hospital there.She is buried in the Baralaba cemetery . I have seen her grave. As you said Typhoid is a bacteria and now can be treated by antibiotics. Thanks for your blog.

    • Dear John. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story and provide feedback. Thank you for sharing with me and my readers about your father’s experience. I’m so sorry he also was a victim of typhoid fever, but so glad that he (like my mother) recovered. Re how he contracted the disease, I guess you will never know for sure. The disease is insidious, and invisible, just like the current COVID-19 disease. One is due to a bacterium, the other to a virus. Yes, it is good that a vaccine became available to prevent infection with typhoid fever, and it would have been recommended to folk in those outbreak areas, no doubt. But it probably was optional. Re the antibiotic treatment for those who contract the disease, the problem now is that the bacterium is becoming resistant to the antibiotics. It’s quite a worry, I believe. Anyway, thanks again for sharing your father’s rather sad tale. Kind regards, Judy.

  2. What an interesting read Judy. Thank you so much for all the research you have put into this Blog. Very timely. Sad there is such a high incidence of it still in some parts of the world over a 100 years later. Must have been a very harrowing time for your family. Stay well. Great Scripture verses. Thanks

    • Dear Betty. Thanks so much for your comments. I’m glad you appreciated the story – and my research – and found it informative. I learnt such a lot as I did the research. Yes, I agree, it must have been an awful time for my mother and her extended family. I’m so glad my mother told me about it, otherwise I would not have known. Yes, the scriptures are pertinent. There is no need to fear. We are safe, whatever happens. A big hug to you and Ian. Love, Judy. xx

  3. I was a small child living with my parents and family at Rannes about the time of the typhoid epidemic and I remember my mother worrying that we might get it. The Beaumont family were our neighbours and friends. I think we had to be vaccinated for typhoid fever.I remember when they discovered who the carrier was – it must have been very upsetting for him/her to be told he/she was a carrier. Luckily none of our family got the disease and we remained friends of the Beaumont family for many years until we moved away to Baralaba and didn’t get to see them as often.

    • Dear Auda. Thank you so much for responding to my story, and letting us know about your family and your connection with Rannes. If you lived through this experience, my story must bring back many memories for you. Some sad, some happy. It’s wonderful to read that your family and mine knew each other well and were good friends. I hope you are well and I pray you stay well. Many blessings, Judy. xx

  4. Judy this is a most interesting blog and is apt given what is happening at the moment. I enjoyed it and have learnt a lot from it. It was very hard times then and sickness wasn’t as easily remedied as it is today. We will see what happens day by day. Your scriptures at the end are also very relevant..

    • Dear Kim. I really appreciate your comments on my story. It is especially encouraging to learn that you enjoyed it and found it informative. I learnt a lot myself when I did the research for the story. I’m glad you like the scriptures I included at the end of the post. Kind regards, Judy.

  5. A really interesting story Judy, I had no idea Evelyn had contracted typhoid. We are so fortunate now to have such wonderful health care and the science to find new cures. We wait now to see how they will control and eradicate Covid-19.

    Unfortunately there are still so many parts of the world that do not have the expertise or indeed the facilities which we in the west take for granted.

    • Dear Jennifer. I’m so pleased you read the story and found it interesting. I thought you might. It was not an easy story to tell, given the sensitivity of the subject matter, but I think it needed to be told. We can learn such a lot from the experiences and lives of those who’ve been before us. Evelyn told me about her experience on a number of occasions and, fortunately, I wrote this down. I’m so glad I did. Yes, you’re right – we in the western world take so much for granted. I think the present crisis is a wake-up call. Perhaps we’ll think differently after we’ve weathered the COVID-19 pandemic. Stay safe. Stay prayerful. (And I know you are staying at home!). Love, Judy. xx

  6. Well Judy how history repeats with this virus we have now. We are so much better off
    today with all the improved medical facilities. Your Mum must have been devastated with
    the loss of her hair when she was ill. I am pleased your Mum got well as you would not
    be here!! What a thought!! I feel things are happening for a reason. Fires,Floods,droughts and now this virus. It is a wake up call I feel. It must have been
    so worrying for the folk back then without any knowledge of disease compared with
    what they know now. We are most fortunate to live in these times.
    love Margaret

    • Dear Margaret. Yes, I think my story reveals a lot of circumstances similar to those we are facing today. For example, when my mother was fighting for her life, there was no known cure for typhoid fever. Today, as many poor souls fight for their lives, there is no known cure for COVID-19. That is what worries so many folk. I agree with your comment that our present situation is a wake up call – as clever as humankind may be, we are not in control of the universe – or our lives. As for you and Nev – stay safe and keep praying. (I know you’ll be staying at home!) Love, Judy. xx

  7. Hi Judith,
    thanks so much for sharing your research, it was very interesting to read about my ancestors.
    Thanks again,

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