Decades of stories funded by Cribb Bursary


Ipswich is a place where roots run deep, rich with history and stories – and thanks to one woman, Viva Cribb, Ipswich residents have been enjoying home grown research and recording of their wonderful city for more than a decade.

The Viva Cribb Bursary is open to Ipswich residents to assist with the cost of a project or document, to record or publish a significant aspect of the local history of Ipswich. Since its inception many determined historians, both amateur and expert alike, have applied in the hopes of having their projects materialise.

This year the Bursary was awarded to Greg Cook and Shirley Byrne.

Cook was awarded $2000 and with writer Sarah Parish is working on a history of the Cook family: ‘One Could Always Find a Cook from Ipswich to the Condamine’.

The book follows the Cook family’s involvement in the mail deliveries from Ipswich to Drayton from 1860 to 1865 and the establishment of their hotels along the mil route between Ipswich and Roma from 1857 to 1895. 

Insights into typical country Queensland life of the era is portrayed in the chapters relevant to the Cook’s farming pursuits and their involvement in the community. 

Chapters in the book are devoted to exploring the challenges of Joseph Cook’s Ipswich to Drayton mail delivery and the Cook family’s public houses, both affected by the railway from Ipswich to Grandchester and beyond. Other chapters focus on members of the Cook family as community identities in business, politics and society. Other interesting identities from the Cook family include a past matron of the Ipswich Hospital, founders of Cook’s Transport, a connection to the Gatton Murders, and a 32-year manager of Ipswich City Council Surveying Department. 

Sarah Byrne was awarded $3000 and is examining a more recent era of Ipswich in her project ‘Top of Town Revitalisation: A Dream Come True’, a task made more interesting by the redevelopment of Ipswich’s main street. 

The revival of the Top of Town in the early 1990s was the culmination of years of planning and hard work.  Shop owners responded, renovating and painting their shops to create a heritage precinct.

The area was transformed into an inviting, safe and pleasant shopping and pedestrian area reminiscent of a boulevard streetscape, with footpath widening and paving, street and footpath tree-planting, traffic platforms, seating and other features.

New shops were attracted to the area and others such as the Flour Mill, Golbey’s, Big Whites, and the Railway Department, all updated their existing business in an outstanding way and most importantly they aided in Ipswich’s last chance to save its heritage.

“So I thought I might attempt to put pen to paper and write down an account of how the Main Street Program and the Top of Town Heritage Committee saved the rich Heritage of the Top of Town Precinct in Ipswich,” Sarah said. 

Once both projects are completed they will become a part of the Picture Ipswich archive, a component of the Ipswich Libraries digital collection to ensure that they remain accessible and discoverable to the local and wider community.

Photo: The ‘Top of Town’ today. Sarah Byrne was awarded $3000 and is examining a more recent era of Ipswich in her project ‘Top of Town Revitalisation: A Dream Come True’.