Collection UQFL18 - Ernestine Hill Papers

Identity area

Reference code



Ernestine Hill Papers


  • [ca. 1930-1974] (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

33 boxes, 2 parcels, 1 album.

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Ernestine Hill was born in 1899 in Rockhampton, Queensland. She was educated at All Hallows School and Stott & Hoare's Business College, Brisbane. After working briefly in the public service she joined the staff of Smith's Weekly, Sydney, in 1919, as secretary to its literary editor J F Archibald. Hill subsequently became sub-editor of the paper and consolidated her career as a journalist during the 1930s when she travelled extensively across Australia writing articles for Associated Newspapers and other publications such as Walkabout. Her articles were widely read and sometimes controversial: her reporting of a gold strike in the Northern Territory in 1931 contributed to financial ruin for some and was branded irresponsible; another, a front page story for the Sunday Sun, 19 June 1932, marked the beginning of a long and sometimes turbulent association with Daisy Bates. Hill's major published works arose out of her travels during this period - The Great Australian Loneliness (1937), Water into Gold (1937), Flying Doctor Calling (1947), The Territory (1951) and Kabbarli, a personal memoir of Daisy Bates, published posthumously in 1973. Her only published novel was the immensely successful My Love Must Wait (1941), based on the life of Matthew Flinders Between 1940 and 1942. Hill was editor of the women's pages of the A.B.C. Weekly and from 1941 to 1944 she was a commissioner of the A.B.C. After her resignation from this position she resumed her travels, working constantly on ideas for future novels, plays, travel and historical books and radio and film scripts. Apart from The Territory (1951) and a few articles none of these were ever published. Hill was awarded a Commonwealth Literary Fund fellowship in 1959, which provided her with a small pension but the last years of her life were dominated by financial hardship and ill-health. She returned to Brisbane in 1970 and died there in 1972

Archival history

Collection previously titled as: Papers, [ca. 1930-1974].
Collection alternatively titled as: Ernestine Hill Collection

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

This collection has typescript and handwritten drafts, notes and research material relating to published works and also to a wide range of literary projects mostly undertaken during the later part of Hill's writing career, from 1945 onwards. These unpublished works cover a variety of genres: novels, plays, descriptive writing and scripts for radio, television and film. Included are drafts and research material related to 'Johnnie Wisecap', 'The Coast of the Holy Ghost', 'Zodiac Road / Blanked over the moon', 'Women of Australia', 'Grand Kangaroo', 'Mother of Pearl'. There is material on the life of Daisy Bates, and plans for a film based on her life; personal correspondence, and two complete unpublished novels.

There are 3,156 photographs, some prints, some negatives, reflecting very large collection of photographs taken by Hill during her many long tours of outback Australia, from the early 1930s and cover all aspects of Northern, Western and outback Australia: flora and fauna, scenery, missions, homestead life, coastal scenes and shipping, traditional industries such as fishing, droving, pearling and sugar farming, mining, camel transport, dwellings, cemeteries, and public buildings. There is pictorial material relating to the life and customs of Aboriginal Australians in all areas of Australia.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Unrestricted access.

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

  • Australian Language
  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Uploaded finding aid

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

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Related descriptions

Publication note

Material from this collection has been cited in:
Carter, David & Osborne, Roger. (2018). Australian books and authors in the American marketplace 1840s-1940s. Sydney, NSW: Sydney University Press.
Hogan, E. (2017). 'Into the loneliness: The story of Ernestine Hill and Daisy Bates'. Meanjin, 76(4), 116-125.
Johnston, A. (2017). 'Becoming "Pacific-minded": Australian middlebrow writers in the 1940s and the mobility of texts'. Transfers, 7(1), 88-107.
Kerr, Joan. (1995). Heritage : the national women's art book, 500 works by 500 Australian women artists from colonial times to 1955. Roseville East, NSW: Craftsman House.
Rolls, Mitchell & Johnston, Anna. (2016). Travelling home, Walkabout magazine and mid-twentieth-century Australia. London, UK ; New York, NY: Anthem Press.
Velzen, Marianne van. (2016). Call of the outback : the remarkable story of Ernestine Hill, nomad, adventurer and trailblazer. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin.

Publication note

The Australian women's register, AWH002887

Publication note

'Guide to the Papers of Ernestine Hill, The University of Queensland Library, Fryer Library'. (2001). Guide to Australian literary manuscripts. University of Western Australia Library & Australian Literary Manuscript Collections Project.

Publication note

Fryer Library collection references for 2021.
Hogan, E. (2021). Into the loneliness : the unholy alliance of Ernestine Hill and Daisy Bates. Sydney, N.S.W.: NewSouth.

Notes area


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are warned that this manuscript may contain images or names of Aboriginal and Islander people now deceased.


This manuscript may contain culturally sensitive words or descriptions.

Alternative identifier(s)

Millennium Local System Number


Libraries Australia ID

21260427 ; 63004945

OCLC Number

222660595 ; 1058502090

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Level of detail


Dates of creation revision deletion

Revised, Linda Justo, 2-Aug-2021. Revised, AM, 01-Jun-2020. Revised, JH, 18-Jul-2019. Migrated from LMS: April 2019, P.A.




Accession area