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Anecdotal History

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Douglas Grant, draughtsman and soldier, with his ornamental pond and Harbour Bridge, Callan Park, between 1932-1940 / photographer Sam HoodDouglas Grant, draughtsman and soldier, with his ornamental pond and Harbour Bridge, Callan Park, between 1932-1940 / photographer Sam Hood by State Library of New South Wales collection. ** P1 /​ 2079 Sir Philip Game unveiled the memorial which was built by the inmates of B ward, military cottages, Leichhardt and designed by Douglas Grant (standing to the right of the Governor) - 1931 'MODEL OF BRIDGE AS WAR MEMORIAL.', The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), 5 August, p. 14, viewed 19 September, 2015,

Douglas Grant (circa 1885 - 1951)

North Queensland to Annandale via Lithgow

On an expedition for the Australian Museum, Elizabeth and Robert Grant found a toddler who had survived a massacre in the Bellenden Ker Ranges. They named the child Douglas and sent him to live with their parents in Lithgow.

The Grants returned to Sydney and lived in Annandale with their son Henry and Douglas (photo), who won prizes at the Annandale Public School and played football for the Hunter Baillie Presbyterian Church (photo. Grant is listed on the School and Church's WW1 Honour Boards as well as on the board in the former Council Chambers (now the Annandale Neighbourhood Centre)

After working as a draftsman at Mort's Dock, Grant went on to train and work as a Wool Classifier at Belltrees, Scone.

Soldier (Photo)and Prisoner of War

Annandale's Great War: A Short Walk | Douglas Grant | The Fitzpatrick Brothers | 36th Battalion | Wireless Miller Brothers | End of the Great War | Trains, Sound, Film and Industry | Beale Pianos | Electricity | 1920s Annandale: A Short Walk

At Scone, Grant passed the Sergeant's exam and enlisted in January 1916. He was assigned to the 34th Battalion but when he tried to board, with the other troops, they noticed he was Aboriginal and he was discharged. In August, Grant enlisted again and was assigned to 13th Battalion at the rank of Private. On 11 April 1917, Grant was wounded and captured at Bullecourt. His Battalion suffered heavy losses when they attacked strong German positions and promised tank support did not materialise. Grant was first interned at Dulmen, Westfalen(pg 4, GRANT Douglas : Service Number - 6020). Photograph of Douglas Grant in AIF Uniform

The Germans separated Grant from the other Australian Troops. In an application for the pension, on his return to Australia, Grant wrote that he had been innoculated for several diseases in the left breast, before being transferred to Wittenberg Saxony, where he worked in the Coal mines for 9 months. He was then transferred to Wussendorf "40 km outside Berlin and quartered with Arabs, Senegalese, British Indian and French Chinese Troops. (pg 227-229 of 258 NAA: C138, C70396 DOUGLAS GRANT)

Berlin's Curry Wurst

Grant was elected secretary of the Help Committee. He wrote to the Red Cross requesting spices, lentils and rice in preference to bread, which arrived “unfit for human consumption”. The procurement of curry powder for the prisoners could be the origin of Berlin's famous “curry wurst”. (Letters: To Grant from German YMCA (a7550138) and letter from Grant (a75550093)

group of soldiers on a ship Douglas Grant (center) and Frank Corpe (circled) returning to Australia on HMAT Medic in 1919 AWM P11644.002
Letter and Photograph from Berlin to Annandale

Private Grant writes: "I am well and comfortable as circumstances will permit. I am working every day, which helps to pass the time away. I am weary for home, and hope to be back soon.... 1918 'AN AUSTRALIAN IN GERMANY.', Sydney Mail (NSW : 1912 - 1938), 20 March, p. 24. , viewed 06 Aug 2019,

When released Grant made his way to England and, finally after persistent invitations from his foster relatives and friends, the Orkneys and Dumfriesshire. He delighted the locals with his strong Scottish accent and in London, replied to the toast to the Australian Troops.

Return to Australia

In 1919, Grant resumed work at Mort's Dock. But by 1921 was working at the Small Arms factory in Lithgow. He was secretary of the Lithgow branch of the Returned Sailors' and Soldiers' Imperial League of Australia and contributed articles to Reveille. In one article he revealed his Aboriginal name.

Grant's article about a massacre in Central Australia was printed in the Sunday Pictorial on 3 February 1929. His activities such as a recital of "I Love the Night Time” were frequently reported in the newspapers.

In June 1930, Grant enlisted in the 45th Batallion of the Militia but was discharged the following November pg 2, NAA: B2455, GRANT D).

In 1930, Grant was disappointed he wasn't involved in the design of cottages for the Aboriginal station at La Perouse. In 1931, Grant assisted WW Thorpe to catalog a collection of Aboriginal Artifacts left to the Institute of Anatomy in Canberra.

From 1931-39 Grant was a patient at Callan Park where he designed a replica of the Sydney Harbour Bridge as a WW1 Memorial.

For a while, Grant lived at the Salvation Army home at Dee Why (Photo), then La Peruse. He died in 1951, but inspired the central character in Black Diggers which premiered at the 2014 Sydney Festival.

Marghanita da Cruz, Poster about Douglas Grant, for History Week exhibition at Leichhardt Library, September 2014

References: NAA, AWM, ADB, Wikipedia, SLNSW, Trove(NLA)

Henry Lawson's Mate (c1920)

Grant was a frequent visitor to Henry Lawson's home in North Sydney. Cowan another returned soldier would play the violin while Grant provided the conversation while Lawson wrote.(ref)

In 1897, Master P Cowan had performed a violin solo for a gathering at Rofe's Hotel, Annandale (1897 'BANQUET AT ANNANDALE.', The Australian Star (Sydney, NSW : 1887 - 1909), 3 April, p. 2. , viewed 07 Nov 2016,

When the war broke out, Cowan enlisted, and went to the front. After the Armistice he returned, and, in Sydney, renewed his friendship with Lawson. Another returned soldier who was a close friend of both Lawson and Cowan is Douglas Grant, a highly educated Queensland aborigine. Douglas is the only one of the three now living. On being shown the violin he greeted it as an old friend, and told how he and Cowan, with the violin, used to go over to where Lawson lived in North Sydney, when Cowan would play, while Lawson sat at the table and wrote. With tears in his eyes, Douglas vividly described the little room, even going into such details as an old newspaper being spread on the table in lieu of a cloth.1931 'LAWSON AND MUSIC.', The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), 1 August, p. 7, viewed 23 July, 2013,

Mr. Kennedy In a short talk told of Cowan and Lawson, and how the violin was sometimes taken on tramps. He related an ancedote of how it was used in an effort to charm a snake when they were out Cobar way. In later years a friend of both Lawson and Cowan was the North Queensland aborigine Douglas Grant, who had been adopted and educated by a Mr. Grant, of the Sydnev Museum, Douglas told Mr. Kennedy how he, with Cowan and the violin often used to go over to Lawson's room in North Sydney, when Cowan would play ns Lawson sat writing at the table. 1950 'A Violin That Sang to Henry Lawson.', Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1885 - 1954), 7 September, p. 6, viewed 23 July, 2013,

Wooden board with names in gold giltD.Grant and Cowan are two of the names on the Annandale Public School Honor board and were Henry Lawson's companions

Another friend of Lawson at the later phase was Douglas Grant, who is a pure blood aborigine, born in North Queensland and educated In Sydney, Douglu once told me bow he and Cowan with the violin, often used to go over to where Lawson lodged In North Sydney, where Cowan would play whilst Lawson sat writing at tha table, which was usually cover ed with old newspaper In lieu of a table-cloth. Douglas did not say what he did on those occasions but he is a very good conversationalist and like Cowan, he had been to the front so they had much to talk about, especially Douglas' experiences of his life when captured by the Germans.1936 'HENRY LAWSON AND THE VIOLIN.', Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1885 - 1954), 6 August, p. 8, viewed 23 July, 2013,

Honour Boards

D. Grant is amongst the names on the Honour Boards in the Hunter Baillie Memorial Presbyterian Church and at the Annandale Neighbourhood Centre (former Council Chambers). Grant was one of over 1200 men from Annandale who served in the Great War. Grant's name also appears on an Honour Board at Scone.

AIF Private Grant

"It is not generally known that several aborigines have gone with the Australian military forces to the front. One of the most remarkable of them is Douglas Grant, who left Sydney with reinforcements last week."...
"Douglas Grant , is the adopted son of Mr. Robert Grant, chief taxidermist at the Australian Museum, It is nearly 30 years ago since Mr. Grant, while on an expedition in Northern Queens land, came across him in a gunyah in the busli. Douglas was then only a child of about two years. His father and mother had been killed in a tribal disturbance, and Mr. Grant decided to adopt him, and bring him south. He "was sent to the home of Mr. Henry, senr., at Lithgow, and soon manifested a taste for drawing." - 1916 'DOUGLAS GRANT.', Western Champion (Parkes, NSW : 1898 - 1934), 7 September, p. 26, viewed 23 June, 2013,

Australian Museum, Sydney

Ian Cranwell pointed out an article which describes a second expedition by "naturalists" Mr. and Mrs. Robert Grant, and Mr. E. J. Cairn to Cairns on behalf of the Australian Museum.
"Mrs. Grant, whose indomitable energy is well known, has, apart from her camp duties, devoted her time to entomology, and the lady can now boast of being the possessor of a really exquiste collection of butterflies, moths, bettles and other insects. The party speak in undisguised terms of admiration of the myalls of the district, who have been of immense service to them as guides, tree climbers, carriers &c., and they assert that the agility shown by their dusky assistants in swarming up a trees in pursuit of game is simply incredible. In addition to labour the myalls have also been extremely useful in providing information to the naturalists with regard to the haunts, habits and peculiarities of the different animals to be found in each district, and Messrs. Grant and Cairn probably only do them justice when they attribute a great measure the success of their trip to the friendly aborginals."
The article goes on to describe the various fauna specimens that were collected, including opossum and tree kangaroos. - 1889 'Australian Museum, Sydney.', Cairns Post (Qld. : 1884 - 1893), 11 September, p. 2, viewed 8 July, 2013,

Archduke Franz Ferdinand D'Este visits the Museum

"We have several distinguished visitors with us this week. The Archduke Franz Ferdinand D'Este, heir presumptive to the Emperor of Austria, arrived in Sydney in the Kaiserin Elizabeth, ... the party drove into the city in cabs that were waiting, without being recognised. The Archduke returned the Lieutenant-Governor's visit about 2 o'clock in the afternoon, and subsequently drove to the Museum, in which he was much interested. On Thursday morning he left Sydney by special train on a visit to the Western Dis trict, accompanied by the memliers of his snite, Herr Peildraui (Acting-Consul for Austria), and Mr. F- B. Suitor (Minister for Public Instruction). The party were shown the view front the Zig-zag, Wentworth Falls, and Uovett's Leap on the Blue Mountains, the Archduke being charmed with the scenery. .. Haydn's Third or Imperial Mass was sung by the choir, and two solos Miss Ada Crossley, who sang "AveMalria" (Luzzi), and the "Ave Begino," composed by Mr. Delany, the conductor of the choir,..." 1893 'A LADY'S LETTER FROM SYDNEY.', The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946), 27 May, p. 38, viewed 13 May, 2014,

Student at Annandale Superior Public School

"being in some demand as a calligrapher as he was able to write a fine hand in copperplat.
In 1897, at the age of twelve, he won first prize in the Queen's Diamond Jubilee for a drawing of Queen Victoria". Unsung Heroes & Heroines of Aust p148, Written by Niall Lucy.

1899 Cricketer...Grant (13)

1899 Prize Student: Fifth Class Specials: ...D. Grant

Family Photograph of Mr and Mrs Robert Grant with Douglas and Henry

Member of Annandale Presbyterian Community (1907)

Douglas Grant (seated on the left of the middle row) in Hunter Baillie Football Club 1907 Team Photograph

Mort's Dock (1903-1913)

Grant was trained and worked at Mort's Dock before studying wool classing and taking up a job in Scone...Aboriginal Heroes: Struggle, Identity and the Media By John Ramsland, Christopher Gerald Mooney Pages displayed by permission of Brolga Publishing. googlebooks

Sgt Grant of 34th Battalion is Prevented from Leaving the Country

"Under Squatter-naturalist HL White, of Belltrees, near Scone, Sergeant Douglas Grant... who was for years employed in the draughtsmand's department of Mort's Dock and EngineeringCo., learnt woll-classing and practical squattage management. He was the first of his vanishing race to attain that distinction... Douglas was two years with White, when en enlisted with the AIF in 1916, and before he had been two months in camp he passed the sergeants' examination....The orphan progressed rapidly in everything he was put at, drawing being his speciality, and from his early tracing of figures in the sand with a stick he developed into a clever draughtsman." - Punch, 11 June 1925

"He was ready to go a couple of months ago, when he passed the sergeant's examination, but at the last moment a Government official discovered a regulation preventing an aboriginal from leaving the country, and, much to his disgust and to that of his comrades—for he was one of the most popular fellows in the company—Grant had to stay behind until last week, when the authori- ties gave the required permission that enabled him to leave...
Mr. Grant decided to adopt him, and bring him south. He was sent to the home of Mr. Henry Grant, senr., at Lithgow, and soon manifested a taste for drawing. He also took a keen interest in the cadet movement. On reaching manhood he entered Mort's Dock and Engineering Company, and for ten years was employed there as a draftsman, being one of the most proficient....
Outdoor life, however, naturally made a strong appeal to him, and two or three years ago, having gained experience as a wool-classer, he accepted a position at Belltrees, Scone, the homestead property of Mr. H. I. White. This young aboriginal soldier is a man of high attainments, with a great love for Shakespeare and poetry generally. He is a very fine artist, and plays the bagpipes as well as any Scot." 1916 'ABORIGINAL SOLDIER[?].', Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954), 9 September, p. 10, viewed 21 December, 2013,

Prisioner of War

"Douglas Grant (1885?-1951), draughtsman and soldier, was a full-blooded Aboriginal born about 1885 in the Bellenden Ker Ranges, Queensland
As Douglas Grant, the child was raised with Robert Grant's own son Henry and attended Annandale Superior Public School
Grant enlisted again in August and embarked for France to join the 13th Battalion.
On 11 April 1917, during the 1st battle of Bullecourt, he was wounded and captured.
Grant was held as a prisoner of war in a camp at Wittenberg, and later at Wünsdorf, Zossen, near Berlin..."

Pte. DOUGLAS GRANT, Annandale (and missing, previously reported wounded). -1917 'NEW SOUTH WALES.', The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), 16 July, p. 8, viewed 23 June, 2013,

A German scientist described Grant as “an unmistakable figure”, recalling how prisoners appointed him to take charge of relief parcels because of “his honesty, his quick mind, and because he was so aggressively Australian”." -

"Mr and Mrs Robert Grant, 132 Albion street. Annandale, havo been notified that their adopted son Private Douglas Grant (previously reported wounded and missing), is now a prisoner in Germany." - 1917 'WAR CASUALTIES.', The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), 21 July, p. 14, viewed 23 June, 2013,

Private Douglas Grant, adopted son of Mr. and Mrs. R. Grant, 132 Albion-street, Annandale, and foster brother of Mr. H. S. Grant, of the Australian Museum, is a prisoner in Germany. 1917 'WAR CASUALTIES.', The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), 28 July, p. 14, viewed 23 June, 2013,

Red Cross Wounded and Missing Service number: 6020 Rank: Private Unit: 13th Battalion - Douglas Grant

Douglas Grant is covered in great detail, including a photograph of him with a German Soldier, in Remembering Aboriginal Heroes: Struggle, Identity and the Media By John Ramsland, Christopher Gerald Mooney Pages displayed by permission of Brolga Publishing. Copyright. googlebooks

NSW State Library holds Grant's Papers from his time as POW in Germany. Grant was in a civilian camp, with Indians. The correspondence her wrote as secretary of the British Help Committe talked of stale and possibly mouldy bread and socks arriving from the Red Cross and requests for more Curry Powder, Spices, Lentils and Rice. There was also correspondence with the German YMCA about food. This was possibly the start of Berlin's love affair with Curry Wurst

Grant visits England and Scotland

Grant was repatriated to England. At the urging of his own foster Relatives and his friends, from Annandale, who were visiting their relatives, he visits the Orkneys and Dumfriesshire [George Johnston had come from Annan in Dumfriesshire]. In 1919 he returned to Australia, and resumed work as a Draftsman at Mort's Dock.

Foster Mother's Death

"GRANT.—July 31, 1918, at Marrickville Cottage Hospital, Elizabeth, beloved wife of Robert Grant, of 132 Albion-street, Annandale, and mother and mother-in-law of Henry S. and Pearl Grant, of Leura, 61 Morgan-street, Petersham, and, foster mother of Private Douglas Grant (A.I.F.), aged 60 years. A patient sufferer at rest."(1918 'Family Notices.', The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), 2 August, p. 6, viewed 18 January, 2014,

Foster Father's Death

Robert Grant was born in Scotland and was the gamekeeper for the Duke of Hamilton, before coming to Australia. He worked as a miner before joing the museum as a collector and then a taxidermist. He retired in 1917 and died aged 69. Ref: Grant, Robert, Death of p242, Australian Museum Magazine Vol 01 No 08, April 1923,

A Notable Aboriginal p31 of Australian Museum Magazine Vol 10 No 09, March 1952, viewed 11 Oct 2016,

Robert Grant died in 1923. A newspaper article, pointed out by Ian Cranwell, reported the death, focussed mainly on the "adoption" of Douglas Grant. "Scientists visiting New South Wales saw Illustrated in this young black the potentialities of the aboriginal in a new environment and carefully nurtured, as the young adopted Grant was, and they lost no opportunity to got into touch with him. His upbringing and development have also been the theme of articles in scientific works". The article noted Douglas Grant's foster brother, Henry T. Grant became a taxidermist at the Museum. - 1923 'TAXIDERMIST'S DEATH.', The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), 9 March, p. 10, viewed 8 July, 2013,

"Mr. Robert Grant, formerly collector and taxidermist to the Sydney Museum, recalls the fact that he is the foster father of Douglas Grant, Lithgow's famous aboriginal Digger. Mr. Grant was for years a resident of Lithgow, but it was during ono of his many trips to North Queensland that he adoptod tho little blackfellow and brought him to Lithgow. He was christened and given the name of Grant, and was educated at the district school; but enjoys the' dis tinction, uniquo in its way, of talking with a decided Scotch accent, having imbibed the linguistic peculiarities of his.foster-parents, o.f whom he was very fond. Douglas . went to the front, attained the rank of sergeant, and was captured by tho Germans, who had never till' then seen this kind of Australian. They, therefore, put him.' among the Gurkhas, with whom the, dapper little follow, had nothing in common. He is at present working at the Small Arms factory. He is a, good singer and entertainer, and immensely popular."1923 'Advertising.', The Richmond River Herald and Northern Districts Advertiser (NSW : 1886 - 1942), 16 March, p. 8, viewed 28 May, 2014,

Lithgow (1920s)

Diggers get the sack...No Sentiment There. (1921)

"Emipire Day was celebrated ·· number of the public attending...."I Love the Night Time," Douglas Grant; recitation, 1924 'FORREST.', Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 - 1954), 31 May, p. 3, viewed 21 December, 2013,

Cairn, E. J., and R. Grant, 1890. Report of a collecting trip to north-eastern Queensland during April to September, 1889. Records of the Australian Museum 1(1): 27–31. [31 March 1890]. doi:10.3853/j.0067-1975.1.1890.1219 ISSN 0067-1975 Published by the Australian Museum, Sydney (PDF 755KB)

In 1926, Grant gave his address as "Bohemia" Aspendale NAA: C138, C70396 DOUGLAS GRANT Page 194 of 258. He move around Victoria and New South Wales looking for work

'Women's Influence as seen by Digger Douglas Grant. raising the Toast of "The Ladies" at the Lithgow Small Arms Factory' - 1928 'Woman's Influence.', The Blue Mountain Echo (NSW : 1909 - 1928), 7 December, p. 4, viewed 23 June, 2013,

Douglas Grant continued to make the papers: GOOD SAMARITAN'S LUCK. (1925)

A protest was entered at the week-end by that well-known aboriginal, Douglas Grant, against the action of Condobolin footballers in drawing the colour line and refusing to meet an aboriginal team in the local football ' cup. Douglas Grant, who is a full-blooded aboriginal, happens to be the secretary of the Lithgow Returned Soldiers' League.... 1929 'SYDNEY.', The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954), 24 June, p. 6, viewed 20 July, 2013,

The chairman's eye and ear. Seated by himself and having little to say was the aboriginal, Douglas Grant, of Litigow, well educated and a real "white man," and another who appeared, to enjoy his own. company was Federal member Roland Green, who left a leg on the Menin Road of ill repute but brought the full use of his persuasive tongue to assist the delegates. 1929 'THE METROPOLIS HOW THE WORLD WAGS IN SYDNEY.', Western Champion (Parkes, NSW : 1898 - 1934), 8 August, p. 3, viewed 20 July, 2013,

Response to Masacre in Central Australia (1929)

The outcome of the discussion must result in a declaration of policy on the part of the Government, and as the fair name of Australia is at stake, let us hope that the scheme will be of such a liberal character as will atone in part for the neglect and cruelty of the past. The latest advocate of the rights of the dark people is Mr. Doug las Grant, whose published plea lacks nothing from the viewpoint of definiteness. Mr. Grant hails from the Atherton district, in Queensland, and possesses first hand knowledge of the treatment received by his people.The Newcastle Branch of the Australian Society has forwarded a request to Mr Bruce, the tenor of which is that when the affairs of the aborigines are being considered Dr. E. R. Elldn and Mr Michael Sawtell should be allowed to address the House of Representatives The same privilege should be accorded to Mr. Douglas Grant, as these three gentlemen have expert knowledge regarding the tribes of North Australia, and are in a position to state definitely what should be done to preserve the race in the best in interests of this continent." - 1929 'Young Australia.', The Voice of the North (NSW : 1918 - 1933), 11 February, p. 18, viewed 20 July, 2013,

In February las1929, Douglas Grant an article about the 1928 shooting of 31 aborigines in Central Australia was published in the newspaper.(1931)

Continued Museum and Aboriginal artifact work

Mr. Milne left the collection to his eldest son in trust for the first Federal museum to be established in Canberra, and now that the Institute of Anatomy has been completed, the transfer of the collection to the Federal Capital has been made. It has been studied exhaustively and catalogued by Mr. W. W Thorpe ethnologist, at the Australian Museum, Sydney. Mr. Thorpe was assisted in his work by Mr. Douglas Grant, a full-blooded aboriginal from the Cairns district, Northern Queens- land, who served with the Australian Imperial Forces in the Great War. - 1931 'RELICS OF ABORIGINES.', The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), 22 January, p. 8, viewed 23 July, 2013,

War Memorial, Calan Park, Rozelle (1931)

Photograph of Sir Philip Game unveiled this memorial, the work of inmates of the B ward, military cottages, Leichhardt. The designer, Mr. Douglas Grant, is standing beside the Governor, on the right. - 1931 'MODEL OF BRIDGE AS WAR MEMORIAL.', The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), 5 August, p. 14, viewed 23 June, 2013,

"The Government, it is said; proposes to spend £5,000 on new homes at La Perouse, and Grant, who is educated, contends that his services as architect should be' utilised because; as an aborigine, he knows - and understands the needs of his race. 1930 'Full-Blooded Aborigine Architect Seeks To Benefit His People.', The Register News-Pictorial (Adelaide, SA : 1929 - 1931), 3 September, p. 7, viewed 23 June, 2013,

"FOUGHT with the AIF ...applied for the position of architect for the erection of cottages for the new aboriginal station at La Perouse." - 1930 'Aborigine an Architect.', Advocate (Burnie, Tas. : 1890 - 1954), 2 September, p. 6, viewed 23 June, 2013,

"Now for the true history of Douglas Grant I know, because, as I have al- ready said it was I who saved his life.....However, that is the true story of Douglas Grant— and I hope those who can will compare it with the pseudo true one printed In 'Smith's Weekly' of 6th June, 1931." 1933 'DOUGLAS GRANT.', Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1885 - 1954), 2 February, p. 10, viewed 23 June, 2013,

Once a Black Waif. — The constructive fancies of the aboriginal Douglas Grant are not limited to tho decorative pool and bridge just admired by the Governor at Callan Park, says a city journalist. This dusky hero of the A.LF. tried last year for the job of designing the new houses for the La Perouse abo. settle ment. And just before that, he humped a hundred-weight of solid sandstone from the Avon Dam to tho Sydney Museum in the hope (alas, blasted) that, an im pression in the rock was a human foot print from the dim Triassic era. It is 4G years since the sturdy Scot, Robert Grant, picked up a black waif, while travelling for the Australian Museum in North Queensland. That waif is now the well-educated Douglas Grant. How ever, according to one Sydney paper Grant has had a mental break-down, and is now on the shelf for a while. 1931 'LOCAL AND GENERAL.', The Richmond River Herald and Northern Districts Advertiser (NSW : 1886 - 1942), 14 August, p. 2, viewed 20 February, 2014,

SCIENTISTS have been set a fascinating problem by the discovery by Mr. Douglas Grant, a full-blooded aborigine, of the block of Triassic sand stone, pictured above, bearing a foot-like impression. It teas found by Mr. Grant in the vicinity of the Avon Dam, cut out by him, and conveyed to the Australian Museum, Sydney, where it is temporarily housed. If the impression in the stone is proved to be a human footprint, it will open up a mete field of research, since the age of the stone is thought to extend far fcmyond the range of human life on the earth. Inset is a portrait of Mr. Grant.1930 'PRIME MINISTER MAKES MOVE TO QUIETEN WINE EXCISE CRITICS.', The Mail (Adelaide, SA : 1912 - 1954), 22 March, p. 1, viewed 20 February, 2014,

Reveille (Returned Sailors' and Soldiers' Imperial League of Australia. New South Wales Branch, later the Returned Services League of Australia. New South Wales Branch.) Journal

In an article published in the 31 July 1929 issue of Reveille (AWM), Douglas Grant railed against the sacking of returned soldiers at the small arms factory in Lithgow. In "A Broken Pledge" Grant wrote:
"What we want most, and above all, is the pledging in every deed and work, the honoring of the pledges of the Government of Australia to the returned soldier, who gave his all in the honouring of the pledges he made, when he carried the honour, integrity and fair name of Australia, unblemished and untarnished, through four years of horror, blood and unspeakable hell." Source: Reveille, AWM C 369.2944 R449, Vol 1/2 1927-Aug 1929

An item in the 30 November 1928 issue, reported that Grant had discovered what looked like a footprint in Triassic sandstone near Avon Dam. He sent the block to the Sydney Museum, as if it did turn out to be a footprint, than Man had been around for a lot longer than previously believed. Source: Reveille, AWM C 369.2944 R449, Vol 3/4 Sep 1929-Oct 1930.

In January 1932, Reveille revealed Grant's tribal name Poppin Jeri - Source: Remembering Aboriginal Heroes: Struggle, Identitiy and the Media By John Ramsland, Christopher Gerald Mooney (Google books

Dee Why(1940)

"He lived in a Salvation Army Home at Dee Why" - Remembering Aboriginal Heroes: Struggle, Identitiy and the Media By John Ramsland, Christopher Gerald Mooney (Google Books)

"Jean Holburn and friends, Dee Why, ca. 1940" - In the back row of the photograph is Mickey, Aunty Sal, Jean Holburn, Doug Grant,

Death of Foster Brother (1944)

This week he is in Sydney, fol lowing the tragic death of his white foster-brother Henry Sned don Grant, who was found starved to death in a Blue Mountains cave. He may take a job at a large Sydney factory. For years Douglas Grant, who is a mechanical engineer by trade, has worked at Lithgow, where he was secretary of the Returned Sol diers' League, has missed only two Anzac Day marches since World War I. ..Grant does not condemn white Australians for their treatment of his race. 'They're just thoughtless, that's all. They need someone to make them more aborigine-conscious, to remind them of their obligations.'Douglas Grant says his boyhood was happy at Lithgow and Annandale (Sydney) Public Schools, where the children of his genera tion— 'they were more congenial and homely than children of today' — accepted him without qualms. 'They never left me out of any thing. If there was a party on. I was always taken along, too.' Grant is in complete agreement with the law which forbids liquor to aborigines. 1944 'Pure Aboriginal Reared As White Man.', The Mail (Adelaide, SA : 1912 - 1954), 12 February, p. 7, viewed 21 December, 2013,

Henry Grant was born in 1890. He was also employed as a taxidermist at the Australian Museum from 1909 to 1943. His retirement from the museum, due to ill-health was reported in the Australian Museum Magazine of March 30 1943. Source: Email P Walker Australian Museum 6 March 2014

Death (1951)

Passing of Notable Aborigine A brilliant scholar, an expert draughtsman, an ex-soldier, a smart dresser, and a very in teresting conversationalist and personality passed away in Syd ney a week or so ago, in the person of Douglas Grant, a full-blooded aborigine....For the last two years, Douglas had been an inmate of the War Veterans' Home at La Perouse, the superintendent of which, Dr. McDonald, declares that he was an example of what an . aborigine could do when given the chance. 1951 'ON and OFF THE FARM.', The Land (Sydney, NSW : 1911 - 1954), 21 December, p. 5, viewed 21 December, 2013,

"...returning to Sydney, where he resumed his position as a draughtsman at Mort's Dock, where he served, in all, for 21 years.
Several years later, he returned to live with his sister, Mrs Matt Clement, at Lithgow, and was employed at the Small Arms Factory until early in World War II. During that time he conducted the Diggers' sesssion on Station 2LT with Mr R Hopkins." Reveille February 1952:10

ABC Radio Feature (1957)

The story of Douglas Grant, the Black Scotsman [ABC radio audio tape; presented by John Thompson and Brian Hungerford] (NAA: C102, FD27): Script?/Transcript [ABC radio feature script; box c21]

ABC Radio (2010&11)

"Garth O'Connell: From what I understand he had a traditional name of Poppin Jerri, that's what I've read about Douglas Grant, and it's quite unusual because he was what back in those days they would call a full-blooded Aboriginal and the old 1903 Defence Act said you had to be substantially of European descent to join the army..'What are you doing here?' and visa versa. As it turns out, before the war he'd stayed with Douglas and his father in Annandale, Sydney, at their home, whilst he was studying at the University of Sydney...transcript

Saturday 8 January 2011 6:00PM : We will remember them

Private Douglas Grant (Pub: Saturday 8 January 2011 12:00AM)

Grant continues to inspire in 2013: Sydney Morning Herald (2013)

Our black history: lest we forget Aboriginal veterans

Sydney & Brisbane Festivals in 2014

"There's something about his story, about the outsider who becomes the interpreter, which we think is a lovely spine for the show," says Enoch, who is preparing the production for a premiere at the Sydney Festival in January 2014...

The experiences of more than a hundred Indigenous servicemen during World War One have been combined into nine characters... Their stories are told by Indigenous actors and one Vietnam war veteran, George Bostock...more (Transcript from World News Australia Radio)

The drama is a series of vignettes, drawing on the lives of real indigenous diggers - who like their white counterparts, set off on an adventure to see the world and serve their country. The play caputures the jocularity and bravado of the young men and children setting off on an adventure.more

SBS World News Item about "Black Diggers", including scenes from production, interviews with George Bostock, Enoch. Experiences of Indigenous soldiers in WWI to debut Podcast Published - 16 January 2014 Expires - 23 January 2014, 12:00am.

LMC Launch at Callan Park Memorial

Man with beard speaking with microphone Harbour Bridge memorial Man and Woman presenting to young man Indigenous DancersLeichhardt Municipal Council launched their Reconciliation Action Plan at Grant's WW1 Memorial in Callan Park and announced a grant to conserve the memorial.

Waverly Indigenous Greens Councillor Dominic WY Kanak spoke about Grant's life. St Scholasticas students performed three number, including traditional dance to Christin Anu's "My Island Home". A presentation was made to Jessie James Caldwell who designed the graphic for the RAP document. The mayorthanked Deborah Lennis, the Community Development Officer - Aboriginal Programs for her work and acknowledge former Cr Uncle Robert Webb, Chair of the Leichhardt Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Consultative Committee, who did the welcome to country.

There was fabulous catering including Mocktails, Bush Tomato Sauce and Emu by The Gardeners Lodge Café

building site woman two men and piper with plaque Plaque
The Douglas Grant Memorial Park Opening

free sausage sizzle!
12noon-1pm Saturday 19 September 2015
Southern end of Taylor St, eastern end of Chester St Annandale


Aborignal Smoking Ceremony Woman speaking in park
The Douglas Grant Memorial Park (cnr Chester and Taylor Streets Annandale) Opening began with a Smoking Ceremony to the strains of a Bagpipe.

The Mayor of Leichhardt Council, Rochelle Porteus, Local MLA Jamie Parker, Councillors Kogoy, Kelly and Channels were present. Former Councillor Web did the Welcome to Country then the Mayor provided a brief insight to Douglas Grant.

The catering included Leichhardt Council's signature Sausage Sizzle (see reference above to Curry Wurst), Council branded cupcakes, orange juice and banannas.

The Unveiled Plaque Reads: "Leichhardt Council Douglas Grant Memorial Park: This park is named in honour of Douglas Grant, an indigenous Australian who grew up in Annandale. Douglas Grant was WW1 ANZAC and a strong advocate for veterans and Aboriginal people. He was also an artist, taxidemist, draughtsman, wool-classer, labourer, radio broadcaster, clerk and bag-pipe player.
This park commemorates his life and his significant contribution to Australia. Leichhardt Council also acknowledges the strong committment of Councillors, the Leichhardt Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Consultative Committee, the Annandale Residents Precinct and the local comminty, in the realisation of the Douglas Grant Memorial Park.
Opened 19 September 2015 by Rochelle Porteus, Mayor of Leichhardt Council.

Collecting a soil sample, Callan Park, 3 March 2018

people in park people in parkCollecting soil samples from War Memorials across NSW for inclusion in artwork in the Hyde Park War Memorial

Callan Park, 11 November 2018

harbour bridge memorial harbour bridge memorial harbour bridge memorial A small gathering at Callan Park to remember Douglas Grant on 11 November 2018.

Smoking the memorial and the building in which Grant Lived at Callan Park, adjacent to the memorial Smoking the memorial

The ceremony included smoking of the memorial and the adjacent Building where Grant lived, followed by Wreathe and Poppy Laying on the memorial.

Bust made in WW1 found

Germany, 1918. Wünsdorf prisoner-of-war camp, not far from Berlin. An Australian Indigenous POW, Douglas Grant, sits as a model for a portrait bust by a German Jewish sculptor, Rudolf Marcuse...The only known sculpture of a WWI Indigenous soldier has been found, Australian Geographic, By Tom Murray and Hilary Howes | June 5, 2019 and


Interpretive Signage, 27 Aug 2019

story of douglas grant with photographs across two panelsSignage in Douglas Grant Memorial Park, 27 August 2019

Signage was erected in Douglas Grant Memorial Park in July 2019

More (including Photographs)

Grant appears on two honour boards in Annandale amongst the names of over 1200 others who enlisted and set off from Annandale....Annandale's Great War: A Short Walk Second Edition by Marghanita da Cruz with Annandale Viaduct and SoldiersAnnandale's Great War: A Short Walk

WW Thorpe

"A large table was strewn with all sorts of curious aboriginal implements at the Civil Service Stores yesterday, when Mr. W. W.   Thorpe (ethnologist at the Australian Museum) delivered a lecture to members of the Legacy Club.  
He appealed to the public, he said, to do what they could for the aborigines who re- mained In this State. In the early days the aborigines in the metropolitan area num- bered about 5000, and mobs of 90 or more used to wander on the banks of the Parramatta. At the earliest census in 1883 there were 7000 aborigines In New South Wales. Todaythere were barely a thousand. .." 1930 'THE ABORIGINES.', The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), 14 March, p. 10, viewed 23 July, 2013,

OBITUARY. MR. W.W. THORPE: Mr. William Walford Thorpe, ethnologist of the Australian Museum, died suddenly at Dural on Friday. Although only 53, he was the oldest member, In years of service, on the scientific stair, for he Joined in 1898. Four years ago he and several other men founded the Anthropological Society of New South Wales, of which for the last three years he was secretary. He was associate editor of Its journal, "Mankind." A recent letter from Dr A C Haddon of the Royal Anthropological Institute, London, referred to him as the highest authority on ethnology In Australia. His last works were an article, "Aboriginal Relics of the Sydney District," published in the handbook of the Science Congress held here last month, and a paper "Some Mutilatory Rites Practised by the Aborigines of Australia," which was read at the same congress. He is survived by Mrs. Thorpe and five sons. The funeral took place on Saturday at the Botany Cemetery. 1932 'OBITUARY.', The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), 5 September, p. 10, viewed 21 December, 2013,

In an article in the Australian Museum Magazine in 1923, WW Thorpe, who was one of the curators of the anthropology collections and who apparently started off as a watchman, described the manufacturing of the canoe and especially about the inlay of shells at the stern [as you could see in the previous photo] and also the little canoe ornament that you may see here at the front. In this article he talks about the inlaying of this canoe: ...Ocean Crossings: The material traces of voyaging seminar Matthew Spriggs, Kylie Moloney and Melanie Van Olffen, National Museum of Australia, 22 July 2009 viewed 21 Dec 2013


Milne was railway stationmaster (later deputy chief commissioner for NSW Railways & Tramways) and collector of Aboriginal artefacts. He also located, documented and photographed Aboriginal carved trees, found at initiation and burial sites. In 1918 Robert Etheridge (director of the Australian Museum, Sydney) published The dendroglyphs or "carved trees" of New South Wales largely based on Milne's sites. Source: Extracted from: NSW State Library 'Manuscripts, oral history & pictures' website, viewed 1.8.2011Photo from fronticepiece of The dendroglyphs or "carved trees" of New South Wales re-issued by the State Library of NSW in 2011. viewed 21 Dec 2013

This page last updated 23 April 2020.