Beechmont resident, world traveller, and ground breaking photographer Robert L'Estrange work at QUT

THE work of inveterate traveller, ground breaking photographer and one time Beechmont resident Robert Augustus Henry L'Estrange is to go on show in Brisbane.

CAMPING: Robert LEstrange (centre) and others on family camping trip, Tweed River circa 1904.

CAMPING: Robert LEstrange (centre) and others on family camping trip, Tweed River circa 1904.

Born in Dublin, Ireland, L'Estrange had a colourful career before and after emigrating to Queensland in the 1880s.

He was an Irish Army captain, surveyor in Africa and then in Cooktown, north Queensland, before becoming the overseer of a sugar mill at Beenleigh, Logan, a bailiff at Beechmont and a farmer at Upper Coomera.

In 1892 he returned to Ireland and became a hothouse gardener at an Kilternan Abbey, followed by a stint in real estate in Bournemouth, England, then a turn working in an orange orchard in California, US.

On top of his travels, what made things really special was that L'Estrange documented his global travels and family through the camera lens in what was then an emerging technology.

He settled back in Brisbane in 1904 and built a house at the inner suburb of Red Hill.

ON PARADE: Queen Victoria's Royal visit to Dublin, Ireland, 1900. Photo: Robert L'Estrange.

ON PARADE: Queen Victoria's Royal visit to Dublin, Ireland, 1900. Photo: Robert L'Estrange.

From 1904 to his retirement in 1927, he worked as a public relations and company photographer for his younger brother William Manderville Ellis L'Estrange, a director of the City Electric Light Company.

He photographed Queen Victoria's last visit to Dublin in 1900, US steam engines, Brisbane's Customs House in the age of the horse and carriage, camping trips along the Tweed River and life at Upper Coomera in the 1880s.

A selection of digitised images taken and collected by L'Estrange (1858-1941), with his photographic equipment, lantern slides, books and glass plates can be viewed through QUT as part of the Australian Heritage Festival.

BRISBANE RIVERSIDE: Customs House, Brisbane, circa 1906. Photo: Robert L'Estrange

BRISBANE RIVERSIDE: Customs House, Brisbane, circa 1906. Photo: Robert L'Estrange

QUT Digital Collections librarian and exhibition curator Jill Rogers said the granddaughter of L'Estrange, Patricia Hemsley, donated some of his photographic hardware, including a camera, developing equipment, books, prints and some glass plates/lantern slides to the then QUT photographer in the 1990s.

"Mrs Hemsley gave us approximately 300 items including 150 photographic prints taken by her grandfather and others," Ms Rogers said.

"The collection was then boosted by a further donation in 2016 from QUT Alumnus David Hemsley, a great nephew of Mr L'Estrange.

"He generously gifted QUT Library another 1200 original glass plates/lantern slides and ephemera which had been digitised by family friend and photographer Michael Stephenson."

A highlight of the digital collection is the digitised glass plates and accompanying Queen Victoria diary entries from her visit to Dublin in April 1900.

"Other photos capture Queensland houses, local landmarks like Customs House and St John's Pro-Cathedral, family scenes, camping trips, life on the farm and images of Ireland, England, Europe and America.

"He captured the essence of his era, his time and place in history when photography was still a new art form and as far removed from the insta-photo world we live in today.

"He did hand-colour his own lantern slides and glass plates and in some instances would have taken 'selfies'," Ms Rogers said.

Traversing the Globe: the L'Estrange photographic legacy encompasses the digital presentation with a traditional exhibition of never before displayed images.

Original hardware including the camera, glass plates, lantern slides, some books and journals will be on display and Ms Rogers will give a talk from 12.30pm to 1pm each day.

"When the Australian Heritage Festival finishes, the entire L'Estrange collection will remain available for viewing through the QUT Digital Collections/QUT Alumni Donations site," she said.

"We expect a lot of local and international attention from people with an interest in in visual cultural history and photographic techniques of the time."

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