Birkdale Hall – breathing life into the past - The Community Leader and Real Estate New and Views

Photo: Supplied.

Eighty years ago, on the 14th August 1943, the Birkdale School of Arts Hall was declared the first permanent Australian Women’s Land Army camp in the Redlands. The date will be celebrated on Sunday 13th August with a discussion forum revisiting The Other Diggers.

The Other Diggers, a stage play about the Australian Women’s Land Army, recently completed a highly successful run at Redland Museum. An imagined glimpse of two years in the lives of a team of Land Army girls, the production generated such a level of enthusiasm and interest that Theatre Redlands has decided to hold a public forum about the Land Army, the play and its background – appropriately, at the Birkdale Hall. Writer Jan Nary said that the story was a significant strand of women’s history that had been allowed to fade from history.

“Just like the Australian women suffragists, the Land Army women have a story that very few people know,” she says. “The almost universal response has been; why aren’t we taught this?”

Jan says the play is a work in progress and that there is probably more information that is waiting to be found.

“Researching this show has brought two wonderful women to us, former Land Army women who are keepers of stories and memories that must be preserved. Auria Nixon and Elsie Stiller are in their nineties but they’ve both shared with us a wealth of narrative that is archival gold. If there is more to collect, out there in the Redlands, we want to gather it up. We’re hopeful that this forum will provide an opportunity.”

Facilitated by Cr. Paul Bishop, the afternoon will feature extracts from The Other Diggers and talks from people involved in various Land Army projects, including ABC TV’s Landline’s Courtney Wilson; author Pamela Rushby; Lorraine Newton and Judith Butler (both keepers of their individual mother’s Land Army records) and Jan Nary.

The forum will also present an opportunity to collect local information relevant to the Redlands and the end of WW2, especially from those who worked in communications and coding, radar and local centres such as Willard’s Farm.

For more information on the forum or to book tickets please contact

You may be interested in