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VERNON EDWARD WHITE, QUEENSLAND SURVEYOR (1894-1967)

This registered cover looks as if it might be philatelically inspired (on account of its neatness and by the use of 6 Australian stamps of 4 different colours), but a total cost of 1/ 8½d would seem to be an unnecessary price to pay for a non-First Day Cover of the three 150th Anniversary of Newcastle stamps, which were issued on 8 Sep 1947. The cover is postmarked RABAUL/ 13 OC 47/ PAPUA NEW GUINEA and it has a red RABAUL registration label attached. The sender is identified as F.R. Davis, P.C.B, Rabaul, New Britain and it is addressed to Vernon E. White M.Q.I.S., Gympie, Queensland (Figure 1).

I found the M.Q.I.S. in the address intriguing and came up with several possibilities, but with the assistance of a Librarian, Reference Section, John Oxley Library, Brisbane it became certain that the abbreviation stood for a Member of the Queensland Institute of Surveyors. The first Australian State to have an Institute of Surveyors was Victoria in 1874, followed by Queensland in 1878, S.A. in 1882, N.S.W. in1884, Tasmania in 1889 and W.A. in 1910. It is appropriate that John Oxley (1785-1828) was a surveyor-explorer who was appointed surveyor-general of N.S.W. in 1812, a position that he held until his death. In 1823, Oxley sailed into Morton Bay where he found and named the Brisbane River, and he recommended the setting up of a convict settlement at the then named, Moreton Bay.

Vernon White was born on 20 January,1894 and died at the age of 73 on 24 August 1967 at Gympie, Queensland. He was educated at Rockhampton Grammar School, worked as a cadet surveyor, and in 1918 he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Forces towards the end of WWI. He went overseas, but the war finished before he saw active service. On returning to Queensland, he qualified as an authorized surveyor in 1920 and from 1926 to 1949 he was in private practice at Duke Street, Gympie and from 1941 to 1948 at Horshoe Bend, Gympie. In 1949 he moved to Brisbane, and settled in Coorparoo where in July 1950 he joined the Queensland Housing Commission as a surveyor on field duties. In July of 1952 he transferred to the Brisbane Titles Office, staying there until his retirement in December 1961. When he died he left 3 sons and a daughter, but his wife had predeceased him by 5 years. A photo of Vernon White is shown in Figure 2.

There is an interesting twist to one of his sons who was successful in a career so different to that of his father. Bruce White when 8 years old, told his parents that he wanted to be a contortionist. Twenty years later, Bruce with the name of "Zaru" had a successful career as a contortionist at the Moulin Rouge and Folies Bergere in Paris, following performances in London and Brussels. This was recorded in the "Courier Mail" on 25 November 1955, when his father stated: "and we still haven't the foggiest notion why he decided to become a contortionist" (Figure 3).

I wish to acknowledge the fine assistance of Judith Murphy, Librarian, Reference Section, John Oxley Library, Brisbane.


 
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