New podcast celebrates life of Kathleen McArthur
  • Monday 19 September 2022

The legacy of Kathleen McArthur, an artist, author, environmentalist and activist whose life blossomed on the Sunshine Coast has been captured in a new podcast series by Sunshine Coast Libraries.

Supported by the State Library of Queensland, Sunshine Coast Libraries has produced a 22-episode podcast series based on the Kathleen McArthur’s Lunch Hour Theatre Scripts Collection.

Sunshine Coast Council Community Portfolio Councillor David Law said the Lunch Hour Theatre scripts was an impressive volume of work with significance to the nation as well as the history of the Sunshine Coast.

“The preservation and digitalisation of more than two hundred scripts provides a unique and unrivalled platform to showcase stories of local and national historic significance,” Cr Law said.

“The Lunch Hour Theatre Scripts series ran for more than 20 years with the vision to broaden the public’s knowledge of environmental, biographical and historical subjects.

“Many of the scripts focused on local and regional issues and provide an archive of historically significant portrayal of events, people and places.

“Thanks to the Sunshine Coast Heritage Library team, we can continue to learn about our region’s history through an innovative medium.”

Kathleen was born in Brisbane in 1915 to mother Catherine Durack, of the pioneer pastoral family, and father Colonel Dan Evans, a co-founder of the engineering firm Evans Deakin.

Her family regularly visited the Sunshine Coast region in her early life and she spent most of her adult life as a protector of South-East Queensland's waterways, beaches, wildlife, flora and landscape.

Kathleen moved to Caloundra during World War II where she stayed with her three children.

During this time, she grew and established her native shrubs and trees while raising her family.

In 1959, Queensland’s centenary year, she published her first book, Queensland Wildflowers – a selection which won the Australian publishers prize at the Adelaide Festival of Arts.

Kathleen, an environmentalist, was a founding member of the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland which began in 1962.

With her passionate commitment, meticulous research and articulate advocacy she contributed to preserving many threatened areas of the region.

A large volume of Kathleen’s work was evidenced in her ephemeral activities such as grassroots environment actions, letters and articles in newspapers and the weekly performance of the Lunch Hour Theatre which she initiated in Caloundra in the mid-1970s.

The Kathleen McArthur’s Lunch Hour Theatre Scripts podcast’s first episode features a performance titled Bread and Dripping Days originally presented to assist the Landsborough Girl Guides raise funds for facility toilets.

The play was an enormous success with Jacaranda Press publishing the script as a booklet together with photos and drawings.

The booklet achieved best seller status and earned the Landsborough Girl Guides more than $2,000.

Kathleen was posthumously named Sunshine Coast's Citizen of the Century in 2002.

A gifted wildflower artist and author, her books are available at Sunshine Coast Libraries.

Sunshine Coast Libraries thanks Kathleen McArthur’s son Hugh McArthur for donating the Lunch Hour Theatre Scripts collection to the Heritage Library.

The podcast is now available to download for free from Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Sunshine Coast Libraries website and other podcast platforms.

It is produced by James Russell Music and voiced by Joy Marshall, Errol Morrison, Martin Harding and Patricia Coles.

Libraries would like to thank Karen Law for her contribution of her songs, including the Wildflower Woman music, lyrics and performance featured throughout the podcast series. Karen kindly volunteered her time and talent to help create the podcast series.

StoryCast Studios is a Sunshine Coast Council Libraries initiative proudly funded and supported by the Queensland Government and the State Library of Queensland through the Strategic Priorities grants program.

To find out more about StoryCast Studios by visit Sunshine Coast Libraries website.

Learn more about Kathleen McArthur through the Backward Glance series here.