Monday, 2 October 2006

AKA Bill Smith

Herberton was the centre of the universe at the turn of the century. (If the universe were confined to Far North Queensland, that is. Let's not go completely silly.) Following the discovery of tin on the Wild River in 1880, Herberton became a lively boom town before settling into the more relaxed existence it enjoys today.

Like all mining towns, Herberton has been home to those eccentric and pioneering personalities that we tend to label as 'characters' because they're too damned hard to categorise. Characters like jockey Bill 'Girlie' Smith, who trained and rode horses in FNQ in the '40s and '50s.

And why was Bill Smith nicknamed Girlie? Because the little wimp spoke softly and wouldn't get his gear off in front of other men. And why did he behave like that? You guessed it. Bill was really Wilhelmina. She managed to keep this secret until she was admitted to hospital in 1975 at the age of 88. The nurses were on her side and truth only came out after her death.

Read more
The story of Bill Smith and the push to get a headstone for her unmarked grave.

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