Lorna McDonald: Central Queensland Centenarian

Image: Lorna McDonald photographed by Jacquie Mackay, ABC Capricornia, 2011. Used with permission.
Lorna is holding an old metal tea tin in which she found a collection of old letters, postcards, photos and artwork written to Joan Archer while overseas at finishing school in England in 1906. These letters formed the basis for her book Treasures in a Tea Tin, which tells the story of what it was like growing up in Rockhampton as a teenager in the 1900s.


Rockhampton social historian, Lorna McDonald OAM, is 100 today.

Although she was born in Victoria and raised her three sons with her husband in New South Wales, Lorna McDonald moved to Rockhampton with her family in the 1960s and has remained there ever since. She felt an affinity with the place and its rich history. Studying externally, Lorna completed degrees at The University of Queensland. In 1975, she completed her Masters degree on land settlement in the northern districts of Port Curtis and Leichhardt. In 1985, she received a PhD for her thesis on the history of the cattle industry in Central Qld. Having written numerous histories of the Central Qld region, Lorna was appointed Rockhampton Historian 1976 to 1980 and Gladstone Historian 1984 to 1987. She continued working as a freelance public historian until 2011.

Her first book, Rockhampton: A History of City and District was published in 1981. This was the first of many books for the well-known Queensland historian. Lorna went on to write, edit and contribute to over 20 published books. She has received numerous awards for her work, including the Douglas Kerr Medal of Distinction, Royal Historical Society of Queensland and Professional Historians’ Association, in 2009. She was also awarded an OAM in 1995. Award winning writing certainly seems to run in the family – her son, Roger McDonald, is a Miles Franklin award winning author.

Many happy returns from Fryer Library, Lorna!

Lorna generously donated her collection to the Fryer Library. The Lorna McDonald Collection (UQFL551) contains diaries, research notes, photographs and personal papers.

Last updated:
30 October 2017