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The world of May Gibbs

This year’s History Week will be marked with a special talk on May Gibbs in Popular Culture by Alison Wishart at Five Dock Library.

May Gibbs is one of Australia’s most popular and enduring children’s book authors and illustrators. Her picture books have delighted successive generations for over 100 years. She drew her inspiration from her childhood spent visiting the bush south of Perth, and later from her large garden in Sydney’s Neutral Bay and bush walks in the Blue Mountains.

An early environmentalist, she urged her readers to ‘be kind to bush creatures’. This illustrated talk will examine the enduring influence of Gibbs’ artwork and books, her charitable work and how she built her career.

The talk will be at Five Dock Library on Wednesday, 6 September 2017 at 7pm and is free, although are essential. The talk is proudly presented as part of the History Council of NSW’s Speaker Connect program for History Week 2017 and supported by Create NSW.

The images, above, show an illustration from Gumnut Babies by May Gibbs, 1916 (left) and ‘Souriante’ a self-portrait by May Gibbs, 1923. Images are from the May Gibbs Archive, State Library of NSW © The Northcott Society and Cerebral Palsy Alliance.

The Flavelle family of Wellbank


John Flavelle arrived in Sydney in 1842 and initially worked for Australia’s first professional photographer, George Baron Goodman, before going into business as an optician and jeweller.

About 1870, John Flavelle built a two-storey home in Concord which he named ‘Wellbank’ after his wife Catherine’s birthplace in Ireland. The Flavelle Estate originally occupied the area around Wellbank Street, between Correys Avenue and Arthur Street.

In 1945 the Housing Commission compulsorily resumed the Flavelle Estate for post-war housing. Wellbank house was left untouched while the remaining daughters of Flavelle, Lucy and Ida, lived there. After their deaths, Concord Council acquired the property and in 1961 demolished the house to build new Council Chambers. This building in turn was demolished in 2007 to make way for the new Concord Library and Wellbank Children’s Centre.

Appropriately, the multifunction rooms at Concord Library are named after the Flavelle sisters while the location on the corner of Flavelle and Wellbank Streets provides another link with the history of the site.

Look how we have grown!


To celebrate the 5th anniversary of the opening of Concord Library on Flavelle Street, the library is featuring an exhibition of the pictorial history of Concord Library.

The exhibition traces the history of the current site which was formerly Concord Council Chambers and still earlier the site of Wellbank house, home of the Flavelle family. It also takes a nostalgic look at the earlier libraries on Concord Road and Bent Street, Concord. The John Mendel Memorial Library on Concord Road was opened in 1968 and named after a former Town Clerk of Concord who was a great supporter of a free library service for residents. The Concord Branch Library at Bent Street opened in 1975.

The photograph shows a storytelling session at Concord in 1970. Storytelling remains one of the library’s most popular activities.

The exhibition is currently on display until 12 May 2013.