The North Queensland (Adult) Eisteddfod is conducted in a different location in North Queensland each year on the Easter weekend. A local committee comes together to organise and run the Eisteddfod in that location under the auspices of the North Queensland Eisteddfod Council. Please note that not all areas have been covered yet as we are still constructing this website and also the Society’s Database so please visit periodically to check for new information and pictures.
Eisteddfod in North Queensland
(the following is an edited version from an article in the Townsville Daily Bulletin Sat 19th April 1930)
Introduction of the eisteddfod to North Queensland rests with the Welsh mining community of Charters Towers. From the earliest times on the old goldfield there has been choral singing. The Welsh folk conducted little musical festivals in connection with their church. There was little public support, but they struggled on, and in 1890, the enthusiastic Welshmen held their first eisteddfod. All the enthusiasm, however, did not make a success of that eisteddfod, and it was not the success it was expected to be financially.
In 1893 another attempted was made to bring the movement before the public.
The 1898 Eisteddfod was under the patronage of the then Governor of Queensland Lord Lamington. An even better standard of music was reached, whilst the choirs were increased in number, and in that year three choirs, each with 80 voices, competed for the Chief Choral item, Dr Perry’s “The Storm”.
In 1901 the movement became a town affair. The Welsh church retired on its laurels, proud of its efforts in having placed this grand festival on such a sound footing. The Curlews won the male chorus for the first time that year and they held an unbeaten record for many years.
In 1902 three choirs competed in the chief chorus, “Be Not Afraid”. The Leonta Choir, under Mr John Parry won from the No 1 Methodists under Mr T. Emmerson, and a third choir under Mr McCullagh.
Until 1905 the eisteddfod had always been held in Charters Towers, but after 1905 effort a body of Townsville people began to inaugurate a like movement in their city , with the result that in 1906 the first Townsville eisteddfod was held. In this effort Charters Towers manfully supported Townsville. Three choirs – the West End Musical Union (Townsville), the Townsville City Choir, and the Leonta Choir (Charters Towers) – contested the chief chorus, Elgar’s “Britons Alert”. The honours went to the Towers choir.
The 1906 eisteddfod at Charters Towers was even more successful with Townsville participating. At this eisteddfod Miss Gladys Moncrieff, who afterwards became so well known in the operatic world, got her first taste of victory as a vocalist, when she divided the first prize for the soprano solo, “Oh, For The Wings Of A Dove”.
The eisteddfod movement was held alternately at Charters Towers and Townsville, and at the 1918 eisteddfod at Charters Towers, Townsville had its first win of any kind for the Townsville choir since 1913.
In 1920 both cities united in the formation of a North Queensland Eisteddfod Executive Council, to be conducted on similar lines to that of the Southern Council, and the 1921 eisteddfod under the new conditions was most successfully carried out in Townsville. It also marked the first occasion that the Curlews Choir was defeated by the Townsville Choral Society under J. T. O’Connor beating them with 92 points to 90 points.
1924 was remarkable for the first triangular city contest with Cairns coming to Charters Towers to compete under Mr F. W. Millett, a former Charters Towers musical enthusiast. It also won the right for Cairns to have an eisteddfod conducted there and it went to Cairns in the following year, 1925.