Review by Iris Carden
History books are usually done by researchers who search through old documents to understand and interpret events of the past.
Shirley Byrne's A Dream Comes True: The Revitalisation of the Top of Town Ipswich does that, but in combination with Shirley's own recollections of the events.
Shirley was very active in the movement to restore an historic section of Ipswich, rather than have it torn down for new development. (When I say very active, I wondered as I read the book how she found time to eat and sleep.) This rescue effort, the restoration and revitalisation of Top of Town, was a major project which took the entire 1990s.
Reading the book is as if Shirley is in the room, just telling her story and the Top of Town story, but with photos and copies of the plans and such like to show as she tells it.
For her, and a dedicated group of business people, city council members and other residents, protecting the history of this Queensland city was extremely important.
As a newcomer to Ipswich, I enjoy looking at the many beautiful historic buildings here, but until Shirley's book, I had no idea how much work had gone into protecting and preserving those buildings.
In addition to the Top of Town story, Shirley has included a brief summary of Ipswich history right from the first European settlement.
Shirley won the Ipswich Libraries' Vera Cribb Bursary (local history prize) to help fund the production of this book, which should be of interest to anyone interested in Ipswich history.
A Dream Comes Tre: The Revitalisation of the Top of Town Ipswich, is available in hardcover from Hot Mustard Creations (link).