‘The Queerest Shop in Sydney’

Kristin Hannaford


In 1923, bookshop owner James Tyrrell purchased the premises of ‘Tost & Rohu: Taxidermists, Furriers, Tanners and Island Curio Dealers’ – it was known at the time as ‘The Queerest Shop in Sydney’.*


Welcome to Tost & Rohu’s carnival of the unusual!

naturalists, articulators Purvey the shelves, cabinets

and shop-front façade. sea-shells in large variety Wonder open- mouthed entomological specimens and

requisites at what you do not know, what you do not have:  bric-a-brac,


fancy work and flower making  gewgaws, marvellous birds,

beasts and reptiles oddities prepared and mounted to order that are the queer

and strange discharge of a continent. Minutiae of curiosities furs, tanned revealed –

an assortment of mixed lollies: snakes, frogs, sharks’ teeth, black cats and Pyrmont rock,


jellied substances instruments for Oologists

and jars of white spirit floating preserves. Go closer, Lyre bird tails

gawk at creatures reassembled, enjoy the pantomime ladies’ muffs, circlets,

bags of nature re-enacted, exotic ornamentations, implements, woomera the dark stained


patinas boomerangs of clubs and shields –

invent your narratives of possession, snake skin tobacco

pouches romance and loss, stop and choose Emu cameos enchantment or terror,

mounted in life-like style by Mrs. Tost.


* use of italics denote fragments from Tost & Rohu letterheads and advertisements


Kristin Hannaford is a Queensland based poet. Her writing has recently appeared in Cordite, Australian Poetry Journal, Overland, Filling Station (CAN) and Trace (Creative Capricorn, 2013) a chapbook of commissioned poems exploring histories of Rockhampton. Kristin is writing a new collection of poems thanks to an Australia Council new work grant.

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