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Pastoral History of the Aramac Shire


There have been many changes since 1860 when William Landsborough and Nat Buchanan discovered the headwaters of the Thomson River; Torrens Creek, Tower Hill Creek and the Landsborough River. They took up the country they called the Landsborough Runs [Bowen Downs] as the Landsborough River Company consisting of the Scottish Australian Company [represented by Morehead and Young] half shares; William Landsborough with quarter shares; and Nat Buchanan and Edward Cornish with one eighth share each.

In November 1861, Nat Buchanan set out from Port Denison [Bowen] to find a route from the Sea to the Landsborough Runs. The first cattle, 5 000 head, were brought to Bowen Downs in October 1862 from Landsborough’s Fort Cooper station near Nebo by two colonists and eight aborigines, with Nat Buchanan acting as guide. Another three thousand cows were brought up from Narran, NSW in May 1863. Twenty-five thousand young sheep from Glengallan Stud near Warwick completed the early stocking of Bowen Downs, which eventually covered 3 683 square miles or some 2.36 million acres. Nat Buchanan was the first manager and in 1863, a cluster of bark huts and fewer than twelve people made up the settlement of Bowen Downs.

By mid-1863 neighbouring stations were established: Coreena; Chessborough and Hodgson at Rodney Downs;

  • Meredith at Tower Hill;
  • J W Raven at Stainburn and Corindah [present-day Springdale and Stagmount];
  • and later Tolson at Uanda.

In February 1864, the first shearing had been completed at Bowen Downs. Nat Buchanan brought his wife, Catherine Gordon, to live there in 1864. By the end of 1866, Bowen Downs was a little town with nearly sixty people and twenty-four dwellings; a butcher, baker, post office, vegetable garden, hotel and Native Mounted Police.

A relatively prosperous time in the 1870s led to the introduction of wire fencing. This resulted in less labour in shepherding sheep, and increased land capacity. After the thefts of cattle by Redford and others, the Scottish Australian Company established Mt. Cornish as a separate cattle station in 1872. The Cameron, Crombie and Bowly families established Kensington, Greenhills and Eastmere at this time.

The 1880’s were a time of trial with droughts and falling wool prices with the first large land resumptions taking place between 1885 and 1887. The railway reached Barcaldine in 1886 and Longreach in 1892 making a huge difference to the transport of goods and export of stock.

The introduction of shearing machinery in the 1890s caused a gradual increase in ill-feeling due to poor wages, loss of jobs, and the subsequent loss of accommodation and food. This ill-feeling became the basis for the shearers’ strikes of 1891 and 1895.

In this uneasy climate, Bowen Downs, Corinda and Aramac Station were connected to Aramac by telephone and the first artesian bores were put down. On the assumption of bores it was thought the country would be drought-proof,and stock numbers were increased accordingly. In 1894, live cattle were exported from Mt. Cornish through the Gulf of Carpentaria. Bowen Downs recorded its biggest lambing; 117 379 lambs, in 1895 and in 1899 the record number of sheep were shorn; 364 742.

Since the land resumptions Bowen Downs was, at this time, vastly overstocked with around 504 580 acres. Today’s recommended stocking rate for that country is one sheep to 3.25 acres. Below average rainfall was recorded for the next seven years causing the most widespread and severe drought to that date.



By 1902, 276 244 sheep had died on Bowen Downs with 134 000 remaining. On Mt. Cornish 2 000 head of cattle remained out of 27 417 with a further 644 horses dead.

In 1902, the Labour Government increased pastoral rent, by as much as 100%. Incredibly, in 1993, the Labour Government did the same again under similar trying circumstances. The Scottish Australian Company sold Mt. Cornish in 1904 in order to recoup some of its losses.

The decade between 1910 and 1920 saw some good seasons lead to the build up of foxes and blowflies. The opening of the Aramac Tramway in 1913 was a further improvement to transport while the British Government purchased the entire Australian wool-clip as part of the war effort. On the stations, it was a time of maintenance.

1926 heralded the driest year ever recorded on Bowen Downs, with only 118 mm of rain. The introduction of motor transport; further reductions to the labour forces; dissatisfaction with the government regarding leases; and large land resumptions saw the nature of the district change as selectors took over from the huge holdings.

The 1930s were times of low prices, drought and the depression.

During the 1940s, the British Government purchased the wool clip for the duration of the Second World War and there was a shortage of material, labour and rain. In the late 1940s and early 1950s the Federal Government took control of export meat sales.

1950 – present day

In 1950s, there were better wool prices and better seasons coupled with flystrike and lice. There was a shortage of labour and the shearers’ strike of 1956. At Bowen Downs, 1956 was the wettest year recorded with 1 527mm of rain.

Despite a drought in 1960, life in the Aramac shire was probably at its peak around 1963. The roads were not too bad; there was a doctor in both Aramac and Muttaburra as well as a dentist who visited regularly; and there was a general air of prosperity. Electricity came to the area around 1968. More years of drought followed, necessitating the formation of the Rural Reconstruction Board in 1969-70 to put eligible graziers back on their feet.

By the 1970s, the lowest wool prices for decades caused many people to switch to running cattle, resulting in an oversupply and the subsequent collapse of cattle prices as well. Detrimental tax legislation added to the hardship and labour was severely decreased. For the first time, the Australian economy was no longer dependant on the welfare of primary producers.

Except for the introduction of the DRCS telephone system, little else changed throughout the 1980s. Bowen Downs was continually drought-declared for thirty-six months from 1986 to 1988 with 1988 recording the driest January to June ever- a yearly rainfall of only 26mm. The property was completely destocked except for two heifers and 850 weaner sheep. This was offset by record high wool prices.

The 1990s saw droughts and floods; the abandoning of the wool floor price; mediocre cattle prices; below average rainfall and a continuing reduction in services.

Over the 138 years of white settlement in the Aramac shire, some problems have remained the same: seasons, scarcity of skilled labour, freight costs, markets and tardiness of suitable government legislation.

Adapted from text by Lesley Cowper

Shearer’s Strike of 1891-1892

Government Land Resumption

Occupation of the central Queensland Pastoral districts began in the 1840s when overlanders from the south drove flocks of sheep onto the plains of the Maranoa in the Mitchell district and pushed their way west and northwest. By 1865 there was hardly any useful land left to occupy in the south so settlers moved north and west.
When the Queensland Government took over the control of lands in 1859, pastoral expansion was rapid. A Land Act in 1860 allowed squatters to lease areas of land from 25 to 100 square miles (about 60 to 250 square kilometres) for the cost of 10/- [shillings ($1.00)] per square mile. The annual rental ranged from 10/- [shillings ($1.00)] to 55/- shillings ($5.50) per square mile. They were not restricted to 100 square miles but could take out as many leases as they could afford. The Bowen Downs run in the Aramac Shire once covered an area of more than 25 000 square kilometres. In order of settlement this included the sites of the present day towns of Aramac, Muttaburra and Longreach, and large areas to the east. By 1891, amendments to the Land Acts had reduced its size to 6 000 square kilometres.

By 1891, most of the runs had been rationalised by the 1884 Land Act. The larger runs lost up to a third of their land, and rent on the remaining land was increased. The resumed parts of these runs were intended for the development of towns and small grazing farms but could be used by the squatters until required.

Union Mobilisation

It was common practice for the owners and managers of the sheep runs to advertise in local and major newspapers prior to shearing. These notices would bring the shearers, shed hands, cooks, and other necessary workers into the district in preparation for signing on for the shed. Prior to the strike, wool prices were falling and the pastoral companies intended to reduce the shearers’ wages, then at £1 per hundred head of shorn sheep.

The strike originated on the 5th January 1891 at the Logan Downs Station near Clermont, when Manager Charles Fairbain required shearers to sign the Pastoralists Association contract of free labour, prior to commencing work. This was the first step in reducing union influence in the sheds, but the assembled shearers declined to work other than under their union’s verbal agreement. The Union called a strike with mounted unionists in Barcaldine mobilised in small groups to enforce the call out. When out of town they reformed in larger parties and rode away to their various destinations.

Men were already walking off stations and forming camps. Among the earliest camps to form were Aramac and Muttaburra. The early camp at Muttaburra was established with 80 men, increasing to in excess of 150 men; a large number of whom were mounted. The mounted men acted as couriers and were also used to persuade “blacklegs”, a term used for the strikebreakers, and other station employees to join the Union cause.

Tragedy at Union Hole

Tragedy struck the camp at Muttaburra during March of 1891. Heavy rain fell and the camp flooded resulting in one man drowning in early April and the remainder requiring evacuation by boat to another camp site.

Tensions, during the seven months of the strike, were high. Woolsheds and crops were burnt, and shots came close to being fired as mounted troopers were ordered to arrest the striking shearers. At Barcaldine, one hundred and twenty mounted infantry with drawn bayonets surrounded the union office, arresting the strike committee and charging them with conspiracy and sedition. The strike collapsed, with thirteen of the union leaders standing trial at Rockhampton. They were each sentenced to three year’s jail on St Helena island prison and were fined £200.

When is a sheep a cow?

During the strike, six unionists were arrested on April 14 for sheep stealing at Darr River Downs. The men were taken to Muttaburra Police Court and charged with cattle stealing though Magistrate Francis was not convinced that sheep and cattle were the same animal. Five of the men were given the choice of a £50 fine each plus costs or 6 months in default. They took the 6 months!

A spot of cricket!

Charles Thomas Wyatt of the Townsville Mounted Infantry recorded this following unusual incident for posterity after serving in and around Hughenden from the 26th March to 14th May 1891 in very wet conditions. The day after he arrived in Muttaburra he witnessed a party of 150 mounted unionists parade through town heading north. The troops had not been ordered to follow so they played a game of cricket. Wyatt picked up 5 wickets! The next day a party of 60 unionists and horsemen from Barcaldine, passed through Muttaburra and set out in the direction of Hughenden. Wyatt’s party of mounted infantry and special constables were ordered to follow them this time.

While the strike did not achieve its goals, the long term benefit was that it provided the impetus for political representation for workers – the establishment of the Australian Labor Party.

Adapted from text by Neville Bullen

Dr Arratta Memorial Museum

The Muttaburra area was first settled in 1861, with the establishment of the “Bowen Downs” run.

Other large holdings subsequently followed and in 1878, the township of Muttaburra, sited on the west bank of the Landsborough River, was proclaimed. Bruford Street, the main street, took its name from a saddler, Mr Bruford, who established a saddlery repair shop there, in that same year. The need for other services, such as hotels, the Cobb & Co changing station, blacksmiths, banks and general stores were also soon accommodated.

In the early years of settlement the sick were nursed and ministered with great skill by Mrs E.R. Edkins, wife of the manager of Mt. Cornish (four miles to the east of the township). Then in 1884 a hospital was built with funds raised locally. It was sited on a rise, a small distance from the township for isolation purposes, and it looked out over a distant line of coolibahs that marked the course of the Landsborough and Thomson Rivers.
The first doctor was Dr. Overend from Melbourne and Mr Lawry was the first Wardsman. Of interest, this Hospital was opened four years before the one in Barcaldine and ten years before Longreach. By 1901, the Muttaburra Hospital was equipped with one of the earliest x-ray units to be installed in any country hospital. Under the guidance of Dr. Arratta, the Operating Theatre was built in 1933 and still stands today.

For many years, the Hospital’s funding continued to be supplemented by voluntary subscription and the generosity of the local population. Every big shearing shed put on at least one concert annually in aid of the Hospital, while a variety of sporting and social activities including horse racing, cricket and tennis matches and dances were held from time to time for the same purpose.

The children’s ward, operating table and light, x-ray equipment, furnishings and air conditioning were some of the items provided by generous donations from families in the community.

The main Hospital building was renewed in 1957 and is now the Dr. Arratta Memorial Museum, named for Joseph Andrew Arratta, whose tenure as Muttaburra’s Government Medical Officer lasted for thirty-five years and who became renowned throughout Central Western Queensland for his diagnostic and surgical skills.

List of Doctors who worked at the Muttaburra Hospital

All efforts have been made to ensure that this information relating to all doctors that worked at the Muttaburra hospital from 1880 to 2009 is correct. Our thanks go to Judith McClymont for all her efforts in helping to compile this list. If you consider that something is incorrect or have additional information, please contact us with the relevant supporting documents and the information will be updated. Any additional information is welcome as it will add to the value of Muttaburra’s community web site, retain the history of the area and also help collect any lost history and information.
Thank you
Louise Moloney email

Life in the 1960s at the Muttaburra District Hospital

Extract from a letter of a registered nurse who worked at the Hospital.

“I started at Muttaburra Hospital on 28th January 1968 – at least that is the day I arrived on the plane, I can’t remember if I started work the next morning or what…

Will never forget coming into land at Muttaburra that first time. I had wanted to go to Melbourne to do the O.T course and my Dad nagged at me to go west for 6 months to clear up my asthma, so in a fit I answered ads to sisters out west one Saturday morning and Muttaburra wrote back first – ‘Right I’m going to Muttaburra – where the hell’s that?’ A far cry from where I wanted to go – especially from the window of a D.C.9 and the O.T. even came equipped with its own fly swat on the anaesthetic trolley!!

We used to get $50 bonus at the end of 6 months service.

Can remember having 5 babies in the nursery at once – even had 2 women in labour ward together!!

…was the country doctors that stories are written about – stitching up John’s race horse after an accident once, and another day we spent an hour in the dental clinic pulling out a tooth of some poor bloke that couldn’t get to Longreach – armed with a dental text book and lots of local. He used to see a lot of the public patients at his surgery and not charge just to save them walking up the hill. There was a young girl in town that was 5 stubbies short of a 6 pack, she already had 1 baby and had a heartcondition. She couldn’t manage the pill – so “I told all the lads around town that she might die under them!! Best contraceptive ever.”

Muttaburra Hospital Admission Registers

Name; date admitted; age; birthplace; occupation; religion; ship of arrival; how long in colony; place of residence; marital status; place of marriage, at what age, and name of spouse; names and ages of children living; number and sex of children deceased; father’s name and occupation; father’s present residence if living (or ‘father dead’); mother’s maiden name; disease or reason for admission; date of discharge or date and cause of death; sometimes additional remarks (medical history, social circumstances etc.)
The surviving registers up to 5 Dec 1928 have been indexed, but there are several large gaps in this series. The earliest register covers part of 1887. There are no surviving registers for 1888-1891 or 1895-1920. Some registers for 1929 onwards exist, and in least a few cases they have a name index at the front of the register.

Cassimatis General Store

In 1911, Andrew Andrew (A.A.) Cassimatis and his son George left the island of Kythera (which lies between Crete and the mainland of Greece) to come to Australia to build a new life for the family. They worked in Sydney for a period of time and then moved north to cut cane in the canefields around Bundaberg while on the lookout for business ventures. In 1914, father and son moved west, first to Isisford and then to Muttaburra.

At first, they rented a small cafe, living in the back of the premises and when the lease expired they rented another one further along Bruford Street (next to Bobby Booth’s Hairdressing and Billiard Saloon and the Australian Hotel) from a Mr John Ahern.

In 1918, A.A. and George, having relinquished the lease of the cafe, decided to build their own general store. The land was purchased from the Eddie Beach family and Jack Reisene constructed the building which still stands today. As they had done previously, A.A. and George again lived on the premises – in the back room. A.A. continued to live there until his death in 1942; his wife having died in 1927 at home in Greece.

The business initially traded groceries, drapery, hardware, mercury and motor spirits. The Cassimatis’ became one of the oldest agents in Australia for Mobil Oil – Australia – previously known as The Vacuum Oil Company of Australia. They bottled their own methylated spirits and kerosene, using their own label.

As a sideline, they also hired out a vehicle, and in the early 1920’s, George drove Hudson Fysh around on some of his forays for QANTAS.

In 1925, A.A. and George drew a block off “Milgarra” near Normanton. They travelled up in their T-Model Ford to inspect it, but decided not to take it up as they felt it was a ‘bit wild’ for them. George married in 1930 and had five children between 1932 and 1939. In 1934, in order to accommodate his growing family, he bought the house on the eastern side of the shop from the three Ford brothers, who were drovers.

In the early years, iceworks were incorporated into the business, which included the making of the necessary charcoal. The ice was made, sawed into blocks, and then delivered to the hospital, other businesses and those townspeople who had ice chests. When refrigeration came of age, during the Second World War, the iceworks were closed down, and later sold to a buyer from Mitchell. The interior of the shop was reorganised, and the structure changed slightly to accommodate the new white goods. First came the kerosene refrigerator – “The Mighty Electrolux”, and George became a sub-agent for this company.

The next purchase for A.A. and George was the soft drinks factory, owned by the Lakes family, on the corner of Edkins and Sword Streets, opposite the Post Office. A.A. and George demolished the building and transferred the soft drinks business to their own shop. In 1948, George closed down the soft drink factory and from then on, he bought his soft drinks from Rossberg in Longreach and Flynn of Hughenden.

In 1935, A.A. and George bought the beautiful old Klugh and Samuels Emporium from Jim Roberts. This building stood beside the Bakers Shop, and had existed in Muttaburra since 1881. It has been described as a very well laid out shop, with beautiful fittings, and glass panelled doors that opened into a separate office. “The shop had counters all around, and shelving behind. It sold everything, beautiful crockery, produce, groceries, haberdashery, motor spirit and oils, and alcohol (wine, spirits and beer) which was kept in a back shed and underground cellar.” Some items, including the ornate cash register and axe stand are on display in the Cassimatis’ General Store today.

In buying Klugh and Samuels, (they retained the name) A.A. and George were able to secure the towns wholesale 2-gallon wine and spirit merchant licence. However, the building was in an advanced state of disrepair, and they soon closed its doors.

Another business enterprise of the Cassimatis father and son partnership was the “Four Mile Gardens” an orchard and market garden near the banks of the Landsborough River. These were situated four miles south of the town, hence the name. They built a windmill and operated a pump engine to irrigate the crops – oranges, lemons, mandarins, grapes and mulberries proved fruitful, as were melons and a variety of vegetables, including asparagus. An attempt to cultivate olives was frustrating, as the trees grew well, but didn’t bear fruit. A small crop of cotton was also successful. Eddie Childerley, who worked at the gardens for many years, used to sell the produce around town, from a horse drawn cart. Of the other employees at the gardens, a number were Chinese, including Louie Sung, known as Jacky Lock.

In the late 1950’s, the Cassimatis General Store became a Bank of New South Wales Savings Agency, finally closing its doors in 1978.

The cottage continued to be the family home until George moved to Brisbane in 1982, to live with his daughter Anna, and the home was finally sold to the Aramac Shire Council in 1998, for preservation. The Dr. Arratta Museum Association has restored both the Cassimatis Store and cottage.

Adapted from text by Helen Marsh & Margie Webb.

To learn more about A.A. Cassimatis’s Greek island of origin – Kythera – go to

Cassimatis Group Photo (on last page of photos).
Posted by the Kytherian Cultural Association:

“Unknown photographer (Yiannis Kassimatis?): a group of 30 persons, taken out of doors, probably after mass at a country church or chapel. The following text is written on the back: “Kythera 22 September 1930. My dear cousin, I send you this photograph as a souvenir, it was taken from the church of Agia Triada, we are a mixed lot of faces, among them your cousin Stavros. Yiannis happened to be away and is not in the photo. These photos are taken by Eleni’s Yianni. Eleni I. Kassimati”.
Vintage silver print, 8.8×13.8 cm. Ref. No. KPA 00005. Original in the possession of Prof. Yiorgos Kassimatis, Kato Livadi. ”

Supplied by George Poulos

Anglican Church – All Saints Church – Muttaburra

While initial services were being held in the Muttaburra Court House and on station homesteads, the desire to build a church in Muttaburra was constantly being expressed. However, extreme isolation, severe drought conditions and decline in business in the area was to prove a constant stumbling block to such plans.

The Reverend John Aldis, who had been appointed to the Western Mission District in 1882, performed the first recorded Anglican Church Service held in Muttaburra in 1883. He also performed the first recorded christening in the area; that of Ellis Johnson Olliver at Mt. Cornish on 11th November 1883.

By 1897, Muttaburra was being serviced by the Brotherhood of St Andrews. These young men from England pledged themselves to a minimum of five years service to the ministry in the “west”; throughout which they travelled as best they could by sulky, bicycle or on horseback.

It had been estimated that “a fair iron building could be erected for £25O”. The community, though affected by hard times, worked hard to gather such resources. Mr Richard Lloyd of “Blue Gate” appealed to his son-in-law’s family in Wales and Mr A. Gilbertson of Pontardawe who owned an iron and tin plate foundry, very generously promised all the iron required to complete the whole building.

In 1902, Mr A. C. Cooper M.L.A. of “Weewondilla”, offered to supply the £100
required to complete the church as a gesture to the memory of his parents, who had recently died in Slipo, Ireland.

Messes Hutton and Hooking, Architects, Rockhampton prepared plans for the building, and the tender by Mr Hack of Longreach for £170 to erect the building was accepted. The church’s design was unique to that period as a second small room off the vestry was included to provide accommodation for travelling “Bush Brothers”.

Of these young men probably the best remembered and revered is Frederick Edward Barwick Hulton-Sams; popularly known as the “fighting parson”. He was reputed to carry a bible in one hand and a pair of boxing gloves in the other. Men from all denominations attended his wool-shed services; after which he would strip to the waist and box with the best the shed had to offer. Wagers on his bouts often resulted in windfalls for the tiny Anglican brotherhood he represented, once winning a horse and buggy for the brothers to use on the long journeys between towns.

Hulton-Sams will always be remembered for his 95-mile dash from Jericho to Aramac, to be at the bedside of Brother Guy Maude Roxby the first of the brothers to give his life in service to the Brotherhood. Hulton-Sams enlisted the help of a railway fettler and together, despite bleeding hands, blinding rain and exhaustion they pumped a railway inspection trolley to within five miles of Aramac where the line ceased. With dogged determination, with his strength draining, Hulton-Sams ran the remaining distance to reach the side of Brother Guy Maude Roxby who succumbed to typhoid one hour later. Brother Hulton-Sams returned to England and enlisted in the British Imperial Forces at the outbreak of World War One. He was killed in action on 31st July 1915. Memorial plaques in Aramac, Muttaburra and Longreach remember both men.

There are significant stories surrounding the many gifts given to the church by members of the community and friends back in Britain – most of which remain in the church today. Sadly the original font made from rock hewn in Wales was removed from the vestry and has been irretrievably lost to us today. After 1937, the Lloyd family had the porch added to the church in memory of their parents Richard and Isabella Lloyd.

Ever since its dedication, All Saints Muttaburra has never ceased to function as a church, thanks to its many dedicated servants. There were none more loyal than the Lloyd family; the last of whom, Miss Marjorie Lloyd, died on 13th September 1961.

– Helen Marsh

Bruford St

It has been the belief of many that the main street of Muttaburra was named after the saddler who set up his camp then shop here at the river crossing. But after much research no saddler named Bruford can be found relating to Muttaburra. The only Bruford relating to Muttaburra is the Government Road surveyor who picked the site for the first bridge to cross the Thomson at Muttaburra. It was completed within its budget, £2,700 by the end of 1877.

[Extract] – The Mount Cornish township at the Thomson Bridge is shortly to have an official name given to it, viz.: — Muttaburra. The township has forged a-head wonderfully since the bridge was commenced; there are now three hotels, two general stores, a saddler’s and blacksmith’s shop and two other hotels in course of construction. The bridge will probably be completed by Christmas, and to the credit of the engineer. Mr. Bruford, will be completed within his original estimate of £2,700. We hope now that the detention at the Thomson in the wet season will be a thing of the past.

[Source: Peak Downs Items. (1877, November 13). Rockhampton Bulletin (Qld. : 1871 – 1878), p. 3. Retrieved October 2, 2013, from]

Mr. Alexander Blake Bruford
Department of Public Works,
Roads Branch, Brisbane, 27th May, 1873.
HIS Excellency the Governor, with the advice of the Executive Council, has been pleased to appoint
ALEXANDER BLAKE BRUFORD to be District Road Inspector, Central Division.
[Source: Queensland Government Gazette]

The road between Copperfield and Clermont (about four miles) is also in very bad order, and the Government road surveyor (Mr. Bruford) has asked for £1000 to repair it; all the traffic from the coast to the western country passes along the road, and there is also a good deal of traffic between the two towns, so that the road is quite deserving of some attention.
[Source: Peak Downs. (1876, April 8). The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 – 1939), p. 7. Retrieved March 29, 2013, from]

We are informed that our western friends will soon have one of their greatest wants supplied, in the shape of a bridge over the Thomson River, as Mr. Bruford, Engineer of Roads, CD., has gone out there to locate the most advantageous site to commence this very necessary structure.
[Source: Peak Downs. (1876, December 30). The Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld : 1875 – 1929), p. 844. Retrieved March 29, 2013, from]

The Mount Cornish township at the Thomson Bridge is shortly to have an official name given to it, viz.:– Muttaburra. The township has forged a-head wonderfully since the bridge was commenced; there are now three hotels, two general stores, a saddler’s and blacksmith’s shop and two other hotels in course of construction. The bridge will probably be completed by Christmas, and to the credit of the engineer Mr. Bruford, will be completed within his original estimate of £2700. We hope now that the detention at the Thomson in the wet season will be a thing of the past.
[Source: Peak Downs Items. (1877, November 13). Rockhampton Bulletin (Qld. : 1871 – 1878), p. 3. Retrieved March 29, 2013, from]

WRITING from Aramac off December 7, our correspondent says:- Mr. Jardine, of the Roads Department, is at present in town, and has just defined the position of our racecourse reserve, the Pastoral Society’s ground, and the hospital allotment. These public reserves are all situated on the high, rising ground at the north of the township, about a milo along the Bowen Downs and Muttaburra loads. The Roads Department are pushing on work energetically, having nearly finished a high level bridge over the Thomson at Mount Cornish, opposite the new township of Muttaburra, and are preparing dams on the new road from Aramac to the bridge. This new road is a decided step in advance, shortening the great western road to the Diamantina by about fifteen miles, and traversing as it does, high downs instead of flooded country, like the old road. Provision is to be made for a good supply of water for this township, by the exeivation of a large reservoir within half-a-mile of the place, and unconnected with the unwholesome water of the creek, our present supply. Trade is brisk, supplies plentiful and arriving Large quantities of wool are constantly passing coast-wise. If we only get our accustomed rain early in January, all will go well as a marriage bell for some time to come.
[Source: Telegraphic. (1877, December 22). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), p. 5. Retrieved April 2, 2013, from]

The road from Blackall to Emerald Downs (says the P. D. Telegram) is now partly complete, it has been surveyed between Beaufort and Blackall and this portion of the road will be ready for traffic in about a fortnight. Mr. Bruford is starting out for the purpose of surveying the road from Beaufort to Emerald Downs. This portion of the road will cross the Springsure road near KHamkete. The distance from Beaufort to Blackall, by the new road, is 128 miles. Thirty men are at work at present on the road.
[Source: PEAK DOWNS ITEMS. (1878, January 19). The Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld : 1875 – 1929), p. 12. Retrieved March 29, 2013, from]

JUNE 25.-Queensland, AS N. Company’s p., 303 tons, Captain G. M. Wynn, from Rockhampton, via Gladstone, Bundaberg, and Maryborough. Passengers: Mrs. Porker, Mother Mary and servant, Miss M’Allister, Miss E. Wilson, Miss Rodgers, Miss A. Wilson, Rev. J. Buckle, Messrs. A V. Bruford, H. Coutts, H. P. Bourne, Tyrell, Parker, and 11 in the steerage, W. Williams, agent.
[Source: Shipping. (1879, June 26). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), p. 2. Retrieved March 29, 2013, from]

The undermentioned gentlemen have been authorised to act as surveyors under the provisions of the 134th section of the Transfer of Land Statute 1866: – Geo. Stafford, Thos. H Lightfoot, Fred Smith, J Seaver, Chas. W. Thomas, J. J. Muir, W. J. Crowther, Jas. Walker, Thos. M Goodwin, Thos. H Braim, Alex B. Bruford, F. M. Krause, Sam Wilson.
[Source: THE GOVERNMENT GAZETTE. (1881, January 22). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 8. Retrieved March 29, 2013, from]

Mr. Alexander Blake Bruford married Louisa J Magill in Sydney in 1887 [NSW Ref: 1528/1887]

Muttaburra Cemetery

If you stroll through the Muttaburra cemetery, you will have the history of the district dating back to 1885.

This Cemetery is set in natural surroundings. Most families that have contributed to the region have their roots here in Muttaburra. In the early days you will note that there are periods of months or even weeks were there may be numerous burials which will relate to an illness epidemic. The toughness of the early days and the people in Muttaburra are all told in this cemetery. There were deaths of fine young people from drowning, accidents and gunshot wounds as well as natural causes. All these tell the early story of the region.
There are numerous ‘bush graves’ too in the area. These graves may be where an accident occurred and the person was literally buried where they died. All too often there were children involved and one such case is Jesse Mary Lloyd who, in 1885, died from camp fire burns. At the time of the tragedy Jessie was only 11 years of age and her father was working as a fencer for Mount Cornish. This lonely gravesite out on the western downs country, miles from any habitation personifies the courage and fortitude shown by the early pioneers of the outback – forging a new life in a daunting land.

There is a pictorial record available of all headstones in the Muttaburra cemetery. For more information see the Cemetery Records section.

Transport Pictorial History

Starting from the horse and buggy in the 1880s to this modern age, transport has always been very important to Muttaburra and its district due to the isolation and the fact there is no public transport.

Teamsters who met the needs of the first settlers camped near the water-hole at Muttaburra and so the township grew as tradesmen made it their home.

Muttaburra’s initial mail service came by Cobb & Co bi-weekly from Bogantungan in the early 1880s. Since then it has been serviced from Prairie, Aramac, Hughenden, and Longreach with all different modes of transport.

The cartage of wool was one of the main export items to be carried out of Muttaburra by dray a few bales a load in the early days, to today when a fully loaded semi carries about 270 bales. Muttaburra has never been self-sufficient and so all items must come in by some form of transport.

As well as produce in and out of this has advanced over the years too. The first European’s arrived in a horse drawn buggy. Gordon Lee made a great impact on the transport into Muttaburra when he commenced Somerset Airways in 1950 making Muttaburra accessible during the wet season by air. He also owned Somerset Garage.

Today bitumen roads to the east and the improvement in the bridges, gravel roads and vehicles help beat the tyranny of distance.

Harry [Breaker] Morant

There are numerous stories about Harry’s heritage. He was born in Mudgee NSW. His father, Thomas Redford (in convict records as Thomas Ratford) was transported to Sydney on the ship Marquis of Wellington which left London on 1 September 1814. He was from York and stole four hides from a shoemaker. Thomas went on to become pretty respectable and established his children well, mainly with hotels and multiple land holdings (urban and rural). His wife Jemima Smith was a currency lass, born in or near Sydney N.S.W on 2 Feb 1801 and died on 5 Feb 1860 in Emu Plains, N.S.W. Thomas married Jemima, the daughter of Edward Turleigh SMITH and Jane MAHER, on 29 Jul 1834 in Windsor, N.S.W. Harry Redford was the youngest of eleven children. His family were landowners and hoteliers from the Hawkesbury River area, while his older brother was highly respected and known as ‘The Father of Warren’, a town in NSW.

In the late 1800s, cattle theft was rife in Queensland and NSW. In March 1870, Redford and four others stole between 600 and 1000 head of cattle from Bowen Downs, which stretched some 228 kilometers (140 miles) along the Thomson River and tributaries. Included in their haul was an imported white bull belonging to the Scottish Australian Company. Redford and his associates, George Dewdney and William Rooke decided to overland the cattle south to sell in Adelaide, as the Queensland brands were unknown there.

It took three months for the three men to drive the cattle 1,287 kilometers (800 miles) down the Cooper through country where Burke and Wills had perished ten years before. Two cows branded ‘LC’ and the bull were sold to a storekeeper for rations and the rest of the cattle were sold for £5000 to Blanchewater Station. Bowen Downs employees tracked the large herd to South Australia and identified the white bull.

During this time Redford married a childhood friend, Elizabeth Jane Skuthorpe on 13th April 1871. On the 11th February 1873, Redford and the white bull were star attractions at his trial in Roma. Rejecting any well-dressed men for the jury, he was found ‘Not Guilty’ and Judge Blakeney made the famous statement, ” I thank God that the verdict is yours, gentleman, and not mine”.

To this day in Australia, it remains difficult to get a conviction for stock stealing. Continual brushes with the law over horse stealing resulted in Redford being jailed for eighteen months in Brisbane.

On his release, he continued droving cattle from the Atherton Tableland to Dubbo, and in 1883 drove the first mob to Brunette Downs in the Northern Territory where he became the first manager. He is said to have pioneered his own property ‘Corella Downs’, now part of Brunette Downs, and in 1899 became Manager of McArthur River Station.

In 1901, he set out from Brunette Downs to explore Central Australia, but although a strong swimmer, was drowned in Corella Creek, which had become a raging torrent after rain. The true stories of Harry Redford and other Australian bushrangers were woven together to become the mythical bushranger ‘Captain Starlight’; immortalised by Rolf Bolderwood in his novel “Robbery Under Arms”. As a direct result of stock stealing, Mt. Cornish became a separate cattle station with E.R. Edkins becoming manager in October 1872. The registration of brands was enforced throughout the state.

Adapted from text by Lesley Cowper

Lieutenant Henry Harboard (Harry) ‘The Breaker’ Morant
Date of birth: 09 December 1864
Place of birth: Somerset, England
Date of death: 27 February 1902
Place of death: South Africa

Harry worked around the Muttaburra area for a few years – 1885–1890

Thursday January 3rd 1889

Regina v Harry Morant

False Pretences

The defendant appeared on remand from Rockhampton in custody and on the application of the Police was remanded for eight days for the production of the necessary witnesses.

Charles A M. Morris ……..

Monday January 7th 1889

Harry Morant, charged with obtaining money by false pretence was brought up in custody on remand and on the application of Senior Constable Fahey was remanded to Arrilalah where the principal witnesses reside.

Charles A M. Morris ……..

Friday January 11th 1889

Before the Police Magistrate

Harry Morant, on remand was brought up in custody charged with obtaining money by false pretences and upon the application of the Police was further remanded for a term of eight days for the production of evidence.

Charles A M. Morris ……..

Tuesday January 15th 1889

Before the Police Magistrate

Harry Morant

False Pretences
Plea: Not Guilty

The prosecutor asked the prisoner whether the piebald mare he sold to Joseph Samuels is the same piebald mare he sold to J H Grimshaw.

The prisoner admitted that the mare was the same.

Joseph Samuels on his oath states:
I am a storekeeper residing at Arrilalah. I know the prisoner. I remember the 27th day of April last year; I purchased a piebald mare branded JP near shoulder from the prisoner. I paid the prisoner for the mare £5 by a cheque, cash £2.8/- and goods £2.12/-. The prisoner gave me a receipt for the mare. [Receipt tendered Exhibit 1]. The prisoner told me that the mare was his property.
If I had known that the mare was the property of another person I would not have bought it. Since I purchased the mare, she was claimed by Mr Grimshaw of Ambo Station. Mr Grimshaw sued me in the Small Debts Court for the value of the mare, and I was ordered by the bench to give back the mare to Grimshaw or the value of it £12. The mare is now on the road up to be handed over to Mr Grimshaw.

To the Prisoner
I remember seeing you in Muttaburra and asked you if you had a harness horse for sale. You said you had a piebald mare; you could sell me running at Ambo.
I went out to Ambo the same night. The horses you spoke to me about were not in and I rode on the next day.
You waited a day after me at Ambo but I do not know what your intention was
I was at Ambo about two months after that. I was in Muttaburra during the race times. On neither occasion did Mr Grimshaw claim the mare.

I did not have the piebald mare on either occasion when I was in Muttaburra.I did not tell Mr Grimshaw that I had purchased them are from the prisoner.

The prisoner delivered the mare to me himself at Arrilalah.

Joseph Samuels

Taken and sworn before me at Muttaburra fifteenth day of January 1889
Charles A M Morris Pros.

John Henry Grimshaw on his oath states:
I am overseer at Ambo Station.
I know the prisoner
I remember the 20th March last year I purchased four horses from the prisoner that day and received delivery of two. There was a piebald mare amongst the horses I purchased from the prisoner and the one I took delivery of. I paid prisoner ₤20 by cheque on QN Bank Muttaburra.
The prisoner gave me a receipt for the horses. [Receipt tendered Exhibit 2]
I afterwards heard from the Police at Arrilalah that prisoner had disposed of the piebald mare to Mr Samuels of Arrilalah.
After I received the information, I laid claim to the mare as my property.
Mr Samuels refused to hand on over the mare on the grounds that he had purchased the mare. I afterwards summoned him for the mare or the value of ₤12 and the Bench ordered the mare to be handed back to me.
I never authorized the prisoner to sell the mare to Mr Samuels or any other person.

I could not swear that I sent you a wire asking you to return Loan.
If I used the word ‘Loan’ in the telegram it must have referred to the ₤20.
I remember you coming to Ambo with three horses. You said you had lost money and asked me for ₤20 for the horse.
I was aware that it was your intention to join George King at Isisford and going South with him. I don’t recollect your leaving the horses as security for ₤20.
I was aware you did not go South.
I remember your saying that you had a chance of selling the piebald mare.
You were to have both the piebald mare and the brown buck on the understanding that you were to purchase them.
I was lead to believe that you would purchase them immediately they were brought in for you. I sent Ryan out to get the horse in for you. I remember you putting the piebald in the harness that day and I jumped beside you. You drove the mare away with my knowledge and consent.
I did see you again until you returned to the races in June.
I do not remember seeing Samuels during race time. On your return from Arrilalah you told me you had sold the grey and had lost two or three others.

The sale of the horses to me by prisoner was a bon-a-fide sale. I considered the ₤20 was fair value for them as I did not want them.
I bought the horses from the prisoner only to oblige him than because I wanted them.
I got the horses into the yard on the understanding that the prisoner would purchase them before he would sell then to anybody else.
The prisoner had no authority to sell the piebald before completing the purchase of her.
The prisoner did not purchase from me the piebald mare or the other horses mentioned on the receipt.
I would have sold back the horses to prisoner and have given a receipt for the ₤20: I allowed the prisoner to take the horses to Maneroo where he said he had work. I next saw the prisoner on the 18th of June. The prisoner did not tell me he had sold the mare to Mr Samuels – he led me to believe that he had lost the piebald mare. I did not see any receipt for the mare, besides the receipt to Mr Samuels, after he had sold him the mare.

When the prisoner dove the horses away I did not consider he had purchased them.
When I saw prisoner at the races he said he would pay me for the horses.

J H Grimshaw

Taken and sworn before me at Muttaburra fifteenth day of January 1889
Charles A M Morris Pros.

Three months in Rockhampton goal with hard labour.
Charles A M. Morris

January 23rd 1889

Harry Morant was brought up in custody on remand charges with Larceny as a Bailee.

The evidence of Charles William Laver was taken and the accused was further remanded on the application of the Police, for a period of eight days for the production of evidence.

Charles A M. Morris

January 29th 1889

Before the Police Magistrate

Harry Morant was brought up in custody charged with “Larceny as a Bailee”.
The evidence of John Henry Grimshaw was taken and Morant was committed to take his trial at the next Criminal Sitting of the Central District Court to be held at Muttaburra on Wednesday July 3rd 1889.

John Henry Grimshaw was bound over in Recognizance for ₤40 to appear to give his evidence

Charles A M. Morris

Extract – ‘Bench Deposition Book’ – Police Court Muttaburra

Extract from the Register 27th February, 1893

The Muttaburra correspondent of the Winton Herald writes as follows:

No rain since my last letter. Hot winds and clouds. For about ten days, we had two or three thunderstorms a day, with an average of one or two points of rain each, and it cleared up again without giving the relief so much required. Two months more of this weather and things will be desperate here. There is supposed to be two months drinking water in the dam, but as the cattle are allowed to water at it, I think another month will make it unpleasant. Some heavy falls of rain occurred in patches, making the creeks run in places, but none within twenty miles of us. The river has not run for twelve months.

Death has been busy in our midst, Mr. R Clarke, aged 17 years, a nephew of Mr. Edkins, of Mount Cornish, died there of fever. S Neale, a wool classer, was found dead in his tent, about three miles from town, supposed to have died from apoplexy. A man named Edward Kiernan is tried for shooting Mortimer King in the arm with a revolver at Mount Cornish. Dr Lindsay extracted the bullet. It is supposed that he went to the bachelors quarters to pick a quarrel with Mrs. Pym, but had a row with King instead. He has been committed for trial at the Supreme Court, Rockhampton.

Mr. Gardiner, a Church of England minister, is here, forming church and confirmation classes for Bishop Dawes’ visit after Easter, and held services at 11 am, 4 pm, and 8pm on Sunday.

Messrs Fitzgerald and Campbell, the labor candidates have visited the town on electioneering business. It is to be hoped Mr. Fitzgerald will be selected by the unions.

Stations are sending stock on the road to try and get some grass, and even if rain falls now the loss of stock will be very heavy. Rumor credits one station already with the loss of 100,000 sheep, and dead animals are pretty thick about the reserve. It is a strange season – 34 feet of water in the streets of one town and another place famishing for want of rain. Prayers for rain are offered up every Sunday night, but have had no effect so far. The heavy south and west gales blow up every day, trying the strength of buildings, drying up the water, and encouraging profanity. This is worse than the big drought of 1885-6 as regards stock, I am told.

Source: Roberta Morrison

Celebrating Peace – A Longreach Leader Feature

MUTTABURRA celebrated in great spirit when the news of the surrender by Japan was announced.

Sports were held at the tennis court grounds on both days and the town and country people provided the afternoon tea.

A procession, which left the Memorial Hall, was largely attended.

Mr. Joe Wilson’s lorry led and was decorated with flowers and on the back was a piano played by Mrs. Charlie Egan with Mr. Eddie Childerly on the drums.

The young and the old people of the town joined in singing.

A ‘V’ for victory was made by Constable Wain and tied on the front of the lorry and other cars joined in with cans and buckets tied to their cars.

The procession paraded around the town and up to the hospital ground.

Sixteen old and young diggers marched in the lead of the procession.

A service was also held in the Memorial Hall at 11 o’clock on Thursday morning for the boys who would not return.

Addresses were made by Messrs. E.W. Bayliss and Frank Dowling. Dr. Arratta and Mr. Sid Gray of the R.S.S.A.I.L.A.

The singing of all the war songs continued until 12 o’clock.

A dance was held in the Memorial Hall on Wednesday night, also the big Victory Ball on Thursday night.

Supper was provided by the Aramac Shire Council.

Mr. George Cassmiatis handed around fireworks at the days’ sports and again at the night when Tojo, in effigy, was burnt in front of the Soldiers’ Memorial Hall.

Mr. Dick Egan (M.C.) thanked everyone for their help in making the sports and dances a great success.

A committee was formed to collect donations for the sports.

On Thursday night at the victory dance, Mr. Dick Egan handed ₤20 to the Returned Soldiers’ League to provide a welcome home dinner for the local boys on their return home.

Source: Extract from The Longreach Leader Friday, August 11, 1995

For King and Country

Across Australia in 1914, men from small towns and communities rushed to enlist to help Britain fight the ‘great war’ and Muttaburra was no exception. In World War 1 (1914-1918), Muttaburra had many veterans. Two brothers from the Rycen family enlisted but only one came home. Seven men lost their lives and many were wounded or gassed. Five of the men received the Military Medal while one also received the Military Cross.

In the 1930s, a hall was constructed as a memorial to the 1914-1918 veterans with the funds raised through public subscription. This Hall was destroyed by fire in the early 1980s. The new Hall, built in 1983, serves as a memorial to all veterans of Muttaburra and district.

In the Second World War (1939-1945), men from all walks of life enlisted from Muttaburra and the district, serving either in an overseas posting or in Australia. This included 6 women who served in various military encompassed units.

  • Korea: 6 veterans were in action in Korea at one time
  • Malaya: 1 Korean veteran served in action in the Malayan Emergency
  • Vietnam: 1 Korean veteran and 2 others served in Vietnam from the Muttaburra district

Adapted from text by Doug Langdon

The Muttaburra community has compiled a database of its war veterans since the First World War. You can search the war database here.

Dinosaurs and Muttaburra

Australia was part of the Gondwana subcontinent, which was made up of Australia, Africa, South America, India and Antarctica. Around 200 million years ago Gondwana started to separate, with Australia the last to break away around 45 million years ago. Australia was originally located closer to the South Pole when the world was warmer and forests grew all over the world.

There was a vast inland sea covering most of the lower inland of today’s Australia. The Eromanga Sea covered more then half of the land and the Muttaburrasaurus roamed the shoreline.

Muttaburra is located in one of the richest dinosaur areas in Australia referred to as the ‘fossil triangle’. This area was part of the great inland sea, which covered Australia about 115 million years ago.

In 1963, Doug Langdon, while mustering along the Thomson River, stopped to give his horse a drink and leant down for one himself and noticed a large rock completely out of place in the area. After some investigation, he contacted the Queensland Museum and Dr Bartholomia arrived in Muttaburra two months later to look at the rock! So, the Muttaburrasaurus Langdoni was born

Muttaburrasaurus Langdoni

This dinosaur is the second most complete dinosaur skeleton found in Australia and is from the early Cretaceous marine deposits of central Queensland living 100 million years ago. The Muttaburrasaurus roamed this region, which was the edge of the Inland Sea. One hundred million years ago, this area was on the edge of a shallow inland sea that extended from what is now the Gulf of Carpentaria through to South Australia. Australia was joined to Antarctica, but there were no polar ice caps at this time and the world climate was quite warm. Although it was unquestionably a land animal, its skeleton was buried in shallow water marine sediments with rich assemblage of molluscs. This may suggest it washed out to the inland sea after its death, sunk and was then buried with marine vertebrates.

Little is known about the actual environment of this region during the life of the Muttaburrasaurus.

Muttaburrasaurus was about seven metres long and walked about on its hind legs spending most of its time foraging and resting on all fours. This giant was a plant eater and belonged to the ornithopod group of dinosaurs. It is an orithischian [bird hipped] dinosaur and is closely related to other dinosaurs found in every continent except South America and Antarctica. The Muttaburrasaurus had a spiked thumb about 15 cm long that may have been used as a weapon.

The inflated, hollow bony chamber on the Muttaburrasaurs’ snout with thin bone, was one of the most distinctive features. No one really knows why this chamber existed but maybe it was for the noise or to enhance its smell. The front of the mouth lacked teeth and it’s thought that it probably developed as a horny beak, like most ornithopods. The teeth of the Muttaburrasaurus Langdoni were different from others as their teeth were all replaced at the same time so the upper and lower jaws fitted together evenly. These teeth acted as a pair of shears. The Muttaburrasaurus was a plant eater and maybe the action of the teeth meant that they fed on tougher plants than other dinosaurs.

Five specimens have been found in Queensland, this one near Muttaburra was first followed by two discoveries near Hughenden and two more near Lightening Ridge in New South Wales.

Neil Hall originally purchased the life-size replica standing in the park in Muttaburra opposite the store in 1988.

Adapted from text by Louise Moloney

Muttaburra Town Heritage

Development of Muttaburra

Situated in the central-western region of Queensland, the Aramac Shire comprises 23232 square kilometres. In the 1850s, Robert Ramsay Mackenzie (who became Premier of Queensland and received a knighthood), explored the area for his pastoral interests. He carved “R. R. Mac” on a tree, which was found by the explorer William Landsborough in 1859. This explains how Aramac got its name. On the other hand, Muttaburra was named after the aboriginal tribe Mootaburra; an aboriginal word meaning “the meeting of waters”.

The first residents of the central western region were the five aboriginal tribes, Iningas [central and south-west regions], Jirandali [north region]. Jagalingu [south-east], Niau [north-east] Ilba [north-east extreme] and Mootoburra [south]. Aborigines lived off the land, grinding seeds into flour and baking it into dampers for food along with a collection of berries. They had an intimate knowledge of all the plants useful to them as food and medicine. Their main meat was kangaroo, wallaby and emu, that they either stalked or speared. Most weapons were made from gidgee as it is a very hard wood. They lived in groups the size of which depended on the season or the support the land gave them.

Landsborough realised the potential of this country as prime grazing land and made it his when he went into partnership with a Sydney lawyer; bought out in 1861 by the Scottish Australian Company. One of the first jobs was to find a route to the Port of Bowen so they could bring in their supplies by dray. Nat Buchanan mapped the route, discovering and naming the salt Lake Buchanan, in his travels.

Early Aramac Settlement

When the settlers came to the Aramac district in 1862, the social, religious and economic lifestyle of the aborigines was greatly disrupted. Many aborigines died of tobacco, alcohol and European diseases, like colds. The stations were set up at permanent waterholes and this was usually an important campsite for local aborigines too.

Buchanan brought 5,000 head of cattle into the area along Aramac Creek, and was the first to shear sheep on Bowen Downs in February 1864, cutting 140 bales of wool. During the 1860s along the Thomson River where the Bowen Downs cattle thrived, Harry Redford collected 1,000 of these cattle and began his famous drive to Adelaide.

Establishing Muttaburra

The Land Commissioner has been round this way lately, and surveyed the new township, one and a half mile from Mount Cornish; its name I do not know, and I don’t think anybody else does, as it is undecided. I hear there is a store open now, also a public house, and I suppose there will be other business places shortly. Six thousand fat sheep, the property of Mr. W. S. Paul, started in July for Rockhampton, and must be near their destination by this; they are a fine lot, and if the road is not too dry, we should hear of a good return.

Cite: – The Brisbane Courier – Wednesday 10 October 1877 – Page 5 of 6

The township of Muttaburra was proclaimed with 50 allotments available to the public. Here is a list of Crown Lands offered for sale by PUBLIC AUCTION at Aramac on the 18th day of June 1878.


Resumed from the Betawong and Betawong Upper Runs.
Area-2,560 acres.
Commencing on the most western branch of the Thomson River about forty chains above the site of the proposed bridge, at a tree near the junction of a small creek marked broad-arrow over TR ; and bounded thence on the north by a west line one mile fifty-one chains ; thence on the west by a south line two miles ; thence on the south by an east line about two miles to the western branch of the Thomson River above-mentioned at a point forty-five chains below a tree marked broad-arrow over SE over III ; and thence on the east by the right bank of the said western branch upwards to the point of commencement.

Given under my Hand and Seal, at Toowoomba, this second day of February, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and seventy-eight, and in the forty-first year of Her Majesty’s reign.
By Command,
Government Gazette – February 1878

Town of Muttaburra

Town, allotment 1, section 1, £10, £2 deposit – William St John Harding
Town, allotment 2, section 1, £10, £2 deposit – James Thompson Tilbury
Town, allotment 3, section 1, £10, £2 deposit – William Richards
Town, allotment 4, section 1, £10, £2 deposit – Thomas Harrison
Town, allotment 5, section 1, £10, £2 deposit – Thomas Harrison
Town, allotment 6, section 1, £10, £2 deposit – James Sorohan (spelling?)
Town, allotment 7, section 1, £10, £2 deposit – Charles Henry Piesse
Town, allotment 8, section 1, £16, £4 deposit – Catherine Harding
Town, allotment 1, section 2, £53, £11 deposit – William Mills
Town, allotment 2, section 2, £32, £7 deposit – Thomas Harrison
Town, allotment 3, section 2, £30, £6 deposit – Peter McGlynn
Town, allotment 4, section 2, £21, £5 deposit – Walter Ramsay
Town, allotment 5, section 2, £26, £5 4s deposit – Harry Herbert Thompson
Town, allotment 6, section 2, £10, £2 deposit – Walter Ramsay
Town, allotment 7, section 2, £10, £2 deposit – James Sorohan (spelling?)
Town, allotment 8, section 2, £10, £2 deposit – Louis Torlotting
Town, allotment 9, section 2, £10, £2 deposit – Maximillian Charles Muller
Town, allotment 10, section 2, £16, £5 deposit – William Mills
Town, allotment 1, section 4, £50, £10 deposit – Qld National Bank (Limited)
Town, allotment 2, section 4, £41, £8 4s deposit – Harry Herbert Thompson
Town, allotment 3, section 4, £26, £5 4s deposit – Edward Schneider
Town, allotment 4, section 4, £16, £4 deposit – Gustav Charles Muller
… (incomplete)[Courtesy Courtney Pedersen Brisbane AUSTRALIA]

‘At the land Sale at the Aramac Court house, on the 18th of June, Mr Sword, Land Commissioner, disposed of forty six town allotments situated at Muttaburra. They were one acre divisions, upset price £10. Twenty three fetched the upset price, the remainder sold at a considerable advance, two of the lots realising £50. One suburban lot was sold out of three, extent 69 acres 3 roods , price, £139 10s (the upset pence).'[The Brisbane Courier: Monday 15 July 1878]

The establishment of stock routes stimulated Muttaburra’s early growth. The main street, Bruford Street was named after the engineer who built the first bridge across the Thomson River just east of the town site. The teamsters who met the needs of the settlers used common grounds near the permanent water of Muttaburra and a saddler, baker, butcher and others made Muttaburra their home.

Klugh and Samuels established a large store in Muttaburra in 1881 whereas 1882 saw the establishment of the Cobb & Co transport company in Muttaburra running a bi-weekly mail route from Bogantungan. By 1887, Muttaburra had two stores, five hotels, a branch of the Queensland National Bank, a lock-up (jail), a bootmaker, tobacconist, telegraph operator, hospital surgeon and a school teacher. The town reached its peak in about the 1890s when it boasted seven hotels. The last and only still remaining hotel; The Exchange; was built by T. J. McCarthy on 1 November 1899 after he had called tenders earlier inhte year..

During the 1890s, about 50-60 carriers were carting supplies from the coast to Muttaburra at a cost of 18 pounds a ton with the round trip taking about 3 months. The first school house was finished on 12 November, 1883; officially opened as the Muttaburra State School to the 47 children of the town.

In the first 100 years 1,406 children have been enrolled in this school. The great shearers’ strike caused an upheaval in the regions as the whole district was under military supervision. In May 1891, there was a strike camp at the Union Hole three kilometres out of Muttaburra. There were attempts to burn down sheds as about 400 armed strikers camped in and around Muttaburra.

Like all inland towns, water was a problem and a bore was put down on 30 November, 1900. The depth is 825.1 metres, with an original flow of 4,455,000 litres (990,000 gallons). This bore was reconditioned in 1950 and now has a flow of only 990,000 litres (220,000 gallons) a day.

Muttaburra’s first all night telephone service opened in 1920 with the Shire Council guaranteeing to cover the loss that incurred with this exchange.

The reforming of the Muttaburra District Progress Association in 1948 helped advance Muttaburra greatly and was responsible directly or indirectly for the park and pool, aerodrome, permanent stationing of the shire plant in Muttaburra along with a vast improvement in the district roads. In the late 1940s, the Muttaburra Voluntary Fire Brigade was formed.

The 1950s was a boom period for the town. 1951 saw the opening of Jubilee Memorial Park by the Hon G. D. Devries MLA; the new hospital opened in 1957; the Masonic Lodge was built in 1959 and the Ruby Bayliss QCWA Hostel opened in 1955 to provide accommodation for out-of-town expectant mothers. All these improvements related to a succession of good seasons during the 1950s, and rising markets around the world with wool reaching £1 for a pound.

Adapted from material by Louise Moloney


Robert James Wedgwood (b.1866) emigrated in c.1890 and marries Kate Huey Edkins in 1899.

In 1897 Mr. Robert J. Wedgwood with his brothers Willie and Charlie selected Burslem and Redcliffe in the Muttaburra district. Later he purchased their interests and since then he has resided on the property with his family, battling through the vicissitudes which beset the grazier, droughts, depression, bush fires and enjoying the better periods, interspersed with the social gatherings a component part in the life of the dweller of the west.

The following are Robert and Kate’s children:
Robert Rowland (b.1900) who marries Doris Moyse in 1924
Katie Edwina (b.1902) marries R.R.Edkins 1924. The Edkins reside at Bimbah.
Kenneth Edkins (b.1907) marries Winifred Margaret Hogan m.19 and live at Burslem until he dies.
Margaret Amy Seaton (b.1911) marries George Hetherington m.19
Lucy Beryl (b.1913) marries Alan Logan m.19 who live as graziers up at Richmond.
Kenneth Edkins Wedgwood = Winifred Margaret Hogan

Robert Michael
Margaret Patricia
John Martin
David Kenneth
Elizabeth Mary
Jane Therese

Edward Halman

Descendants of Edward HOLMAN

Generation No. 1

1. EDWARD HOLMAN was born Abt. 1760 in Stoke Albany Northampton England UK. He married ELIZABETH OGDAN 24 Oct 1779 in Stoke Albany Northampton England. She was born Abt. 1760 in Belton Rutland County England UK.

The Holman name originated in Cornwall, dating back thousands of years and translated from the Cornish language means “Stone On the Moor”. The Queen of England wears a lapel pin “H” and that stands for HOLMAN. In Germany the ancient name HOLEMANN is also a source of the name HOLMAN around the world.

IGI record Christening:
22 APR 1764 Paston, Northampton, England mother Mary. Farther Edward Holman.

Marriage: 24 Oct 1779, Stoke Albany Northampton England

2. i. WILLIAM HOLMAN, b. 21 Sep 1781, Stoke Albany, Northampton, England UK; d. Sep 1847, West London UK.

Generation No. 2

2. WILLIAM HOLMAN (EDWARD) was born 21 Sep 1781 in Stoke Albany, Northampton, England UK, and died Sep 1847 in West London UK. He married MARY ANN BOXLEY Abt. 1808 in St. Giles In the Field Cripplegate England UK, daughter of THOMAS BOXLEY and JANE. She was born 29 Oct 1786 in St. Anne Soho, Westminster, London, England.

Possibly Mary Anne MILLER is spouse ?
1851 census South Hackney HO 107 1506
Aged 67 Head of house ? William dead? Married twice?

More About MARY ANN BOXLEY: Christening: 28 Dec 1786, Saint Anne Soho, Westminster, London, England

More About WILLIAM HOLMAN and MARY BOXLEY: Marriage: Abt. 1808, St. Giles In the Field Cripplegate England UK

3. i. GEORGE BOXLEY HOLMAN, b. 04 Jun 1811, St. Pancras London UK; d. 06 May 1886, Hackney Greater London UK.
4. ii. ANN AGNES HOLMAN, b. 1814, St. Pancras London UK; d. 23 Jul 1895, Muttaburra Qld Australia.
5. iii. HENRY HOLMAN, b. Abt. 1816, St. Pancras London UK.
iv. WILLIAM DANIEL HOLMAN, b. 1816, St. Pancras London UK.

Generation No. 3

3. GEORGE BOXLEY HOLMAN (WILLIAM, EDWARD) was born 04 Jun 1811 in St. Pancras London UK, and died 06 May 1886 in Hackney Greater London UK. He married SARAH YOUNG 05 Mar 1837 in St. Marys Steps Exeter Devon UK, daughter of HENRY YOUNG and SARAH. She was born 1818 in Marlow Devonshire UK.

Notes for GEORGE BOXLEY HOLMAN: Christened 23-7-1811 Old Church St. Pancras London UK.
A Carpenter.
1851 Census Marylebone HO 107 1496 page 926
George Head 39 carpenter born St. Pancras Middlesex
Sarah wife 32 born Devonshire
Ann daughter 11 born St. Pancras Middlesex
George son 7 born St. Pancras Middlesex
Alfred son 2 born St. Pancras Middlesex

1861 Census record RG 9/132 St. Marys Islington Finsbury
4 Southampton Terrace. George 49 Carpenter, Sarah wife 42, George 19 Buttermans shopman, Alfred 12 Hatter.

Census 1871 St Pancras page 21
Number 5 Bidboro Street St Pancras Marylebone London.
George Holman Head 59 , Carpenter.
Sarah Wife 52
Alfred son unmarried 24 carpenter.

Page 146 of the Death Register for June Quarter 1886 UK
District of Hackney, volume 1 b, folio 245.
Lived at death 151 Nevill Road Stoke, Newington.

More About GEORGE BOXLEY HOLMAN: Burial: 10 Mar 1886, Abney Park Cemetery 078523 sect D05 index 3S06
Cause of Death: Senile decay and Low grade fever.

Notes for SARAH YOUNG: May have been baptised St. Sidwell Exeter Devon UK

More About GEORGE HOLMAN and SARAH YOUNG: Marriage: 05 Mar 1837, St. Marys Steps Exeter Devon UK

Children of GEORGE HOLMAN and SARAH YOUNG are:
i. ANN AGNES HOLMAN, b. 1838, Devonshire UK; d. 29 Dec 1899; m. WILLIAM PILE, 1849; d. Abt. 25 Mar 1911.

More About ANN AGNES HOLMAN: Burial: 02 Jan 1900, Abney Park Cemetery 100671 sect D05 index 4S10

More About WILLIAM PILE: Burial: 28 Mar 1911, Abney Park Cemetery 118206 sect D05 index 6S01

ii. GEORGE HOLMAN, b. 1842.

Notes for GEORGE HOLMAN: Buttermans Shopman. 1861 census RG 9-132 St Mary’s Islington

6. iii. ALFRED JAMES HOLMAN, b. 13 Sep 1848, Camden Middlesex England UK; d. 04 Jan 1885, Windsor NSW Australia.

4. ANN AGNES HOLMAN (WILLIAM, EDWARD) was born 1814 in St. Pancras London UK, and died 23 Jul 1895 in Muttaburra Qld Australia. She married JOHN CANN 28 Jul 1842 in Old Church St. Pancras London England UK, son of JOHN CANN and MARY. He died 12 Apr 1883 in Muttaburra Qld Australia.

Children of ANN HOLMAN and JOHN CANN are:
7. i. JOHN KENNEDY CANN, b. 14 Aug 1843, London England UK; d. 11 Feb 1895, in Australia.
8. ii. WILLIAM HENRY WALTER CANN, b. 13 Aug 1845, London England UK; d. 1920, Qld Australia.
iii. JANE MARY CANN, b. 22 Nov 1847, London England UK; m. GEORGE SMITH, 14 Apr 1869, Goulburn NSW Australia.

More About JANE MARY CANN: Christening: St. Pancras Church London England UK

More About GEORGE SMITH and JANE CANN: Marriage: 14 Apr 1869, Goulburn NSW Australia

iv. ANNE ADELAIDE CANN, b. 03 Sep 1850, Adelaide South Australia; m. THOMAS CONNORS, Sep, Goulburn NSW Australia.

More About THOMAS CONNORS and ANNE CANN: Marriage: Sep, Goulburn NSW Australia

v. MARY CHARLOTTE CANN, b. 11 Mar 1854, Richmond Victoria Australia; m. OSWIN JAMES HALL, 03 May 1876, Muttaburra Qld. Australia.

5. HENRY HOLMAN (WILLIAM, EDWARD) was born Abt. 1816 in St. Pancras London UK. He married LUCY A.. She was born Abt. 1832.

Painter and Plumber living 1850 census 3 Southampton Terrace St. Marys Islington Finsbury next door to George Boxley Holman at number 4. Also living with Henry was an Engineer, his wife and a house decorator.

Child of HENRY HOLMAN and LUCY A. is:
i. EMILY HOLMAN, b. Abt. 1845.

Generation No. 4

6. ALFRED JAMES HOLMAN (GEORGE BOXLEY, WILLIAM, EDWARD) was born 13 Sep 1848 in Camden Middlesex England UK, and died 04 Jan 1885 in Windsor NSW Australia. He married SOPHIA CUPITT 30 Nov 1876 in Orange NSW Australia, daughter of GEORGE CUPITT and SOPHIA UPTON. She was born 26 Mar 1845 in South Creek Windsor NSW Australia, and died 08 Mar 1932 in Windsor NSW Australia.

Alfred James Holman was a carpenter as was his father. He was born in Camden Town in the County of Middlesea and baptised at St. Pancras Old Church Denton Street London UK and migrated to Australia in 1871. He married Sophia Cupitt in Orange NSW in the Trinity Church Of England on 30th November 1876. He was aged 28. Their first child was stillborn and after the birth of their second child they moved from Orange to Windsor and moved into one of the houses on the Cupitt land in George Street. Alfred built additional houses and replaced those built by his father-in-law.
“Cupitt House” can be seen today as it is a coffee shop, last occupied by Hanora ” Nora” Cupitt nee McMahon an infants teacher who taught grade three at Windsor Primary and had Jack Holman and his son Robert and daughter Margaret as pupils.
Alfred continued to work as a carpenter in the Windsor district but contracted typhoid (OR Scarlet Fever) from contaminated foundations of a house he was demolishing in the town and died shortly after in 1855 aged 36. Sophia was left with three children 4 years and under to raise.
It is noted that a school boy who sold her a load of fire wood for 2/6 stole a grindstone valued at 2/-. George PLATT pleaded guilty in the local court and was imprisoned for 7 days.

More About ALFRED JAMES HOLMAN: Baptism: 05 Oct 1848, Old Church St. Pancras London
Burial: St. Matthews C of E Windsor. Cupitt family crypt with wife & daughter.
Cause of Death: Scarlet Fever

Notes for SOPHIA CUPITT: For the last 20 years of her life the widow Sophia lived with their daughter Annie Rutter nee Holman at Little Church Street Windsor.
She died aged 87.

Marriage Notes for ALFRED HOLMAN and SOPHIA CUPITT: Trinity Church of England Orange NSW.
Reg NSW 3024/1876 Inverell.

More About ALFRED HOLMAN and SOPHIA CUPITT: Marriage: 30 Nov 1876, Orange NSW Australia
Marriage date: Registered NSW 3824

i. STILLBORN HOLMAN, b. 13 Sep 1878, Orange NSW Australia; d. 13 Sep 1878, Orange NSW Australia.

9. ii. ANNIE AGNES HOLMAN, b. 17 Feb 1880, Orange NSW Australia; d. 07 Sep 1964, Windsor NSW Australia.
10. iii. ALFRED GEORGE HOLMAN, b. 24 Jan 1882, Windsor NSW Australia; d. 10 Jan 1953, 17 Hamilton Road Fairfield NSW Australia.
11. iv. WALTER BOXLEY HOLMAN, b. 29 Oct 1883, George Street Windsor NSW Australia Reg. 20350; d. 14 Sep 1949, Windsor NSW Australia.

7. JOHN KENNEDY CANN (ANN AGNES HOLMAN, WILLIAM, EDWARD) was born 14 Aug 1843 in London England UK, and died 11 Feb 1895 in Muttaburra Qld Australia. He married REBECCA OLIVIA MAY PERRY 26 Mar 1869 in St. Stephens Church Richmond Victoria Australia, daughter of THOMAS PERRY and SARAH JANE.

Notes for JOHN KENNEDY CANN: Coachman and blacksmith.

More About JOHN KENNEDY CANN: Christening: St. Pancras Church London England UK

Children of JOHN CANN and REBECCA PERRY are:
i. HARRY PERRY CANN, b. 24 Jan 1870, Blackwood Victoria Australia; m. SARAH ELEANOR HILL, Nov 1902, Simmoms Reef Blackwood Vic. Australia.

ii. HERBERT HOLMAN CANN, b. 05 May 1872, Richmond Victoria Australia; m. ELLEN PLEWS, 06 Jun 1899, St. Columbus Glenferrie UK.

iii. JOHN WILLIAM CANN, b. 08 Sep 1874, Blackwood Victoria Australia; m. GRACE SPINNER.
iv. LUCY MAY KINNEAR CANN, b. 06 Dec 1876, Blackwood Victoria Australia; m. ARNOLD NAOLL, 25 Apr 1905, All Saints Blackwood Vic. Australia.

v. EDWIN THOMAS CANN, b. 20 Oct 1878, Blackwood Victoria Australia; m. GRACE ETHEL HILL, 20 May 1903, All Saints Blackwood Vic..

vi. MARGARET SOPHIA CANN, b. 18 Apr 1881, Blackwood Victoria Australia; d. 26 Apr 1884, Blackwood Victoria Australia.

vii. ARTHUR GEORGE CANN, b. 25 Nov 1884, Blackwood Victoria Australia; m. MARGARET HARPER, 1908, Victoria Australia.

8. WILLIAM HENRY WALTER CANN (ANN AGNES HOLMAN, WILLIAM, EDWARD) was born 13 Aug 1845 in London England UK, and died 1920 in Qld Australia. He married JANET MATHER 13 Mar 1879 in Muttaburra Qld. Australia. WILLIAM HENRY WALTER CANN: Christening: St. Pancras Church London England UK

Notes for WILLIAM HENRY WALTER CANN: Butcher in Muttaburra Qld

i. JESSIE AGNES MARY CANN, b. 12 Oct 1882, Qld..

Notes for JESSIE AGNES MARY CANN: Birth 1882/C4291 Qld.

[Source: Robert HOLMAN ( For further information on any members of the family included here or future generations contact him.]

Forster, Forester

Daughter of David Alexander Foster and Sara Wilmott Williams, sister to Sescki Foster, Grandaughter to Joyce and Tom Foster (fathers side) and Barbra and Howard Williams (mothers side. Great Grandaughter Old Nan Farrier and Pop Farrier (Fathers side) to Amelia and Prime Wilmott (mothers side).

Rebecca O’Brien

Read the handwritten copy of Rebecca’s life, as written by her grandson, John William McNeil in 1987, aged 73.
(Opens in a new tab/window as a pdf file)

Below is a typed copy of the original. The text in red has been added to correct the original with what is considered new facts, as well as additional information.

[My grandmother]

Rebecca O’Brien was born in Maghera Northern Ireland [On the map this is Southern Ireland], as Rebecca Porter. Rebecca in 1884 stated that she was born in Louth, Co Louth, Ireland, and that she was 21 when she married.

She often told us that she did not know her birth date, and I quite believe that.

She came to Australia as a young single woman with other emigrants. None of her family accompanied her. She often told me that as her father took her to the ship to see her off he said to her, ‘Well Becky, I hope there is something
over there for you, there’s nothing here.’ She never saw her family again.

Family Name Given Name Age Ship Date Location Page M/f no
PORTER Rebecca 20 Sir William Wallace 12 Mar 1880 IMM/116 324 M1698

This could be her – age about right and year too, married 4 years later.

Apparently she was one of many assisted emigrants of those years.

She often told us that she was only 19 yrs then.

I wish I had listened now to what she had to say, or if I did listen, could remember what she told us.

I cannot say what her movements were on arrival in Australia. Registrar records show that she married one William O’Brien at Blackall, Queensland on 2nd January 1884. He was born in Toowoomba [Ipswich], Qld, and his occupation is shown as groom. [Death Register has him born in Blackall]

They had four children:
Mary Ellen [Nellie] 18/10/1884
Eliza Jane [Jane] 3/02/1887
William [Willie] 5/03/1889 born Barcaldine Qld
Annie [Annie] 26/04/1891 born Muttaburra Qld

Annie was my mother. She married George McNeil. She was born at Muttaburra, Qld, on 26th April 1891. My grandmother gave her place of residence then as Bradley Creek, which is shown on today’s map as south of Muttaburra, and on the upper reaches of the Thomson River. She gave her age as 26 yrs but I doubt that is accurate.

Anyway this puts her into Central Queensland.

As a boy and a youth I became aware, bit by bit, of the tragedy and terrible misfortune that had befallen her in her earlier years, and it was to this effect.

Her husband was employed at a coach horse-change (it could have been of Cobb & Co) near (or at) Jundah, Central Queensland. Their living conditions were primitive, being little more than a tent for the whole family, four children and the parents. Apparently they were on their own. [It is now know they were actually living near Kensington Station west of Muttaburra in a hut on the Bradley Creek which ties in with the birth of Annie.]

I can recall her telling me that as she awoke one day from an afternoon nap she found an aboriginal leaning over her. He said “Where Billy” (her husband). She said “He just down at river, he back soon.” He left her then. Nothing serious, but an indication of the isolation.

There was a very heavy flood, no doubt from the Thomson and Cooper Creek System (All the Rivers Run) and travelling was out of the question. They ran out of food, so finally my grandfather decided to ride out for some. Where?

It could have been to Jundah, or to one of the station homesteads. [Muttaburra was the actual closest town about 50 kilometres away. The closest station was Kensington approx 20 kilometres away in a straight line.]

He left on horseback and was never seen again!! It was presumed he had drowned.

Details from Death Register
O’Brien William
Date Death 24/01/1892
Date Buried 29/01/1892
Accidental Drowning
Cemetery Kensington
Location Kensington [Kenya]
Address Western Creek near Muttaburra Occupation Groom Cobb & Co
Age 33 years
Place of Birth Blackall Qld

Son of Matthew O’Brien, carrier and Jane.
Husband of Rebecca Porter [Ref: 1884/000025]
Father of –
Eleanor Mary [7 yrs – born 18/10/1884]
Eliza Jane [5 yrs – born 3/02/1887]
William [3 yrs – born 5/03/1889]
Annie [10 months – born 26/04/1891]

My grandmother was left with the four small children, my mother who was a baby in arms, Willie, Jane & Nellie, then about 6 years old. In her plight she walked for help, apparently for a couple of days, either into Jundah [Muttaburra] or to one of the homesteads [Kensington ?]. For a time she was in a state of mental collapse. Such was her plight, (it was 1891 not 1981) she had to relinquish custody of Jane & Nellie. She never saw them again until years later when she was an old woman, and they were married adults.

By some vagary of education she could read but not write.

In her stories to me I learnt that she used to work on the Station homesteads in the area south of Longreach and Ilfracombe, also do shearers washing. In those days hand-outs of food to one in need was the done thing.

She always had a good word for the shearers. They would help her erect (or pitch) her tent, cut wood etc.

She would follow the sheds as they commenced their shearing, and this seems to have led her towards Ilfracombe. For schooling purposes anyway.

On one occasion during a heavy storm the ridge pole of her tent broke and fell on her nose, fracturing it. Ever afterwards she was always afraid of falling and as she put it “Going over on my nose”. Can you blame her?

My mother and Willie went to school in Ilfracombe so I tend to think they moved into Ilfracombe about 1895. Willie would then be about 6 years old.

F.H.S. datasearch Version 1.7.2 by Queensland Family History Society Inc.
From [Queensland School Pupils Index] database on 6/03/2008 ========================================================
ID : 127095
Surname : O’BRIEN
Given Names: Anne
School : Ilfracombe State School
Date : 28-Apr
Year : 1896
Source : A Rush for Grass (Ilfracombe Region History)
Reference : P20
ID : 127421
Surname : O’BRIEN
Given Names: William
School : Ilfracombe State School
Date : 5-Apr
Year : 1895
Source : A Rush for Grass (Ilfracombe Region History)
Reference : P20

Here she carried on washing and cleaning work. She used to periodically clean the school and post office. Do hotel washing and ironing and go out to the near stations. My mother helped her, and she often said that as a girl of nine years she followed her mother around carrying the washing board under her arm.

As my mother and Willie grew older they contributed to her keep. My mother told me that she once got work in Blackall and she sent a sovereign home in an envelope not packed in anything else. As she said “That’s how much sense I had”.

Somehow my grandmother acquired a small block of land, about 25 to 30 perches in Ilfracombe. On this she built (no doubt with some assistance) a “bower” shed. This consisted of four upright forked posts with cross pieces post to post to form a square. Across this square was laced hoop iron of the sort then used to compact wool bales. Across the hoop iron was laid bull rushes cut from those which then grew along the bore drain which meandered from the town bore. (These disappeared in later years). They ate under this, cooked on an open fire and slept in a tent. My mother, too, often described this. How they managed as the two children grew older, I don’t know. I know that Willie went out doing station work at an early age, so that perhaps solved the problem of accommodation.

Later, my father and a builder built her a corrugated iron cottage on the block. When we returned to Ilfracombe in 1927 the old remains of the bower shed were still there.

The cottage consisted of a bedroom, a “lounge”, front and back verandahs, a detached kitchen connected to the rear verandah by a “landing”. The latter was a common feature of the houses of that era.

The house and kitchen had a wood floor, but was completely unlined and unceiled, just bare corrugated iron but it was the only and best home she ever had, apart from the Irish scene; if she had any better there.

With the advent of the Pension she was able to get this and could relax a little.

Her troubles were not over. In 1916 Willie enlisted in the 1st A.I.F. However while awaiting in Brisbane he contracted a very heavy attack of a virulent flu of plague proportions and died.

My grandmother did not get down to see him before he died. She was on the way by train but was taken off at Jericho by one of the station staff who knew her. Word had been sent from Ilfracombe to Jericho by railway telegraph.

Roll of Honour

William O’Brien

Rank Private [Pte]
Unit 11 Depot Bn
Service Army
Conflict 1914-1918
Date of Death 10 August 1916
Cemetery or Memorial Details Toowong, Qld, CofE, M.1/958
Next Of Kin Mrs Rebecca O’Brien, Mother
Place Of Enlistment Ilfracombe, QLD
Native place Barcaldine QLD
Source AWM145 Roll of Honour cards, 1914-1918 War, Army

He lies buried in Toowong Cemetery. As a lad of about 15 years, I accompanied her to Brisbane to see his grave. The only time she did see it.

Name Sex Burial Date Age
O’Brien William M 12 / 08 / 1916 26 years
Cemetery Details
Cemetery: Toowong Cemetery
Street Address: Cnr Frederick St and Mt Coot-tha Rd, Toowong
UBD Ref: Map 158 N13
Portion Section Grave Number
10 40 9


After my mother’s marriage to George McNeil on 1st Oct 1913 at Barcaldine, he moved around Queensland to Oakey, Yeppoon, Baralaba, Roma, Mackay and finally back to Ilfracombe. She made visits to us in all these places, and she particularly enjoyed the seaside of Yeppoon. She loved to get up early in the morning and go for a walk along the beach accompanied by me. For as long as I knew her she was an early riser 5.30 was her norm.

I got to know her best when we returned to Ilfracombe in December 1927.

I really perceived what a hard working woman she had been all her life, and indeed a lonely one, having lost all her family, except my mother.

She was known to many as “Briney” also as Mrs O’Brien, but never Rebecca. It was not the age of the use of christian names. She seldom complained. When asked “How are you”? The reply inevitably was “Ah! Good”. Her Irish came through quite often. When nursing my baby sister she would croon “Tooraloo ra loo alay” over and over.

Whenever a Ball or special dance was held in the Hall alongside the Wellshot Hotel (in fact it was practically part of the Hotel) she used to sit in the kitchen of the Hotel to be ready to bring the water to the boil for the tea for the supper for the dance.

That was her involvement, she regarded it as a vital function in the night, and no one could or would deny her.

She was a firm believer in God. An Anglican. The Rector from Longreach used to come to Ilfracombe on Sunday once a month to celebrate Holy Communion. She was a regular attender. On the Saturday afternoon prior to that she would sweep out the church, in fact quite often scrub it; dragging heavy seats around in the process. I helped her when I could, and I wondered however she did it on her own. Only once did I hear her receive thanks. This was when the Bishop of Rockhampton visited there and was told about it by the Lay Reader. She received this quite calmly, as though she had done nothing.

Evensong was held every Sunday by the Lay Reader, who was the Shire Clerk. This commenced at 7.30 pm. The church was only a short distance from her home, but she always carried a kerosene lantern so that (as she put it) she wouldn’t fall over a goat!! The goats used to lay around in the streets to the side of the homes, and in her case in a vacant allotment alongside her home across which she walked to Church.

In church the lantern was turned low and tucked under the seat in front of her.

I am reminded of an old picture showing Christ holding aloft a lantern. The title was “The light of the World”.

Had the two of them come face to face one night I would not have been surprised.

She was the epitome of a grandmother. She took a delight in “sneaking” sixpence or a shilling to us children with a serious whispered caution not to tell “your mother” (in Irish Brogue).

The plural for “You” presents a problem, even today. She never used “Youse” but “You ones” rolled together as “You’us”

She never did resume intimate contact with Nellie and Jane. They lived away in the south of New South Wales. Travel was difficult. They corresponded through my mother.

Jane became a nursing Sister. She enlisted in the 1st A.I.F and served in the Middle East in an army camp hospital. She later conducted a small private hospital in Albury, and later married a hotel owner. No children.

Nellie married a farmer. They had two children – son and daughter.

The daughter Ellen, became a nursing sister, enlisted in World War II. She lost her life in the retreat from Singapore, if I remember correctly in Bangka Strait.

My grandmother died on 1941. She had a heavy stroke in which she deteriorated. She died in Brisbane Hospital.

She was a true battler, who never lost her Faith through all, nor her feelings for those around her.

From Scripture it could well be said of her “Well done thou good old faithful servant”.

My mother had five children. Two are dead. Nellie’s two are dead.

There are 13 great grandchildren and 19 great great grandchildren.

Written by William & Rebecca’s grandson, John William McNeil.
Supplied by great granddaughter, Robyn Robertson.


The first ancestor of the Dowling line was Jerome Edward Dowling who emigrated from Ireland in 1882.

His parents were John Dowling and Alicia Browne of County Cork. John Dowling was a shipping agent and his wife was reputed to be a millionairess, along with her brother. Her trustees defrauded her and there was nothing left. Alicia was very well educated and cultured and transmitted this love of culture to her family

a) Jerome Edward Dowling emigrated to Australia, see notes below
b) Frank Dowling (b.:d.) a doctor who married twice but had no children (he went blind) his second wife was May. He is remembered as a kind elderly man who was completely blind and would feel your face when you met him in order to get an impression of your appearance. Peter Morris his nephew.
c) Arthur Dowling (b.:d.1947), also a doctor, m. Mary Annie Neilsen (b.1870:d.1969).
i) John Harold (Jack) (b.1893:d.1956), m. Martha E Jenkinson (b.:d.1940)
– Arthur William (b.1934 slightly retarded and in a home
– John Joseph (b.1937 – whereabouts unknown
– Michael (b.1939) ex British Navy, m. Joanna Hillary Down (b.1942) and had the following children:
a) Adrian Michael (b.1963:d.), m. Kim Williams
b) Julian Peter (b.1965:d.), m. Hazel Carrick child Rebecca (b.1998)
c) Lindsey Jane (b.1968:d.), m. Andrew Marks children: Joshua (b.1995) and Hannah (b.1997)
d) Richard John (b.1977:d.), m. Michelle Webb (b.1978) child: Oliver (b.2004)
ii) Alice (b.1894:d.1895)
iii) Eileen (b.1898:d.1954) a doctor, m. Francis Morrin (b.1894:d.1969), a surgeon
Alice (b.1928:d.), m. Michael Smyth (b.1925:d.1984)
a) Paul (b.1958) a solicitor, m. M Cronin
– David & James (b.1986)
– Sophie (b.1987)
– Matthew (b.1991)
– Sybil (b.1993)
b) Sophie (b.1959) a lawyer in World Bank, Washington, m. D Fagelson
c) Stella (b. 1969) English Lecturer, Leicester University
d) Ivan (b.1971) a lawyer/economist working in English Foreign Office.
Peter (b1931:d) a retired Professor of Nephrology at Kingston University, Ontario, Canada, m. Mariella Coe
a) Peter (b.) a structural engineer, m. Donna
– Eric (b.1990)
– Austen (b.1993)
b) Hugh (b.) a flight test engineer with the Canadian Air Force, m. Sharon
– Hugh (b.1998)
– Madeleine (b.2000)
c) Robin (b.) Major & Pilot with Canadian Air Force (working on missiles), m. Ingrid
– Kate (b.2003)
– Alex (b.2005)
Francis (b.1936:d) an economist/barrister, retired University Lecturer
b) Bessie Dowling fiance killed in the War never married

It is not known why Jerome decided to come to Australia or whether he worked his passage the National Archives in Canberra show him as arriving on the Steamship Albany but his name does not appear on the manifest. The thought is that he was ambitious and may not have been as academic as his siblings. Furthermore he decided rather than attending University he wanted to see the world so more than likely with the help of his father’s connections his passage was arranged (this could explain why his name is not on the manifest). Rumor has it that he met a wealthy Jew on the ship out and they went into business together remaining life long friends.

There is also another story that he was in love with the girl next door, went to Australia, married, was widowed and returned to Ireland and married the daughter.

Francis Edward Dowling (b.22/4/1860 Sundays Well, County Cork, Ireland:d.21/1/1937, Summer Hill, Sydney), m (1) 30/4/1887, Register General’s Office, Sydney, Minnie Louise Rogers (b.1869, County Cork, Ireland:d.13/5/1924, Summer Hill, Sydney), m(2) 9/12/1925, Hackney, London, Lily Mary Barry (b.1881, County Cork, Ireland:d.21/1/1957) no children

Note: Minnie Rogers came out to Australia on the same ship the ‘Albany‘, which departed Plymouth 1/10/1882 and landed Cooktown 4/12/1882 then Brisbane 6/12/1882. She appears to have traveled with her sisters Louisa – 21 years, Alice 15 years, and Minnie 13 years (the manifest also has a Charles Rogers 12 years, but he is not grouped with the girls so unsure if he is related). Their mother was also on the same ship under the name of Isabel Dillon (45 years) and the manifest shows that Minnie was left with her mother (no mention of name)

Note: I know that Isabel (actually Isabelle) is Minnie’s mother because her consent was given for the marriage to Frank Dowling. Her maiden name is shown on the wedding certificate as Freeman so I am not sure how it all worked at that time.

It appears that Minnie’s father, John Rogers did not accompany them. They all came on Assisted passages, Assisted passages were granted by the Government to particular categories of Immigrants, and their families, which were, form time to time, particularly required in Queensland. The categories include farmers, farm labourers, vine dressers, labourers, mechanics and domestic servants. To be eligible they had to be unable to pay the full passage, they could not have resided previously in any Australian Colony, and they must intend to reside permanently in Queensland.

1. Jerome Edward Dowling and Minnie Louise Rogers, m. 30/4/1887

a) Eileen Minnie (b.6/3/1888:d.1/6/1974 Wahroonga), m. 12/8/1908, Ashfield, Horace Henry Bingham (Dentist)
– Horace, b.1909
– Francis, b. 1910
– Eileen, b. 1913
– Reginald, b. 1914
– Stanley, b. 1917
– Geoffrey, b. 1919
– Merle, b. 1920
– Norma, b. 1922
– Valda, b. 1924
b) Francis Edward (b.14/7/1889 Ashfield, Sydney:d.3/7/1972 Darlinghurst, Sydney), m(1) 15/10/1915, Chatswood, Sydney, Alice Caroline Cross (b.4/2/1896 Strathmore, Northern N.S.W:d.25/8/1959, Crows Nest, Sydney), m(2) Alma Margaret Lillyman, 1970 no children
c) Jerome Browne (b.14/12/1891, Forest Lodge, Sydney:d.15/7/1961, Darlinghurst), m.21/1/1914, Sydney, Gladys Cecelia Thomson (b.:21/22/3/19)
– Eric, b. 1915
– Alan, b. 1916
– Joan, b. 1918
d) Arthur Albert (b.26/5/1893, Forest Lodge, Sydney:d.4/11/1942, Camperdown) Wool Classer, m.21/11/1930, Ashfield, Sydney, Patricia Dorothy Scott (formerly Cronan)
– Jerome P, b. 1932
e) Alice Mary (b.17/11/1894:d.22/10/1895)
f) Minnie Isabelle (b.12/4/1897, Forest Lodge, Sydney:d.9/10/1944, Manly), m. 10/2/1921, Ashfield, Sydney, Reginald George Maguire
– son
– son
– Maureen F, b. 1928
– Barry J, b. 1931
– Peter R, b. 1937
g) John (b.25/11/1899 Ashfield, Sydney: d.?), moved and married in Scotland
h) Walter (b.14/3/1902:d.13/11/1902)
i) Florence (Flo) (b.12/11/1904 Ashfield, Sydney:d.18/9/1988, Sydney)
j) William Patrick (b.26/10/1905 Ashfield, Sydney:d.), m.24/6/1924, Ashfield, Thelma Lonergan

Notes on the life of Flo Dowling, nursing sister and missionary, in the town of Ceduna, South Australia. In 1919 the Anglican Church, in Sydney, formed a Bush Church Aid Society (BCA) to bring the news of God’s love, minister the sacraments and provide medical help when it was unavailable. The first BCA hospital was set up a mile and a half out of town until in 1931 a hospital was established on East Terrace which would replace the out of town location. The new hospital consisted of three wards plus a sterilizing room, a dining room and a kitchen. A small shed in the grounds was set up as the operating theatre and there was even a spare bedroom that doubled as a morgue. The staff lived in weatherboard rooms called The Barracks and matron’s office was a lean-to at the side of the house.

Having trained at St Vincent’s Sydney, Flo joined BCA on 1st December 1931 where she first served as assistant, within two years she became its Matron and remained in charge of the Ceduna base for more than 30 years and making it a total commitment of her life.

During her time at Ceduna she oversaw many changes. In the early days she knew what it meant to improvise. Modern equipment gradually came, bit by bit, to replace the old and inconvenient. Eventually she was the Matron-in-charge of all the nurses in Ceduna, Penong, Wudinna, Cook, Parcoola and Cooper Pedy. On the 19th January 1938, an areoplane was purchased and flown to Ceduna creating the Flying Medical Service. In 1968 the Royal Flying Doctor Service took over the aerial side of the work. In her time there was a staff of three doctors, two pilots, a radio operator and a technician, a pharmacist and twenty nursing sisters, and she worked closely with all of them.

On 1st February, 1937 a more modern hospital opened and Sister Dowling wrote; It is a splendid building, and we are very proud of it. In passing, we must add how grateful we are to the women of Adelaide who have volunteered to partly furnish the new Nursery for us. A Nursery! How we are going to appreciate having somewhere to put the cots and babies without having to pack them into our dining-room, bedrooms and kitchen!

She was extremely efficient and able to keep in the background, supporting the doctors. Her strength was evident in the long hours of work and travel. Spiritually keen, she was the means of faith in a number of people and encouraged others in their ministry. Flo Dowling modestly dismissed her enormous contribution as all in a day’s work. The Ceduna Council pressed her to receive an O.B.E. but she refused so they named one of most attractive foreshore streets in the town, Dowling Crescent in her honour.

She resigned on 30th June, 1963 to care for her sister, to whom she was faithfully devoted. On entering Mowll Village, her sight deteriorated and she passed away on 18th September, 1988, aged 83 years.

2. Francis ‘Frank’ Edward Dowling and Alice Caroline Cross see Nowland Family Tree for ancestry of Alice.

Jerome bought a property Cole-Lea in 1912 at Rowena, west of Moree in N.S.W. and Frank moved there to manage it for the family. The Cross family owned the neighboring property Ivanhoe and in 1915 Frank married the youngest Cross daughter Alice. In 1924 Cole-Lea was sold and the family moved back to Sydney.

Jerome financed Frank in a Land Ballot in Queensland in 1928 Frank won one of the Mt Cornish blocks at Muttaburra, (34,000 acres) which he named Rosebery Downs. Mt Cornish was part of the great Bowen Downs Station owned by the Scottish Australian Company and setting for the daring cattle robbery of Henry Redford on which the character Captain Starlight was loosely based. see notes on Rosebery Race Course and Land Ballot

The family arrived at Longreach by train from Sydney on New Years Day in 1929, where they lived for approximately 6 months until the homestead was built. Frank’s brother-in-law (see Nowland family history) Charles Harris oversaw the building works and had previously worked on Rosebery Race Course in Sydney.

The first 9,000 sheep were purchased for one pound each but over night with the onset of the depression they had dropped in value to 6 pence each and so began the long journey to recover debts for all on the land. The first couple of wool clips left by horse drawn wagon to the rail head at Longreach.

The children were initially home schooled until they attended Mt Carmel College at Charters Towers first Des and John in 1929, then Tony in 1932, and Jerry by 1935. Dorothy attended The Range College in Rockhampton. In 1942 The Mt Carmel College was taken over as a hospital for the Australian Army. With the financial situation deteriorating for the family on Rosebery. Frank wrote to the Principle, Mr Gettons, at Mt Carmel College informing him that the boys would have to be withdrawn from school, his response was short the money can wait but time can’t. So the boys stayed on at school with the owed fees accumulating.

In September 1939, Dorothy in another Land Ballot drew the property Rainsby (80,000 acres), 80 miles north east of Rosebery, it is interesting to note that with each Ballot it was customary to draw a second name in case the first was unable to take up the land. With Rainsby the second name drawn was Tony so the family were destined to take possession of this property.

The outbreak of War brought change for the entire family. Dorothy was given special exemption from living her 6 months of the year on Rainsby as she had stated her intention of joining the services as an ambulance driver. She went to Brisbane to enlist and also attend the wedding of Rose and Trevor Robinson. There she met and later married Jo Allen before he was sent to England to serve as a Sunderland Flying Boat Pilot. After their marriage Dorothy returned to Rosebery until Jo returned. On his return, he offered Dorothy a half share he had with his father in Dungowan at Augathella (South West Queensland), a sheep and cattle property. Frank arranged for his 5 sons to purchase Rainsby and trade under the Dowling Pastoral Company. By doing this Dorothy had the finance she needed to purchase the ½ share in Dungowan.

Des joined the Army as a Captain, John joined the RAAF as a doctor with the rack of Flight Lieutenant and Tony joined the RAAF wining his wings as a Fighter Pilot (Sergeant).

After the war Gerry was to become overseer and then manager of Rosebery, Tony went to manage Rainsby, Dorothy was on Dungowan and David joined the missions, Des and John had their professions, so all found their natural place.

For three years the shearing shed of Rosebery Downs hosted the Muttaburra Countryman’s Ball, with people coming from all over the country to attend.

Both Francis and Alice were active members of the local communities, helping so many along the way. Alice was an active member of the Country Women’s Association. Frank was a member of the Aramac Shire Council for many years [1936 – 1952], on the Longreach Hospital Board for Muttaburra and responsible for the building of the new hospital in 1957. He was also an active member of the Amateur Race Club as race Judge and the Graziers association, giving financial assistance and setting up the Dr Joe Arratta MBE Award.

In the early fifties Frank and Alice spent the summer months at the Coogee Bay Hotel, in Sydney. Their five sons, via the Dowling Pastoral Company, purchased 2 units in Beach Street Coogee for Frank and Alice to use until their death. The rent from one served as income and the units were named Rinken after a racehorse Frank owned (who won the Queensland Tattersalls Cup, Brisbane)

Most of the employees worked for the family for many years up until Rosebery Downs was sold in May 1962. Frank bought a new property Minnaville at Castlereagh near Sydney in 1960, which Tony went to manage. After building the property Rainsby from nothing the family finally sold in June 1968.

a) Dorothy (b.7/4/1916 Wee Waa, Northern N.S.W.,:d. 14/7/1996 Toowoomba, Queensland), m. 1940, Brisbane, Robert Cornelius Joseph (Joe) Allen (b.12/9/1916:d.6/1/1982 Toowoomba, Queensland)
b) Desmond Francis (b.18/1/1918 Wee Waa, Northern N.S.W.,:d.23/6/2006 Brisbane), m.6/8/1949, St John’s College, Therese Mansfield (b.12/2/1925:d.)
c) John Maxwell (b.26/7/1920 Wee Waa, Northern N.S.W.,:d.11/11/2003 Townsville), m. 24/9/1946, St John’s Chapel, Sydney University, Wilhelmina (Billy)Beatrice Kenny (b.31/5/1921:d.)
d) Anthony Jerome (b.22/4/1923 Wee Waa, Northern N.S.W.,:d.), m. 17/10/1944, Surry Hills, Sydney, Frances Hatswell (b.21/2/1924 Nanango, Queensland:d.23/2/1996 Culburra, N.S.W.)
e) Francis Gerald (b.21/9/1925 Waverley, Sydney:d.), m.16/11/1957 Brisbane, Mary Fox (b.12/3/1931:d)
f) David Arthur (b.6/6/1930 Muttaburra:d.24/9/2003 Canberra, A.C.T.), m. 12/9/1964 ?, Margaret Claire Sheales (b.?:d.)

2a) Dorothy Dowling and Joe Allen

I have little information so far on Dorothy and David except the following notes from Dad. The Allen family were from Spring Meadows in Dalby Queensland and had a property called Mitchell Downs and Joe had a brother Bill Allen. After Joe and Dorothy married Joe enlisted 14th August, 1942 and was stationed at Naramine for the first part of his training. Dorothy lived with him there before they moved to Bundaberg for a short time finally moving to Melbourne for Joe’s final training before being sent to England. Once Joe was deployed Dorothy returned to Rosebery Downs and stayed with her parents.

“Joe was discharged from the RAAF on 14 August 1945 and he and Dorothy went to live on Dungowan at Augathella. In 1954 Joe purchased Carrington on the western outskirts of Toowoomba with approximately 200 acres of land as it was more accessible to amenities. In 1979 Joe and Dorothy sold the Carrington home and built a beautiful home in Fletcher Street on the Range. In 1982 Joe died of lung cancer. Dorothy remained at Fletcher Street until her death in 1996.” [Source: Davida Allen]

Children & Grandchildren

I) Robert (b.1946, Muttaburra:) stillborn
II) Damian Robert (b.6/2/1948 Charleville:) unmarried, no children
III) Davida Frances (b.20/10/1951 Charleville, Queensland: d.), m. Michael Stanley Shera
i. Daughter 1973
ii. Sara (b.8/9/1975, Brisbane:)
iii. Anna (b.1/5/1980, Ipswich:)
iv. Josephine (b.7/5/1982, Ipswich:)

Davida is a well-known contemporary Australian Artist and has had numerous exhibitions of her work. She is represented in many Australian states, regional and private collections, as well as in notable overseas collections such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. In 1986 Davida won the most prestigious art prize in the country, the Archibald Prize, for a portrait of her father-in-law (Dr John Arthur McKelvey Shera) watering the garden. Of the 218 entries, 26 were selected and the prize money was $20,000.

IV) Paula Therese (b.15/6/1954 Charleville:)Teacher working in Adult Education, m.26/5/1984, Melbourne, Kevin John Bain (b.2/10/1951, Melbourne)
Sean Joseph (b.26/4/1985 Melbourne) University Student International Studies
Peter Allen (b.20/2/1987 Melbourne)

2b. Desmond Francis and Therese Mansfield

Desmond (BVSc, BSc (Hons), PhD (Cambridge), DVSc (Syd), Emeritus Professor Uni of QLD) also a member of the Knights of Malta (see notes). In 1939 he was the first Queenslander to graduate from Vet Science at Sydney University during the war he was a Captain in the Army, serving as veterinary officer for the Northern Territory force. He was also a trained marksman. After the war, he completed his honours degree in science and physiology, being student president of St John’s College. He received a scholarship to complete his PhD from Cambridge University, which he did in less than two years. During that time he also excelled in sport winning 3 blues in cricket, rugby and tennis whist being President of Senior Hall at Cambridge. He completed a doctorate in Vet Science that pioneered new methods of animal reproductive technology. Upon his return to Australia he married Therese Mansfield (his little flower), whom he had met at a University dinner at the end of 1946, and joined the CSIRO. In 1961 he began work as Professor of Vet Science at the University of Queensland, published many academic articles and was awarded the position of Emeritus Professor.

He is remembered as an honest, kind, intelligent, and loving man who thought carefully about the world and saw beauty and mystery there. Des was also a devoted family man who was faithful to his friends and his God.

Notes: Knights of Malta The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, better know as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta or SMOM, is a Catholic order which claims national sovereignty at the United Nations. SMOM is considered to be the most direct successor to the medieval Knights of Hospitaller, also known as the Knights of Malta, and today operates as a largely religious, charitable and ceremonial organization.

The Knights Hospitaller is a tradition, which began as a Benedictine hospitaller religious order founded in Jerusalem, following the 1st Crusade around 1100, and soon became a Christian military order under its own charter, and was charged with the care and defense of pilgrims in the Holy Land. Following the loss of Christian Territory in the Holy Land, the Order operated from Rhodes, over which it was sovereign, and later from Malta as a vessel state under the King of Sicily.
Although the nation-state can be said to have come to an end following its ejection from Malta by Napoleon, the Medieval Order survived.

Children, Grandchildren & Great Grandchildren

I) Kimberly Francis (b.6/6/1950:d.), Accountant, unmarried
II) Sally Therese b.19/6/1952:d.6/10/1999), Teacher, m.23/4/1973 Ronald John Kollar (b.7/7/1951:d.), School Principal
– Rebecca Mary (Bec) (b.27/9/1974:d.), m. 22/3/2003, Timothy John Scott
i) Isabel Sally (b.9/6/2004)
ii) Jack Timothy (b.30/6/2006)
– Elizabeth Therese (Liz) (b.26/4/1976:d.), m.3/6/2000, David Patrick Greene
i) Claudia Sally (b.28/7/2003)
ii) Samuel Patrick (b.12/4/2005)
iii) Cormac Robert (b.28/8/2007)
– Rachel Margaret (3/8/1981:d.), m.20/4/2002, Philip Graham Beehag
i) Corey James (b.26/4/1997) stepson
ii) Matilda Grace (b.25/8/2007)
III) Jerome Desmond (b.19/2/1954:d.), Barrister, m.23/9/1978 Rosemary Anne Keily (b.31/1/1955:d.)
– Matthew Desmond (b.13/1/1981:d.), m. Dannah Allen
i) Zavier (30/4/2002)
ii) Jonah (16/12/2004)
– Catherine Marie (b.8/11/1983:d.), m. 30/6/2007, Ireland, Tom Court
– Kimberley Therese (b.15/3/1989:d.)
IV) Carolyn Loris (b.15/11/1955:d.), Solicitor, m.11/3/1978, David Peden Gardiner (b.8/9/1948:d.), Barrister
– Lachlan Peden (b.14/4/1984:d.)
– Duncan David (b.8/8/1986:d.)
– Alasdair Keith (b.8/1/1992:d.)
V) Mary-Therese Noelle (b.25/12/1959:d.), Business Management, m.28/2/1981, Mark John O’Hare (b.30/1/1959:d.) Accountant
– Jack Thaddeus (b.7/4/1992:d.)
– Harriet Shirley (b.7/4/1992:d.)
VI) Jonathan Joseph (Jon) (b.7/1/1962:d.), Accountant, unmarried
VII) Jennifer Alice (b.7/1/1962:d), Nurse, m.18/3/1995, Noel Rafter (b.8/1/1963:d.) Corporate Banker
– William (b.14/4/1997)
– Thomas (b.4/1/1999)
VIII) Andrew Gerard (b.1/10/1965:d.), Educational Research, m. Katie Fitzgerald
– Luke (b.20/12/2004)
– Anna Kate (b.1/6/2007)

2c. John Maxwell and Wilhelmina Kenny

John Maxwell was Dux of school in 1936 finishing his schooling at 16 years of age and graduating 19th in the state of Queensland. He followed his brother Des and studied Vet Science at St John’s College, Sydney University in 1937 and 38. Changed to medicine from 1939 to March 1943, when he became a resident at The Mater Hospital, Crows Nest. It was during his residency that he met his future bride Billy, a nurse at the Mater, and they married at St John’s Chapel, Sydney University in 1944. During the war he joined the RAAF as a doctor but was never called up due the shortage of doctors. John was a gifted surgeon and became Superintentendant at the Mater Hospital from August 16th 1945 to May, 1947. See Notes

John and Billy then moved to Gosford were they remained till 1966. After, in his roll with the Queensland Health Department, followed may moves throughout Queensland to include Atherton, Brisbane, Ingham, Ayr, Tully, Gladstone, Mt Isa, Nerang, Canungara, Toowoomba, Dalby, St George, Petre, Rockhampton, Mackay, Home Hill, Taroom, Innisfail, finally settling in Townsville in September 1996.

John is remembered by his family as a man who relished the idea of a new baby in the household, often disappearing from the surgery when there was a bath or feed time at home, as a man who would accept and support those he loved and those in need. A man with a dry sense of humour and of patience and dedication to his profession earning him a great deal of respect within the communities he served. A man of humility, intelligence and uncritical support for his family.

Notes: John was always very young looking and one interesting story involving John was the time when a troupe of entertainers visited the Mater during the war to boost moral among the patients there. John was seated in the front row and during the performance one of the troupe invited John up on stage and asked him what school do you go to, sunny, much to the shock and amusement of the staff attending, as the entertainer was addressing the hospital superintendent.

Another story about John was how he met Billy. She was the night nurse on duty when he came to the locked door and asked to be let in. Due to his boyish looks Billy did not believe him and refused to let him in, thinking it was just a prank. Eventually John convinced her that he was indeed a resident at the hospital and she let him in. The rest they say is history.

Children, Grandchildren & Great Grandchildren

I) Jane-Maree (b.18/7/1947 Gosford, N.S.W.:d.), m. 23/3/1974, Clayfield, Ray Miguel (widower with 1 child Simone from marriage to Margo Turner)
– Simone Angela (b.30/6/1968:d.), m. 19/9/1992, Gary Cook
Both are teachers children
i. Madeline (b.1995)
ii. Margot (b. 2000)
iii. Adam (b.2001)
– Alicia Louise (b.17/3/1977, Ingham), m. 27/8/2006, Christian Pearce
(Alicia is a Qantas Flight Attendant)
– Kathryn Jane (b.27/12/1979, Ingham)
II) Wilhelmina (b. 10/1949 stillborn)
III) Francis John (b.17/11/1950, Crowns Nest:d.), m. 26/4/1975, Brisbane, Jane Jennifer Tonkin
– Samantha Jane (b.15/1/1984, Townsville) Studying Vet Science
– Timothy Francis (b.13/1/1987, Townsville)
– John Peter (b.16/9/1988, Brisbane)
V) Judith Anne (b.24/3/1952, Crows Nest:d.), m. 5/5/1973, Brisbane, Denis Rabbitt
– Stephen (b.22/9/1976, Sydney)
– Neil Andrew (b.22/12/1978, Sydney)
– Joanna Louise (11/5/1981, Sydney)
– Alison (b.7/8/1985, Townsville)
VI) Gregory Mark (b.24/3/1952, Crows Nest:d.), not married, no children
VII) Bernard Paul (b.28/7/1954, Crown Nest:d.), m.22/9/1988, Mackay, Jacki Mckee divorced in 2005
– Jack (b.7/4/1996, Mackay)
– Harry (b.12/8/2000, Melbourne)
VIII) Louise Mary (b.1/10/1956, Crows Nest:d.), m. 28/9/1988, Ingham, Daryl Cunningham
– Anna Michelle (b.22/1/1996, Ingham)
IX) Gillian Anne (b.1/9/1958, Crows Nest:d.), m. 14/1/1984, Ingham, Larry Costabeber
– Maria Louise (b.1/8/1989, Mackay)
– Will Jonathan (b.3/2/1995, Mackay)

2d. Anthony Jerome Tony and Frances Hatswell

Anthony Tony was born at Wee Waa while the family were living at Cole-Lea and was 6 years old when the family arrived at Longreach. At the age of 8 when the older boys were preparing to leave for school, Tony asked his mother ‘Why can’t I go?’, to which his mother replied alright, you can go. Alice packed a bag with some of his things instructing him to use some of John’s old uniforms until new ones could be obtained for him from Lowes in Sydney. Frank would drive the boys to the river bridge where they would climb onto the top of Charlie Reed’s Bedford truck for the mail run from Muttaburra to Prairie (a trip of approximately 100 miles). The boys (aged 8, 12 and 14 years) would have to sit on top of the open, heavily loaded truck as it stopped to deliver the mail along the route which took all day. At Prairie they joined the train, which took them overnight to Charters Towers, from the train station it was a taxi to the school.

Like his brothers he was a keep sportsman being in the Cricket First XI, Rugby Seconds XV and was the Open Swimming Champion at Mt Carmel. He did his leaving in 1940 and returned to Rainsby to Jackaroo. On the books he earned 2 pounds a week but no money was actually paid to him at the time. In 1942 Tony traveled to Townville to see his friends the Goddards and while he was there on 11th March he enlisted in the RAAF. In August 1943 he became ill with pneumonia whilst training at Uranquinty, and upon discharge from hospital was given 6 days leave. After a written request from Frank and Alice this was extended for a further 9 days so after visiting his parents, Tony then went to Bundaberg to visit Dorothy and Joe, then to Sydney to see John, from there he went to Canberra to see some friends. Among the group of friends was a young lady by the name of Frances Hatswell, who had previously been engaged but had broken it off. The pair began corresponding and after Tony had returned to Sale in Victoria, Frances moved to Melbourne, working as a nurse at the Childrens Hospital. They would see each other in Melbourne whenever Tony had leave and were eventually married by Frances’ Uncle Father Leo Hatswell at Surry Hills, Melbourne 17th October 1944. After training on D.H. 82s, Wirraways and Ansons, Flight Sergeant Anthony Dowling was discharged from the RAAF on 23 June 1945.

From 1945 to 1957 the young couple lived on the Rainsby property for which Tony became manager. Their children born whilst at Rainsby were Peter, Christopher, Mary, Lorraine, Michael and Timothy. After the various trials of life in the outback it was decided that there would be a better future for the children elsewhere so the family moved to Sydney in January 1957. Tony secured a job as manager of a property owned by the mining family of Bill Clinton in Narellan. Summerset Park was a 1000 acre mixed farm with horses, dairy and pigs. The family remained there for about 18 months before moving to manage the new property at Castlereagh bought by Frank in 1960. Minnaville was a 230 acres property consisting of horse stud facilities either side of a 10 acre navel orange orchard and dairy. See Richardson & Wrench sale brochure.

The early 1960s was dominated by a credit squeeze and as a result Minnaville was subdivided and parts sold off to pay the bank. In 1964 Tony and Frances were able to purchase 50 acres at the rear of the property on the river for their family and occupied it continually until 29/10/1982 when it was sold to the Penrith Lakes Development Company. The contract included a clause allowing the family to lease the area back for 5 years @ $9,000 per year with an option for a further 5 years @$13,000 per annum. In 1972 Tony went back to night school to obtain his Higher School Certificate and began work at the Penrith branch of the Department of Social Security, where he stayed as registrar of Unemployment and Sickness Benefits until 1983.

It was a dream of Frances to one day live by the ocean, so after the sale of Minnaville a block of land was purchased at Culburra on the south coast just a short walk to the ocean. A modest home was built so Frances could listen to the sound of the waves and watch the dolphins frolic in the surf. A short time later Tony bought 50 acres on the ridge of Cambawarra mountain in the Kangaroo Valley which became known as Bimbadgen meaning: fine view. The Bimbadgen home was a family affair with the framework being put together by Chris in the shed at Minnaville and trucked on site. Tony was the owner/builder with all the electrical work was done by Tim and the other building requirements undertaken by various members of the family and Frank Ellis who had worked on the construction of the Culburra house.

Culburra was sold 10/7/1997 after Frances’ death and Tony moved to Bimbadgen until it too was sold, to his neighbour, in November 1999. Tony purchased a property at Kingscliff in far Northern N.S.W., moving in July 2000 and will remain there for the duration of his life.

Notes on Life in Outback Queensland
Background: During the late 1890s to 1902 most of inland Australia was gripped by drought. In Queensland, the 1902 drought was the culmination of eight years that were dry more often than not over most areas. These years had a devastating effect on stock numbers; sheep numbers fell from 91 million to 54 million, and cattle from 11.8 million to 7 million. For example the Property of Ulcambar usually carried 16,000 head but by the end of the drought had none left. Corinda, the property neighbouring Rainsby, had 80,000 head but when the drought broke only 4,000 head were left.

Extract from Aramac Shire Heritage Collection and Trail:
‘The 1920s were dry years with 1926 being the driest year ever recorded on Bowen Downs, 118 mm. The introduction of Motor transport, further reductions to the labour forces, dissatisfaction with Government regarding leases, and large land resumptions all meant that the whole nature of the district was changing as selectors took over from the huge holdings.

The 1930s were times of low prices, drought and depression.

During the 1940s, the British Government purchased the wool clip for the duration of the war and there was a shortage of material, labour and rain. In the late 1940s and early 1950s the Federal Government controlled export sales.

In the 1950s, there were better wool prices, better seasons, fly strike and lice. There was a shortage of labour, a flood and the shearer’s strike in 1956. The flood waters of the 1950s big rain moved as a body of water from Central Queensland all the way to Lake Eyre in South Australia, it was the first time in 100 years that the Lake was full. At Bowen Downs 1956 was the wettest year ever recorded 1,527 mm.’

Bert Wilson – Bert had a long association with the family coming to work at Rainsby as a kangaroo shooter in the early 1940s. He was then middle aged and a very accomplished bushman. Initially he came onto Rainsby and shoot up to 20 kangaroos a day, making his cull approximately 3,000 a year for the skins. He mostly used a motor cycle which he had set up with a sling across the handlebars as a gun rest. His time away from the property was spent with his sister in Brisbane. His brother-in-law, Ted Tanner, was a horse trainer and Bert used to spend all his earnings at the races.

As time went on he spent more time at Rainsby taking on more duties and becoming a much respected member of the extended family. In the early 1960s he went to Minnaville for a short time when he became ill and returned to Brisbane. He died of cancer shortly after.

Children , Grandchildren & Great Grandchildren

I) Peter Francis – (b.2/11/1945, Muttaburra: d.)Business Owner, m. 18/1/1975, Melbourne, Therese Condon (b.20/10/1945 Melbourne:d.)
– Jacqueline (b.14/9/1978, Melbourne:d.) (Human Resource Manager), m. 29/1/2000, Melbourne, David Baillie (b.25/11/1975)(Lawyer/Accountant)
i. Charles Leo (b.18/8/2005)
ii. Thomas James (b.16/1/2007)
– Sophie (b.29/7/1980, Melbourne) Owner/Operator, Visual Merchandising Company
– Madeline (b.12/6/1983, Melbourne) Student Human Resources Management.
– Isobelle Claire Jones (b.14/1/1987) daughter of Therese’s sister, adopted when her mother died just after her birth (Arts Linguistics Student)
II) Christopher David (b.24/6/1947, Muttaburra: d.)Policeman (retired) Business Owner, m. 24/4/1971, Sydney, Lesley Anne Hamilton (b.10/3/1950:d.)
– James Hamilton (b.20/1/1972, Sydney) Studied Horticulture, currently pursuing musical career, not married
– Justin Michael (b.18/4/1973, Sydney) metal worker m(1) 5/12/1998, Sydney, Helen Adelaide Towndrow, m(2) 10/11/2006, USA, Susan Amulen Okalebo (b.30/8/1977, Kenya) Environmental Engineer
i. Jeramiah Michael (b.8/4/1999)
– Rebecca Maree (b.22/7/1975, Singleton) Bachelor of Arts, Ceramics ANU, Masters Ceramics/Teacher and Lecturer in Ceramics ANU, m. 8/6/2002, Cowra, William Bennett, a divorcee with three children (b.24/7/1964)
i. Karina Louise (b.8/8/1989 from previous marriage)
ii. Callum Kendell (b.8/4/1991 from previous marriage)
iii. James Sloan (b.18/10/1992 from previous marriage)
iv. Flynn Busby (b.18/12/2004)
v. Elliott Hamiltin (b.26/6/2006)
– Bernadette Frances (b.5/9/1979, Sydney) Degree in Music, Major in Composition, m. 23/8/2003, Murwillumbah, Jacob Cook Musician (b.1/8/1975)
i. Sebastian Joseph (b.20/6/2004)
ii. Aiden Isaac (b.13/6/2006)
– Michael Joseph (b.29/9/1982, Sydney) Diploma in Engineering Fabrication, Works in family business unmarried
– Damien Bernard (b.20/8/1984, Sydney) Builder, m. 20/5/2006, Murwillumbah, Alyson Morgan (b.15/8/1984) Secretary
– Louise Anne (b.15/1/1987, Sydney) Fashion Degree
III) Mary Carolyn (b.29/8/1949, Muttaburra: d.) Nurse, m. 23/2/1974, Penrith, Sydney, Geoff Carey (b.24/5/1946:d.) Business Manager
– Jeanette Elizabeth (b.10/12/1974, Canada), m. 25/8/2001, Sydney, Al Polachok (b.18/6/1967) IT Specialist family resides in Canada
i. Erin Carine (b.10/11/2005)
– Carolyn Maree (b.16/9/1976, Sydney) Costume Design Student, unmarried
– Christine Anne (b.18/7/1978, Sydney), Physiology Degree, m. 24/4/2001, Sydney, Matt Kocher (b.23/7/1977) Teacher
i. Baby due Feb 2007
– Anthony James (b.1/11/1980, Sydney) Warehousing, m. 25/11/2006, Sydney, Amanda Lee Murray, (b.29/8/1984) Sales)
Lorraine Mary (b.13/3/1951, Aramac:d.) Teacher/Nursery Owner, m. 30/9/1972, Sydney, John Ford divorced 9/3/1993
– Benjamin John (b.30/6/1973, Bega) Teacher, partner Anna Davies (b.9/3/1973) Teacher
i. Banjo Gordon (b.2/9/2006Bega)
– Kate Maree (b.27/11/1974 Bega) Degree in Arts Major in Photo Media & Paper Making – TAFE Teacher, Partner Johan Larsson (b.8/4/1970, Sweden) Furniture Designer
i. Jasmine Rose Ford (b.1/9/1993) with previous partner
ii. Maja Larsson (b.28/3/2004)
iii. Rubin Larsson (b.11/1/2006)
– Daniel Jerome (b.20/7/1976) – Chief
V) Michael Anthony (b.28/4/1954, Muttaburra: d.13/9/1955, Muttaburra) drowned
VI) Timothy Michael (b.7/4/1956, Muttaburra: d.) Electrical Engineer, m. 15/11/1980, Sydney, Helen Massey (b.2/3/1953:d.)
– Angela Maria Marcella (b.16/1/1982, Sydney) Business Studies Graduate, m. 2/2/2002, Sydney, Colum Firmager (b.25/9/1980), IT Specialist
i. Mikhail Vianney (b.25/11/2002)
ii. Anath Aquinas (b.11/5/2004)
iii. Callum More (b.10/1/2006)
VII) Camille Mary (b.22/6/1960, Sydney: d.) Nurse/Small Business Troubleshooter, m. 22/9/1979, Summer Hill, Charles John Svenson (b.16/2/1959) Microbiologist/Lecturer at University of NSW divorced 14/2/1987
– Monique Fane (b.5/9/1985, Darlinghurst) Architecture Student
VIII) Frances Mary (b.4/10/1965, Sydney: d.)Dietitian, m. 25/6/1986, Sydney, John Eriksson (b/20/10/1958, Sydney) IT Specialist
– Stephanie Anne (b.16/3/1987, Sydney) Film & Television Student
– Dominic Wilhelm (b.22/5/1989, Sydney) School Student
– Matthew John (b.4/1/1991, Sydney) School Student
– William Jerome (b.23/2/1996, Sydney) School Student
– Joshua Thomas (b.18/8/1999, Sydney) School Student

2e. Francis Gerald Gerry and Mary Fox

After being born in Waverley Hospital in 1925 Gerry arrived in Queensland at 3 years of age when the family moved to Longreach before taking over the property of Rosebery. Like his brothers he attended Mt Carmel College in Charters Towers until February 1942, when it was taken over as Hospital for the Australian Army. He then went to St Brendan’s College to finish the year. In 1943 he attended Gatton Agricultural College to do a short course in Sheep, Wool and Machines. Gerry was more of an athlete than a scholar, playing in the Firsts cricket and Tennis teams winning both the Anthony Trophy and the College Trophy. He also played inter school football and swam in the College team holding the 25 yard record for many years. In 1944, just 18 years old, Gerry started as a Jack-a-Roo on Rosebery Downs, after 3 years he became overseer then finally graduating to Manager at the age of 26, which he remained until its sale in 1962. Gerry kept up his involvement in sport as opening batsman and wicket keeper for the Rankin Country Club. He also played Tennis with the Rankin Club against Aramac and Barcaldine winning the under 18 years Championship and being runner up in the under 21s Central Queensland Championship at Longreach. Like his brother Des, Gerry was an excellent marksman, winning the Central Queensland and club championships for single and double barrel. He erected the Muttaburra Gun Club and was President for 3 years. He was a member of the Muttaburra Amateur Race Club, a tote steward then Vice President, organizing the Club Ball (1954-55-56). He was a member of the Aramac Shire Council (1958-1962), the United Graziers Association and Secretary of the Rural Fire Board, Muttaburra Branch. The 1954 flood was a devastating blow for Rosebery loosing around 20,000 pounds worth of sheep and wool. Following these setbacks and the death of his mother Alice in 1959 Rosebery Downs was sold in 1962, so Gerry and family went to live on Rainsby with Tony and Frances arriving in September 1962, staying until Rainsby was sold in June 1968.

Gerry moved his family to Rockhampton for the next 13 years working as a truck driver, then in 1981 the family moved to Brisbane where Gerry worked on the multi storey car park for the Mater Hospital, retiring in July 1991.

Gerry never took a dishonest sick day in his life and upon retiring was owed 3 1/2 months sick leave from the Mater project alone.

Children & Grandchildren

I) Michael Gerald (b.2/9/1958, Muttaburra: d.) RAAF (Retired) Proprietor of Swimming School, (Was awarded an O.A.M. in 1996 for services to the RAAF), m. 31/1/1982, Ipswich, Maree Ashthore Orbell (b.12/2/1960, Ipswich)
– Brendon Gary (b.19/8/1983, Ipswich)
– Tamera Lea (b.25/6/1985, Ipswich)
– Gerald Michael (b.1/1/1988, Wagga Wagga)
II) Gerald Patrick (b.24/1/1960, Muttaburra)Degree in Agriculture, m.28/9/1985, Bundara, Wendy Bishop
– Ellie Rose (b.3/7/1989, Emerald)
– Jack Grier (b.20/3/1992, Emerald)
– Tess Louise (b.31/1/1995, Emerald)
III) David Francis (b.6/3/1961, Brisbane)Navy Diver (retired) Project Manager in Oil Exploration, m. 8/11/85 Gymea, Sydney, Narelle Ann Williams (b.
– Christopher James (b.12/6/1988) School Student (Interested in Aviation)
– Nathan David (b.5/6/1992) School Student (Ballroom Dancer)
IV) Majella Alice (b.17/5/1962, Brisbane), m. 8/5/1993, Berkshire, England, Bryn Robert Grainger (b.26/5/1963, Abingdon, England)
– Benjamin John (b.7/3/1995, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
– Sally May (b.3/11/1996, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
V) Rosemary Anne (b.22/8/1963, Brisbane), m. 21/1/1993, Cabarita, NSW, Phillip James
– Kale Andrew (b.22/9/1994, Mullumbimby)
– Kye Phillip (b.5/11/1997, Mullumbimby)
– Sunny Rose (b.18.4.2000, Mullumbimby)

2f. David Arthur and Margaret Claire Sheales

Children & Grandchildren

I) Patrick Gerald (b.9/5/1966, Rockhampton), m. 29/4/1972, Darwin, N.T., Andrea Jane Seats
– Gabriel Christopher (b.26/4/2001, Murdoch, W.A.)
– Ashliegh Jane (b.31/5/2002, Murdoch, W.A.)
II) Richard Joseph (b.5/2/1968, Rockhampton), m. 11/9/1969, Collie, W.A., Jennifer Ellen Brooks
– Jake William (b.25/4/1996, Canberra A.C.T.)
– Eleanore Louise (b.27/1/1999, East Fremantle, W.A.)
– Amber Claire (b.9/2/2007, Subiaco, W.A.)
III) Kevin James (b.10/6/1969, Rockhampton), m.17/12/1992, Glasgow, Scotland, Yvonne Adair
– Calam Adair (b.31/12/2001, Canberra, A.C.T.)
– Nathain Caleb (b.30/12/2002, Canberra, A.C.T.)
IV) Christopher David (b.24/10/1972:d.11/12/1974) drowned

[Supplied by: Camille Svenson, Phone: 02 9460 0646

Gordon Falconer Gearing Lee

Gordon Falconer Gearing Lee was the son of Leonard George Lee and Doris Falconer Sellars born on the 9th November 1913 in Toowoomba.

Gordon enlisted in the Australian Army from Wooloowin on the 5th February 1942, stating his wife Isabella Lee as his next of kin. He reached the rank of Captain and was posted in the 2/163 General Transport Company when he was discharged on the 28th November 1945.

The Somerset Garage and Somerset Agencies were the enterprise of Mr. Gordon Lee. Gordon Lee came to Muttaburra on 17 December 1945 to take over as Managing partner of the transport business and mail contracts of Mr. Charlie Real. He also took over the house, which is directly opposite the schoolhouse in Sword Street.

The mail runs proved interesting. There were no graded roads in the area after the war and virtually no machinery. After the wet season the carriers chose the driest track and that became the ‘road’ for the year. As well as having the Longreach Mail Run (twice weekly £10 a year), Gordon had a weekly run to Prairie. This trip, which went through North Crusoe and back to the main road at Thornton, had 47 gates, which took over 2 hours per trip to open and close.

At the 1951 A.G.M. of the M.D.P.A. Gordon Lee praised the association for its part in securing town lighting within 15 months. Gordon Lee built the first town powerhouse at the rear of the Somerset Garage. Two A.C. generators driven by 2 National Horizontal Diesel engines produced the power.

The town also had a number of migrant workers. Gordon Lee was a strong advocate of these migrants and he sponsored many skilled European workers to man his garage.

Because of the price-cutting, mainly from individuals using cheap war disposal trucks, a Carriers Association was organised and standard rates were set. The first President and convener of the meeting was Gordon Lee, who some years later when a transport tax was introduced, sold his interests to Kevin & Alan Bauman, his two senior drivers. Others who came into his garage business were his army batman Mick Evans, Staff Sgt. Mechanic Arnold Palmer, Tom Ingram an electrician/radio man and another driver mechanic. Palmer and Ingram later ran the powerhouse. These men were from Gordon’s army unit the 2nd 163 Australian General Transport Company and all had wives and children, thus swelling the town and school population. He started his business in a small 16′ x 12′ galvanised building, but this was too small to house the plant and much of it was operated in the open or under tarpaulins. This shed was later converted into an aircraft hanger, but at the time proved most unsatisfactory. He was able to buy an army stores building from the military camp east of Hughenden. This building, 6,600 sq. ft. worth, including asbestos cement roof, took around twelve months of transfer to Muttaburra, as red tape caused many delays. An elderly carpenter named Geraghty and one helper were responsible for erecting it where it still stands opposite the C.W.A. Two thirds became a garage and one third a transport-loading depot. For some years, this became the best stocked and equipped garage in Western Queensland.

Among the agencies carried by the Somerset Enterprises were that of the Land Rover, which was growing in popularity with the pastoralists, Armstrong Siddeley Motors, a franchise that covered the whole of Northern Queensland from Maryborough to Cairns and West to the Territory border, excluding Blackall, and Volkswagen. During the Volkswagen Dealership, Gordon Lee employed 11 mechanics, 3 electricians, 3 salesmen, a storeman, a bookkeeper and a secretary, as well as operating a branch in Longreach.

Somerset Airways was born out of the record wet season of 1950. With the town marooned for 12 weeks, during which vehicles were able to get through on only 2 or 3 days, Mrs. Lee had to get to Brisbane urgently, and managed at length to get a grazier from near Julia Creek to land on the common and take her out. After that experience, she insisted that to stay in Muttaburra they had to have their own plane. There were problems, as the only way was to make it a charter service, and all charter planes had to be signed out by qualified personnel and checked every 30 flying hours. With the problems solved, the venture took off. The first pilot was Keith Galoway, who later became a senior captain with T.A.A., after two years it became obvious that another plane was needed. Captain Jesse Luxton flew a Praetor 5 from England but damaged it on Sunba Island, thereby missing a certain record for a light plane. He took it to Jakarta by barge, repaired it and then flew on to Longreach where the main office of Somerset Airways was opened.

After becoming a Public Company, with eight aircraft, this Muttaburra enterprise sold out to B.P.A. following a disagreement with Captain Luxton and the death of the Manager in the disastrous `King Air’ crash west of Longreach while on a demonstration flight.

By early 1953, Muttaburra had to find two justices of the Peace, to replace Mr. T. Hall, who had died, and Mr. G. Cassimatis who had moved from the town. Mr. Thornton and Mr. Lee were nominated to replace them.

“One of the great moments I remember in Muttaburra was when I had the honour, in the middle of the 17 years drought and after the awful 1960 credit squeeze, to chair a meeting with the Shire Chairman (Clr. Neill), U.G.A. President (Frank Keenan) and the Minister for Repatriation, representing the Primary Industries Minister. The Memorial Hall was packed and we had prepared and presented a case, which the Minister agreed, having that day-inspected drought stricken properties, was irrefutable and totally convincing. We got some relief very quickly in the shape of cash grants which helped graziers to pay storekeepers (and garages), and all went in the end.

I could ramble on and on with reminiscences, but enough is enough. May I congratulate you on the positive and progressive attitude you have applied to your job there. It must be a tremendous help to the pupils at a time when there is so much variance over subjects, styles and methods – to have as instructor, someone with plenty of ideas and the ability to implement them.

Yours sincerely and with thanks for what you are doing for our children and parents too.”
Gordon Lee. [Muttaburra Saw Us]

In the New Year Honours List of 1974 Gordon Lee was awarded his M.B.E., and in January of that year, the following letter appeared in the local newspaper.

It was with a great deal of delight the people of Muttaburra and district received news per the media that Gordon Lee was awarded the M.B.E. in the Queen’s New Year Honours List on the 1st January 1974.

Correspondence has been received from Gordon, which in part states `My wife and I are mindful of the honour conferred by the Queen, and we are proud to follow in the steps of Dr. J. Arratta and the Shire Chairman.

We feel that the honour belongs to the people of Muttaburra and is not personal, but in recognition of the courage, energy and confidence of those who worked through the many difficult years for the return to prosperity.

It is essential that this effort be continued so that our problems are fully recognised in the places where they can be solved and controlled.

Our thoughts and best wishes to our home town and district for a prosperous 1974.
Isabelle and Gordon Lee.’

The text of the above quote illustrates the unselfish attitude of Gordon Lee, M.B.E.

I am positive all residents of Muttaburra and district join me in publicly congratulating Gordon on this well-deserved honour. May he and his wife enjoy good health for many, many years to come.
Yours etc.
Don Oxlade, Exchange Hotel, Muttaburra.”

[Extracts from Muttaburra Saw Us]

Dr Joseph Arratta

Dr Joseph Arratta
by Margie Webb

Dr. Joseph Andrew Arratta was born in 1899 in Mount Morgan. He was the sixth child in a family of ten, the son of a San Francisco born father and Tambo born mother. He attended school in Rockhampton at the Christian Brothers College and was Dux in 1916. He received one of only twenty university scholarships awarded to Queenslanders that year and in 1917 he began his medical studies at Sydney University. He graduated in 1922 and was a resident at Sydney Hospital until 1924. The following year, Dr. Arratta applied for a position as the Government Medical Officer at Muttaburra in central-west Queensland. His starting salary was £500 per year with a free (unfurnished) house and the right of private practice.

At this time Muttaburra comprised around five hundred people and boasted four hotels, a bank, picture theatre, three stores, a butcher, a baker, a police station and a post office! Dr. Arratta rapidly adopted the town and district, and despite initial disappointment at his expectations of a larger town, became a selfless worker for the community. In 1935, he married the Matron of the Hospital; Mabel Watkins. She resigned as Matron, but was on many occasions her husband’s anaesthetist and off-sider.

Each year Dr. Arratta returned part of his government salary to the Hospital, to help with running costs and in 1957 obtained the funds for the new hospital building. His interests extended to sport and most local organisations, and he was devoted to the children in the area, having no children of his own. His reputation was legendary in the central-west and while many patients travelled hundreds of kilometres to see him, there were also numerous times he travelled to his patients. In 1959, Dr. Arratta was awarded an MBE (Member of the British Empire) in recognition of his outstanding devotion and service to the community. He resigned from the Muttaburra Hospital in 1960, having spent almost all his working life in the town, and moved to the Gold Coast where he set up a private practice at Labrador.

Dr. Arratta wrote his memoirs in the early 1970s and was still adding to his hand written manuscript a few months before his death in 1973. These memoirs Doctor on the Landsborough were published in 1997 with a medical commentary by Dr. R.A. Douglas, and edited by Dr. Anne Smith and the late Professor Brian Dalton. They are a delight to read, and an unpretentious account of the hardships of rural practice; with stories of flood, drought, plagues of vermin, serious accidents and illnesses and no specialist professional help near at hand. These memoirs also reflect the man himself. Irrespective of the difficulties previously mentioned, Dr. Arratta always carried out the highest ideals of his profession. He was one of the most colourful, resourceful and dedicated residents the Muttaburra District has ever seen.

This was a time when one well trained and skillful doctor could adequately meet the medical and surgical needs of an isolated community. The Museum that bears Dr. Arratta’s name is a fitting memorial to those times, as well as to the man himself.

Edited with permission from: Smith, A & Dalton B (Eds) (1997). Doctor on the Landsborough. Records of North Queensland History No 7, James Cook University: Townsville, QLD.

Bibil and Labba

I married Mary Thomasina Eather whose grandmother was the sister of H.A. Crothers. My wife’s father was Richmond C Eather a nephew of H. A. Crothers who managed the properties for all the Crothers brothers [Robert Irwin, Thomas John, Henry Albert (Harry)] who came north.

Richmond Cornwallis Eather son of John Roland Eather and Hanna Ann Crothers – daughter of Henry Crothers and Jane Irwin [their other children Robert Irwin, Hanna Ann, Thomas John, Henry Albert, William, Brooks and Jane Irwin some died in infancy].

The story of H.A. Crothers and Co, Bibil starts at Maitland to Richmond to Hughenden to Muttaburra

The family migrated from Ireland in 1839. The first to land was Thomas Crothers who married Ann Hutchson and father to Henry. The Crothers came out on the ‘Amelia Thoma’ and the Irwin’s on ‘Amelia Johnson’, and with them came Hanna Crothers and Mrs. Irwin.

They went to Dungog by bullock dray, but because of the fear of the Aborigines the women folk went back to Maitland. Henry Crothers married Jane Irwin when he was about 22 years old. He was working in a General store as he had been trained as a miller. They moved to Wollombi and started his own flour mill Millfield the mill didn’t pay. In 1863 Henry bought Booligar on the Queensland boarder, from Mr. Eckford. As Singleton was the end of the rail line they moved all their chattels they possessed by bullock dray to Booligar.

Henry and Jane Crothers’ children were Hanna Eather, Jane Crothers, Robert Irwin, Thomas John, and Henry Albert [known as Harry], went to Richmond, Hughenden and Muttaburra while William and Brooks remained at Booligar. Brooks finally bought Booligar and William bought Mooranbah.

Tom, Bob and Harry Crothers
Sometime in the early 1870s Robert [Bob], in his early twenties, left taking a black boy and brother Tom, set out in search of land. In those days land was obtained by tender not ballot. Bob and Booligar Jack and Tom obtained a block they called Clutha 60 miles west of Richmond. Returning south, they brought a mob of 1,300 heifers and some good horses from John Roland Eather and set off for Clutha on the Flinders River. There is no record of how long the trip took but finally they were established and the herd grew. The closest markets were Dubbo in New South Wales. Tom Crothers did the droving and sometimes it paid but sometimes it didn’t. One trip 3 pence a head had to be paid for the loss.

Sometime in the early 1900s resumptions for closer settlements were introduced and Clutha was one holding that was to be cut up. It was about this time that H. A. C came into the picture. He tool up an area of 4 blocks of 20,000 acres each known as Nonda Downs. Artesian water was obtainable at about 1,000 feet. Nonda was sold to Eli Carter. H.A. C. then took up Euraba at resumption of Clutha and two selections of 20,000 acres each. Euraba was sold to Tom Crothers who then sold it to Bob Crothers who finally sold it to Mr.Patterson. Clutha was sold to Mr. W. T. Mott, a sheep man and sheep judge of some note. The Crothers brothers then took on Somerville 80,000 acres comprising 4 blocks off Cambridge Downs between Richmond and Hughenden.

In about 1908, H. A. Crothers went into partnership on Sylvania at Hughenden but later sold his share of the partnership to Sylvania Pastoral Co. Later he formed a partnership with; C V Seaton Manager of Mt Cornish, L V Seaton son of C V Seaton held North Crusoe; Tom Crothers and Jane Crothers held Gue and H. A. Crothers held Bibil, Labba and Bromvil. [These selections were won by tender. It states in the application that H. A. Crothers was only 16 years old. Later in 1916, Mrs. H. A. Crothers bought Gue. Gue used to be agisted from Tom and Jane to be worked in conjunction with H. A. Crothers and Co. Gue was run in conjunction with the Bibil aggregate from 1916 to 1928 when it was sold to Ian McLean.

This partnership worked from 1908 to 1920 when it closed with a division of stock 3/8 to the Seatons and 5/8 to H. A. Crothers and a sub lease off Bromvil to balance the shares. At the close of the partnership H. A Crothers owned Bibil, Labba was owned by W Eather and Mrs. H. A. Crothers as Tenants in Common. Mrs. H. A. Crothers owned 1/8 of Bromvil while H. A. Crothers owned the rest and then Gue was sold to Ian McLean in 1928.

H. A. Crothers died in February 1935.

Managers of H. A Crothers & Co the trading name of the Company.

1908 Col R Eather a/c wages
1912-1928 R C Crothers a/c wages served in World War 1 from June 1915 – March 1918
1928 – 1957 W I Eather Partner in H. A, C & Co in 1957 he sold his partnership share to Mrs. M.T. Keenan
1957-1960 Dick Black
1960-1967 F Keenan
1967 Mrs. H. A. Crothers died and the Estate was wound up and beneficiaries of H. A. C took over as owners.

After 1967 it still traded as H.A. Crothers & Co but the new partnership was Francis John Keenan Bibil, Mary Thomasina wife of F. J. Keenan Labba and Ida F Redmond sister of F. J. Keenan Bromvil. The sub-lease of 12,000 acres of North Crusoe remained in L. V Seaton’s name.

Australia Estates Co supported H. A. Crothers with bridging finance in 1908 as the banks would not and when I needed support to fulfill the requirements of the will of H. A. Crothers they were there. There were death duties of $96,000 and a buy-in debt of $56,000. The Keenan’s sold in 1981 debt free. Bromvil was sold to R Humphries of Dotswood.

Extract from F.J. Keenan January 1994

In September 1981 Bibil was sold to R. J. and F. M Bowler and Labba to Chris and Louise Moloney [nee Bowler] for about $5.50 / acre bare. In the 1990s Chris and Louise took over the plant and stock and leased Bibil and in 1995 Chris and Louise Moloney brought out the Bowlers thus dissolving the partnership completely.

Bibil and Labba together have a good variety of country ranging from open downs, pebbly ridges, shaded bore, and gidgee to thick gidgee suckers, and soft desert to the hardest desert and Tower Hill channels. Bibil is watered by bore drains from the bore put down in 1949 with the house using water from Station Creek. The Labba house was sold in 1985 to Steve Elliot of Bengal. In 1988 the cattle yards at the house were quarantined and a new steel set was built in a more central position.

The two greatest advances in western Queensland have occurred while we have been a Bibil: Rural Power in September 1983 and the Automatic Phone in 1988. These two advances made life on the land bearable, with deep-freezes, air-conditioners, electric welders, lights when you want them and to be able to talk to any-one any-time without yelling your head off down the line.

2000 was the wettest year on record at Bibil with 47 inches and then 2002 was the driest with only 3.5 inches so how quickly things change on the land! In our 22 years here things have change prices go up and down, seasons come and go but it is still the land we hold precious.

We have three children Colin, Monique and Luke who all have grown up here, beginning their education with Distance Education then Boarding school in Toowoomba and on to University.

Extracts from Louise Moloney 2003