Rosewood Scrub Historical Society Inc.

The following extracts are taken from German Settlement in the Rosewood Scrub: A Pictorial History by Frank Snars.

Copyright (c) 1997 by Rosewood Scrub Historical Society Inc. No part of this work may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the publisher.

Even among locals few today have heard of the Rosewood Scrub. Geographically and demographically it is an insignificant part of Australia. Like the rosewood scrub itself the name has all but disappeared. A ghost of the past. Oddly enough we who speak of the Rosewood Scrub usually mean not the scrub itself but where it used to be: the cleared hills and valleys. Moreover we can't really allow residents of the town of Rosewood citizenship of the Scrub, as the original scrub didn't quite reach to the town site. It covered only a tiny part of the State, while the group of Germans who occupied it in the latter decades of the nineteenth century comprises but a small chip on the broad mosaic of our nation's multicultural heritage. Not that this elliptical tract of hill-and-dale land west of Ipswich lacks character or vitality. A coach-tourist on the Warrego Highway traverses the narrow axis of the ellipse between Haigslea and Hattonvale, gliding comfortably over a well-graded highway glimpsing the beautiful Marburg and Minden valleys and the high walled spurs of the Little Liverpool Range. Don't expect to see boys in Lederhosen or girls in Dirndls. Yet there is ample evidence of German presence in placename reminders of lovely old north German towns like Marburg, Minden and Prenzlau. Most Rosewood Scrub road names still proudly proclaim the routes to the early farms: Schulz, Neuendorf, Kraatz, Claus, Steinhardt, Stuhmcke, Lukritz, Klibbe, Kerle, Litzow, while in school and electoral rolls, telephone and business directories and the sporting results in the weekly Gatton Star German names abound. Until the 1860s this tract of dry vine scrub posed a temporary barrier to expansion. During the 1870s and 1880s, and a century after European settlement in Australia, it was still virtually frontier land within just 50km of the new State's capital. Explorer Allan Cunningham had described it as impervious brushes. The surveyors for the State's first railway line chose to bypass it, while the squatters of the 1840s, 1850s and 1860s who vied greedily for the tastiest pieces of the south-east Queensland pie, largely ignored it. Here and there the less dense valley floors were used as shepherd outposts. Yet the Scrub was by no means impenetrable to the original Australians who for countless years had found the fruits and wildlife it protected a bountiful source of livelihood. Fred Gutzske, an old German resident of Lowood, recalled some years ago that by 1870 the natives had largely disappeared from the open country, and that the Rosewood Scrub was the last refuge of a race reduced by disease and loss of their tribal lands. He recounted how they drove game from the scrub land to the Brisbane River where the animals were caught and cooked and a feast ensued. Aborigines fishing in the Brisbane River Aborigines fishing in the Brisbane River
There used to be between three and four hundred natives camped in the Rosewood Scrub near Lowood. They would form a huge circle and work their way in closer towards the river. They made a dreadful din. Every bird and animal fled before them. When they got to the edge of the river they closed in and drove the animals into the river. Then the fun really started. The natives went in after the bandicoots and wallabies and had tucker for days. They couldn't do much about the scrub turkeys. They used their wings. Fred Gutzske The Argow Home The Argow Home
In the main the German settlers of the Rosewood Scrub, like their English and Irish counterparts, were poor, often pitiably so. They included general labourers (about 50 per cent), farm labourers (about 20 per cent) and a few landless farmers and tradesmen. Few, if any, had the wherewithal to pay their fares to Australia, fewer still to buy farming land of suitable size for productivity to succeed. They came under various generous migration schemes like the new Queensland Government Land Act of 1860 that issued land orders worth 18 pounds to migrants entitling them to purchase crown land. The ships they came on left much to be desired. Steerage class passengers were packed into narrow berths like sardines in tins. No wonder 59 of 283 passengers on the overcrowded Sophia perished from typhoid and other diseases. The newcomers were motivated by several push and pull factors. Almost all were pulled by the promise and hope of improving their humble status, of greater freedom, of religious toleration, the prospect of owning a farm and with it, independence. Others were encouraged by letters from family and friends. The religious persecution that sent waves of Lutherans fleeing to South Australia under Pastor August Kavel and others had largely disappeared by the 1860s. Nevertheless, a significant push factor came with the Prussian army reforms of 1860, with increasing militarism and the threat of a three year draft. Germans battling on small acreages on the Logan began to move into the Scrub after the 1868 Land Act opened the Scrub to selection. Many came by barge to Ipswich, by rail to Walloon or Rosewood then by shanks's pony to Walloon Scrub (later Kirchheim, later still Haigslea), Sally Owen's Plain (Marburg Valley) or Back Plains (Minden). They were not the first settlers in the Scrub; British settlers had already moved into the more easily cultivated flood plains of the Bremer at Rosewood and Walloon, and around Fernvale, Lowood, Haigslea and Mt Marrow.

Zerner's farm at Kirchheim Zerner's farm at Kirchheim Doubtless the frugality and husbandry inured by centuries of poverty gave the German migrants an edge. Friedrich Müller from Königsberg in East Prussia who brought his family to Queensland in 1872, typifies the optimism of these north German battlers. I worked on the Ipswich-Brisbane railway and got well paid. At first English people were preferred, but when the contractors realised that the Germans worked hard, we were put on straight away. I earned well, and when the line was finished, I had about 60 pounds cash to my name.… I acquired 120 acres, which I occupied in 1873 - I think it was. I bought myself two horses and a cart to take the family to our new pride and joy. Two reliable Queensland work-horses, two crates, one sack of grain, two sacks of sugar, one can of tea - these were my household effects and my rations. Of course the main thing - guns and munition - were not forgotten. I harnessed the horses in Ipswich and climbed on to the cart, but my wife refused to ride on top with me despite my pleadings. She had our little girl on her lap and preferred to go on foot. To stock the farm I had purchased a dog and a goat. Proud of my retinue, I twiddled with my moustache and imagined for a moment that I was Bismarck and that I was as clever as Moltke and as dare-devilish as Benedeck. We saw nothing but trees. After about 15 miles the forest thickened and now comprised what they call 'scrub'. From then on we came across South Germans, who had settled in the district six to nine months earlier. Several of them were busy clearing the thick scrub, which was very opportune, as I kept getting the cart stuck in ruts, so that I had to call on these trusty Germans to help me out... I figured that as I was a good horseman, we would be there in an hour, since it was mostly downhill. But I had badly miscalculated; my nags didn't want to go downhill, so that I got stuck in every ditch and had to walk for miles to fetch help. Finally I had to unload all our belongings. That evening we reached my property, which didn't as yet have a name. Today the district is called Minden. Next morning we made an early start. Mindful of the fact that a farmer has to drive his underlings out of bed at an ungodly hour, I had equipped everyone with an axe according to rank and size, to fell the bush for a building site. So the chopping and building began…On Sundays an occasional settler dropped by and we would return the visit. They were mostly from Uckermark, Pomerania and West Prussia - all men of the good old school. We would talk and talk, each in his own dialect interspersed with snippets of English. Everyone knew how to say 'yes'. There were some educated ones who could say 'Missus' and 'Mister', and many others were used even nicer or nastier words. They were all good men, and I soon got to know their wives, very fine women. Anybody without a capable spouse would be well advised to stay in the city. We are all harmonious and peace-loving here. Everyone is as busy as a bee. But whenever our grain and sugar were used up, we would not hesitate to borrow. Thanks to the firm of Cribb & Foote, who have a German employee, hundreds of Germans were given help…Who in Germany would provide credit of One Hundred Pounds, just because someone has an honest face? During the second and third years I was able to save enough for cattle and good horses. Today I have ten horses and fifty cows, as well as pigs, hens, geese etc. Dear Editor, where in Germany could we acquire all that? How splendid it looks and feels when we farmers drive to church in our Sunday finery…Our buildings look fit for a king. I have always discovered this wherever Germans live…I believe the Kaiser himself would be astonished to see us like this…. We have very good wine-makers like Herr Wruck, so that nobody needs to die of thirst. We are not being kept in ignorance. Where could I have got a newspaper in Germany?…We have two fine clubs in Brisbane which often make us countrymen most welcome. Friedrich 'Hussar' Müller Minden Pioneer. Quoted by Dr Alan Corkhill

These extracts contain some of the opening section of this book and invite further reading. The remainder of the book is filled with historical photos and annotations covering such areas as farming, social life, buildings, education, transport, the Wars, sport and leisure and much more. The book is hard bound, embossed with striking gold lettering on a burgundy background. It may be purchased for $35 plus postage (Australian). Please email any queries to:
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