Vanishing Types – squatter, shepherd and shearer
The Genesis of Toowoomba – the old Toll Bar Road
Pioneer and Peer
Mount Lindesay – early ascents
Gold Coast early history - Wongawallan
TRAGEDIES OF THE SEA
AUGUST 4, 1907
The whole east Coast of Australia, from Cape Wilson to Thursday Island is strewn with the wreckage of ships lost from time to time over a hundred years.
One of the saddest wrecks was that of the steamship, Gothenburg, lost off Bowen, on February 24, 1875.
She left Port Darwin for Melbourne on the 14th with 88 passengers and a crew of 38, reaching Somerset via Albany Pass, on the 19th. The passengers went ashore and bought a lot of pearlshell. A strong wind arose, and the steamer lost two of her anchors. If she had not steam up, she would have gone ashore.
Two passengers, the Hon. T Reynolds and Mr. Shoebridge, were nearly left behind. It would have been well for them if they had remained on shore. They had the weather to Cape Cleveland, and then there were strong winds and rain squalls.
At half past six in the evening of the 24th, with full steam on, and forward topsail, and a running sea, the Gothenburg struck on the Barrier Reef east of Port Denison, near Holborne Island. The engines were kept going astern, until near daylight, when the boats were lowered during a heavy thunderstorm, when those on deck could only see those in the boats during a flash of lightning. The ship keeling over prevented any use of the starboard boats.
Shortly after daybreak, the seas broke over her and swept the passengers from the deck, Mr. Justice Wearing of West Australia, being one of the first to go. The French Consul came up with all his money under his arm, and said he would go on the masthead, but a sea washed over him and swept him off. There were about 80 people in the boast at the time the heavy seas came, and then both the boats capsized. Five men and a woman got on one of the keels and a wave took the woman off and drowned her. One wave washed a child from the arms of her mother when she was standing on deck holding on to a rope. By twos and threes the doomed men and women were swept by those remorseless seas, and drowned before the eyes of the others, who were waiting for their own fate.
One witness in the subsequent inquiry said: “There were only 12 of the crew and 10 of the passengers saved. All the officers and stewards were drowned. It was astoundingly frightful to see men, women, and children drowning before your eyes, and you powerless to help them. Both men and women met death fearlessly. There was not a murmur from any person on board. When they were struggling in the water, they were bidding each other goodbye as if only parting for a short time. Ah heaven! The pathetic tragedy of all that dreadful scene of drowning mortals in the wild waste of storm tossed remorseless waters, their requiem the roar of the breakers and the howling of the spectral winds,
Then rose from sea to sky the wild farewell;
Then shrieked the timid and stood still the brave
And some leaped overboard with dreadful yell,
As eager to anticipate their grave,
And the sea yawned round her like a hell.
Ah, yes, it is the picture of all shipwrecks since the days when the first ships were built.
Four men who were washed adrift in that first boat landed at Holborne Island, and then the boat was smashed on the rocks. The men who tied themselves to the mast remained there for 24 hours. A few were in the main rigging. One witness said that Captain Pearce and his chief officer were on duty on the bridge until both were washed off.
And when all was over, the death toll gave the list of the lost at 105
The steamer Bunyip came from Townsville and brought Putwain, the diver, to recover the box with 2500 ozs of gold. That was apparently the first consideration.
On nearing the wreck, the body of a man suddenly rose to the surface, naked but for a linen waist belt full of bank notes reduced to a pulp.
One of the boats going over to Holborne Island passed another naked body of a man with thick curly hair, but all these bodies were allowed to drift, as there was too much anxiety concerning the living. It seems remarkable that these naked bodies were not taken by sharks.
The survivors were all taken to Bowen, whose citizens kindly collected £52, of which £32 was given to 12 survivors, who left with Captain Lake on the Victoria for Sydney. They all got free passages from McMeckan, Blackwood, and Co., the owners of the Gothenburg.
A couple of days after the wreck a mob of blacks were seen camped at the mouth of the Don waiting for cargo to be washed ashore. The wreck had been signaled by blacks from one island to another, and thence to the mainland. They told a white man that “Plenty blanket come up directly!.” It appears, however, that none of the cargo came ashore on the mainland, so the myalls waited in vain for their blankets.
Some gruesome sights were seen by Diver Putwain when he went down into the cabin of the doomed vessel. Just inside the cabin door were two dead women standing with their arms around each other, their long hair floating around their faces like the filament of seaweed, their disengaged arms rising and falling in the disquisitions of the sea, as if they were warning the diver against intruding there against the sanctitude and solitude of their final resting place.
Lying in a berth were two drowned men who had evidently never awakened to their awful fate, and the tragic and melancholy scene so mesmerized Putwain that at first he took a few minutes to recover from his resolution to reenter the death chamber, around and over which rolled the green waves of that peaceful and treacherous ocean.
Many strange fishes swam around him, and outside the vessel huge sharks circled coming within a yard of his helmet.
SQUATTER, SHEPHERD, SHEARER.
Let us call up pictures of the old and new, squatters, shepherds and shearers, just to see how they look, and lead off with the squatter.
All types are familiar to me, from today back to when I was ten years of age, and a good memory bridges the whole intervening space between the old time squatter, wearing moleskin trousers, Crimean shirt, cabbage tree hat, and blucher boots, living on a uniform diet of salt beef and damper, with a packhorse and a blackboy and a couple of spare horses, his saddle for a pillow at night, in wild unknown country, lullabyed by the howl of the dingo and the mournful whistle of the stone plover; the drays following with stores that might be six months on the road, facing floods and droughts, and fires, and hostile blacks, and lost stock, and all other ills that are cheerfully borne by the brave man who looks sternly at fate, and denies it to do its worst.
They were real men, the best of those old pioneers, whose memories are not sufficiently revered, because the work they did has no hope of ever being fully understood. It has been my lot to see a number of those old squatters pass through the stages, from the bark hut and the beef and damper stage, to the fine house, a conservatory, a motor car, or carriage and pair. It was just the same, genial, sincere, cheerful, hospitable, personality, proud of his past achievements, and in parts ashamed of his unpretentious past. But the pomp and circumstance, the glory and the splendour, the lace and the trimmings, of the sons and daughters, would have made the Great Mogul give up his palace, and hide his distinguished head, so as to be out of the hopeless competition.
Amazing deeds were done by those early squatters, incredible to a majority of the present day; but we have to remember that splendid pioneering work is still being done on Australia’s north and north-west frontiers, where many pioneers have still to face hard lives and hard work far from the advantages of civilization.
The majority of the early squatters were men of good families, many well educated, of fine physique, and fired with a fearless spirit of adventure. The explorers were the first of the pioneers, and the squatters went out on their tracks, with copies of their charts, or following their barked-tree lines.
New South Wales squatters followed the routes of Leichhardt, and Mitchell, and Cunningham, immediately their reports were published.
Patrick Leslie followed Cunningham’s track to the Darling Downs, and took up Toolburra station, where he arrived on March 20, 1840 – the first station occupied in Queensland. His brother Walter followed, with 5600 sheep, 10 saddle horses, 2 bullock teams and drays, and a team of horses and dray. The men employed were 22 ticket of leave convicts, said by Leslie, in a letter of 1878, to be “good and game men as ever existed, and equal to any 40 I have ever seen since.”
Only one servant accompanied him on his pioneering trip, a life-sentence prisoner named Murphy, sent out in the Countess of Harcourt from Dublin in 1837. He gave such splendid and loyal service to Leslie that Governor Gipps granted him an unconditional pardon. The old Hibernian warrior finally died in Charters Towers on April 6, 1878, aged 76. His name is borne by Murphy’s Creek, a railway station at the foot of the Main Range, on the overland line, a few miles from Toowoomba. The blacks called that creek “Tamammareen,” scene of the burnt fishing nets.
When Leslie was returning to Sydney, where his friends had given him up for lost, and he was mourned by Kate Macarthur, to whom he was engaged, he met Dr. Dobie, somewhere in New England, on his way out on Cunningham’s track, but in search of a way to the Clarence River, where he was the first squatter – there being only a few cedar-getters on that river in 1840, mostly ticket-of-leave men or time-expired prisoners, who had gone around by whaleboats or cutters from Illawarra or Port Macquarie.
The first squatters on the Lower Clarence were the Smalls, John and George, Thomas and William, cousins from an old Kissing Point family on the Parramatta; the Devlins and James Sweeney.
How Dr. Dobie and his men and stock ever got down from New England to the open country on the Clarence, in those days of no tracks or roads, or even blazed tree lines, is a serious conundrum.
And think of the men who cheerfully went far west and far north, into absolutely unknown country with hundreds of wild and hostile blacks in all directions; men who went out on to the Murray, the Darling, the Lachlan, the Murrumbidgee, the Bogan, Namoi, Gwydir, Severn, and McIntyre; far west to the Maranoa, the Warrego, and Paroo; and north to the Mary, Burnett, Fitzroy, and Burdekin.
A squatter named Macpherson followed Mitchell’s track to the Cogoon, and took up Mt. Abundance, on which the town of Roma stands today; lived there for years with only a hutkeeper, and bade Leichhardt a last goodbye on April 4, 1848.
Pioneer squatting was a serious work in those days. Mitchell on his journey of 1846 saw houses deserted, yards and dairies in ruins, and roads overgrown with weeds, where the frontier settlers had been driven back by the blacks, who drove nearly all the first squatters away from the Namoi, the Severn, and the McIntyre.
It was an evil time for the shepherds of those days, for they were killed in all directions. They carried their lives in their hands, and the shepherds were not always the victims. In 1861, October 17, came the murder of 19 people in one day at Wills’ station on the Nogoa, including Wills, senior, himself, and I have stood by the one grave on Cullin-la-ringgo in which 16 are buried.
Four years before, in 1857, eleven people, including nine of the Fraser family, the tutor, and an old shepherd, were killed one night at Hornet Bank station, on the Dawson.
A squatter named Faithful, overlanding to Victoria in the 1830s, had seven men killed out of 15 on the same day.
Several squatters were killed on the Mary and Burnett, including Blaxland, a partner in 1846 in Gin Gin station with William Forster, afterwards Premier of New South Wales, the man from whom the lung fish, Ceratodus, is named Ceratodus Forsteri.
Weir, the owner of Callandoon, had his son killed by the blacks, and in the case of one murder of a white man, an avenging party went to a blacks camp, when the men were absent, and shot all the women. That was related to me by one of the white men concerned, and confirmed by the old blacks that were there. There was war everywhere between the two races. The early squatters went out hundreds of miles beyond all roads, and all settlement, and faced difficulties unimaginable today.
They have gone forever, those old-time squatters – vanished with an environment which can never return. The present day squatter has none of their difficulties and dangers, though, Heaven knows, he has enough to contend with in blowflies, foxes, eagle-hawks, dingoes, strike lunatics, and the payment of members brand of politician, the greatest national calamity of all. By the modern squatter is meant the man who made his own station, and is the owner, not the manager installed by a bank or some financial institution, and sometimes not knowing a wombat from an opossum or a brigalow from a bottle tree.
The shepherd of today rides round his fences on horseback, or a bicycle, or a buggy, and has to face nothing more dangerous than a goanna, or a carpet snake. The modern shearer goes to his sheds on motor bicycles or in motor cars, and requires two sheets on his bed, a warm bath, and his dining table seems to lack nothing but salad bowls, finger glasses, serviettes, and sparkling Moselle. If the old time shearer who never struck, except for more work, could just come back to express his opinions, his language would doubtless rake well and give pleasure to all.
If the shepherds of the early years could return to have a look at their modern representatives, they would merely sadly observe, “Oh, spare me days! Is that a shepherd? Take me back to the cemetery!”
THE OLD TOLL BAR ROAD
On Friday last a representative of “The Chronicle” had a most interesting interview with Mrs. Sarah Ann Taylor, (wife of the late Mr. Charles Taylor, who died some 28 years ago).
The reason for the interview was the notes written by Mr. Meston under the heading used above. At that time mentioned in Mr. Meston’s memoirs, Mrs. Taylor had charge of the gates on the old Toll Bar Road. By the way, Mrs. Taylor, it may be mentioned, is 81 years of age. “I was the only one in the family, apart from mother and father,” she stated, “and we came to Australia in 1851 in the ship ‘Hope.”
“My father was a carpenter in the old country and was engaged in the building of the Crystal Palace in London, which opening event I witnessed. I distinctly remembered seeing there, Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and the Duke of Wellington. I can distinctly remember the man who was in charge of the building of the place – his name was Paxton.”
An original photograph handed to the esteemed lady by Queen Victoria was produced immediately, so reverently was it held amongst other collections.
Mrs. Taylor has 42 great grand-children, and many of her descendants served with great honor in the late war. The building in which Mrs. Taylor now lives is in Neil Street, adjoining the Darling Downs Building Society. Her daughters are Mesdames J. B. Henderson, Toowong; Oliver Smyth, Toowoomba; George Smyth, Gatton; H. Ashley, Mount Hatton; Messrs. George Taylor, Brisbane; and A. E. Taylor, Toowoomba. There are also four members of the family dead. In the present house, they have resided for 20 years.
Speaking of the old Toll Bar Road, Mrs. Taylor, who had charge of the gates at the time, had some interesting reminiscences to relate and, although the pleasant old lady is well advanced in years, she introduced many interesting matters in the course of the conversation our representative had with her. Of a retentive memory, she was able to give out first-hand the information sought.
“At that time,” she stated, “we charged £1 per 1000 for sheep to pass through the gates, 1d per head for cattle in a mob, 1d per head for working bullocks, and 2d per wheel for every wheel, which meant that if there were four wheels on the vehicle, the charge would be 8d.”
In a humorous strain Mrs. Taylor stated that at one time a circus came through, included in the outfit of which was an elephant. She had particulars alright of horses etc., but the elephant was not scheduled, so she let him through without charge. “This occurred about 55 years ago, Mr. Pressman,” the lady added, “so I hope they won’t prosecute me for it now, and I don’t think there is any harm in mentioning it at this stage. Another matter I might mention is a number of sheep which were being driven over the ‘possum track to avoid the toll, and when we heard of them proceeding by a side track we got in touch with the drovers, and them the owners, and they were fined heavily by the Government.”
“At the time of was speaking of, Peter Brassey and a Mr. Betts had charge of the construction of the railway further west.
“I have seen as many as from 24 to 30 bullocks in one team endeavouring to get up the range in wet weather. Pity we could not get some of that ‘wet’ weather now,” she added, ironically.
“Old Mr. Galton, who had the hotel there, would bring his supplies to the bottom of the hill and then double bank with his bullocks and bring his goods up, in sections; I remember that quite well. I have seen as many as 35 and 40 going or coming to or from Toowoomba and other parts in one day,” the lady added.
“Before we took over the Toll Bar the gate was conducted by old Mr. Ryan, who later handed over to Mr. J. A. Phillips, who afterwards owned the Queen’s Hotel. The name of Mr. Turner, whose Christian name could not be remembered that he came from about Helidon.
“On one occasion she remembered a man coming along on a knocked-up horse, which he was practically pushing along, and asked for a bucket of water for the quadruped. You know, we were selling soft drinks at that time.” Our pressman assured Mrs. Taylor that he did not know. “Well, we were, anyhow,” she added. “We could not supply him with the fluid asked for, and pointed out that it cost 4/6 per load, and that it had to be carted up the range and that it could only be obtained on two days during the week. The visitor then ordered half a bucket of hop beer for his horse, which was supplied, and was relished, apparently by the thirsty beast.
A ROMANCE OF AUSTRALIAN LIFE
BY JOHN SANDES
There was once a famous racehorse – acclaimed by thousands at Randwick and Flemington – who was named The Australian Peer. It was years afterwards that the late Sir John Forrest, of Bunbury, who was the first real Australian peer, was made a baron.
Another Australian peer, the Earl of Ducie, a hearty old gentleman of 88, late of Maryborough, Queensland, who recently inherited the earldom on the death of his elder brother at the age of 94, arrived at Liverpool yesterday by the Ascanius from Sydney, and today I called upon him at the Curzon Hotel in Mayfair, where he is staying for a few days with his relatives before going off to his family seat at Tortworth Court, in Gloucestershire.
There he will be welcomed home by his two sisters, who have not seen him since he said goodbye to them on the eve of his departure from England for Sydney in a sailing ship 57 years ago.
An old gentleman who has been in Australia since the close of the Crimean War, is surely entitled to describe himself as an Australian – as he does. He is also without doubt the fourth Earl of Ducie, and he announces that he intends to take his seat in the House of Lords forthwith. An Australian peer, unquestionably.
From the banks of the Murrumbidgee to the benches of the House of Lords is a long step, but this straight-backed, clear-eyed old gentleman with his snow-white beard and moustache has straddled it. Sitting beside him on a sofa in his private sitting room at the Curzon Hotel in Mayfair, while he smokes his cigar with evident enjoyment, and speaks calmly of incidents which took place when the diggers were still rushing from the Turon to Ballarat, and when the echoes of the fighting at the Eureka Stockade had hardly ceased to reverberate around Bakery Hill, one has a feeling that this ancient earl is Rip Van Winkle reincarnated and descending again from his Catskill Mountains to a world that has forgotten almost all that he remembers.
Berkeley Basil Moreton, fourth Earl of Ducie, has come back to a country that is vastly changed from the England that he left in 1855, as a lad of 21, when his Rugby schooldays fresh in his mind.
“I went out to Sydney,” said the old gentleman, “in a ship named the Waterloo. Our chief mate, whose name I cannot remember, afterwards became the captain of the Dunbar, which was wrecked on the rocks just outside Sydney Heads, and only one man was saved – only one man! Just before we reached Sydney, peace was declared (as we heard afterwards), at the end of the Crimean War. Sir William Denison, who built Fort Denison in Sydney Harbour, was then the Governor of New South Wales. He was an officer of the Royal Engineers, and I believe that he reconstructed the military defences in Sydney. There was an apprehension during the Crimean War that the Russians might send a naval expedition against Sydney, and new forts and batteries were hurriedly constructed to meet the danger. I had letters of introduction to Sir William Denison and I accompanied him soon after my arrival on a visit to Bathurst. We drove over the Blue Mountains in a carriage attended by an escort, and I remember that there was a strong detachment of soldiers at Bathurst. They were encamped on tents on the bank of the river. I have no idea that they were there on account of a great outbreak of bushranging that had taken place in the Bathurst district.
Sir William Denison and myself lunched with the officers at their mess in the encampment. I can see the white tents by the river and the red coats of the soldiers now.
After I had enjoyed Sir William Denison’s hospitality in Sydney, I went to a Murrumbidgee sheep station owned by Clarke and Macleay, and there I remained for about two years learning all I could about sheep.
In 1857 I had a trip to Melbourne with one of the partners, and went to the races at Flemington. Then back to Sydney by a small sailing vessel, which took three weeks to make the voyage, and, in due course, I bought a station at Gayndah in Queensland. It was while I was there that I rode in my first race.”
The old gentleman displayed a sudden gleam of excitement at the mention of his racing exploits, but there was something else as well as excitement, there was a distinct chuckle that seemed to demand investigation. “Did you win the race?” inquired the interviewer.
“No, I did not – but I could have won it,” was the bewildering reply of the ancient earl, who accompanied his answer with a look that can only be described as sly. Surely, reflected the astounded interviewer to himself, this octogenarian British peer is not going to confess that he is a “Johnny Armstrong.”
“You see, it was this way,” said the fourth Earl of Ducie, lighting a fresh cigar. “The owner of my mount had two horses entered for the race – mine and another. He had declared to win with the other. So I had to deny myself the pleasure of being first past the post.”
Thank goodness the explanation was perfectly proper and strictly in accordance with the most rigid code of turf morality. That a rider who had the blood of belted earls in his veins, and who was destined to become a belted earl himself 60 years later, should deliberately pull his mount at an up-country race meeting in Queensland, might have shaken the faith of the early Queenslanders in the House of Lords.
Happily Mr. Berkeley Basil Moreton – as he was then – did not pull his too speedy mount at that almost pre-historic race meeting. He merely abstained from winning on the animal – strictly in accordance with the law and custom of the turf.
“Did you ever do any riding over fences?” was the next inquiry, and a twinkle promptly appeared in the old gentleman’s eyes.
“I tried to,” he said, “but at that time there were very few fences in Queensland. The country was in its natural state. I recollect riding 50 miles once without seeing a fence, though I saw scores of emus and kangaroos. At last, when I had almost given up hope, I sighted a bit of a dogging fence, but I got a great disappointment. My horse would not jump!”
One gathered that the pioneer pastoralists of Queensland in those early days suffered heavily. Droughts, fires, and attacks by the blacks on lonely out-stations made life both strenuous and unprofitable for them.
“Sheep were a failure, so I went in for cattle,” said the old earl, “but I found pretty soon that the only use I could make of the cattle was to boil them down, and in the end I lost my Gayndah station. I took up another place then near Maryborough, on the banks of the river, and that has been my home for the last fifty years. It was there that I was married; it was there that all my children were born, and it was there that I lost my wife. I wish that she could have lived to come to England with me and to share in the honor and high station that has befallen me. My place at Maryborough is about 90 miles from Gayndah. It is in a beautiful position on the ban of the Mary River. A fine place, the land should be worth a bit of money some day.”
The old gentleman went on to narrate how he entered politics and became a member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly. In the 1880s he became Minister for Education in the Government of Sir Samuel Griffith, and remained in office for three years, until the Griffith administration was displaced by Sir Thomas McIlwraith. The turbulent tide of Queensland politics swept him out of the Legislative Assembly, but he became, in due course, a nominee member of the Legislative Council, which has now been swamped by Labour nominee members and has committed suicide by resolving upon its own abolition.
“I hear that the Royal Assent has been given to the abolition of the Legislative Council,” said the patriarch, chuckling, “but I have still got my gold railway pass,” and he proudly showed it to me dangling on his watchchain, a unique decoration, one imagines, among all orders and ornaments worn by the members of the House of Lords.
The now Earl of Ducie may live in grandeur at stately Tortworth Court in Gloucestershire, and he may take his seat on a bench upholstered in red leather in the House of Lords when the King and Queen go there to open Parliament, but his heart will be still in far away Australia. One knows it from the changed tone in his voice when he spoke of the old home by the river near Maryborough.
In this history of the old Brisbane gaol, there is a remarkable incident that ought to be dear to the heart of Conan Doyle, and all spiritualists. When Stevens, the botanist, was killed in 1866, near Mooloolah, by three blacks, one known to the whites as “Tommy Skyring” was arrested and held for trial until he was anxious to be hanged, as he could neither eat nor sleep. He had actually given himself up to the police, and asked to be hanged, as the ghost of Stevens repeatedly came and looked over his shoulder, until the fear of it became unbearable!
He actually died in gaol, worn out to a state of emaciation, his death due to starvation and want of sleep. What mystery is in the tragedy, the plain fact remains a certainty.
In my reference to the first Queensland editor, Arthur Sydney Lyon, who died at Cleveland Point on October 2, 1861, no mention was made by me that he not only started the Moreton Bay “Courier” on June 20, 1846, but he also started the “Free Press” in 1849, the “North Australian” in Ipswich on October 2, 1855, and the “D. D. Gazette” on June 11, 1858.
The “Free Press” was a squatters’ paper, and was for a time edited by my uncle, Robert Meston, father of the present Mrs. A. K. Cullen, of “Ardendeuchar,” Warwick, and Mrs. Paterson, of Toowoomba. He was at the time owner of Morven station on New England. No copy of the paper appears to be available.
Mrs. Paterson is now 93 years of age, and her brother, Frank Meston, is 95, and still breaking in his own horses on Rivertree station!
The Japanese earthquake recalls a fairly severe shock of earthquake in Brisbane on December 14, 1851, and two others since then. There was one in 1843.
How many people know that the French started a settlement at Albany and then abandoned it before Major Lockyer arrived there with his gang of convicts.
When captain J. Lort Stokes was out on our coast in the Beagle from 1837 to 1843, he had a cook who had come through an amazing experience. The cook and two Negroes were the sole survivors on a small vessel that had capsized, the three being imprisoned in the hole where they could have lived until the pent up air became too foul to breathe.
They managed to bore a hole in the boat, and thread out a stick with a handkerchief which floated in the breeze. Fortunately the unique flag of distress was seen by a passing vessel, which sent a boat and crew who cut a hole big enough for the cook and the two Negroes to come through.
This happened more than once in the history of the sea, and in the 1850s, on the Tweed River, in New South Wales, a settler named Johnny Boyd, a timbergetter, was walking along the beach with an axe over his shoulder, when he came to the hull of a vessel lying bottom upwards on the sand. Hearing a knocking from inside he cut a hole large enough to free a Frenchman, who was the sole survivor of the wreck. He, too, like the cook on the Beagle, had plenty of food, but it was a terrible dark cell to be hold up in.
Among the earliest surveying ships on our coast was H.M.S. Fly, Captain Beete Jukes, who was sent out from 1842 to 1846. The Fly people unfortunately excited the hostility of the aboriginals at nearly every place they landed, and, of course, that left a bad legacy of ill-feeling against the next white men who came along the coast. At Cape Direction Bayley, the boatswain, was one of those who went ashore, and he was so badly speared that he died on the third day. That cape is a most romantic spot, with the most eccentric granite forms ever seen by me on any part of the coast. Jukes writes of the Cape Cleveland blacks as “well made, active men, erect, free, and graceful, with good faces, and soft vocalic speech.”
In Wickham’s River, now the Burdekin, they were “tall, athletic men, bold and confident, one man with a Nubian like face.”
During a visit by me to cape Cleveland, in 1881, accompanied by Edwin Norris, in the yacht Maude, a broken 4 pounder cannon cast iron ball was picked up on top of the Cape, among the rocks, one of several others found there, and assumed to have been fired from some passing vessel, whose people regarded all aboriginals as legitimate targets. As the Fly record mentions the shooting of aboriginals at Rockingham Bay, Cape Melville, and Cape Direction, it is probable the Cape Cleveland people received some cannon practice.
STORY OF ASCENTS
SOME EARLY HISTORY
I have followed with the deepest interest the correspondence on Mount Lindesay, Mount Barney, and Mount Hooker, and students of our Australian history are indebted to the labours of correspondents for the trouble they have taken to define, and in some cases to ascend, these mountains to determine their correct altitude, to survey the surrounding country, and in other ways to compare or contrast the descriptions given by Allan Cunningham and Captain Logan and Mr. Fraser in order to remove the confusion caused by the original names being transposed. I note that most of the correspondents spell the name Lindesay without the “e.” One writer, Mr. J. Hardcastle, in “The Daily Mail,” of September 20, concludes: “It will be noted Cunningham spelled the name “Lindesay,” but the “e” has now been dropped.” In the interests of Australian Historical Society, I would like to point out that, although through our careful orthography, the “e” has been dropped in the year past, yet in Northern New South Wales it is now generally included, thanks to Mr. H. Selkirk, F. R. H. S., who, in 1918, drew the attention of the Lands Department to the erroneous spelling, with the result that the necessary corrections were ordered to be made upon the official maps of the department. As is generally known, this name (which ought to have been perpetuated today by the colossus of the Macpherson Range, near the boundary of the States – Mount Barney, that Allan Cunningham and Mr. Fraser ascended) was given out of compliment to Colonel Patrick Lindesay, officer commanding H. M.’s 39th Regiment in the colony.
It may be interesting to mention that Mount Lindesay, which is a detached, remarkable mountain, standing alone in splendid isolation, like Saul among the people, unconnected with any particular range, although there are to the north Mount Clan Morris (now Mount Walker), and Knapp’s Peak, and to the east Mount Barney (the original Mount Lindesay) of the same dominant character, is only a few miles from Kyogle, and the new Federal Government proposed line. This highly picturesque mountain gives rise to not fewer than three of our rivers. A mere spur of it separates the dark defile of the Richmond River (120 miles long) from those of the Clarence River, which also rises in Mount Lindesay, pursuing amore southerly and longer course over 250 miles. At a short distance on its northern side rises the Logan River.
The scenery in skirting the base of Mount Lindesay is exceedingly interesting and romantic, the country being open forest, well-grassed, and presenting occasional tracts of soft woods, which, with the advent of two projected railways, will yield the treasures to closer settlement.
In the 1850s and 1860s, there were three roads from northern New South Wales to Limestone (Ipswich) and Moreton Bay. One was via the Lower Richmond, along the beach, crossing the Tweed and the Logan near their mouths, which was the route taken by Mr. Oliver Fry, J. P., the first Commissioner of Crown Lands for the border police district of the Clarence, in the latter 1840s, when travelling to Brisbane. The second road, a mere bridle track, went out from Casino, via Mr. W. C. Bundock’s Wyangarie station, and stretched across the intervening country from Mount Warning, by which route Brisbane is only 60 miles distant from the Richmond. It is decidedly the direct line, and there are no insurmountable or even formidable obstacles in the way. The third also was a bridle track by the foot of Mount Lindesay, up the valley of the Richmond, which is crossed and recrossed repeatedly. There are series of beautiful flats or plains, of limited extent, each surrounded by an amphitheatre of hills, with the river flanked with tall trees where originally lofty cedars occasionally towered silently in its deep bed.
Unumgar station now owned by Mr. T. de M. Hill, is the highest station on the Richmond River, distant from Wyangarie, about 20 miles. It was taken up by Mr. James Glennie, a brother of Archdeacon Glennie, of Warwick, and of Dr. Glennie, at Singleton, and a second cousin of Mr. G. J. T. Glennie, chief of the Stock Department at Murwillumbah, who came from the Hunter about 1846.
From him it passed to Captain Sherwood, who sold it to its present owner, Mr. T. Hill. It is decidedly the most picturesque and romantic station in Northern New South Wales, situated on a gentle slope in the narrow valley of the Richmond, the mountains to the right and left forming quite an amphitheatre. Mount Lindesay (4060 feet) rises in the distance in front like a square turret. At that half forgotten period of our history, Mr. Glennie, gathering up the wreckage of his fortune, which he was obliged to sacrifice during the bad times following the disastrous period of 1842, when the Colony became practically bankrupt, buried himself in this Northern wilderness, “far from the haunts of prying men.” Mr. Glennie made several unsuccessful attempts to reach the summit of Mount Lindesay. The aboriginals of this part of the country told him that two blackfellows once ascended to the summit of its square tower by means of the numerous wild vines which were then growing up its steep and quite precipitous skies. But a great bush fire on the mountain having subsequently destroyed all the vegetation, the summit, up till 1872, had been inaccessible to mortals. To ascend Mount Lindesay has ever been regarded as a remarkable feat. Fully 100 feet of rope is necessary, and even then success is not to be lightly won, as there are two cliffs to be scaled before reaching the top, the first 190 feet high, and the second one 100 feet.
Many attempts have been made but only seven have been successful.
The first white man on Mount Hooker (Lindesay of today), it is admitted, was Mr. Pears (at one time Police Magistrate at South Brisbane), who, with Mr. T. de Murray-Prior, of Maroon, in 1872, gained the top.
The next successful one was Mr. Borchgrevink and Mr. Brown, in 1899.Since then the following have succeeded: Messrs. C. B. Paul, C. Boyd, and W. P. Campbell, in 1903; J. Alderman, in 1910; E. P. Dark, in 1913, Messrs B. A. Strachan (headmaster, Thargomindah public school) and W. Gaylard, of the Department of Public Instruction in 1913, Mr. Gaylard again reaching the top with Mr. M. O’Connor, in 1915.
These authorities differ as to the area of thick scrub on the crown, variously estimating it from 10 acres to 40 acres. Early in September last, three young surveyors from the Tylorville survey camp, with the aid of long ropes to negotiate the overhanging rocks, also succeeded. They discovered names carved on trees (as other did), a penny and a collar stud; also found plenty of water in the dense scrub on top, but like most of the others, they vow they would never tackle the feat again.
BY ISOBEL HANNAH
Attention was recently directed to the inquiry of the correspondent regarding the derivative of Wongawallan. There are still, no doubt, old residents of the Logan and Albert who have recollections of the notorious aboriginal Peter, but it is evidently forgotten that “Wongawallar” was the native name of that “Murdering Peter,” who for many years terrorized both his fellow tribesmen and the early white settlers from Logan to the Tweed. When settlement first took place in the southeastern district of Queensland, there was a considerable aboriginal population, principally owing to the abundance of native food on the coast and elsewhere. The original inhabitants of what is now the Logan and Albert districts were amongst the best developed physically and mentally of the Australian blacks.
Wongawallar was no exception, but he was absolutely untamable, and in the fastness of his native mountains, he was as quicksilver in the hands of the representatives of law and order, who were constantly seeking to apprehend him.
When a settler named Wilkinson was murdered by him on what is now Wonga Wallan Creek, the authorities made renewed efforts to effect his capture, but in vain. At length, however, during a fight in February, 1879, Wongawallar had his foot almost severed by one of the Albert tribe, known as “Grasshopper,” (Tibirei), who was goaded beyond endurance by his adversary. The murderer was then secured, and shortly afterwards, while awaiting trial in Brisbane Gaol, died from his wound, defiant to the last of the white man’s authority.
During the following month of March, a great corroboree was held at Tambourine, in which blacks, headed by one known as the “Chief of the Logan and Pimpana,” gathered to take part. There came tribal representatives from the Richmond, Tweed, Brisbane, Ipswich, and the surrounding districts to the number of 250, with a contingent of twice that number of dogs. An eye-witness has recorded that the night was very dark, and from the number of camp fires, the scene resembled a new rush on the goldfields.
After waiting some time, a peculiar humming noise, made by the men’s voices, and taken up from hut to hut, gave signs, as it were, of the approaching rise of the curtain. A chant was raised, and about 100 blacks gathered around a tree, and commenced ascending, until there were about thirty of them up the trunk. It was cut off about 40 feet from the ground, and they crowded up until the tree could hold no more, with one of them on top. These performers had a grotesque head-dress, with an arched box from the back of the head to the forehead, upon which were cockatoos’ crests placed in sticks standing erect. On a song being given by those below, gins included, the men on the tree would all swing round half way at arm’s length, bowing their heads, feathers and all,, and then back again, giving the impression that the tree worked around in a groove. It was, of curse, notched deeply all the way up, giving them a foothold. With their motions up the tree, their savage shouts, beatings of nullah nullahs, the eerie shadows of the aboriginals in the glow of the camp fires, it must, indeed, have been a weird scene, worthy even of Dante’s imagination, a scene which cannot come again to the grassy glade between the gum trees near Kinghorne, not far from where is now the road, which crosses the Albert Bridge.
It was believed by the superstitious blacks that the spirit of Wongawallar was amongst them at this corroboree, and that his vengeance was directed to the one who was mainly instrumental in his capture. It is a curious fact that “Grasshopper” suddenly lost both hearing and speech, and becoming most eccentric in manner, provided for long afterwards a living embodiment of their belief.
Pimpana, from an aboriginal word signifying the “place of the soldier-birds,” and Coombabah (Koomboobah, place of the cobra) were also in the country of Wongawallar.
Pimpana was a mustering station, and Coombabah an outstation, so that the cattle run was actually from Beaudesert to the sea-coast, and included all of what is now Southport.
Employed at the former station was John Watkins, an old marine veteran of the first Chinese War, 1841- 1842. He came to the Colony in its early days, and before going to Pimpana, was engaged at the Manchester Cotton Plantation, on the Nerang. There was also a cotton plantation at Pimpana, and, when that station was thrown open for selection in 1869, Mr. Watkins removed to Hotham Creek, to take charge of the post office established there when the first mail coach communication was opened with the metropolis. The township that consequently sprung up, and of which Mr. Watkins may be said to have been the founder, received the name of Pimpana, although some three miles distant from the original Pimpana.
For some years prior to settling on the Coomera, Wilkinson had resided on the Nerang River, adjacent to where the old Main Beach Hotel was afterwards erected at Meyer’s Ferry, near Southport.
With the demolition of that old building a few years ago, there disappeared an interesting landmark which for many years stood upon a grassy knoll between the placid waters of the Nerang and the more boisterous surge of the great Pacific. To many, indeed, the old building must have been a “house of memories,” for it was a favourite resort in the old coaching days when Southport was in its infancy and Coolangatta and Burleigh were merely names with no indication of the great pleasure resorts they were destined to become.
In July, 1875, the late J. H. C. Meyer arrived with his family at what was known in those days as Nerang Creek Heads, now the fine watering place of Southport.
The original selector of the hotel site of 80 acres, was James Beattie, a timbergetter, who in the sixties, 1860s, had a good shingle-roofed verandahed cottage on the river bank where he lived with his mate, Jim Miller.
This was known to the cutter men and timbergetters as the “House of Blazes.” Portion of the residence is still standing on what is now the property of Mrs. J. G. Appel.
In Beattie’s time, there was also a jetty where the cutters called, a large log barn, and an adjoining building, which he allowed the Meyers and Mr and Mrs. Wilkinson to occupy.
On the other side of the road, Charles Edwards, who sailed a cutter from the Nerang, and his wife lived on the 40 acres owned by him, portion of which is now the reserve presented to the public by the late Hon. J. G. Appel some years ago. This was known as “Dolly’s Flat.”
Aboriginals were numerous and across the river at Bundall was the gathering place of all the South Coast tribes and those of northern New South Wales. For untold ages great corroborees were held, and traces of the camps and bora rings are still to be seen in the locality.
Wilkinson, who was of a retiring nature, was known as “Midgenstick Jack” from the fact that he earned a living gathering midgensticks obtained from a palm growing in the scrubs, which were shipped to Brisbane in Mr. Edwards cutter, and eventually sold as walking sticks. Wilkinson, however, seemed to have a propensity for provoking the anger of the blacks, for early in 1876, he incurred the displeasure of some of them, owing to a dispute over the payment of midgensticks which they had brought him. They threatened his life and a hostile demonstration took place outside Beattie’s barn.
A large number had gathered under the leadership of a powerful black, called Billy Blossom, and they demanded the surrender of the refugees. The terrified Wilkinsons took refuge under a bed, but by the diplomatic action of the Meyers family, to whom the natives were favourable, owing to their kindness, they were pacified, and eventually departed in peace.
It was realised, however, that the enmity of the natives was unabated so far as the Wilkinsons were concerned, and they were requested to leave. They then removed to Upper Coomera, where, as has been stated, Wilkinson met his death at the hands of Wongawallar.
Mr. Meyer was so impressed with the possibilities of the locality that he purchased Beattie’s property, and entered upon sugar growing, the industry then booming in South Queensland. The scrub river flats were cleared and planted, and owing to the immunity from frost and fertility of soil, produced, strong crops of sugar.
About 1883, Mr. Meyer erected a sugar mill, and was one of the first to operate a vacuum pan. Portion of the old mill was incorporated in the building recently demolished, and the afterpart formed the big shed which was the last to go, and previously was the meeting place of many kanakas, who were employed in the neighbourhood.
When the price of sugar fell to £6 per ton, the sugar growers of the Nerang were faced with ruin, and at that time there were seven mills in the district.
Southport was just beginning to attract visitors, and the ferry, which had been established by the far-seeing Meyer, brought tourists, who even then realised the beauties of the locality. Owing to their representations, Mr. Meyer obtained a license for his residence, which was situated on the corner between the fig trees opposite the fine Surfers Paradise Hotel of today.
A number of Brisbane speculators purchased the section fronting the sea from Mr. Meyer, and subdivided it. Then came the financial crash of 1893, and the place languished until the construction of the Southport bridge and road brought it again into prominence.
Mr. A. Meston writes: “Your northern telegrams report the wreck of a ketch called the “Myra” with all hands. This was evidently the ketch “Myro,” a boat on which I had an unforgettable experience, the worst in my lifetime.
The Myro was a long narrow ketch of about 10 or 12 tons, once owned by the London Missionary Society, who had her fitted as a steam screw driven launch, but when she finally arrived at Thursday Island, the engine, and screw and boiler were removed and then she became one of the fastest sailing boats in the Torres Straits.
At the time of my unpleasant experience, she came down to Weymouth Bay to load sandal wood collected by the Pascoe River blacks for Cobbett and Edmonds.
After about four months on the Peninsula, from Newcastle Bay to the Chester River, including a week on Forbes Island (“Mootharra”), my final camp was on the southwest shore of Weymouth Bay (“Co-keeng-on”) having been located for two weeks 14 miles up the Pascoe, a river with more crocodiles (“Eewye”) than any other in my experience.
On the morning of my leaving by the Myro for Thursday Island, I was bitten on the right wrist just about daylight, by a snake the blacks called “irra,” a brown snake with two red streaks across the head, still unknown to science. This was my third snake bite. The blacks had told me on the previous day that the bite of “irra” was not fatal for two days, being quite unconscious of my near experience in proving their accuracy. Not until midnight of the day of the bite was I conscious of being bitten at all, though the snake was seen by me and killed. Awakened by a dreadful pain in my wrist, a Pascoe black on board saw at once what was wrong and with my razor made two incisions in my wrist, said by Dr. White to be as skilful as if done by a surgeon. But the blood refused to flow, and so, all the way to Thursday Island, for another awful day and night, there was an agonizing pain which reached the limit of human endurance.
And all the journey that gallant Myro, before a southeast gale, travelled nine miles an hour, and rushed through Albany Pass and round Cape York in the night, and anchored at Thursday Island at 6 in the morning, just in time to save my removal from this planet.
I entered the hospital, under Dr. White’s care, weighing 12.4 and three days under a month emerged with 9 stone.
Alas! It is sad to remember that Dr. White and Dr. Wassell are dead for years, and that Fred Lancaster, skipper of the Myro on that trip, has also gone hence to the land of shadows, and now the Myro herself is at rest, for ever, among the coral fields, and rainbow coloured shells, and weirdly painted fishes, of, the Barrier Reef.
The sad story, “A Grave among the Pines,” in a recent edition of the “Courier,” was of great interest to me and, I should say, to many old identities on the Condamine and Balonne Rivers. The doings of the men who blazed the track for us should always be remembered and make interesting reading. These days unfortunately a number of us are more interested in letting the other fellow know how fast our new “bus” can go when she is opened up. However, that is by the way.
Mr. H. Staunton was a great friend of my people, and though only a lad, I remember him very well. He was a particularly fine type of young Englishman, and was the owner of Coalbar station, just off the Condamine River, between Undulla and Murilla. A large sized photograph of him has been hanging in the lounge room of the Royal Hotel and later the new Royal, Surat, for something like 45 years, and thousands of travellers have viewed the picture with very great interest. Mr. Staunton was killed by lightning on Warkon station on the 31st December, 1883. Warkon, at the time, was owned by Messrs. Archie and Finlay Campbell. He had exchanged a very fine blood stallion named “Trumpeter” for some bullocks from a close-by grazier named Robinson, who lived on the Channing Creek, near Moraby. He left Coalbar on New Years Eve morning with the intention of making a short cut across to Mr. Robinson’s place, calling in at a neighbour’s place, Mr. Beck, of Yulabilla; on the way he was joined by a man named Frank Meston. They crossed the Condamine River, and when within a few hundred yards of the main Surat – Condamine Road, a storm broke over.
The two horsemen selected a huge trunked gum tree on a pretty cypress pine ridge for cover. The tree was very tall and remarkable for having little or no foliage. The lightning struck this tree at the very top, and merely cut the bark all the way to the bottom.
Mr. Staunton and the two horses were killed on the spot. Meston was partially paralysed and suffered from shock. He eventually crawled about four miles to Yulabilla, and gave Mr. Beck particulars of the tragedy.
My stepfather, the late Mr. William Lawton, Basin Dome, Surat, and I were at the spot about three weeks after the happening. My stepfather remarked to me how strange that this tree should have been selected for cover when so many heavier foliaged trees were close by.
He also remarked how quickly the horses had decomposed. The pine ridge where Mr. Staunton is buried is now covered by the ever spreading pear. It is a pretty spot.
NORTH COAST TRAINS
By Nettie Palmer
The Westaways, of Merridan Plains, are not so much a family as an elaborate clan,, and their home is not so much a station as a district. Anyone who drives south through to Brisbane from Maroochydore or Buderim, knows the Meridan Plains cattle station, the seven or eight Westaway homesteads scattered through the pastures. Again, anyone driving from Mooloolah or Landsborough to the seaside at Caloundra, must pass near Westaways; the road from Mooloolah practically shares the Westaway roads, and lets anyone see at a glance that here is no new settlement, but a long cleared pastoral home. They say that, so far from being exhausted, these plains have even improved since they were first selected in the 1860s; the spare soil washed down from the Blackall Ranges since they have been denuded of trees, has spread over these flats. There are morals to be drawn from this by the afforestation enthusiasts, but Merridan Plains will probably not draw them yet awhile.
Looking at the fact of such an old establish settlement, one wonders if anyone still living remembers the beginning of it. The man who remembers it is Mr. Tom Maddock who lives on a dairy farm at Glen View, between Merridan Plains and Mooloolah. In order to tell you the Westaway history he has to reveal his own, which is full of life and variety. Well on in the eighties, and with a flowing beard that seems to relate him with some remote past, Mr. Maddock has vigorous opinions, and eyes that kindle as with youth. He knows the North Coast district like the palm of his hand.
“I was brought to Brisbane from Cornwall by my father at the age of four,” said Mr. Maddock. “We came in 1849 in the Artemesia, the first free ship to come to Moreton Bay settlement.”
“My father got land at Eagle Farm, and did general farm work. He was needed, because in those days, vegetables were scarce, sweet potatoes 18 shillings a hundred. I grew up in Brisbane, and thereabouts, but in 1862 I started with old John Westaway for Bli Bli, up on the Maroochy River. Cutting timber we were, especially red cedar, and we’d cart it with bullocks over to the Mooloolah River with Lowe and Gregory’s bullocks. Then it would be shipped off to a sawmill.”
“Would it go to Campbell’s sawmill on Coochin Creek, entering Bribie Passage at the north end?”
“That didn’t concern me so much. We got the timber ready. It was after some time at Bli Bli that Westaway went prospecting for land, and I was with him when he decided on Merridan Plains.”
“Do you know why that name was chosen?”
“Well, it should have been Meridian Plains, something to do with the geography of them, but no one ever got it right. The Westaways weren’t exactly settled on the land they’d taken up, and it was at Alexandra Headland, between Maroochydore and Mooloolaba, that John Westaway died in 1869. I took the body to town by boat; no, we didn’t go through Bribie Passage; just straight round in the open bay.”
“The murder of the botanist near Westaways! That was at the place they call Dead Man’s Waterhole to this day. I knew all about the blacks that did that. The chief one was piper, of course. You hardly ever had any trouble with the blacks, but Piper saw the botanist with a fistful of change, and that was too much for him. I helped to catch Piper, and that took some tracking. The policeman reckoned he could just catch him with his little hand, but he needed me to help him; it was at Cobb’s Creek, at Woombye, we caught him”
“But it wasn’t enough to have Piper. We knew he was guilty; but we couldn’t prove it, without Johnny Griffen, his accomplice, who said he was willing to turn Queen’s evidence, but kept changing his mind and running off again. The police decided they had to have Johnny Griffen, and said ‘spare no expense.’ So they gave me the job, and I tracked Johnny Griffen for 21 and a half days, till I got him, up near Yandina. The police spared no expense. I never got a copper.”
“And was Piper convicted?”
“He was not, The police let Johnny Griffen get away again, and the case against Piper was dismissed. The blacks on the whole were no trouble at all, though. You had to show them you could shoot, then you didn’t need to do it. Westaway got frightened away from the Pine River by the blacks, but that was because he wasn’t ready. He started to make the bullets when he saw them coming, and spilt the lead; that wouldn’t do at all, so he went back to Brisbane and made a fresh start, to Bli Bli.”
“Did you take your bullock teams up on Buderim?”
“Yes, it was all close scrub then. The blacks used to work with us, clearing and felling. And believe me, Buderim isn’t a blacks’ name at all. It’s just ‘Bother ‘em!) (bugger them!) what we all used to say when we couldn’t find tracks through the tall timber.”
“But some of the names here are real blacks’ names, only we don’t know the right meaning. The blacks would say anything they thought you wanted them to say. Mooloolah ought to be Moolooloo, and, of course, it’s the name of the mouth of the river; then when the railway came they pinched the name for the railway station and the inland township, and the seaside place has to be Mooloolabah.”
“Except when it’s called Point Cartwright on the map,” I said, “confusing everyone with Point Arkwright, a few miles north, near Coolum!”
“As for the meaning of Moolooloo, some say it means ‘platypus,’ and some say ‘black snakes.’ The place called ‘Mudloo,’ near Woodford, is the same name, I think, and they say it means black snakes. The meaning of Caloundra? I heard it meant beachwood, the wood on the beaches, but perhaps it was the beech-wood in the scrubs.”
“What else I did? No, I wasn’t always bullock-driving, not by a long way. I was a horse-breaker for years, and used to be sent for right up to Rockhampton. And I could shoot, too, in those days; do anything with a rifle. When I look out at those fowls in the yard here, it often crosses my mind that you could knock over six of them with a good gun.”
“Did you get to know the blacks well, and speak their language?”
“Well, there wasn’t much of their language to know, so it seemed to me. They used to make one word do for so many things. They had to learn the English names for most things we used. Of course we got the names of places from them. That ridge over there, above Glen View, people call it Tippi, but the blacks called it Sippi. That means bird mountain. It was always full of birds. Then there’s Caboolture. Petrie says it means the place of carpet snakes, but the name for carpet snake is wung-i. The blacks who told him that meaning for Caboolture were pulling his legislation, the way they always liked to do. I was never sure that I’d got the rights of any name from them. Got on with them well enough. They’d work in with us on Buderim or on the plains. We’d camp together, all using the same cooking fire.”
“I’ve been settled at Mooloolah here since 1878. There was a school, the Merridan Plains school, by the Glen View cemetery you passed coming here today. The earliest settlers, the men I came up with first, are all buried there, except John Westaway, as I explained, and Tom Pethbridge. The others were John Westaway’s two sons, William and Richard, Edmund Lander (of Eudlo) and Tom Laxton, who fenced in Caloundra 50 years ago.”
“Changes? Yes, there’s that one smooth, made road out there, but it only runs about as far as this from the Mooloolah railway station. We need a good road through to the coast. Our natural port is Caloundra, but it’s a long time since I saw it. Yes, a lot of things happened when I was a young man! Why my father came to Queensland, do you ask? Why, he emigrated, in the Artemesia, that’s all.”
It is clear that the speaker has never felt himself a mere “immigrant,” with uncertainty about his surroundings. He and his son, Mr. Ewen Maddock, have left their mark on the district in the work they have done.
As I went on to my destination, which was on the rise of the “bird mountain,” rightly called Sippi, I felt that by virtue of what I had been hearing, I, too, was for that day no mere tourist. The map of the region, sparkling and alive from the wall of the Blackalls to the stretching Pacific, lay securely in my mind. The long lovely plateau northwards by the ocean, Buderim, nowadays a network of little, varied fruit farms, looking as idyllic as a fruitful Italian landscape, was also present in the mind as a dark name, first trodden by Andrew Petrie, but cleared and conquered only long after that. The road back from Glen View past Westaway’s to Caloundra seemed, after what I had been hearing, something newly discovered. To speak with someone to whom the past is at least as real as the present is to break into the past. In a world where all forces seem working toward a smooth featureless uniformity, it is good to remember that there are men who, depending on no appliances of cosmopolitan civilization, have won for themselves and their fellows a quiet place in the sun.
REPORT BY THE PROTECTOR OF ABORIGINALS
Mr. A. Meston, southern Protector of Aboriginals, has forwarded to the Minister for Lands, a Report relative to Curtis Island. The Report has been placed at out disposal.
The Report states that the island extends from opposite Gladstone North to Keppel Bay. The outer coast was washed by the ocean, and the inner coast bordered the narrows, from Gladstone to the Fitzroy River, a distance of 42 miles, and through the passage, the Government steamer Premier, conveyed passengers from Gladstone to Rockhampton.
In one part, where the width was not more than 40 or 39 yards, the channel was dry at low tide, and there was a rise of tide there of 10 to 14 feet. The whole of the frontage of the island to the narrows, was bordered by two varieties of mangroves; a narrow fringe, deepening in places where blind salt water creeks or narrow inlets ran back into the island from the narrows.
On the side facing the ocean, there were no creeks. The total coast line of Curtis Island was about 140 miles, and the total area 175 square miles, or 112,000 acres. The greater part of the island was comparatively unknown, except to two or three stockmen, who had ridden over it since Monte Christo station was held by F. Fanning, who transferred in 1870 to William L. MacGregor, who transferred to A. C. B. Praed in 1873, and who, in turn transferred to R. L. Paterson in 1875.
In 1879 it was bought at auction by A. Menzies and R. L. Paterson, who transferred to Jeffery and Murray in 1883, and they, in 1887, to J. Dougall, from whom it passed to the present holder, A. Menzies, in 1893.
The station rented an area of 146 square miles, paying a rental of £273, and the homestead was situated about 6 miles from the Narrows and about 14 miles from Cape Capricorn and 16 miles from Sea Hill. It stood on the crest of a ridge, about 200 feet above sea level.
Mr. Meston speaks of the mosquitoes on Curtis Island as the worst he ever experienced. “There are three distinct varieties on Curtis Island, each one worse than the other. They range in size, from the small black to the cadaverous long legged dark grey type, with a bill that can only be baffled by a leather jacket.”
Mr. Meston went to the southeast of the island and opposite where the Lord Auckland, with Colonel Burney’s colonizing party, stranded in 1847.
In crossing the island, dugong and turtles were met with, and large oysters were found on the sea coast rocks. The oyster rocks extended over about 5 miles of the outer coast. Boats could not land on the coast, and the rocks were so hard that not more than one oyster would come off without breaking.
Mr. Meston considered the geological formation of the country as astonishing. There was no sign of permanent water. There were tracks of emus, kangaroos, dingoes, plain and scrub turkeys, bandicoots, and porcupines, on the island. Some of the country is covered with a stunted variety of tea-tree about 10 or 12 feet high, impassable for horsemen, and forming a cover for birds and animals. The vegetation on the east coast is hard and stunted, with rocky soil. The whole of the south end of the island is comparatively worthless and destitute of any permanent water.
At the north end, wild pigs were numerous. The Monte Christo station had killed 500 or 600 wild pigs in two months, as they had multiplied so much as to become a nuisance, uprooting the best of the grass flats. Thousands of pigs had been shot in the last 10 or 15 years, and the recent drought must have killed considerable numbers by thirst and starvation. The grazing qualities of the land were pronounced fair, and fish and oysters were stated to be in abundance on the sea coast.
Mr. Meston stated that there is an abundance of land fitted for cultivation, a considerable quantity of game, practically inlimited fishing along the whole outer and inner coast line, vast quantities of oysters on the eastern side, and fishing and crabs along the whole course of the Narrows. Turtle and dugong were also plentiful. The island in ordinary seasons would carry 2,000 head of cattle. Wild pigs would multiply to thousands if protected. The best parts of the island consist of undulating country, ridges, and low hills, with intervening flats, all timbered by open forests, chiefly eucalyptus, acacias, banksias, and casuarina, the waterholes of the flats being surrounded by belts of tea-tree. One half of the outer coast consists of stony ridges, falling back into flats and low ridges.
The northern half is a series of sandhills with patches of good grass, dense thickets of tea-tree, and low, stunted, sea coast shrubs. On the northeast end there was an extensive marine plain, about 3 miles across, a favourite resort of wild fowl. All the western side, from end to end, was fringed with mangroves, which followed the blind creek into the island. On the outer coast there were no mangroves.
The only white people on the island, apart from those at Monte Christo, were the lighthouse people and the lightkeepers at Cape Capricorn and at the pilot station at the extreme northern corners of the island.
Mr. Meston advises that the whole island be proclaimed a reserve under the Native Birds Protection Act, as hundreds of birds, including ducks, swans, and native companions, go there to breed, and as the “birds of Queensland are being destroyed indiscriminately, with a prospect of extermination, the sooner they are given a few secluded parts to nest in, without disturbance, the better.” The Report directed attention to the “the wholesale destruction of the Eucalyptus citriadora on the western side of the island. Under the misleading name of spotted gum that beautiful and rare tree was being cut in hundreds for timbering drives in the gold mines in the Rockhampton district, while other timber was available.”
The Southern Protector of Aboriginals (Mr. A. Meston) has submitted a Report to the Minister for Lands on a recent visit to Curtis Island, the area of which he puts down as 175 square miles. The greater portion of it, he says, is practically unknown, and this can be understood by his references to the mosquitoes, the ravages of which are unbearable.
Monte Christo station, on the island, he mentioned, was taken up by Frederick Fanning in 1869. Rock oysters, fish, and game abound, and wild pigs seem to be present in great numbers. There is an abundance of land fitted for cultivation. Mr. Meston adds: “I would earnestly advise that the whole island be proclaimed a reserve under the Native Birds Protection Act, as hundreds of ducks, swans, and native companions go there to breed, and as the birds of Queensland are being destroyed indiscriminately, with a prospect of extermination, the sooner they are given a few secluded parts to nest in without disturbance, the better. I desire also to direct the Minister’s attention to the wholesale destruction of the eucalyptus citriadora on the western side of Curtis Island. Under the misleading name of “spotted gum,” this rare and beautiful tree is being cut in hundreds, to be used chiefly for timbering the drives of some gold mines in the Rockhampton district.”
Sir,- Archbishop Duhig’s reference to the trees of Bardon, including a plea for their retention, was in accord with his love of the clean and beautiful in life and nature. Through the valleys of Bardon, you sense the sweetest and the dearest of the perfumes, “the smell of the bus.” Big trees send forth their strong, wholesome scent, as clean as their own limbs. This is the perfume, unlike any other, that inspires us to go out into the clean, open spaces and the breeze.
But man marks the earth with ruin. There are men in Brisbane who remember monarchs in these valleys whose bright and glistening leaves were probably rustling and murmuring in the wind when Oxley’s whaleboat came up the stream we know as the Brisbane River. Those monarchs had to fall in order to make way for homes. But the new generation has been, in many instances, wantonly sacrificed to make room for evanescent flowers.
If the trees of Bardon were removed, only dreary hillsides and unattractive gullies would remain. Fortunately, there are tree lovers in Bardon who will not allow the trees on their properties to be destroyed. To these people our thanks are due for what remains of the original beauty of Bardon. I would say that all trees should be invested in a trust, and no tree should be felled without a permit from that trust.
I am, Sir, etc.,
To the Editor
Sir, Mr. Tom Welsby’s letter in a recent issue of the “Courier,” revives recollections of old time acquaintance with the Ceratodus. I first saw the “Burnet salmon” at Gayndah in June, 1862. The fish weighed, I should say, 18 or 20 lb. I was told it was “no good to eat.” The Burnett aboriginals, among whom I had then been living for two years, expressed the exact same meaning.
From January 1861, I lived on the Burnett waters for 15 years. Boyne and Auburn Rivers- mainly affluents of the Burnett- 7 years, and 8 years on the very banks of the Burnett at Gayndah, the best accredited habitat of the Ceratodus.
During all those years, I never saw or heard of any one, black or white, eating the fish. I never tasted it; but let us hope that, as a result of its wide and successful distribution in other waters, by Mr. D. O’Connor, it may yet come to be classed as edible.
After an arduous and exciting hunt on the head of the Dawson River in January 1863, for country, I located, and subsequently stocked, Box Vale. While spelling my horses at Mount Hutton, for three weeks, my mate, - Dick Stuart- and I fished daily Hutton’s and Indune Creeks, and other Dawson waters, and caught numbers of Barramundi, a very beautiful and delicious fish, I never heard it called the “Dawson salmon,” and, of course, that name would be inapplicable to the Burnett fish. The Dawson waters run into the McKenzie and Fitzroy.
In 1869, my late brother-in-law, William Forster McCord, of Coonambula, some time M.P. for Burnett, got specimens of the Burnett salmon, had them salted, and sent down to his uncle, the Hon. William Forster, then a Minister of the Crown in Sydney, and afterwards Agent-General for New South Wales in London. The result was that the “lung fish” became the “Ceratodus Forsteri.”
Early in 1882, Professor Caldwell was sent out from London to investigate. He came accredited to me – then Police Magistrate at Gayndah. I drove him to Coonambula, which became his headquarters. Under McCord’s advice, he pitched his camp at the junction of the Auburn and Burnett Rivers, about three miles from the head station. The Boyne junctions with the Burnett a mile or so below the Auburn. I secured for Caldwell the services of my bailiff – “Dicky Dutton”- to direct several blacks engaged in search for spawn in the large holes at Gayndah. McCord had a good squad of blacks for Caldwell at his camp. All the hatchery work was done at Coonambula head station by Mrs. McCord, as a labour of love. I have often watched her transferring the little hatchlings from small cells to larger in specially made traps containing numbers of square, different sized, watertight cells. The eggs are round, gelatinous, and semi transparent, about the size of a large pea, or the tip of a little finger. The embryo shows in it a small dark streak. In some ways it resembles frog spawn. The eggs were found in the weeds and mud at the dies of and bottoms of the rivers Auburn and Burnett. About ten years later professor Richard Semon was sent out from Germany, to scientifically exploit the Ceratodus. He also came accredited to me, then Under Colonial Secretary. By a fortunate chance, McCord was in Brisbane, so I introduced the professor, and McCord took him up to Coonambula. In August 1891, Semon pitched his tent also at the junction of the Auburn and Burnett Rivers. McCord got together all the available blacks, that Caldwell had had, and, with the assistance of Mrs. McCord, at the head station, the expedition into the embryonic growth was most successful. Then Professor Spencer stayed at Semon’s camp and stayed there a while in pursuit of ceratodus spawn. These two met a couple of years later, at Jena in Germany.
Semon’s book published in London in 1899, tells that “the ceratodus has to come up every 30 or 40 minutes to express air from its pouch or lung. It will die very soon if kept out of the water in which it uses its gills like other fish. When it comes up to express air or inspire, it makes a groaning noise. It does not crawl on land nor does it get on logs in the water to sun itself. Out of water it is helpless, cannot make progression, nor does it, in drought time, embed itself in mud.”
Not being able to get Semon’s book in Australia, I asked a daughter of mine who lives in England to try. She procured a second hand copy, but kept it, sending me the extracts, I have quoted above, and graceful acknowledgements to her uncle, aunt, and father, for valuable help that contributed to the professor’s success.
As the book is not procurable here, what I have written may be of interest to many of your general readers.
I am, Sir, etc.,
W. S. Parry-Okenden.
Redcliffe. February 20.
SEMI CIVILISED NATIVE
CANNOT SETTLE DOWN
[This is the second of a series of articles which Mrs. Bates is writing for “The Advertiser.” In her first article, which appeared in January 2, she dealt with the aboriginal in his wild state, as he first appears from the interior. In this article, she deals with the semi civilised native, and in the third article, she will deal with the native who has become fully civilised. Mrs. Bates has lived for years in remote spots where she can study the native and his life. She is recognised by scientists as one of the greatest living authorities on the Australian aboriginal.]
Every group that comes down from the wilds into civilization has its own group name and its totem name, applied to and by itself. Its group name may be taken from some local dialectic term, its totem name is that of the bird, animal, or reptile, which was found by the water in the far off ages of its ancestors’ wanderings.
Many distinct groups have appeared within civilised areas, such as the War’du Wong-ga (wong-ga means speech, talk, dialect etc Wardu- wombat), and the Wan’bering Wong-ga (Wan’bering – a sort of native gooseberry growing among the sandhills of the Great Australian Bight). The former came from Fowler’s Bay, and the latter’s water was Ilgamba water, a permanent soak at the Bight head. They were a wild dog (ilga) totem group. Both groups are now extinct.
These and many other groups are represented among the derelicts now wandering along the outskirts of civilization. They are mixed and jumbled together through their promiscuous mating. A man of the old Baadu group may lay claim through a Munjinga mother or grandmother to the Munjinja Wong-ga, and call himself a Munjinja Wong-ga; fair-haired, red-haired, and even white-haired children have come out of the vast wild areas of Central South Australia and Central Western Australia.
Along the headwaters of the Murchison and Gascoyne Rivers, I traced the broad-faced, yellow-haired descendants of the Dutch criminals whom Pelsart marooned on the mainland in the 17th century. Little Bai-ali, the son of Goo-yama, a Munjinja, and Thang-una a Mang-gundha, had quite white hair as a child and boy, and his father told me that white hair was a family characteristic in certain areas, just as left-handed boys and girls came from certain families.
In the area south-south-west of the Badu Wong-ga of Boundary Dam, there were families – or perhaps descendants of one family – most (but not all) of whose members were six fingered and six toed. Helm published the sketch of one female member of these families in the sixties (1860s)
How far into these central areas did Leichhardt and his doomed party penetrate? They left no outward track for the natives to follow, but old men who have kept up with the young trekkers from their home waters, tell of legends of “jinna nganju,” “spirit footprints” (boots?) which their initiation guardians pointed out to them as they fearsomely stepped aside to avoid them.
There was once a great area that no native entered until an Englishman crossed it. No mob or small group or single person ever crossed Nullarbor Plain until the late Arthur Chichester Beadon crossed it from Ilgamba Water at the head of the Bight to Murgaree Water on the plain’s northern edge.
The natives hunted kangaroo and emu about 20 miles from the plain’s edge. Beyond that distance they never ventured. A great “sulky” ganba (magic snake) owned the plain and killed and ate any native whom he caught upon it. The plain swarmed with kangaroos and emus, as, owing to the snake legend, it had been a perpetual sanctuary for big game. No native ever crossed it until a little mob was persuaded by Mr. Beadon to accompany him from Ilgamba to Murgaree Water.
There are four main tracks- north, south, east, and west – by which the central aboriginals have been entering civilization during the past 60 years. How far northward they trek I have not been able to ascertain.
The various civilised areas, stations, goldfields, telegraph outposts, railway sidings, farms etc., which they reach, all react upon the little mobs who suddenly come upon them. Best of all these civilised areas are the stations, especially those stations where white women and children are living.
There are no drones among those splendid outback pioneers. The station owner went fearlessly to the wild creatures, his women gave them food. He gave them occupation of some kind, and his wife initiated the naked women and girls into little home duties suited to their understanding. The utter fearless of the white people was “magic” to the natives, and so just and so kindly and temperately were they dealt with by the white family that I have found children and grandchildren of these wild central cannibals claiming the station as their ngoora (camp, fire, home) though it had been alien ground to their fathers.
The decent white woman kept down the half-caste menace as much as it was in their power to suppress it by their own daily example. The only effective way of bringing British civilised conditions to the understanding of the aboriginals is by example. The natives stayed and worked and learned and were kept separate from the white family. There was no familiarity of intercourse. The white women visited the camp if sickness was there, but the native privacy was otherwise undisturbed, and the white people kept their privacy.
Other little wild mobs came to the telegraph outposts, where conditions somewhat similar to the stations prevailed. The men were given crude jobs, easily learned, by which they earned their keep. The wise white telegraphists kept their distance, and the natives learned – by example- to keep theirs. From the first moment of the natives’ contact with the white man, their study of him begins. In the intimate spying of their own wild lives – always “feeling” danger in camp or on trek- the tiniest incident is noted, and so every smallest detail of the daily life of the white men and women is studied by them, always from their own standpoint.
What great responsibility rested upon those early pioneers and indeed, upon every white man and woman who comes in contact with these wild humans! They come out of their fastnesses, a wild animal mob from the stone age of culture, and they suddenly impact against twentieth century civilization! The distance is unleapable by them, yet they conform to it by covering their nakedness and giving up their age long wild foods for the white man’s refined products. Cannibals of a month or so eat tinned fish, cake, and lollies. That is the “jump” that has led to their extinction.
In my many years of investigation among them, I have regulated the foods I give them to their constitution. In their wild life, they have great variety in foods, grubs, edible seeds, roots, fruits, honey from ants, and eucalypts, gum (for dysentery etc.) from various trees, long-tailed iguanas and short-tailed reptiles for constipation), animal meat and bird meat etc., and if near river or creek or deep waterhole, they have a fish diet.
These foods, eaten raw or slightly cooked, kept them in health. So that when illness came to them, it was surely magic and they generally turned over and died from the magic. They must have meat, for every central native is a Koo’gurda or meat-eater- from Kooga- meat and urda, arra, jarra, charra, “belonging to.” Koo’gurda is not a tribal or group name………..
MRS. RANKEN’S REMINISCENCES
Mrs. Fanny Ranken writes:
The “Peeps at the Past” that I here offer were recalled by a little book of dates of bygone events. I remember that the Port Curtis diggings (Gladstone, Queensland) in 1858, were called the Calliope diggings. Thousands of men rushed up to find that only about 300 could make a living there. The gold discovery about the same time at Rockhampton was a similar disappointment, and men were glad to work for rations.
This led to the making of the Archer’s hospitable and beautifully situated home, Gracemere, on the mere or lake, and so called after a sister who, with her parents and others of the family, lived in Norway after leaving Scotland.
At one time races were held on what was then the lake. The garden, which extended from the bungalow shaped house to the edge of the mere, was full of rare plants, shrubs and trees. On one of my frequent visits to the Archer’s a flood set in, obliging those who had to go into the township to take boast. Not a fence was to be seen in the intervening eight miles. All the young men at Gracemere spent one night, if not more, rescuing the people living about, some of whom had taken refuge in trees. To my regret I lost, in one of our many moves, a large sheet of paper with clever sketches of the rescue party, everyone being easily recognised.
One of the Archer brothers, Alexander, better known as “Sandy,” was lost in the wreck of the Quetta on the Queensland coast. Strange to say, his deck chair was found at Thursday Island, where Frank Jardine was chief magistrate, and was treasured by him, for Gracemere had been as much his home when a boy as his own home.
Colin, another of the Archer’s, was the builder of Nansen’s ship, the Fram. I met all the brothers at various times at Gracemere, and, physically and mentally, they were very fine men. Gracemere was a favourite house of call, and was always full of young men – relations and friends getting “colonial experience.” Often I have been the only woman sitting at the long dining table, in a company of 35 or more men folk. The Archers were gentlemen of the old school, full of courteous chivalry.
Archie Archer was at one time in the Queensland Legislative Assembly.
In 1880, I knew Mr. Dalrymple, who explored the Kennedy district, but who was latterly quite lame from injuries he sustained after having escaped the dangers of exploration unscathed. In those days there was a very good class of people in the north, and the women were always ready to initiate a “new chum,” as I was, into all sorts of ingenious makeshifts. Friendships formed then have lasted to this day.
I remember seeing Gardiner, the bushranger, running for his life across a paddock not far from our house on Mount Athelstane Range, and I saw him fall, disabled from a gunshot.
In the same year, the three Jardine brothers, of whom Frank, already mentioned, was one, started to explore the country up to Cape York. They were not heard of for a long time, and we were all very anxious about them; but they returned without boots to their feet or shirts on their back. Their horses had eaten poison grass, and the natives had been troublesome, but they had achieved what they had set out to do.
In 1868, Lord Belmore came out as Governor, and on the same day one of our boys was born. My husband announced the fact to his mother as “fashionable intelligence,” the son’s advent and the Governor’s being at the same time.
The Rev. Dr. Lang passed away in 1878. My husband wrote an obituary notice for a Sydney magazine, which was shown to his widow. Mrs. Lang was so gratified that she expressed a wish to see the writer. We called on her and a friendship was thus formed that lasted to the day of her death.
When Sir John Robertson and other old pupils of the doctor, put up the statue to his memory in Wynyard Square, on the spot where he used to hold his political meetings, they asked Mrs. Lang to unveil it. She was of such a retiring disposition that she shrank from the publicity, but felt, after all their kindness, that she should not refuse. She wrote me that the evening of the day turned out very wet, and that all the time she “wanted to bring it (the statue) in out of the rain and set it by the fire.”
In 1882, one of our boys saw the Garden Palace in flames, when he was pulling himself across in his dingy from North Shore to Mort’s Dock, Balmain. In those days premium apprentices were welcome. Indeed, other apprentices, too, only the latter did not go through all the “shops.” We were then living in one of two houses that were called Highgate Terrace, in Parkes Street, named after Sir Henry Parkes. One window looked into Neutral Bay, and another took in the rough road or track, leading through the bush to Willoughby Falls, the only other house then visible being Branxholme Hall, named after an old place at home. How changed it all is now! No one knows anything about the falls.
Following in the wake of Mr. A. Meston’s “Geographic History of Queensland” comes a small pamphlett of 35 pages issued by the Government Printer.
The preliminary chapter is a letter addressed to the Hon. Horace Tozer appealing strongly for justice to the aboriginals, and atonement for the shameful past.
The rest of the work is a concise and lucid history of the manner in which the aboriginals were treated by the various colonies, an account of the work being done by all the colonies at the present time, and a brief but comprehensive outline of a scheme for the future improvement and preservation of the Queensland aboriginals.
Certainly no other man is better qualified to write and speak authoritatively on such a subject; and if Mr. Tozer will accept Mr. Meston’s proposals and inaugurate a system of Aboriginal Settlements on suitable reserves, with competent men in charge, and lay a solid foundation for the lasting benefit of this unfortunate race, he will hand his name down to posterity associated with a noble philanthropic work more enduring than any legislation passed in the colony up to the present time.
That daring aeronaut, Miss Essie Viola, who behaved so bravely in the late balloon accident at Gympie last week, is announced to make a balloon ascent here on Saturday afternoon next, when it is to be hoped no such accident will happen again. She will descend from the balloon- a new one, by the bye- in a parachute. Miss Viola will make an ascent in Gympie today.