REMINISCENCES OF THE EARLY DAYS
TOLD BY VICTOR DRURY
As a very old resident of Brisbane, who can carry his memories back to the late 1870s, I thought a description of various parts of our city in the early days would be interesting.
Early in the 1870s, the house at the then end of Boundary Street was
occupied by Mr. D. F. Longlands and his neighbour Albert Victor Drury, two
well-known old Brisbane families.
Close to Mr. Drury’s residence was a stone wall, erected by the late W.
Arthur Martin, then an auctioneer. He planned to build a residence there, but
this was not proceeded with, and later on the property was acquired by the late
Mr. J. W. Sutton, a well-known engineer, who had a ship-building yard on
Kangaroo Point, adjoining Burley Bros.’ Sawmill.
There was only a track to the end of Boundary Street, and on one side
with the river frontage was the Brisbane Gas Works. Where Adelaide Street
extends to Boundary Street, there were turnstiles and only pedestrians could use
the “short-cut” into Queen Street.
Opposite the Boundary Street turnstile was the home and workshop of Mr.
Stephen Rogers – carpenter- and above his place the house occupied by Mr. George
Spencer, who was employed by Messrs. Bright Bros., afterwards Gibbs, Bright, and
The Gas Company had a small wharf where coal punts discharged their
cargoes. From the Gas Company’s property to the foot of Queen Street, was a
green slope, no wharf. Mr. Francis Beattie, a former member for Fortitude
Valley, had a small wharf the downstream side of the Kangaroo Point ferry. There
was no retaining wall at the Bight, and a road ran from the Customs House around
the hill, occupied by private residences, towards the valley.
Adelaide Street was not “cut down” for some years and to go to the old Normal School, we walked from the Valley over Dr. Hobb’s hill. The doctor had a stone residence, which is still standing, next to the Anglican Cathedral.
At the corner of Wharf and Adelaide Streets, Mr. John Petrie had his
monumental works, and carpenters and joinery shops. He was a large builder and
contractor and resided in a two story stone house overlooking Queen Street. On
the other corner was a Congregational Church, the Rev. Edward Griffith who
resided next to Mr. Petrie was the Minister, and the father of the late Sir
Samuel Walter Griffith. The Bank of Australasia occupied their present position
and had a garden extending up Wharf Street to the Baptist Church, on the site
where Mr. R. W. Thurlow and Co. are at present.
As years went on, Messrs Howard Smith and Company wharves were erected
between the Kangaroo Point ferry and the Gas Works, and that necessitated the
building of the stone retaining wall running along the bight.
As Brisbane progressed, wharves increased and a wharf at the foot of
Boundary Street was built by the late Mr. John Watson, contractor, a former
member for Fortitude Valley.
Those wharves spoilt the locality for private residences, and the
Longland family moved to Stratton on the Bulimba Road, and the Drurys to Bowen
Terrace, New Farm. There was no road leading from Boundary Street to Bowen
Terrace, only a “goat” track running in front of All Hallows Convent. The
present large All Hallows School was then built, with the Sisters of All Hallows
occupying the old stone building still in existence behind the present
The Convent “field” ran down to Brunswick Street. The house opposite the
Convent was occupied by the late Michael Quinlan, head of the firm Quinlan, Gray
and Co., whose business premises were at the bottom of Queen street. There was
no proper road connecting this part of Brisbane to Bowen terrace. The road went
by way of Ann and Brunswick Streets.
The house adjoining Mr. Quinlan’s belonged to James Lang, painter and
At the top of Bowen terrace, a house, Ormistone, occupied by Mr. Munce, was longstanding with glorious views of the river and far off hills. Opposite, on the other side of the road, were the homes of the late Graham Lloyd Hart, solicitor, and the Hon. E. B. Forrest.
After the wharf at the foot of Boundary Street was completed, Captain
William Collin, who had purchased the Longland property, (then occupied by the
O’Flynn family), erected a wharf which extended downstream, and now we have
wharves to the old Barker’s quarries.
Mr. John Petrie was the first Mayor of Brisbane, and had a very extensive
business. At his home, he had a very old cockatoo. The Kangaroo Point ferry –
one rowing boat- used to ply all through the night, and if a passenger came down
the steps, and found the boat on the other side of the river, he called “Over!”
The ferryman then came over.
This cockatoo much to the annoyance of the old ferryman, at night time,
sometimes would take it into his head to cry “Over!” and the boat would be rowed
over to find no-one on the ferry steps.
Kangaroo Point has greatly altered now, through the work of building the
Story Bridge, but in the early days it was a very busy part of Brisbane.
I have already referred to Messrs. Burley Bros., right on the point.
Their huge logs came down the Brisbane River chained together, and towed by a
small river tug. Mr. J. W. Sutton built several steamers and other craft at his
works on the point. Most of the land occupied in those days there, has all gone
now. During the 1893 flood, that was washed away, and since then the Harbors and
Rivers Department have cut away a great deal under their Flood Preventions
The Brisbane Gas Company moved to Newstead and their former property at
the Bight is now all built over and large warehouses erected thereon.
Before the wharves were built above the old Gas Works, Charle le Brocq
had his swimming baths known as the Metropolitan swimming baths, a large
floating wooden building with a swimming area about 180 feet by 50 feet, with
open batten floor, and sides through which the tide flowed- around the swimming
pool was erected cubicles where patrons undressed.
The baths were moored to the shore with stout cables and a pontoon bridge
which rose and fell with the tide, connected the baths with the shore. When
Howard Smith’s wharf was commenced, the baths were moved to the foot of Boundary
Street, later to be again moved to the foot of Alice Street, near the Botanical
Many old boating men will remember Rob Smith, the boatman, who had boats
(sailing and rowing) for hire, and whose slip was at the foot of Boundary
Street. Amongst his fleet were the Mist, Leisure Hour, Bully Frog, Blue Jacket
and several rowing skiffs.
Several business men regularly hired skiffs from Old Bob and had an
hour’s rowing exercise. It was Old Bob Smith who carried Alexy Drury up to his
home after he had been fatally injured by a shark when bathing with schoolmates
in the river, where many school boys went in daily for a swim.
We took a great interest in the shipping and generally went on board the
sailing ships and barques that were towed up the Brisbane River.
Captain Davies commanded the tug Francis Cadell, and afterwards the tug,
Boko. Both belonged to Messrs. Gibbs, Bright, and Co. Messrs. Webster Bros.,
general merchants of May Street, brought out the tug, Otter, shortly afterward
acquired by the Queensland Government during the Russian was scare in 1884. The
old stern wheeler Settler, was in charge of Captain Mellor. This old river boat
was very popular for day excursions, and was always chartered by the
Congregational Church for their annual Sunday School treat.
The two Government steamers were the Kate and the Leura.
Large vessels anchored in Moreton Bay and their cargoes were lightered
into barges towed up and down the river. The names of some of the sailing
vessels of those days were Windsor Castle, Corinth, Decapolis, Gauntlette, and
Spirit of the South.
The Ipswich and Emu were favourite river steamers which, with the
Settler, traded by Ipswich and Brisbane.
Captain G. P. Heath, who lived at Norman Creek, was port master, and
Captain Wyvorne harbour-master. The first British-India Company’s mail boat to
moor alongside a Brisbane wharf was the Jumna, after which many came up the
The name of an old Brisbane Grammar School boy, E. A. Cullen, will always
be associated with the port of Brisbane. The first dredge I remember was the
Groper, others followed, including the historical Linden bates dredges, with
their huge pumping apparatus and machinery.
The Brisbane regattas took place in the Victoria Bridge and Milton
reaches of the river, and one year, the Groper was the flagship. The regattas
were always held on December 10, known as Separation Day- the date Queensland
became a separate colony from New South Wales, in 1859.
At Kangaroo Point, our boat builders carried on their trade – boating men
will remember Messrs. Harry McCleer, E. Nimmo, and J. Edwards, all between the
Edward Street and Kangaroo Point ferries. Peter Woods was an apprentice at Harry
The old stone Supreme Court House, which was presided over by Mr. Justice
Lutwyche, and later by Chief Justice Sir James Cockle, was still in use when I
attended the old Normal School, and through the archway you went to the
residence of Mr. L. A. Bernays, who was Clerk of Parliaments and who also
occupied many other important positions. The house faced Burnet Lane. Past the
Old Supreme Court House, were the Post Office, a small wooden building and the
Museum. The Museum was a favourite place for school boys during lunch hour. The
cab stand occupied the centre of Queen Street, opposite the then Town Hall. The
Government Savings Bank faced Queen Street, near the bridge, and the Real
Property Office was at the corner of Queen and George Streets.
Mr. Thomas Gray was the bootmaker on the opposite corner and later his
business was carried on by his sons and daughter in George Street, near the
Mr. James Martin kept a toy shop called The Civet Cat, and Mr. Myers
another toy shop, The Grotto. Mrs. Spillsbury had a sweet shop and Mrs. Beazley
a fruit shop- she was noted for her Melton Mowbray pies.
St. John’s Pro-Cathedral was about where the Executive Building, William
Street, now stands, and facing William Street nearby were the offices of the
Colonial Secretary, and the Electric Telegraph Department. Across the road were
the Government stores (still standing), and the Immigration Department.
Many old Queenslanders landed here before the depot was moved to Kangaroo
Point. At the end of William Street, Messrs. Pettigrew and Sons had their
sawmills, and I well remember a large fire there one Sunday morning. Sir Maurice
O’Connell, president of the Legislative Council, lived at Portland Place,
opposite the sawmills.
The frontage of Parliament House facing Alice Street was not built in those days.
There were fine stables at Parliament House for the use of members, and
the groom for many years was John Hayes. He had a well-known horse called The
Badger, which had a very hard mouth and many times bolted with me. He also had a
cream pony, with one ear, the other having been injured and amputated.
In George Street where the Queensland Club now is, was a vacant allotment
where boys played cricket, and Mr. Pring, who lived in Hodgson Terrace, gave his
racehorse walking exercise.
Dr. John Kearsey Cannan lived at the other end of Hodgson’s Terrace, at
the corner of Margaret and George Streets. On the opposite side of the road was
the Belle Vue Hotel, kept by Miss Vix. The Shakespeare Hotel, was where the
Hotel Cecil is, and opposite was Harris Terrace, where Dr. K. L. O’Doherty
resided for many years. At the corner of Margaret and George Streets was a
Chinaman’s garden. Mr. John McLennon and W. Duncan had the livery stables in
Elizabeth Street, next to the Sovereign Hotel, kept by Mick Daly. Mick Daly used
to provide the champagne luncheons which always preceded the land sales on
Saturday afternoons. Properties were cut up into 16 perch allotments, and sold
on terms. The first estate was the Rosalie Estate, near Milton. The property
belonged to the Hon. J. F. McDougall, M.L.C., of Rosalie Station, Darling Downs.
During the land boom, large areas were cut up and sold on Saturday
The auctioneers of the day were Messrs. Arthur Martin, James Robert
Dickson, who was Queensland’s first Federal Minister, John William Todd, Simon
Fraser, John Cameron, who for years had his mart in the Town Hall Building,
later on Mr. M. B. Gannon joined Arthur Martin and won the Bulimba seat.
Butchers carried on in Queen Street in these days. Mr. J.P. Jost at the
corner of the Post Office Lane and Queen Street, and Messrs. Buchanan and
Mooney, the Co-operative Butchering Co., next to the old A.M.P. Building.
Charles Blanc was also a well known butcher and Mr. White was the pork butcher
in Boundary Street.
There were some well-known characters in Queen Street in the early days. Mr. R. Uniacke, commission agent, who always wore a top hat and a morning coat; Same Lesser, with his heavy gold watch chain to be seen outside Australian Chambers next to the Australian Hotel, then kept by Mr. J. A. Phillips. At the Australian, the Queensland Turf Club held their “settling” after a race meeting when cheques for prizes were handed over and champagne flowed.
John Lennon was in George Street, and at the corner of George and
Adelaide Streets, Mr. Robert Little, Crown Solicitor, resided.
This property was purchased by the Hon. Patrick Perkins, and he built the
Imperial Hotel, now called the Hotel Daniell, after the first licencee, the late
Charles Daniell. Mr. Robert Adair had the Royal Hotel opposite the Post Office,
and Tom Pickett the hotel lower down the street.
There were no trams during these times. The cabs were the landau and pair of horses used by families going to picnics or the balls and parties, the hansom cab, which only held two comfortably, and the jingle. The jingle was a two-wheeled vehicle- three Saturday in the front seat, and three in the back, back to back. A thick strap was fixed to the centre of the seat by which passengers in the back seat hauled themselves up. Jingles were very popular, and later were succeeded by Molly Browns. Landau carriages gave place to waggonettes, and now we have no cabs, only taxis.
Looking back to the old cab-horse days, what fun we had going off to the
seaside for the day, even if it did take three hours to get there instead of in
30 minutes or less, as nowadays.
The cabmen were all proud of their turnouts and people were well catered
for when moving about from place to place, with no fear of being stuck up by a
blow out or other modern mishaps.
The old Normal School and Girl’s School were at the corner of Edward and Adelaide Streets, and when I went there in 1875, Mr. Randall was head teacher. He died the following year, and was succeeded by Mr. J. S. Kerr, who was there for many years.
Mr. M. Sinan was second master, and on the staff were Andrew Kennedy,
Alfred Norris, William Gripp, Frank Watts, and Stan Hockings.
The Girls and Infants’ Schools were presided over by Miss berry and Miss
Where Anzac Place now is was the Artillery and Engineer’s drill shed and parade ground. In 1883, I joined the old No. 1 Volunteer Battery under the command of Major E. H. Webb. Messrs. Houghton and F. S. Hely were the lieutenants and the sergeant-major was the late J. F. Hinton, afterwards adjutant, and for many years superintendent of the Brisbane Fire Brigade. Sergeant Harold Hockings was my sergeant.
In 1884, the annual encampment was held at Westbrook Station, Darling
Downs, and a wet camp it was. We had great difficulty getting the guns from the
Westbrook railway station to the camp. Our horses were obtained from the carters
and furniture vans in Brisbane. I shall never forget the march from the camp to
Toowoomba on the Easter Monday.
When the Defence Act of 1884 came into force, No 1 Battery became the
Brisbane Field Battery and No 2 Battery at Ipswich, under Major Scholes, was
called the Moreton Field Battery.
In 1880, I went to the Brisbane Grammar School, situated near the Roma
Street railway station. The following year, we moved up to the present school.
Mr. R. H. Roe, M.A., was headmaster, and the staff consisted of Messrs. William
Crompton, R. Roger, O. O’Brien, J. Hermann Schmidt, D. P. Cleary, and Thomas
McLeod; George Rylatt was janitor. He had formerly been messenger at the Bank of
Australasia. It is ad to think of the many old boys who attained such high
positions in the State and who have nearly all passed away.
In the 1880s, combined sports were held between the three Grammar Schools, Brisbane, Ipswich, and Toowoomba, and each school in turn held the sports in their respective towns. He had great fun at these sports and competition was keen. The Brisbane Grammar School rowing club used the shed of the Brisbane Rowing Club on the South Brisbane side of the river.
The old Brisbane Grammar School was afterwards used by the railway
Commission, but has since been demolished – another of the many old and
historical landmarks, gone but not forgotten.
When we were schoolboys, several of us possessed up to date goats and carts. Messrs .Brown and Foster, ironmongers of Queen Street, imported several light four wheel goat carts and we had rather good turnouts.
Houses at Sandgate had their own bathing boxes and the enclosure was railed in with saplings, which had continually to be repaired.
The Sandgate Pier was built about 1884, but as there was not sufficient water at low tide, it was lengthened as at present. It was used by some small steamers plying by Woody Point and Sandgate.
After the railway was opened to Sandgate, the town advanced rapidly. The
population was then a little over 1,000, and there were only about 150
ratepayers. Old Mr. Robert Kift was an alderman, and I have often heard him
discussing municipal affairs with
my father and others. Mr. E. B. Southerden was a prominent townsman and at one
time mayor of the town. Other aldermen of Sandgate I remember were Messrs. Bott,
Cooksley and Wakefield. I think Mr. Wakefield was afterwards member for
In later years, Mr. Robert J. Gray, Under Secretary of the Colonial
Secretary’s Department, and later Commissioner for Railways, lived near Cabbage
Tree Creek. Mr. Gray was an enthusiastic fisherman and many a night I spent with
him rowing up the creek and drifting down with the tide. We made some good
catches, but the mosquitoes were awful.
A builder, Mr. Young, near Cabbage Tree Creek, prepared a wonderful
mixture called “Young’s Mineral Oil,” which we used for cuts and scratches.
Mr. Tom Persse, of the Lands Department, had a house next to Mr. Gray’s
and resided there for years. Mr. George Wilkie Gray (Quinlan Gray and Co), also
had a house near Saltwood. William Street, of white-ant fame, also lived in
Sandgate, and was a builder and contractor. Dr. John Thompson built Clutha at
Shorncliffe, the scene of many a happy gathering.
The public bathing places were not fenced in. Stakes directed the bathers
from the rocks. I remember one Sunday when bathing in one of these between
Saltwood and Morven, a well known licenced victualler, Mr. Peter Gaffney, had a
seizure when in the water. He just had time to reach one of the saplings when he
collapsed. We carried him to the beach and got medical assistance, but he passed
away. I was only a lad at the time, and never forgot the shock it gave us
Another well-known family I must not omit to mention was the Bests. One
had a butcher’s shop and the other had a bus. John Best used to drive us to the
train in later days, and was a genial sort. He had a brother Llewellyn, who also
lived in Sandgate.
Mr. W. Bebbington was the headmaster of the Sandgate School.
I remember an encampment held at Sandgate when all the troops camped on
the reserve, now Moore Park. I was not in the Volunteers then, but was greatly
interested in the artillery practice across the Nudgee Beach. There was no Cribb
Island township or residences that I remember in those parts; now the seaside is
dotted with habitations.
The lagoon was always an attraction at Sandgate, and is still kept as a
reserve. I do hope it will never be filled in as has been suggested. It is the
home of wild ducks, water fowl, and other birds, which always attract the
tourist. Today, you see motor cars pull up and watch the wild fowls on the
At Easter, 1881, I had my first trip to Southport with Mr. E. B. Forrest in his yacht the Isabel.
The party consisted of Mr.
J. F. Garrick, Q.C., and his son, J. Cadell Garrick, now a prominent member of
the Queensland Turf Club, Mr. Alexis Matvieff, Superintendent of Electric
Telegraphs, Brisbane, Mr. J. C. Lynn, and Mr. George Forrest.
We were towed down to Lytton by the steam launch belonging to Mr. George
Harris of J. and G. Harris, merchants. We sailed through the Boat Passage, to
Cudgee Mudlo that night, and on to Southport on Good Friday. We moored at
Stradbroke Island opposite Hanlon’s Hotel. There was excellent whiting fishing
off the island, and just across from the beach, there was a large fresh water
lagoon, which has now disappeared.
Stradbroke Island has quite changed since those days, principally through
the break through at Jumping Pin, where the Cambus Wallace was wrecked in
previous years. The sailing ship Scottish Prince also went ashore on Stradbroke
Island opposite Hanlon’s Hotel, and was a total wreck.
Broadwater was an excellent place for sailing regattas, and I had already
referred to the regatta held on Easter Sunday.
At Cooran and Curridgee, there were small settlements of the men employed
by the Moreton Bay Oyster Company who had a large number of oyster beds in that
part of the bay. There was a large oyster trade in those days, and the sailing
boats Artemus Ward, Charles Dickens, and Rip, were all engaged in bringing the
oysters from the banks to Brisbane, and many hundreds of bags went to Sydney and
Melbourne. The 1891 floods in the Logan as well as in other districts almost
destroyed the oyster trade, because the fresh water and debris from the Logan
River and creek killed the oysters. They also suffered from a worm that attacked
them and it took years for the trade to recover from the disastrous effects of
After a most enjoyable trip, we returned on Easter Monday, and I well
remember how badly Mr. Garrick suffered from sunburnt legs and feet.
In 1883 I had a wonderful bay trip in a boat called the Sabrina, built by
Peter Woods. The crew comprised Charles and Harold Lilley, Peter woods, and
myself. We were away four weeks, and spent the first evening at Lytton, where we
met Mr. Ted. Cullen, then engaged as an engineer of the Harbours and Rivers
Department on deepening the channel into the river. Mr. Kavanagh kept the old
Hotel near the Lytton wharf, and his daughters being good musicians, we often
had a concert party there on our
way to the bay.
The Sabrina was a very comfortable boat, but had no bunks or motor. Two
people slept on either side of the centre board case and were very comfortable
and happy. We first went up to Caloundra through Bribie Passage, and were
several days there. One evening we spent with the late Mr. William Landsborough,
the explorer. Mr. R. Bulcock was the principal resident at that time, and there
were very few houses anywhere.
The fishing was splendid. Leaving Caloundra, we made towards Southport,
calling at Amity Point, where we met Captain Rolls, who lived there, and who
entertained us of an evening with his yarns of his early days. He had been an
A.D.C. to Governor Blackall. He had a wonderful collection of knives all
displayed on a table and he could do anything with a pack of cards.
We sailed from Amity to Canaipa where we camped and spent an evening with
the Wills family. All boating men knew this hospitable home and Mr. and Mrs.
Wills were always pleased to see us. We had music and singing and a good supper
and were sorry to leave such good friends. Then we went on through Swan Bay in
the Broadwater and Southport and came home past Redland Bay, which was then a
great banana growing district, the fruit being taken to Brisbane by bay
steamers. We called at Cleveland, and finally home after one of the best trips I
While writing of bay trips, I recall when a schoolboy I would get a holiday to accompany my father down to St. Helena and Dunwich.
The visiting justice was Sir Ralph Gore and my father and I would walk
over from our home, the Retreat, Petrie’s Bight, to Kingsholme, where Sir Ralph
Gore resided. He had married a daughter of Mr. E. I. C. Browne, who lived at
Kingsholme. The Government steamer, Kate, under the command of Captain Page,
would send a boat ashore for us and our first call would be at Cannon Hill to
pick up Dr. Challinor, medical officer.
We then proceeded down to Lytton where we would board the old hulk where
reformatory boys were kept in those days. Superintendent J. W. Wassell was in
charge of the hulk and later when the old hulk was abandoned, he was located at
the Redoubt on Lytton Hill. The boys were well looked after by that kind
official who had a hard row to hoe in such cramped conditions.
The Kate then went on to St. Helena where we often had to anchor some
distance from the jetty if the tide was low. We were rowed towards the shore and
then when the boat could proceed no further, we got into a dray and were driven
to the beach. The officials were conveyed in a waggonette to the stockade, and
later on, a train track was built to the jetty which was extended to deeper
water. A trolly called the Kangaroo was used for transport. Mr. McDonald was the
superintendent and he had a beautiful garden surrounding his residence.
Sugar cane was grown on the island and they had a sugar mill. I saw sugar
being manufactured there for the first time. I often thought of the old sugar
mill at St. Helena when going over the modern sugar mills now in North
The Kate used to visit St. Helena once a week, and took down all stores
for the establishment.
From St. Helena we steamed to Dunwich where Mr. Hamilton was
superintendent. There we went alongside the stone jetty and walked up to the
residence. There were very few inmates there in those days compared with the
present day. Sometimes the Kate called at Peel Island, then the quarantine
station. There were no lepers there then. I remember when the R.M.S. Dorunda was
quarantined at Peel Island on account of cholera.
Peel Island was always a favourite place for boating men. We got good
fishing there and good bathing. Mr. Hamilton also had charge of Peel
Dunwich is fortunate in having a good water supply. At one time, there
was a suggestion of drawing a water supply for Brisbane from Stradbroke
Cleveland was originally the port for Ipswich, and when I visited this seaside resort in the early 1880s, it was much the same as it was 20 years afterwards. It is one of the prettiest parts of Moreton Bay with the long peninsula and the lighthouse at the Point.
The original pier was built right on the point facing Peel Island, and
was open to any fresh breeze. The present pier was built facing the northwest in
Raby Bay. Mr. Robert Kerr ran a coach between Brisbane and Cleveland and left
Dexter’s tobacconist shop in Queen Street opposite the post office. Mr. Pooran
Dabee Singh also drove a coach to Cleveland, and was a large property holder in
the district. He had later on the hotel near the railway station.
I used to go down to Cleveland with some of my schoolmates and we would
always stay at Cassim’s Cleveland Hotel. Cassim was a most interesting little
man to talk to and his was the most popular hotel at the time. The bathing
enclosures at Cleveland were very small, and you could not get a good swim in
them; they were all erected at the end of the long jetties.
The Troy family were in charge of the lighthouse for years and the
Fogarty family carried on a general storekeeping business. Peter Tasker was the
fisherman, and used to sail parties to the favourite fishing grounds and over to
Mr. Honeyman of the Customs Department, had a house near the pier, and
Mr. Finnucane of the Police Department, lived near Cassim’s Hotel. His house
was, I understand, built by Mr. Bigge, a squatter, of Mount Brisbane.
Cleveland was connected by road with Ipswich, the road branching off at Capalaba Creek. The Rev. Mr. R. Creyke was rector of the Church of England at Cleveland and also conducted the services at the Ormiston church. He was one of the older Church of England clergymen, and unfortunately, lost the use of one eye. He always wore a dark glass over the injured eye, which gave him a peculiar appearance. Mrs. Creyke lived for many years after her husband and was the first lady I remember with short hair- a wonderful crop of white hair.
Mr. John Cameron, auctioneer, had a house at Ormiston overlooking Raby
Bay, and was a keen fisherman.
Cleveland district was always noted for its fruit gardens, and today
tourists are taken there to see the crops of pineapples, custard apples, and
strawberries. After the railway was completed, the town did not progress as was
anticipated although it had many attractions.
Wellington Point was a favourite resort for sailing and King Island off
the Point, always had a number of sailing craft for the weekend.
Mr. Gilbert Burnett had a sawmill at Wellington Point and a steamer
called the Eucalyptus conveyed the timber to and from the mill. Gilbert Burnett
was a very prominent man in those days and pioneered the timber industry in that
part of the colony. He was subsequently in charge of the Forestry branch, Public
Lands department. Mr. W. B. O’Connell, a Minister for Lands, lived at Wellington
Point in a beautiful house surrounded by a garden and fruit trees. On the death
of Mr. O’Connell, it was occupied by Mr. Parnell, a member of the Upper House.
Edward Kelk, of Foster and Kelk, ironmongers, Queen Street, had a house at
Wellington Point, and Mr. J. Davidson also resided there. Mr. Davidson was
manager of Westbrook station, Darling Downs, when owned by Sir Patrick
In later years, Mr. James Pink, who had been Curator of the Botanical
Gardens and the Acclimatisation Gardens, took up a fruit farm between Birkdale
and Wellington Point. He produced a well known and favourite strawberry, called
Mr. W. French, who had a nursery near Mr. Pink’s old property, was also
employed in the Botanical Gardens. Mr. Nightingale, formerly of the Government
Savings Bank, retired to this district.
In 1905, I resided at Birkdale in the house now occupied by Mr. Peter Airey, a former Cabinet Minister, and M.L.A. The property belonged to Mr. James Barron, who lived on the Wellington Point and Birkdale Road.
He had a vineyard and made all sorts of wines for which he took prizes at various shows.
I remember one Saturday afternoon when I took a bank manager to see Mr.
Barron, who had a most entertaining personality. We adjourned to the cellar to
sample the various vintages. They began by calling one and another Mr. Barron
and Mr. R. – then it got to Barron and R- shortly christian names only were
used, and then unfortunately politics were introduced – the South Sea Island
labour traffic- when the two pals nearly came to blows, and old Mr. Barron said,
“Look here, R. you don’t know anything about growing sugar cane, but we will
have another.” We often laughed over the afternoon.
Mr. Brentnall, M.L.C., owned the land between our house at Birkdale and
the sea, and Mr. William Thorne, at one time the Mayor of Brisbane, owned the
land from Birkdale to Tingalpa Creek known as Thornelands. Mr. Thorne often came
down there for weekends and holidays. Mr. George Randall, a former Queensland
immigration agent and lecturer, lived at Birkdale in a picturesque house and
grounds. He was father of the late Richard Randall, the Queensland artists whose
works are preserved in the Randall Art Gallery. Another son, George, took a keen
interest in local affairs, but he too has passed away. The Willards, on Capalaba
Road, were an old and respected family. When at Birkdale, I was honorary
secretary at the Wellington Point Agricultural Association.
While living at Birkdale, I was requisitioned to contest the Cleveland
Shire election, No. 1 division, but was unsuccessful. Next year, 1906, I
contested No 2 division- Wellington Point and Birkdale, and was returned. At the first meeting of councilors for
the election of chairman, I was proposed, and Councillor Cross, of Cleveland,
was also nominated. Both polled equal number of votes, and as neither side would
give way, the position was referred to the then Home Secretary, Mr. Peter Airey,
who appointed me chairman. Other members then on the council were Messrs T.
Cross, W. Thorn, John Currie, H. Eichenloff, and Mr. Lewis.
It was during my term as chairman of the Cleveland Shire Council that I
suggested to Mr. Badger, general manager of the Brisbane Tramways, who was a
great personal friend of mine, a scheme whereby he should take over the
Cleveland railway from a point near Morningside, and connect Morningside with
Brisbane by way of Norman Creek bridge, Shafston Road, Main Street, Kangaroo
Point, and ferry across the river to the corner of Eagle and Elizabeth Streets,
near the Fig Trees.
We had a talk over this proposal and he showed me drawings of a ferry
steamer that could be used. The Brisbane Press supported the idea, but the
Government would not consider the proposal, although we pointed out that the
scheme would relieve the Railway Department from the losses occasioned by
running the line, and would not interfere with the railway traffic to
Had Mr. Badger succeeded with the scheme, there would have been electric
trams running to Cleveland for the past 30 years. He would have extended the
line to Redland Bay, and one can imagine the development that would have taken
place in those districts.
An important gathering was held in Cleveland during my term as chairman,
when the Premier, Mr. W. Kidston, entertained the Premiers of the Commonwealth
who were attending the Premiers Conference, at a dinner at the Pier Hotel, then
kept by Mrs. Firth. Among the party was Sir John Forrest of Western Australia,
afterwards Lord Forrest. The premiers went down to Cleveland by the Lucinda, and
returned to Brisbane by special train that evening.
As a school boy, I often stayed for weeks at a time with my uncle, Mr. Ratcliffe Pring, at Hodgson Terrace, George Street. He was, after the death of Sir Joshua Bell, in 1881, president of the Queensland Turf Club.
Long before that, he owned race horses, and won the champion stakes at
Ipswich in the 1860s with his horse called North Australian, trained by the late
James McGill, of Ipswich. I often went with Mr. Pring to Ipswich to see Sir
Joshua Bell’s stud at The Grange, and call to mind some of the racing string,
Waterloo, Ledgerdemain, Wheatear, Immigrant, Lilla, Olivia, and others.
After Sir Joshua Bell’s death in 1881, The Grange was sold to Mr. W. H.
Kent, of Brisbane, who was a keen supporter of the turf. He had Kent’s saleyards
at the corner of Adelaide and Albert Streets, and built Kent’s buildings
opposite. The saleyards afterwards were acquired by Mr. Lionel Walker, the
famous auctioneer, who also raced at Eagle Farm.
I remember the gay times when the May meeting was held and the Cup run,
Mr. James Tait and Mr. A. Loder always brought good horses from the south and
besides, Sir J. P. Bell, we had Messrs. John Finney, and J. P. Jost, with their
champions. I recall two dead heats for the Cup. On one occasion, Mr. Tait’s
Strathearn and Mr. Loder’s The Dean, ran a dead heat, and on another occasion,
Mr. Finney’s Sydney and Mr. Henderson’s Orphan Boy ran a dead heat. Mr. Pring
owned The Earl, a beautiful looking horse but unreliable, which often bolted off
the course when entering the straight, near what was called the Sod Wall used in
Judge Lutwyche was a racing enthusiast and had Master Mariner. The judge
suffered severely from gout, and his low set carriage was always drawn up on the
lawn near the judge’s box, so that he had a good view of the races.
Many often went to the races at Eagle farm by steamer. The Francis Cadell
ran between Bright Bros. Wharf, Eagle Street, and the Hamilton, and patrons
walked up to the course. There was always a jolly party on board on the return
The Queensland Turf Club had hurdle races in those days, and Mr. D. T.
Seymour, Commissioner of Police, owned a successful jumper called Standard. Mr.
Maurice Lyons, solicitor, owned Blantyre, and Gamester, Mr. A. Crouch, a barber,
had Mark Twain, Mr. Ernest Goertz, Mr. Herbert Hunter, Theorist and Grey, and
William Ruddle Old Zanco, that won many a race at the Farm and elsewhere.
Another horse I remember, was The Rake, owned by Mr. Joe Abrahams.
With the exception of Sir J. P. Bell, a legal gentleman has occupied the
presidency of the Turf club.
We had a
dry spell on at the time and the professor, who was in Brisbane exhibiting
“Pepper’s Ghost,” in a hall in Mr. Morwitch’s Building, where Tattersalls Club
now is, announced that he could produce rain by means of a huge kite, rockets,
and the firing of cannon. He had small cannons procured from Newstead House, if
my memory serves me rightly, mounted in the centre of the course, and also
stands from which the rockets were fired.
It was an awful fiasco as there was no wind to fly the kite and few
clouds to pierce. He must have got his idea from the Swiss, who break up clouds
by firing rockets and cannon.
One of the greatest shows we had up to 1881 was Cooper and Baileys’ circus and menagerie, which were located near the Transcontinental Hotel, Roma Street. It was the first time we had seen lions, tigers, and elephants, and any spare minutes we had we put in at the menagerie.
One night when Cooper and Bailey’s circus was on, I had tea with Colin
Bell and Sir Joshua gave him half a sovereign for us two boys to have a night at
Just as we got down to the Bank of New South Wales corner, about 7.30pm,
we heard a man calling out “Capture of the Kelly
Gang,” “Capture of the Kelly Gang,” crowds following and buying the printed slip
he was selling for 6d.
Colin dived in and got one and off we went to the circus. At the ticket
office, Colin handed in what he thought was a half sovereign, but the ticket man
pointed out that it was a 6d. We were not long in realizing we had given the
half sovereign for 6d to the Kelly Gang man, and back we ran and met him near
Lennon’s Hotel. We asked him if he had a half sovereign for 6d, and he pulled
out a handful of silver and there was a half sovereign. He at once said this
must be yours and handed it over. Colin gave him a shilling and back we went to
the circus and devoured the news of the capture of the Kellys.
Another show I remember was given by Blondin, who walked his tight rope
in the Botanical Gardens, where the croquet lawn was, near the present kiosk.
Not only did he walk backwards and forwards but he rode a bicycle over, cooked a
pancake on a stove he took to the middle of the rope, and ended up a wonderful
afternoon’s performance by carrying a Brisbane bookseller across on his back. Of
course, after Blondin, there was a tight-rope erected in many a backyard and
many a buster we had trying to walk a clothesline.
Pollard’s Lilliputian Opera Company caused a great stir and drew crowded
houses at the Old Theatre Royal when they played “The Chimes of Normanby.”
Then we had the W. J. Holloway and Miss Elsie Jennyns Company in the
“Lights of London” and “The Silver King.” We were among the patrons in the pit
and never missed a Saturday night’s show. One night, two sailors of the H.M.S.
Sapho, a man-of-war then anchored in the Gardens Reach of the river, got so
excited during the “Lights of London” that they attempted to get at the villain
on the stage but were restrained by members of the orchestra.
Another show was McCabe’s “Fun on the Bristol.” The agonies of the
passengers on the paddle steamer Bristol, were faithfully presented much to the
amusement of the audience.
The only Chinese circus I ever saw was in the Botanical Gardens. The tent
was erected between the old cricket grounds and the present kiosk; it was a
wonderful show and drew great crowds.
Many old timers will also remember the Jubilee Singers, a dark coloured
company, who performed in the old “Courier” Buildings.
I have already written about the encampment of 1884, at Westbrook Station, Darling Downs, and a few reminiscences of later camps at Lytton may be interesting.
Colonel George Arthur French, R. A., (afterwards Sir George), came out in
1884 and with Sir Samuel Walter Griffith drafted the Queensland Defence Act of
1884, a most comprehensive measure. It provided for a permanent militia and
volunteer force. “A” battery represented the Permanent Force and was quartered
at Victoria Barracks. Colonel French resided in the two storey brick house at
the barracks formerly occupied by the Commissioner of Police, Mr. D. T. Seymour,
and the officer in charge of “A” battery, Major Jackson, resided in the brick
building formerly occupied by Chief Inspector Lewis of the Police Force.
Before the arrival of Colonel French, former volunteer commandants had
been Lieutenant-Colonel John McDonnell, Under-Secretary Posts and Telegraphs
Department, and father of Dr. Aeneus McDonnell, of Toowoomba, and
Lieutenant-Colonel E. R. Drury, the general manager of the Queensland National
Bank Limited, Major R. A. Moore, afterwards a Police Magistrate, was the brigade
major, Captain Charles C. McCallum, who married a daughter of Dr. Hancock, was
Other volunteer officers of note at the time were Lieutenant-Colonel W.
H. Snelling, Brisbane Manager for the Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society
Ltd., Major Charles Stuart Mein, solicitor, afterwards Lieutenant-Colonel, and a
judge of the Supreme Court; Major H. C. Stanley, chief engineer for the
Queensland Railways; Major J. H. Adams, Captain F. R. Bernard of the Garrison
Artillery, who was principal gaoler at Petrie Terrace, Brisbane, and Major G. H.
Newman and Captain Joseph B. Stanley who were in the Engineers, Captain A. J.
Thynne, afterwards Lieutenant-Colonel Thynne, was always attached to the
volunteer branch of the service. Captain R. H. Roe, headmaster, Brisbane Grammar
School, and Lieutenant Le Vaux, of Indooroopilly State School, were in charge of
All these citizens devoted a considerable amount of time and attention to
the volunteer force, and in those days there was no difficulty in keeping up the
strength of the various batteries or companies.
The 1885 and subsequent yearly encampments at Lytton were held at Easter
time on the hill near the redoubt. The Garrison Battery and Engineers were
quartered at the Lytton Fort. The camp lasted eight days, and there was solid
work put in. I was a gunner in the Brisbane Field Battery and we often came home
to the camp dead tired. The artillery officers were Lieutenant-Colonel E. R.
Drury Commanding, Major F. H. Webb, Captain Foxton, and Lieutenants Houghton and
F. S. Hely.
The Moreton Field Battery, Ipswich, was commanded by Major R. B. Scholes,
followed by Lieutenant- Colonel H. C. Stanley, and Lieutenant John Donnelly,
station master at Ipswich was also one of the officers. The Moreton Field
Battery always came into camp with well trained gun teams. Being in a country
district, they were able to obtain a better class of horses, than the Brisbane
Field Battery, which in the early days drew its horses from the proprietors of
furniture vans and caterers. Sergeant Major Thomas Foreman, of the Ipswich
Workshops, was an old non-commissioned officer and another well known Moreton
Field battery identity was Farrier Sergeant Mapstone.
During the late 1880s, I was attached to the Moreton Field Battery and
became Officer Commanding in 1889. We were quartered at the Old North Australian
Hotel and did our gun drill in the yard or streets. We fired salutes in the park
at North Ipswich. I travelled to Ipswich every Friday evening by the Sydney
Mail, which then left Brisbane at 6.30pm returning by the Sydney Mail, arriving
at Brisbane at 10.30pm. We also had mounted parades on alternate Saturdays.
It was during the time Mr. Patrick Perkins was Minister for Lands that
the Defence Force acquired a portion of Queen’s Park, Ipswich, for military
purposes, and the drill shed was erected there. Unfortunately at the first
parade at the drill shed, one of our gunners fell off a limber and was
Lieutenant-Colonel C. S. Mein commanded the Infantry and
Lieutenant-Colonel J. H. Adams was in charge of the Commissariat department. He
had as quarter-masters, Captains Ackerley and A. E. Harris.
Major Druitt was engineer staff officer and Major Andrew Aytoun, adjutant
for volunteer and rifle clubs. Surgeon J. Irving, afterwards Lieutenant-Colonel,
was always in camp from the early days.
The Mounted Infantry officers included major Ricardo, Captain R. B.
Echlin, and Lieutenants R. Spencer Browne, D. P. White, and D. A. McNeil.
Lieutenant Spencer Browne had a distinguished military career and is now a brigadier, having seen service in South Africa and the Great War. I remember him at first as the war correspondent at Lytton Camp.
Captain Echlin had left Southport and his livery stables were taken over
by his popular employee Tom Doherty, who for many years looked after Southport
visitors either at the stables, or later on fishing excursions. Tom has passed
away, but his good widow still resides in Southport.
The medical officers were Lieutenant Colonel John Thomson and Surgeons H.
C. Purcell, L. Kesteven, E. Byrne and E. H. O’Doherty.
Other names I recall in the 80’s at Lytton were Captains Gartside, Alfred
Pain, Kinnaird Rose, Charles Jamieson, and Captain Fryar.
Easter Saturday was always a red letter day at the camp. The Governor,
Ministers of the Crown, Members of Parliament, and leading citizens attended the
review, and watched the sham fights. River steamers plied between Brisbane and
the camp and brought crowds to see the soldiers’ relatives and friends. Many
interesting and amusing incidents took place and we always looked forward to the
It was at Lytton I first met the late Andrew fisher when he was in camp
as a sergeant with the Wide Bay regiment. Afterwards in Melbourne, we often had
a chat over the old Lytton camp days. No one thought than that Sergeants Andrew
Fisher would be Prime Minister of Australia.
Lieutenant-Colonel Adams was a strict disciplinarian and saw that each
battery or company drew their correct scale of rations. Many an argument took
place between the Colonel and the cook’s mate, who had to draw the rations, but
the Colonel always won. We used to call him – not to his face- “Major-General
Feedem Adams.” At a sing-song one evening around the camp-fire, one of the boys
wheeled an old shin bone into the arena and proceeded to sing “The Old Shin
Bone” composed in the camp. A senior officer jumped up and ordered the soldier
and his barrow to clear out as he would not allow the Commissariat Department to
be held up to ridicule.
Surgeon H. C. Purcell was a very stout officer and swam around the moat
at the fort every morning. On one occasion, I was selected to give him a spin.
He was a fast swimmer and did the distance but weight told, and I won. The
genial doctor “shouted” for my detachment.
Our firm did not have much business in the police or small debts courts. There Mr. Phillip Pinnock and Mr. W. H. Day presided. Mr. Pinnock had a large palm leaf fan and bottle of eau de cologne. No doubt the atmosphere of the Police Court, then in Elizabeth Street, was very “thick” at times, and the butcher’s yard at the back did not improve matters, especially in summer.
The Brisbane Licensing Bench was a very important body. It consisted of
the Police Magistrate, four Government nominees, the Mayor of Brisbane, and a
representative of each of the suburban local authorities.
I remember Mr. Pinnock, P.M., and Messrs. Thomas Finney, E. Churchill,
and John Petrie on the bench. There were great fights for provisional licences,
and I have known as many as five applications made for a provisional licence
before the applicant was successful.
Solicitors generally appeared in the Licensing Court and received very
liberal fees. Mr. W. H. Day, second P.M., resided at Enoggera, and was a brother
of Mr. Justice Day, a member of the Parnell Commission.
When I was an articled clerk, all affidavits had to be sworn before a
Commissioner for Affidavits, and as the registrars and judge’s associates were
all Commissioners, their salaries were supplemented by the fees- 2s 6d for the
oath and 1s a sheet, if more than one sheet of paper was required for annexures
We always took care to see that the Registrar got the probate and letters
of administration affidavits and the associates the affidavits in matters
assigned to their respective judges. This was good policy. When Justices of the
Peace were authorised to take affidavits without a fee, it made a great
difference to the income of the officers who were also Commissioners.
The Stamp Office was situated in George Street in front of the old
Colonial Treasury, a stone building where the Treasury Buildings now stand. Mr.
George Day was Stamp Officer, and his assistant was Mr. Tom Aird. There were no
requisitions in those days and no succession accounts, probate and letters of
administration officers. We took our George up to Mr. Day with a cheque and
after he perused the transfer, mortgage or whatever the George was, he penciled
the amount of duty on it, and handed it on to Mr. Aird, who duly impressed the
Stamp duty on a conveyance was 15s a £100, and 5s a £100 mortgage duty,
plus 15s if further advances were secured under the mortgage, and “progressive
duty” of 5s for every 15 folios over 50 folios if the document exceeded 50
Duty was not assessed as now on the amount of further advances.
The Real Property Office was situated at the corner of Queen and George
Streets in a round roofed building next to the Treasury. Mr. Henry Jordan was
Registrar-General and Mr. Blakeney his deputy. Mr. Thomas Mylne was the
Deputy-Registrar in the Real Property Office.
Now we have two distinct departments- Registrar-General and Registrar of
Titles. The staff in the R.P.O. in those days included Messrs J. G. Brown, J. O.
Bourne, George Jones, F. G. Coe, C. B. Gorton, and H. W. Bambury, and later,
Frank Baynes, who for years presided at the counter.
The Lands Office adjoined the Supreme Court House and our office had a
great deal of work there. Mr. Edward Deshon was Under Secretary, Charles
Claudius Carter, officer in charge of the Pastoral Occupation Branch; John S.
Thomas in charge of the Selection Branch; R. X. Heaney, W. J. Scott. R. S. Hurd,
and J. S. Bennett were all officers in the Lands Office and all rose to high
positions. Mr. W. A. Tully was Surveyor General.
Mr. Bennett was later Registrar of the Land Court. He was a lad on coming
out to Queensland with his parents in the sailing ship, Saldahna, the same ship
that my father came out in. Also on board were Messrs. A. M. Francis, A. L.
Boyd, J. G. Anderson- all later in the Queensland Civil Service.
I always look back with pleasure to my work with the Government
officials. Without exception, they were always courteous and anxious to assist
the young clerk in carrying out his duties.
I have mentioned the old Museum at the top of Queen Street- Mr. Charles
de Vis was Curator, and lately, I played bowls with his grandson. Bowls are not
only for old men. The first bowling club was in Roma Street at the railway
gates. When playing on the turf at the old Brisbane Grammar School, we often
watched the bowlers and wondered what they got excited about. Now I know.
Roma Street Railway Station was then the terminus and trains to Sandgate
used to proceed through Normanby, Victoria Park, across the Bowen Bridge Road,
to Mayne. The railway to the Bulimba wharves was built later, as well as to the
Central Station, through Brunswick Station, Bowen Hills, and Mayne Junction
In my young days, the watering places for Brisbane were Sandgate and Cleveland. Generally, our family went to Sandgate for the Christmas holidays. We travelled down in a hired landau and the luggage was taken down by a furniture van.
After passing Newstead, we drove over the Albion Hill, down the old
Sandgate Road the German station where Mrs. Schattling kept what we called the
Half Way House. There the horses had a spell and a bucket of water, and we
youngsters a sandwich and ginger beer.
There were some nice homes along the old Sandgate Road. Among them, I
remember were those of Messrs. P. A. Kob, accountant in the Colonial Secretary’s
Office; W. H. Ryder, chief clerk in the same office; and Mr. George Hutton.
The land between the old Sandgate Road and the present Sandgate railway
line was not built on as at present. The Maida Hill Estate above the Wooloowin
railway station was soon to be subdivided and all sold and quickly built upon.
There were few homes between the old Sandgate Road and the German Station. After
leaving that place, we drove over the big hill on towards Sandgate. This hill
was very slippery in wet weather, and we youngsters often had to get out of the
cab and walk.
The first residence after getting over the big hill and coming towards
Cabbage Tree Creek was occupied by an ex-officer of the Police Department, Mr.
Stephenson. He had bunya pine trees in the avenue leading up to the house, and
these are still to be seen there. The old house has lately been moved and fruit
gardens are springing up on each side of the road.
We then crossed Cabbage Tree Creek Bridge and on to Sandgate. On the east
at Sandgate we came to the Osborne Hotel, Dover Cottage, Bayswater Terrace and
then the Post Office in charge of Mr. Charles Slaughter. Mr. Deagon had two
cottages, Barnstable and Devonshire Cottage. He also had a large Hotel, the
Sandgate, facing the upper Esplanade where Cobb and Co., coaches put up.
Morven in those days belonged to Mr. McConnell, and on one occasion was
leased by the then Governor, the Marquis of Normanby. Later Mr. D. L. Brown
purchased Morven and added considerably to it. Mr. Chancellor, of the Customs,
had a cottage at the corner opposite where the pier now is, and Mr. Thompson, of
the Union Bank, occupied the other corner. Messrs. Graham Hart and E. R. Drury
built Saltwood on the Shorncliffe end of the town, and adjoining on the upper
end of the town, and adjoining in the upper Esplanade were the well known
Shorncliffe cottages of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Kift. Sir James Cockle, Chief
Justice, and family, had the four Shorncliffe cottages every Christmas and later
Sir Charles Lilley’s family occupied them.
Going down to Cabbage Tree Creek you came to John Baxter’s oyster saloon.
John Baxter was there for years and supplied the township with oysters and
The leading townspeople of Sandgate at that time were groceries, Messrs
Buck, George Walker, and George Mockridge, who was also a butcher. Mrs. Tempest
was the draper. Later, Mr. Griggs, a draper, built a two storied shop and
dwelling. The hotels were the Osborne kept by Mr. L. Drouyn, and Sandgate by Mr.
Tom Coward, who was formerly in the Native Police.
Sandgate was a Municipality in the early 1880s, and the Mayor was
Alderman W. Deagon.
When I first remember Sandgate, Captain Townsend occupied Brighton House- the grounds running down to what is now Flinders Parade. It was a beautiful property planted with fruit trees and flowering shrubs. When Captain Townsend left Brighton to reside in Sandgate the old house became an hotel, Mr. Samuel Hamilton being the licensee. Mr. Hamilton for years had the Hamilton Hotel at the corner of the River and Racecourse Roads, Brisbane.
I am now residing at the Brighton, excellently kept by a namesake, Mr. M. Drury.
Mr. William Cairns, afterwards Sir William, once stayed at the Osbourne
Hotel, when Governor of Queensland and was very fond of driving out to the Pine
River and Bald Hills. These rods were a little different from what they are
Cobb and Co’s coaches ran between Brisbane and Sandgate, meeting at the
German station, and often you would see some of our professional men on the box
of the afternoon coach going for a drive to the German Station, returning that
evening. Mr. Slaughter, father of the postmaster, had a very comfortable
waggonette he ran daily to Brisbane. George. W. Locke was the rector at the
Church of England
I well remember a trip to Toowoomba. I took a coach in Albert Street and got off at Oxley, then the terminus, and got the Toowoomba train.
On the return journey, the coach was crowded from Oxley. There were
several members of Parliament on board. Among them were the Hons James Taylor,
of Toowoomba, and J. F. McDougall, of Rosalie Plains.
Social gatherings were very different from those nowadays. Parties were
made up and a cab hired and with a chaperone always in attendance we went off to
the dance. The young people generally danced on the verandahs and the grown-ups
played whist. I do not remember any “cocktails.”
The leading merchants in the early 1880s were Messrs. D. L. Brown and
Co., of Eagle Street. This company was later formed into a limited liability
company under the name of Thomas Brown and Sons Limited. Mr. Thomas Brown was D.
L. Brown’s eldest brother and had sent him out to open a softgoods warehouse in
Brisbane in the 1860s. Later, the company acquired the Short Street wharf and
stores where they erected an up-to-date dumping plant and did a large business
shipping wool overseas.
Messrs. Parbury, Lamb & Co., were also in Eagle Street. Their manager
was the Hon. E. B. Forrest, who also represented the Colonial Sugar Refining
Company in Queensland. Mr. Forrest was member for North Brisbane and was
defeated by Mr. M. J. Kirwan. Mr. Forrest was for years a member of the Upper
House and a great yachtsman. He sailed the Charm and later the Isabel in many
Mr. Ernest Goertz was a wine and spirit merchant in Eagle street and
lived at Hilderstone, Kangaroo Point, surrounded by beautiful grounds running
down to the River. Messrs. Barker and Co., adjoined D. L. Brown’s property and
nearby were Messrs. Gibbs, Bright & Co. The Hon. Frederick Hamilton Hart,
M.L.C., was manager, and he was also chairman for many years of the Queensland
National Bank Limited.
Messrs. George Raff and Co., were in Eagle Street, and later amalgamated
with Parbury Lamb, under the name of Parbury Lamb and Raff Ltd. Mr. Baron L.
Barnett was a merchant in Market Street, near the A.S.N. Wharf, and was later
Italian Consul. Messrs. James Campbell and Sons were in Creek Street, near the
Queen’s Hotel. I well remember Mr. James Campbell, head of the firm, when he
occupied a small wooden building where the present large warehouse now is.
Messrs. Brabant and Co., Webster and Co., Mort, Holland and Co., Smellie
and Co., B. D. Morehead and Co., James Stodart, G. A. Thompson, Unmack and
Heussler and H. and N. Howes were all prominent business firms. Mr. Morehead was
a member of Parliament for many years, and one time Premier.
Much to the cabmen’s surprise, B. D. Morehead had a private hansom for a
time, but soon gave it up. He was a most popular member, always ready with a
joke. Once in the House, referring to the weather reports of Mr. Clement Wragge,
B. D. Morehead said, in view of the cyclones that had been lately experienced in
the North, he should be called “Inclement” Wragge.
Mr. J. C. Heussler was Consul for Germany, and Mr. Unmack was at one time
Minister for Railways and Member for Toowong. Messrs. Quinlan, Gray and Co.,
amalgamated with the Castlemaine Brewery and erected the brewery at Milton.
Quinlan, Gray’s staff had a very fast open sailing boat, called the
Elite, which competed in the river sailing races.
Messrs. Hoffnung and Co., were, as now, in Charlotte Street. Messrs.
Scott, Dawson and Stewart were soft goods’ merchants, now D. and W. Murray and
Co. Ltd. Mr. R. M. Stewart was a member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister. He
lived at Hawthorne, Bulimba. Messrs. Clark and Hodgson were in Eagle Street near
The principal Chinese merchant was chick Tong, who carried on his
business in Queen Street near the present T and G Building. Chick Tong was a
client of our firm and we had a good deal of work collecting moneys he had
advanced his fellow-countrymen or due for goods supplied. These debtors would
try and get away in the China boats then running up the coast to China. Chick
Tong would give us a full description of the Defendant and armed with a writ of
capias respondat (arrest) and with the bailiff, we would proceed down the Bay in
the Francis Cadell or Boko with the passengers. On board the mailboat, there
would be a line-up of the Chinese, and generally the chief bailiff, John
Galloway, got his man.
On one occasion, I remember we identified the Defendant as he had one toe
missing. These Chinese always had a good many sovereigns with them, and paid up
when they found the game was up.
I left the Brisbane Grammar School at the end of 1882 and the following year, I was articled to Mr. Graham Lloyd Hart, senior partner of the firm of Messrs. Hart, Mein, and Flower, solicitors and notaries.
Our offices were over the A.M.P. Society where the Commercial Bank of
Australia Ltd., now is. Our managing clerk was Mr. George Down, who many years
afterwards was Mayor of Brisbane. I am pleased to know that George Down’s widow
is still alive.
The Supreme Court Judges in Brisbane were Sir Charles Lilley, Chief
Justice, Mr. Justice George Rodgers Harding, and Mr. Judge Ratcliffe Pring. The
Northern Supreme Court judge was Mr. Justice Pope Alexander Cooper. The District
Court judges were Judge Paul, Southern District, Judge Miller, central District,
and Judge Noel, Northern.
The Hon. Ratcliffe Pring was at one time a District Court judge. He
resigned to accept a brief and a fee of one thousand guineas to defend a
prominent business man in an insolvency matter. He was successful and when again
practising at the bar, was elected member for North Brisbane. North Brisbane had
only one member.
Wickham, adjoining Brisbane (Spring Hill and thereabouts), returned Mr.
A. J. Hockings, a seedsman of Queen and Albert Streets. Later Wickham was merged
into the Brisbane electorate. Mr. Pring was defeated for Brisbane in the
following general election, but afterwards contested Fortitude Valley and won.
When he accepted the position of attorney General, he had to again face the
electors, and was defeated by his former opponent, Francis Beattie.
Sir Charles Lilley had been Premier, Attorney-General, and a prominent
statesman for years before going to the bench. Mr. Justice Harding only once, I
believe, sought Parliamentary honours, but was not successful. George Down used
to tell me amusing stories of Mr. Harding’s meeting. Mr. Justice Cooper was an
Attorney-General and represented Bowen in the Legislative Assembly. Bowen had
another Attorney-General as its member who afterwards became a Supreme Court
Judge, Mr. Justice Charles Edward Chubb.
The Bar included Mr. S. W. Griffith, Q.C., later Sir Samuel Walker
Griffith, Mr. J. F. Garrick, Q.C., afterwards Sir James Garrick, Agent-General
for Queensland, in London, Messrs. Virgil Power, Patrick Real, G. E. Chubb, all
to be Supreme Court judges, Edward Mansfield, later District Court Judge, E. M.
Lilley, Arthur Feez, Harvey Murray Prior, who was Master of Titles, R. C.
Ringrose, Arthur Rutledge, later a District Court Judge, and Frank
The principal solicitors were Messrs. Hart, Mein, and Flower, Peter
MacPherson, A. J. Thynne, A. W. Chambers, John Robb Baxter Bruce, Wilson and
Wilson, Daley and Hellicar, Thomas Bunton, J. G. Appel, T. MacDonald Paterson,
Browne and Ruthning, Foxton and Cardew, Roberts, Robert and Bernays, Rees Jones
and Brown, George Markwell, I. Mayne.
Messrs. Mein, Thynne,
MacDonald, Paterson and W. H. Wilson were members of the Legislative Council and
occupied the position of Postmaster-General at different times. Mr. MacPherson
was also a member of the Upper House. Mr. Mein was made a Supreme Court Judge on
the death of Mr. Justice Pring and was the first solicitor to be elevated to the
The Registrar of the Supreme
Court was Mr. William Bell and the Deputy Registrar Mr. Pring Roberts. There was
no Taxing Officer, costs being taxed by the Registrar or his Deputy. Mr. Edward
Baines was the first taxing officer. The Supreme Court Librarian was Robert
Thorrold. Mr. G. H. Newman was official trustee and receiver in insolvency,
William Woodhouse being his clerk, and Mr. F. O. Darvall, Curator of Intestate
Estates. Mr. F. O’Neill Brenan was clerk in Mr. Darvall’s office and Mr. William
Cahill, afterwards Commissioner of Police, was a clerk in the Supreme Court
Mr. A. F. Halloran was
Sheriff, H. C. Thompson, Under Sheriff, and John Gallwey, Chief Bailiff. Arthur
Davis (Steele Rudd) was later clerk in the Sheriff’s office. Mr. J. Keane was
secretary to the Crown Law Office, and his office faced George Street. Mr.
Robert Little was Crown Solicitor and his clerks were Alfred Cooling and W. H.
Carvosso, who subsequently was sheriff. The Registrar held many posts-
Prothonotary, Registrar of Joint Stock Companies, Principal Registrar in
Insolvency, Registrar of Friendly Societies. Mr. Henry Branston was Registrar of
the District Court in Brisbane.
The late George Barber, for
many years member for Bundaberg, was a member of the naval Brigade, and attended
the Lytton camps. Captain Wright commanded the Gayundah and Captain Waldron
Drake the Paluma. Lieutenant Hesketh and Captain Curtis were also on the
gunboats as well as Lieutenant Sydney Mercer Smith, an uncle of the late Sir
Kingsford Smith. The Paluma was later engaged on survey work on the northern
It is interesting to recall
how in the early days, so many of our leading and professional and business men
held commissions in the Volunteer Force. They were all estimable citizens and
thoroughly enjoyed their military experiences.
I remember one ex-captain, a
well known barrister, with whom I was walking up George Street one Saturday
afternoon. A band came down the street playing martial airs on its way to
Government House reception. The ex-captain, when nearing his house in George
Street, stepped to the head of the band and as they came opposite his home he
called out “Halt, left turn.” He then asked the bandmaster to allow the men to
come in and have a drink, but the bandmaster, though highly amused, said “I am
afraid if they accepted your kind invitation, there would be no band at
Government House this afternoon.”
During the time General Sir
Henry Wylie Norman was Governor of Queensland, I was one of his extra A.D.C.s
and attended him on all State occasions.
I well remember a review on the Queen’s birthday, May 24, in the Queen’s
Park, when my charger got out of hand and I got out of the saddle. You can
imagine how I felt sprawling on the ground, and the crowd roaring with laughter.
When my horse was brought back and I remounted, his Excellency said, “I did not
order you to dismount.”
I was in England in
1890-1891 when Sir Henry Norman was there on leave. I saw a good deal of him in
London and I had invitations to many important gatherings. With him, I attended
a levee at St. James Palace and was presented to the then Prince of Wales who
held the court in the absence of Queen Victoria. I shall never forget that great
occasion. There were present such distinguished men as Mr. W. E. Gladstone, Lord
Salisbury, the Duke of Devonshire, Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, and many British army
and naval officers of high rank.
I was also made an honorary
member of the Army and Navy Club (The Rag) and there met many distinguished
friends of Sir Henry Norman. I also visited Aldershot, Woolwich, and Chelsea,
where Sir Henry met a number of old Indian soldiers.
It was on that visit to
England that I went to the 1890 Derby with Sir George Bowen and Sir Robert
Herbert, the first Governor and the first Premier of Queensland. I saw both
these gentleman on many occasions and they were always anxious to hear the
latest of Queensland, and I was able to give them a good deal of information,
especially as shortly before I had left Queensland I had spent some time in the
North, including Cloncurry and Normanton districts. I attended with Mr. Knox
Darcy at Epsom that year, and saw the Oaks run. He had a private box and
entertained a large party.
When Sir Henry Norman was
Governor, I attended the State dinners held on May 24, the Queen’s birthday. All
guests appeared in full Court dress or uniform. On one occasion I had the honour
of announcing the guests in their official capacity. It was a great night and
the representative of an important foreign power appeared in his gorgeous
uniform but unfortunately with the collar turned up and the lapel buttoned over.
After he had made his bow and all the guests had been announced, his Excellency
requested me to inform the Consul that he had forgotten to unbutton his coat. I
did so, and the answer I received from the little Consul in slightly broken
English was, “I can’t- the moths have eaten my vest.”
Ever since the great war,
regulations as to dress on State occasions have been greatly relaxed. Personally
I regret the change.
In October, 1889, my cousin, William Byron Drury, third son of the late Colonel E. R. Drury, C.M.G., received word from the Admiralty that his nomination for the British Navy had been approved and he was instructed to present himself on board H.M.S. Orlando then the Australian flagship, stationed in Sydney, for examination.
As my cousin was only 12
years of age at the time, my uncle asked me to accompany him south and if he was
successful, to obtain full instructions as to his joining the Britannia at
When we arrived in Sydney,
the chaplain of the Orlando, who had charge of the examination told me they were
sailing for Melbourne the following day and suggested we should go on there so
as the young candidate would not be rushed. Needless to say, we both agreed as
the Melbourne Cup was to be run the following week.
We travelled to Melbourne
with Mr. and Mrs. Walter Hall, of Mount Morgan, who were very old friends of our
families and both were very interested in the young candidate. When we arrived
in Melbourne, where rooms had been procured for us at the Menzies Hotel, we
found quite a Queensland colony there, including Messrs. Thomas Finney, George
Colishaw, Arthur Forbes, secretary to the Queensland National Bank Limited, J.
D. Oswald, manager of the Queensland National Bank Limited, Ipswich, and George
Forbes, of the Queensland Railways Engineer’s Department.
Shortly after our arrival,
we went down to the Orlando and arrangements were made for the examination to
take place on board. I was not anxious as to the result because my cousin,
although so young, was not at all excited and appeared quite confident. The
examination lasted for two days and when we heard that he had been successful,
the Queensland party at the Menzies and other Queenslanders in Melbourne were
highly delighted as he was the first Queenslander to pass into the Royal
Mr. George Colishaw told him
that if Melos won the Cup, he would give him a good present. The horse came
third, but the new midshipman received a substantial gift from Mr. Colishaw. We
heard the result of the examination the morning the Cup was run and we had our
fortunes on the winner, Bravo, which beat Mr. Donald Wallace’s Carbine that
year, we thoroughly enjoyed the day and also the night. At the Cup, we met Mr.
and Mrs. Donald Wallace, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Hall, Mrs. Patrick Perkins, and
many other Queenslanders who were all delighted to hear that young Drury had
The young midshipman left
Queensland a few weeks later and joined the Britannia. After he passed out of
the training ship, he went to the North American station and while there won the
Admiral’s Cup on two occasions in fleet sailing regattas. He next served on the
Mediterranean station and was at the landing in Crete. When on the Mediterranean
station, he volunteered for service in Egypt and was with five others selected
to take charge of gun boats on the Nile under Lord Kitchener. At his death on
June 20, 1917, he was 42 years of age. He was an Acting Commander of the Royal
Navy and a Pasha in Egypt.
During the time that Sir Arthur Palmer was Governor, he visited many towns.
At Rockhampton, the citizens
entertained Sir Arthur and the usual visits were paid to various institutions.
Some of the party drove out to Mount Morgan in a four-in-hand driven by Mr.
Rutherford. The great mine was then owned by Messrs. Morgan, Tom and Walter
Hall, William Pattison and W. K. Darcy, a Rockhampton solicitor.
Later, it was floated as a
limited liability company of £1,000,000 (1,000,000 shares of £1 each). The mount
was just being “cut down” and the stone carted to the battery. No special
treatment or machinery was used as at present. Just before reaching the mount,
we had to negotiate the “razor back,” a steep rise up the mountain approaching
the mine. Coming down, the wheels were locked and the drag and horses just slid
I have several times visited
Mt. Morgan since, and seen it at its height, and afterwards when it was almost
down and out. Now it is gradually regaining its old self.
Mr. Knox Darcy became a
millionaire, and was living in England in great style when I met him in 1890,
and we had many a chat over old days in Queensland. He invested in Persian Oil
Wells and was ultimately very successful.
The halls remained in
Australia, and we all know the wonderful benefactions left by Mr. Walter Hall
and his wife, Eliza. The names are perpetuated by the Walter and Eliza Hall
Trust, from which so many religious and charitable institutions benefit.
Mt. Morgan played a large
part in the history of Queensland in the 1880s. Shares mounted up to £15, and
many of our leading public men purchased large numbers on Bills, thinking the
shares would go to £20. But the slump came and I know of many who were
absolutely ruined through the crash.
At Townsville, Sir Arthur
was entertained right royally by the Townsville people. The citizen’s banquet
was the largest held in the town up to that time, and Mrs. Cran, proprietress of
the old Queen’s Hotel, excelled herself.
Townsville, fifty years ago,
was very prosperous. The railway had been extended to Hughenden, tapping the
western trade, and the port was being improved. The British-India Steam
Navigation Co. were trading between London and Brisbane, via Torres Straits, and
each month landed some 200 to 300 immigrants at the various Queensland ports.
They all found employment and became some of the best of our North Queensland
pioneers. All shipping anchored in the bay, and cargo was lightered to the
wharves in Ross Creek. Now Townsville has a good harbour and vessels berth at
the wharves erected along the breakwater. Flinders Street, the main street of
Townsville, is now a great attraction to visitors and the plots of tropical
plants down the centre of the street are well looked after.
The mud mangrove flats along
Ross Creek are now being reclaimed and workshops and buildings erected
Townsville has one of the
oldest Chambers of Commerce, formed more than 50 years ago and when the
Federation of Chambers of Commerce of Queensland held their conference there in
1932, it happened to be the year of their golden jubilee.
One of the leading citizens
in the early days was the late Mr. J. N. Parkes, a very old friend of mine, and
others were Messrs. George Roberts, solicitor, J. G. MacDonald, P.M., afterwards
in Brisbane, and Dr. Ahearne. Mr. Joseph Hughes was Collector of Customs and
afterwards Income Tax Commissioner in Brisbane. Mr. J. K. Cannan was manager of
the Queensland National Bank, and Mr. A. T. Halloran. Manager of the Bank of New
South Wales. Both took a keen interest in the progress of Townsville.
When at Charters Towers last year, I recalled my several visits there in the 1880s. What a change has come over this historic old mining town!
In the old days, mining was
booming and the streets crowded night and day. Mr. Thaddeus O’Kane was the
proprietor of “The Northern Miner,” and defended many libel actions. He was most
entertaining and his paper had a very wide circulation.
Mr. E. D. Miles was a
leading mining agent and later had a seat in the Upper House. Mr. Isidore
Lissner, afterwards Member for Charters Towers and Minister for Mines, was a
prominent citizen and Lissner Park is a memorial to him. Mr. A. H. Pritchard was
the manager of the Queensland National Bank, and was there for many years.
Messrs. Marsland and Marsland were the leading solicitors and had a wonderful
I did not meet any of the men I knew in the early days when I was on the
Towers last year.
Leaving Townsville and going up the coast, we steamed through the
picturesque channels among the islands and had good fishing and shooting. We
went ashore at many places and collected beautiful specimens of shell and coral.
Sir Arthur Palmer used to remark how one day these islands would be visited by
hundreds of travellers from the south and overseas. He saw wonderful prospects
ahead for North Queensland and no doubt, his ideas are being realised.
Sir Arthur often in his speeches, referred to the wealth of North
Queensland and urged the development of this great State. He was particularly
pleased at the result of the Torres Strait mail service and how it was assisting
the northern ports.
At cairns, we again had to anchor out in the bay and were
entertained on going ashore by the
townspeople. I met the late Mr. A. J. Draper there for the first time. He was
wrapped up in Cairns and district and backed every progressive movement for its
Cairns was then advocating very strongly the Cairns railway leading up to
the Atherton Tableland. The wealth of the hinterland of Cairns was well known,
but transport was the trouble. The timber trade was in full swing and sugar
plantations springing up.
I remember some of our party rode up from Cairns to the head of the
Barron Falls with the inspector of police and two black trackers. It was the
first time I had ridden through the rich scrub lands of the north along a bridle
track, and foliage so thick you could not see the sun. Today you go up the range
by train or rail motor and the whole of the rich Atherton and Evelyn Tablelands
are being traversed by main roads and railways.
Cairns has always been fortunate in having progressive men looking after
its interests- men who had their heart in their work- full of confidence and not
afraid to put their capital in a venture. I am satisfied that cairns is destined
to be the largest and most important town in North Queensland.
Our next call was Cooktown, where we were received by the Mayor, Mr. John
Davis, and Mr. W. O. Hodgkinson, who was then acting as Police Magistrate. Gold
was coming in from the Palmer and other fields in this district, and the railway
to Laura had been built. We travelled to the end of the line and saw rice
growing for the first time. The country was nothing like what we had seen in the
I remember Mr. Davis asking me for a hint as to what was usual when
proposing the health of the Governor. I wrote out a short speech for him, and
after the function was over, I told him how well he had got through, although he
did not use my notes. “No,” he said, “I could not read your writing.” We enjoyed
our stay in Cooktown, and several of us were guests of the Chinese there, who
did a great trade in those days.
On our return journey we called in at Cardwell and Gladstone. Sir Arthur Palmer was for many years member for Port Curtis and entertained a large number of his old friends on the Lucinda. Gladstone and Bowen have two very fine harbours and are the natural ports of Central and North Queensland.
Sir Arthur made a great speech at Gladstone drawing attention to its
possibilities and how he had endeavoured to have its importance recognised. I
think, had it not been for Mt. Morgan, Gladstone would have received more
consideration than it did, but Rockhampton’s proximity to the Mount gave it a
In 1888 and 1889, I was again in North Queensland, this time on business
for our firm, Messrs. Hart and Flower. We acted for the Cloncurry Copper Mining
Co. and were defending an action brought against the company by a carrier Mr.
Neil Neilsen, of Normanton. The action arose out of an accident that occurred at
Iffley station where the teams carrying 60 cases of dynamite stores and iron
rails, were destroyed through a terrific explosion. The dynamite had not been
properly loaded and caused the accident. Several of the teams and many of the
men were killed. I saw where the explosion had taken place- a huge hole in the
ground, and some of the iron rails were driven a considerable distance into the
soil. Iffley station is between Cloncurry and Normanton, and the action was
tried at Normanton.
To reach Cloncurry, I had to travel to Hughenden by rail, and then on by
Cobb’s coach to Cloncurry. It took four days to do the journey which became
rather monotonous. Richmond was the first township after leaving Hughenden,
about 80 miles west. At another stage where we camped for the night, I met Mr.
Louis Goldring, of the well known firm of Messrs. Goldring and Tolon, general
storekeepers. He was contesting the Flinders election and his opponent was Mr.
James Tolson, whom I met later on in the electorate. Mr. Goldring was successful
and was a supporter of Mr. S. W. Griffith.
Cloncurry was a centre for the pastoralists in the district and the
copper mine was busy and employing a number of men. I there made friends with
Mr. Alexander Sykes McGillivray, general merchant, who was a leading townsman
and president of all the institutions.
I went to Cloncurry to ascertain particulars as to the dynamite accident,
as it was called, but found the men who could have given me the information I
required had left for the Croydon goldfields then booming. After ascertaining as
much as possible at Cloncurry, I proceeded by Cobb’s coach at Normanton. The
coach left on Monday morning and arrived at Normanton the following Friday
night, and I was particularly pleased when the journey came to an end.
During most of the trip from Hughenden to Cloncurry and then through to
Normanton, you travel through wonderful country, rolling downs and waterless
river beds when we passed through- and the men you meet cannot do enough for the
traveller. I met a number of well known graziers in the Gulf district, and was
made welcome at all the stations I stayed at.
When travelling to Normanton, our driver got an attack of the Gulf fever-
fever and ague. He was no doubt very bad and was pleased to hear that I could
drive the coach. He handed over the reins to me and then crawled into the boot,
camping among the mail bags. When we got to the change that night, I wanted him
to remain there and offered to take the coach on, but he said he would see the
journey through if I would drive, and so I took the coach through to Normanton.
We were the only two on the coach and I was sorry when he had to get out to open
One morning as we were leaving on the last stage to Normanton, the two
leaders were young and restless and as soon as the groom let their heads go,
although I had the team well in hand, they plunged about to such an extent that
we carried away the corner post of an old shed that got in the way, but that was
the only mishap we had, although we nearly got into trouble when going through
one of the gates when one of the leaders got his legs over the traces and it was
a difficulty to get him clear.
Normanton was an extremely lively town, mail boats arriving every
fortnight and bringing men and stores for the Croydon. Mr. Fred Brodie was a
leading stock and station agent, and was interested in every progressive move.
The general elections were on at the time and I attended some of the liveliest
meetings ever held in the North. Mr. Edward Palmer was contesting the
Carpentaria election and his opponent was Major Colless; both were well known
graziers. Mr. Palmer was successful. He was brother in law of Mr. John
Stevenson, who at the same general election was elected member for Clermont. The
Hon. John Macrossan was in the Gulf at that time assisting Mr. Palmer and other
I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the many letters I have received from readers of my articles who evidently have enjoyed them.
I know I must have omitted
many names of prominent citizens but my articles have been written entirely from
memory, as unfortunately I have never kept a diary, except an office one. As
arranged I have confined my memoirs to 50 years ago.
One correspondent signed her
letter to me, “One of the old fashionable women of Brisbane.” I really would
like to know who this is, as she refers to old days at “The Retreat,” where I
lived for so many years, and at Sandgate.
I acknowledge an error when
I stated that the late James Gibbon resided at Kingsholme. Mr. Gibbon lived at
Teneriffe, adjoining Kingsholme, and was known as “Corner Allotment Jimmy,” as
he bought up corner allotments, and did very well out of his purchases. He died
in England some years after he had left Queensland and one of his executors came
out to wind up his estate. When our firm had completed the business, the
executor handed a cheque for £100 to our principals for the staff as he was so
pleased with the expeditious was the estate had been finalized. Naturally, the
staff were overjoyed.
 Ormistone was more likely Overstone.