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Some Old Stations.
A series of articles from 1932 about the very first Pioneers and the properties they created from the 1840s onwards.
Please read the original.
No 1. article is 'Cressbrook and Durundur'
Cressbrook is at Toogoolawah and Durundur is at Woodford.
Transcribed from 'The Brisbane Courier' Friday 22nd January 1932
Some Old Stations.
About some of the early pastoral properties of Queensland there is a wonderful romance; in fact, in all Australian literature there is nothing more inspiring, more courageous, move magnificent than the scrappy memoirs that tell of the struggles, the determination, and the heroism of men like the Archers of Durundur and Eidsvold, of Allan Macpherson of Mount Abundance, of Bigge of Mount Brisbane, of the Early Downs and Logan groups, and a score of others, who came here when Queensland, then known as Moreton Bay, was administered from Sydney. For the story of those men we have to depend upon such memoirs as some of them left and upon bare official records for others; while, for a few, such as Eales of Tiaro, their stories must be pieced together, scrap by scrap, from casual references. A few, like the M'Connels of Cressbrook and the Lawless family of Booubyjan, still own the properties, now greatly diminished in area, that were taken up in pre separation days, but in most instances they changed hands again and again, sometimes for the proverbil song, in the 'fifties and 'sixties. A few men are still living who knew some of those early properties as far back as the 'sixties. One of them is Mr. A. J. M'Connel, a son of one of the pioneer owners of Cressbrook and son of the owner of Durundur, after the Archers had moved further afield. Mr. M'Connel, who now lives at Clayfield, has a personal knowledge of life on the stations on the Upper Brisbane and the Mary River, and he has consented to write for us a series of articles about those holdings of a generation that has gone. His first article will appear tomorrow in the "Courier," and will tell something of the story of David and John M'Connel and their experiences at Cressbrook and Durundur. In subsequent articles he will tell the story of Kilcoy and other early properties.
Transcribed from the 'The Brisbane Courier' Saturday 30th January 1932.
Some Old Stations.
By A. J. McCONNEL.
The Early Records
IN writing about old times and places in Queensland I am much handicapped, because, so far as Cressbrook and Durundur record are concerned, most of them have been destroyed by fire. The dwelling house at Durundur, with most of my father's papers and books, was burnt in October, 1879; and the records of my uncle, David McConnel; were destroyed by the burning of the office at Cressbrook at a later date. Fortunately, however, I have been able to obtain letters written by them in the early days to some of their relatives. I find, also, to my disappointment, that the Lands Department in Brisbane have only a few records of land transactions prior to separation, or, indeed, for fifteen or twenty years afterwards; few of the old hands have left any record of their doings; none of them are now alive; and those who knew them cannot tell you much about their early experiences. But I knew many of them when I lived at Cressbrook, for being on the main road to the Burnett and Dawson many travellers were entertained at the station.
CRESSBROOK was a compact run, and the head station was built in about the middle of it. The country leased had frontage to both sides of the Brisbane River from the junction of Ivory's Creek downwards on the North side to the point where the Mount Brisbane Range runs into it. Cressbrook had as its neighbours Kilcoy and Mount Brisbane, The corner where these two runs met on the Cressbrook boundary was on Mount Gooneringeringi. - On the Southern side of the river to the west were Colinton and Eskdale; and Mount Esk runs on the south-east, I regret I am unable to find out the areas of these old leases, of which there is no record in the Lands Office. Cressbrook was well watered and grassed, the river flats being of excellent soil; and the back country well grassed and sheltered. It was considered the best run on the Brisbane, and reflected credit on the judgment of the man who first
took it up.
In 1844 John M'Connel bought a 2/5th share in Cressbrook from his brother David, and the firm was known as D. and J. M'Oonnel. My father does not seem to have taken much active part in the work on the place, and during most of the 'forties lived a good deal in Brisbane, and as there was no bank in the town till the end of that period he did buslners as a private banker. He lived part of the time at David Bow's Victoria Hotel, in Queen-street, then the principal hotel, and when he left there lived in a cottage owned by Mr. Swan, of the "Courier," at the corner of George and Queen streets. He rented this house in the years 1848-49. He amused himself by often visiting the bay, camping with the blacks, and hunting "Yungun" or dugong. At the land sales in the 'forties John and David M'Connel were both buyers or town lots. John had a large area at New Farm, another at Kangaroo Point, and also a frontage block on the river, on which Parbury House now stands. He sold this block to the late Mr. George Raff, when he left Queensland for England in 1853, as he was undecided whether he would return.
About the year 1844 he bought Helidon station from Mr. J. C. Pearce, who had bought it from Mr. George Mocatta, its first holder. It was then stocked with sheep, but as the blacks were so bad It was hard to get shepherds. Some shepherds had been killed by the blacks, who had also made a fierce attack on the station about 1843. After the attack a party of whites was mustered to disperse the blacks. They camped at Helidon, the weather being cold, the party camped in a hut, and slept on the ground. As the hut was small, and the party large, an older was given that all should sleep side by side facing the same way when one camper wished to move he called out "Spoons" the whole party turned over. After this experience my father sold Helidon back to Mr. Pearce, who held it until 1848, when he sold it. Mr. Pearce afterwards took up Crow's Nest Station, a small run on the head of Cressbrook Creek waters. Mr. Mocatta at the end of the 'forties also owned other runs in the Burnett district; for in 1848 he had Mt. Debatable, and with Mr. Piggott owned Wigton, on Barambah Creek, It is rather odd that in after years I should have been part-owner in this property. Mr. Dugald Graham, who bought it from Mr. Mocatta, died there, and his grave is about 100 yards from the present dwelling house.
Cressbrook and Kilcoy.
I HAVE been told that Kilcoy was the second lease to be granted on the Upper Brisbane waters, and it was granted to the brothers, Evan and Colin John MacKenzle, who were of Kilcoy, Ross shire. Evans succeeded to the baronetcy some years after his arrival in Queensland. He then went home, and married, but left no male heir. His daughter, however, married a man named Burton, and inherited the estate. Colin lived at Kilcoy till it was sold to Charles Atherton. He took a good deal of interest in public affairs, and was a keen advocate of Separation,
Kilcoy was a hilly run, and well
watered, principally by Kilcoy Creek and its tributaries, also by the Stanley River. On Sheep Station Creek is a fine sheet of water, called Maynards's Lagoon, called, I suppose, after some shepherd. On the north the Conondale Range shuts it off from the adjoining runs of Conondale and' Yabba, and on the east it joined Durundur, on the south Mt. Brisbane and Cressbrook: and on the west, Colinton. Mr. Atherton, who is recalled by the "C. A. Crossing," of Kilcoy Creek, on the way to Mt. Brisbane, and the old station brand, CAI, owned Kilcoy for a time. He sold it to the Hon. Louis Hope (commonly called Capt. Hope, who had been in the Coldstream Guards, and had retired as a. lieutenant). In 1858 the lessees were Hope and Ramsay, and that partnership existed until 1863, when Mr. Ramsay retired. Captain Hope had it till the beginning of this century, when it was repurchased by the Government for close settlement. Captain Hope did not live at Kilcoy much, as his favourite place of residence was Ormiston, near Cleveland, where he was much interested, like some of the other Upper Brisbane squatters, in trying to persuade the Southern authorities to make it the port, instead of Brisbane, for the Moreton Bay settlement, He put a large area of land under cultivation of sugar cane, and was the first to grow and produce sugar on a commercial scale in Queensland, for which he received a bounty from the Crown. Part of this bounty was given in the form of a block of about 1000 acres of land in Kilcoy, situated on Kilcoy Creek, in the MacKenzles' time very good horses were kept on Kilcoy, for among the mob that Mr. Francis Bigge was bringing up to Queensland, when he was stuck up by "The Jew Boy" on the Peel River, were fifty head for Kilcoy. These horses were from the Nepean River, and were very well bred. In 1845 Evan MacKenzie brought up the following thoroughbred mares from Sydney: Stilla, Queen of Trumps, and Bet Hyatt, which were afterwards acquired by Messrs. Frederick and Francis Bigge, of Mount Brisbane. An early stallion aft Kilcoy was Mentor by Toss from Penelope by Phantom, who got excellent stock, and he was followed by a good Sailor horse named Viceroy, bred at Mt. Brisbane. The cattle at Kilcoy (after the sheep with which it was first stocked had been removed) were of Shorthorn type.
SINCE I can remember, the managers were in 1862 a Mr. Bryant, who was succeeded about 1864 by Captain Talbot, an Indian Army officer, and on his death about 1871 by Mr. William Butter, who remained at Kilcoy till its sale, when he bought the Homestead block. In the 'sixties Captain Talbot suffered in a terrible accident. He, a new chum, and the stockmen were yarding a mob of young horses. The yard was on a hillside, when near it the horses tried to break away, and Captain Talbot and the Jackeroo raced to stop them. Captain Talbot was on a hard mouthed horse and the other man on a youngster. The riders converged at an angle, and, as neither could pull up, collided, and at the same time struck an iron bark tree. The jackeroo struck the tree high, the horse's teeth were found in the bark about 7ft. up; Captain Talbot struck the butt. Both men were unconscious. This happened about breakfast time. The stockman, named Ramsay, started for Brisbane, 70 miles away, getting relays of horses en route, and got there in the evening. He persuaded the late Dr. Mullen to come, and they started off, and reached Kilcoy about 10 next morning. The jackeroo died in a few days, but Captain Talbot, who never properly recovered, lingered on for some years. He died in Brisbane. His body was taken to Kilcoy, and was buried there.
IN the early days the blacks were very bad at Kilcoy. They speared a number of shepherds and killed many sheep. On one occasion, at the end of 1841, or early in 1842, a party of Mary River blacks crossed the range from Conondale and attacked the shepherds at the outstation on Kilcoy Creek, where the later Mount Kilcoy homestead was situated, and killed two men. The others were frightened, and went off to Kilcoy headstation, about three miles away. Before leaving camp they poisoned the flour, which was left in the hut. Later on the blacks returned, robbed the hut, and took the flour to their camp, about a mile away, on some lagoons situated on Captain Hope's sugar grant. They cooked and ate the flour. One of the Durundur boys told me that his father described the scene "that blackfellow been eatim damper. Then plenty that been jump about, all the same fish, when you catch 'im, big mob been die him dead all about." Stuart Russell, when at Tiaro, in May, 1842, heard from the local blacks about this tragedy.
Captain Hope was a very tall man, several inches over 6ft. high, and his legs were very long. I remember seeing him retrieve the cushions of his buggy, which had been washed out in crossing a backwater of the Stanley in flood time. He was wearing nothing but a hat and shirt, and the tail of his shirt did not seem to reach the water; he looked like a gigantic crane.
The old house at Kilcoy was built of bricks which had been burnt in the neighbourhood. In 1863 the mantle shelves were made of bunya pine.
(To be continued.)
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