The history of Banana stretches back well over a hundred years - to the middle 1850's over half a century before the establishment of Biloela or Moura, when Queensland was still a part of the colony of New South Wales. The first settlement in the area was made by the Scottish Leith-Hay brothers, who came originally from the Darling Downs area to settle 30 miles from Banana on a property they called Rannes after their old home, Rannes and Leith Hall in Aberdeenshire. This was a few months before the Archer brothers moved North from their holding at Eidsvold to settle at Gracemere and pioneer the Rockhampton District.
In Banana's hey-day it boasted two hotels, two butchers, a couple of general stores, a saddlers, a blacksmith (who could even make wedding rings), an ambulance centre, police station, post office, school, market gardens on the shores of the lagoon (in flood time the melons bobbed merrily on the water) and a racing stables.
The main street in old Banana was Bowen Street, where the present post office, the Methodist Church-Hall, and Stewarts Cafe now stand. this was before the road from Biloela to Moura cut crosswise through the neatly laid out square allotments. this road sliced through the old police reserve, where an old bottletree marks the site of the original court house and lock-up, roughly between the post office and the present hall. the first courthouse and lock-up in Banana was already wearing out in 1870, and by 1888 was "in a very remarkable decayed state" in fact prisoners had to be chained to the posts so they did not escape from the lock-up. the court house was slightly better, it was used for council meetings until another was built in 1906.
One evening in 1917, the courthouse burnt down - very exciting with bullets exploding in every direction. It was rebuilt but later moved to Biloela. Names of early police officers were T. Burke, R. Orme, C.J.King, J. Cross, T.Bates, T. Murphy, J. McCarthy, D. Chilton and J.J. Hanrahan.
The first post office was in a corner of the Police Reserve. A telegraph station was opened in Banana in the 1860's by John Cramp and his daughter Mrs Marianne Bennett, who came to Biloela from Drayton. Mrs Bennett and her son Syd later owned Bennetts store and she was also the local midwife. Some of the early postmasters were R.S. Armit, J.McDonald, G.roebuck, G.Goodsell, H. Vallance and H.W. Harvey. the original building had a shingle roof (it was re-shingled in 1875) but had fallen into disrepair by 1900, when Newman Bros. built a new post office on the same site (This was later moved to Camboon).
The old cemetery at Banana, though no longer used still stands on a hill behind the town, and is kept in order by members of the Banana Shire Historical Society. Some of the tombstones are so weathered that they are illegible and a few are broken, but recorded on them are names of most of the pioneer families of Banana. The teamster Harry Swain and his wife Catherine lie there. Marianne Bennett and her father, john Cramp, Emma Tanwan, Elizabeth King, Herbert and Isabella Berry, Thomas and Elizabeth Clarke, Grace Homer, members of the Sutherland family, the pioneers of Kianga station, David Martin, Andrew and Catherine Urquhart of "Harcourt" and their grand daughter Catherine are also laid to rest in this cemetery.
source "Banana Past and Present"
Bouldercombe first hit the national headlines In 1886, when it was reported that, "the Gogango Board was experiencing a major headache with the problem of prospectors pegging gold claims on a public road In the Bouldercombe area".
Gold continued to be drawn from the area for many years. The report below was taken from the 'Morning Bulletin" dated 9/7/1936.
"Marked-activity is associated with the working of a mining show, situated off the Boudercombe Road, nine miles from Rockhampton, called the 'Hidden Star'. Following the discovery of a reef carrying payable gold, a company called The Hidden Star Gold Mine Limited was formed with a view to working property and treating the ore. Capital of £8,000 was subscribed and, with the installation of the necessary machinery, operations were commenced on August 12 1935.
The battery at that time was a five head stamper, but since then a further five head of stampers have been added. In addition there Is a cyanide plant for treating the sands and the tailings, with five 10-ton vats and the necessary pumps and piping. The whole of the plant is now in operation and is kept working for 16 hours daily.
For the period ended June 9 last 1,475 tons of ore were crushed for a return of 671 oz. 11 dwt. of gold, and the cyanide plant had treated 295 tons of sands for a return of 62 oz. 3 dwt. of gold. Approximately 1,000 tons of sands and stocks at grass were awaiting treatment. As treatment proceeds at the plant further sands will be added to the battery.
Twenty-three men are employed at the mine and battery. The gold is sent to the mint, and the average price received has been £8/2/6.
The management is now proceeding with the installation of further machinery which will enable the mine and battery to be worked in three shifts, or continuous operation for six days a week. This will result in the employment of more men. The main shaft has been sunk 160 ft. and there is every indication of good values being obtained at a greater depth.
Other places exploited In the last few years are the New Zealand Gully diggings near Sliepner Junction, the old gold reserve behind Elgalla Homestead. the district between Mt. Chalmers and Mt. Wheeler, Shepherd's Gully at the head of Midgee Creek, Boongarry, the Old Retrieve mine at Baree (Mt. Morgan), and Ridgelands.
In addition to the operations of syndicates, prospecting work has been carried out -by unemployed men, who are assisted by the payment Of a government allowance of £2 a week."
During September, October and November of 1858 an estimated fifteen thousand people passed through Rockhampton on their way to Canoona Station, about 65 kilometres to the north. Times were hard for the pick and shovel miners of the Victorian Goldfields, so the report of a new strike in the far north of N.S.W. caused great excitement and lack of caution. A man named Chapple was given the dishonour of first discovering gold at Canoona in July of 1858 and causing men to dream big dreams. Unfortunately their dreams turned to dust when it was realised that although there was gold in payable quantities, there was not enough for more than a few hundred men. The news of the discovery had spread like wildfire, but the disappointment of the first miners failed to do likewise and so shiploads of people kept flowing in. The small settlement of Rockhampton with its Native Police Camp and two buildings was now overflowing with tents and huts all along the riverbank as far as the eye could see. With the arrival of more people than food to feed them, prices quickly soared and in no time the stores on the goldfields were emptied. Many men had sold all they owned to pay their passage north and. were now walking away with nothing and not knowing where their next meal was coming from.
When the first Police Inspector arrived on the diggings he found that a small band of Diggers had gotten together and made up a code of laws that seemed to be working quite well. In his first report to the Inspector General of Police he told of the sorry plight of most of the diggers, but also of the good luck being experienced by those of the first rush who were early enough to acquire the best claims. An early miner, Mr. Hall estimated that his party had dug over 2,000 ounces with more to follow. The most gold was found within the depth of 12 inches from the surface.
With disappointed and destitute miners returning to Rockhampton, the now overflowing township was thrown into social and economic chaos. Before the end of November more than seventy ships had sailed into Keppel Bay.
The failure of Canoona was perhaps the real beginning of Rockhampton as many broke and starving diggers took jobs on properties, in stores and any other local work they could find. Canoona was also a lesson to hopeful miners of the future. Whenever a new goldfield was discovered in the district, the miners were a little more cautious.
Although the miners of the l858 rush believed they had been duped, the fact remains that quite a lot of gold has been extracted from Canoona and weekend prospectors are still earning pocket money there today.
In 1880 the following description of Copperfield was given In the Queensland P Office Directory; A mining township, four miles distant from Clermont. Owing to cessation of operations at the local copper mine, the township is reported to be gradually decaying. The numerous quartz reefs are mostly abandoned, owing to want of capital to develop them. Population 359, now reduced to about 150.
Copper, the curse of the goldminer, was responsible for bringing into existence once flourishing little township of Copperfied. In 1862 a ten metre high wall of solid copper was discovered In the area by gold Prospector, Jack Mollard, and not being too sure what it was he had Just discovered, he brought his find into Rockhampton to be analyzed. After the promise of a bottle of rum and a share in the mine, Mr. Mollard disclosed the whereabouts of his find. Between 1862 and 1877 Copperfield was a rich and bustling township, with a large Population of two thousand being Increased by about one hundred experienced Cornish miners from the mines of South Australia. School enrolments wore at 210, but unfortunately many school age boys were encouraged by their parents to work in the mines, so education in many cases was neglected. Some boys would attend school in the mornings then go home to get ready to do the afternoon shift at the mine.
More than 100,000 tons of ore were smelted, the highest price reaching $200 per ton. The ore was dug and transported by bullock teams to St. Lawrence to be shipped to Wales for smelting.
At its Peak Copperfield boasted two churches, two banks, a baker, three butchers, three blacksmiths, six stores, a stationer, a saddlery, a newspaper (the Copper-field Miner), two auctioneers, a Cordial maker, six hotels, a school, a post office, two societies (Oddfellows’ Lodge and MUIOOF) and a cemetery trust.,
Copperfield grew rapidly but unfortunately died just as rapidly. The mining company changed hands several times but it was impossible to breathe life back Into the dying township. Today the only reminder that Copperfield was once an important financial asset to Queensland, is the lone brick chimney stack, one of fourteen, still standing. Charles Bettridge, a bricklayer who came from England to Copperfield In 1871 was responsible for building a kiln and manufacturing all the bricks for the Copperfield mines as well as Other brick projects In the area.
The land on which the chimney stands was donated by the Tindale family to the Belyando Shire Council who have restored it.
The first settlement of Morinish occurred when William Henry Wiseman, as Lands Commissioner of Leichhardt, approved an application for land from Patrick Mackay and his brother Colin for Morinish in 1854. Morinish is 45 kms west-north-west of Rockhampton. At one time, Colin Mackay's country stretched to Gogango. The property ran sheep and it was not until 1871 that Mackay decided to get rid of the sheep (they were unsuitable for the ground & available grasses) and run cattle. In the 1870's more pastoralists arrived and, according to an article in The Morning Bulletin in the early part of this century, much of the Morinish area was settled by people from Scotland. These Scots worked on the land and did not do any mining of the gold which was discovered there in 1866. (See article 'Among the Scots' in our December 1995 journal.)
It was not until 1866, the two Smith brothers, while working for Mackay, discovered gold on a spur of the Morinish Range which was part of Morinish Station. The Morinish Gold Fields were not gazetted until 1871. Many of the diggers that arrived soon after the find had moved from the Crocodile Fields (now Bouldercombe) to the newly discovered diggings at Morinish. This may have been because of the race riots (between the Chinese and the miners) occurring at Crocodile diggings or the flooding of the Crocodile Creek. By March 1867, there were over 1200 people on the field, scattered over a distance of 26kms. Once payable gold was found, stores were erected, hotels opened and early in 1867, Morinish assumed an air of prosperity although the Morinish Provisional School was not established until February 1883 (records show that, at this time, there were only 19 students). Certainly in these early years Morinish was not a healthy playground for children as the burial records for this area testify. A major problem at Morinish for the diggers was a lack of water and the miners tried unsuccessfully to dam the creeks.
Gold was to be found close to the surface and in some areas, was only 3 metres down. Many reefs were discovered around the Morinish fields. One such field was called Blackfellow's Gully and "was named after the discoverer in 1867, an American man of colour" according to Bird pp 213. This mine was mined continuously by some old hands, including W O'Donoghue and Mr Pattimore, till the early 1900's. Another very profitable field was Hunter's Gully which was just outside the Morinish Gold & Mineral Fields. Gold was discovered here by David Hunter in January 1867. The lead & surrounding areas of this field were worked profitably by a great number of people for many years. Product records show that gold was still being produced from this field in 1946 - 221 ozs - but there were no early production records kept for this field until 1909. Geologists claim that there is still gold to be found in this area today.
Wealth was a long way off for those capitalists who had rushed the area with a surplus of crushing batteries to serve the fields that had not been properly proved. Another factor was that, in October 1867, the discovery of gold at Gympie was announced and many diggers soon left the old field for the new fields. As well as this, gold had also been discovered in other parts of the district. In just over one week, Gympie's population had reached 3000. According to the poet Alick Forbes who lived at the diggings, "Morinish had fallen into decadence by the early 1870's". (Bird pp213)
Mt. Hedlow is described in the 1892/93 Post Office Directory as a pastoral area in the Livingstone County, Port Curtis District, approximately fourteen miles north of Rockhampton by coach. In 1892 there was a school, a Post Office and various pastoral holdings.
Today Mount Hedlow is regarded as an area encompassing various mountains and hills or, as a group of trachyte plugs that crop out over an area of about 50 square miles, and not as one specific mountain. This group takes in lronpot on Yeppoon Road and Mount Wheeler in Cawarral. It Is believed that lronpot was called "Hedloo" by the local aborigines.
In 1880 there were 24 school age children so an area of 45 acres was set aside as a school reserve and the parents commenced to erect a school building. It had an earthen floor, slab wails, shingle roof and wooden shutters for windows. The first teacher to instruct the children of Mount Hedlow in the three R's, was eighteen year old Alexander Boswell. Most families of that day had neither clock nor watch and so the children were taught to tell the time by the sun and the shadows. My grandmother knew that she had to have her chores done by the time the shadows were a certain length, so she would not be late for school. When the enrolment reached forty children, the parents arranged to have a larger building constructed, Over the years the attendance figures would fluctuate and more than once the school was closed. In the wet seasons the attendance would drop dramatically as the majority of the children lived on the opposite side of Hedlow Creek to the school, and crossing the creek was often dangerous. The doors were finally closed in August 1920 and the school building was removed to Pandoin.
The main recreation in Mount Hedlow was the weekend tennis picnics, where the locals would gather not only for a good game of tennis but a social outing as well. The old time dances held in the Mount Hedlow schoolhouse were well patronised and many would travel all day Saturday to attend, then spend all Sunday getting home again. The music was usually an accordion and now and then someone would bring along a mouth organ as an extra treat. My grandmother, who was a beautiful dancer, learnt the art under these primitive conditions. Her baby sister, along with other babies slept in fruit packing cases under the Buts, oblivious to the music and gaiety around them. In those days a special licence was needed before a dance could be held. The one day of the year, besides Christmas, that the community really looked forward to was the Separation Day public holiday when a Picnic Race Meeting was held. It was a time for everyone to let their hair down. Many a love match was made on Picnic Race Day and, I dare say, many a near, divorce. It was the special times as well as the bad times that drew the community together as a strong unit. Everyone worked together for the betterment of their living standards.
On the 2nd May 1898 the following letter and petition wore forwarded to the Education Office in Brisbane by the Provisional School in Mount Hedlow.
"We the undersigned parents and guardians of children attending the Mount Hedlow Provisional School, respectfully request that you will permit an application to be made to the Lands Department for the granting of a portion of the school reserve, namely two acres, for the purpose of a Cemetery. Also for the sale by auction or otherwise of another portion of two acres which the undersigned wish to buy for church purposes.
The reserve was proclaimed as shown in the Gazette of 1882 folio 1056, and is in a very central position. So much so that the parents would not like any of it to be withdrawn for other than public uses".
Supreme Court Rockhampton
“Gold is omnipotent; it can make even the Moor white.”
Though the world famed gold mine known as Mount Morgan was not opened in the early days, it was a well known locality in that period of the history of the district. The question has been asked scores of times, “How was it Mount Morgan was not discovered before?” No answer can be given to the query, for the more it is thought of the more odd it becomes in view of subsequent events. It was not as though no gold had been found in the neighbourhood, for there were many places where good patches of gold had been discovered only a few miles away, and in some cases almost close to the mountain.
The first instance of gold having been found in the vicinity of Mount Morgan was in 1865. In that year gold was found somewhere in the neighbourhood of Razorback, and a party went out from Rockhampton to discover the spot. There were no roads in those times, and the place sought for was not found. Mr. Robert Sharples, storekeeper, was one of the party looking for the rush. They went over Razorback and down Dairy Creek to just where the corner of the Mount Morgan Company’s freehold fence comes. There they found two men cradling wash dirt, which had been obtained near at hand. They ascertained that they were a party of four, and two of their mates, one of whom was Mr. E. H. T. Plant, of Charters Towers, had gone off to the rush at Gavial Creek, Crocodile. One of the men cradling was Mr. George Jackson, the present Chairman of Committees of the Legislative Assembly. Mr. Sharples and his party went off to Gavial Creek, where they took up claims. This was in the concluding months of 1865, so it is thirty nine years since gold was first got within a mile of the Mount Morgan mine.
For many years subsequently gold was found in the gullies for miles around, and a large number of men worked there, on and off, till the golden mountain itself was discovered in 1882.
Mr. W. Mackinlay, a man whose name has often been mentioned in connection with the early mining on the Dee watershed, was for many years the head stockman at Calliungal Station, on the Dee River, and lived at the heifer station, about fifteen miles below what is now Mount Morgan. Mackinlay evidently knew a good deal about mining, and was instrumental in opening one or two copper mines in that neighbourhood. After leaving the station service he worked for gold in some of the gullies in the neighbourhood, and is supposed to have done well. It was said of Mackinlay that he knew every stone on the station, but without going so far as that, he undoubtedly had a great knowledge of the country, and being of a curious and investigative turn of mind, knew a good deal about the mineral deposits. With such a thorough knowledge of the district, it seems strange that Mackinlay should never have tried the Mount Morgan stone, and the probability is that he must have tested some of the worthless rock which had rolled down the mountain side, and never got anything like a payable result.
What is now known as Mount Morgan was a hill particularly well known to miners at that time, by whom it was termed the “ironstone mountain” and the iron knob.” Apparently, there, it must have been generally regarded as containing an immense iron lode, pieces of what seemed to be ironstone which had rolled from above giving colour to such an opinion.
Mr. F. A. Morgan, who was indirectly the discoverer of Mount Morgan, came to Rockhampton from Warwick in 1879, and became the landlord of the Criterion Hotel, previously kept by Mrs. Laurie. Mr. Morgan was the oldest of the family, Thomas and Edwin being younger brothers. He had always been mixed up in mining, and the younger brothers had also engaged in the same industry. The Morgan family originally came from the Bathurst district, and F. A. Morgan claimed that early in 1851, before Hargraves reported the first discovery of gold at Ophir, he and others were working gold claims in the neighbourhood of Bathurst. One thing is certain, F. A. Morgan was one of the first men in Australia who ever worked a gold claim.
Soon after Mr. F. A. Morgan settled down in his hotel, he began to look round the goldfields, and started the Galawa mine at Mount Wheeler. A battery was erected there, and a considerable number of men employed. The stone was certainly rich in patches, and Mr. Morgan informed the writer that he took between £7000 and £8000 worth of gold from the mine. His Brothers Thomas and Edwin came over from Warwick, and were looking after the mine and battery for their brother.
Among the men working at the mine or battery was one Sandy Gordon, who went off on the spree at Cawarral, and was discharged in consequence. The story goes that Mrs. Gordon went to Mr. Thomas Morgan and told him that if he would take her husband back again, she should show him a place on the Dee River where her father (Mr. William Mackinlay) had obtained copper. Mr. Morgan took Gordon back again, and soon after the two Morgans set off to look for the lode spoken of.
Train on Razorback 1910
New Zealand Gully
From the Garibaldi diggings, near Cawarral, miners gradually worked their way straight for Rockhampton, prospecting among the ranges. A place called Moonlight Terrace appears to have been the first spot where payable gold was got, somewhere in the neighbourhood of Mount Chalmers. In July, 1870, Frank Quinn obtained gold in Quinn's Gully, one of the branches of Stony Creek. He applied for a prospecting area which brought about a rush, and then Michael Duffy and party going further up the creek, found gold in another watercourse, which was named New Zealand Gully by Duffy, who came from that colony. A big rush set in from Rockhampton and the surrounding diggings, and a lot of men obtained payable claims. The sinking in New Zealand Gully was from mere scratching to about 12 ft. Most of the claims on the line bottomed on gold, from a few grains to a pennyweight to the dish. A good many other gullies and ravines in the neighbourhood were found to contain gold, and caused little rushes. There was plenty of water in New Zealand Gully at the time, and the only complaint appeared to be that the claims were too small. The place speedily assumed considerable proportions. Inside a month a thousand people were there, and in addition to hotels and stores, a theatre was erected. The gold obtained was mostly of a coarse character, the biggest slug reported for a long time being a piece weighing 5 oz. The best of the claims enabled men to earn from (8 to (12 per week each, but of course there were a good many claims in which the diggers did not make wages.
A number of quartz veins were opened, and a lot of gold got from the casing and loose rubble. Johnson and party were particularly fortunate in this kind of mining, as in one day they obtained between four and five pannikins of gold. Indeed, several claims won a lot of gold this way. Among the first reefs laid off were the Exhibition, Last Chance, Honest Bob, Fielder's Victoria, and Keppel Bay View. The opinion was soon formed that rich reefs permeated the hills and would be of lasting benefit to Rockhampton. That opinion persists to the present day. It is worthy of remark that after thirty two years of fossicking, New Zealand Gully and the surrounding gullies still continue to yield small patches of gold to the steady fossicker. There were various rushes about Stony Creek, including one to near Balnagowan; in fact, a little gold seemed to be found all over that portion of the district.
It was early in 1867 when JTS Bird (author of the Early History of Rockhampton) and Arthur Hoskings discovered gold at the junction of granite and slate country some 25km west, north west of Rockhampton on the road to Morinish. It was called Ridgelands because of its numerous flats, spurs and ridges. This was only around one month after gold had been discovered at Morinish.
There was gold fever in the air and soon after word had reached Morinish, there was an exodus from this area to the new field and soon there were 500 men on the field. As usual, the field soon attracted the attention of enterprising business men who set up hotels and stores. Unfortunately for Bird and Hosking, the Gold Commissioner of the time did not allow their claim even though they had pegged the claim. He gave the claim to a man called Kirker because "he had discovered a lot of gold". (Havelland DW pp170). They did receive the Qld Government reward for the discovery of gold. Although they fulfilled all the conditions required, they only received £250 instead of £500 promised.
The alluvial gold was only 1.2metres deep and was easy to obtain. Kerr (1982:9) mentions that "one man found the ground so good that he had no time to waste with tailings. Instead his wife employed an aboriginal woman. She obtained a quarter oz of gold in one day in return for rations".
A problem for most of these early gold fields was finding a battery to crush the gold. It was not until April 1868 that Ridgelands got its own machine after the Valentine Quartz Crushing company was registered in Rockhampton. Shareholders in this company were local people such as Henry Beed, tobacconist, Edward Forster and John Porter, dealers in skins and hides, as well as sharebrokers Hodgkinson and Meagher and the storekeeper, Thomas Page. Very soon there were too many batteries on the fields to serve reefs on the fields which had not been proved. This may have been because Ridgelands had a splendid supply of water unlike the nearby Morinish fields and some of the gold from Morinish was taken to Ridgelands to be crushed. Many of the investors in these batteries lost their money.
It is not known how long Ridgelands remained a viable source of gold for the miners. Many of the miners continued their quest for this elusive metal and some remained in this area mining for gold at New Zealand Gully. After World War 1, Ridgelands became an area for soldier settlement but the blocks were too small to be viable. Today Ridgelands is a quiet rural area close to Rockhampton with some hobby farms.
One of the pioneering families, the Athertons first leased Rosewood as a pastoral property in 1860. Rosewood is approximately 51 km west, by north west from Rockhampton and 26 km west from Ridgelands. It was around this time, that many of these pioneers took up land around the Rockhampton area. During the next decade, many of these pastoral leases would became part of the gold & mineral fields surrounding Rockhampton.
Gold was first discovered at Rosewood soon after the Ridgelands field opened in 1867 by an ex Morinish digger, John Williams. The amount of gold was not a significant find until William Brady (who was involved in the original discovery of gold at Crocodile Creek) located a payable pocket in the creek. It is said that Brady picked up a 250 gram nugget and washed 2 ozs of gold from 6 buckets of dirt he scraped from the surface at Brady's Creek. Both Brady and Williams applied for the government reward and finally the money of £250 was paid the reward as he was the cause of the big rush. Opinions were greatly divided in the community of the justice of this decision. Gold nuggets were found and, as expected, the news spread like wildfire with claims taken up in all directions. News travelled quickly to the neighbouring fields and soon over 200 men walked over a rugged track from Morinish to try their luck. Up and down the creek men worked frantically to gather the gold.
"Hungry, hard up diggers would go to work in the morning with empty pockets, and even emptier stomachs, and would return that night with perhaps 100 pounds worth of gold. There were lumps of pure gold, clean as a whistle, like so many marbles or pure potatoes and many weighed between 10 - 15 ozs. Much of this gold was exhibited in jeweller's windows in Rockhampton and also in Brisbane". (According to D W de Havelland in his book "Gold & Ghost).
In January 1871, the Queensland Government purchased one of these pure gold nuggets from the Rosewood field and this formed part of a collection that was sent to a London Exhibition. It is believed this nugget was found by Burke, Hannon and McKinnon. Many other large nuggets were discovered either in the creek or close to the surface. It is said that pieces were between 10 to 50 ozs. In November 1871 a party of three men, Nixon, Morrison and Wilson, dug down 17 feet and found a vein which yielded approximately four buckets of pure gold.
A small township with numerous hotels and stores was soon established to cater for the diggers and their families. In its heyday, there were over 1000 diggers on the field. However after a few years, many of the diggers moved on to newer fields - south to Gympie or north to Ravenswood - and some German diggers took their place. Gold was still being sought in the late 1900's with little reward. It was not until 1908, when copper prices were at a new high that there was renewed interest in this area.
On the abandoned Rosewood goldfields, the great Northern Copper and Gold Mining Company took up the freehold copper working in 1898 and announced plans to erect smelting works plus a rail line to the Central Railway. Control passed to London with a large sale of shares. There were also reports of gold being found. According to Kerr (1989 pp 119), "Warden Phillips travelled up from Melbourne after reading about the company's achievements in the Melbourne Press only to discover he had been reading fiction, another audacious scheme to swindle the investing public".
Today, Rosewood is a quiet rural area although some old timers still believe there is gold to be found there. Although Rosewood is relatively unknown today, it must stand alongside other gold fields such as Crocodile Creek for its gold production and especially for its purity of gold.
Wedding Party 1906
Homestead at Gracemere
Exactly one hundred years ago on 7th August 1876, a small school was established on the south side of Neerkol Creek to provide educational facilities for the families of railway and quarry workers and those engaged in the dairying industry. Many changes have occurred in that time.
The school was relocated on a new site in 1914 because floods regularly prevented attendance, while enrolment which stood at between 70 and 80 for many years fell to 9 in 1966. The district too has changed and will soon have no dairy farms, while it continues to develop as an area where families may settle to enjoy the advantages of country living with employment opportunities available in nearby Rockhampton.
Most people have happy memories of schooldays. This is in no small way attributed to the part schools played, as our country grew, in the gradual elimination of class consciousness. Children entering the school gate from a stratified society forgot the social distinctions extant at the time and played and worked happily together as equals. As later events, particularly the wars, but also the trials and hardships of pioneering, placed our people in the position of living and working together for a common cause.
Stanwell past pupils fondly remember the good old days.
Mrs Clara Crosthwaite, in Davis Street Rockhampton is the grand daughter of Stanwell provisional School's courageous second Head Teacher, then Mrs Emily Taylor.
Mrs Crosthwaite's mother, Margaret Florence Millikin, was the daughter of Emily's second marriage. Mrs Crosthwaite's daughters Mavis (Mrs Ken Corrie) and Margaret (Mrs Ken Ward) carried on family traditions by following the teaching profession. Mavis at private kindergarten level, and Margaret (a B.A.) at Clayfield College and the Rockhampton Girls Grammar School.
Mrs Crosthwaite remembers her grandmother as a woman of remarkable courage and optimistic outlook. Two years after Mr Taylors death, Emily married Mr Milliken, and later Margaret Florence was born. Emily has taught school at Stanwell and Rosewood Crossing, and later at Dingo.
But she returned to her original profession - nursing - about 1904 when as Mrs George Neil, she came from Dingo to establish a nursing home in Denison Street, under the guidance of Dr Parry. The nursing home remained well known for many years, and will readily be recalled.
One of the first pupils at the Stanwell School was Lydia Connor (nee Gay). She was born at the Stanwell Railway Station during a flood. Another early school pupil, Eileen Connor, was the first child from Stanwell to pass the Scholarship examination.
Details of the Gay family came from Mrs M.E. Esmond, Lucknow, Kabelbara Siding, Clermont line. Mrs Esmond wrote of her mother, the former Mary Ann Gay, "there were seven children in the family of John and Mary Gay - Mary Ann, Lydia, Hannah, Henry. The father John Gay was on the railway line, using a team of horses he bought from New South Wales to build the railway line to the West. He brought a piece of land on Stuarts Creek, now known as Gayside".
Mary Ann married John Walsh O'Shanesy of Kabra, Lydia married Timothy Connor and Hannah married Jack Connor. Henry and George Gay were at the Boer War, and later joined the police force. William finished up head of the Railway Department in North Queensland. John lived his life, after leaving the farm, as owner of the first hotel at Kabra. He came to Emerald, bought a hotel there, and became Mayor of Emerald. He started the town's water supply scheme during his term of office.
Mr J Chapple remembers an incident connected with the Mr Chapple who owns the land the first school was built on. When the land was auctioned after the school closed. Mr Chapple was forced to pay five hundred pounds for the leasehold. He later sold the land to Dobsons.
Two lads G Acutt and Hanrahan, gained a name for themselves by using snakes in the manner of whips - cracking off their heads after picking them up by the tail.
Mr Jack Munck said that W.A. Munck built a house which cost one hundred pounds for the materials while the wages for the builder totalled twenty-five pounds. Mr W.A. Munck had jumped ship at Moreton Bay, and later married one of the passengers who had been on the same ship, a Maria Dorothea Neilsen. While she was in America she cooked a meal for King Edward. She was Otto Neilsen's Aunt.
Before 1902, W.A. Munck used to take butter to Mt Morgan, and during the 1899 - 1902 drought, which was most severe, his cattle died from tick fever. There used to be about ten teamsters around Stanwell. Some carted timber to be burnt in the mine and others carted props for the mine. In 1902 during the drought water was carted from Stanwell to parched Mt. Morgan for use in the mine. Trenches were dug along Neerkol Creek to allow the water to drain to the pumping place.
Everyone will remember Mrs Christensen who was a midwife, and lived about 200 yards from where Sven Munck's home was built much later. In 1920, the then 25 year old Jack Munck won the buck jumping contest at the Rockhampton show. Mr and Mrs John C Judas lived for a while in the first church built in Stanwell.
Mr W.J. Dwyer, of unit 1, "Gredores" 26 Swain Street, Holland Park Brisbane, wrote: "Mrs wife's (Pearl) mother, then Frances M McClelland, was born in Warren on November 11 1883, and at five years of age walked with her brothers and sisters to attend school at Stanwell.
The distance was a good three miles, and the children had to cross a creek and walk along the railway line. They would shelter under culverts in adverse weather." It seems that when Frances McClelland was about 15 years old, the family moved to Mt Morgan. She later married L. Coates, Hotel Proprietor in Rockhampton who died after retirement in Yeppoon in 1949, leaving six daughters and two sons.
An uncle of the Misses Lawrence - long and respected residents of the more modern Stanwell, Jesse Henry Osborne, of Ben Street, Yeppoon. Mr Osborne was born at Warren Gatehouse in 1884, and was enrolled at the old Stanwell School in 1890 to spend eight years receiving education there. Mr Osborne, remembers that Mr Thompson was the Head Teacher, and because of the large enrolment 72 children, had the assistance of his sister (Miss Thompson), who had no previous teaching training.
Mr Toohery (?) took over after Mr Thompson's transfer and promotion. Mr Osborne went on to become a railway porter in 1908 and retired in 1950 as a guard. Two of his sisters, Mary Ann and Rose, attended the provisional School under the head-teachership of the resourceful Mrs Emily Taylor. Mr Osborne's father, mother and two sisters came out from England, While Mr Osborne and another brother and sister were born here. Mary Ann (mother of Ruby, John and Annie) Lawrence took over the Gatehouse at Stanwell. One of Mary Ann's daughters contributed the information that the Osborne's had travelled from England on the sailing ship "Southern Bell" arriving in Rockhampton in March 1874 after a four month journey. The ship almost came to disaster in a storm and the main mast had to be cut away.
Mr Foster was Head Teacher during the childrens school years. Much later he left the teaching profession to become a Dentist in Rockhampton and afterwards, an Alderman in the City Council. He died as a result of a car accident about 1916. Mr Jesse Osborne recalled the severe effect the 1899 - 1902 drought had on the animals. He saw birds fall dead off boughs of trees and koalas and possums die in great numbers. Most creeks were dry and not a drop of water to spare.
He remembers that Harry Hill owned the first Hotel on the school side of the railway line, which was burnt down: and Charlie Christiansen owned the first butcher shop: there were many dances at Stanwell when the school of arts was built: Mrs McManus used to be in charge of the library.
These stories and many more from families mentioned below are published in the Stanwell S.S. Centenary booklet.
Wilfred Robertson, Bill Williams, Mrs Hilda Chong formerly Hilda Marxsen, Dan Connor, Mrs M.A. Boyes formerly Miss Margaret Grey a teacher at Stanwell, Peter Connor, Barnard Family, George Jones, John Albert Toon, Hawley family, Joseph Little Hill from England, The Chardons.
A big thank you must go to Mrs Marxsen for kindly loaning us her book on the Centenary of the Stanwell State School.
The above information was taken from our journal the "C.Q.Genieologist" March 1987.
Early Westwood must have had much of the romance that we associate with the wild west of America. Two famous bushrangers spent some time in the Westwood area. The infamous Gardiner is known to have visited Westwood . A young hotel employee, Bill Madden, is reported to have robbed a stage coach. His hide-out was in the scrub about three miles from the Sebastopol Hotel. He was later arrested at the hotel. Up to ten hotels at one time operated in the proximity of Westwood. The present day homestead of Mr Colin Lawrie is on the site of the old Sebastopol Hotel. On the whole, Westwood did not see the lawlessness of the wild west. At one time, the town had a police Sargent and five constables.
Nearby, gold diggings and the population they drew added further colour to the town. As with all gold diggings in Australia at that time, large numbers of Chinese wore attracted. Several gardens and orchards also existed around the town.
During its heyday Westwood supported no less than three blacksmith and wheelwright shops, two butcher shops, two saddlery and harness shops, a boat-making shop, a chemist Shop as well as general stores.
Reports vary as to the level the population of Westwood reached. It was between 2.000 and 3,000 though some accounts have it an high as 4,500. The difficulty here is caused by the size of the floating population associated both with gold diggings and major rail extensions.
Even before the establishment of the government school at Westwood, a private school was in operation. This school gradually became redundant after the National school opened.
In 1871 the inhabitants of the Township subscribed £85.13.0 for the purpose of building a school. A heated dispute developed amongst the inhabitants as to where the school should be built. The residents partitioned the Board of Education to alter the chosen site, sending letters and telegrams objecting to the site.