Thursday, 12 July 2018

Dr Margaret Slocomb - history of Chinese Indentured Pastoral Workers in the Wide Bay

Margaret Slocomb and her mother, Lorna, now deceased. 

Margaret Slocomb holds a PhD in history from the University of Queensland. An education specialist, she spent most of her professional career in China and several countries in Southeast Asia, particulary Cambodia. She has written a fascinating history of Chinese Indentured Pastoral Workers in the Wide Bay. Copies of her book Among Australia's pioneers : Chinese indentured pastoral workers on the Northern Frontier 1848 to C.1880 / Margaret Slocomb can be found in Fraser Coast Libraries local history collection. More recently she has contributed an article to the Journal Labour History - Preserving the contract: The experience of indentured labourers in the Wide Bay and Burnett districts in the nineteenth century. When asked about her comprehensive and unique research, the following is Margaret's reflection:

In 1981, I was posted to Shanghai on an exchange lecturer programme run by the Australia-China Council.

Overseas Chinese Museum in Xiamen (Amoy). 
Before I left, an aunt told me that my great-grandfather had been a shepherd from Amoy. It seemed implausible. Sheep? My grandmother, I knew, was born on Yarrol Station in the North Burnett, but surely that was cattle country.
About twenty years later, my mother had a stroke that forced her into a nursing home. I decided to return permanently to Australia, if only to help ease her boredom. I needed a project that we could share, so I returned to the story of the Amoy shepherd.
By then, the groundwork had been done into researching the indentured labour scheme based in Amoy (now Xiamen), a harbour city in Fujian Province on the south China coast that between 1848 and 1854 brought about three thousand men, aged between 18 and 30, to work in the pastoral industry of the colony of New South Wales.
Photo of a Chinese labourer destined for foreign ports. (Taken in the OCM, Xiamen) source Margaret Slocomb.
Approximately half of those men (no women) were indentured to squatters in the Northern Districts, i.e. New England and points north to the Wide Bay and Burnett that formed the northern frontier of European settlement at that time. Their contracts were for five years on a static wage with rations. Given that their indentures coincided with the great gold rushes in the south that made pastoral labour scarce and expensive, especially in the most northern districts where labour was always in short supply, this scheme represented a huge saving for the squatters.
Because the basics had already been researched and critiqued, I was able to focus my own study on the men themselves: their experiences under indenture, the opportunities that awaited them post-indenture, their love lives, their run-ins with the law, their fates. I did my best to maintain an historian’s objectivity and did not dwell on my great-grandfather’s progress. However, he remained chief among the two hundred or so ghosts that I carried around with me for the five or six years that I concentrated on this particular project.
Jim Channer, eldest son of Tan Chan, the Margaret Slocomb's great-grandfather. 

As you might anticipate, some of these men prospered, married well (i.e. European wives), earned the respect of their communities and had good lives. At the other end of the scale, some took their own lives in despair, some were committed to institutions for the mentally deranged, one was hanged outside Brisbane gaol. Some of them lived simply in loving arrangements with local Aboriginal women and raised their children responsibly. Some remained bachelors and became local characters. In the main, they were typical pioneers of the time. They were foreigners, of course, but in the days before the White Australia policy, they were allowed full participation in the settler society of the Wide Bay and Burnett.

Fraser Coast Libraries are excited to have Margaret present a talk in 2019 as part of the Heritage Festival.

Published with consent from Margaret Slocomb
Tags #chinese #indentured #widebay #localhistory 

Monday, 25 June 2018

The Gayndah Communes by award winning Dr Bill Metcalf

Dr William J. Metcalf is an Adjunct Lecturer, Griffith School of Environment Griffith University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Did you know that in 1894 Queensland had communes? Dr Bill Metcalf 's research regarding these communes culminated in the 1998 publication of The Gayndah communes : from Aborigines and squatters through communes to rural depopulation in the Gayndah area.  This publication, found in the Fraser Coast Libraries Local History Collection, celebrates its 20th Anniversary this year.
Dr Bill Metcalf at the Launch of his book on the Gayndah Communes.
Bill at the book launch featuring Veronica Cusssack, daughter of Tom Pedrazini, the communes' school teacher.
Fraser Coast Libraries asked Bill about researching and writing the story of the The Gayndah Communes.This is Bill's reflection:

Since a child, I have been interested in communalism.
Growing up on a dairy farm in Canada, I experienced communal working bees with men threshing grain and building barns, while women’s working bees fed the men, made quilts for newlyweds, and prepared housing for those in trouble.
At university, I studied Agricultural Economics, focusing on the economics of communalism. 
After immigrating to Australia in 1970, I completed an MA in sociology at University of Queensland, then my PhD at Griffith University, in both cases focusing on contemporary communal groups.
Many such groups arose in the 1970s & 80s, with most people thinking they were inventing a new form of social and economic life.
My research, however, showed that Australia’s first commune, Herrnhut, was established in Victoria in 1852, and the first in Queensland, Friends Farm, in 1868. 
During the early 1890s, under Samuel Griffith, the Queensland Government brought in legislation to support rural communes with land and money, and 2000 people took part.
Three of these communes, Byrnestown, Resolute and Bon Accord were established near Gayndah in 1893. A hundred years later, I explored the sites, local records, interviewed descendants, then researched and wrote a book about these 400 communards. 
A few children and many grandchildren of the communards still lived and while some supported my work others wanted to forget that their family had been involved in ‘communism’.
With support from the Gayndah Museum, and by living there and exploring the sites, I won people over, was given photos and old letters, and shown archaeological remains. From that, and considerable archival research in Brisbane and Maryborough, I wrote the book, The Gayndah Communes. This was launched in Gayndah on 7 June 1998 by Governor Peter Arnison, arriving by horse and carriage. 
Writing The Gayndah Communes has affected me deeply.

1997, Bill sitting beside the grave of 3-month-old Margaret Matthews, the first death of the communards, 12 May 1894.

Margaret Matthews parents, Bridget and James Matthews, of Byrnestown commune, who remained in the area after the commune collapsed in 1896.
Byrnestown School, 1895,comprising communards' children.

Walter and Elizabeth Lowe, and children, of Resolute commune, proudly showing one of their just completed slab houses for members.

 Selina and Thomas Wharton, members of Bon Accord commune. Their grandson, Claude Wharton, was the Country / National Party member for the Gayndah area between 1960 and 1986, and was a Cabinet Minister in the Bjelke-Peterson government.
Mary and Michael Hanlon, and their family, of Bon Accord commune. The boy at the extreme left is Ned Hanlon who went on to become a Labor MLA (1926-52) and Queensland Premier, 1946-1952.  

Plan showing the location of these three communes in relation to Gayndah, the current Burnett Highway and rail-line, Gooroolba and Burnett River.

This year Bill was the well deserved recipient of the prestigious John Douglas Kerr Medal of Distinction in Research and Writing Australian History.The award was presented at the Queensland Day Dinner on 6 June, 2018.  Bill has continued research and twenty years later Friends Farm: Australia’s First Quaker Commune has been published in relation to communes on what is now called the Sunshine Coast.
Published with consent from Dr William Metcalf.
#communes #history #research #Gayndah #Maryborough #research #award 

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Bauple Mountain … a history and a mystery by Tony Clift

Aerial View of Mount Bauple Nat. Park
Looming high on the landscape just to the south of Tiaro is located an isolated mountain range known locally as Bauple Mountain (Range). Originally its spelling and pronunciations varied greatly before finally settling on today’s version. Historically it can be found recorded as Bopple, Boppil, Bahpil, Boopal or Baphal[1]. Another very early reference called it Double Mountain, probably due to its vista from the north when only two peaks are visible[2].
The Mountain’s location fell on the traditional boundaries of two distinct Aboriginal groups. To the north and east were located the Butchulla (Badjala) while the Kabi Kabi could be found to the south with their Dowarbara clan group to the west; so resulted quite a number of native meanings and legends associated with the mountain. One Butchulla story says the area derives its name from an Aboriginal hero, Baphal, who was the mountain’s dreamtime guardian[3]. This being evidently had a small lizard as a companion[4]. Another story states that the name Bauple meant frilled lizard or a legendary demon that took the form of a lizard[5]. Looking at the range from the east the reason for the resemblance is roughly apparent.
One early narrative tells that the mountain range was believed to be a terrifying place because of an unusual being that lived there. This report from a traveller to the area in 1876 tells of the native legend of a double-jointed, double-fronted Janus like Aboriginal women, who dwelt there. Apparently she had an insatiable appetite and her moans for more were to be heard by anyone who chose to go up the mountain and listen[6].
Why the Bauple Mountain, or Mount Bauple to use its correct title, kept its Aboriginal name probably was due to Andrew Petrie’s 1842 exploration trip up the Mary River near to today’s Tiaro. One of the men accompanying Petrie was William K Jolliffe, who later that year would set up a sheep station called Noomoo Wooloo just north of the Mountain for his employer, John Eales. Petrie’s party, with the help of escaped convict David Bracewell (Wandi) had recovered John Davis (Durramboi), also an escapee who had lived 13 years with the Aborigines in the southern Wide Bay district. Later in that year Davis guided Jolliffe and his party and sheep overland from the south to establish the station. Davis would have known the local Aboriginal name for the mountain and it seems that Petrie and Jolliffe referred to it by that name and so it is known to this day.
Generally the whole range is called Bauple Mountain but the range actually contains four prominent peaks so which one is Mount Bauple?
Leichhardt's Map of Bauple Landscape (with south direction at top)

When Ludwig Leichhardt was acquiring his colonial experience before undertaking his later explorations, he visited the station in 1843. While there on August 2 he climbed Mt Boople (as he wrote it). Being scientifically trained he drew a number of the views and maps. One was a plan of the lagoon (today’s Black Swamp at Tiaro) and the surrounding topographical feature including the Bauple Mountain range. One view was of the mountain from the station (at Tiaro) and others were from the top plus a cross section of the mountain below[7]. His sketch names the peak on the northern end as Boople.
Leichhardt's Sketch of the Northern View of Boople 
Today's View of Boople
Leichhardt's Sketch of a Cross Section through Boople
To clarify this further by researching early newspaper records, an 1876 article by a travelling correspondent gave a good description of the village of Tiaro but of more interest is where he places the actual peak called Mount Bauple. He said “The main street … runs north to south … and its long perspective ends in the conical peak of Mount Baupol or Bopple or Baupel, as it is indiscriminately spelt.”[8] This then places the mountain in the late 19th century at the northern end of the range.

Backing this up a 1906 map of the range by government geologist Benjamin Dunstan shows the peak, with a height of 1,800 feet, in the same situation[9]. Interestingly this map also showed the highest peak on the range about halfway along it and named it Beacon Peak, no doubt after a beacon set up there in the late 19th century. It was actually about 1,900 feet in height. Further to the south the other peak there was called Mt Gundiah.
However looking at a topographical map of the range today shows that Mt Bauple is the name of the peak previously referred to as Beacon Peak and just to the south of it a lower one is called Mt Guyra while the previously named Mt Bopple and Mt Gundiah are now unnamed. So when and why did these name changes occur?
In 1941 during the middle of World War 2 northern Australia was under the invasion threat of the advancing Japanese army and there was an urgent need for accurate topographical mapping to be done for defence purposes. As part of the mapping project a Royal Australian Survey Corps team climbed the highest peak of the range by a four wheel drive vehicle (most likely via old logging tracks) for all but the last 250 yards to place a trigonometry point (beacon) there[10]. On the rocky knob they discovered a destroyed earlier beacon, the reason why the summit was originally called Beacon Peak. They then identified the site with a 4” (100mm) diameter RADC plaque set in concrete and four reference marks#. This peak they labelled on their map as Mt Bauple. During the urgency of war no one seemed to question the change of the name to this peak and so it has stayed until today.
The point south and slightly east of the new Mt Bauple is labelled as Mt Guyra  and is of more recent vintage. How or why it is so named remains a mystery. The name does not seem to have any local historical foundation. It appears to have originated after the range was gazetted a National Park in 1935 to protect its scenic value[11].
Topographical Map of Mount Bauple Range
Looking at the range today it looks untouched but in reality it was selectively logged, mainly for kauri and hoop pines, for many decades and even had graphite mines on its lower slopes. The open forest with its vine forest understorey contains a number of endangered and of concern native plants with perhaps the best known being Macadamia integrifloria, the Macadamia nut tree.

# The Reference Marks were identified as RM 1 - Drill hole with four wings cut in rock, RM 2 - .303 cartridge case in concrete 0.25 metres below NS, RM 3 - Drill hole with four wings cut in rock and RM 4 - .303 cartridge case in concrete. 

[1] Echoes of the Past – Tiaro State School 125th Anniversary Publication 1995 p.5
[2] Commissioner Dr Stephen Simpson’s Journal of his Excursion to the Bunya Country 1843
[3] National Trust of Qld -
[4] O Miller, The Legend of Mount Bauple 2000
[5] Echoes of the Past – Tiaro State School 125th Anniversary Publication 1995 p.5
[6] Brisbane Courier 21 October 1876 p.2
[7] The Leichhardt papers: Early Travels in Australia during 1842-1844 pp.268, 272
[8] Brisbane Courier 21 October 1876 p.2
[9] B Dunstan, Graphite in Queensland 1906 Plate 1
[10] Survey Office, Lands department Qld - Station Summary Bauple 009
[11] Mount Bauple National Park (Scientific) Management Plan

Published with consent from Tony Clift. © AG (Tony) Clift November 2017

#Bauple #history #Leichhardt #Boople #pioneers #exploration

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Herschel, High Flyer, Glamis and Caroline 1878 voyages reunion celebration

1878 photo of Glamis in Gravesend.(Source
The Maryborough Family Heritage Institute Inc. invites descendants of the passenger ships the Herchel, High Flyer, Glamis and Caroline 1878 voyages.

If you have ancestors who arrived on any of these ships please contact the institute. Any photos or stories about families and their lives in the new country would be appreciated. These would be included in the books they are preparing about the ships

The celebration schedule is as follows:

Friday 5th October 5.30 to 7.30pm
Portside by Night  tour

Saturday 6th October 9.00am
St Mary's Parish Hall Display of family trees and memorabilia, book lauch, entertainment, morning tea/lunch, guided Heritage Walk around Wharf Precinct.

Saturday 6.00pm to 9.00pm Gatakers Artspace live music, food and art display.

Sunday 7th October Bus Trip from Maryborough to Urangan, Lunch at the Boat Club/ Whale watch leaving the Marina at 1.30pm returning at 5.30pm.

For those interested in any or all of these events, please email the Heritage Research Institute and as soon as pricing has been worked out we shall send you further information.

For further info:
Email: heritage
Phone: (07) 41231620
Maryborough Family Heritage Institute Inc.
PO Box 913 Maryborough Qld 4650.

tags #familyheritage #Maryborough #celebration #thingstodoinmaryborough

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Launch of K'gari Unit Welcoming Space- Don’t Keep History A Mystery

K'gari Aboriginal Welcoming Space Hervey Bay Library
Don’t Keep History A Mystery is the invitation of Reconciliation Australia during Reconciliation Week 27 May – 3 June.Reconciliation Australia invites all Australians to learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories, to share that knowledge and help us grow as a nation. 
Fraser Coast Libraries launched the K'gari Aboriginal Welcoming Space at Hervey Bay Library on the 29th May, 2018 in conjunction with National Reconciliation Week with this goal.The Welcoming Space complements our existing Moonaboola Unit at the Maryborough Library. 
One of the purposes of these spaces is to showcase unique resources pertaining to Indigenous history and culture.The collection includes:
  • Butchulla language dictionaries
  • Children's language books 
  • The Koori Mail
    The Koori Mail is an Australian newspaper written and owned by Indigenous Australians. The Koori Mail was founded in 1991, by Owen Carriage. 
  • Cultural Cemetery records
    Indigenous resources available on an iPad in the Welcoming Space.
  • Books of historical or literary significance
The Butchulla People are the traditional owners of the Fraser Coast. Our goal was to have one place where people can come to become acquainted with that history as well as Aboriginal history across Australia.
Map of Indigenous Australia.
A sculpture created by artist Chris Calcutt  at the entrance to Hervey Bay Library compliments the Aboriginal Welcoming Space and has been created in partnership with the Butchulla Community.

#Butchulla #frasercoast #herveybay #history #mystery

Sunday, 20 May 2018

My Culture; My Story - Hail Scots in the Fraser Coast

Photograph of the Mary Ann. The first locomotive engine built in Queensland, 1873.Source QSA Blogs 
It was built by John Walker and Co. The first test run was 30 June 1873. The engine hauled trucks of logs on a timber railway from Tin Can Bay to Cooloola Careek. (Information supplied with photograph and taken from: Queensland heritage, v. 2, no. 3, Nov. 1970.)
The Queensland State Archive Blog written by Judith Nissen tells us of the story of  William Pettigrew.
Pettigrew was a Scotsman. He was trained as a surveyor and appointed on a failed settlement scheme.He developed many strings to his bow during his time in Queensland. The one that brought him to the Wide Bay was timber cutting.
Nissen (2016) tells us 
Timber cutting required licensing and, over the decades, Pettigrew & Co held numerous timber licenses. One major area of activity was Wide Bay. The Maryborough Bench of Magistrates recorded timber licences from 1866 onwards for the cutting of cedar and pine at £2 per licence, as well as hardwood (£1 per licence).(Qld State Library Blog .

Pettigrew had the first steam sawmill, built in 1853 on the banks of the Brisbane River. The Mary Ann,made in Maryborough by Walkers Ltd, was the first Queensland-built steam locomotive. The archives have a letter sent  on 5 August 1873, to Governor Normanby. The letter described the Mary Ann's purpose and detailed progress in building the rail track for transporting timber from Thannae to Tin Can Bay.
The Mary Ann carting timber for Pettigrew and Sons at Cooloola, 1873.
This photograph is part of the Maryborough Wide Bay & Burnett Historical Society Inc Collection and can be found in Fraser Coast Libraries Image Collection
Copies of the book Welcome Back Mary Ann  by Nancy Bates, a tribute to the locomotive can be found in the Fraser Coast Libraries Collection. They are also available for sale at $20 a copy from the Bonds Store Museum and the Walker Street News. The locomotive is owned by Council but is maintained and run by a special group of dedicated volunteers who are members of the Maryborough City Whistle Stop Inc. 

Do you have Scottish ancestry? Tell us your story.

Did you know Queensland State Archives (QSA) has many treasures and resources for both government and public clients. They host regular events and have displays of some of their collections. Visit their  Flickr page or the QSA blog for a glimpse into their collections.

Nissen, J, (2016) retrieved on 21st May,2018 from

Tags #statearchives #MaryAnn #steam #locomotive #Maryborough

Sunday, 13 May 2018

My Culture, My Story

This year the Australian Heritage Festival is focusing on the theme My Culture;My Story. In 1859 Maryborough was declared a port of entry for settlers coming to Australia and it became a major entry point for many travelling from overseas looking for a new life. People with diverse heritages including German, Danish, Dutch, Scottish, Irish, Chinese and South Sea Islander came through the port and settled on the Fraser Coast and throughout Queensland.
Mr and Mrs Christiansen came from Denmark to the Bay, Early 1880 (Image part of the Christiansen Collection)
National Archives has put together some interesting documents relating to the early establishment of Multicultural Queensland. The Fraser Coast Libraries also has some amazing images and books detailing this period in history.These include:

  • They came and stayed : a history of Hervey Bay / by Joan Christiansen.
  • A History Of Germany And Guide To Tracing immigrants Who Came To Australia From Germany / Mcclelland, James
  • The cruise of the Helena : a labour-recruiting voyage to the Solomon Islands / edited by Peter Corris.
  • Among Australia's pioneers : Chinese indentured pastoral workers on the Northern Frontier 1848 to C.1880 / Margaret Slocomb.
  • Haggis, Halloween And Hogmanay : A Tribute To our Scottish Pioneers / Kay F. Gassan.
  • Irish Surnames And Their Possible Locations For family History Research / Mcclelland, James
  • With his gold in a little velvet bag : the story of a Chinaman and a bonnie lassie from Edinburgh / Olsen, Joanne;Shang, Keith 
  • From the edge of oblivion : history of the Stehbens family in its social context 1600-1900 / Ian Robert Stehbens
  • As well as a variety of Immigrant Indexes.
Where did your ancestors come from?

Can you tell us your story?

If you are not sure how your ancestors arrived in Maryborough you can contact the Maryborough Family Institute and they will do their best to trace your family on their passenger lists:
Maryborough Family Heritage Institute Contact Details
Email: or
Phone: 07 41231620
Address: 164 Richmond Street, Maryborough.
Opening Hours:Monday – Thurs. 9-3 and Friday 9-1.

The Hervey Bay Family History Association Inc can also help you find out more about your heritage:
The Hervey Bay Family History Association Inc. Hervey Bay Library (07) 41974220.

The Butchulla People are the Traditional Custodians/Owners of the Land, and their continued connection to the land on which we walk, work and live is acknowledged. Fraser Coast Libraries acknowledges and pays respects to the Elders past, present and emerging.

Tags: #culture #story #maryborough #port #herveybay #familyhistory