Wednesday, 22 March 2017


Mr and Mrs Tomson started Cotton Plantation Sundon Dundathu. 1863-64 

According to Wilson (1963) Dundathu is an Aboriginal word meaning place of timber. Originally it only applied to the sawmill on the left bank of the Mary River but the whole locality became known by this name.

The sawmill was established in 1863 by Mr Pettigrew and Mr William Sim and families. This information is found in the Maryborough Chronicle here .Mr William Sim and their two sons came from Scotland to Brisbane in 1854 and settled at Dundathu nine years later. Mr Pettigrew was a timber mill man from Brisbane. They established a direct timber trade between Sydney and North Queensland. Mr Sim supervised the building of the mill. However, he was crushed to death by a log ten years later. It appears that this was also the fate of others, a description of which is found here .

The Sim family remained living in the area and Mrs Sim died at the age of 95 in Brisbane. The Sim sons continued running the mill for twenty years before moving to Maryborough. The mill was one of the largest in Queensland. Timber from Fraser Island, Tin Can Bay and the Valleys of the Mary, Burrum and Isis Rivers were a source of hoop and kauri, with reports of some logs being two metres in width. Soft woods were grown by the mill. The Mary Ann was the first locomotive built by Walkers and hauled logs over 12 kilometres of tram line that weaved through the plantations.
Over thirty pine shingled buildings sprung up around the mill. There were batchelor quarters as advertised here .The Village School was on the hill. Mr Charles Johnson was the school teacher for many years. Mr Cooke was the last school master. The school also hosted Sunday School and Church Services. A butchers shop was owned by Mr W.H. White. 

Wilson states, (1963) there was a big Aboriginal Settlement in the area. Many members of this community were known to do odd jobs at the mill. 
A paddle-wheel steamer called Hercules towed rafts of logs from Tin Can Bay to Dundathu. It was also used to take mill families to picnics at White Cliffs.

People would row their boats to town to get food and other necessities from the shops. The Miller family delivered milk by rowing over from Walkers Point to make deliveries. 

Other industries such as the Cotton Plantation Sundon were established at the same time as the mill by Mrs and Mr Tomson mentioned in the Chronicle here . The reason cotton was grown in Dundathu can be found here .
A lovely description of Dundathu can be found here

Rowing was a popular sport on the Mary River at the time found here .Teams were entered in the four oared Champion of Queensland and included the Sim brothers.
In 1893 the mill was devastated by a flood and totally destroyed by a fire on Christmas Day of that year. The mill was not insured so was never rebuilt.

Wilson, A (1963) An address delivered by Miss Alice Wilson at the Basket Picnic at Dundathu on Sunday, 9th March, 1963.

Tags #Dundathu #timbermill #pettigrew #sim #Maryriver

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