1860s - 1870s -Thomas Hamilton Remembers


The writings of Tom Hamilton are those of a self-taught, highly intelligent, dynamic and skilful early settler in the Chermside District. Tom had some schooling in his early years but, like most of the early settlers had to start work early. He carried on his education teaching himself by reading, by teaching himself to play the violin, making his first violin, read and compose music, organising a church choir and orchestra which are still operating today, 140 years later.

He took a leading part in the social life of the village of Chermside by helping form the first library in 1898 and the School of Arts in 1909 which was the forerunner of the present Chermside Library. He served on the Kedron Shire Council; he helped form the Kedron Omnibus Company when the district lost its existing horse bus. All this and more while running a very successful carriage building business and when he 'retired' going to work with his son, Hugh, in his motor body works. That business, begun in about 1870 by Tom's father, Andrew, still operates today under the Hamilton name in Kedron after 140 years.

Tom has a rather discursive style of writing, sometimes suddenly changing course and leaving the reader a little lost so I have introduced subheadings. His writing has a freshness and simplicity about it which communicates his optimistic outlook to the reader. He is able to communicate his feelings as a child and young boy very well which adds to the freshness of the text.

What is puzzling is the abrupt ending of the narrative; it is out of style. One would expect him to conclude in the homely way that he announces what he is going to do. Maybe there is more writing somewhere waiting to be discovered. But unfortunately that is the story of so much of our history; it is lost, if it was ever written.

Note: I have retained the prices Tom mentions and simply transposed them into decimal currency. Althought the prices he quotes seem incredibly cheap they were not because wages were correspondingly low. A tradesman earned a shilling (1/- or 10c) per hour and an unskilled labourer earned much less. There was no such thing as 'the good old days' for most people.

In The Beginning


Writings by Thomas Andrew Hamilton
B 17.2.1860 Landed in Brisbane December 1866 D 7.10.1951
Some things I remember.
Some things I've forgot.
Some things interesting
Some things that are not

I have been asked more than once to write some of my early experiences especially since I came to Australia. Well. I suppose you want to know who I am and where I came from. My name is Thomas Andrew Hamilton, my father's name being Andrew and my mother's name Margaret. They told me I was born in Liverpool, England on February 17th, 1860. I believe that is true for I never knew either of them to tell a lie and they, trained me never to tell one, so I will have to be very careful while scribbling down this account. There are so many things I have a faint recollection of, and so many names I have forgotten.


I cannot remember being born, but I remember when very young, some friends calling to see us, one nice old lady used to take me on her knee and teach me to call her Grandma. I remember my mother introducing me to a Sunday school teacher but I am afraid that I did not always put into practice what I was taught in that Sunday school.

My father had a good education and was a first class tradesman. He had a joinery and builder's business, but fell into ill health and was advised by his doctor to go for a long sea voyage. Unfortunately the insurance premium on his business was neglected, and a fire occurred, which destroyed the business premises and all they contained. Three children died in infancy and the eldest son (my brother), was accidentally killed. Father made up his mind to sail for Queensland, Australia.

We left in August, 1866 in a sailing ship "Ocean Empress" and arrived in Brisbane on 26th December after a very tedious passage of one hundred and twenty-three days from Milford Haven. I have forgotten the name of the little steamer that brought us and our luggage from the ship to the wharf, about one hundred and fifty yards below the old Victoria Bridge on the north Brisbane side of the river. There appeared to be great confusion with the luggage and everyone wanted theirs first. My two sisters and I had some fun watching the scramble.

Financial Crisis of 1866

We were just getting settled in our new home and finding our way about. Father bought some furniture, made some, and had a nice lot of timber to make more, and mother too was doing her part to make things more homelike. However, we found that we had arrived during one of the worst financial crisis ever known in Queensland, which had only been constituted a separate colony on 1st December, 1859 with a population of twenty five thousand. Some millions of money had been borrowed from the Old Country at six per cent and thousands of immigrants had been brought out who instead of producing their goods had imported them. Banks closed and the Government was bankrupt.

In a report in the "Brisbane Courier" 6th September, 1919 which referred to the crisis of 1866 it was stated that such a bad state of affairs existed giving rise to a rumour on 17th September that the navvies were about to invade Brisbane with the intention of burning Government House and hanging the Ministry. In the panic that followed, the Government adopted heroic measures to repel the invading force which, when it arrived was found to consist of some one hundred and fifty tired and hungry men quite willing to accept food and good advice.

Disaster and Recovery
Hundreds of businesses went insolvent and the firm for which father worked was unable to pay him his first earnings in this country. As he was a good tradesman he soon found employment, but at some distance, which prevented him from returning every night. While he was away, a fire broke out in our landlord's house and all his houses including the one in which we were living and another belonging to someone else, were burned to the ground. I have no recollection of a Fire Brigade and I do not think the water could have been laid on at that time. Most people bought their water and kept it in wooden barrels, the houses being roofed with shingles which stained the rain water. Water Street still retains its name -so called because there was a chain of holes containing good water. Man), water sealers carted barrels of water from these holes on drays and were known as wood and water "joeys".

Almost everything we owned was burned, including the timber for our future furniture and a lot of valuable books which could never be replaced. We then went to live in Hill Street, Gregory Terrace. How father and mother provided for us is more than I can tell, but I know they never lost their faith in God to supply our needs, which He did and even more than our actual needs. Father's health was restored and I have heard him say that he was twenty years in Queensland before having to consult a doctor.


My two sisters and I attended a private school situated between Gregory Terrace and Spring Hill under the supervision of the Misses Wilson. The head teacher of the boys was a Mr Simons who was a good man and a good teacher. We had scripture reading and lesson each morning before our other lessons and he gave us good advice.

The Rev Love, a Church of England minister (father of Mr James Love of Kedron) was the first minister to welcome us to this country. We attended the Holy Trinity Church, Fortitude Valley and the Sunday school there. The minister was Canon Matthews who was loved by all who knew him.

Living Standard & Fortitude Valley

Gregory Terrace was a nice high position and father used to say that it brought to mind the saying "Brown's cows on the mountain had a good view if little to eat". However, we never went hungry although there was no Government assistance, but they allowed people to make an honest living as best they could. Sweet potatoes and pumpkins could be grown in your own back yard, goats being the only thieves who hopped over the fence and did a bit of pruning when no one was home. Nearly everyone in the suburbs kept goats for milk and occasionally killed a kid to provide some fresh meat. They were very useful and appeared to thrive on what they picked up, but they became so, numerous as to be a nuisance. An order was therefore given that they had to be registered or shot.

Money was scarce but living was cheap and people were happy and friendly. Maize could often be bought for 1/6d a bushel which could be ground for 1/- This meal was used a good deal for porridge, scones, etc. The price of meat was from Id. to 3d for a two-pound loaf; white sugar was very scarce but yellow or brown sugar was plentiful. Fruit was cheap but there was not a great variety. I have seen lovely peaches sold for 1/- a large bucketful, bananas 1/- a bunch, passion fruit one penny per dozen. The small round tomato used to grow without sowing but now, they are like many other good things "that which is easily gained is little valued".

We dealt at a grocer's shop owned by Mr Amos Buckley who had three sons and three daughters. This shop was situated in Wickham Street between Brunswick and Gipps Streets on the North West side. A butcher's shop owned by Mr Buckley's son-in-law, Mr Deacon, was on the Brunswick Street corner. Just around the corner in Brunswick Street Jim Buckley conducted a saddler's collar maker business but he gave it up later and started cab driving.

Fortitude Valley
Now returning to the description of Fortitude Valley. There was a Roman Catholic Chapel between Buckley's shop and Brunswick Street on the same side. Messrs Barker & Booth's produce store was almost opposite. Business places were small and far apart. Wickham Street was never favoured much by general storekeepers, even to the present day. More general and produce storekeepers were to be found in Ann Street. I think it was owing to the earlier settlement at Breakfast Creek, Hamilton, Eagle Farm, Nudgee, German Station (Nundah) and other places in that direction. I remember Howards, Corrigans, McMasters (who was Mayor of Brisbane for some time), McDermotts and O'Shay's, Tutty and Finney (drapers), Ward (chemist), Murray (shoemaker), Blond (butcher), Bragg (baker), Keating (baker), Hardy's joinery workshop, I Best (blacksmith and wheelwright), Knapp (blacksmith and wheelwright), Reynold (general blacksmith), booksellers shop, greengrocers and others; also Savings Bank and three hotels. Many of the above business places came into existence after our arrival.

Transport Around the Town

In those days there were three kinds of two-wheeled cabs used: the Jingle, the Molly Brown and the Hansom. The Jingle had two cross seats back to back and carried five passengers and the driver. The Molly Brown had a front cross seat with two side seats at the back and carried six and the driver. The Hansom had a closed-in cabin with a high dickie seat at the back for the driver overlooking the top of the cab. It carried two or three and the driver. Later, the four wheeled
Wagonette came in with what was called the English fore carriage or fifth wheel (turning plate) which allowed the front wheels to cut in under the body for short turns. It had a cross seat at front and two side seats at back and carried eight and the driver.

The Town Council imposed a license fee and they had officers placed on main roads to collect sixpence from each farmer or anyone driving a vehicle into the town with goods for sale. All wood carters had to pay I pound per year license until a Mr R Sparkes who lived in the bush, now Rode Road near Nundah, defied them and got others to do the same. He maintained that according to the British Constitution he could cart and sell anything he grew on his own land without the Council's license; it was never ascertained whether this claim was right or wrong so the Council did not risk summoning any of them. The license and the sixpenny charge to farmers were then discontinued.

Gympie Gold and Land

When things were at the lowest ebb and people were at their wit's end, the Most High allowed gold to be discovered in 1867 at Gympie and this helped to save the situation.

Farming increased on the north side of Brisbane and as the Wickham Street side of the Valley increased, the Ann Street business decreased. There was a rush to Gympie and with some others, my father took his pack horse and set out for that destination.

As there was no road most of the way, they had to make their way through the bush, across rivers, creeks and over the ranges the best they could. Heavy rains set in and they were delayed between flooded creeks. It took them approximately a fortnight to reach Gympie which is only a little more than 100 miles (160km) from Brisbane. Their rations had run short, but I have heard father say that the blacks were very good to them and caught fish which them considerably. Father also caught some having a line and hooks. They experienced some trouble at times in lighting fires owing to the fact that the matches were wet as the party had to camp in the rain.

Father secured a miner's right but made good money by building, with which he did some speculating. He was away for nearly a year and I have heard him say that he returned as poor as he went away. On his return journey he was alone and arrived at the North Pine River after dark. As there was no bridge he had to search for the right crossing and whilst doing so, someone stole the horse he had been riding together with the and he was obliged to continue his journey with the packhorse. He recovered the other horse or saddle but we rejoiced that he had arrived safely.

Two or three contractors who owned joiners workshops, (all doors, sashes and mouldings were made by hand in those days) were very anxious to secure father's services but he had made up his mind to go farming. I think it was when he was at Gympie he made the acquaintance of a man named Beard who had a block of 20 acres for sale near Brisbane, and a Mr. Duff owned a block of land on the roadside near it, with a large slab hut on it. If he bought the 20 acres he could have the use of the hut until he was able to build on his own land. I understand Mr Duff was Mrs Polten's father and her daughter (a Mrs Beckman) is living on part of the same land at the present time.

Visit to the Block of Land via Bowen Bridge Road

Thomas Hopkins, a shipmate of ours was engaged in carrying goods between Brisbane and Ipswich and he offered to drive father and mother out to locate and inspect the land and the hut. Of course, being a good little boy I was allowed to accompany them. I am sorry that I did not keep a diary in those days as I now have to rely on my memory. I cannot remember what time we started but it was after nightfall when we arrived home again.

This did not matter very much because there were no traffic inspectors to detain travellers. When we commenced our journey from Gregory Terrace, Victoria Park (then known as York Hollow) was on our left and on our right was a paddock which is now the Exhibition Ground; adjoining this was a reserve, the Acclimatisation gardens. On the left was the old portion of the present Hospital, which had a slate roof. The next building, the Bowen Bridge Hotel, was a long low wooden structure.

Opposite stood a substantial building with a slate roof owned, I believe, by a Mr William Brooks and generally known as Billy Brooks. He used to do some speaking at public meetings and was gifted with a sense of humour. He once compared the Bible critic of infidel, to a monkey examining the works of a clock.

Next we came to a low road with swamp on either side, called Frog's Hollow. One could hardly believe that frogs were capable of making such a noise as they did in wet weather. Later on I had a horse which was too frightened to pass through there when they were rendering their evening chorus of thanksgiving for the rain. I consider they set a good example to mankind, many of whom complain unless they get just the exact amount when and where they wish.

Now we cross a low narrow wooden bridge (named after our first Governor, Sir George Bowen) across Breakfast Creek. On our left stretched a large paddock, most of which was swampy - this was called Swan Hill instead of Swan Swamp. It was owned by a Mr Swan who had built his dwelling on the highest part of it off Newmarket Road. Later it became Mr Ransey's slaughter yard. He also owned a shop in Queen Street. I have seen bullocks so securely bogged in the swamp that the), had to be shot and removed the best possible way.

On the opposite side of the Bowen Bridge Road was a paddock owned by Mr Burn (or Burns) on which stood a fine two storied brick building which I think had a slate roof (slate had to be imported). At the corner of Bowen Bridge Road and Newmarket Road was a paddock where Bowsers quarry is now - a big paddock with a fine old-fashioned dwelling well back from the road. I remember Sir Arthur Palmer (Deputy Governor) living there and who travelled in a landau and pair of fine horses.

From that corner to the quarry at Albion Road - it was known as O'Connell Town (A Governor's name?) later, but the town had not arrived when we first passed that way. There was a day school on the hill opposite the present Windsor school. On the right hand side of the Albion Road leading from the quarry to Albion was called Albion Flats and in the early days, the farmers had ploughing contests there. From the quarry on to Kedron was known as Lutwyche, named after a Judge of that name: he owned a large paddock now known as Kedron Park Racecourse. His large two storied stone dwelling still stands near the Kalinga tram line - it was called Kent Lodge in later years.

We must now get across Kedron Brook and there is no bridge so I will break off here give more detail later on of what we have, passed through.

We turned to the right and drove down a side lane to, shallow running water - lovely clear and cool with sand gravel bottom. From there or, was a well used wide track without formation. On our left hand (west) was a good sized paddock owned and resided on by Mr and Mrs Barron and a family of girls and boys. From; there on was of bush with lots of large trees and good saplings. The next building we came to was a small wooden hotel with a large name - Edinburgh Castle Hotel. It stood on the opposite side of Castle Road from the present Hotel of that name. The Lutwyche Cemetery property belonged to a fine tall old bachelor named Craig. He lived in a very small house on top of the hill - he planted a row of Bunya pine trees which remained for many years, I think until it was purchased for a cemetery.

Visit to Block of Land Lutwytche Cemetary to Dead Man's Gully

We will now go back to Lutwyche, which extended from Windsor quarry to Kedron Brook. There was one very fine big house on the hill behind the quarry. I cannot remember any other building till we came to a little brick shop on the west side of the road, where it still remains on the town side of the present hotel; people by the name of Massey owned it. The Rees family lived next door. On the east side of the road opposite the present hotel stood a long low wooden building with a signboard declaring it to be "The Red Lion" hotel. It was an appropriate name for later on I knew several fine strong hard-working men to be dragged down by the "Red Lion", never to rise again.

There were a few small houses scattered about the district, and I understand the Wesleyans held services in one of them not far from the hotel. There were a few who kept the spiritual torch lit against great odds, and whose descendants are still helping to carry on the good work.
The brick house near the present Post Office in Chalk Street belonged to Mr Bradshaw. He owned a large paddock on each side of the road which extends, I would think, to within ten chains (1 chain was 22 yards or 18.25 metres) of what is called the Wooloowin School today.

There were two houses between it and the end of Bradshaw's paddock on that side of the road and on the west side next to the other paddock was a house about 24 ft x 12 ft (7.5m x 3.75m) occupied by an elderly man (named Parrish?) who made gunpowder and stored it in and under the house. I gave him a ride from town several times and we used to talk about the danger of powder. He told me his people had been engaged in that line in the Old Country for many years and had stocked tons of it and never had an accident. Not far from here lived a Mr Hopkins, then Scrivens, then Burford and Colton was the next with a family of girls and boys, some of whom still live about there. Colton was there when we first came out. Mr Perry and family lived on the corner opposite the present Kedron Park Hotel. He seas ganger of road men and some of that family are still living nearby.

On the opposite side, from the Wooloowin School to the corner was vacant land owned by Judge Lutwyche. I understand he gave the ground for the Church of England on condition that his remains be buried there, which they were. I do not remember hearing of Mrs Lutwyche (She is buried with the Judge. Ed) but he had a relation named Neilan, an elderly lady with two grown-up sons. They lived in the paddock where the Wooloowin School stands. The eldest son was Tipstaff to the Judge for some years. He was nick-named "Waxie" because he was very particular about his dress and polished or patent leather boots. He rode a very, nice shiny bay pony, to town every morning. The Judge employed a man named Morris, who had charge of his racehorses - some said he was his stepson - and I think the Judge set him up in the Kedron Park Hotel. I know he and his family were the first to run the Hotel.

Move to Dead Man's Gully

After crossing another creek where M J Gallagher's tannery now stands, we were in the wild bush with a splendid lot of timber, many of the trees being 3 to 4 feet in diameter; we soon arrived at our slab hut just about where Mr Stephens (sawmiller) residence stands at present. We were not long locating the 20 acre block for the surveyors always stripped a patch of bark on the tree facing corner peg and notched the trees on alternate sides of the lines between the corner pegs.

Words fail to express the thrill of delight that went through me! I had never seen anything like it in my life. Birds of all sorts chattering, whistling and even laughing - and wasn't I pleased when I heard father say to mother that the ground that grew that timber would grow anything! I felt sure he would buy it; there was kangaroo grass over two feet high, also spear grass that stuck in our stockings, but we did not mind that but we could pull them out. There was an abundance of fine big grass trees - some with long sticks growing straight up out of centre with white flowers around the top half and birds feeding on them.

Father and mother inspected the hut came to the conclusion that with some a additions and improvements it would do to live in until he could build. I could have clapped my hands had I not been too modest. The upshot of this inspection resulted in purchase of the 20 acre block (for 12 pounds ($24) where the residence known as "Burnie Brae" stood. (It was sold to the Housing Commission and demolished in 1952. It stood facing Meemar Street and Kingsmill Street?) It was Portion 571 Parish of Kedron. After a lot of preliminary preparations we removed to the hut at Dead Man's Gully. I do not know how the name originated but later it was called Paddy Green's Gully and is now named Duff Street (later changed to Kuran Street).

Andrew Continues as a Carpenter

A Mr Beeson, contractor, had a joiner's workshop in Queen Street. Father had worked for him before he went to Gympie and he told father it was very foolish for a tradesman like him to go farming and he offered him work at the joinery on the highest wages which was eight shillings a day of eight hours. Father realised he would require a different set of tools and other things for farming; there was clearing, fencing and waiting for crops to grow and so he accepted work. We had a horse but father often walked from here to his work in town. None of us would think of lying in bed after daybreak. Sometimes I would I ride the horse to meet father coming home, to rest his legs and didn't I fancy myself! I will never forget the first time I was on a horse when he jumped - that happened when meeting father one evening and the horse jumped over the creek where Gallagher's tannery is, instead of wading through the running water and I never fell off; it was a wonderful sensation and I had to tell everyone I knew. We were not living here very long till we found there were neighbours not so very far away from us. There was a Mr Banks living where or near where the late Mr S Harris lived on Hamilton Road West - near the Downfall Creek. This creek still retains its name from the early days - I think it got that name through several accidents happening there as it was a dangerous crossing at Gympie Road in the wet weather.

Father bought a heap of slabs from Mr Banks. There was another Irish family named Leslie - five sons - they went to live at Wooloowin in later years and their name was changed to Warner. There was also a German family named Lenz,' one of whom still resides on the original property and has reared a family. There was an English family named Chesterfield living in a house right opposite Early's store and owned by a Mr A Adsett who lived at Wooloowin (this property is now included in the Garden Settlement).

Andrew Begins to Build Carts

Tradesman's hours in those days were 48 hours a week so father did not promise to work full time, as he had a lot of work about home and on the land to do between times, and he and mother strictly observed Sunday as a day of rest and worship. When they had the hut nicely fixed up he made a dray, wheels and all, with as little ironwork on it as possible. He had learned to be a wheelwright as well as joiner), which came in very useful.

He had to get the ironwork done by a blacksmith as he had no forge or suitable tools, so he went to a Mr John Best, Ann Street, Fortitude - a fine big, strong North of Ireland man. It would please you to see him shoeing, a horse: there was no hope or him getting away till the shoe was well and truly on. He asked father if he would make some drays and carts for him as he had more orders than his wheelwright could accomplish; also if he could send him some bark off the ironbark trees for heating the tyres when putting the wheels. I thought it a great idea to cart bark in on the new dray and sell it. Father let him know the only thing in regard to making would be for him to make them at home and send them in to him, which he did later on and I took in some bark and sometimes a load of wood for 5/- (Five Shillings - 50c) to 7/- (Seven Shillings - 70c) a load and 1/- (One Shilling - 10c) a bag for charcoal.

The trouble was that our new house was not getting built and the farm was not progressing, but the goats gave us milk and the hens gave us eggs - that reminds me - my sisters gave some of the hens names. One good sized one named Valley (for she came from there) was picked up by a big eagle hawk and dropped from a considerable height. We had a pig or two in the sty and no rent to pay, and we were all healthy and happy, except when the rain set in. Sometimes it would rain for weeks and all the creeks flooded and there was no hope of getting to town. I remember once it on so long that we had to kill a fair sized kid (young goat) as our food supplies were running short - excepting flour which we generally bought, in sacks of 100 lbs (45.3 kg). When fine weather returned and the creeks went down, there was more traffic on the road than usual. It was nearly all heavy loads of produce in big heavy drays with not less than two horses loaded with corn, potatoes, vegetables, oaten and lucerne chaff (loads of green lucerne and oats in bundles 2d (Two pence - 2c) per bundle) and hay and sometimes a load of pumpkins.

There were bullock teams also which generally were loaded with cedar boards and planks that had been cut by hand with long pit saw, when scrub land was being cleared. Not less than 12 bullocks to a team, sometimes 16. Then the trouble commenced with the boggy, roads from where Early's store stands to Gallagher's Hill was often cut up into mud holes that were dangerous. I have seen a bullock dray loaded with cedar, bogged down to the bed of the dray near where Chermside School stands, and it was left there for several days as it was too boggy for bullocks to work and I have heard language there that I am sure was never taught in Sunday School. The bullock drays were long, heavy clumsy things with a long pole in front and a propstick hanging behind to prevent it tipping up. The pair of pole bullocks carried the weight on their necks; I would be sorry looking at them coming down a hill - if they could have talked. they could have told many a sad tale.

Local People and Their Church

Most of the farms were at Bald Hills and the Pine Rivers and very few, if any, of the pioneers are alive to tell of the difficulties they had to overcome: but nearly all of them lived to a good old age (This is very debatable - Ed) which proved that hard work is not the cause of short life if we take proper care of ourselves and live the right life.

Most of them were God fearing people that kept the Sabbath day and helped each other out of their difficulties. Among the many families of early days I remember were the Stewarts, Duncans, three Carseldines, Lands, Simpson, Hawkins, Cameron, Wyllie, England, Ireland, French, Davis, Skerman, Michael, Hall (2), Brown (3), Todd, Hare. Hay, Gordon (2). Those living at the Upper South Pine River were Ireland, Grensill, Dav, Cuthbert, Biggs, Wright, Hart, Leitch, Mole, Cash, Eaton, Draper, Champ, and perhaps a few others who used the Albany Creek Road, which was called the Chinaman Creek Road in early days.

The people built a small church on the side of the road near the creek and I believe it is still there. It was carried on by a denomination called United Methodist Free Church, but local preachers did most of the work. It was called the Bunya Church and I still retain a Preachers' plan of the circuit during the 70's. There were 9 preaching places, our Chermside place being called Downfall Creek on the plan. There was a Wesleyan Church and a Presbyterian Church at Bald Hills. Several of the farmers became very acceptable local preachers - among them were Messrs Wright, Day, Biggs, Mole, Carseldine and others. Time kept slipping by and father found he would have to get help if he was to build a house and make a farm, so he employed a young man.

Developing the Farm and House and Coping with Wildlife

The first thing was to fence a section, for there was a mob of fairly wild cattle running about that seemed to have no owner. The quickest and cheapest was what was called a cockatoo fence, which was built by sinking the end of strong forked sticks in the ground and laying long fairly heavy saplings in the forks which made the bottom rail; next thing was to cut what was called 'cross legs' about five feet long and two or three inches thick, stick the ends in the ground one on each side of the bottom rail, slanting them across it. This formed a fork to receive the top rail, being a lighter sapling than the bottom rail.

This fence was a success as far as the cattle were concerned but the bandicoots, kangaroos, wallabies and opossum, only laughed at it. They seemed to think it was done for their benefit for they would eat the crops as fast as they would grow, unless there were dogs tied on it to frighten them and traps set to catch them, which happened seldom!

Wild Life
There were a good many kangaroos about, but they seldom did any harm to crops - they lived on grass an were more active in daylight than at night. The hindquarters of a young one was splendid eating and the tail made delicious soup, but it seemed a sin to kill them. Thee were not protected and it was not long before parties of young men with good fast horses and a few kangaroo dogs made a sport of hunting them and all they would bring back with them were the tails and sometimes the skins.

Sometimes a kangaroo would rip a dog open from the front to the hind legs with the claws on their hind feet. Some of the males grew very big and were called 'old man' kangaroos and if the were hard chased would make for water wade in and stand in it; if a dog swam in he would grab it with his front claws and hold under water till it drowned.

Native bears were very plentiful and could be seen in daytime sitting in the forks of tree sleeping: they were harmless, or almost so. They fed at night and lived principally on white gum tree leaves. There were several kinds of flying squirrels - the large black kind was the most mischievous on fruit trees. The could not actually fly; they could only float from the top of a high tree to the low part another a considerable distance away and scamper up and repeat the operation when being hunted. They had surplus skin from high on the front legs to low on hind legs, an spread them out when jumping. There were also what went by the name of native cat though they did not look much like cats - about as big as a medium sized cat, brownish grey colour with white dots. They were notorious for killing fowl at night; if they got into fowl house they would seldom kill fewer than three or four by chewing the back of the head and neck. I never knew them to eat any of the body. People said they sucked the blood.

Then there were many other pests such goannas, frill lizards, blue longue lizard etc. that broke and sucked the eggs. All the things were new to us and we found them be a great drawback to the would-be farmer.


Father found out that he required a strong horse. Our shipmate Mr Hopkins knew more about horses than father did and offered assist him in choosing one. He drove father and me to Eagle Farm where there was one for sale, but as it did not stand the trial. Mr Hopkins lent the mare he was driving and
a day or two later father purchased her from him. She was a well bred shiny black. I have had dozens of horses but never had as good an all rounder as she was. I was passionately fond of' horses and took, a great interest in training them and Nellie (that is what we called her) was the most intelligent and easiest taught that I ever owned. It would take too long to tell all she would do for me and one could scarcely believe it possible without seeing it. She was about three years old when got her and about twenty-three when she was bitten by a snake and died. She was pensioned off before she broke down and reared two foals; both turned out very good horses. We sold one and had the other until we pensioned him off and sent him to our Woombye relations where he was accidentally drowned when he was about twenty seven years old.

Now I could go on writing for hours about our wonderful dogs, cats and the first marvellous cow we owned but I am getting tired it and I feel sure you are, so I will switch to another line.

Judge Lutwyche's Mansion, A House and New Neighbours

Father had been offered 14/- (14 shillings ($1.40) a day by Mr Beeston if he would take chage of a fairly big contract. He had to do all the inside work of Judge Lutwyche's dwelling; stairs had to be erected for upper rooms and nearly all to be with cedar. Six shillings a day more than the usual highest wage of eight shilling a day - it was too hard to refuse, so father accepted the offer though the farm had to wait and our new use had to wait. I carted some of the material from Beeston's shop to the job soon after I learned to whistle - you may wonder, how I remember - I was finding it much easier whistle a tune in one of the empty rooms while waiting for father, than whistling in the open air. It night interest you to know that cedar was plentiful in early days. Father used buy planks from the bullock drivers passing he made the doors and sashes for our home Burnie Brae out of them, and if I remember rightly he made the sashes that are still in our church windows at Chermside. He also made furniture out of the planks and boards.

Another House and Lost in the Bush
It appeared as if our house was not to be built, nor our farm made, for as soon as the Lutwyche job was finished, a man named Patrick Green who had bought the block of land where Mr Hannah now lives came to ask father if he would build a house on it for him. It was all wild bush and not even a track made to it, so father only undertook to erect the house. I used to go with father sometimes and remember he worked rather late one evening and it being a dark, night we got lost in the bush and wandered about in what is now known as Sparkes' paddock then called Murphy's property. It contained 500 acres including Marchant's Park and the Zillmere (Murphy) Road. We managed to find our way home about eight or nine o'clock. I remember being very tired and I developed a good appetite but I wanted father to light a fire and camp till morning. He said we had to get home, for mother and my two sisters would be distracted, which they were until we got home.

New Neighbours
As time slipped on new neighbours appeared - a man named Bell bought the 20 acre block joining ours on the east side, being where Campbell's and Quinlan are living at present. He was used to bush work and farming and built a good substantial slab house and soon had a considerable amount of land under cultivation. He had a wife and one son, and a man who I think was related living with therm. Then there was another man, an ex-policeman, who came from the south. He had been on the gold escort during the time of notorious bushrangers and had passed through some very dangerous and exciting periods and had decided to settle down in this quiet district so he bought the block where Mr G Early's store and Mr Adsett's house are at present. His name was John Patterson and he was a fine man spiritually, physically, mentally and was well educated. Father and he became fast friends and they decided there should be a place of worship and Sunday school within reach of the people who were settling in the district.

The Chesterfield family had vacated Mr Adsett's house opposite Patterson's and he kindly consented to allow it to be used and it was not long before they arranged for regular Sunday services and a Sunday school. It was also used for a night school for secular education all of which became a blessing to the neighbourhood.

A journalist could write a book about each, pioneer family, but we are driving too fast in this generation to look behind lest we get pushed overboard by the next.

Indigenous People

BUT I must say something about the Blacks before we left the roadside (Slab Hut). The government issued blankets free to them from on 24th May (Queen's Birthday) each year, and for days before that there were hundreds passing. I can assure you some of them appeared very wild with their spears, boomerangs, nulla nullas (or wad-dies), shields, etc. and scores of dogs, all poor and mangy, but very highly esteemed by their owners. There were generally one or two in a crowd who could speak a few words of English who did the begging, for all and with what you could pick up of their language - they would soon let you know what they wanted.

It was surprising the number of articles they would ask for and how they got to know their names, some of which they could not pronounce very well, but would persist until you did understand. I got to know a few words of their language and they were always delighted when anyone would speak a few words in their own tongue. I found out that bell meant no, Yo-i - yes, budgerry - good, rabon-budgerry - very good, bell-budgerry - no good, magna-doo - I'm hungry (place hand on stomach when saying it), gung iallo -give water. I asked one of the more civilized to teach me some of their language. He would only commence by giving me the names for the anatomy of the human body. After that he gave me what I asked for, but I found there was a difference in the various tribes and it did not always fit in, so I decided to stick to the English language, although I cannot speak it nor write it as I should.

Murphy's Paddock

Murphy's Paddock
We were still living at the road side when it was reported that Murphy's 500 acre paddock was going to be fenced in with a two-rail split fence. Mr Bell got the job at 2 / 6d (25c) per rod. (5.5 yards or 5 metres) He asked father to help him with it but father said the price was too low; however he assisted him part of the time, but found he could employ his time to much better advantage. Bell went on with the job and when it was nearly finished he reported finding a good indication of gold, so it was not long till Murphy (William Murphy died in May 1881) sent some men to prospect. They dug along shallow trenches and sunk a shaft where it was supposed to be (near Hamilton Road, opposite Kingsmill Street), but found no trace of gold there, so went on top of the hill further back in the paddock and sunk a shaft sixty feet deep and timbered it in from top to bottom. No trace of gold was found but a seam of coal ten inches thick was reported. However sinking was abandoned and the shaft remained open for many years. Mr J Patterson was put in charge of the paddock.

There were a good many settlers, mostly German people at Zillmere, then known as Zillman's Waterholes. They required a road through Murphy's paddock for a near way to the main road to Brisbane and this was granted and called Murphy Road. Licensed gates were erected but as the traffic increased, they became a nuisance and were neglected and the road fenced off. The largest portion of the paddock changed hands several times. It was run as a dairy farm by a man whose name was Ballinger, Mr Cowlishaw became owner next, then Mr John King of Kedron bought it for a dairy paddock. He sold it to Mr Sparkes for a slaughter yard. Sparkes had a bore put down in the old shaft in search of coal or water. After sinking over eleven hundred feet, neither was found in payable quantities, so it was abandoned. That paddock is now occupied by the Military Department and contains about 400 acres. (N.B. These notes were written during World War II.)

The late George Marchant became the owner of Murphy's smaller paddock of about 100 acres and this generation knows the modern history of it, how when our Shire Council was being urged by the Government to secure recreation ground for the district, they approached Mr Marchant with a view to purchasing about ten acres from him if possible. When the site was selected and an approximate price suggested they thought Mr Marchant might accept less; he asked them what they would say if he donated the whole block to the Council free of any charge and under very light and reasonable conditions. Those present got the shock of their lives and asked him if he were serious and earnest. His reply was in the affirmative and when the Council was arranging to accept this marvellous offer, there were one or two of them foolish enough to object on account of the loss of the paltry rates it had produced. They drew up a petition against the acceptance, and a great many foolish ratepayers signed it. However, the Government informed the Council it would have to accept the offer and that settled the matter.

Brick Making at Lutwyche

The Gympie gold field seemed to bring a wave of prosperity: buildings went up in all directions, including many fine brick business houses in town. A great number of Lutwyche people turned their attention to brick making and some of the pits where the clay was taken from are still to be seen. Some of the makers' names were Williams, Hedge, Hurst, Massey, Stephens, Starkey, Welb, Gallaway, Smith and others. This gave an immense amount of work as they were all made by hand.

The men in the pits dug and tempered the clay and boys, called pug boys, carried it up the foot planks in their arms and placed it on the moulders bench, who moulded it into bricks, placed them in rows on a long spring barrow made for that purpose. They had a deck of long batons to place the bricks on and then they were wheeled out and stacked in rows about 20 yards (19m) long, three feet (0.9m) high and as wide, open so that the wind could blow through. When dried they were wheeled on another kind of a barrow into the kiln to be burned. The long rows had to be covered with blade grass in wet weather.

The kilns were about 24' x 12' (7.5m x 3.75m) and three arches were formed when stacking, which ran right through the length. The openings were about 2'6'' (0.8m) to receive the wood for burning. which took a couple of days and nights. As soon as they were cool enough to handle they were sent to the contractors' jobs, mostly in town. I have forgotten how much per thousand was charged for them but I know the draymen got ten (shillings) to twelve and sixpence ($1 to $1.25c) per thousand for carting - 333 was supposed to be a fair load for a horse and they took three loads per day.

Building and business commenced to boom in Lutwyche and it soon became notorious for drunkenness and rowdyism; that, with the unpopular name of the Judge in his neighbourhood, brought a bad name on the district, which has never wholly died out, for part of it adopts the name of Windsor and part of it adjoining the Church grounds where the Judge is buried adopts the name Wooloowin.

The burning of the bricks and the building business caused the people in the timbered district from Kedron northward to get very busy. Thousands of loads of timber for burning the bricks were required. It was split into billets 6 ft (1.8m) long and about 6 inches (150mm) to 8 (200mm) at the thickest part. Approximately 25 billets went to the load and 6/- (60c) per load was the standard price.

From Kedron north, land was all open and no restrictions were placed on timber cutting. Two men could cut six loads a day, and a man with one horse could cart four loads a day 3/- (30c) allowed for cutting and a like amount for carting. I was in my glory either cutting or carting and I have cut four loads in a day and with two horses, carted as many as six load, in a day. You can guess there was no eight hour day for people who went out on the land to make a living in those days. However everyone appeared happy, healthy and contented. (Did they? Ed)

Travel by Coach

Cobb & Co. started a coach service from Brisbane to what is now, called Woombye as soon as river and creek crossings were made. They also arranged a service from Gympie to the same place and where they met was caller Cobb's Camp for many years. As near as I can remember the coach accommodated six passengers inside and three outside including the driver. Most of the luggage was stacked on top and any extra passengers had to roost among the luggage and hang on as best they could so it was wise to book your seat in good time.

A cousin and I had a luggage seat once and we never forgot to book our seats after. The fare was one pound the front or box seat, as it was called, being a few shillings extra. It was well worth it for a person almost required practice to be able to ride properly anywhere else. The body of the coach was hung in a lot of heavy leather straps. Steel springs would have been useless on such rough roads and the rate they had to travel; it was bad enough as it was. I remember being an inside passenger once and I had the top of my Sunday peewee hat dinted down to my head and I got no compensation! There was no reduction of the fare if you rode on top either.

The coach was drawn by what was called five-in-hand, two of the horses at the pole and three in the lead. It was marvellous how the driver could handle the reins to guide the horses sometimes at full gallop on bad rough tracks. The journey was divided as nearly as possible into twelve-mile stages where they changed horses. The first stage from Brisbane was the longest, being the best part of the road. It extended to about a mile on the north side of the North Pine River. The next change was Caboolture, then Glasshouse Mountains (called half way) where dinner was obtainable. Next was Mellum Creek, now called Landsborough; from there to Mooloolah River, then to Cobb's Camp. It was supposed to be 72 miles from Brisbane and took from 12 to 13 hours for the journey.

Father had the first Post Office in the Downfall Creek (Chermside) district and I remember many a hurry-scurry from where we lived down to the office at the roadside before daylight to receive the mail from the Cobb & Co coach. The driver had a bugle which he blew when approaching a stopping place all delay was to be avoided.
I'm afraid I am getting along too fast and will have to stop and look back, for a lot of things happened before Cobb & Co. started this route.

Burnie Brae and the Property

Father had commenced to build our new house. There were two large trees standing where he wished to build, each about 2 ft (600mm) in diameter. He had them cut down, flattened on the big ends and placed on their own stumps and notched for other stumps. Then the tops of the logs were adzed off flat and made the two main bottom plates of the building about 24 ft (7.5m) long. They were placed in position in 1873 as near as I can remember and remain there still solid and sound. (Demolished1952).

The building covers over 40 ft x 40 ft (12m x 12m) and all the hardwood timber required was procured close to where the house stands. We made a saw pit handy to the building and that is where I had my first lesson in pit sawing. It was wonderful to me and I often wondered how father knew how to carry out what he undertook to do. Though I can't say I fell in love with my job as I was bottom man in the pit and got all the sawdust about my head and had and had to watch that I did not run away from the chalk line. All the plates, studs, sills, rafters and other scantling were squared by axe or pit saw. The outside walls of the main building were made of short split slabs worked by hand into chamfer boards, and placed horizontally between the studs and then, slipped down between cleats as they shrank.

Now there came another delay to our new house. Mr Bell, our neighbour, had seen the Rosewood district and made up his mind to sell out and go to better farming land. After some time he persuaded father to buy his place so we went to live there until our new house was finished which was a considerable time. However, we were much more comfortable than we were in the place on the roadside (the slab hut). There was a good garden about half an acre of grapes, all staked, a splendid variety of peach trees, etc. Things appeared to be going on very well, but one drawback was having no water on the ground so father bought the two adjoining blocks which extended from Hamilton Road to Duff Street (renamed Kuran Street), and included the watercourse.

We fenced it in and let our cows and horses run in the paddock. There are holes in the creek that have never been known to be dry, even in the longest drought. The water was very good and clear in a dry time and we made everyone welcome who required the water. Father, mother my two sisters and I pulled together and worked long hours and I only remember one strike. That was when there was a lovely crop of fruit, etc. almost ready for market when a thunder storm came up and in about ten minutes the whole crop was cut to pieces with hail so I went on strike, no more farming for me, so father said I could learn the trade which was increasing rapidly. Not only repairs to drays, carts, etc. but orders for new drays, carts, wooden ploughs and harrows etc. Because of this father had to employ help to keep the farm going as we had a good variety of fruit trees and there was no fruit fly or disease in those days. Oranges, lemons etc. were lovely and clean and passionfruit would grow wild. Our worst enemies were flying fox opossums, etc. at night and many kinds of bird in the daytime.

There was a great variety of birds, animals, reptiles, fresh-water fish and insects and anyone interested in that sort of life could not say it was a lonesome place, although it was out in the bush. It is amazing how much of it has completely disappeared, but when we look back over 70 years, we must not wonder, for even the very hills and creeks have altered and large waterholes have filled up.

The Hamilton Body Works

When I turned my back on farming, father turned my attention to making wheels, carts, drays etc. Most of the timber was obtained in the bush, the naves and spokes were from ironbark logs and the felloes out of blue gum planks. The naves and felloes were set out, bored and mortised by hand; the split spokes were built in stacks till well dried, then dressed with a light squaring axe and finished off with a plane. A man who could make an average pair of wheels in a week would pass for a good workman. Boring the naves was a tricky job, as all the holes had to meet in the centre and the slightest bit out would throw the spoke a long way out at the top. Father used to let me bore a hole now and again and I will never forget one morning he was going to town and pointed to a pair of naves and asked me to have them bored by the time he got home. I protested for fear of spoiling them but it was no use as they were to be done, spoiled or not, so I bored them and father gave me great credit for the job. I am sure it was more than I deserved but I got plenty of boring to do from that time on. However I liked the work and our reputation for hand-made wheels spread far and near, so father decided to build a workshop at the roadside so that meant more and more work. However, we got quite used to work from daylight till dark, sometimes longer, with no holidays except Sundays. (1871)(This business, although no longer owned by the family, is still flourishing under the name of Hamilton.)

The Workshop on Gympie Road

Now that we were settled in the home that we bought, (Was this a house on Gympie Road?) our new, dwelling came to a standstill so we decided to build a workshop at the roadside and that had to be built with bush timber and in what we called our spare time, for we had to earn a living as we went along. We cut round posts for studs and round saplings for top plates and rafters, and long thin oak saplings for batons. They were flattened with an adze so that the shingles could be nailed on them.

That was when father gave me my first lesson on how to use an adze and I never forgot it. He told me it was one of the most dangerous hand tools and showed me how to hold it and how to avoid certain strokes that were dangerous but I soon found out that I had not paid enough attention for I was not very long at the job when the adze slipped to one side and cut through my boot and sock and drew a little blood from my ankle. I found out that father knew more about an adze than I did, and it was a good lesson, for the like never happened again.

We split slabs for the walls and shingles for the roof and the only sawn timber used was for the doors and shutters. There was an abundance of good splitting timber on the land red and yellow stringy-bark, spotted gum, blood-wood, white gum, blue gum, grey gum, tallow wood (called turpentine here in those lays), grey, black and red ironbark. Also many ether sorts of timber which was not much used for building, such as apple-tree, box-tree, titree, honeysuckle, she-oak, black, green and silver wattle, etc. The stringybarks and ironbark made good slabs and shingles, the blood-wood and apple-tree made good posts as they lasted better in the ground than most other timbers.

The Blacksmith's Forge - Possibly the First Smithy in Downfall Creek

We got the shop built and had plenty of orders in to go on with and we found we would lave to have a blacksmith's forge with a bellows, anvil, large vice and sundry tools so father bought beech planks for the frame of the bellows and leather to cover it, and made it in the shop. We got a hearth fixed up and the tools required and struggled on for sometime but the work poured in and the people wanted us to shoe their horses but that was out of father's line. He could do a good deal of the general work but he drew the line at pulling horses about by the legs, especially he hind legs. So it was not long till he got someone who was more used and interested in that kind of work.

I must give you a little bit of our first experience with a blacksmith. I have forgotten his name but that does not matter. A man turned up who said he could do horse shoeing and general smith work. He did it on his own account and charged father for what work he did for him, so that was how he started. He was a middle aged single man and rented a detached room from Mr John Patterson who had started a little store where Mr G Early's store now stands. (The present Green Motel) He boarded himself and seemed to get along satisfactorily for some time, although he appeared eccentric at times.

He was very keen on getting his cash from the customers and would ask, for it rather abruptly sometimes, which did not tend to increase business. Worse than this he imagined that someone was playing tricks on him with the food he was buying. Father told him it was just his imagination, but he said he had given some of it to the fowls and they twisted their necks and made all sorts of funny sounds; so Mr Patterson and father were very pleased when he departed.

The next blacksmith was a big strong new-chum from Ireland named William Hickey. He was a good smith and had a sense of humour. I remember a farmer bringing a repair job that many a smith would not have undertaken and asked him if he could do it. He answered "I think I can but if I can't begobs I'll put it that nobody else can." I think he inspired more confidence than if he had given his assurance.

Some Final Observations

Now I have wandered away from what I want to tell you. Time kept slipping on and new neighbours came; Mr and Mrs Hermann with three sons and a daughter, Mr and Mr Murr with three sons and two daughters and Mr and Mrs Conrad. (All of these were related to one another.) Then there were Mr and Mrs Webster with a family, Mr and Mrs Shaw and son, and a few others farther away.

There were many children in the neighbourhood but there was no school. However, as all country children had to work in those days, they could not have attended had there been one. Mr Patterson and father decided that something should be done and the former was persuaded to start a night school in the old house that was used for Sunday service.

There was some talk that we must make an effort to build a church as the roof of the old house in which we met was not rain-proof and we had to use our umbrellas if a heavy shower came on during the service. We rarely prayed for rain in those days: we were blessed with plenty and things grew well and kept green all the year round - of course I mean all that should be green!

It was also decided about that time to call a meeting of all interested with a view to building a church. The meeting was well attended and it was decided to carry on, immediately; labour, material and money was promised.

Editor's Epilogue
They went on to build a church in 1873 on the corner of Gympie Road and Banfield Street where Bob Janes tyre business is presently located. The wooden church was shifted on skids downhill to the corner of Hamilton and Gympie Roads in 1921 where the Focus building now stands.

In 1900 they paid 25% of the total cost of land, building and Head Teacher's House of the Downfall Creek, later Chermside, State School where the Uniting Church now stands on the corner of Rode and Gympie Roads. The original school building is now the headquarters of the Chermside and Districts Historical Society Inc in the Chermside Historical Precinct, Kittyhawk Drive.