The wealth of Victorian-era gold began to flow to Queensland in the late-19th century. The first railway lines from Ipswich to Dalby and Warwick became operational in 1870. More than 200,000 Europeans lived in Queensland in 1880, with the most significant cities being Brisbane, Townsville, Toowoomba, Mackay, and Rockhampton. Darling Downs became a centre for pastoral industry in the 1860s and ’70s. Queensland had around three million cattle and seven million sheep by 1880. Sugar and cotton production increased in the 1860s.
During the Great Shearers’ Strike at Barcaldine in 1891, the Australian Labor Party was formed. Employers were arguing over whether they could use non-union labor during the strike. The police and troops were called in, some sheds were fired, and mass riots. The second shearers strike occurred in 1894. At the Queensland elections of 1893, sixteen union candidates won seats. The 1893 Brisbane floods caused much damage, including the destruction of the Victoria Bridge. The first cricket match was played at the Brisbane Cricket Ground in December 1896, on the land where it now stands. Native Police (Aboriginal Police) were disbanded in 1897. World’s first Labor government, led by Premier Anderson Dawson, lasted less than one week in power in 1899. During the Second Boer War (Second Anglo-Boer War) in July 1899, Queensland sent 250 mounted foot soldiers to aid Britain. Charters Towers gold production also peaked that year. Natural gas was first discovered in Queensland and Australia at Roma in 1900 during a water well drilling.
In 1899, the Mahina Cyclone struck the Cape York Peninsula and destroyed a pearling fleet in Princess Charlotte Bay. The cyclone killed approximately 400 people, making it Queensland’s worst maritime disaster.
Crossing from the North Quay to South Brisbane the sight which meets the eye is appalling. The streets themselves covered to a depth of inches by a thick foul smelling mud were on Tuesday partially blocked by half-demolished houses, telegraph poles and posts with the wires (forming a trap for those who were not sufficiently careful in getting about), crockery-ware, dead animals, and articles of broken furniture. It was of course impossible to obtain anything like an accurate estimate of the number of houses destroyed, but it is safe to assert that quite two-thirds of the houses between Montague-road and the river has been carried away.
A new crossing, opened on 15 June 1874 by the Governor of Queensland, the George Phipps, 2nd Marquess of Normanby, was an iron structure and a toll bridge. The bridge was paid for by significant council borrowings that were to be recouped by tolls. However a lack of revenue forced its transfer to the Colonial Government. The tolls were abolished at this time. It included a turning span to allow tall masted river traffic to pass upstream. The position of the swinging span was fixed when the tram-lines were laid along the bridge. It carried a 6 in (0.15 m) and a 9 in (0.23 m) diameter pipe which supplied mains water to South Brisbane. This bridge was partially washed away in the 1893 Brisbane flood.
The flood reached its highest level on Sunday, was it was 9ft. 6in. above the flood mark of 1890 that being the highest previously on record. This measurement was taken at the corner of Edward and Queen streets. The machinery in the basement of the Brisbane Courier office was still 16ft. under water at noon on Wednesday. The loss of life, so far as ascertained, does not exceed 20 in Brisbane and Ipswich.
One of the most important reactions to the 1893 flood was recognising the need for a comprehensive river observation and warning network. This was demonstrated at the time by the prominent pioneer, and later member for Stanley (1904-20), H.P. Somerset. Overlooking where the Brisbane and Stanley Rivers combine, Somerset saw a ‘wall of water’ crashing past his Caboonbah homestead in early February. He subsequently sent a man to Esk with the following telegram message addressed to the post master general in Brisbane:
As the bells of the steamers tolled the hours the anxiety increased, for with the departure of each hour the river encroached foot by foot. Apprehensive, yet apparently unmindful, of their own danger families piled their furniture on the tables, and then raised the more valuable articles by degrees as the waters rose, hoping that with the receding tide of the early morning the flood would subside. But inch by inch the water rose upon them, until they were forced to forsake their homes and take to the rescue boats, which plied with difficulty, for the current was strong and the piles of debris which came down floated from the town reach across the narrow neck of land and made boating extremely dangerous.
The damage done will amount to hundreds of thousands of pounds. It is estimated that 500 houses had passed down the river from within a few miles of Brisbane. One man counted a hundred houses come down and strike against the bridge within an hour. Six houses in a row came down the stream together, and were smashed to pieces against the structure with a loud report. They were thrown high into the air, and as the shattered timbers fell, they were engulphed below the bridge and passed through on the other side.
An alarming occurrence in the shape of a locomotive explosion happened at the Roma-street Railway Station last evening. As in the case of the recent explosion in the same vicinity, there was fortunately no loss of life, nor was there serious injury done to anything except the engine. The accident happened under especially fortunate circumstances. The engine was detached, and the lines were practically clear at the time. If by any chance the conditions had been different, it is difficult to conceive how a most serious catastrophe would have been avoided. The engine in question was No 62, one of the Baldwin type, manufactured in Philidelphia.
The first train carrying passengers from the Brisbane terminus started at half-past 6 o'clock yesterday morning, and, in spite of the earliness of the hour, a number of persons had assembled on the platform to witness this historical event. The utmost exertions of a large body of men had only sufficed to make the line fit for travelling, without being able to make a really finished job of it, the ballasting being only laid under the sleepers at considerable distances. The motion was, consequently, greater than will hereafter be the case. Work in ballasting was being continued all day yesterday with noticeable results.
Three of the Archer brothers and their families. The Archer brothers were among the earliest settlers in Queensland. They were explorers and pastoralists. Seven sons of William Archer, a Scottish timber merchant, spent varying amounts of time in the colony of New South Wales, mainly in parts of what later became Queensland.
George Street as well as Queen Street, Wickham Street and the area known as Petrie Bight were unsealed and often dusty before 1899. In 1897, the North Brisbane Council held an election on whether a loan should be raised so the streets could be woodblocked. Agreement was given after a close decision by only a third of registered voters, however the results were limited as the surface was very slippery during the rain and buckled during heavy rains.
The then Municipal Council funded the majority of the work and the remainder of the funds required was raised by public subscription. However, there was confusion as to the original purpose of the fountain, as donations were also being sought around the same time for a memorial to James Mooney, a young volunteer fireman who died in 1877 in the line of duty.
The incidence of railway construction particularly that which then terminated at Roma Street had an influencing part in determining the site of a new Brisbane market. A loan of £6000 for the erection of a new wholesale market was offered to Brisbane Municipal Corporation on a site in Upper Roma Street (near the original Roma Street Railway Station) and adjoining the (old) Albert Grammar School Reserve.
As a conduit for the colony’s exports, the river remained boon for the Queensland capital. But it was a fraught relationship. Development of the flood plain accompanied Brisbane’s rise and by the late 1880s a major a collision was imminent as the Brisbane Valley entered an unusually wet cycle. Low lying areas were inundated in 1887 and 1889 followed by a larger flood in 1890. Those who thought they had seen the last of this extreme weather were mistaken. Peaking over 30 feet at the post office gauge, the February 1893 floods eclipsed this by around three metres.
This single-storeyed porphyry stone church, the oldest Anglican Church in Brisbane, was erected in 1861, and rebuilt in 1869, for the Wickham Terrace District Anglican congregation. It is one of the few remaining parish churches in Queensland owned under the colonial provision of private trustees of church property.Courtesy of Queensland Heritage Register
After bounding along by railway from Warwick for a distance of seventeen miles, we debark at a rustic siding known as Clark's Crossing, the guard having previously admonished that there was a passenger for that point. At this place we are in the immediate vicinity of East Talgai, a name and locality too well known to all breeders of sheep to need any description here.
Selection referred to "free selection before survey" of crown land in some Australian colonies under land legislation introduced in the 1860s. These acts were similar to the United States Homestead Act and were intended to encourage closer settlement, based on intensive agriculture, such as wheat-growing, rather than extensive agriculture, such as wool production. Selectors often came into conflict with squatters, who already occupied the land and often managed to circumvent the law.
The initial discovery of gold in the greater Charter Towers area was followed by a migration of 30,000 miners, speculators and entrepreneurs, they converged on Queensland’s most important goldfield seeking a piece of the enormous fortune during the height of one of Australia’s major historical gold rushes of the early era.
As evidenced in this photograph, the main power of the farm in the 19th century was the horse. Its strength was multiplied many times to draw the ploughs, harrowers and drillers which were made of wood and iron. Prior to drilling to plant the seeds, the field was ploughed to till the soil with the harrow following behind to break up and smooth the surface of the soil. The harrow created a parcel of furrows; using his horseman skills, an expert ploughman goal was to make furrows as level and straight as possible. The drills had to withstand the heaviness of the soil and the depth of the furrows.
During the 19th century, hay carters used horse drawn carts and pitchforks to move the fodder they grew and cut for the winter and drought months. In addition, if there was not enough feed for the grazing animals, the animals were moved from the unproductive land to greener pastures. The Warwick stock movements published in The Queensland on Saturday 8 September 1894 recorded that drovers moved 6000 ewes from Green Hills to Barcaldine.
The smaller house is likely to be a separate kitchen (it was wise to separate the fire hazard the kitchen presented from the main dwelling). The smallest ‘house’ is the dunny. In the relatively cool climate of Accommodation Creek (some snow in winter) this farmer was pioneering cherry trees. These are relatively young trees (only about 6 feet high). The horse-drawn ploughs are possibly being used to prevent weed growth by turning the soil. The lush forested slopes must have been hard work to clear fell. However in the picture the clear-felled field was rich soil, and today we know the experiment came to fruition.
If you were the youngster leaning against the woodshed dividing wall you would have grown up considering the massive tall timber posts to be part of your landscape. The schooling you had may be in large part from your mother, an incredibly able woman. You might model yourself on the strong men in front of you, skilfully extracting their livelihood from tough dawn-to-dusk seasonal labour requiring high technical skills and physical skills and courage. You will have probably assisted to deliver new born lambs and hand-reared orphan ones, set broken legs of calves, have ridden half-wild horses and learned how to muster various animals. There is a brutal beauty about the harsh upbringing of outback people. The high market value of the merino fleeces is only one kind of value - the other values are harder to measure.
It s surrounded by a palistrade fence to stop the cows from getting near the house. Down below, at the foot of the cow pasture, is a wooden milking shed near the river with a fence extending from either side to keep the dairy cows up in their paddock. This farm is a part of the history of a community and land which, 75 years later, became a suburb of Brisbane. This history of this farming area, called Mount Crosby, is the subject of a University of Queensland MA thesis written by Judith Anne Nissen “Creating the landscape: A history of settlement and land use in Mount Crosby“:
However it must have been a journey from Ipswich that took considerable logistics in the 1890s (compared with 80Kms in just over an hour that it takes to travel this distance today). In the nineteenth century when this photograph was taken it would have been an expedition using horses or bullocks and would certainly also have required the planning, stocking up and carrying of provisions. Avoidance of rainy weather would have been a consideration too. There would not have been any coach service to this remote forested place.
By the end of the 19th century, Charters Towers gold mines and mills were producing their maximum yields. Over a hundred poppet legs rose above the town and the quality of life was unexcelled in Colonial Queensland. All this had happened in a period of twenty-five years. In 1897 the Editor of the Northern Mining Register wrote: