Reminders of Peoples Past – 04 – The Archer Brothers

Thomas Archer (inset) would have been proud of today’s Woodford Folk Festival

Not all reminders of our past settlers take the form of monuments. Roads and landmarks are often named after auspicious individuals and families. Such is the case of the Archer brothers who have a street in Woodford named after them. There is also a street named ‘Durundur’ after their original property there and a nearby Mount Archer. To most people today, Woodford is synonymous with its annual folk festival a street of which is shown here, and with which the adventurous Archer brothers would be proud to associated, if they were alive today.

There were thirteen children born to Scottish timber merchant William Archer and wife Julia, who later settled at Larvik in Norway. Of their peripatetic children seven sons spent varying amounts of time in the colony of New South Wales, mainly in parts of what later became Queensland. In 1841 David and Thomas, joined by their brother John. Travelling with 5,000 sheep approximately on the line of the present towns of Warwick and Toowoomba, they crossed the main range at Hodgson’s Gap, and established themselves for four or five years in the Moreton District.. There, near present-day Woodford, they established ‘Durundur’ Station. (Durundur is an aboriginal name for the Moreton Bay Ash).

Charles Archer arrived in Australia in 1841, and joined his brothers at Durundur in 1843. He was accompanied by the explorer Ludwig Leichhardt, who stayed at ‘Durundur’ for several months until early 1844. The country at Durundur proved unsuitable for sheep, leading the brothers to take up two runs further west in 1845.

The inset picture shows Thomas Archer in his later (1881) role as Agent-General for Queensland in London. Of his other brothers from ‘Durundur’, David left the country in 1842 and did not return to Australia, John returned to his occupation as a sailor and was lost at sea, and Charles died in Norway.

Reminders of Peoples Past – 03 – Tom Petrie

Left insert: Standing together by the refurbished Petrie memorial are Janice Hall (Great Grand daughter of Tom Petrie) and Maroochy Barambah (Great Great Grand Daughter of Kulkarawa, Grannie Kitty, who was one of the few Turrbal People that survived the adverse impact of European settlement in Brisbane.) Right insert: Tom Petrie.

Tomas Petrie arrived in the penal colony at Moreton Bay with his parents in 1837 when he was just 6 years old. His father, Andrew Petrie, was to become Clerk of Works in the colony. Thomas was educated by a convict clerk and was allowed to mix freely with Aboriginal children. He learnt to speak the local language Turrbal and was encouraged to share in all Aboriginal activities. He was witness to convicts labouring in chains on the government farms along the river and saw numerous floggings of convicts on Queen Street. At 14 he participated in a walkabout to a feast in the Bunya Mountains. He was accepted by the Aborigines and was often used as a messenger and invited on exploration expeditions. He also learned about surveying, bushcraft and the local geography while travelling with his father, Andrew Petrie.

After his marriage to Elizabeth Campbell in 1858, Tom bought property in the North Pine district, which he called Murrumba (Good Place) and where he was helped by friendly Aborigines to clear his land and construct his first buildings. He continued to explore widely, his main aim being the search for new timber areas and places for further settlement along the coast.

When the Government opened Queensland’s first Aboriginal reserve on Bribie Island in 1877, Petrie became its chief adviser and overseer. The experiment was terminated next year largely because Petrie’s report on Aboriginal attitudes and activities was not encouraging

Petrie died at Murrumba in 1910, and the name of the North Pine district was changed to Petrie in his honour. There is also a new suburb in the area named Murrumba Downs.

Reminders of Peoples Past – 02 – Henry Miller

Lt Henry Miller and the First Settlers memorial at Redcliffe

On 24th September 1824 the brig Amity, under the direction of NSW Surveyor General Lt John Oxley, brought officials, soldiers, their wives and children, and 29 convicts to Redcliffe to set up Moreton Bay’s first penal settlement, with Lt Henry Miller as its first Commandant. Fresh from fighting in the Napoleonic Wars with the 40th Regiment of Foot, Lt Miller was accompanied by his wife and family. The Moreton Bay penal colony was initially very primitive. There were no buildings, except huts. The only link to civilisation was the occasional arrival of a ship from Sydney into Moreton Bay (for no ship in that time had ever entered the Brisbane River). It was in these surroundings that Miller’s wife gave birth to a son, who was afterwards christened Charles Moreton Miller, the first European child born at Moreton Bay and the first Queenslander.

The settlement progressed well with temporary huts being built for the soldiers, their wives and children, and the convicts. Gardens were dug and vegetables planted. However the death of Private Felix O’Neill in March 1825 combined with Aboriginal attacks, hordes of mosquitoes and the lack of safe anchorage facilities, led to the settlement being moved in the middle of 1825 from Redcliffe up the Brisbane River to a site recommended by John Oxley.

When the decision was made to relocate the settlement, Redcliffe was deserted and remained so until the 1860s when the area was declared an agricultural reserve. The land was used for dairying, sugarcane, wheat, cotton, beef, honey, cattle feed, oranges and potatoes.

Reminders of Peoples Past – 01 – John Oxley

John Oxley and his memorial at Redcliffe

21 years after Matthew Flinders’ journey to Moreton Bay, Surveyor John Oxley was dispatched from Sydney in the Mermaid in November 1823 to find s spot for a new penal depot. When he cast anchor at Point Skirmish on Bribie Island on 29th November, he was surprised to be met by a white man, Thomas Pamphlett, who was living with the natives there.

(With John Finnegan, Richard Parsons and John Thompson, Pamphlett had set out from Port Jackson for the Five Islands [Illawarra] to cut cedar. Blown north by a storm in which Thompson died, the boat was wrecked on the outer shore of Moreton Island. After some hardships, mitigated by help from Aborigines, they crossed to the mainland. Believing themselves south of Sydney they had sought a northward route homewards. Aborigines again helped them with food and directions during which they had crossed a large river.)

On the day following Oxley’s meeting with Thomas Pamphlett at Bribie, John Finnegan returned to Point Skirmish from a hunting trip, and on 1st December accompanied Oxley and his crew in the Mermaid when they set sail to explore Moreton Bay further. Oxley landed at Redcliffe Point on December 2nd 1823. This he chose as the site for the new penal depot as there was plenty of fresh water, fertile soil and plenty of timber for building.

Oxley also explored the inlet to the north of Redcliffe Point which he named Deception Bay (Oxley originally thought the bay was a river which he named Pumice Stone River. Later, when he discovered his mistake, he changed the name to Deception Bay.)

As well as exploring the western part of Moreton bay, Oxley sailed 80 kilometres up the river that Pamphlett had described (and which Flinders had missed). This he named the Brisbane River in honour of the NSW Governor Brisbane, who had sent him on this mission.