Early German Immigrants to the Moreton Bay Settlement – 8 – At Maryborough (27)

Early German Immigrants to the Moreton Bay Settlement – 8 – At Maryborough 27

The earliest Germans in the Maryborough district were possibly some of the shepherds on John Eales run at Tiaro, south of what is now Maryborough. Shepherds and timber getters were traversing the Mary River and coastal vessels were arriving before George Furber built his Woolstore and Inn on the south bank of the river in 1847.

After the site now known as the Old Township was settled in 1848 on the northern bank of the river, coastal vessels were landing passengers on his wharf. 

Many Germans employed in the Wide Bay and Burnett districts in sheep and cattle runs had overlanded from Sydney, Brisbane, or surrounding Those who came direct by sailing vessel, or those who came to Maryborough by coastal steamer, would take their belongings in drays, ride horses, or walk to their destinations.

“Messrs Raff and Co have offered to forward a vessel from Hamburgh to this port direct provided they could obtain orders for no less than one hundred German immigrants.

“The immigrants will be engaged at the uniform rate of £10 per annum. Our informant believes that no premium is required but that employers will have to pay £18 for the passage of each immigrant on arrival…” 28

View of the Mary River and Maryborough wharves from the Post Office tower, Maryborough, 1874 (photo courtesy Fraser Coast Regional Libraries)

Queensland Becomes a Separate State

During the late 1840’s the “Northern Districts of New South Wales” began to agitate for separation from New South Wales; and, in 1851, a petition was sent to the Queen, urging the right of Moreton Bay to receive the same concession as had, in that year, been made to Port Phillip. On this occasion their request was not granted; but, on being renewed about three years later, it was met with a favourable reception; and, in the following year and Act was passed by the Imperial Parliament giving to the British Government power to constitute a new colony. Again, as in the case of Port Phillip, delays occurred; and, in 1856, a change of ministry caused the matter to be almost forgotten. It was not until 1859 that the territory to the north of the 29th parallel of latitude was proclaimed a separate colony, under the title of Queensland.

In December of that year, Sir George F. Bowen, the first governor, arrived; and the little town of Brisbane, with its 7,000 inhabitants, was raised to the dignity of being a capital, the seat of Government of a territory containing more than 670,000 square miles, though inhabited by only 25,000 people. A few months later, Queensland received its constitution, which differed but little from that of New South Wales. There were established two Houses of Legislature, one consisting of members nominated by the Governor, and the other elected by the people. 29


27 Gassan, Kay; Where The Eagle Nested.

28 Maryborough Chronicle, October 10, 1861.

29 http://www.historyofaustraliaonline.com/Separation_of_Queensland.html

Early German Immigrants to the Moreton Bay Settlement – 7 – On the Darling Downs

The first German settlers were enticed to the Darling Downs in 1854. After Queensland’s separation from NSW, a continuous stream of assisted German emigrants flowed into the new colony, although there was a brief halt between 1866 and 1869.  From the 1850s onwards, the German Consul for Sydney, Wilhelm Kirchner, and the Hamburg merchant and emigration agent Johann Christian Heussler had succeeded in attracting settlers from Prussia, the Uckermark, Pomerania and Silesia, and to a lesser degree from Hesse, Baden, and Wurttemberg. Generous work contracts lured whole villages of peasants and tradesmen to Queensland. Each participant in the scheme was obliged to labour as a shepherd or boundary rider in the first instance.  Wages were high and paved the way for land purchases, often to the annoyance of the ‘squattocracy’. In due course the womenfolk followed from the old country to set up house in what was frequently little more than a crude slab hut with a bark roof and an earthen floor. 25

Slab hut at Templin Museum

Dalby, 27th December 1861:

Free travel is gladly arranged through the Gentlemen Heussler and Francksen and as you can see in the encl. every newcomer to our new Colony (Queensland) as from the 1st of January 1861 receives £2.

Ernst Magnus Wuth, M.D.

My address: Dalby, Darling Downs District

Queensland, Australia

The Darling Downs presented a slightly different aspect of German settlement. It became one of the regions with the largest number of German families, but began with unmarried men who were brought out under contract to work as shepherds

on the large pastoral leases between 1852 and 1855. Living frugally in remote parts of the runs, and with their rations provided, they were able to save more than some of less sober habits, so that when land became available for purchase around Toowoomba in the 1860s, many took it up.26


The Marbs and the Aurora, the first two immigrant ships to arrive at Moreton Bay (Brisbane) direct from Hamburg, brought almost 1000 German settlers, mainly from the Tauber River Valley in southern Germany. Arriving on 22nd March, they were more than a quarter of the year’s total immigration into what is now Queensland. There had been 47 deaths on the ships due to outbreaks of typhus, cholera and measles. Some passengers went to jobs in the Ipswich area, some to the Maryborough area, and many went to work in the Toowoomba district. The arrival of these settlers was due to Edward Lord, a storekeeper from Drayton on the Darling Downs, who pioneered the idea of encouraging German migration direct to Moreton Bay, rather than through the port of Sydney. He had been at a meeting of Darling Downs’ squatters and businessmen held on 21st July 1851 in the Bull’s Head Inn at Drayton*. This meeting decided to bring German workers direct to the Moreton Bay (Brisbane), rather than through Sydney. From October 1851 to July 1852 Lord, who had been educated in Germany, advertised in the Moreton Bay Courier, offering to landowners his services as an unofficial immigration agent. Wilhelm Kirchner, the Consul for Hamburg and for Prussia in Sydney, was not happy about Lord’s actions, as he was already the official German immigration agent for NSW (which still included Moreton Bay). Edward Lord’s 1854 trip to Germany promoting Queensland was a major factor in the emigration of the passengers of the Marbs and the Aurora

The Royal Bull’s Head Inn at Drayton

*The Royal Bull’s Head Inn, Drayton, south of Toowoomba. The original inn was built in 1848 and was replaced by the existing building in 1858. The first proprietor was William Horton and it was the location of the first Anglican service on the Darling Downs, conducted by Reverend Benjamin Glennie in 1848


25 Corkhill, Alan, op.cit.

26 Kleinschmidt, Robin; Ludlow, Peter; Tesch, Matthew: Queensland’s German Connections.

Early German Immigrants to the Moreton Bay Settlement – 6 – The Immigration Agents

After convict transportation had been abandoned in 1840, New South Wales was desperate for labour. 18

In a familiar refrain, the British migrants proved reluctant to leave Sydney for the rigours of up-country life. Facing acute labour shortages, pastoralists argued for a resumption of convict transportation, but faced fierce opposition from those who had been agitating for its removal. They therefore looked for other options. One result was Chinese immigration, the bringing in of Chinese workers as indentured labourers. Down in Sydney, however, Karl Ludwig Wilhelm Kirchner (who had arrived in Sydney on 20th July 1839 on the Mary) 19 had his own solution.

Karl Ludwig Wilhelm Kirchner

Now a prosperous merchant, Kirchner was influenced by idealism and connection to his homeland, but also saw business opportunities, including a potentially profitable role as an immigration agent. Until then, German migrants had been restricted from access to subsidised migration unless they fell into a limited number of occupational classifications that could not be filled by British immigrants. NSW, Kirchner argued, should bring in German migrants. They were hard working, would fit in and would be prepared to go to country areas, thus solving labour problems. Kirchner’s broad arguments were accepted. He therefore began looking for employers who would be prepared to sponsor German migrants. 20

In 1848, Kirchner returned to Frankfurt as NSW emigration agent, basing himself in his mother’s house. By then, he had arrangements in place with a number of employers and needed to find the people to fill the agreements. On the trip home, Kirchner wrote a promotional book, Australien und seine Vortheile für Auswanderer –  (Australia and its Advantages for Emigrants), extolling the virtues of a new life in NSW. This was published upon his arrival in Germany to encourage interest in migrating to Australia. He also put up posters and advertisements promoting the message in towns and villages all over the Rhine regions. 21 The first ship with assisted German passengers left London in 1848. By 1850, Kirchner had made arrangements with the Hamburg ship owner Charles Goddefroy. By 1853 2000 Germans had disembarked in Sydney. 22

Johann Christian Heussler

He was born in Germany in 1820, and migrated to pre-Separation Queensland in 1854; he was a merchant by training and occupation; and on arrival here he went into partnership with fellow German immigrant Frederic Alterwicker and they established a business in South Brisbane. From this modest start he embarked on an eventful and varied career: as a wine merchant, importer/exporter, a labour bureau (an employment agency for Germans), an immigration agent, a sugar planter, a Member of the Legislative Council, and a founder member of the Queensland Club.  He had already acquired experience of finding jobs for German immigrants, as part of the commercial activities he undertook with his new partner, Reinhard Francksen.

However, according to a notice that was published in the Queensland Government Gazette on Saturday, 19th May, 1862, Messrs Heussler and Francksen informed the public at large that they had become German immigration agents under the bounty immigration scheme. The German emigrants recruited in this way left Germany for Queensland on ships that departed from Bremen and Hamburg. Johann Christian Heussler is credited with recruiting some 2000 German emigrants to settle in Queensland. Thus, the ancestors of many Queenslanders of German descent came to the newly-minted colony.23

Johann Christian Heussler

Advertisement in Moreton Bay Courier, November 1854:


In presenting the object of our circular of August last, we have now to acquaint the stock and landowners, and other employers of these districts, that our Mr. Heussler contemplates visiting Germany, to establish a continued Immigration thence to this place, and to request that all parties wishing to procure Vine-dressers, Shepherds, Hutkeepers, Farm Labourers, Domestic Servants, Mechanics, single or in families, through us, will be pleased to favour us with their orders as soon as possible.

Information as to terms and wages may be obtained from our office.


South Brisbane, Nov, 1854.

However, there was some local resentment against employing German workers as written in the Armidale Express and New England General Advertiser on Saturday 27 June 1857:

‘A meeting had been held in Brisbane for the purpose of protesting against the employment of Germans on the roads, to the exclusion of Englishmen suffering from want of employment. In answer to the deputation, Capt. Wickham explained that the eleven Germans engaged were road makers by profession, and they had been preferred on that account and no other.’ 24

Assisted immigration had petered out by the late 1850s, the problem of labour supply not being pressing any more. Assisted non-British immigration shifted to the north of the continent. Queensland became the state with the largest percentage of people of German origin and Wilhelm Kirchner again played a key role. His fortunes had been mixed since his return as chief immigration agent in NSW in 1858, and in 1861 his company was declared insolvent and he had to resign his position as Consul. In 1863 Kirchner was appointed Commissioner of Stamp Duty in Brisbane and in 1867 he returned to Germany succeeding Johann Christian Heussler as the new colony’s Immigration Agent. In 1869 he was appointed Commissioner for Queensland in Germany and in 1871 Commissioner of Queensland in London, where he remained until his retirement in 1874.


18. Corkhill, Alan; The Australian People

19. www. germanaustralia.com

20. Belshaw, Jim; Armidale history: Kirchner puts forward the German solution, Armidale Express.

21. ibid.

22. Corkhill, Alan, op.cit.

23. Bennett, Trudy, A Colourful Character (John Oxley Library) 2012

24. Armidale Express and New England General Advertiser, Saturday 27 June 1857

Early German Immigrants to the Moreton Bay Settlement – 5 – Wilhelm Ludwig Leichhardt

Ludwig Leichhardt

The exploits of Wilhelm Ludwig Leichhardt in Australia had tweaked the public’s interest in Europe and especially in Germany. He was born in 1813 at Trebatsch in Prussia, and after pursuing but not completing University courses in Berlin and Göttingen, pursued the study of medical and natural sciences in England with his friend William Nicholson, who later paid Leichhardt’s fare to Australia. It was Leichhardt’s intention to explore the inland of Australia. The first such expedition took place in 1845 in which Leichhardt’s party went from Jimbour on the Darling Downs to Port Essington completing an overland journey of nearly 3000 miles (4828 km). Leichhardt was hailed as ‘Prince of Explorers’ and his party as national heroes.

For his next expedition in 1846, Leichhardt planned to traverse Australia from the Darling Downs in the east to the Swan River in the west. However, after 500 miles, the party was forced to return home.

His contemporaries valued his work highly: in April 1847 the Geographical Society, Paris, divided the annual prize for the most important geographic discovery between Leichhardt and Rochet d’Héricourt, and on 24 May the Royal Geographical Society, London, awarded him its Patron’s medal as recognition of ‘the increased knowledge of the great continent of Australia’ gained by his Moreton Bay-Port Essington journey. Prussia recognized this achievement by the king’s pardon for having failed to return to Prussia when due to serve a period of compulsory military training. Geologists and botanists valued Leichhardt’s collections of specimens and the records of his observations which, in an age accustomed to extravagant travellers’ tales, were remarkable for their restraint and accuracy; he believed that as long as the traveller was truthful the scientist at home would be thankful to him. 

In 1848 Leichhardt and his party set out on a second Swan River expedition, but somewhere during the journey, all disappeared without a trace. The enigma of his fate only served to increase the public’s interest in the man and in the ‘Great South Land’.17


17. Erdos, Renee; Australian Dictionary of Biography.

Early German Immigrants to the Moreton Bay Settlement – 4 – The End of the Mission

Wilhelm Gericke with Auguste Richter, Carl Gerler and Johann Hermann formed a second party of missioners who had been commissioned on August 21, 1843, arrived in Sydney, January 2, 1844, and at Zions Hill on June, 1844.

The Aborigines continued to steal and it was during one such raid in 1845 that Haussmann nearly lost his life. The missioners had formed an outstation at Burpengary, the Nordga of the natives, where they had cultivated an area of some ten acres, which they planted with corn and potatoes. 11 

The outstation at Noogir (Burpengarry) was being manned by Haussmann when they came for maize and potatoes. As the natives drew near, calling him, Haussmann turned and fled into the hut. But not before they speared him in his back. They forced their way into the hut after him and it was only the diversion of ripping open a flour bag that saved his life.  Haussmann escaped and crawled back the 26 miles to Zion’s Hill and eventually went to Sydney for treatment. In time he made a good recovery.

Although the raiders now fled, for fear of reprisals by the police, the missionaries deemed it wise to close the out-station and concentrate solely on Zion’s Hill. Ironically, soon after, a group of Aborigines led some shipwrecked sailors safely to the missionaries, much to the joy of the crew! 12

In 1846 Dr. Simpson reported that the mission school had ceased to function, though probably a school was continued as a purely educational institution for the white children. 13

In 1846, the MORETON BAY COURIER reported:

 The Missions for spiritually enlightening the Blacks, and ameliorating their wretched condition, two of which were for some years existent in this district, are now both at an end. The Roman Catholic establishment at Dunwich is broken up; and the missionaries, the Rev. Messrs. Snell, Lewis, and Morris, left for Sydney by the William, on Thursday, en route to the Sandwich Islands. Our readers are, perhaps, aware, that the German Mission is also abandoned. Sir George Gipps, we think wisely, has discontinued the assistance, which it formerly received from the public revenue. –Moreton Bay Courier. 14

Old Mission Cottages at Zion Hill (Nundah), date unknown (Photo courtesy ‘Lost Brisbane’)

In 1848 when the Government decided to survey the reserve and sell blocks of land, some of the families brought a number of these blocks. They included the Zillmann, Franz, Gerler, Rode and Wagner families. 15

From the original settlement at Nundah, the families gradually dispersed, their descendents becoming absorbed in the general community, where they entered into all professions and callings in the national life of Queensland. When in 1885 the railway to Sandgate was built through the German Station, the Settlement had lost its distinctive racial note of German origin and was renamed Nundah.

Of the original missionaries:

Ambrosius Theophilus Wilhelm Hartenstein died at German Station on December 2, 1861.

Wilhelmine Christina Sempel died at German Station on August 21, 1858

In 1848, Messrs. Haussmann and Niquet went to Sydney to undertake a course in Divinity at Dr. Lang’s Australian College, and both were ordained.  Pastor Haussmann served Lutheran congregations in Victoria at German Town, at Bendigo, and returned to Queensland in 1861. In 1866 he established a new missionary undertaking near Beenleigh, which he named Bethesda. By 1883, the mission had proved a failure, and Pastor Haussmann, who had organised a German Lutheran congregation at Beenleigh, remained there as pastor, until his death on December 31, 1901.

Pastor Niquet left Brisbane in 1856 for Victoria, where he served a Lutheran pastor of a congregation at Ballarat. 

Pastor Schmidt left Brisbane in 1845, and went to Samoa as a missionary of the London Missionary Society.

Pastor Eipper left the Nundah mission in 1844. He joined the Presbyterian Church of New South Wales at Braidwood, near Maitland.  

Gottfried Wagner was ordained at Sydney on October 9, 1850.  He was in Tumut, New South Wales, until the end of 1851. Thereafter he lived at German Station, Nundah, until his death in September, 1893.

Mr. Franz, whose first wife was the widow of Moritz Schneider, died in 1891.

Franz August Joseph Rode died on May 27, 1903, at Victoria Street, West End. Probably, he was the last survivor of the original band of Goszner missionaries, being 92 years of age at the time of his death.16


11. Sparks, H.J.J. op.cit.

12. Turner, Pam, op.cit.

13. Sparks, H.J.J. op.cit.

14. Launceston Examiner, Saturday 1 August 1846

15. Nundah and Districts Historical Society Inc. op.cit.

16. Sparks, H.J.J. op.cit.