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.