Queensland’s German Connections – Dr Ernst Wuth

Born in 1833 in Hannover, Ernst Magnus Wuth graduated from the University of Giessen in Hessen, and responded to an advertisement in the Weser-Zeitung offering free passage for a working ship’s doctor on an imminent voyage to the fifth continent. So Wuth joined the 37.6m (123ft) barque Solon in Bremen, sailed from there on 15 December 1858, and worked an eventful passage, electing to disembark at Moreton Bay.

Realising that staying in Brisbane would be too costly, and besides, there were already too many doctors there, Dr Wuth ventured onto the Darling Downs to a little town of Dalby on a borrowed horse and with nothing in his pockets. After six months he had paid his credit, which was very high because of the rent he had to pay. He lived very poorly, never wasting money for brandy or other things, but using every penny earned during this time to pay off his debts. His credibility was so good that he could buy a new house in one of the better parts of the city for 312 Pounds Sterling. He arranged the purchase that way, so that he had to pay the whole amount within two years, every 6 months a quarter of the price. 

But in the meantime, he had made some other speculations. He bought 80 acres farmland partly in the city, partly outside. He also bought 1⁄2 acre land for £6, and sold the same three months later to one of his handymen for £18. Also, if he had nothing to do in his practice Dr Wuth would ride to the auctions and buy wild horses, which he rode himself till they were good riding horses and then he’d sell them for double the amount. 

Some of his observations at that time reveal an independent, at times feisty, personality which speaks volumes about this quick-thinker and the challenges and attitudes of the time: 

On Aborigines:

‘The Aboriginals (sic) are friendly people as long as we are peaceful towards them. Once I got lost in the bush for five days and I did not see one Aboriginal (sic) – and how much I wished I had found one, for they are good hunters and know how to survive in the bush. 

‘My only food was ‘Blakmussels’, as you know them at home. If you see Aboriginals (sic) you only see them in groups. Sometimes they arrive or come to our city to do little jobs for a glass of brandy or tobacco. I am known amongst them like a brother because my practice takes in patients from a distance as far as 100 miles. They never stay in one place for a long time, they don’t want to try. 

On Work Ethics:

‘If one is healthy, has an iron will and determination and is not afraid of the devil (it is not necessary to be a devil oneself) one can make as much money in one day as you can make it in Germany in one week.  One can do what one likes, as long as one has the above-mentioned qualities, then it will be enough to get lucky in Australia. Free travel is gladly arranged through the Gentlemen Heussler and Francksen. Every newcomer to our new Colony (Queensland) as from the 1st of January receives £2. 

On Marriage:

‘Generally speaking, getting married is not good in this country, because they do not import the right kind of women; besides, women drink here like the plague. To marry an English woman is only wise if she has three times as much money as oneself, because she is spending three times more than a German woman. If I encounter such an opportunity, I will think about marriage, but these chances are rare – very very rare – and because of this it is perhaps better to wait until somebody right arrives from Germany.’

In spite of his previous comments about marriage, Dr Wuth married Eliza Watson (of Greek birth, incidentally) in November 1861 at Dalby. They had seven children. 

Dr. Wuth’s medical practice was interrupted when the new Medical Board of Queensland declined to recognise his qualification, which had not been endorsed by local registration. After a two-year hiatus, formal recognition of his German degree by the University of Melbourne confirmed his practice in Queensland, and he worked in Springsure, Tambo and Townsville. 

The Wuths selected land at Springsure in 1868 where he worked at Springsure Hospital.

Eliza collected MEL specimens at Springsure Mountains. Her husband also collected MEL specimens, including the type of Tetracera wuthiana F.Muell. (1876), named for him. (MEL is the Herbariorum code of the National Herbarium of Victoria)

The original Springsure Hospital (now its museum)

Eliza and her husband seem to have become estranged, and he disappears from records after resigning as resident surgeon of the Townsville Hospital in 1882. 

While overseas in December 1885, Dr Wuth died in a Philadelphia hospital, apparently after a very, very big night out. His death certificate from Philadelphia indicates opium poisoning. Opium addiction was not uncommon for Doctors of that era.

Eliza and her children remained in Springsure, and she died in 1925 aged 84.

(Extracted from ‘Queensland’s German Connections’)

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 – 02 – The Mission Station

As the result of Dr Lang’s visit to Pastor Gossner at the Bethlehem Evangelical Church in Berlin, ten laymen expressed willingness to undertake the journey:

Gottfried Haussmann, farmer, and his wife Louise Wilhelmina.

Johann Gottfried Wagner, a shoemaker.

Peter Niquet, bricklayer, and his wife Marie Sophia

Ambrosius Theophilus Wilhelm Hartenstein, weaver, and his wife Wilhelmine Christina

Johann Leopold Zillmann, blacksmith, and his wife Clara Louise.

Friedrich Theodor Franz, a tailor.

Ludwig Doege, a gardener.

August Rode, a cabinetmaker, and his wife Julia Emilia.

August Olbrecht, a shoemaker.

Moritz Schneider, medical student, and his wife Caroline. (Moritz died from typhus in the Sydney quarantine station). 

The party was joined by two clergymen, Carl Wilhelm Schmidt and Christoph Eipper, and their wives Louise and Harriet. Without these two clergymen the English parliament refused to provide financial assistance for the undertaking. 4

In all, with their wives and children, the party numbered twenty persons. 

In July 1837, the missionaries and their families sailed from Bremen for Greenock, Scotland, where they embarked on “the fine first­class Bristol-built ship Minerva, 380 tons, under the command of Captain Thomas Furlong.” 

The Minerva arrived at Sydney on January 23, 1838. On March 19, several of the missionaries left for Moreton Bay in the Government schooner Isabella, 126 tons, Captain More. They arrived at Moreton Bay on March 30, 1838, the remainder of the party arriving in June of the same year. 

When the missionaries arrived at Moreton Bay, the Settlement was on the verge of being transformed from a penal to a free settlement. The convicts, who in 1831 numbered 1,066, were being gradually withdrawn, and in 1837, the year before the arrival of the missionaries, only 300 were left. 

The area between the Settlement and the coast remained in the undisturbed possession of the blacks. In this area, a site was allotted for the formation of the mission station, covering about 640 acres, by Major Cotton, Commandant of the Penal Settlement at the time of their arrival. 

In his 1841 account Pastor Eipper describes the missionaries settlement:

“Their settlement is situated on a hill, from which they have given it the name of Zions Hill, it consists of eleven cottages with enclosed yards, kitchens, storehouses, etc.: these cottages are built in a line on the ridge of the hill from east to west.  In front of the houses small gardens are laid out down the hill towards a lagoon; at its base and in the rear of the yards larger gardens run down on the opposite descent. The houses are either thatched or covered with hark; the walls are built with slabs and plastered with clay both inside and outside, being whitewashed with a species of white clay found on the spot, and mixed with sand.  The ceilings are formed of plaits of grass and clay wound about sticks laid across the tie-beams, and the floors of slabs smoothed with the adze; each cottage having two or three rooms and one fireplace.” 

Sketch of the German Mission Station at Zion Hill


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

Early German Immigrants to the Moreton Bay Settlement – 01 – The Missionaries:

From Moreton Bay’s beginning as a penal settlement in 1824, the authorities   intended to use it as a base for missionary work among the aborigines. The Governor of New South Wales, Sir Thomas Brisbane, intimated through the Attorney General, Mr. Saxe Banister, to a deputation from the London Missionary Society, a wish that something might he attempted on behalf of the aborigines.

In his book Cooksland Dr. John Dunmore Lang describes the genesis of the German Lutheran Mission he was instrumental in founding at Nundah: “My attention,” he writes, “was strongly directed to the subject of establishing a mission to the aborigines of Australia so early as the year 1831, and during that year, and in the year 1834 I made  three  successive  attempts to establish such a mission by means of Scotch missionaries, but without success.

The difficulty of securing Scottish missionaries was probably due to the fact that at the time there was an exodus of Scottish peasants to Canada, and that the Scottish clergy preferred to follow their own flocks to minister to their spiritual needs in the new home they sought beyond the seas. 1

In 1837 Dr Lang had been in Great Britain in search of missionaries to evangelise the Aborigines in the Moreton Bay area. He had been about to return to Australia without any success when he heard of Pastor Johannes Evangelista Gossner and his lay-missionary training centre at the Bethlehem Evangelical Church in Berlin. Dr Lang travelled to Berlin and enthusiastically outlined his plans to Pastor Gossner and his students, saying he felt Moreton Bay was ideally suited to a mission station. 2

A knowledge of Australia was widespread throughout German-speaking Europe: Yde T’Jercxzoon Holman, or Holleman, was second in command of the Heemskerk on Tasman’s second voyage, and on Cook’s second voyage he was accompanied by two German scientists, Johann Reinhold Forster and his son, Johann Georg Adam. The son’s work in particular, with its account of the Great Barrier Reef, was widely read.  A German account of’ the third voyage was also published. Flinders on his voyage in the Investigator (1801-1803) had with him an Austrian, Ferdinand Bauer, whose account of the voyage was embellished with 1400 illustrations of Australian botanical specimens. 3

Doryanthes excelsa

This is an image of Doryanthes excelsa from Ferdinand Bauer’s ‘Illustrationes Florae Novae Hollandiae’.


1. Sparks, H.J.J.; Queensland’s First Free Settlement 1838–1938.

2. Nundah and Districts Historical Society Inc.