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Chinchilla 1886

Famine at St George, Chinchilla sends a BOAT to the rescue;

Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933), Friday 2 April 1886, page 4

QUEENSLAND mercantile and Agency Limited report -Brisbane Private Sales We have sold, on account of Wm Davidson, Esq., 300 mixed cattle, from his Condarmno Estate, at a satisfactory price to J D Macansh, jun , Esq, Chinchilla Station.


Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 - 1947), Saturday 29 May 1886, page 4

Refreshment Rooms, Chinchilla.

Fresh tenders having been called for from persons willing to contract for the erection of refreshment rooms at Chinchilla, the following tenders have been sent in from J. Alfred Davis and W. 'Williamson.


Warwick Argus (Qld. : 1879 - 1901), Tuesday 22 June 1886, page 2

Local and General news.

NEW MAGISTRATE.-Mr. John D. Macansh, jnr., of Chinchilla, has been appointed a magistrate of the territory. ( he bought Chinchilla Station in 1885)


Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939), Saturday 14 August 1886, page 258

Letters to the Editor.

The Famine at St. George.

SIR,—I notice in your issue of 29th July a report of a meeting at St. George re famine in the district. The Colonial Secretary telegraphed to the sergeant of police at Chinchilla on 26th July, asking as to the feasibility of sending supplies by water from that place to St. George. I was present at the time, and offered my services as pilot. I afterwards made an offer to the Government, through the constable, to take ten tons down by contract, to be responsible for it, and deliver it at St. George ten days after I received it at Chinchilla, which was not to be later than 2nd of August. But nothing came of it, and the river is now too low.

Taking a cargo from Chinchilla to St. George by boat would serve two ends. It would establish confidence in the West Maranoa, and be the shadow of that coming event—the irrigation period—which is to revolutionise the present rule-of-thumb system of grazing. And as the greater part of the Condamine and Balonne rivers can be utilised on the same principle as that started three weeks ago on the Werribee Plains, Victoria, by Mr. John Beamish (vide Sydney Mail, 24th July) it is a pity such an opportunity was allowed to pass, more especially in the face of the grand policy just inaugurated by Mr. Deakin. Trusting some competent pen will do this matter justice, and apologising for my trespass,—I am, sir

ROBT. MACKIE. Fairy Meadow, Chinchilla, 6th August.


Western Star and Roma Advertiser (Qld. : 1875 - 1948), Saturday 4 September 1886, page 3

The Voyage down the Condamine and Balonne.

The "Pioneer" (box punt) from Chinchilla with a cargo of flour, sugar, and kerosine for St. George, under the charge of Commander Preston, anchored off Cape Connors on Tuesday morning. She was here taken in tow by the "Ula Ula" under Captain Payne, and conveyed to Macalister's wharf, where she discharged her cargo. Both vessels as they rowed into harbour were gaily decorated with flags, and the salutes from the pilot-tug were answered from the shore. All St. George turned out to witness the entry of the boats, and as they cast anchor the cheering which greeted their first appearance was repeated.

From Mr. Preston we learn that he started from Wambo crossing five miles south of Chinchilla on Sunday, 8th instant, with 35 cwt. of cargo. The crossing at this time was nearly fordable. He was rather unlucky at the outset, for he had scarcely commenced his voyage when he ran foul of a log on which the little craft remained fast for fourteen hours. The vessel subsequently came in contact with three logs, but suffered no damage.

On the 9th, at a distance of about 7 and a half miles from Mr. Mackay's station, a bar of rocks obstructed the further progress of the laden vessel, and the cargo had to be removed and replaced after the passage had been effected. The river here is very wide and shallow, and about three miles further down the river bed is of a similar formation. On the 10th and 11th our navigators fared well, although the course of the river followed on these dates is very crooked. On the morning of the 12 th the vessel left a point of the river near Tieryboo station, and had to unload several times.

At a place known as Mrs. Smith's crossing the vessel ran on a rocky bar, and was not extricated from her position until the following morning at 9. o'clock. The difficulty in which the voyagers found themselves was lessoned by the kindness of Mrs. Smith in furnishing them with tools ropes, etc. On the 13th the river rose considerably, and on the next day they arrived at Myall Grove station, the property of Mr. Addison.

Our navigators speak in high terms of the kindness of Mr. Addison. That gentleman provided them with timber and tools to repair the vessel and broken oars. After leaving Myall Grove they traversed a distance of 26 miles in two days, during which time they unloaded 8 times. They fared well on 16th and 17th, and on the 18th arrived at the junction of Dogwood creek, which was then in high flood.

From the junction to St. George our navigators experienced no difficulties whatever. They passed a punt painted pale green lying in an angle of the river three miles below the Dogwood junction, which appeared to have broken from its moorings. -Standard.


Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933), Thursday 2 September 1886, page 5



SIR-You will have heard through your correspondent here of the arrival yesterday of Mr Steve Preston, by punt from Chinchilla, with a cargo of 30 cwt of flour, and also of the hearty reception accorded him by the residents of St George, who, I am pleased to say, are about to recognise his plucky performance in a more substantial manner and whatever the result of their efforts may be, it is not one iota more than he deserves, for, with only limited means at his disposal, few friends, and in a hurriedly constructed, unshapely barque, he has in spite of these drawbacks and the pooh poohing of interested and short sighted individuals, demonstrated what I and a few others have always maintained, the practicability in flood time of the waterway of the Condamine and Balonne River.

Preston and his son, a mere lad of 15, after many disappointments and unnecessary delay at Dalby, purchased timber and flour there, trucked same to Chinchilla, and on arrival there about 4 in the afternoon was, through the courtesy of the station master, enabled to at once unload and start building his punt, which he had ready to launch the following day. I may here state the punt is 14ft. long, 5ft. broad, and 6ft 6in deep, constructed of 3in pine boards, tongued and grooved, with the joints tarred, screwed together without stays of any description, and is twitched round the outside in true bushman's fashion with a few strands of No 10 fencing wire, upon the whole, as you can easily imagine, about as crudely constructed a craft as it is possible to see, yet this fact only adds all the more credit to his feat. Preston was sixteen days doing the trip from Chinchilla here, a distance by road of near 300 miles, and by river of something over 400, but in conversation with him yesterday he assured me that had boats been at his disposal on his arrival at Dalby in the first instance, instead of the unwieldly craft he was hurriedly obliged to construct, and the consequent difficulties of navigating the same, he could have conveyed as many tons of flour as he had him hundredweights, and have accomplished the trip with ease and in half the time.

My object in writing this letter is two fold; in the first place I desire to draw the attention of those interested to the fact that what has been done by Preston with inadequate means can be better performed by others with capital at their disposal, it is evident they can command success.

Secondly, it suggests for the very serious consideration of the Government, whether it is advisable to build an expensive railway line, which in the first place would take years to build, and when built, and there is not sufficient traffic to pay working expenses, to say nothing of the interest on its construction, while we have a navigable river in ordinary flood at our very doors. In further proof of this argument I can offer no better example than that which New South Wales affords. Some two years ago her railways returned over 4 per cent on their construction. Since then new and costly extensions have been opened, and now the returns are considerably below what I have stated in fact, about 3.5 per cent.

On the other hand, if Queensland desires to secure the trade of the south west portion of the colony, she will have to bestir herself, and that quickly, for already New South Wales holds the bulk of the trade of two immense districts, this and the Warrego. The reason for this is at once perceived on comparing the railway tariffs of the two colonies, extracts of which I have appended. Surely, sir, this schedule should open the eyes of the Brisbane merchants and cause them, at least, to move in the matter.

In explanation I may here state that Narrabri, the nearest point to the New South Wales Railway line, is 200 miles, while Yeulbah, on our side off the border, is 130. Compare the two scale of charge and the distance from each seaport and you will immediately observe a striking difference in favour of New South Wales. Cartage by teams from Narrabri, though seventy miles further, is on the whole, about the same rate as it is from Yeulbah, consequently one ceases to wonder how it is we can land goods cheaper from our neighbours than we can from Brisbane. It would, therefore, be folly for us to attempt building a costly railway line unless we arrange our tariff so as to compete with New South Wales on a fair basis.

This river has now been available for boats for close on three months, and were it not for the extreme dullness of trade at present in St George and district, and the devastating drought we have just passed through, I feel quite certain there is sufficient go and enterprise in our storekeepers to further prove the practicability of the waterway in flood times of the Condamine and Balonne rivers. It would cost comparatively but a will to clear the river course and render it practicable for boats and punts with the slightest freshes, or if the Government were to lock the Balonne, and so make it navigable all the year round, they would at the same time conserve an immense body of water. It would then be quite possible to irrigate millions of acres of land which in its present state is to all intents and purposes perfectly valueless.

In conclusion, I feel I have not the ability to do the subject justice. I, therefore, trust that you, sir, or some of your more gifted correspondents, will take the matter up, in which hope I am, free.


St. George, 25th August.

This trip was closely followed by many newspapers of the day. And later there were a number of letters to the editor, suggesting it would be better to use Dogwood Creek and other waterways, than the Balonne.

My brother Cliff Redgen and his teenage friend Mervyn Evans once planned to build a raft, using 44gallon drums, and ride Charleys Creek from Seven Oaks to the Darling River. Perhaps it would have worked after all!


Darling Downs Gazette (Qld. : 1881 - 1922), Monday 22 November 1886, page 3

. On Thursday last, a young man named Field was brought down by train from Chinchilla, having sustained a fracture of the left thigh, by a horse running him against a tree. Under the care of Dr. Flood it is to be hoped the injury may not prove as serious as was first anticipated.


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