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Chinchilla in 1879

Updated: Jul 11, 2023

An interesting proposal for a branch line from Chinchilla; deaths on the train; court cases


Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 - 1947), Monday 22 September 1879, page 2

Mr. T. Macdonald Paterson does not usually strike one as being a man of ardent feelings and -heated imagination. Speaking generally, he has a very dispassionate way of pursuing his ends and objects ; and his ends and objects do not usually present the appearance of being the creations of an exalted fancy. In point of fact, Mr. T. Macdonald Paterson is very much of what is called a 'practical man. His style of thought is eminently of the Scotch, Scotchy, and such being the case, it goes without saying that his mind's eye is mostly concentrated on the main chance — on things of a value capable of being measured in pounds, shillings, and pence, especially in the first-named of these standards.

When, therefore, the member for Rockhampton enunciates a scheme, the forgone inference is that it is not a visionary scheme; and we are not justified in disturbing the spontaneous deduction, until we are in a position to disprove the fundamental propositions whereon the case for such scheme is founded, ie. the figures and arguments which Mr. Paterson marshalled forth on Thursday, in support of his motion for surveying a railway line from Chinchilla to Westwood, do look a little extravagant, and as though defiled for the simple purpose of exciting the admiration of the Assembly for a project which in itself possessed few points of excellence. Yet when one attempts to overthrow these figures and arguments, the task is found to be none of the easiest, and, coming from the source they do, we are constrained to regard them with considerable respect.

Mr. Paterson's motion, per se, was not in the least immodest. All he asked for was about £3,000, to be devoted to the making of a trial survey of a railway line to connect the Western and Central Railways at the points named above. A glance at the map shows that Westwood lies as nearly as possible due north of Chinchilla, and that the two trunk lines here approach each other to within two hundred miles. The total distance from Brisbane to Rockhampton by the route indicated would be about four hundred and fifty miles, over which space two hundred and fifty miles of railway are now constructed and in work. The request for £3,000 for a trial survey of the country which forms the hiatus, can, therefore, hardly be characterised as extravagant.

That a railway along the route suggested, will ultimately be built is highly probable. Such a line would already connect two at present widely separated populations — one of a hundred and forty, and the other of over forty, thousand people. In another ten years, in all human probability, the population of the southern districts will be more than doubled, and the population of the central districts quadrupled. Hence there will be a community of some 280,000 people to connect with one of about 100,000 people; and then the Chinchilla-Westwood railway would perhaps be a very profitable undertaking.

The expenditure of a few thousands now in marking out a route for such a line is consequently a very legitimate operation. One of the chief objections to the building of railways in the settled portions of the colony, is that the expense of resuming the necessary land, forms an exorbitant item in the total cost. As far as we know, scarcely an acre of land has been alienated as yet between Chinchilla and Westwood; but in ten years time every rood of ground required for a railway in the intervening space might have to be repurchased at an enormous outlay. To mark out a route, and to reserve the land, is, therefore, an eminently sensible proceeding — a piece of forethought in every way commendable.

But Mr. Paterson, we are afraid, completely overdid the argument. There was that in his speech too plainly indicative of 'further designs on the public purse,' to be executed without much delay. There was an unpleasant allusion to 'to-morrow,' which appeared to be regarded, not without reason, as portending certain consequential motions without any appreciable intervention of time.

If the railway were constructed tomorrow, contended Mr. Paterson, it would yield £15,000 a year over and above the interest on its cost; and to the support of this proposition the member for Rockhampton brought a splendid array of figures and facts; Honourable' members evidently took fright at the prospect of being called upon to vote £ 70,000 next session, or the session after at furthest, and considered it better to forego the advantage of the survey rather than incur the risk.

There can be no doubt that Mr. Paterson's data were altogether delusive, because they were based on the unwarranted assumption that all the passenger traffic which now passes coastwise between Brisbane and Rockhampton would be diverted to the railways if this connecting line was built ; and then the saving he calculated would be effected in the conveyance of mails, lunatics, prisoners, officials, and so forth, would be liable to enormous discount in practice.

As Mr. Macrosan pointed out, the coastal mail service, would have to be maintained, for the convenience of the intermediate ports, and the same argument applies to the other services. The scheme, in short, like many others we know of, was a remarkably good paper scheme; and when that is said, all ground for praise in exhausted, that is to say, considering the project as one of the proximate future. In the course of another decade or so an array of figures such as Mr. Paterson supplied on Thursday —[ contrasted?] to larger proportions as they will be, in virtue of the general progress of the colony, will possess insufficient force and weight to justify the undertaking. In the meantime, however, it is only prudent to select a route and reserve the requisite land; but the Assembly clearly came to the conclusion that the true discretion here lay on the side which would not expose the House. to the risk of having soon another big railway to provide for.

The first of a number of suggestions to link the railway line west of Rockhampton, with that west of Toowoomba.


Western Star and Roma Advertiser (Qld. : 1875 - 1948), Saturday 15 February 1879, page 3

Roma Police Court.

Thursday, February 13.

(Before the "Police Magistrate.).


George O'Donnell Chinchilla, was charged with stealing a horse belonging to the firm of Browne, Mitchell, and Co., Blythdale. Sergeant Johnson prosecuted for the Grown, the accused {who appeared in answer to a summons) was undefended. -

William Peake deposed : I am overseer on Blythdale ; I know defendant; he was on Blythdale about the 2nd or 3rd of this month; he was riding a bay gelding at the time; the animal was branded W1B on the near shoulder ; 1 do not know if it had any other brands, but I knew it independent of the brands : I knew it to be a Blythdale station horse; I last saw the horse about five months prior to the 2nd February; it then was in a very poor condition; I should say it is five or six years old ; when I met defendant I was trying to get a beast out of a waterhole and he offered me assistance, if l went to his camp; I subsequently noticed that the horse was a Blythdale station horse and I told defendant of it; he replied, "So I believe; you are not the first that spoke to me about it," or words to that effect ; he also said, " A man named Red Bill broke in the horse. I asked him if he could produce a receipt for the horse; he said he could not, he was working for his brother and he held the receipt; I remarked that I should see Mr. Browne about it in the course of a day or so. and he said, "My brother will go through pretty near all he has, before he gives up the horse". The horse was at that time, and now is, the property of Browne, Mitchell, and Co.; l remember them selling a horse having the same brand as the one in question ; I do not know or their selling this horse; Mr. Browne is the principal manager on Blythdale.

T. W. Browne deposed : I am a squatter and one of the firm of Browne, Mitchell, and Company; the horse outside the court is a bay, branded WlB near shoulder, and is known by the name of Boomerang -, it is the property of the firm of Browne, Mitchell, and Co.; it was never sold by them ; WlB is the Blythdale registered brand.

Cross-examined by the accused:

I knew the horse before this ; I remember once seeing you on the Five-Mile, but I did not notice the horse at that time; I only wish I had; I have sold horses of the same brand as this, but I am quite certain I never sold this; I have only sold one horse since I have been on the station ; my partners have never sold a horse in my absence, for the very good reason that they never were on the station.

That was the case for the Crown.

Michael O'Donnell, hotel-keeper, Chinchilla, was then called and deposed : l am the defendant's brother ; I bought the horse outside the court from Thomas Gleeson, a sheep drover ; I did not get a receipt for it, but I witnessed the purchase of the horse by Gleeson from Fredk. Bird, of St. George ; I lent the horse to my brother, and that is how he became possessed of it.

His Worship then dismissed the case, and recommended that the horse be given up to Mr. Browne.

Mr. O'Donnell said he would do that.


Dalby Herald and Western Queensland Advertiser (Qld. : 1866 - 1879), Saturday 22 February 1879, page 2

Sudden death in the train.-Sub-Inspector Grayson received a telegram from Chinchilla, on Thursday evening, that, a man named Peter Neilsson , a Swede, who had been a patient in the hospital, and who had left without permission, had got. into the train at Dalby; and was found dead when the train arrived at Chinchilla. We are enabled, by the courtesy of Sub-lnspector Grayson, to give the following particulars. ' Constable Burke, stationed at Chinchilla, reports that on the arrival of the train at Chinchilla, on Thursday evening, he was told that there was a dead man in one of the carriages. He went, with the station master and guard and found the body of a man who had got into the train at Dalby; he was travelling with a free pass from Dalby to Miles, with 15 fellow countrymen. The constable had the body removed to the nearest public house, he searched it in presence of station master and others and found in deceased's possession £15 in gold and 23s 6d in silver –the man had been admitted two days before to the Hospital as a pauper patient –a box belonging to the deceased was also in the train. Decease was a new arrival in the colony – about 35 years of age. His companions say he was sick all the way from Dalby, and got worse when the train left Warra Warra, and died soon afterwards. No suspicions of foul play are entertained, as deceased was worn to a mere skeleton.


Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933), Wednesday 16 July 1879, page 4


The down train on Thursday ran over an aboriginal who was lying across the rails, about three miles beyond Chinchilla, killing him. instantly. It is supposed the man was drunk at the time, as another native was found lying stupefied with drink a few yards off, having an empty grog bottle beside him.


Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933), Thursday 21 March 1878, page 5

Condamine. yet

[from our own correspondent}

All the Western gentlemen who used Cobb and Co. will remember Mr. Wallace, of the Condamine Arms. He has just transferred his interest to Mr. T. Naylor, the principal storekeeper of this town, and is going to Toowoomba to start afresh.

Larrikinism is in the ascendant about Colombula Creek, on the railway line. An Italian named Caporali, who is a fruiterer and lives at Charley's Creek, was the last victim. He was bailed up by four men, one of whom took his horse by the head and another by the tail, a third got on the animal's back behind Caporali and held his arms while the fourth took 20s. out of a pouch that was attached to his saddle. They then asked him to shout 10s. of the abstracted money and they would return him the balance and let him go. Constable McNulty, of Dogwood, captured the ringleader, one Michael Dooner, who pleaded "Guilty,'" and said it was done for a lark. The bench took the same view of the case, and fined him £3, with the alternative of 48 hours in the lock-up. He took the imprisonment.


Western Star and Roma Advertiser (Qld. : 1875 - 1948), Thursday 18 September 1879, page 4

Floods Around Dalby. [in part]

But if -the down line has been so fortunate in escaping great damage, not so that between Dalby and Warra. . The rain was much heavier in that direction, and the effect has been that the' mischief to the line has been, of course, greater. Five chains of the rails have been washed away at Cullumballa scrub, beyond Chinchilla, and several of the approaches to culverts between Dalby and Chinchilla are much injured. The line at Chinchilla was, on Tuesday evening, two feet under water, and all the houses and stores on the level suffered accordingly, Mr. George Conroy having five feet of water in his store.". .

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