top of page


Darling Downs Gazette (Qld. : 1881 - 1922), Wednesday 16 January 1895, page 5



The Village Settlements. FARMERS, SHEARERS, AND SQUATTERS. All Welcome the Ministry How the Country Looks. :

What it can Produce.

Station after station we pass, without stopping, until finally, we reach Chinchilla, where the train was timed to stop for lunch. A considerable number of the settlers round about had assembled to welcome the Premier. After lunch a visit was paid to the Travelling Dairy, which under Mr. Mahon is being utilised for the instruction of the young people of this district. The plant is located in Mr. Hogg's hall, and at the time of our visit fifteen pupils were under instruction, the majority of them being from the Mizpah and Monmouth settlements situated from two and a-half to three miles out of the township.

The cheesemaking for the day had just been completed, and an instruction lesson was being given on butter-working. The members of the party watched the operations with very much interest, and Mr Mahon courteously supplied all information required by any member of the party. It was at first contemplated that a visit should be paid the village settlement group, but time did not permit and by three o'clock we were on our way to Miles.


Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser (Qld. : 1861 - 1908), Tuesday 12 February 1895, page 4

Some days ago Mr. J.T. Bell, M.L.A., forwarded to Professor Shelton samples of food products grown by the Monmouth group at Chinchilla. They were duly examined by the State Instructor who has reported upon them as follows :-"

Returning to the office this morning, I find on my table two packages containing wheat, and the product of wheat, viz;, bran, pollard etc., together with your note of January 24th. The wheat is really excellent. I do not remember to have seen any better in quality than this at the shows that I have visited this year. Such wheat will make the very best of flour, as the samples accompanying the wheat show." It is encouraging to find that the settlers at Chinchilla are able to turn out , such good bread-stuff.- Dalby Herald.


Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 - 1947), Friday 8 March 1895, page 2

Co-operative Groups.

- .. Deserters From Mizpah. ' ; It is reported that three members of the Mizpah Co-operative Group, living on the land near Chinchilla, have applied for railway passes to bring them and their families back to Brisbane


Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 - 1947), Monday 11 March 1895, page 2

The following appeared In our Second Edition on Saturday,

Mizpah Croup.

Defection of Members. Land Declared Unsuitable

Two members of the Mizpah group, Messrs. H. Fellowes and Joseph Kerr, arrived in Brisbane from Chinchilla last week. Mr. Fellowes was secretary of the community during the first year of its existance, at the conclusion of which term he resigned the post. He and Mr. Kerr have left the group believing that for various reasons its efforts are not likely to be crowned with success.

When Mr. Kerr called at this office on Friday, a representative of the Telegraph asked him, "Why have you left?

Because, he at once replied, I am of opinion that it would have been a waste of time to remain there any longer in the hope of making a living. The principal ground on which I base this opinion is that the land is not suitable for agriculture, nor even for grazing'. I think the group has been badly treated in regard to land.

The Under Secretary for Agriculture advised us strongly to take up the land at Chinchilla. He said it was just the place for us. It has been well tried now, and I cannot see that it is of much use. It is so hard that four horses in a plough could not work more than two or three hours at a stretch. Mr. M'Lean said the land was suitable for wheat, but it has a terrible clay bottom and therefore will not do for that cereal. There are, however, about 40 acres on which fruit trees would grow well. Another thing is that about two-thirds of the 4,000 acres is a mass of prickly pear. Of the Parliamentary visitors, Mr. Wilkinson was the only one who saw the portion of the land that is overrun with that plant pest.

But the group accepted the land after its representatives had inspected it ?

Yes; we appointed three men to go and see the land and they said it would do. The other 31 men had not seen the laud at all till they got to Chinchilla.

What cultivation is there at the present time ?

They have just taken off two acres of tobacco, which had a fairly good leaf. About six acres of maize, the same area of broom millet, about three acres of sweet potatoes, and two or three acres closo to the dwellings sown with kaffir corn and maize make up the cultivated area.

Stock ?

There are about 40 head of cattle— cows and calves. Most of the cows were acquired in lieu of cash for work done.

You had some outside work ?

Yes ; but there another mistake was made. Three groups were placed inside a radius of 10 miles. It is a poor district, and most of the selectors have to help themselves along by taking work on stations. In contracting for work the groups were pitted against the settlers as well as against each other. The result was that prices were cut. For instance, wo did some fencing at £12 per mile that was worth £18.

How many members are staying on ?

Ten members have left and two more leave next week, so that 22 will remain. Most of the men who left are in work.

What hopes have those who remain ?

They reckon they will be able to go on for two months more, at least. They seem to think they will be able to pull through, but in my opinion the group will eventually smash up. The expenses have not been extravagant. We have been living at from 1s. 4d. to 1s. 7d. per week per head of population during the last four or five months. Some profit is made out of a store which was set up out of a few of the members' private funds, but there is very little cash about. The Government's monetary assistance is now used for rations only. I for one did not see how I could provide clothing for my wife and children, and the winter up there is very severe.

Have the settlors agreed among themselves ?

Everything went along satisfactorily for the first six months, but as soon as those members who had had any experience saw that the land was no good dissensions began to creep in.

What was the system of managment?

We followed the Act. and regulations, and found them to work fairly well. There was a committee of management, which met every week, and the general meeting of members was hold once a fortnight. A foreman was chosen, but he was really the mouthpiece of the committee. It. would have been a good thing if we had had a competent agriculturist as director and instructor, at any rate at the start ; but I think that an experienced man would have soon pronounced the land unsuitable and advocated the shifting of the group to another site.

Has the health of the community been good ?

Generally it has, but in the summer it was almost impossible to grow vegetables, and some of the children suffered from blood troubles, the diet being largely beef. The members are well housed.

Have you given "the land" up?

No ; although a tradesman I like the life, and I hope to take to farming near Toowoomba. I feel it very hard having to leave the Mizpah group, of which I was one of the promoters, but I see no prospect of success. Still I think the co-operative community scheme would work out well, given smaller and more scattered groups and, most important of all, good land.


Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser (Qld. : 1861 - 1908), Thursday 28 March 1895, page 4

News has reached us of the death of Mr. Walter Atkins, a member of the Monmouth Co-operative Group, settled in the vicinity of Chinchilla. Our informant of the sad occurrance writes as follows:-" The primary cause of death was a carbuncle of the very worst kind on the back of the neck, eventuating in blood-poisoning. Mr. Atkins was under treatment in the Dalby Hospital until Thursday, the 21st instant, when he passed away peace fully. He leaves a widow and one son to mourn their loss." Mr. Atkins was well known in Ipswich, having resided here for some time, and the news of his demise will be learned with regret by his many old friends. During his sojourn in this town he took a deep interest in educational matters, and he acted in the capacity of secretary to the Literary Circle for a considerable time. It will be remembered that he took a prominent part in the formation of the Monmouth Group, and he has been a most exemplary member thereof.


Western Star and Roma Advertiser (Qld. : 1875 - 1948), Wednesday 10 April 1895, page 2

The dissatisfaction reported to exist in the co-operative groups, is apparently reaching the culminating point. We were, under the impression that the Rockybank communities had been unfortunate enough, but were hardly prepared for the rumored speedy exit from the Chinchilla settlements. They were looked upon as the most likely to succeed, as they had some advantages not possessed by other isolated groups. According to the Dalby Herald however, a large number of men are anxious to leave, and have applied for free railway passes. The Minister has agreed to grant passes, provided the applicant desires to take up his residence in some agricultural district outside Brisbane. The experiment, however unsuccessful, has served a useful purpose, and as it has been borne by the taxpayers benefit will be all the more appreciated. Settlement on the land is one thing, but building up an agricultural population is another. The first may be done artificially, but the latter is the work of a generation or two.


Gympie Times and Mary River Mining Gazette (Qld. : 1868 - 1919), Tuesday 14 May 1895, page 3

From a resident of Gympie, who recently paid a visit to the Mizpah Co-oporative Group at Chinchilla, 200 miles from Brisbane on the S. and W. railway, we have received some fine-looking samples of tobacco loaf grown on the ground. One sample is grown from plants imported from the Fly River, New Guinea, and we are informed that a quantity of similar loaf to this, grown at Chinchilla, was sent to London and realised a good price. Tho other lot is Virginia leaf, lighter in color and much larger than the New Guinea variety. Our informant stated that he was surprised at the way the group of settlers, who number about 60, was progressing. They had about 10 tons of tobacco leaf in the drying sheds, about 60 pigs, a fine herd of cattle, and about 50 or 60 acres of ground under cultivation. The land was very good and an orchard of between 400 and 500 young trees was getting on well. The ground was divided into plots, each boing kept for the product for which it was best suited. The work done on the ground was of a substantial nature, and in addition to the buildings already erected, a large barn is being put up for the purpose of holding the crops that are now coming on, which include a fine crop of corn. The group has had great success with the growing of broom millett, a crop of which was recently harvested and sent to the Blind, Deaf, and Dumb Institute at Brisbane, where it realised £30. The superintendent of the institution in acknowledging receipt of the consignment said that it was the best sample, he had seen grown in the colony, and this letter was shown to our informant on his visit. The samples of tobacco from the group can be inspected at the office of this journal.


Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser (Qld. : 1861 - 1908), Saturday 15 June 1895, page 5


To the Editor of the Queesland Times.

Sir,-Allow me to contradict a statement that appeared in your issue of May 28th regarding the conduct of some of the members of the Monmouth Group. The complainants accuse me of appearing twice at the local Police Court, and the statement implies that I was found "Guilty" of the charges preferred against me. On the contrary, I was honourably acquitted of both, and those gentlemen laughed at, after losing something to the tune of £6 or £7, as a reference to the Police Magistrate will prove.

I am also credited with being a source of annoyance to the residents of Chinchilla; but I am respected by every resident in the district, which fact has caused a lot of this jealous feeling towards me on the part of your narrow-minded informants.

They also aver that I have given them more trouble than any other ten men, and, in that, they are partly right, as I had the pleasure of seeing them spend the above sum of money through their own ignorance and petty spite towards me; but I can get any member of the group who is worthy of the name of man to prove that I have been of more benefit to the group than any ten of those who, I presume, are your informants.

They state that they sacrificed a lot to come up here to make a home; but I can assure you, Mr. Editor, that those very men are neither capable nor willing to do anything better than sow the seeds of discontent in the minds of working men. If they were to go on with their work, as the men do, there would be no need of these quarrels. Instead of doing so, they want to show us what they can do as officers. Hence the Court case and their own discomfiture and humiliation, also their loss of £6 or £7. I might also add, Mr. Editor, that the sacrifice happens to be on the wrong side, as one of those men, according to his own declaration, had to subsist with his wife and four children for a week on the sum of ls.6d. Another gave up his business, but it needs no words of mine to tell at least the people of Ipswich what an extensive and lucrative business ------------sacrificed. The working men of the group are getting dissatisfied with their doings, and they are afraid of expulsion, as one of their pals a short time since was undergoing a sentence in gaol The opinion of the sane men of the group is that the only protection these badly used men want is a straight-jacket for each.

I will conclude, Mr. Editor, by thanking you in anticipation for inserting the above. I have the honour to remain, yours faithfully,


Monmouth Settlement, Chinchilla, June 3.


Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 - 1929), Saturday 22 June 1895, page 10

Part of a Speech by an MLA from North Qld

In the first session of Parliament a bill called the Co operative Settlements Bill was passed -a bill that was intended to settle the unemployed (of whom there were a great many at the time in Brisbane) on the lands of the colony. He had his doubts about the measure, and was almost the only member of the House who expressed any doubt. First of all, from his practical knowledge of farming and the class of men he had come in contact with as successful farmers, he thought that the unemployed were not the class of men to succeed as farmers. They were ignorant altogether of what to do with the land when they got it. There were among them great numbers of tradesmen of every description — men who had never been accustomed to anything like hard work. However, it was thought that if they were put on the land and granted certain assistance they would succeed. The assistance was granted ; but last session a hill was introduced to give them further assistance, and this year he was. satisfied there would be another bill brought forward to grant them further assistance still.

Having his doubts about the success of the settlement he visited two groups near Chinchilla, in the Southern division, and found— as he had expected— that they were in a very bad way, one particularly. The members had no practical knowledge of farming and had merely pottered about, and, so far as he could see, they were not likely to make much progress. This group was established on communal principles — the principles that each should share equally, that no particular man dad any particular stake in the land or any particular right to what he produced, and that everything belonged to the community, but one man, more enterprising than his fellows, had got a, few fowls, which he used for himself. Others objected to that and contended that the birds belonged to the settlement. Consequently there was irritation, and it was evident that before long the group would break up.


Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 - 1947), Monday 7 October 1895, page 5

Co-operators' Quarrels.

Working of the Groups.

An extract from a letter signed by 12 members of the Monmouth group, Chinchilla, near Dalby, reads: "Drink has played the chief part in all our disturbances. It has disgraced us everywhere. It has reduced us to a nuisance to the law-abiding inhabitants of Chinchilla. Drunkenness was manifest on the first day the main body of the group arrived here, and has never ceased to show itself since. The efforts to check it have proved futile."


Toowoomba Chronicle and Darling Downs General Advertiser (Qld. : 1875 - 1902), Saturday 30 November 1895, page 2

Exactly 12 months ago last Saturday week a special representative of this journal accompanied the Parliamentary Party that paid a visit of inspection to the Communal Settlements at Chinchilla The result of that visit was detailed by our representative in an article published on the following Tuesday, and in view of events that have occurred this week the following extract from that article should be of special interest just now : —

To sum up the Chinchilla groups I may say it is entirely too soon to pronounce a definite opinion yet as to their ultimate success or failure. But one or two conclusions cannot help forcing themselves on the mind. The first matter is that of location. To deposit those people 200 miles inland, on soil that no stretch of imagination could call rich, is a very severe handicap at the start. When I say that there are thousands of acres of better land available within about 100 miles at most of the coast, and contiguous to rail communication, I do not overstate a fact. Then, admitting that the energy of the people succeed in raising crops from this poor land, where is the market? As one of Mizpahites remarked to me on Saturday; " We can grow food to a large extent, but we cannot grow clothes. We must be clothed, and sell something to get money to buy clothes, or else earn it in some way." Exactly. But where is the market at Chinchilla, or contiguous to it to absorb the surplus production of these three settlements? The Roma people have their own producers, and to some extent the same may be said of the Dalby people. Where is the market that it will pay to send this produce from Chinchilla to ? If farming at present prices of produce does not pay under the most favorable conditions of soil and location within 100 miles of Brisbane, how is it going to pay on poorer soil near Chinchilla? Then again, the self-supporting stage has been by no means reached yet in any of the groups ? Despite the low cost of living (1s. 4d. per head per week), they have not reached that stage yet that they can do without Government aid. And they have had an exceptionally good season. Suppose it had been e season of drought instead, and I presume Chinchilla, like other parts, has known droughts? What would have happened? All those are questions that suggest themselves, and so do many others. To many of them the future alone can supply answers.

Such were our representative's impressions after a visit of a few hours to three of the groups from which the most encouraging reports had been received. Only a month previously the Minister for Lands speaking in the Legislative Assembly on the general condition of affairs prevailing at the 'communal settlements went so far as to declare " there are five of the groups which are more or less failures." Mr. Harlow on that occasion gave a summary of the position of the various groups from the reports of the Land Commissioners, and among these the reports of the Chinchilla groups were most encouraging.

Our representative came to the conclusion that if the outlook of the Chinchilla groups was the most encouraging of the lot, the future of some of the others, who were even less favorably situated, looked anything but bright. "They have had an exceptionally good season," said our representative, alluding to the Chinchilla groups. "Suppose it had "been a season of drought, what "would have happened?" Well, a season of drought has occurred since those words were written, and if it has not killed the Chinchilla Communal Settlements, it has been a most important factor in effectually settling the Roma groups. Last Tuesday evening the remnants of three of the co-oporative groups who have abandoned their settlements on Rocky-bank run resumption, near Roma, left that town by train and returned to Brisbane, where they are at present quartered in the Immigration Depot. The names of those groups are the Nil Desperandum, Obertown Model, and Excel Pioneers. Their story, as disclosed to a Courier representative on Wednesday night, is a melancholy record of failure.


Mackay Mercury (Qld. : 1887 - 1905), Saturday 15 February 1896, page 2

Communal Settlement. — Notices appear In the Government Gazette dissolving “The Obertown Model Group,”. “The Protestant Unity Group,” and 'The Mizpah Group.”


Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser (Qld. : 1861 - 1908), Tuesday 25 February 1896, page 5

Co-operative Groups. -:o: OF THE SETTLERS. The whole of the twelve groups of persons who originally took up areas under the Cooperative Communities Land Settlement Act of 1893 have now been dissolved under the Amendment Act of 1895. The proclamation was made at the request of the settlers themselves, it being the intention of existing members--that is, members at present resident on the areas--to apply under the provisions of the last-mentioned Act for individual allotments on the respective areas lately occupied by the groups. Instructions will be issued shortly to the land commissioners for the districts in which these areas are situated to proceed to the lands and arrange an equitable division of both the land and the assets of the groups amongst existing members. The present strength of the various groups is as follows:-

Mizpah 14; Monmouth 18; Industrial 8;

Nil ~Desperandum 1; Obertown Model ..0;. Excel Pioneers 5 ;Reliance 7; Woolloongabba Exemplars 5; Resolute.. 16; Bon Accord 8; Byrnestown 15; Protestant Union 23; Total 120.

Of these 120 existing members, it is more than likely that only three-fourths will apply for individual selections when the commissioners visit the land to divide it. At present, however, nothing can be said definitely as to the number of applicants.


Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933), Friday 3 April 1896, page 5


The lands and assets of the Mizpah, Monmouth, and Industrial Co-operative groups, Dalby district, are now being divided by the land commissioner under the Amendment Act of 1895, with the result that applications, have been conditionally approved for sixteen selections on the Monmouth Group lands, eight on the Mizpah, and four on the Industrial Group lands.

Each selection totals 160 acres, and, in several cases they are apportioned in two separate lots, so as to comprise part of the land already cultivated by the groups. The settlers are ex-members of the groups, thus bringing the total number who have decided to pursue the cultivation of the soil on the old lines after an experience of the co-operative community system to fifty-one.

Of these, twenty-eight have selected as stated on the Dalby groups and twentythree on the Gympie district groups (Woolloongabba Exemplars and Protestant Unity). The land commissioners for the Burnett and Roma districts are arranging the divisions of the groups in their district, and the Rockhampton land commissioner is attending to the Reliance Group lands.

In the case of the Protestant Unity and the Woolloongabba Exemplars, instructions have already been issued, but owing to the wet weather the commissioners have not been able to proceed to the areas.-Telegraph.


This seems to be the last mention of the Mizpah group for several years.

93 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page