LEFT: These pioneers, pictured at their settlement in 1860, were among the first people to settle at Maryborough.
LEFT: These pioneers, pictured at their settlement in 1860, were among the first people to settle at Maryborough.

The founding of Maryborough

THE history of Queensland is rich and diverse, a tale of exploration and adventure, with explorers carving a mark many thousands of kilometres from the other side of the world.

Early explorers James Cook, John Oxley and Matthew Flinders had only charted the coastline and little was known about the Wide Bay region, when in 1842, Andrew Petrie and a party explored the Wide Bay River (as the Mary River was then called) with escaped convicts who had lived with indigenous populations.

As part of the survey, Petrie discovered the site for the port while looking for good grazing land suitable for sheep.

 

ABOVE: This was the first primary school in the Wide Bay Burnett area, opened in 1862, on the corner of Alice and Lennox StS, Maryborough (where the fire station is). The school quickly outgrew this building and was moved to the immigration barracks in Kent St, Maryborough in 1877.
ABOVE: This was the first primary school in the Wide Bay Burnett area, opened in 1862, on the corner of Alice and Lennox StS, Maryborough (where the fire station is). The school quickly outgrew this building and was moved to the immigration barracks in Kent St, Maryborough in 1877.

Further explorers brought a flock of sheep across the Darling Downs, blazing a track over the Brisbane Range to establish a head station near Tiaro.

While the sheep made it to their destination, they did not last long, as indigenous tribes found out the benefits and taste of lamb.

This led to surveyor J. C. Burnett exploring the area a further five years later, giving rise to the area's current name of the Wide Bay-Burnett.

 

Maryborough was first settled in 1847 by Europeans and is one of Queensland's oldest cities.

George Furber established a woolstore in this time and the arrival of the Aldridge exploratory party in 1848 generated a relatively rapid expansion of the fledgling township.

The port was a home and trading post for wool and other primary industries such as timber and served as the Fraser Coast immigration port in the early days of Australian settlement.

In 1859 Maryborough was declared a "port of entry" for settlers coming to Australia and it became a municipality in 1861 and was second only to Sydney as an eastern seaboard port for free settlers.

Immigrant labour was needed for the township to prosper. An advertisement inserted in the Wide Bay & Burnett Times on January 23, 1861, by Messrs Melville and Travis announced they would be transitioning British migrants, while a second advertisement by Henry Hamburger said he would support the emigration of German settlers.

Of the migrants who disembarked at Brisbane in 1862 from the ship Suldanha, 160 came to Maryborough by the paddle steamer Clarence.

The 42 Germans among them had already been engaged for work on nearby sheep runs. The pioneering efforts of Melville lives on in one of Maryborough State High School's houses, Melville-Russell.

In the following decades, trades, commerce and industry consolidated into a sound community and city. This was the same time the colony of Queensland was separated from the colony of New South Wales.

The number of settlers to arrive via the Maryborough port of entry reached 23,000 by the end of the 1860s. The rapid growth of the new port and the town was stimulated by the timber, sugar, tallow, wool and hide industries. Trade and commerce were later consolidated with the Gympie gold rush.

By the early 1860s there were several timber mills in Maryborough. In 1882, Queensland pioneer Richard Matthews Hyne started the National Sawmill on the banks of the Mary River. R.M. Hyne, using his knowledge of the building trade, saw new opportunities in this expanding timber business. He had chosen his site with good judgment, as Maryborough was well served with magnificent stands of blue gum, spotted gum and ironbark and, as well, hoop and kauri pine. The Hyne company has grown from strength to strength and now has 11 sites throughout Australia and South East Asia.

Maryborough State High School has catalogued the history of the city and highlights this in the selection of their sporting houses. These names include Sir Thomas WM Glasgow, an "old boy" who became Minister for Defence and High Commissioner to Canada, the well-known Horsburgh family, and Mr. H.G.S. Morton, an "old boy" who was a brilliant scholar and a talented sportsman, among others.


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