The 14-day race before history is lost

TaringaHistoricalSiteToday I discovered the site of an historic nineteenth century Queensland colonial home, but storm clouds are gathering, and it’s now a race against time to find the historic relics that in two weeks’ time will be lost forever.

I compared historic land sales maps to modern street maps, and thanks to the layout being largely unchanged, I found the location of the original home of the estate. Back in 1884 the land around the country home was subdivided to start a new Brisbane suburb. The original building that remained then is now gone, but the boundaries of that block are easily discernible. The high western side in particular appears to be largely undisturbed for 133 years. That means that what relics that found their way underground are still there, waiting to be found. The history is alive, but only just…

You see, today the land was surrounded by high, temporary fencing as used by property developers. That’s the photograph shown here. Amazingly, the builders were there when I arrived. So I told them who I was, that I research and write history, and they confirmed that site preparation happens tomorrow, and building starts in two weeks. It’s now a true race against time. Once the building starts, whatever history remains will be gone for ever.

I’m hoping to get permission in time for me to search with my Minelab metal detector, and particularly to detect along the 133-year-old western boundary.

The place has been associated with some of the most remarkable people in Queensland’s history. The relics hidden there would have been handled by them.

From the 1870s there was Patrick Robinson Gordon, the Chief Inspector of Stock and leader of Queensland’s early stock breeding industry.

He was followed by Richard Davies Graham, a licensed surveyor and coal miner. Graham opened up mines in Bundamba and some of the best seams in Central Queensland. His huge economical legacy is still being felt today.

Then there was John Piper Mackenzie, the head office manager of the Queensland National Bank. Mackenzie is a descendent of Captain John Piper, the one-time commander of the Norfolk Island penal colony who became one of the wealthiest men in Australia. It’s after Captain Piper that salubrious Point Piper in Sydney is named.

Before the turn of the century was Edward Owen Rees who was an Insurance Agent ruined by the 1893 floods. He’s better known as the father of Lloyd Rees, the Australian landscape painter who twice won the Wynne Prize.

Ellerslie-Cres-Oxford-Tce-heroPerhaps living at the home for the longest time was John O’Neill Brenan, the Queensland Immigration Agent, public servant, and son of an Irish-born barrister. Brenan had the good counsel to marry the daughter of the Auditor-General and Chairman of the Queensland Public Service Board. Brenan’s son was one of the first Anzacs ashore at Gallipoli at 4.30am on the 25th of April 1915.

This site has amazing history, and I’m racing to find tangible evidence of those early Queensland pioneers, before the townhouses shown here are built and new history begins.



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