One Queensland town’s media mogul

Rupert Murdoch’s impending fifth marriage isn’t the only magnate news this week, with one Queensland city claiming its own global media mogul. I told a version of this story on West Bremer Radio.

Edward Augustus Bullmore was born in Cornwall, England, in 1831. Bullmore was a well-known grazier who, among other pursuits, farmed in the Hunter district and Liverpool Plains of New South Wales, and Augathella in Queensland.

Edward Augustus Bullmore

In 1877, he settled at Rockton (see top picture), which is the heritage-listed mansion that still exists today in Rockton Street, Ipswich, Queensland. That’s where he lived out the rest of his life, and his family remained for forty years.

During his time, Edward Bullmore was president and life member of the Ipswich Hospital board, chairman of the board of trustees of the Ipswich Boys’ Grammar School, president of the Queensland Pastoral and Agricultural Society, and chairman of the Royal Bank of Queensland.

In 1881, two of his sons – twelve-year-old Reginald and nine-year-old Edward – tragically drowned with two other men when their sailing boat was caught in a squall after rounding Woody Point in Moreton Bay. It was an ironic event given the family yachting history that was to follow.

Bullmore’s only surviving son was Herbert Henry Bullmore. He was educated at Ipswich Grammar School, was a rugby union player who uniquely represented both Queensland and Scotland, and became a leading physician.

Herbert Henry Bullmore

Sadly, Henry Bullmore died suddenly in 1937 leaving a widow, a son, and four daughters.

More tragedy followed the Bullmore family, when Henry’s only son Herbert James Bullmore was a Flyer-Officer in the Royal Australian Air Force who was killed in action in New Guinea during World War Two.

Good things happened to the family as well, including one of Henry Bullmore’s daughters Mary becoming the fashion editor of The Australian Women’s Weekly.

Another daughter was Gretel Bullmore. Her husband Frank named two boats after her.

Gretel Bullmore

Frank was a company director, and the two boats named after Gretel Bullmore were Gretel and Gretel II . They were the Australian challengers for the America’s Cup in 1962 and 1970.

Gretel’s youngest son was named Kerry.

His full name was Kerry Francis Bullmore Packer. Yes, that’s the Kerry Packer who was one of Australia’s most powerful media proprietors of the twentieth century. His Packer family company controlled both the Nine Network and the publishing company Australian Consolidated Press. At the time of his death in 2005 he was the richest man in Australia with a net worth of around $6.5 billion.

Kerry Packer

Kerry Packer’s mother Gretel Bullmore is from the Bullmore family from modest Ipswich, west of Brisbane.

You can still see today the heritage-listed Bullmore family home in Rockton Street. You can also visit the Ipswich cemetery to see the sandstone memorial to the family patriarch Edward Augustus Bullmore who brought the family to Ipswich all those years ago.

Ipswich general cemetery

Kerry Packer’s daughter Gretel is named after her grandmother Gretel Bullmore. As for Gretel II, the former America’s Cup challenger named in Gretel Bullmore’s honour, you can see her today berthed at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania.

Both are are quiet, modern-day reminders harking back to the billionaire family’s Ipswich heritage.


Photo credits:
Rockton Newtown Ipswich – Must Do Brisbane.
Edward Augustus Bullmore Esquire – State Library of Queensland.
Herbert Henry Bullmore – Ipswich Grammar School Old Boys Association.
Miss Gretel Bullmore – Daily Telegraph, Sydney, 14th Decemeber 1929, page 28.
Kerry Packer – boss hunting dot com 2021.
Edward Augustus Bullmore gravesite, Ipswich General Cemetery – Picture Ipswich


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