Golden Jubilee Year

(This document comprises the content of: Clements, J. (1977) Woorabinda 1927-1977 Golden jubilee year.Rockhampton, Qld. : Woorabinda Golden Jubilee Committee.)


Since I assumed the portfolio for Aboriginal and Islanders Advancement in Queensland some 3 years ago, I have noticed a definite change in attitude in many areas. This has been one of increasing pride in the Aboriginal and Islander people, as they move towards control of their own affairs in this State. I do not feel this is happening overnight for only one particular reason, but is probably the combination of many years of hard work by many people, including Aboriginal Councils and Departmental Staff.

It is a result of following a definite policy and achieving one objective after the other. On many Communities achievements can be seen as "bricks and mortar" in the development of houses, schools, libraries, health and shopping facilities, to mention a few. The other achievements can be seen in the attitude of the people and on Woorabinda, in its fiftieth year, it can be seen in the efforts of the Woorabinda Golden Jubilee Committee.

To organise such a celebration takes many hours of hard work by many people. During that time there would have been many successes and many disappointments but the point that matters is the determination to achieve the objective. While houses, schools, hospitals and other facilities improve our quality of life, there also needs to be involvement by the people.

My congratulations go to the Committee, to the Council, the people and the staff of Woorabinda. My congratulations on your achievements in the past fifty years and my best wishes to you for the coming fifty years of progress.

Honorable C.A. Wharton, M.L.A.

Editors Message

The Woorabinda Golden Jubilee Committee decided to print this booklet as part of the Golden Jubilee Celebrations from the 22nd to 30th October, 1977.
The programme planned, for these days includes:

22nd OCTOBER - Commemorative horse ride Taroom - Woorabinda commences. Three horsemen carrying mail will travel to Woorabinda via the old stock route. They will arrive at Woorabinda just before the procession on 29th October.

28th October - 8 p.m.: Drama performance by students of the Capricornia Institute of Advanced Education.

29th October - 11 a.m.: Procession. 1 p.m.: Opening of Celebrations by the Honourable Claude Wharton, M.L.A., Minister for Aboriginal and Islanders Advancement and Fisheries. 1.30 p.m.: Tribal dancing by Aurukun and Edward River Dancers. 2.30 p.m.: Opening of School. 3 p.m.: Sporting Events including Sky Diving and Marching Girls Display. 8 p.m.: Jubilee Ball.
30th OCTOBER: 10 a.m.: Ecumenical Church Service. 11.15 a.m.: Dancing by groups from
Arukun, Edward River, Yarrabah and Palm Island. 2 p.m.: Rugby Football Match - Past versus Present players.

A cultural display can be seen at the School on both days. This display will include an archaeological display, exhibition of photographs and many Aboriginal paintings. Stalls of all types will be located in various parts of the Community and will sell such items as food, souvenirs, etc. It is also hoped to have a variety of sideshows. The Australian Broadcasting Commission is featuring the Woorabinda Hospital on the 27th 'October.

The Committee desire to thank the following for their assistance: 'Mr. R. Katter, M.H.R.; Mr. V. Lester, M.L.A.; R.T.Q. Channel 7, Rockhampton; Capricornia Institute of Advanced Education; The "Palm Islander"; "Morning Bulletin"; "Central Telegraph" newspapers,' Mrs. Ruby Naggs of Duaringa; Mr. R. W. Naggs of Wynnum; Mrs. Doyle of Rockhampton; Mrs E. Clarke of Gladstone; Mr. D. Taylor, Rockhampton Art Gallery; Australian Council for the Arts, North Sydney,' Mrs. J. O. Gibbins of Yeppoon,' Record Printing Co., Rockhampton; Mr. I. Ward; D. A. & I. A., Brisbane; Mr. J. Taylor, James Cook University, Townsville. Mr. N. Mohr, President, Taroom Historical Society; Mrs. G. Frisch, Rockhampton; Mr. and Mrs. E. Butler, D.A.J.A., Cairns; The Australian Broadcasting Commission; Mr. N. C. Hempsted, Toowoomba; Mr. A. Long, A.I.M., Alice Springs; Mr. and Mrs. Hassall, Rockhampton; Citizens Advisory Service, Biloela,' Australia Post, Rockhampton; Father M. Hayes, Theodore; Aurukun, Edward River, Yarrabah and Palm Island Communities; Rockhampton Camera' Club; Rockhampton District Aboriginal and Islander Co Operative Society Ltd.; Baralaba Agricultural and Pastoral Society; Taroom Historical Society; Matron E. Lemon of Rockhampton,' Mrs. M. Richardson, Rockhampton; C.V. Electronics, Biloela; The Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders Legal Service, Rockhampton; and Miss Yvonne Ellem.

I also wish to express my thanks to Mrs. D. Carter of Woorabinda, who typed most of the draft of this history and was assisted by Miss B. Barry.
There are undoubtedly omissions from this brief history but it is believed that the history should be printed with all the material which was available at this time.

John Clements.
October, 1977.



Chapter 1 .................... Taroom

Chapter 2 .................... In The Beginning

Chapter 3 ................... Development of Health Services

Chapter 4 .................... Education

Chapter 5 ................... Agriculture and Stock

Chapter 6 ................... Some Aboriginal People

Chapter 7 .................... The Cape Bedford People

Chapter 8 .................... Churches

Chapter 9 .................... Social and Welfare Activities

Chapter 10 ................ Some Woorabinda Staff

Chapter 11 ................ Remnants of Aboriginal Culture



As so many of the Woorabinda people have links with Taroom, it is necessary that mention be made of the Settlement there. The Settlement is believed to have been established in 1910. The site chosen was the old Mark land property of about 7,000 acres which was located approximately 9 miles east of Taroom township near the banks of the Dawson River. The Aboriginal people came from camps on Bonners Knob and west of Taroom on the river. They also came from the outskirts of towns such as Goondiwindi, Bollon and Toowoomba.

Because of concern about the health and welfare of Aborigines in camp situations, a concerted effort was made in 1914 or 1915 to place them in Taroom. The Settlement numbers increased by three hundred people as a result. The new arrivals included men who had been drovers, stockmen or station hands and many brought their wives and children. Also included were many educated girls who had been employed on stations. These groups were housed in barrack-like huts, whilst those who had had little contact with Europeans previously, were allowed to live in gunyahs free from any interference with their old way of life.

The Chief Protector of Aborigines, Mr. Bleakley, made annual visits of inspection to Taroom during its years of existence. The permanent staff of the Settlement included the Superintendent, Deputy Superintendent, bookkeeper and storekeeper, farm manager, two teachers, nurse and Aboriginal trackers. Staff known to have worked at Taroom were: E. A. Maxwell (Superintendent to 1919), H. C. Colledge (Superintendent 1920 till closure), M. C. Pinchin (Deputy Superintendent), F. Grambower (Farm Overseer), Miss A. E. Hempsted (Matron 1921 until closure) and Mrs. Murton (School-teacher). Several buildings were erected by the Government including staff housing, storeroom, butcher's shop and hospital. The hospital was visited once per week by a Taroom doctor, Dr. Nielson. It is recalled that in 1919 there was a flu epidemic one of its many victims included the Superintendent, Mr. Maxwell. Another Government building was the State School which by 1921 contained over 60 pupils. Rations of beef, tea, flour and sugar were given to all who required these items. Hunting and fishing were popular spare-time pursuits whilst Settlement Sports Days were also arranged. When the Governor, Sir Maurice Nathan, visited Taroom in the 1920's, he attended their sports day which included spear-throwing. Boxing was also popular at the Settlement. Jerry Jerome, who had been a professional boxer, claimed in the 1920's that the Government had £700 of his money. He therefore wanted the Government to build special quarters for himself. Needless to say, his request was refused!


Church services were held regularly at Taroom. The Aboriginal Inland Mission attended on certain days for services and camp visiting, as did the Bush Brotherhood. Nurse Hempsted also held both Sunday School and Church Services. Miss M. Acland of the A.I.M. went to Taroom as early as 1922. She lived in an old shop in town and visited the Settlement by horse and buggy. In 1927, Miss Acland and Miss Lawson followed the Aboriginal people to Woorabinda.
An old Marriage Register records marriages at Taroom. A few of these marriages were: Billy Tobane to Janey Darlow - 5th April, 1915. Ned Cullen to Elsie Palm Tree - 15th September, 1915. Harry Noble to Mary Gilbert - 30th August, 1916. Geoffrey Carbine to May Waterton - 11th May, 1921.

As early as 1923, suggestions were made that the Settlement might have to be moved. It was reported in the 1923 Annual report: "All important development is held up owing to the uncertainty as to future site, as the Dawson irrigation scheme may make removal necessary."
The 1926 Annual Report confirms the move:

"Another and more suitable area of good grazing country has been secured in the Duaringa District, as a fresh site for the Taroom Settlement, which has to be abandoned owing to the encroachment of the proposed Dawson River irrigation dam. The new country, being of larger area and free of prickly pear, should enable cattle-breeding and farming operations to be carried on with a greater possibility of success."

In September, 1926, an advance party commenced clearing the site for a township at Woorabinda. At the same time, tenders were called for transport of the people and their belongings to the new Settlement. Amongst the successful tenderers, was a young Duaringa truck driver named Mr. Dick Naggs. On the first run 50 years ago, Mr. Naggs drove a new two-ton Graham truck. The trip must have been adventurous for there were no roads, and the trucks followed the telegraph line that ran through Taroom, Bauhinia Downs, Springsure. Clermont and The Towers, turning off near Bauhinia along the Duaringa road. The trip took two days, and the shuttle of trucks continued for 18 months. As Mr. Naggs says,

"At Taroom, the people gathered up their property and loaded it on the trucks until the springs of the vehicles came down to where 2 ton would have settled them. I always carried a rifle, and along the way I'd shoot dingoes, goannas, kangaroos. Just west of Stonecroft there were spring gullies and good trees. They'd set up camp and there would be big fires in the gully at night. If you passed a goanna on the road, the people would let you know what they thought of you. I had to pull up and shoot it. >
The passengers would break up into their family groups for the night, and on daybreak the fires would start up again with more cooking. Swags were stacked on the trucks and the journey continued. >
The trucks would get into Woorabinda late on the second day. We couldn't make much pace. I t would be second gear most of the way at about 8-10 m.p.h. across sand flats, black soil, and the volcanic ranges that tore the tread from the tyres. Jim Hamilton travelled and camped with me. He was driving the Department's bean truck."


Amongst those who made that journey, and who still live at Woorabinda are: Eric Williams, Cossie Waterton, Mrs. Pearl Collins (Rookwood), Ronnie Cressbrook, Oscar Munns, Maggie Simmonds, Elliot Tobane, Dougie Dick, Hubert Dooley, Gordon Henry and Cyril Saunders. Others who made the journey but now live elsewhere include: Lindsay Murray who now lives at Duaringa; Ruby Cressbrook (Kingaroy), and Muriel Booth (Rockhampton). There are undoubtedly others who are not known but are living in other parts of the State.


In early 1926, part of the property named "Wooroona," meaning "Crooked Creek" was acquired by the State Government. The total area obtained was about 55,000 acres. The reserve was named Woorabinda by Mr. H. C. Colledge, first Superintendent of the Settlement. It was eventually proclaimed an Aboriginal Reserve by Order in Council dated 27th October, 1927. There are differences of opinion as to the meaning of the word "Woorabinda." The most popular suggestion is "Kangaroo that Sits Down" but others including "Kangaroo Camp" and "Camp at Waterhole" have also been heard. The names referring to Kangaroos are the most logical choices, as anyone who has lived at Woorabinda will verify the abundance of kangaroos in the area.

As mentioned previously, in September 1926, work started on the new site at Woorabinda. The Superintendent, Mr. Colledge, with the Farm Overseer, Mr. Grambower, and a large group of Aboriginal workers, commenced clearing and fencing the property. Everything at the new Settlement had to be done by hand using local resources. There were no roads, transport or machinery. The pastoral industry commenced its development by building dams and bridges with the aid of wheelbarrows, picks, shovels and sheer muscle-power. As a reminder, one site retains the name "Wheelbarrow Dam."

When families started to arrive from Taroom, they started constructing shelters on a self-help basis. The shelters were usually gunyahs constructed of bush timber and bark. The original residents came from the Taroom area, Dawson Valley tribal groups and small family groups from as far out as Emerald, Carnarvon Gorge, Clermont, Lower Dawson and Maranoa areas, with no shared tribal ties or alliances between them. Reports showed the initial population to have been about 900 people. The gunyahs were quickly replaced as suitable building materials became available.

Whilst nearly all the families moved from Taroom, there were a few families who already lived in the vicinity of Woorabinda. Alf Tyson, son of Gypsy and Alf Tyson, recalls his family living here in the early 1920's. Toil Murray came here in 1926 from Clermont.



The new village and administrative block were quickly laid out on town planning lines, with an attractive tree planting scheme. In 1927, quarters were built for the farm overseer and nurse, and other buildings were completed to serve for a girls home and hospital. A small garden plot produced excellent quality potatoes, tomatoes, melons and other vegetables.
The first birth recorded at Woorabinda occurred on 29th June, 1927, when a daughter was born to Alf and Gypsy Tyson. The child, however, died on the 1st July, 1927.



Mr. Willie Watts died of pneumonia on the 27th May, 1927, aged 65; his was the first recorded death. The first marriage at Woorabinda was between Jack Bell and Mabel Reid on 23rd October, 1927.

Tribute must be paid to the foresight and outstanding work of Mr. H. C. Colledge, first Superintendent at Woorabinda. He was the architect and town planner of Woorabinda. Born in Northumberland (England) in 1880, Mr. Colledge's very early life was spent at Odessa (Russia) where his father was British Consul-General. Later he returned to England and then migrated to Australia. Mr. Colledge was educated at the old Normal State School, Brisbane, and at Hawkesbury and Gatton Colleges. He was stock inspector at Atherton, Gayndah and Gympie; then from 1917 to 1920 was manager of the Warren State Farm. In 1920 he became Superintendent of Native Affairs at Taroom. In 1926, on the move to Woorabinda, his previous experience with stock was to prove invaluable. He also planned the whole community along the lines of an English village with avenues of trees and old English lanes.

Mr. Colledge used bullock teams for the removal of timber and the construction of the first bark school. He had a fine tenor voice and was a natural musician. It is believed that he taught the Aborigines new hymns and new dances. He held and officiated at early marriage ceremonies and funerals. He also encouraged the formation of cricket and football teams. It should be remembered, however, that Mr. Colledge had the support of many fine people in establishing the settlement at Woorabinda. Some of these people will be mentioned later, but there are many who are unknown and tribute is paid to them here.




The first hospital Matron at Woorabinda was Nurse Hempsted. She was very experienced in the treatment of Aboriginal patients, having been at Taroom since 1921. She not only looked after the hospital patients but trained Aboriginal girls in nursing duties. For a period in 1927, Matron Hempsted also taught school until the school teachers arrived from Taroom. Her quarters were completed in 1927 as was the first hospital building. In 1927 the hospital nurses attended to 185 out-patients. There were 7 in-patients who were referred to Rockhampton and Mt. Morgan hospitals.

By 1930, out-patients had increased to 353 and in-patients totalled 110. Timber for an isolation
ward was cut at Cherbourg and forwarded here for construction. The nurses’ quarters were enlarged and a mortuary built in 1936.

In 1936, Miss M. H. Clements was appointed Matron, probably to replace Matron Hempsted, who had served so faithfully and well. Matron Clements, however, only remained until 1937. She was replaced by Miss Dorothy M. Ethell.

It is recalled that in the early days Sister Robb, an experienced midwife or "Sarah Gamp," attended to many Aboriginal confinements and was ably assisted by Mrs. Mabel Priestly. A "Sarah Gamp" was a woman experienced in actual confinements within a person's own home.



In 1938 there was considerable pressure exerted for the establishment of a T.B. hamlet on the far side of the Mimosa Creek, as Westwood Sanatorium was overcrowded at most times. The biggest problem with the establishment of such a place was seen to be the supply of goods and services during a flood period. Eventually the scheme was not proceeded with.
Matron Colledge reintroduced a scheme for native nurse trainees in 1945. Two girls, Gwen Doyle and Doreen Brown were the first to commence duties. The training was for two years and the girls were paid 12/6 per week. They wore uniforms of dark blue with white cuffs and collars; white caps, brown shoes and socks.

In the late 1940's, because T.B. was prevalent on the community, an extensive survey was carried out by Dr. Macken of the Department of Health and Home Affairs. A pre-natal and child welfare clinic was established in May, 1949. All children reaching the age of six months were immunised against diphtheria and whooping cough. A female welfare officer and a hygiene officer were appointed to work in conjunction with the camp and the hospital. In the period 1949-50, 14 in-patients were transferred to Rockhampton, 1 to Baralaba, 3 to Brisbane, 3 to Fantome Island (Leprosy) and 2 to Westwood Sanatorium. The nursing staff at that time consisted of Matron, 2 sisters and six aboriginal trainee nurses.

In early 1951, the hospital was transferred to the control of the Rockhampton Hospitals Board and became part of the State hospital system. During 1950-51 the total number of out-patients seen was 23,011. The chest clinic at Rockhampton examined 17 patients. After a T.B. survey, 15 children were admitted to Woorabinda hospital for treatment. Thirty-five children were born in the hospital that year.

Dental treatment was not ignored for in 1952 it was reported that regular visits were made by dentists from the Banana Hospitals Board. During the year, alterations and additions were made including the out-patients department and dental clinic. Health at the community was excellent except for the new arrivals from the far west of the State, as far away as Windorah and Nocundra. . Matron Tomlinson resigned at the end of 1953 and was replaced by Matron Geddes. During the floods of 1954, Woorabinda hospital was the only hospital available to 5 white people who were seriously ill. They, owing to road and rail traffic being suspended, were unable to secure medical treatment elsewhere.

The programme for eradication of hookworm was continuing as hookworm had been a problem for many years. In 1955, a laboratory was established to assist in dealing with the infection. It was pleasing to note that there was a lessening of the worm infestation during 1956 due to the controlled laboratory work. In 1957-58 it was noted that the number of infant deaths (3), showed a great improvement over deaths in the previous few years.

Matron E. Lemon, who spent no less than three periods as Matron at the hospital, gives a very interesting picture of life there in her time; "I did not come to Woorabinda with any notions of doing good works but found it is one place where one becomes involved with out realising it. I arrived in September of 1955 with one small daughter aged not quite two years, and well remember Emma as Beverley's first nurse girl and had the privilege of delivering her first baby on my birthday! After the birth Emma offered to do my washing for me but the offer was declined, as she needed the rest.

The hospital was much the same as it is today in structure but there was no sewerage system for the first eighteen months so the many trips we all had in fair weather and rain to the row of pans along the back fence; any of the nurses in those early days will recall that! The Rockhampton Hospitals Board had not long taken over control of the hospital and fortunately we did have hot water system and coke stoves. Staff mostly consisted of the local talent and there were some good girls, trained to take temperatures, give mixtures, give injections and do the dressings. Many were the good times we all had as well as a few disagreements now and again! One thing I 'did develop on Woorabinda was a strong voice.

As there were a greater number of people resident there then, 1,000 give or take a few, workload was heavy and as we did most of the confinements ourselves; life was never dull. What excitement there was when a babe was born and everyone wanted to see it. The first maternity nurse I had was Jessie who inherited her mother's talent with such doings. May Priestley was the old time midwife before the place became so civilised and was still very much alive when I was there. .

As everywhere babies choose to arrive in the middle of the night and many a bitterly cold winter's night, either Sister McMahon or I stood shivering awaiting the action; no heaters in those days! The poor mum did the shivers too which probably helped hurry things along, then when it was all over big mugs of tea and toast for all provided by the night nurse Janet in those early days. We were very modern in those days "rooming in" was the order of the day.

There was great excitement when the Murray twins were born and taken to Rockhampton by train and ambulance as floods had cut all roads, Ruby and Jean surviving to this day, I think. Then the Row Twins - two gorgeous boys - and the pride of the place as they were kept at the hospital, then followed the Freeman twins, girls and off to Rockhampton, both survived for some months then one died. Then along came Kathleen Burke with premature twins, one cold winters morning at 4.30 a.m., delivered one then told her there was another, "no way" says Kathleen, "All the way" says I catching it! Off to Rockhampton as they were very tiny, l lb. 2 ozs. and 1 lb. 3 oz. survived for hours there but was too premature. Both boys and brought our twins up to four sets in five years. No such things as humidicribs then, just old fashioned nursing and commonsense. No ambulance; depended on the Baralaba ambulance.

Epidemics were another nightmare and all hands to the task. Native staff not taking time off when rostered as we two were. Ladies of the "camp" coming up, unasked at times, to help, knowing they could not be put on the pay sheet. All working with cheerfulness and putting up with the Matron when she got very tired. The help from various Settlement Matrons doing the rounds was appreciated and bringing up those who needed attention which cut back night calls. I remember most the "caring and the sharing" of those days.

Also the funny happenings - locking kids in the bathroom and sometimes we would forget them. The talks we had sitting on the steps of a night exchanging gossip and me slowly learning to understand them and their ways. The gardening the girls and I did in our spare time leaving the Outpatients yard to Sister McMahon and the nurse there. Then the quarters - the show place - I taught Henry all he knew about gardening only to be told the following year I did not know what to do and leave it to him! Mr. Dick Naggs always said the biggest mistake he ever made was to give me Henry because I had the best worker on the place! Bettie was the first one I had and the only one who ever had a win over me and never let me forget it. Nearly every week-end he used to land in jail for gambling and then my daughter would get most upset and want to take tea and scones to him for his morning tea.

The staff who stayed over the years, Edna, Valerie, Florence, Olive S and Olive C, Connie now deceased, Merle, Venus, Berline, Ivy, now deceased, Florrie Gray, and others who shared all things can not forget the men, Raymond and Henry the wards men, then came Toil. "Toil by name but not by nature" I was told when he was sent over, but he survived many years. The Baby Clinic was done at the hospital and they were all bonny babes and usually kept that way - not without some effort though with some! Up to fifty babes some-times and often the mother was coming for Anti-Natal check up as well; all immunisations - children and adults were all extras, but help was always available.

Busy days but one was never really bored. Subsequent periods were not as busy as folk had left and work load was much lighter, more regular visits from Doctors, the Ambulance on the place and a Clinic Sister as well. feel I can let the matter of funerals pass, as they used to leave the morgue at the hospital by dray and I feel perhaps we have lost something doing them "our way." Only a few would gather and as the procession wound its way-: to the cemetery folk would fall in and the wailing and chanting would increase in volume. It was beautiful and haunting, especially if it was a child. The entire Settlement would be quiet, even the dogs and I feel there was more reverence shown then as was the elders’ custom.

Many a time their Medicine men and I worked together for the common good in ways which were not made known to the powers that be, but they trusted me. The results were satisfactory to both parties and neither of us took more than half the credit. I did the white man's medicine, they did the black man's medicine and all were happy though I used to get asked some funny questions. Finally I look back and feel I never regretted my time on Woorabinda as I learnt to know and love the people and formed friendships that last to this day with mutual affection. What little I gave, I got back threefold and thanks folk."

Early in 1960, Woorabinda suffered a severe outbreak of gastro-enteritis. During the year 11 children and 12 adults died. Tetanus injections were given to all adults and Salk vaccinations commenced. Once per fortnight, the Doctor at Baralaba visited Woorabinda. Another outbreak of gastro-enteritis occurred in January, 1963, from which 42 children and one adult were hospitalised. In 1968 in-patients were taken to Baralaba rather than Rockhampton because of the much shorter distance involved.

The dental surgeon from Rockhampton continued to visit the hospital and in 1970 a new dental clinic was completed. The winter of 1973 saw an epidemic of scabies and impetigo but treatment by a health team from Rockhampton was successful. In that year, a paediatrician commenced visits on a monthly basis. It was reported that in 1974 doctors from Rockhampton used the aerial ambulance for their weekly visits. One positive diphtheria case was found and in a subsequent check, 15 diphtheria carriers were located and cured.

From July, 1974, the hospital ceased to take inpatients. A small transit bus takes some out-patients and patients for in-patient treatment to Rockhampton on a regular basis. Urgent cases are flown to Rockhampton by aerial ambulance. In August, 1977, the Baralaba Doctor recommenced visits to Woorabinda twice per week.

Current staff at' the hospital are Sister C. A. Franici (Matron), Sister R. Neil, and Sister C. Ralph (part-time). The Maternal and Child Welfare Sister, employed by the Department of Aboriginal and Islanders Advancement is Sister J. Gibson.

PAST HOSPITAL MATRONS (List not exhaustive):
Matron A. E. Hempsted, Matron Robb, Matron C. P. Duffy, Matron F. A. P. Mahoney, Matron J. F. Tomlinson, Sister Sinclair, Miss J. Richmond, Matron M. Clements, Matron M. Colledge, Matron A. Webster, Matron Parsons, Matron E. Lemon, Sister Williams, Matron D. Ethell, Matron J. Colledge, Matron M. Peatey, Matron Donaghey, Matron Holberton, Matron Fairlie.


Even today, some of the older Aboriginal people still use some of their own medicines to cure their ills. These are a few of those medicines:

(a) White Clay: This clay is readily available on the banks of the Mimosa Creek. Expectant mothers chew the clay. The kaolin in the clay is believed to have a settling effect on the stomach.
(b) Milky Wood: Grown in this area. It is said to be a poison, but is still used as cure for infectious sores.
(c) Quinine Tree: The leaf of this tree has been used in bath water and is said "to shiny the skin." It is also used for sores and to reduce swelling.
(d) Gum Tips: Can be boiled and rubbed on the chest - good for flu and colds.
(e) Witchetty grubs are used to ease gum soreness.
(f) Fat from the Black and White or Tree Goanna is believed to be of assistance to rheumatism sufferers when applied to the affected parts.

There are also trees which are used to induce drowsiness, etc. There is an unknown tree which, when leaves are taken and burned, produce ash which is smoked. The effect could be similar to drunkenness or if smoked for long periods could develop into drowsiness or dopiness and finally deep and lengthy sleep. The smoking ash is called "Pitchera". Another tree named the Wilga Scrub tree is baked and made brittle. It is then ground to almost powder and mixed with water. It has the same effect as "Pitchera."






As mentioned previously, Nurse Hempsted conducted school at Woorabinda in 1927 as well as carrying out her nursing duties. It was reported that her zeal deserved the highest commendation.

In 1928, after the arrival of the first teacher, Mrs. Mary Murton, and the balance of scholars from Taroom, Miss Hempsted was able to carry out her normal duties. The Annual-Report shows that:
"The teacher has carried on patiently under difficulties, through lack of proper accommodation and proper assistance, as the large number of children (66) is too much for one teacher to effectively instruct … Is it hoped to provide a necessary building … at an early date."

As well as the Aboriginal School, there was a Provisional School opened at Woorabinda on 2nd February, 1928. The first teacher of the school, Mr. Patrick Kelly, was transferred from Taroom. The children who attended this first school were Betty, Norma, George, Thelma and Jean Grambower; Cecil, Vernon, Joan and Ivan Colledge; Melie Murton, Olive and Dick Bolger. All these children were transferred from Taroom school whilst Jeremiah Butler was transferred from Mount Morgan. The Provisional school was apparently quite badly positioned. The site was unsuitable for a garden, which was one of the children's most enjoyed activities, and it was also held in a temporary room. For these reasons, in April, 1928, Patrick Kelly requested that the closed school at LiIly, near Baralaba, be removed to Woorabinda. This was done.

The Provisional school closed on 21st March, 1933, because of low attendance. The pupils were then enrolled in the Correspondence school, but were supervised by Mr. P. Jensen, teacher at the Aboriginal school. In 1930, timber was sent from the mill at Barambah for the erection of a new school and play shed for 100 pupils. An Aboriginal monitor was appointed to help the Head Master in 1931.

The Woorabinda Community suffered a severe loss in 1932 when Mrs. Mary Murton died. For 15 years she held the position of teacher in the Native school, first at Taroom and afterwards at Woorabinda. Mrs. Murton, "was a successful teacher, a very useful officer. adaptable in many departments of the work amongst the sick and women and children and beloved by all who associated with her, both officials and natives."

Manual Subjects were not forgotten, for in 1931, arrangements were made for the transfer of two boys to Cherbourg. The boys were to receive tuition in manual subjects at the Murgon rural school. A teacher's residence was finally completed in 1937. By 1937 school enrolment had increased to 117 pupils.

Amongst the early teachers at Woorabinda were Mr. and Mrs. Horace Tarlington. When Mr. Tarlington retired, Mr. W. S. Jarrett was appointed. He commenced night classes at the school in 1945. In September 1947, night classes consisted of singing from Community song books, British and Australian history, human anatomy and geography. Ron' Richards assisted with boxing lessons ill 1948.

The Headmaster arranged 154 exhibits from Woorabinda for the Industrial Fair in Brisbane. A feature of 1949 at the school was the introduction of folk dancing by Mrs. McAndrew. Esperanto was the most interesting subject commenced at night school in 1950.

The average attendance at night school was 50 people. Many entries were made for the Queensland Industries' Fair. A medal was awarded to Maudy Wallace for her knitting.
In 1951 the school commenced a percussion band and recorder group. During the year visits were made to the Rockhampton Carnival and Wirths Circus. Problems for the school were increased in 1952 when a number of illiterate children were brought into Woorabinda from the far west of the State. Towards the end of 1952, shorthand classes were commenced. Mrs. Ruby Naggs was appointed to the temporary staff at the school in 1953 - she remained on the temporary staff until 1968!!

For many years, the school was lacking accommodation for all children. In 1955 work commenced on building new classrooms. On 13th March, 1956 the Officers Welfare Hall was opened as a probationary school for the white children. The first teacher was Mr. I. J. Newsome. For a long time previously children of the settlement's officials were allowed to attend the Aboriginal School, thus saving the mothers much strain from supervising correspondence lessons. During the same year, Lynette Booth was successful at the Scholarship examination and commenced attendance at Rockhampton Girls' Grammar School.

The Government free milk scheme commenced operating on 9th October, 1958, and was an immediate success. The school suffered a severe loss when Mr. Jarrett retired during 1959.
lan Freeman became the first Woorabinda Schoolboy to represent his school and district at sports in the State Championships held in Brisbane during 1960.

Total number of children attending Woorabinda State School was 177 in 1961…
Ken Munns was successful at the 1961 State Scholarship examination and started attendance at Rockhampton Grammar School. A shield was donated by Mr. R. W. Naggs for competition amongst teams. There were two highlights in 1962; the first was a visit to the school by the Queensland Governor, Sir Henry Abel Smith, who made his visit on the 12th April. The second highlight was the transfer of responsibility for teaching of children at Woorabinda, from the Department of Native Affairs to the Education Department on 1st July, 1962. Gladys Riley passed Junior at the Range Convent whilst Ken Munns was also successful at Rockhampton Grammar School.
As published in the Government Gazette of 23rd February, 1963, an area of approximately 6 acres, 1 rood, 13 perches was set aside for school purposes.

July, 1965 saw a change for high school students. A new high school was opened at Baralaba and students from Woorabinda have been attending ever since that time. A Parents and Citizens Association was successfully formed at Woorabinda in 1966.

The Kindergarten was opened on 1st March, 1969 by the Duaringa Shire Chairman, Councillor H. Bauman. The building used was the building now occupied as the administration office. At the time of opening, the Kindergarten was the only pre-school centre operating in the Duaringa Shire. It opened with an enrolment of 13 children and reached ~, by 1970.

In 1971 a bus was purchased solely for the purpose of taking secondary school children to Baralaoa High School. Twenty secondary students travelled to Baralaba in 1972 whilst 8 others attended schools at Rockhampton, Yeppoon, Pine Rivers and Springsure. In addition 41 boys and 42 girls benefited from pre-schooling during that year. The annual school sports saw Woorabinda win for the third successive year. Mervyn Carbine was selected to play in the Central Queensland School Boys Cricket team which played in Brisbane.

New classroom and administration blocks were completed at the Woorabinda State School in 1976. They were opened by the Minister for Aboriginal and Islanders Advancement and Fisheries, Hon. Claude Wharton, M.LA. on the 29th October, 1977. The Principal of the School in 1977 is Mr. N. J. Ramm.






Reports for 1927 and 1928 indicate that only kitchen gardening was possible. The land was cleared for cultivation but the transport of the very limited machinery was not completed. However the main boundary fence was erected and the reserve sub-divided.

The herd of cattle, brought over by several stockmen including Mr. Oscar Munns, were settled on the reserve by 1928. The country was further improved during 1928 by ring-barking and fencing. The herd numbered 547, including 21 working bullocks and 8 bulls. total of seventeen killers were used for beef from this herd.

A fine crop of wheat was stunted by lack of rain in 1929 but was used as fodder for dairy cows, ensuring a plentiful milk supply. Plantings of maize and sorghum were made without success as the ground was very deep and porous. Fairly good supplies of vegetables were raised in the gardens around the administration village. Sixteen miles of new fencing were erected and 800 acres of country ringbarked. A cattle-yard and dip were constructed. The cattle strain was greatly improved due to the introduction. of good bulls. In fact it was claimed that the herd compared with any in the district. The killers were prime and averaged over 700 lbs in weight. The number of calves branded was 198 as against 65 in the previous year.

Excellent crops of early maize and sorghum were grown in 1930 and provided useful stock fodder. A promising area on Blackboy Creek was cultivated to grow a large supply of vegetables and melons. Thirty fruit trees were planted on this area. Trial plantings of tobacco and cotton failed owing to the dry weather. A good block on the Mimosa Creek was placed under cultivation and a dam sunk to provide water for irrigation purposes.

Twenty-six store bullocks were transferred to Woorabinda from Barambah making a cattle herd total of over 1200 head. Cattle reported to be in splendid condition and included 12 good bulls. A new dairy house was erected.

In 1931 the weather was not favourable for farming - no fodder crops could be grown for winter owing to the long dry spell. A three acre crop of maize yielded only 10 bags. Irrigation ensured a plentiful supply of vegetables such as tomatoes, French beans, cow peas, sweet potatoes, onions, cabbage, pumpkins, water melons, rock melons, squashes and marrows. Test of cotton proved disappointing because the land was too porous. Tobacco was also given a trial but the seed failed to germinate. A large dam was sunk at the top end of the reserve. Six and a half miles of fencing were erected to close off the main stock route and protect the cattle. Two miles of boundary fencing were renewed and a horse paddock enclosed. In spite of the severe drought, stock weathered it without loss and it was possible to take over 1000 head of cattle on agistment for six months. The Hereford herd totalled 1400 in 1931, and the quality was kept up by regular introduction of good young bulls. was also recorded that in 1931, Woorabinda maintained a good supply of saddle and draught horses.

The year 1932 proved a bad year - there was drought in the area and the cattle industry was depressed. Dry weather and the hot sandy nature of the soil made farming very discouraging. The maize and other crops, after a good start from opportune rains, were destroyed by severe heat waves and dry winds. An experiment in tobacco growing showed the climate lacked the necessary humidity for the best leaf. An exchange of bulls was made between Cherbourg and Woorabinda. A fodder storage shed and timbered pits

1933 was a good year with an excellent crop of wheat. The cotton crop realised £80 but tobacco growing again proved a failure. On Blackboy Creek a trial was made with pineapples and winter tomatoes. It was also an excellent year for grazing. The introduction of Bundaberg bulls gave excellent results.

During 1934, 1200 head of mixed cattle were transferred from Reward Police Remount Station -making total herd number 3,081. Approximately 14 miles of fencing were completed which resulted in the completion of the sub-division of the Woorabinda run. The success which attended the cattle raising operations at Woorabinda Settlement in 1934 was indicated in the increased brandings over last year. 660 calves were branded, being 200 in excess of last year's figures. Good progress was made with water conservation, which was a serious problem - 2 good dams were completed.

Bad farming conditions occurred in 1935, with only 19 ins. of rain. Much difficulty was experienced keeping up the supply of vegetables and milk. The drought continued into 1936 with successive heat waves militated against the effective cropping of vegetables. Bush fires occurred, resulting in the loss of about 12,000 acres of grass. There was no improvement in the drought in 1937, with lowest rainfall since 1932. The installation of irrigation plant was under investigation. Stock was also adversely affected. The rain was badly distributed together with excessive cold and heat.

Sweet potatoes provided the settlement with one of its most useful harvests in 1938. Other vegetable growing also proved successful. Three thousand gallons of milk were produced for home consumption. Twelve young draught horses were sent here for rearing purposes and a Clydesdale stallion was also delivered. Seven .dams were in use at Woorabinda. The total of cattle in 1939 was 2,762. This number was increased in 1940 when owing to drought, 623 cattle were transferred to Woorabinda for agistment.

Due to the Second World war, there was a shortage of manpower for essential primary industries in Queensland. This shortage in turn meant a re-organisation of the work force at Woorabinda. In 1942, 100 men were sent from Woorabinda for harvesting cotton in the Callide Valley. Three small irrigation plants were installed which placed a further 20 acres under cultivation. Men were again sent out in 1943; 100 men to Bundaberg for cane cutting (this included men from Cherbourg as well); 80 to Coomera for arrowroot digging; 80 men from both Cherbourg and Woorabinda to Biloela-Theodore area to assist with cotton picking.

Sixty Woorabinda men assisted in the cotton harvest at Biloela during 1944. One hundred and fifty Cherbourg and Woorabinda men rendered excellent service in harvesting peanut crops in the Kingaroy district. Seventy men from Woorabinda were responsible for harvesting the arrowroot crop at Coomera.

Land was prepared in 1944, for the planting of 700 citrus trees. It was aimed to have 2,000 trees on 30 acres. Work progressed on clearing and stumping for fodder crops for a dairy herd to be established.

Men were again working in cane fields and arrowroot harvesting during 1945. For the first time in the history of Woorabinda, vegetables were produced in such quantities so as to meet the local demands of a population of 800 and have a surplus. The surplus was distributed to Westwood Sanatorium and Baralaba Hospital. With the installation of irrigation from Mimosa Creek, 10 acres were used for vegetable crops, 20 acres prepared for fodder crops and it was proposed to plant 8 acres of peanuts. A further 350 trees were planted in the citrus orchard. A tractor and dam sinking equipment were provided for the first time. It was reported in 1945 that negotiations were proceeding for the purchase of a further area of 20,000 acres of good fattening country. Early in 1946 the property named "Foleyvale" was finally purchased. The property consisted of 26,986 acres and was situated 15 miles north of Duaringa, with a frontage to the McKenzie River.

The aims of Foleyvale were:
(a) to’. provide a continuity of locally grown beef for feeding Woorabinda and Cherbourg.
(b) production of grain for fodder.
(c) Training of young Aborigines in farming and grazing and
(d) to provide sales of fat stock.

The property was carrying 1500 head of cattle when purchased.

In 1950 the first truck load of 250 cattle fully produced by the Department were sold. Until 1950 all cattle on settlement were Herefords. It was considered by Mr. Dick Naggs in 1950 that for export beef, a chiller type carcass would be desirable and profitable. So that in 1950, 11 Aberdeen Angus bulls were purchased. As well as producing a chiller type carcass it was felt that they were an early maturing breed allowing a quicker turn-over. All Hereford bulls were sold in 1952 and replaced by Aberdeen Angus bulls. Pigs had not proved successful at Woorabinda and by 1951 they were transferred to Foleyvale.

At Foleyvale despite the drought a small cotton crop was harvested and pumpkins grown during 1952. Also wheat and milo were planted. Serious flooding occurred at Foleyvale in February, 1954. The McKenzie River reached a record height of 77 ft. 6 ins. and inundated 15,000 acres. The flooding killed all pasture over the area and all crops on farm areas. Two years later, a 14 ft. boat was purchased to cross the McKenzie River. Ninety bales of cotton were produced at Foleyvale and were of top quality.

At Woorabinda, the farm produced Lucerne hay, peanuts and millet in 1955. The orchard grew oranges, lemons and mandarins as well as vegetables. Total milk production was 11,465 gallons.
On the pastoral side, Woorabinda contained steers, cows, bullocks, heifers, dairy cows, draught and saddle horses. The years 1956, 1957 and 1958, 1959 and 1960 saw a continuation of good fruit, vegetables and milk production. To effect a greater measure of efficiency and control over Foleyvale and to inaugurate a more progressive policy for increased production on this Reserve, Foleyvale was in June, 1959, declared a separate Reserve and Superintendent Mr. B. J. Shanahan was appointed. Foleyvale in that year grew wheat, cotton, milo, peanuts, fruit and vegetables. Citrus trees were planted in June, 1960.


In 1962, although Foleyvale continued to function separately from Woorabinda, Mr. R. G. McGhee acted as cattle manager and Mr. Shanahan, although retaining the title of Superintendent, moved to Woorabinda. This allowed Mr. Shanahan to supervise all cattle activities at Woorabinda as well as Foleyvale. Plenty of fruit and vegetables were produced at Woorabinda during 1962-63 and the surplus was forwarded to the Rockhampton Hospital Board and Child Welfare Home. Use was made of a property named "Pegunny" for nine months. Its main purpose was the fattening of cattle. On 4th November, 1963, a severe bush fire burned down 109 fruit trees at Woorabinda. Broom millet ceased production in 1964 but the dairy, orchard and vegetables farm functioned normally at Woorabinda.

In December, 1964, the Superintendent's residence at Foleyvale was burned to the ground. In February, 1967 use was made of Zamia Creek Holding as a fattening property. Five hundred and three bullocks were transferred there from Woorabinda. Foleyvale, Woorabinda and Zamia Creek were operating as one pastoral venture from 1967 onwards. Although 7,260 gallons of milk were produced in 1967-68, the dairy was closed in 1968 due to increased cost of renovation. Fortunately, bottled milk was readily available by train from Rockhampton.

Some store cattle were purchased in 1971 for fattening and re-sale to allow the use of Foleyvale and adjunct properties, to their full potential. A stock fence was built around the Woorabinda Community in 1971. A training programme for stockmen was continued in 1973 - 14 men were employed at Foleyvale. Woorabinda was now utilised mainly as a breeding station in conjunction with Foleyvale and Zamia Creek. In 1973, Woorabinda had 2,128 head of livestock de-pastured. For drought reserves, Sudan and Lucerne Hay were grown under irrigation.

Farm production diminished in 1974 due to adverse conditions at Woorabinda. There was also a poor citrus crop. A further 200 citrus trees were planted and 792 bales of hay were cut. A good crop of watermelons was harvested.

The Department's stock-raising activities, over 12 major reserve areas were, in 1974-75, co-ordinated by a Director of Pastoral Activities, Mr. B. J. Shanahan. Mr. Shanahan's base was now Rockhampton. but he maintained close liaison with Head Office and Community management. The co-ordinated programme entailed breeding of stock on major areas such as Kowanyama, Edward River, Woorabinda and fattening the male excess turn-off on Foleyvale which was run conjointly with other fattening properties, Zamia Creek, portion of Sorrell Hills and portion of Duaringa Station block. Gross sales of surplus stock through Foleyvale/Woorabinda in 1975 were $108,440.
Woorabinda had favourable climatic conditions for farming in 1976. One hundred trees were planted for a citrus orchard on the community side of Mimosa Creek. The old orchard was also up-graded. The fruit and vegetable supply was increased by 65 %. It was hoped to plant vines on a trial basis. The depression in the cattle industry continued.

1977 saw the undertaking of a very long cattle drive. One thousand head of cattle were walked across Cape York Peninsula from Edward River and Kowanyama to Mungana then railed to Foleyvale for fattening.

Robert John McLACHLAN, Colin Roy William McCANN, Reginald DEUBLE, Louis GRENFELL, Harry HOLLIMAN, William SHANAHAN, Edward Alfred LOUIS, Neil LARSON, George CARRIAGE.

Mr. B. J. Shanahan is still Director of Pastoral Activities and is located in Rockhampton. He has been associated with Foleyvale since the property was purchased by the Department in 1946. Mr. Dick Naggs, Superintendent of Woorabinda for many years, cannot be forgotten when the cattle industry is mentioned. He established a precedent at Woorabinda by suggesting that instead of selling steers, more land —should be acquired and steers be pastured and sold as bullocks, bringing more revenue. Foleyvale was acquired and used for this purpose.

The Department cattle industry in Queensland has continued to develop under the guidance of such men as Mr. Naggs and Mr. Shanahan. They had the very fine assistance of men such as Mr. Oscar Munns, with a lifetime of service to the cattle industry at Taroom and Woorabinda.
On the farming side of Woorabinda, Mr. Charlie Ellem has given many years of outstanding service. He still lives at Woorabinda but will retire within 12 months.



Mr. Roly Armstrong: born at Goondiwindi in 1899. He later moved to Taroom settlement and was one of the original settlers at Woorabinda. He married Effie Coombra in 1931 at Woorabinda. He was a cowboy on the old farm for a number of years. He later worked on the Wooroona property and died some years ago at Emerald.

Mr. George Blair: born at Cherbourg in 1917. Mr. Blair lost a leg when jumping out of a train at Kingaroy. His wife Effie Doolan, was formerly from Taroom. In 1963 Mr. Blair was secretary to the Civic Advancement League at Woorabinda, which was formed to advance the progress of the Aboriginal people. The members of the committee were Norman George, Russell Priestly, Dick Hill, Jack Row , Willis Hill, Victor Reid, Eric Williams, Tom Purcell, Dempsey Booth and Ted Tranby.

Mr. Jim Bonner: born in 1926 at Casino, N.S.W. His father was Henry Bonner. His people came from the Ipswich and Dunwick areas as well. Most of his time at Woorabinda was unfortunately spent in ill-health. Mr. Bonner left here in 1961 to work as a ring barker.

All Bourke: Mr. Bourke was one of the few Aboriginal people to have served in the First World War. He worked as a gardener for the. School Head-master, Mr. Jarrett. He died near Duaringa in 1954.

Mr. Cyril Cressbrook: born at Woorabinda in 1931. He was a stockman at Foleyvale for many years and was an excellent horseman. He participated in many buck-jumping and rodeo events. Mr. Cressbrook married Eileen Dodd in 1952 and the family now lives at Theodore.

Mr. Ron Cressbrook: born at Taroom in 1922another of the original inhabitants of Woorabinda. Mr. Cressbrook married Edna Reid at Palm Island in 1943. He was a stockman for some years before going to Palm Island. He was then again employed as a stockman near Collinsville for 12 years then returned to Woorabinda about 10 years ago

Albert Dundoo: born at Dundoo station via Cunnamulla in 1883 and was a bullock driver in the early days of Woorabinda. He brought a team of bullocks from Taroom in 1927. The trip lasted 9 days, so was a very slow journey. He used to carry all the timber from the Forestry Reserve to the Settlement. Mr. Dundoo was also engaged in dam sinking and harvesting arrowroot at upper Coomera during the war years. He died at Cherbourg in 1965.

Mrs. Rose Freeman: nee King; born in 1894 at Richmond, N.Q. and married Mr. Leo Freeman at Springsure in 1915. Mrs. Freeman was employed at the Woorabinda hospital many years ago. She worked with the original Matron at Woorabinda, Nurse Hempsted. Mrs. Freeman died in 1974 at Woorabinda.

Sambo Garvey: born at Taroom in 1926. Mr. Garvey lived for 30 years at Woorabinda. He also worked on many stations as a stockman. He was at Foleyvale when it opened up. He only started painting in 1959 when Mr. Tarlington encouraged him. There are many of his paintings and signs at Woorabinda. He also makes wooden artefacts.

Mr. Norman George: born at Ipswich in 1900 Mr. George was a stockman at Woorabinda for many years and married Ethel Britcher here in 1967. He also was a stockman outside the settlement but died at Woorabinda in 1972. During his younger life, he was known to be an excellent footballer.

Mr. Fred Grogan: born in 1923 at Laura, N.Q. Mr. Grogan left Hopevale as -a young man and was employed as a tracker in the Cooktown area. He later moved to Woorabinda where he was variously employed as a policeman, hygiene worker and stockman. Between 1960 and 1962, Mr. Grogan was a tracker in Melbourne for the Victorian Police Department. He died at Woorabinda in 1974.

James Hamilton: Mr. Hamilton was born in Duaringa in 1908. He assisted Mr. Dick Naggs with the transport of people and their belongings from Taroom in 1926-27. The truck he drove over the very rough track was a Bean. Mr. Hamilton remained at Woorabinda after the move and became a mechanic on the settlement. He remained here until 1942 when he joined the RAAF as a truck driver in Rockhampton. He later trained as a fitter at the Rockhampton Technical College. Since that time, Mr. Hamilton was employed by the Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs in Brisbane, as a Liaison Officer with Opal and is now employed as a lecturer with the Education Department.

George Hayden: born at Junee Station via Dingo in 1916. He married Alice Moonlight at Woorabinda in 1941. He is remembered at Woorabinda as being a good horseman and buck-jumper. Mr. Hayden now lives at Mt. Morgan.

George Hill: Mr. Hill was born in the Rolleston area about 1909. He lost his sight and an arm when about 8 years old. A group of children were playing with gelignite on Fairfield station when the gelignite blew up with the above results. Mr. Hill then attended the School for the Blind in Brisbane. He was famous for his cornet and guitar playing. He travelled all over the Eastern States entertaining many thousands of people. He took part in the Aboriginal Corroboree Pageant in Melbourne in 1949 and also played at the Cremorne Theatre, Brisbane. Mr. Hill is best known, however, for his effort in winning the "Australian Amateur Hour" award on the 23rd September, 1948, with a total vote of 6,492. One listener wrote to the compere, Mr. Dick Fair, "with all due respect to the many good artists who have been heard on this programme in the past, I do not think you ever had an item to come anywhere near that of George Hill, who gave such a wonderful performance in last night's programme and I feel sure was appreciated by many thousands of listeners." Mr. Hill died regrettably when still in the prime of his life in 1951.

James Hoopiron: was born at Yandaboola, Cunnamulla and came to Woorabinda in 1950. He was well known as a tap and sword dancer and participated in many concerts. Mr. Hoopiron was employed as a cowboy on the farm whilst at Woorabinda. He died here in 1970.

Billy Jackson: Mr. Jackson was born in 1916 at Cloncurry and has strong links with Doomadgee Mission. He came to Woorabinda in 1959 from Mount Isa. He was a native policeman at Woorabinda and also at Charleville. He is now employed by the hygiene gang at Woorabinda. Mr. Jackson is an excellent didgeridoo player.

Mr. Lawrence Murray: was born at Taroom in 1914 and is well known for his heroism in the Midway Creek railway disaster. As a result of his actions his wife Mrs. Georgina Murray was presented with the Queens Commendations for brave conduct. Unfortunately, not long after his heroic act, Mr. Murray died at Alpha.

In the early hours of 26th February, 1960, near Bogantungan, Central Queensland, the Midway Creek bridge collapsed whilst a passenger train was crossing it. A locomotive, a power car and three sleeping cars plunged into the creek, which was in heavy flood. Mr. Murray, travelling with his family on the train, made his way in the darkness to the creek bank where he heard the cries of women and children trapped in the coaches. Without hesitation, he plunged into the strongly flowing creek and swam to the other side to get tools with which to break open carriage windows and doors in order to release passengers. He worked unceasingly throughout the night rescuing people from the carriages. During the operation, Mr. Murray was continually exposed to the grave danger of being swept away in the strong flood. Due to his bravery, many people were saved from drowning.

Mrs. Queenie Meldrum: Mrs. Meldrum (nee Dodd) was born at Burnett siding, Prince Charlotte Bay in 1906. She was a highly regarded Aboriginal elder and is referred to as Queen of the Dawson Valley tribe. She married Bruce Meldrum at Woorabinda in 1956, and in 1958 left Woorabinda.

Mr. Fred Mi Mi: born at Camboon via Eidsvold he married Dulcie Barnes at Woorabinda in 1937. Mr. Mi Mi was employed as a ring-barker and fencer outside the community for many years. He was known to be an excellent footballer. He died in January, 1965.

Mr. Paddy Mickelo: born at Pearl Creek, Duaringa, about 1909, Mr. Mickelo was a police tracker at Rockhampton from 1952 to 1960 before coming to Woorabinda where he was employed as a stockman. In his early life at Duaringa, Mr. Mickelo was employed changing horses on the mail coach. He also played football for Duaringa for many years. He worked on the cane fields during the Second World War. He was a single man and died in 1973.

Mr. Oscar Munns: Mr. Munns retired on 30th March, 1977, after many years of loyal service to the Department. He was born at Surat in 1906. At the age of eight he was moved to the Taroom settlement, where he remained until 1926 or 1927 -when the people were transferred from that settlement to Woorabinda. The move from Taroom occurred Mr. Munns states … "because of plans to block up the Dawson River, which would flood Taroom settlement." Mr. Munns was responsible for moving all the stock from Taroom to Woorabinda. At that time he recalls the Superintendent was Mr. H. C. Colledge and Director Mr. Bleakley. Mr. Munns also recalls the first house built at Woorabinda is the present Manager's house.

On 5th December, 1931, Mr. Munns married Miss Lorna Cressbrook who had also made the journey from Taroom. The marriage took place at the Church of England in Woorabinda and the couple were married by the then Bishop of Rockhampton, Bishop Fortescue. There were thirteen children as a result of this very happy marriage.

For a great proportion of his life Mr. Munns has worked as a stock-man and cattle overseer on Woorabinda, but for brief periods he has been employed on cattle stations throughout the central west. For sport Mr. Munns played football - representing the Queensland All Blacks, against the New South Wales All Blacks in the 1930's. He also boxed occasionally in boxing tents and played the odd game of cricket.

On the 7th January, 1959, Mr. Munns suffered a great loss when his wife died in Rockhampton Hospital. The funeral was conducted at Woorabinda the following day. Mr. Munns was appointed a Justice of the Peace on the 23rd June, 1967.

As recognition of his many years of outstanding service to the Queensland Government, Mr. Munns was awarded the Imperial Service Medal. The award was presented to him on 1st October, 1976 by the Queensland Governor, Sir Colin Hannah.

Mr. Henry Murdoch: born 1921 at Cherbourg, Mr. Murdoch spent a number of years in the west and north-west as a stockman. He was a competent stockman and all round sportsman. He was an excellent boxer, good batsman and better than average footballer, being one of the star centres of the Woorabinda football team. He appeared in many famous films, including several Chips Rafferty and Ealing Studios productions. Some of the films were Eureka Stockade; The Overlanders; Bitter Springs; Kangaroo; Duwarra; Shiralee; Justin Buyard and Dust in the Sun.

Mr. Tippo Powder: was born at Yatton, via Marlborough in 1914. He was a police tracker at Oxley in Brisbane in the early 1950's and later was appointed a black tracker for the Police Department in Melbourne. Mr. Powder was known as an excellent accordion player.

Mr. Barney Pender: born 1904 at Camooweal. He was employed as a stockman outside the settlement for a number of years - mainly in the Alpha district. He was also employed as a policeman at Woorabinda for a long time. Mr. Pender died at Woorabinda in 1964.

Mr. Joseph Rankin: born in 1910-at Thargomindah. Mr. Rankin married Kathleen Burke at Woorabinda in 1933 and remained here until 1961. He was employed as a wood cutter for a long period. Mr. Rankin was very well known as a top rugby league footballer in the 1930's. He died at Aramac in 1962.
Mr. Geoffrey Reid: was born about 1918 at Hawkwood Station. In 1938 he married Mavis Richardson at Woorabinda. He was employed as a native policeman here during the 1940's and later was used for escort duties on many occasions. Mr. Reid was so well known in Brisbane Office that his services were retained for a period in that office during 1968. He proved a very willing worker, and a good ambassador for the Department. He even served witchetty grubs, delivered from Woorabinda, to the Vice-Regal party at a dinner in Lennons Hotel. Mr. Reid died in March this year at Duaringa.

Mr. Willie Rookwood: born in 1890 at Roma. n 1933 he married Pearl Darby at Woorabinda. In spite of his handicapped leg, Mr. Rookwood was an excellent boxer and was reputed to have taught Senator Neville Bonner and others the basic rudiments of the sport. He also taught many of the children tribal spear dancing. Mr. Rookwood died in 1966 at Woorabinda but his wife Pearl still resides here.

Mr. Victor Shepherd: Mr. Shepherd was born at Rolleston in 1921. He was well known as a Police tracker in Melbourne during the years 19621968. He replaced Fred Grogan as the last tracker in the Victorian Police Force. Before his employment in the Police Force, Mr. Shepherd was a stockman in the Central Queensland Area.

Mr. Thomas Twaddle: Mr. Twaddle was married in 1940 at Woorabinda. He was employed in the powerhouse at Woorabinda in the 1950's and was also employed as a labourer. He died here in 1967.

Mr. Oscar Wallace: known as the king of Thargomindah. He was believed to be the son of Limbundy and Judy and was born at Tennant Creek. He died when 96 years of age at Woorabinda on 8th August, 1956.

Mr. Cossie Waterton: born at Taroom in 1912. Mr. Waterton was an excellent station hand, who worked all over central and western Queensland. He married Iris Richardson in 1952 at Woorabinda and still lives here.

Mr. Kruger White: born at Wooroona Station during the Boer War period in 1897. His mother died when he was a baby and he was brought up by his father and the station people at Wooroona. He was a stockman all his life and still lives on a property near Duaringa. In earlier days, he was a frequent visitor to Woorabinda, being a nephew of Mr. Willie Kemp.

Mr. Eric Williams: born 1.6.1924 at Taroom. Mr. Williams married his wife Berline at Woorabinda in 1945. He was a stockman for many years and is well known for his love of music. He and his brother Archie played accordions for dances and concerts. During his early life, Mr. Williams was a good footballer and cricketer.




On 20th May, 1942, a new village was established at Woorabinda. The village was established to provide accommodation for 240 Cape Bedford people who had been evacuated from the Cape by the military authorities. To build the village, the settlement used timber produced locally and all work was performed by Aboriginal wardsmen.

The people arrived at Baralaba per train on 21st May and were immediately transferred to Woorabinda. However it took them many months to become accustomed to the food and .climate at Woorabinda and there were a total of 32 male and i6 female deaths up to March, 1943. Many deaths were due to an outbreak of dengue-in one case a whole family died. However by early 1943, the people were becoming more accustomed to their new abode and the general position improved. Also, early in 1943, the Lutheran Church appointed a Mr. Frith to assist with the general welfare of these people.

Very soon after their arrival at Woorabinda, they established a Lutheran congregation at Woorabinda. The services were held in a bark hut and Paddy, George Bowen and Alick Cameron were the backbone of the congregation. Pastor V. F. H. Wenke from Biloela used to visit regularly to conduct services. He later became Superintendent of Hope Vale Mission.

By August, 1943, the men were working, as part of the war .effort, on digging arrowroot. They were also excellent gardeners and were largely responsible for the successful farm at Woorabinda. On 13th September, 1945, the Lutheran Mission Authorities asked for the return of the people to their own Mission.

They visited the Hon. T. A. Foley, M.LA, Minister for Health and Home Affairs, to state their case. Some years later on 9th April, 1949, the first seven men started their returns to Hope Vale Mission. Other small groups returned until the end of 1950 when all had returned to Hope Vale.

It is of interest to note that the Chairman of the Lutheran Mission, Hope Valley (Cape Bedford Mission) in 1949, was Mr. J. Bjelke-Petersen, M.L.A., now Premier of Queensland. He acted on behalf of the Lutheran Church in making preliminary arrangements for the re-opening of the Cape Bedford Mission.




ABORIGINAL INLAND MISSION (Founded in 1905 by Mrs. R. J. Long)

The magazine "Our A.I.M." reported in December, 1927, that Miss Acland and Miss Lawson were living in tents at "the well" on the Duaringa Road, about 9 miles from the settlement. They walked to the settlement for services until their horse and buggy was brought from Taroom. The 1927 Annual Report stated that: 'The district Missionaries of the Aborigines Inland Mission have also worked untiringly in ministering to the people of the camps, in the way of village visiting and camp services."

In 1928 a tiny mission house was built on Perch Creek cattle station. It had microscopic rooms which were lined originally with hessian bags. The church reported that nine people were baptised in September, 1930. The church magazine advised that in March, 1933, a skilled builder Mr. Oakman assisted in completion of the new A.J.M. church. The Superintendent of the settlement, Mr. Colledge, kindly allowed Mr. Oakman to' camp at the site. Church services were held on Sunday nights and were well attended. The A.I.M. missionaries at that time were Miss Shankleton and Miss Presnell. They reported the death of Billy Knob, an elderly Christian. A highlight of 1934 was the visit to Woorabinda of Mr. and Mrs. Long, Directors of the Church. They had also visited Woorabinda before in 1932.

A new horse was purchased for the missionaries in 1944 at a cost of £15. All the usual branches of activity - Sunday School, C.E. Societies and Bible classes were contributing to the work at Woorabinda in the 1940's. For many years, the missionaries travelled by horse and buggy or bicycle, the distance from Perch Creek. "Our greatest trial has been the journey to and from the settlement in … an open sulky in the unaccustomed heat over roads which, since the recent rains, are extremely bad and deeply rutted" (1946). During Easter, 1948, it was reported "Good Friday night was mild and still, and the full moon shone down on approximately 300 people, hushed and still from the opening vesper … until after the benediction."
A highlight of 1949 was the visit of Rev. Wilbur Fletcher with the Baptist Gospel Wagon. The church building proved too small and the reception hall was utilised, with timbers from the nearby mill for seats. About 400 attended the meetings.

The Missionaries still found their mode of transport difficult in 1950. "In taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the folk at Woorabinda 144 miles have again been covered on push bike. On many trips in the past months we have had to wade through water up to the pedals of the bike for close to two miles."

The early 1950's must have had their frustrations for the people of the A.I.M. Then happily they reported: "After months of indifference, godlessness, backsliding, we have been on an average of 100 gather for 8 successive nights of meetings with Mr. V. Ham. Many wept throughout the meetings, many backsliders attended, many came to Church for the first time. Some precious souls yielded to Christ." Workers with A.I.M. in the 1950's included Mr. and Mrs. Billy Tobane and Mrs. Audrey Kleinschmidt. One of the old faithfuls of the Church at that time was Ted Moranoa.

On 17th January, 1958, a severe windstorm occurred at Woorabinda. Part of the roof of the A.I.M. Church was damaged and the roof dismantled completely afterwards. A new Church was therefore proposed and work commenced. It was finally completed and opened on 23rd November, 1963.

In June, 1968, a house at Woorabinda was allocated to the A.I.M. missionaries, Mr. and Mrs. Downs. Pastor and Mrs. Max Wright, also lived on the settlement until 1973 when they moved to Palm Island. In view of a shortage of workers in the mission, it was decided that regular visits be made from Rockhampton to have Religious Instruction classes in the school and visit people in their homes. Mr. Barry Downs and other helpers continued with this work until 1976 when Miss Rachel Lacey was appointed to Woorabinda.

One missionary gave her impressions of her first approach to Woorabinda:

For many years that part of the country ,was the feeding ground of the grey kangaroo.


The first Church of England service was held at Woorabinda on 25.3.1928 by Rev. A. H. Freeman. He held Holy Communion at 8 a.m.; Matins at 11 a.m. and a children's service at 2.30 p.m. The Bishop's first visit was 16.12.1928 when he confirmed a total of 26 people. (Bishop Ash). The first services were held in a log shanty where the jail now stands. It was reported that in 1931, clergy from the Church of England were visiting Woorabinda regularly. One of the earliest clergyman to visit Woorabinda was Brother Andrew of the Bush Brotherhood who visited quarterly for 20 years.

The trip from Rockhampton in the early days took all day and the clergy often remained two or three days. In 1932, a roomy Church building was completed by the Church of England, who bought their timber at cost from the settlement mill. Bishop Housden succeeded Bishop Ash and Brother David Brown took over the work of the Bush Brotherhood until the death of a relative
called him back to England. Later, Bishop McCall succeeded Bishop Housden who was transferred to the Riverina.

In January 1958, the Church of England, like the A.I.M., suffered severe wind-damage. Sheer fate saved the lives of 40 confirmants who were expected for instruction classes 10 minutes before the worst of the storm. The building was completely unroofed and panels of timber and iron were scattered for hundreds of yards. Nothing was left standing and all installations were smashed beyond repair. Canon Torlach was then the visiting priest from Mt. Morgan. Brother Dunne of Gladstone also helped out with visits because of a shortage of staff.

Later, during the time of Bishop McCall and Dean Matthews, a new Church was planned. Timber was supplied by the Woorabinda sawmill at an agreed price. Mr. Len Hollingsworth, a Rockhampton carpenter was engaged 10 erect the Church, with the aid of Ernie Bounghi and the Jensen and Ellem families, the building was commenced. The helpers completed the floor and bracing whilst the carpenter carried out the structural work.

The Church was completed in 1960, and afterwards Bishop Donald Shearman visited several times to confirm communicants. He was later replaced by the present Bishop of Rockhampton, Bishop Grindrod. Vicar Blow, Father Gribble, Canon Dale, Father Ulrich, Rector Hunter, Canon Coal drake and Dean Hazelwood all participated in administering the sacraments during the fifty years the Church has been established at Woorabinda.

One of the saddest events to occur at Woorabinda happened whilst the Church was being built. It was the death by drowning of Mr. and Mrs. Chris. Jensen and son, Graham. The family were very strong supporters of the Church. Because the new Church was unfinished, a memorial service for the Jensens was held in the Welfare Hall.

Of the clergy who visited Woorabinda, the very Rev. Dean Matthews became the first Bishop of Riverina in N.S.W. and Dean Hazelwood became Dean of Perth and then Bishop in New South Wales. .The priest who now visits Woorabinda is Father John Warby of Rockhampton.


The 1931 Annual Report indicates that the clergy of the Catholic Church were visiting Woorabinda on a regular basis.

In 1933 a Church building 50 ft. by 24 ft. was erected by voluntary native labour, the cost of timber and roofing materials being found by the Church authorities. The location of the Church was at the Duaringa end of the village. The Most Reverend Andrew Tynan, D.D., Bishop of Rockhampton, 1946-60, was always deeply concerned about the spiritual welfare of the Aboriginal people at Woorabinda. He appointed Father Anderson, who was stationed at St. Joseph's Home, Neerkol, to visit the settlement on a regular basis. Other priests who visited Woorabinda in the early days included Father Collins who also refereed football matches, Father O'Dwyer; Father Tynan and Father Daly, now in Longreach.

The Bishop's concern for the country children in the Diocese resulted in the introduction of a Religion by Letter scheme - the first venture of this kind in Queensland. Father Arthurs, Parish Priest. of Theodore district, which included Woorabinda, asked for the children of Woorabinda to be enrolled in the scheme. In Mrs. Wyn Presnell he found a dedicated lay missionary and contact with the Sisters of Mercy at Range Convent began.

In 1956, Sister M. Fabian, the Major Superior of the Sisters of Mercy of the Rockhampton Diocese, accompanied by Sister M. Loyola, Directress of "Religion by Letter" made history by being the first Sisters of Mercy to visit Woorabinda. Mrs. Presnell was the hostess on that occasion. Sister Fabian was contemplating establishing a convent at Woorabinda but at that particular time permission was unobtainable. When the Sisters arrived they were welcomed warmly by Mr. Dick Naggs, Superintendent and many of the Aboriginal people themselves. The Sisters then began a week of visitation and instruction. Children arrived after school hours for instruction and at night Sister Loyola taught adults whilst Sister Fabian looked after the children in the church grounds. Naturally that week did not pass without much humour. The people were happy but somewhat shy at first. One husband said "my wife - she say she come but she bail up." Sister Loyola, wondering if she were off to the Court of Petty Sessions or to the local dairy, volunteered to go down and bail her out. The result was another smiling face in the congregation.

The Sisters wondered at one particular time why the children had developed a penchant for knocking on the outside wall. The explanation was soon clear, keen big eyes had seen notches in the Cyprus pine boards and those notches soon disappeared to unintentionally air-condition the church in a primitive way.

The week's effort ended on a great note with the arrival of his Lordship the Bishop. In his colourful liturgical robes, to the delight of the people, he celebrated Mass and administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to adults and children. Nowhere was there a greater ecumenical spirit than at Woorabinda in those times. An official 'reception was held and was very well attended. The Bishop was suitably impressed and within a few weeks arranged the purchase of a Holden primarily for regular visitation of Woorabinda but also to travel round the Diocese to meet country children.

Father Arthur's heart was set on getting a new church built in the centre of the village. In 1958, Mr. Jack Carrol of Yeppoon commenced rebuilding the church with the assistance of Noel Gulf, John Barry and Francis Brown. The Church building also included room for the Sisters and a car port. Visitors from as far away as Mackay travelled to Woorabinda for the Blessing of the Church by Bishop Tynan.

In 1977, after a request from the people of Woorabinda to Sister Catherine Courtney, Superior General of the Sisters of Mercy in Brisbane, two Sisters came to take up permanent residence at Woorabinda. They involve themselves in the interests and needs of the people who in turn have befriended the Sisters. Father Michael Hayes, Parish Priest of Theodore, visits the Community regularly and is untiring in his efforts to promote the welfare of all Aboriginal people.




The 192? Annual Report stated that the practice of native corroborees and use of native weapons was always encouraged. This policy was followed because it was felt that by cultivating healthy recreations, the evils of gambling and immorality could be combatted.

Rugby was always a popular sport at Woorabinda and as early as 1927, matches were played in Rockhampton. The teams won praise for their play and behaviour. In 1931, the Settlement gave a benefit Sports Day for the Baralaba ambulance. This Sports Day became a feature of later years at Woorabinda. In 1933, a team comprised of Woorabinda footballers toured the Central West and was an outstanding success. In 1935, the All Blacks, an Aboriginal football team was formed. This team comprised of players from the three Government Settlements, Cherbourg, Palm Island and Woorabinda. The team participated in 3 football matches in Brisbane - the first two against white players, which they lost, althoughwithout discredit. In the third they won an outstanding victory over the "Fingal" All Blacks, an Aboriginal team whose prowess in football was widely known.

Boxing was always enjoyed by the younger men and in 1937 rival teams from Cherbourg and Woorabinda, journeyed to Brisbane to compete for a Championship cup, under the auspices of the Queensland Amateur Boxing and Wrestling Union. The boys acquitted themselves well against white boxers. A wireless set was purchased by the people themselves during 1937, and provided a popular means of relaxation. A recreation room was built at the sportsground in 1938.

A Social and Welfare Association was organised in 1945 to provide the people with social amenities and to promote recreational activity. The first Annual Show was held on the 18th June, 1945 and displayed Aboriginal-handicrafts, needlework, garden produce, culinary and flower exhibits It is understood that a brass band was formed here in the early days but further details are not known. Fortnightly pictures were held in 1946-47 as a talkie plant and electric light were installed Rodeo events were held at the 1948 show. In 1949, football, boxing and cricket were played. A boxing stage was erected and new matting and ropes were obtained. Dances were held for children and adults under the organisation of George Hill and his band.

The 1949 Annual Show was a real carnival week-end. A procession was held depicting the progress in regard to Queensland Aborigines. A float which created considerable interest was erected on a timber truck and bolster. Two evenly matched spotted gum logs 40 ft. long and 6 ft. 5 ins. girth were loaded on same. On one end was built a native gunyah in which was seated a native in pre-civilisation attire. In the centre was a miniature steam engine and saw benches and a sawn timber miniature cottage was on the other end, in which was seated an Aboriginal in European clothing.

During 1950, the Concert party was revived and a production was staged for the Ministerial. party during the show. New Years Day Sports and Rodeo were held in 1951. The highlight of this day was the Mimosa Cup, a draught horse derby ridden by women and won by Alice Barnes.

A fancy dress ball was held in 1951. Sports activities included football, cricket, boxing and basketball. A new concrete cricket pitch was laid. The 1951 Annual Show and Jubilee Celebrations were opened by the Minister for Health and Home Affairs, the Honourable W. Moore, M.L.A. Others to attend were Mr. J. Clark, M.L.A. and Mr P. Whyte, M.L.A. During the year a racecourse was laid down and a meeting was held. As a feature of the Commonwealth Jubilee Celebrations, an inter-settlement Boxing Tournament was held on the 1st May, 1951, at the Brisbane Stadium. Amongst those competing were Francis Brown, Robert Bundle, Ronald Powder, George Hayden, Billy Hill and David Twaddle. During intervals in the programme George Hill played his cornet and George Daisy sang a popular tune.

Several corroborees were held during 1953. Matron Lemon recalled that the corroborees were held at the back of the Church of England Church. She recalled the many dances, including the Annual New Year Dances. The Carol Singers were a feature of the 1950's - they used to gradually wend their way around the houses and finish at the Hospital. The Concerts were held in the hall when it was built, but the people missed the open air picture shows where everyone brought along a fire tin on a winter's night.

In 1955, the New Years Day Sports included a buck-jump event. A rodeo was held later in the year in conjunction with the Baralaba ambulance. A party from Woorabinda attended the Barcaldine Golden Fleece Celebrations, in 1958. They performed a series of corroboree dances and gave exhibitions of boomerang and spear-throwing. A ladies' choir was commenced under Mrs. Magee and a marching Girls team formed. A Boy Scouts group was also formed under the guidance of the Head Master of the School, Mr. D. McAdam. The group consisted of 38 scouts with Willie Thaiday and Dick Hill Assistant Scoutmasters. The group was closed in 1960 due to lack of leadership. The Welfare Hall, which was to prove a tremendous boon was completed in 1959.

Willie Thaiday and his entertainers provided several concerts in the new hall. Pictures were held twice weekly as were dances, in 1961. A fishing competition was held at the 8 mile waterhole in February, 1961, with a prize of £2 for the biggest fish. A New Years Eve Ball and Easter Masked Ball were held. A home and garden competition also took place. Girl Guides were formed in 1961 with Mrs. H. Simmons and Miss J. Aland as Guiders. Twenty-eight girls joined the troop. The troop continued until 1965 when it closed due to lack of leadership.

The boxers who attended a Biloela tournament in 1962 were advised, "They were a great draw and their sportsmanship, clean fighting and manners were strongly commented on by all." Boxing tournaments were frequently attended and in 1963 a tournament was held in Rockhampton solely between the Boxing Club there and the Woorabinda Settlement.

The Woorabinda Women’s Club was formed in 1967 with a female liaison officer as President. Members took part in toy making, cake decorating and other associated activities. During the year 1975-76, welfare association activities included dances, bingo and roller skating. The Welfare Association is currently in recess. After the Golden Jubilee it is hoped to revive the group




Mr. C. Allen: Mr. AlIen moved to Woorabinda in 1954 after a change of employment as a foreman carpenter with State Works at Gympie. Mr. AlIen was responsible for the construction of many buildings at Woorabinda including the old school, welfare hall, sawmill building, garage and blacksmith shop, carpenters workshop, back store and 35 residences. In 1960 Mr. AlIen was appointed hygiene officer and is still a familiar figure to everyone on the community.

Mr. Graham Blair: A qualified accountant who assisted with book-keeping and accounts in the early days of Woorabinda. He later became official storekeeper which involved immense work in the supply of free provisions to unemployed Aborigines. He also stocked groceries and draperies and as his work increased he was assisted by his wife Ruby (nee Grambower). At a later stage, as work increased still further, an additional clerk had to be appointed to the office.

Mr. H. C. Colledge: Superintendent at both Taroom and Woorabinda for many years. His work is recalled in other sections of the book.

Mrs. H. C. Colledge: Was House Matron for many years. Mrs. Colledge organised dormitories for boys and girls who were supervised by married couples. Children were prepared every morning for school until they reached the age of employment. As House Matron, Mrs. Colledge arranged sewing classes to provide necessary clothing for children. She trained teenage girls in household duties so that they became
Proficient in the work. This training enabled many to obtain outside employment. When Mrs. Colledge retired due to ill-health, her daughter Margaret filled this vacancy. Another daughter, Joan Colledge, a double certificated nurse, became hospital Matron until her marriage in 1945

Mr. C. Ellem: Mr. Ellem came to Woorabinda for six weeks and has been here 30 years! Whilst living at Duaringa, he was asked to relieve the settlement overseer, Mr. Joe Thomas, for six weeks. Mr. Thomas did not return so Mr. Ellem stayed on. The excellent results from the farm and dairy over many years, have been a credit to Mr. Ellem. He is expected to retire within 12 months.

Mr. Fred Grambower: Farm overseer for many years at both Taroom and Woorabinda. Mr. Grambower was one of the first people to move from Taroom and took part in the early construction of fencing, bridges, etc., here. Because of his employment, he was responsible for gangs of Aboriginal people and was one of the best-known persons on the community.

Mr. C. P. Jensen: Mr. Jensen was storekeeper and clerk at Woorabinda for thirteen years. Many people will recall his tragic drowning in the Mimosa Creek on the 8th March, 1959. Not only Mr. Jensen drowned in this tragic incident but his wife and son Graham.

Mr. Dan Naggs: Came to Woorabinda as a truck driver and replaced Duaringa and Baralaba mail men. He did most of the driving during the war years, and is remembered for his driving of gas producing vehicles between Cherbourg and Woorabinda.

Mr. Richard Naggs: Mr. Naggs was born at Gympie in 1901, the son of a miner. The family went to Mount Morgan, Rockhampton and the sapphire fields at Rubyvale. When the first World War broke out, Dick was 13. There was a rush of men to the war, and Dick went to work with a gang to chase cattle. He met men in the gang who were later to live at Woorabinda. Some were Bill Ralston, Sandy Solomon, Cecil Jack, and Roger Clark. He tried his hand at many things, and by the time he was 21 he had studied accountancy, had a steam engine driver's ticket, and was working at a sawmill when he married the miller's daughter.


He had taught himself about engines, and cars were becoming popular at that time, so while working on the railway at Duaringa he was the unofficial "motor mechanic" - to the Shire as well, which as well as horses and drays had a Model T Ford for the overseer and later a 'ute' and a truck in their fleet.

In 1937, about ten years after the shift, he drove an official from the Health Department from the train to Woorabinda. On the return journey he was offered a job at Woorabinda. By morning he had made his mind up to take the ob. He described his function as, "to get movement at Woorabinda." With his flair for mechanics, resourcefulness and determination, things were soon moving. e did a bit of everything and described himself as an all-rounder - sinking dams, building bridges, planting crops, breeding cattle and horses and mechanising everything that could be hitched to an engine, supervising work and balancing the books. As an "all-rounder" he was in the field supervising work on an arrowroot crop during the Second World War at Coomera when he received a message from Mr. O'Leary to put his swag on the train and go back home to Woorabinda. Several days later he had been appointed Superintendent.

He remembers the early priorities were electricity for the sawmill building, development of a cattle industry, good water supply and experimental crops, including peanuts, cotton, sorghum and wheat. Perhaps one of the obvious monuments to this early administration and the residents of Woorabinda was the construction of the water tower which still stands today. The 40 ft. tower used 17,000 super feet of timber and concrete was raised wheelbarrow by. wheelbarrow using gravel from the MacKenzie River. A truck departed Monday and arrived back at Woorabinda on the Friday carrying the precious gravel that was loaded and unloaded by hand. The tower was built by sheer hard work without the assistance of sophisticated equipment, as too were the dams that were built to water the growing cattle herd during the "dry." A precedent started at Woorabinda under Dick Naggs' administration has continued to be the backbone of the Department's successful cattle industry.

Mr. Naggs suggested that instead of selling steers. more land should be acquired and steers be pastured and sold as bullocks, bringing more revenue. Foleyvale was acquired and developed, and in 1950 the first truck-load of 250 cattle fully produced by the Department - were sold.

The Department's cattle industry in Queensland has continued to develop with Foleyvale as the major fattening area. A tribute to Mr. Dick Naggs, a person who gave a lifetime of service~ to the Aboriginal people of Central Queensland. Mr. Naggs retired in 1968 and currently resides at Wynnum.

Mr. Horace Pinchin: Mr. Pinchin was Deputy Superintendent at Taroom and Woorabinda in the early days.

Mr. Horace Tarlington: Mr. Tarlington was Head Master at Woorabinda for many years. He took charge of the School twice whilst it was under the control of the Department of Native Affairs. He is remembered with affection by all who knew him. Mrs. Tarlington taught sewing to the school girls.

Superintendents who have been appointed since Mr. Naggs' time include: Messrs. E. Butler, N. Thornton, J. Wilkinson, D. Egan, V. Agostini, T. Carew and R. H. Topham (Manager at the present time).

Other relieving managers have included Messrs. B. Draffin, B. Shanahan, and J. Bailey. Mr. Shanahan was Superintendent at Foleyvale for several years before coming to Woorabinda and was later appointed to Rockhampton.


Back Row: Aboriginal Tracker, Unknown, Mr. Horace Pinchln, (Dep. Superintendent), School Teacher, Aboriginal Tracker. Front Row: Nurse Hempsted, Mrs. H. C. Colledge, Mr H. C. Colledge (Supintendent), Mrs. Murton (School Teacher).
Although taken at Taroom In 1926, most of the staff in the photograph transferred to Woorabinda.


Currently there are no Aboriginal ceremonies being held at Woorabinda. As late ~s 1964, one ceremony was held. It was conducted by the Bloomfield River people and was named Egglock. All the upper Dawson, Mitchell, Roma, Nogoa, Belyando and Nebo Aborigines have thinned out to the extent that they do not follow up their traditional ceremonies.

In 1968, the following .languages were still spoken: Gunggarri, Gundu-Munding, Gwing-Gwing Waka-Waka and Koko-Bujun.
The following is .a list of Aboriginal names for relics:
Goocharoo - Stick used in pastime game. Dinadinga - Corroboree sticks.
Thungal - Carving knife.
Boolgoo - shield.
Wukana - Stone. ~0mahawk.
Numanuma - Message stick. Boondamoon - Song stick.
Boobingle - Emu drum.
Moongoon - Message stick.
Didgeridoo - Instrument used in corroboree
Baree - Weaning stone. Goomadonga - Head dress.
Jurrooka - Head dress.
Coolamar - For carrying food. Yugmyuh - Stone knife.
Wungi Wungi - Corroboree sticks. Mootha - For corroboree.
Wakgunamooga - Fighting sticks.

Some languages can still be heard but very rarely by Europeans. The older men here tend to occasionaly discuss some matter of importance in their own language.

The hunting of porcupines is still very prevalent and they are considered a great delicacy. Also goannas, lizards and witchetty grubs are eaten when found.

See chapter :3: Development of health services





Aboriginal Department - Annual Reports from 1923 onwards and Department Files.
Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies Letter of 1st June, 1977.
Education Department, Senior Research Officer, Information and Publications Branch Letter of 10.8.77. and variety of historical documents attached.
Gibbins, J. O. - (Daughter of H. C. Colledge) - Letter of 30th May, 1977, and various photographs.
John Oxley Library - Letter of 26S.77.
Lemon, Elsie - Letter and photos of 3.8.77.
Loyola, Sister M. - Letter of 1.9.77.
Registers of Births, Deaths and Marriages Taroom and Woorabinda.
Taroom Historical Society - Letter and photos sent 31.5.77.
"Our Aim" - Copies of 26.7.1932, 29.8.1932, 23.3.1933, 24.7.1934, and September, 1976.
Interview with

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License.