Extract from Conspiracy of Silence [pp.18-19] by Timothy Bottoms
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Arthur Palmer (Premier: May 1870 – Jan 1874), like Thomas McIlwraith, Herbert and Mackenzie, and so many other Queensland colonial politicians, were also investing in pastoral runs on the expanding Queensland frontier. There can be no doubt that they had a vested interest in enabling their investments to make a profitable return, as to, did most of the now lauded frontier money-makers, such as Oscar de Satgé, John Costello, Robert Collins, Patrick Durack, George Dalrymple, John Macartney and many others. They achieved their wealth, or attempted to, at the expense of Aboriginal sovereignty. They could do this, as Jane Lydon so succinctly put it, because:

They believed in the inferiority of Aborigines, and objected strongly to the official principle that Aborigines were subjects of Her Majesty, and as such had rights, as well as to the related, although unofficial argument that this implied a right to the land and therefore to compensation for its loss – both of which seemed ludicrous to those in the bush.[1]

In 1909 John Arthur Macartney (1834-1917) published a list of pastoral runs or stations that he had owned, either wholly or in partnership, in Victoria, Queensland, and the Northern Territory of South Australia :


  1. Wondillygong – Ovens and Buckland Rivers
  2. Warronley – Ovens River


  1. WaverleyBroad Sound, Port Curtis District …         1858 to 1896
  2. Glenmore – Fitzroy River, Port Curtis District …              1858 to 1860
  3. Yatton and Clive – Leichhardt District for 1 year                 1861 to 1862

4. AnnandaleIsaacs River, Leichhardt District …                 1882 to 1896

5. Caroora – Mackenzie River, Leichhardt Dist.                      1858 to 1861 or 2

  1. Columbria – Mackenzie River, Leichhardt Dist.                 1858 to 1861 or 2
  2. Country on Teresa Creek, Leichhardt Dist. … 1859 to 1862
  3. Avon Downs – Suttor River, Kennedy District …              1860 to 1862
  4. Wolfang and Huntley – Peak Downs, Leichhardt
  5. District (sold to Gordon Sanderman)  …      1859 to 1862
  6. Talagai – Peak Downs, Leichhardt District …                    1880 to 1884 or 5
  7. Diamantina LakesGregory North District

(sold to Sidney Kidman) …    …                        1875 to 1909

  1. Manuka – Gregory North District (sold to

Menzies, Nicol and Anderson) …                   1876 to 1878

  1. Bladensburgh – Gregory North District …                                     1877 to 1896
  2. Tamworth – Burke District …     …                                  1877 to 1883
  3. Landsborough Downs and Stamfordham –
  4. Gregory North District    …                                  1878 to 1882
  5. Hidden Valley – Burdekin R., Kennedy South Dist.            1882 to 1896
  6. Yarrowmere – Lake Buchanan, Kennedy Sth Dist. 1881 to 1896
  7. Amphitheatre – (now known as Llanrheidol)

– Gregory North District  …            …                 1875 to 1878

  1. Escott – Nicholson and Gregory Rivers, Gulf of

Carpentaria, Burke District …         …                1882 to 1896

  1. St. Helens
  2. Jolimount – on the coast between Mackay and               1882 to 1896
  3. Bloomsbury                                            Bowen


  1. Florida 10,000 sq. miles, on the Arafura Sea
  2. The Pastures – 1,000 sq. miles on Strangeways R.
  3. Maude Creek – on the Katherine River      …       1884 to 1896
  4. Auvergne 8,000 sq.miles, on the Victoria and

Baines Rivers

  1. At the present time [1909] he owns about 220 square miles of country

on the sea coast and Baffle Creek between Bundaberg and

Gladstone, and

2. Some grazing farms known as Newstead, near Ilfracombe, on the

Central Railway Line, twenty miles from Longreach.

[J A Macartney; originally published in the Daily Record, Rockhampton, 3 & 4 June 1909, under the heading: Reminiscences of the Early Days In Rockhampton and Elsewhere, p.28]

Jeremiah or ‘Dermot’ Durack, youngest son of Patrick, who was born in 1877 and grew up in the shadow of his father’s expanding pastoral empire, commented to his niece that:

I cannot remember that Father had any faults, except perhaps he was somewhat mercenary. Or should I say ‘acquisitive’? And is that a fault? It stemmed from his desire to give his family the advantage and security he had missed in his own youth. He reached out after great lands and great wealth and in his time held both. He would have done better to keep a firm grip on somewhat less.[1]

The question remains regarding this rapid land-grab by white entrepreneurial squatters – how many innocent Aboriginal people paid the ultimate price for this avariciousness?


[1] J Lydon, “ ‘no moral doubt…’: Aboriginal evidence and the Kangaroo Creek poisoning, 1847-1849”, Aboriginal History, Vol.20, 1996, p.153.

[2] Durack, Grass Castles, p.156.