Astro Station Marker [Black Stump], Blackall

News of the day

Queenslander, Saturday 29 May 1886, page 859

Blackall Lands.

SIR, - Will you kindly allow me space in your valued paper for the following lines with a view to benefiting intending selectors?

Very shortly the public will have an opportunity of acquiring some of the best grazing and fattening lands of Queensland, the different surveyors engaged on work in the Blackall district having completed, or about to complete, the different surveys intrusted to them. I would advise intending pastoral selectors to inspect the different portions before finally settling down, although the protracted drought, combined with an unfair amount of stocking of resumed areas, has kept the land in a very bare and unfavourable condition. I have only to remind such of those who may be acquainted with the country of the appearance of Riverina during the drought of 1876 to assuage any doubts they may have as to the value of this country in a grazing capacity.

In many cases it consists of open rolling downs, intermixed with belts or patches of myall, boree, and other trees, available as scrub feeding in times of drought, and the whole well grassed with Mitchell and blue grasses, divided occasionally by belts of gidya scrub.

The lands round Blackll are surveyed in portions of from 1200 to 5000 acres, in order to give townspeople an opportunity of farming small holdings, while, for those following solely the occupation of graziers, areas of 28,000 acres have been marked at a distance of thirty miles from the town in cases where gidya scrubs run into strips of good country.

It has been cut out by the surveyor so far as it has been practicable, only small portions being left, which the settler will find useful for purposes of fencing, gidya being the most useful timber available for such. Many of the creeks contain waterholes which, during a fair season, will retain a supply for from three to six months, and by the aid of an overshot dam can be made into excellent reservoirs. Dams of the above-named kind are particularly easy and simple of construction, all material necessary being close to hand. Even where there are not any creeks to work upon, very good natural catchments are to be found. The wallaby, though one of the evils the grazier has to contend against, is not an incurable one. No doubt a very wide margin will be found by the Land Board to exist in the valuations of the different surveyors, even on improvements of an exactly similar nature. In such cases it it to be hoped the board will be supplied with such information as will enable them to decide which are the most just and correct valuations, for, although no doubt great sympathy is due to the present pastoral lessee, there is no reason why he should be allowed to succeed in his too readily tentative disposition by having excessive valuations put upon such improvements, to the prohibitive exclusion of the small capitalist, either through the inexperience of the surveyor or the want of a sufficient amount of information to enable the board to judge correctly. In addition, most men likely to select such country are quite competent to judge the true value of improvements; therefore anything in the way of excess will simply mean delay in settling the country by causing appeals. After the coming into force of any new Land Act it is always the object and aim of every pastoral lessee to pick holes in it, especially such clauses as relate to dummying; and, as there are whispers of such intentions under the present Act, it is to be hoped they may be frustrated, and also, for the sake of the convenience of the general public, that when parcels of lithographs are sent to the different land offices of the localities in which the surveys they represent have been executed, instructions also may accompany them that care be taken they do not fall into the hands of sacred few.



The original Black Stump was burnt out and replaced by a piece of petrified wood as a project to commemorate the bicentenary of Australia in 1988. The Black Stump was used to place theodolites on it and survey the area. A large mural painted by Mr Bob Wilson which sits behind the stump was opened on the 25th August 1993.

The "black stump" saying came about after a group of surveyors arrived on Astro Station near Blackall, in 1887. The surveyors used a blackened tree stump as the base for their measuring equipment. The equipment was so large the tree stump was the most secure base around. The surveyors were at Astro Station to take longitudinal and latitudinal observations, which were to be used in the accurate mapping of inland Australia. From there they were able to fix the position of all the major towns of southern Queensland. Before long people considered anything west of Blackall to be beyond the " Black Stump."

Courtesy of Monument Australia


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