Glengarry Homestead

News of the day

Capricornian, Saturday 21 March 1891, page 11

Pastoral – Agricultural. Irrigation settlements

From an article in the Queenslander we learn that an effort is being made to form a strong company “whose principal object will be to settle people upon the land, in farms of such small areas as to be within the power of even the poorest settler to purchase and clear, and where the close proximity of homesteads, will lend to the settlement the social enjoyments of a scattered village.” The design is to form irrigation settlements similar to those to be found in many places in Europe, and the formation of which has been attended with such admirable results at Mildura in the Colony of Victoria. The chief mover in the matter, we are told, is Mr. W. F. Bell, hydraulic civil engineer, whose observations and experiences in irrigation areas of other countries have made him full of faith in the possibilities of irrigational husbandry in this Colony. Three sites are in prospect in the meantime - 20,000 acres on the banks of the Boyne river, not far from Gladstone: 50,000 acres on the Burnett; and 20,000 on the Condamine near Dalby. The scheme contemplates the cutting up of the laud into ten acre farms, which experience has shown is as much as will sustain a man and his family comfortably, and enable hint to make provision for old age; and is, besides, all that one individual can successfully cultivate. At first the irrigation will be conducted by the formation of canals and channels, to be tilled by natural gravitation from the river; and when the supply thus obtained, is insufficient by the erection of a strong weir across it, and the distribution of the vivifying fluid over greater areas of cultivable land. At the outset the formation of such a settlement will afford ample employment for several hundred men, and eventually there would be room for a population of twelve thousand. Calculations have been made showing that, though the purchasing of the land, and the formation of irrigation works would cost large sums of money, a fair rate of interest would be returned, while thousands of settlers would become prosperous and independent freeholders.

To all intents and purposes the scheme is in its main lines similar to that which has been so successful at Mildura, and promises to be attended in its realisation with as happy results at Renmark. Every one who regards thoughtfully the present aspect of social affairs, not only in Queensland, but in the civilised world, will consider this matter with the deepest interest. Among the problems of the age is the employment of the masses of people in the old centres of population. Socialists inveigh against our present capitalistic system, which robs labour of the just rewards of effort, and perpetuates poverty and misery among the workers. In the development of such schemes as that to which we now call attention, there seems to be an immediate remedy for present troubles, and perhaps an advance made towards a healthier and happier order of things. When we consider what scope there is for the formation of such productive communities, as are contemplated, in Australia, and in Africa, it will be seen that the expansion of the system would swallow up the surplus population of Europe for many years to come, and lead to the formation of nations, enjoying all the advantages which Gronlund has foretold, and the fancy of Bellamy has so vividly portrayed. Competition, so long as it existed, would be in the necessities and comforts of life, the cheapening and easy requisition of which by all the people would make contentment and happiness universal. In the formation of such settlements many thoughtful men see a way to afford relief from the troubles of our times. A new arrangement of our social system is not a thing that can be brought about suddenly. Even if it could an astonishing revolution would not be desirable. Men must needs be educated for the altered state of affairs, and their teaching, and elevation up to the high moral standard aimed at, will require to be the work of generations. Experiences in village settlements will soon show whether an expansion of the socialistic system involved in them would conduce to the welfare of mankind, and may point the way in which the coming race should go.

As we have already indicated, in a short paragraph the other day, the formation of village settlements on our coast country might secure the prosperity of this Colony, which labour troubles now so rudely threaten. The shearers and rouseabouts, whose quarrel with the squatters is the cause of so much uneasiness and distress, complain that the industry in which they are engaged does not occupy all their time. They have only at most seven mouths employment in the course of the year, and high wages are demanded, because the money they earned must keep them the rest of the twelve months. It must be added, we fear, that the idle hands find employment that is not reproductive of good results, or conducive to the moral and mental improvement of the owners. Were the truth plainly disclosed it would found that the idle time was a curse leading to improvidence, extravagance and indulgence in bail habits. Why is it we have some many sharpers, knaves, and rogues out west, if it be that during enforced periods of idleness men are compelled to prostitute their wits in cheating and swindling each other. Had we, as we might have, on our coast and banks of our river settlements, where these men could dwell, with wives and families, for six months of the year, engaged in the varied pursuits of husbandry, the temptation to loaf about bush townships, and haunt race meetings, would be removed.

Enough experience has already been obtained to warrant us in saying that inland Central Queensland is not suited for the continuous residence of people of European descent and birth. To be able to enjoy life, people who have their homes there must visit the coast at intervals: those who have the means take a spell in southern latitudes. It has yet to be determined whether strong healthy men and women, capable of being the progenitors of a race equal to the old Anglo-Saxon stock, can be reared on our western areas. Generations must determine. In the meantime, a system by which men could spend six months of the year on the sheep runs of the interior, and the other six months in the pleasant village settlements on the coast, would seem to be well suited to all the necessities of the Colony. Just as the coast country will be cut up and occupied, so will the leases of runs fall in, and they will be divided into grazing farms. Increased settlement and production in the interior will make greater calls on the production of the arable areas on the coast, and the country will maintain a large population - industrious, happy, prosperous, and healthy.


The Glengarry homestead complex is situated on a hill overlooking the Boyne River Valley and the Gladstone-Monto road and comprises a brick residence and timber outbuildings constructed in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

In 1898, a report was made on the selection by the Bailiff of Crown Lands as part of the conditions of sale. Dickenson is stated to have resided there since 20 March 1894 and improvements to the land were reported to be a brick house, valued at £350, a detached kitchen clad in weatherboards, yards and a large hardwood shed in the approximate position of the stables, all roofed in galvanised iron. There were also a small pig sty and fowl house. The detached kitchen was presumably reclad in corrugated iron at a later date. It appears to be an earlier building than the house and was probably the original homestead, which was relegated to kitchen use and perhaps servant accomodation when the new homestead was built. This manner of replacement and reuse of buildings as the property developed was a practice so common as to have become traditional. The other outbuildings on the property were presumably constructed soon after the 1898 survey, and may even contain recycled material.

Courtesy of the Queensland Heritage Register


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