Clare celebrated it's Centenary in 1982 with a reunion of past residents. Many of the original pioneers were still alive in 1982 but sadly nearly all have since passed on. The pioneers consisted of cattle producers, soldier settlers who were offered cheap farming loans, immigrants hired as labourers, workers within government departments such as Irrigation & Water Supply Commission (as it was then called), primary industries, police, education etc.

1982 marked 100 years since Clare was so named. Clare residents decided to stage a reunion which attracted several hundred people, many of whom had left the area or retired.

The text of the book follows or download a scan of the original publication here. (36MBytes)


(under development)

1 Introduction

The story of Clare has a very special place in the overall history of the Lower Burdekin district.

It was her that our early pioneers established the first settlement on the Burdekin River. Clare started life as an outpost of civilization and, as this history will show, played an important role in the progressive development of North Queensland.

The decisions to form a committee to organize the celebration and commemoration of Clare’s centenary, very nearly fell by the wayside; and had it not been for the quiet persistence of our historian, Gwen Mitchell, we could well have let this year passed unnoticed.

Happily, we rallied to the cause, and this history is one of our projects.

The task of compiling an abbreviated account of events that took place up to one hundred and twenty years ago is a daunting one. To do so in three months is almost impossible, yet that is what has been achieved.

I comment this history to all who are interested in our heritage. To understand the courage and fortitude of our pioneers and to re-live that few chapters of their lives that we have reproduced for you, is a rewarding experience.

K.N.S. Lewis


Clare Centenary Committee.

2 Acknowledgement

I wish to express my appreciation and gratitude to all people who have readily given their time and information in assisting me to compile this history for Clare’s Centenary.

Special mention must be given to local residents and other connected with Clare, who have painstakingly supplied much of the material from which the early history was compiled.

They are as follows:- The late Mr. Les Cox, Mr. Edward Cunningham, Mrs. Phyllis Dobbin, Mr. Charles Schultz, Mr. Andrew Muir, Mr. Herb Norris, Mr. Ron Carty, Mr. Richard McLaughlin, Mr. Jack O’Malley, Mrs. Eileen Le Feuvre, Mrs Betty Ferguson, Mrs. Esme Gray, Mr. And Mrs. Jack Davidson, Mr. Jack McLain, Mr Charles Ebbage, Mrs. Ethel reading, Mrs. Julie Ray, Mrs. Clarice Frau, Mr. Les Larkin, Mrs June Norman and many other people.

Mention must also be made of the Ayr and Bowen Historical Societies, the James Cook University Library and the Brisbane Telegraph Museum for information which made it possible to give and accurate account of the event s in this history.

I particularly want to thank our committee chairman, Mr. Ken Lewis, for his assistance in the arranging of the formidable amount of material that had to be assessed and condensed to keep the history of Clare relevant and interesting to read. Ken is also the author of the final section from 1948 to 1982, where he has recounted the history of contemporary Clare, covering a period of trial and tribulation that both his family and mine experienced, and thankfully, survived.

Gwen Mitchell


3 Introduction to Clare.

The small town of Clare, some 30 miles from the mouth of the Burdekin River, is celebrating its Centenary. In the 1860’s, the Clare Crossing was the coastal link with north and west, except of course in the "Wet" season when the mighty Burdekin River could be positively unco-operative with its bank to bank torrents. However, this king of rivers did in the main, condescendingly, allow the move northwards of the sheep and cattle graziers across its wide bed.

4. Origin of Name.

At first, known only as "The Burdekin Crossing", or "Hamilton’s Crossing", this township was named "Mulgrave", (Government Gazette, August 1872): was surveyed by Surveyor Wilson on 31st March, 1877 and then, on 20th July, 1882, changed to Clare after a member of his family.

"Much water has flowed past Clare since the a 1860’s and 1870’s"


5. Survey map

1899 indicates position of Telegraph Station on the river bank and Clare Hotel on the new site.
(locating map)


6 The River

The Burdekin River is one of Queensland’s great river systems, with an annual discharge to the sea of some nine million megalitres of mainly very turbid water. It is one of Australia’s few continuously growing deltas and any observer, overflying Upstart Bay during the "wet" season, can readily see the extent of the siltation that is occurring. 7 ½ % of Queensland is drained by the river and its tributaries.

The first white man to see the river was Captain Wickham in 1840. His exploration was seaborne. Dr Leichhardt, the explorer, in 1845 travelled down the Suttor and sighted and named the Burdekin in the Mt. McConnell area where the Suttor and the Burdekin converge.

Historians tell us that Dr. Leichhardt name the river for a wealthy young widow who sponsored the expedition. They also say that the Doctor’s interest in the lady was financial, not romantic.

The other white man who knew the Burdekin in the 1840’s was James Morrill. He was an English sailor, shipwrecked and washed ashore at Cape Cleveland in 1864. He lived with the aboriginals in the area for 17 years and finally made contact with two shepherds on Inkerman Station. Out of practice with the use of the English language he called out to the shepherds "Don’t shoot mates I’m a British Object"

Clare, with its chequered history and various functions, has always been what it was, and where it was, because of the river.

Initially it was a safe river crossing because of the rock bar beneath the sand, and the river banks, though steep were negotiable for a bullock wagon or stage coach. They were no worse than the other Burdekin crossings and better than most.

It followed, that, because of the distance from Port Denison (Bowen), its permanent water and good grazing, Clare was a most suitable location for a staging post, and so it was to be.

Firstly a pub was built, originally a rough slab walled building, then a telegraph station and so in the first few years a township grew, dependent always on the traffic that flowed from Port Denison, and paused on the river to refresh man and beast before moving on.

When traffic declined, so did Clare but the river that nurtured the early township, made it possible for life to go on in the area. This time it was the more stable industry of agriculture, drawing water from the river, and irrigating the river side farms that were developed on the fertile levee soils.

Eventually the Queensland Government decided to better use the resources of the Burdekin and the current irrigation area was established.

The river was further harnessed with the Clare Weir, though it protested, as the Burdekin is wont to do, when man tries to tame it. The first flood over the new Weir undermined the structure and it failed.

The next assault by man will be to dam this great river above the Burdekin Falls. T This great scheme will better use the energy of the old river, but tame it, it will not, for there is little flood mitigation benefit in the dam.

Floods have always been a feature of life on the Burdekin Delta, and man should never forget that the river built it in the first place, and what the river giveth, it can take away.

The destructive power and energy of old man Burdekin in flood is awesome indeed and can at best co-exist within its shadow.

7 The Aborigines

The Burdekin Delta with its abundance of water and great variety of game must have supported great numbers of aborigines before the coming or the white settlers.

There is surprisingly little comment on our original Australians in the records of our pioneers. What mention is made, is usually in reference to some form of confrontation with them. Considering that the white settlers were helping themselves to the aboriginals’ tribal lands, and in most cases dealing harshly with any protest, it is surprising that there was not more open hostility.

The story of James Morrill, and English sailor who was shipwrecked and cast ashore at Cape Cleveland in 1846 gives us some understanding of life, aboriginal style, in that period.

James Morrill spent seventeen years living with the tribal aborigines in the area from Mt. Elliott to the Burdekin. He mastered their language and spoke seven or eight dialects. He also became as skilled as they were at living off the land. He says of them, "They are a fine race of people, as to strength, size and general appearance, but like those of other parts of the colony, they are treacherous, jealous and cunning." It was a European’s judgement of a stone age, nomadic people. Morrill became quite attached to them never-the-less and they to him, for his parting from them to rejoin his white brothers was a very emotional affair. Their last tearful plea was that he ask the white man to allow them to retain their tribal lands north of the Mall Mall (Burdekin River). Morrill passed their message on to the authorities who were less than interested in the welfare of what were, to them. A lot of troublesome savages. Not all the white settlers shared the attitudes of the authorities. Edward Wilson, a telegraphist at Clare at the turn of the century, found the aborigines very helpful during his frequent patrols of the telegraph line. He thought highly enough of them to encourage his four year old daughter to play with the aboriginal children and his daughter remembers, with great affection, her childhood playmates at Clare.

It is apparent that fear and ignorance on both sides prevented any real communication between the two peoples. It is a sad reflection of European attitudes that it has taken a hundred years for many of us to realize that we were not only dispossessing a people of their land but, in the process, were destroying a very ancient culture.

8. Early Pioneers

The Call of the North

In the 1860’s Queensland was in its infancy, having just become a separate colony in 1859. The Treasury Budget was almost nil and the vast vacant north awaited the Land Legislation "Bugle Call". With this and the favourable reports from the Leichhardt and Dalrymple expeditions, men and their families set out enthusiastically through isolated and unfamiliar land with bullock teams and horses and wagons. Isolation meant shortages of supplies and medicine, also export problems, and so it was that the Colony almost succumbed at birth.

The Government saved the day by offering rewards for the discovery of gold in North Queensland. Like bees to a hive, men came from everywhere swarming the creek beds of the untamed north. The hardships they suffered were numbed by the continual drive of finding a fortune. The cattlemen who had been suffering from the results of extremely low beef prices now had found a market and were able to set their own prices.



Picture of Horse Wagon crossing river.



The Trailblazers.

The first white settlers to venture our from the newly established port of Bowen in 1861 were graziers in search of grazing land for their flocks of sheep and herds of cattle.

Although the first graziers that settled in the Lower Burdekin were sheep men, Leichardt Downs, Inkerman and Woodhouse Stations were originally grazing sheep and cattle. However, between the spear grass, aboriginals who saw sheep as a convenient meal, and the wet seasons, sheep soon proved unprofitable and were replaced by cattle.

There is no doubt that the graziers in the Burdekin blazed the trail for future settlement, as indeed they did, in most of inland Australia. It was also the graziers who gave stability to much of the area after the gold rush of the 1880’s had subsided.


Crossing at Clare

As the tide of settlement flowed north and west from the recognised civilisation of the late 1880’s, Clare, with its rough built slab hotel and changing station, a Post Office and Telegraph Repeater Station, provided some vestiges of comfort for the great variety of travellers who passed through in their search of fortune on the goldfields or for a better life for their families. Among the travellers were drovers, teamsters, labourers on the Great Northern Railway and Japanese who had been sent to buy horses when they were at war with China.


A – 9A "Woodhouse" Station

At Clare, "Woodhouse" Station has a special place of honour, being a selection taken up by J. Hall Scott in 1862. Mr. Edward Cunningham, a little later, became manager and part owner with Gilchrist and Watt. Mr. Cunningham’s son Arthur Henry Wickham Cunningham who was born at "Woodhouse" became head stockman at the age of 16 years, and at his father’s death in 1898, became manager. "Hillsborough", "Major’s Creek", and "Mona Park", became outstations and remained the property of the Cunningham family until recent years. "Woodhouse" was managed by Mr. Charles Schultz for 45 years. Mr William Britt then became manager until his death in 1972 when Mr Jim Ferguson was transferred from "Strathmore" Station, where Edward Cunningham, grandson of the former Edward Cunningham, resides. "Woodhouse " Station, after so many glorious years in the Cunningham family, is now owned by The Australian Agricultural Company, and Mr Jim Ferguson has remained as manager.


9 Memories of Charles F Schultz Woodhouse Station

Mr Charles N Schultz, son of Mr. Charles F. Schultz – Manager of "Woodhouse" station for 46 years, gives a description of his life at "Woodhouse", Clare.

"The year my father Charles F. Schultz started work with A.H.W. Cunningham, on "Woodhouse" Station, was I think, 1902.

This was the year "ticks" were ushered into the country, coming through from the Northern Territory and they scattered like wild fire killing just about all the cattle. I am led to believe that out of a herd of 27,000 on "Woodhouse" the year after the ticks, they had a bangtail muster and only around 5,000 were left.

My father had come across from Charters Towers, and had followed the Reid Road, which in those days was the main road going through to Bowen. There were no railways and Bowen was the main port of call. Dad had just hobbled out his horses, around 25, when Cunningham rode up, he had just come form "Lochinvar", those days Gilchrist, Watt and Cunningham owned the country from "Strathmore" right through. He was on the way to "Woodhouse" and made camp.

He asked Dad would he consider going back to "Polithanga" Station (West of Charters Towers) and picking up and droving 3.000 breeders he had just bought to build up "Woodhouse".

Dad did this, bringing them to "Woodhouse", in I think it was three mobs. He was offered the job then, but wouldn’t commit himself as he was bent on going brumby running in the gulf somewhere.

Anyway, Dad married one of the Hotel Keeper’s daughters at Clare, Bridget Agnes Larkin. This seemed to stop his roaming, and "Woodhouse" saw him for 45 or 46 years before old age caught up, and he retired, dying at the age of 85, buried in the Ayr Cemetery.

I can still remember the old Post and Telegraph Station at Clare, where my mother used to drive a buggy over for the weekly mail taking us two kids, (my sister Phyllis and I). Mr. Ellory was the Postmaster and in front of the Post Office (which was on high blocks) were two big poinciana trees, I remember the red flowers they carried, and I remember the names of the two horses my mother drove, were Barmade and Diamond. I would have been 4 or 5 years old then, as it was before my sister and I went to the Bowen Convent as boarders.

The biggest mob of cattle mustered at the one time into the Station yard was 2,120, counted through the dip, if I remember rightly, steers and spayed cows mustered off the Nine Mile, when bringing them through barbwire paddock, the tail was being driven bay through the tea tree scrub, where there is now a dam, put up in Bill Britt’s time. Dan Schultz was head stockman and two of the ringers were Ron Bowrey and Walter Seivers. The year was around 1934 or 35.

I lived a "Woodhouse" until I was about 19 and remember the horse yard where I had broken in the best part of 300 head of horses, that was before fate ruled my destiny, that was to put the most part of my life in the Northern Territory.

I believe, in the early days, there was a big aboriginal camp behind the yards, somewhere in that big sandalwood scrub. On my last visit to "Woodhouse" I couldn’t help but notice how the sandalwood had diminished to what it was in my days as a lad.

I am afraid I still have a connection and regard for "Woodhouse" as somewhat as my home, my memory wanders back to the stockyards, the creek, the lagoon and Mt. Woodhouse, standing as a great sentinel for all times". C. N. S.

10 "Mona Park" Station

(Outstation of "Woodhouse")

The homestead of "Mona Park" Station is believed to have been build=t in the early 1900’s. Early maps show a block of land owned by A. J. Swan to be that of "Mona Park", which according to good authority stretched from the River two miles towards the Barrattas and about ¾ mile wide at the River bank. This is not the Mona Park area as is known today. Mona Park now incorporates Brown’s Paddock once owned by Mr. Les Cox together with a strip of land along the River towards the Rocks, which on old maps is shown as that of E. Cunningham.

Many families have lived in the old home: a high-blocked building consisting of two large rooms upstairs opening on to an all-round veranda. Downstairs, the area was walled-in and used as living quarters and store room. It had a dirt floor which was remarkably cool in the summer. The kitchen was a small separate building on blocks about 40 inches above ground level, and was conveniently close to the main building. In flood time, the water has been known to have washed the second step.

People who have lived in the old homestead were Jack Ferguson, J. O’Malley, S. Kierle, P. Beebe and B. Haselton. The homestead was demolished in the early 1960’s,

In the early days cattle were yarded and dipped at "Mona Park", and taken along the Stock Route to Merinda Meat Works at Bowen, and in later years they were driven along the stock route via the Reed Beds, "Major’s Creek" to Townsville Meat Works.

Sketch of Mona Park homestead.

11 Clare Hotel

Clare Hotel from 1864 – 1908

The Hotel at Clare has a colourful history dating back to the pioneering settlers, gold miners, teamsters, horse and wagon supply teams, business men, in fact folk from all walks of life. The very walls of the building would have vibrated to the life that moved within. How many stories of success would have been told and celebrated there! How many deals would have been clinched, and how many may have lost all they owned! They were good days but very hard days.

The Hotel at Clare during the gold rush at Ravenswood would have been and exciting place to have lived. The hotel was well equipped with changing yards, blacksmith and wheelwright, and offered overnight accommodation, with dining and bar services. Hospitality was given to many and varied travellers; women and children, business men, supply wagons, teamsters, drovers and miners. They came by coach by horse, and on foot.

The original hotel at Clare was built of split slabs by Mr. Jack Silver four years earlier then(?) the Telegraph Station was constructed at Clare in 1868.

Records show that the Crossing was referred to as "Hamilton’s Crossing", in 1870, and it is evident that Mr. Hamilton was the owner of the Hotel. Studying old maps of varying dates, it is interesting to trace Mr. Hamilton’s name appearing at many crossings on rivers which appear to follow the business routes of the latest gold fields.


In the 1890’s Mrs. Mary Ann Kemp bought and managed the Clare Hotel, when her husband retired from managing a cattle property. Mrs Kemp came our from Ireland to North Queensland to what must have seemed a truly "sunburnt country". Mr. And Mrs. Kemp had four children, Sophie, Agnes, Julie, Kathleen (Kate), and a son Henry.

Kate, now living in Townsville, was born at the Hotel in 1896 Mr. Kemp’s father (a drover and teamster) moved his large family to Queensland from the Hawkesbury River, quite early in Queensland’s history.

In 1899, M. Charles Gray owned the Hotel and Store, and was also the mail contractor in 1900. Mrs Mary Angela Gray, his wife, managed the Hotel while her husband was out on mail runs. The children were Jane, Clare, Ethel and Charles.

Ethel, Mrs. Fred Reading, was born at the hotel on 26 July, 1901, and not lives in Brisbane.

Photocopy of Birth certificate of Mrs Julia Kathleen Ray (nee Kenp)

Mr. Edward Larkin became the proprietor of the Clare Hotel after Mr. Gray. The building was condemned and Mr. Larkin, with the help of his sons dismantled the hotel and rebuilt it. Materials were hard to come by, but the problem was overcome by installing his own pit saw and all the timber needed for rebuilding the hotel was cut locally and sawn by hand by members of the family.

The supply centre for Clare in 1903 was Reid River and two of Mr. Larkin’s sons did the 64 mile round trip by horse and dray to haul fresh stocks for the hotel bar as well as supplies of groceries and other commodities for the family and the passing public.

The Larkin family lived at Clare for 14 years with their family of ten children, Ted, Bert, Jin, Les, Annie, Kate, Bridget, Bessie, Alice and Clare. They enjoyed their life at Clare and it was not easy to leave behind so many memories. When Mr. Larkin sold the Hotel and transferred the licence to Alice Lancaster, Stewarts Creek, it was the end of a pioneering era at the main crossing on the Burdekin.

Photocopy of agreement for Sale of the Clare Hotel 1908

In 1926 the old Clare Hotel was finally dismantled and rebuilt in Ayr as two houses. So passed on an era of great activity and excitement, intermingled with the tragedies and disappointments of any pioneer settlement.

In many ways, the old pub was the focal point of Clare/s early history. It provided rest and food for thousands of weary travellers and no doubt the grog did much to make life in those difficult times more bearable.

It was born with the first movement of travellers north west from Bowen. It grew in proportion to the traffic which, at its peak, was a constant stream. Finally as the traffic dwindled to a few drovers, the old pub died and all that now remains in Clare are a lot of memories and a liberal sprinkling of broken glass in the middle a cane farm, a legacy to the pub’s bountiful sales of bottled grog.


Photo of Bert Larkin 1905

Photo Clare Hotel 1923

12 Snippets and Stories by Mr. E. Larkin

When the mail was ready to be collected, the Postmaster always blew a whistle, but this time when Bert and his brother rode their horses over. The Postmaster told them that the river was rising, and that they should get the boat out. They went to the spot, but couldn’t move the boat up the very steep bank. Bert told his brother to hold the horse/s head while he tied the boat rope to its tail. The younger brother, curious to see what was going on, left the horse, and it took off. It pulled the boat up the bank smartly but when it jumped a log, the boat came to a sudden stop and the horse just sat up like a dog. The boys were quite worried how to explain the bedraggled state of the horse’s tail. They went home quietly and let the horse loose, well down the paddock, and when their father found it the blamed some of the "bums" to whom he refused liquor.

The two Terry girls (from Kirknie Station across the river) drove their buggy to Clare to collect their mail. One particular day, when five miles out on their return journey, the pole of the buggy broke and they were stranded. One girl unharnessed one of the horses and rode back to Rosedale Hut. (a store run by Inkerman Station on the other side of the river to Clare). The cook there saddled a horse and went to look for their brother Leslie, who was working in the neighbourhood. Leslie brought two shifting spanners, 1 303 rifle and a sharp tomahawk back to the scene of the mishap. He cut a sapling to replace the broken pole, marked the holes for the bolts then drilled the holes with the 303, and in half an hour the girls were on their 20 mile journey home.

Mr. Larkin recalled many people: there were drovers and itinerant travellers, stockmen and teamsters, hardy workers who built embankments on the new Great Northern Railway with wheelbarrows for the princely sum of 5/- (shillings) a day, and Japanese horse buyers who came to Queensland to purchase 1,000 remounts for their army for shipment back to Japan through Townsville.

From Mr. Larkin’s records, there were plenty of crocodiles in the Burdekin to be seen basking in the sun on the sand banks. The smallest crocodile nest he found contained 52 eggs and the largest was 92 eggs.

Mr. E Larkin bred a lot of pigs at Clare and the boys used to drive them to the Reid River in a dray. There, they would meet buyers who would take them to Townsville, Charters Towers or Ravenswood.

Mr. Bert Kierle, father and grandfather of the Kierle’s who live in Ayr today, once drove a dray loaded with butter through Clare about 1902 to Reid River and Charters Towers; he also took dray loads of corn and sold it and bought provisions to bring back to Ayr.

In 1902, tobacco was grown at Clare and the experts claim that it was the best leaf in the world. Sheds were built to dry it but when it went to market, everything went to pay freight and the growers went broke. The buildings were sold and anyone could take all they could put on a dray for five pounds.

Supplies were delivered to "Woodhouse Station" six monthly by Mr. Jack Searle, who came to Ayr from Ravenswood in 1909. He hauled supplies by wagon and teams of six horses, backloading with firewood for the Ayr Power Station and the Ayr hotels. The wagon teams camped overnight at either of the two camps, "The Rocks" or "Mona Park".

Although the crossing at Clare was a solid rock crossing, after heavy floods, silt covered it quite deeply, making it difficult and dangerous particularly with horse teams with big loads (horses panic badly in quicksand). In such cases, Mr. Larkin claimed that his bullocks were the only answer. With wagons up to their axles in quicksand, he hitched on double and sometimes treble bullock teams to get the wagons across.

A traumatic story is told of two swaggies who had broken into the Rosedale Hut and helped themselves to flour and baking powder. Next morning they were found dead at their camp beside the track at Clare. It was suspected that they used a tin of arsenic instead of a tin of baking powder when the cooked their Johnny cakes for their evening meal. The police and a doctor were sent for. To clarify the suspicion one of Mrs. Larkin’s hens was locked in a pen and fed some of the remaining Johnny cakes. Some hours later Mrs. Larkin had to dispose of her hen. The two unfortunate culprits were buried beside several other graves on the river bank.

An old man who lived at Mona Park, Mac Kloas, used to push a barrow (long shafts) from Mona Park to Ayr once every fortnight or three weeks to bring back supplies. However, a couple of men from a line gang working at Clare were sent to Ayr one day with a wagon and a twelve horse team, and coming home in pitch darkness (a little worse for wear), the horses stopped and they found old "Mac" dead on the road. Nest day a man was sent back on horseback to find the body. The police and doctor came and the body was buried beside a big bloodwood. A shield was cut in this tree and the inscription read – "Mac died here R.I.P".


13 Communications

The Telegraph

A Marvel of Modern Technology

The Telegraph was, in the 1860’s, the marvel of modern technology.

It enabled isolated communities throughout Australia to communicate with the centres of commerce in Australia, and via cable to most parts of the world.

It was the forerunner of the modern telephone. Its limitations were that all transmissions were in morse code via an operator operating a morse "key".

The "repeater" stations were situated usually at about 50 mile intervals along the line, and interconnected by the telegraph wire along which the messages were transmitted.

Each "repeater" station received a message and "relayed" it to the next station for further relaying if necessary. Telegraphists maintained their equipment and became very competent morse operators. Each operator could be easily recognised by his fellow operators as every man had his own style or "signature" as it was referred to.

The telegraph stations were usually manned 24 hours a day – such a life was demanding and often lonely, and sometimes dangerous as the aboriginals resented their presence on their tribal lands and were often aggressive.

Clare Telegraph Station

The departmental residence of the Telegraph Station was erected on high blocks on the bank of the river near the Crossing. One room was specifically for telegraph and postal purposes. The telegraph line was completed as far as Townsville in March, 1869 and reached Cape York in 1887. It could be assumed that Clare was in operation in late 1868. Bowen, then the Northern Telegraph Centre, was connected in 1866 to New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia.

Early records give interesting facts: In 1870, the telegraph station was referred to as "Hamilton’s Crossing" (Mr. Hamilton was proprietor of the hotel at that time). In 1872 it became a repeater Station, with a junction connecting Inkerman to Ravenswood, Cape Bowling Green Lighthouse, Reid River and Townsville. The 1874 Directory shows the Telegraph Stationmaster at Clare as being F. P. Gorton and the Linesman as J. Burton. Subsequent personnel were: G. S. Pegus, Postmaster, January, 1882; J. Edwards, Line Repairer; W. J. Dodd, Acting Postmaster until July 1882; A. J. Swan, Postmaster, July, 1882 to 1899; M. Graham, Line Repairer; E. H. Wilson, Postmaster, 1899 – 1901.

After the turn of the century, it appears that Mr. C. Gray was Acting Postmaster and Storekeeper. In 1910, Mr. William Nelson was Postmaster, and from old letters, it appears Mr. Tom Ellery was Postmaster in 1914 while Mr. F. W. Price was temporary Assistant Telegraph Officer and Linesman.


Drawing of a Morse Key.


Known residents of Clare around 1910, as taken from paper cuttings from the Brisbane Telegraph Museum, were

A.H.W. Cunningham, "Woodhouse" Station

C. Schultz, Manager, "Woodhouse" Station

William Nelson, Officer in Charge, Telegraph Office

Mrs. C. Nelson, Assistant, Telegraph Office

A.J.M. Terry,
Kirknie" Station, Kirknie

Mrs. Cath Larkin, Hotel


Jack & Mrs. Ellery, Hotel Proprietors

F. Price, Assistant Telegraph Officer & Linesman.

Photocopy of Telegraph Message Form in use 1875

17 –1 Cyclones –

Telegraph Headache

Cyclones played havoc with the Telegraph lines, particularly when, on one occasion in March 1879, it swept away a 31 chain span across the Burdekin. The line was then placed underground across the river but this proved unsuccessful.



The end of the Telegraph Station at Clare

During 1916, with so many changes in the development of the towns along the coast, and with the railway now linked to the north by a bridge over the Burdekin River at Ayr and Home Hill, the Telegraph Line was re-routed to follow the railway line to Townsville. The line between Clare and Ravenswood dismantled, and the Ayr – Clare portion became a private party line for the Airville residents, Parker and Kelly.



Mail Contracts

A record of the Mail Route from Bowen to Townsville in 1870, shows the Stages:-

Salisbury Plain 20 miles

Inkerman 45 miles

Hamilton’s Crossing 15 miles

Woodstock 12 miles

Thence to Townsville 37 miles

129 miles

The mail was carried by pack horse in special bags strapped to the pack saddle, and the horse changed at arranged stages. The service was weekly. With the advent of regular coach services, mails were then carried by coach. As coach owned by Mr. Pratt operated from Bowen to Ravenswood in 1871, and the famous Cobb & Co. coach began four years later, with its headquarters in Townsville. The Cobb & Co route was from Townsville via the Haughton and Clare to Bowen.

The Mail Route from Clare to Seaforth was:

Clare to Seaforth 12 miles

thence to Enright’s 4 miles

Dr. Ahearn’s 4 miles

Pioneer Estate 4 miles

Bannister’s 3 miles

Ayr 5 miles

Moss’s 1 mile

Lilliesmere 1 mile

Airdmillan 5 miles

Seaforth _2 miles

41 miles


Clare – Reid River Mail Route

This route ran from Reid River to Woodhouse, a distance of 23 miles, and continued on from Clare the same as the above route.

Mail steamer – Brisbane to Cooktown

Brisbane to Keppel Bay 345 miles

Flat Top Island 188 miles

Bowen 106 miles

Townsville 105 miles

Cairns 163 miles

Port Douglas 32 miles

Cooktown __65 miles

1004 miles



Photo of Kann mail coach

Mrs. Clarice Frau

Mrs. Clarice Frau is the daughter of the late E. H. G. A. Wilson, telegraph operator who was stationed at Clare Repeater station and the turn of the century.

Mrs. Frau says that her father was born in Grafton N.S.W. where he joined the P.M.G. department. While stationed at Taroom Qld., he married Ada Zerbe, daughter of the hotel keeper. They had a family of seven.

From Taroom Mr. Wilson was transferred to Walkerston, near Mackay, and it was there that Mrs. Frau was born.

The family then moved to Clare telegraph station. Mrs. Frau’s childhood recollections of the telegraph office were that it had three repeating instruments, one for Brisbane, one for Townsville, and the third connection had slipped her memory. It was probably the Ayr, Cape Bowling-Green, or Clare – Ravenswood connection.

Mrs. Frau’s playmates were aboriginal children whom, she says, never fought amongst themselves. Her father put up swings and they would play together. Her mother would make dampers for them all and they would have a picnic.

The aboriginal children named her "Columgool" and even today she is known as "Col". Mrs. Frau’s name, Clarice, was possibly a difficult name for the children to pronounce.

Mr. Edward Wilson, her father, was well liked by the aboriginals living in the Clare area, and they would accompany him when checking the telegraph lines for faults. According to Mrs. Frau, they thought he was a god because of his bright red hair. On one of these lin inspections, during the wet season, her father caught a chill which developed into pneumonia. In July 1901 Mr. Wilson died and was buried on the river bank at Clare. Once with a tombstone, but successive floods carried the markings away. The last Mrs. Frau remembers of the grave site was that a Poinciana tree was growing there.

Mrs. Frau’s mother, a competent telegraphist was offered a post office position at Boonah which she accepted.

They departed from Clare as a family greatly saddened by the loss of a loving father and husband but in the manner of true pioneers, put their troubles behind them and ventured forth to new horizons.

Mr. Edward Wilson’s father – Lt. William Wilson, was a cousin to one of Queensland’s outstanding, Sir Lesley Orm Wilson.

The Wilson’s seem to have been a family of surveyors for Lt. William Wilson surveyed the Grafton area and areas around Cape York. His son, John Alex Wilson was also a surveyor and did some of the early Burdekin surveys.

Mr. F. W. Price

The following is a paper presented by Mr. F. W. Price to the Post Office Historical Society of Queensland:-

Among the many memorable places in which I served as an officer of the Postmaster General’s Department was a very small outpost named Clare which was situated approximately twenty-two miles from Ayr near the Burdekin Delta.

In my day Clare consisted of a Departmental residence for a Linesman in Charge in which was provided one room for postal purposes together with a telegraph switchboard and some telegraph instruments.

There was also a small hotel situated about three hundred yards from the office mentioned.

In late 1914 I was temporarily transferred to Clare as a young Postal Assistant acting as Linesman in Charge.

My duties consisted of attending to the small amount of postal work offering and switching upon request by the controlling office, Bowen, the various telegraph lines which were looped in to the Clare switchboard from the main pole route about three or four miles away in the general direction of Ayr.

The occupant of the position had to be telegraph operator, know something about post office work in general and importantly, to be able to ride a horse. The horse riding capability was for the purpose of removing any line faults which occurred from time to time in the loop. Upon my lines becoming crossed the Officer in Charge at Bowen would instruct me to catch a horse which was available grazing in a large paddock nearby and to follow the looped-in section of the telegraph lines until the fault was found and then remove it.

Besides saddling up the horse in the normal way, it was customary to put a few stones a bag before setting out at a pace which would enable me to watch the lines until the cross was located.

Upon the cross being located stones were thrown at the wires until a sufficient number of hits- very few were required I might add p caused the wires to swing apart.

This was a kind of reverse action from that of the large bird which had flown into the wires and caused the cross in the first instance. Luckily, I never had occasion to climb a pole in order to clear a fault. It was necessary to advise the Post-master at Ayr of the closure of the office when on line duty and again upon my return. Although I always advised Bowen of my return it was rarely necessary and the cleared lines would be in use long before my return.

One line which passed through Clare, No. 72 I think it was, used occasionally to work duplex but before doing so Care upon request had to plug line clear of his office. Now and again I would hear the operators trying to balance and to work duplex in which case I would plug the line clear, no doubt to the puzzlement of the operators concerned regarding the sudden noticeable improvement in the signals.

In connection with the removal of line faults it was fortunate that the crosses nearly always occurred in the relatively short loop where the poles were relatively short also. Further down towards Ayr where the loop joined the main pole route and crossed the Burdekin River in one mighty span of, I think at least a quarter of a mile, the poles on each river bank were, from memory, between sixty and eighty feet high.

There was one special hazard in the Clare region and that was the prevalence of poisonous brown and tiger snakes. They were so numerous, in fact, that one always wisely carried a suitable weapon with which to attack them whenever the occasion arose. My weapon was a four-foot portion of seven-stranded stay wire. This was very effective indeed, and in fact, I think I could fairly say that this piece of stay wire could on one occasion have saved my life.

This occurred one evening after making the usual overnight arrangements of telegraph circuits on the switchboard and having obtained the "G.G." signal from Bowen I walked the three hundred yards or so to the hotel where I had obtained accommodation during my period of relief duty. As I neared a cleared patch at the side of the primitive bunk house sleeping accommodation I saw in the half light what appeared to be a "sapling" several feet long and about two inches thick. One end of the "sapling" was out of sight in the foot hight grass which grew near the bush approach to the bunk house.

I was about to pick up the "sapling" and throw it out of the way but I stopped suddenly when I thought I saw a slight movement. The "sapling" was rather large, I thought, in my highly developed snake awareness to be a snake but I also knew that saplings were not normally left about that area, and of course, did not usually move.

Eyeing the object as closely as possible in the semi-darkness I decided to give it a hit to be on the safe side. Judging what appeared to be the middle of the snake, if the object were a snake, I gave it a might hit with my piece of stay wire. Somewhat to my surprise the "sapling" sprang to life and with some jerky writhings soon disappeared in the poor light. I called out to Tom Ellery, the proprietor of the hotel that I had a large snake. Tom hurried out of the hotel followed by his wife, these being the only people living at Clare apart from myself.

Tom carried a kerosene hurricane lantern but, by the way he spoke and walked it was apparent that he had been drinking more that ginger ale. Tom, in fact wanted at any cost to reach the snake and for some reason get it by the tail, probably with some wild idea of cracking it like a stock whip thereby putting its head out of action.

I thought it unlikely that the snake would get far away with a broken back, and after a look around in the grass nearby, a very cautious look indeed, we began to look under the bunkhouse which was set on blocks about a foot off the ground.

Tom, holding the hurricane lamp in one hand, tried to crawl under the bunkhouse. This was a foolhardy and almost suicidal thing to do especially as he had no means of defending himself should he come across the wounded and highly venomous snake which was from our rather extensive experience, it was sure to be. Tom’s wife fully aware of the danger that Tom was rushing into commenced to scream and my somewhat wishful assurances that the snake had finally got away, finally induced Tom to give up the chase and to emerge very dusty and generously covered with cobwebs.

A puzzling sequence occurred the next morning:-

At breakfast time it was noticed that something odd was happening to the laying hens which were allowed to roam at will around the hotel. A hen uttered a loud screech, gyrated at high speed for about half a minute and then fallen over giving a few final death twitches. Within a few minutes another hen repeated the performance.

It was not long before the probable cause of the trouble was located. It was the large snake of the previous evening. He was curled up just under the edge of a large packing case leaning against the bunk house wall. After shooting its head off with a shotgun as few minutes guarded poking with a stick produced a seven foot six inch tiger snake. The snake had succeeded in crawling under the packing case the previous evening. Actually I had slept with my head within three feet of the snake and a suitable hole in the floor of the bunkhouse was available had be felt inclined or able to enter.

Two or three days after that tiger snake episode I was returning from a cross removing expedition when I heard the sound of gun shots from the direction of the hotel. I rode up at a fast canter and found Tom measuring another large, recently killed tiger snake. The second snake was seven foot eight inches long and Tom assured me that it was the mate of the first big one and that they had been attracted to the hotel area by the piano playing of Mrs. Ellery.

Although I never failed to carry my stay wire dispatcher and had killed a number of snakes of various sizes, the two tiger snakes were the largest I had seen or wished to see. Although I was at Clare for a few weeks only, things happened to make my stay exciting. For example, on one occasion when Tom was away and only Mrs. Ellery and a Linesman’s wire were at the hotel a violent cowboy type, though to have come from a cattle station in the area got very drunk and abusive. The threatened the women folk who became very frightened. I didn’t like the look of things and rang up the police station at Ayr to advise them of the situation and suggest that he send out a man to afford protection. The advice I received was "Tie him up to a tree until he sobers up".

The women who really thought that the man was bent on murder took two Winchester rifles with them to the sleeping quarters and I had a 44 Winchester for my comfort.

Fortunate the drunk, after violently rattling the doors of the hotel for awhile, wandered off into the bush and we did not see him again.

The food offering was frequently dry salt beef and we had to change the diet in various ways. One was to kill and cut up a young goat. Another was to fish for barramundi. Fishing for barramundi was only possible when Tom was also available. The best place to fish was at the junction of a creek and the Burdekin River. For obvious reasons the creek was called Alligator Creek. There were numerous crocodile tracks and whenever we went to fish for barramundi one would go out on a sandy spit and fish using a spinner. The second fisherman would stay in a commanding position with a rifle ready in order to scare away or shoot and inquisitive crocodile.

Once a ten or twelve pound barramundi was caught we vacated without delay. I should mention that barramundi was most delicious and warranted the risk run to obtain this welcome change of diet.

14 Gold Rush

Its Effect on Clare

Ravenswood – 1869

At Tucker Creek, Messrs. Crane, Brooks and Kelly, found payable gold, and by the end of the year with more such finds the site saw the development of a new town.

The famous "eight mile" find some eight miles east of Ravenswood, was on the road from Clare to Ravenswood.

By 1871, Ravenswood was incredibly rich and the traffic on the roads to Townsville and Bowen was continuously rolling, (much of the ore and heavy machinery to be shipped at Bowen was transported by bullock teams across the Strathalbyn Crossing). The mail and passenger coaches from Ravenswood took the road along the new Telegraph line through Clare where passengers could rest at the Hotel and the horses could be changed; then on their way again to either Townsville or Bowen.

By 1912, with the production of gold becoming uneconomical at Ravenswood, the population gradually moved away to more prosperous areas, particularly the newly developing sugar cane towns, or enlisted in the army. All this left the small town of Clare with very little business, so apart from the nearby cattle stations and small farms, it lay almost dormant for many years to come.

15 Transport

Pioneer Style

It is difficult for Australians who were born in the era of the motor car and jet airliner to appreciate the tempo of life when Clare was first established. If a wagon travelled 12 miles in a day, everyone was happy. A stage coach could do much better travelling perhaps 30 miles a day.

Horses were changed every 10 to 15 miles. The options for a family travelling from their port of destination at Port Denison (Bowen), to the gold fields of Ravenswood, were few enough.

They could catch a coach if they had the money for the fare and carried no more possessions than their personal luggage. It was more likely that they would travel by dray; either horse or bullock drawn. Perhaps a teamster with a bullock or horse wagon would transport them and their worldly goods. Some rode horses and carried their belongings on a pack horse. Many men simply walked and carried their swags – a few enterprising prospectors would even push long shafted wheelbarrows.

Whatever their means of transport, it was a long, usually dusty journey, and one wonders at the fortitude and resilience of the people who, in their thousands, travelled those lonely dangerous roads in search of a fortune. The trails that the early settlers travelled were anything but "roads", they were not more than two wheel tracks through the trees in the general direction of their destination.

The first travellers blazed trees with an axe to guide those who followed. If a tree fell over the track or a section became boggy, or a creek washed out the crossing, then the traffic merely deviated and rejoined the track further along. If a boggy patch could not be by-passed then it was corduroyed with saplings laid crossways across the track, some of the corduroyed creek crossings were in existence for many years.

Brakes were always a problem when going down steep inclines, especially for bullock drawn vehicles, because a bullock pulls on a yoke and has no breeching to push back against the load of the wagon. Teamsters usually felled a tree at the top of a range and dragged it behind for a brake if the descent was steep.

Running repairs were made with the materials at hand, for example, timber, an axe, some wire and greenhide. Our teamsters were enterprising characters – their frustrations were many and regular, so it is with little wonder that they earned a reputation for swearing.


21 – 2 Transport


Clare was never a railway town, but it could well have been. The original survey delineated a railway reserve crossing the Burdekin River at the Rocks (because of the excellent foundations for a bridge) and continuing north westerly, skirting the eastern fringe of the Clare settlement.

Had this plan be proceeded with, then Clare could well have become an important railway junction with a branch line to serve the sugar mills of Ayr. There is also little doubt that there would have been major trucking yards to give access from the grazing lands in the Clare hinterland to the meatworks of Merinda and Townsville.

There was a great deal of controversy at the time as to the route of the proposed railway line, but a combination of commercial interest in Townsville, and the shrewd experienced mind of John Drysdale (the founder of Pioneer and Inkerman sugar mills and himself and experienced railway engineer), won the day. In 1899, the Ayr Tramway Board was formed and proceeded to construct the Ayr – Townsville line, a distance of 44 miles. This line was opened in 1901.

With this date there was no coastal road connecting Townsville to Ayr and coaches from Ayr carried passengers and mail via Clare to Reid River where they connected with the western railway line that joined Charters Towers to Townsville.

The new railway from Ayr to Townsville was a boon to the sugar growing town of Ayr, but virtually put Clare our of the transport business.

When the railway was finally completed from Bowen to Ayr in 1913, the telegraph line was re-routed along this line to Townsville. This broke the remaining link connecting Clare with Townsville via Reid River and left the once busy little settlement in isolation with no more than a few farms and graziers to support it.

21 – 3 – Transport


Ayr and Reid River to Bobawaba

After the turn of the century, Mr. Swan (once Postmaster and Telegraph Operator at Clare) ran the Passenger and Mail Coach between Ayr and Reid River. The coach was drawn by four horses and was changed at about 15 mile intervals. There were many changing yards along the road; one a Mr. Harry Cox’s station at the Rocks, one at Mona Park homestead and of course at Clare, where mail, inward and outward, was handled at the "Post Office, Store and Hotel", and horses changed if necessary. Another changing yard was at a camp between Clare and Reid River. The journey was usually completed before dark, and travellers caught the train either to Townsville or Charters Towers.

On the return trip, the coach terminated at Mr. G. Kann’s store (now Consumer Meat Co. butchers premises) where passengers could stay overnight. Mr. Kann contracted the mail run from Ayr to Bowen which was previously that of Mr Phaffe. Mr. Kann’s stables were where the old Commercial Hotel, now the Tavern, is situated.

The Coach journey to Bowen was a two day run broken overnight at a camp at the Cape Creek. Return fare from Ayr to Bobawaba was 5/-.

Bobawaba, Clare, Seaforth and Maidavale

When the railway line came to Bobawaba, Mr. Kann took over the mail run – Bobawaba, Clare, Seaforth and Maidavale. With the exception of the Ayr to Clare contract, the mail runs were terminated in 1912 when the railway line came to Home Hill.

Photo Cobb & Co. mail coach with team of four horses.

Map of Townsville, Charters Towers and Bowen areas.

22 – 2 Graves at Clare.

The early settlements of North Queensland all have their share of graves. Sadly, too many of them are those of children. The loss of a child to many of our pioneering families must have tried their fortitude and faith, for like was harsh and survival was often the main pre-occupation.

Clare, small though it was, had its share of tragedies as the graves on the river bank testify. They dramatically portray the desperation of the of the pioneer women in particular who, miles from medical help of any sort, bore their children, nursed their families in sicknesses that were all too often fatal a hundred years ago. Appendicitis, diphtheria, whooping cough, pneumonia and typhoid fever, were a few of the illnesses that claimed so many lives then.

16 Graves at Clare.

Mrs. W. Graham.

Wife of the Telegraph linesman, Clare.

Burnt to death boiling clothes over an open fire. Husband slashed the rainwater tank with a axe to obtain water quickly to extinguish burning clothes. In spite of his efforts, Mrs. Graham died.

Photo of grave at Clare.

Mr. Williams

Died at Clare. Coffin was made by Mr. E. Larking, Proprietor of Clare Hotel.

Two Swaggies

When passing through Rosedale, they stole flour, and cream of tartar and soda; crossed the river at Clare, made camp then cooked Johnny cakes. Investigations revealed one tin of the "rising" contained arsenic.

Mac Kloas

A remittance man from England who resided near Mona Park, was found dead on the road to Clare, and was buried there under a bloodwood tree by the roadside. The tree bore an inscription.

Two children Names unknown.

Mr. E. H. G. A. Wilson

Telegraph Officer – Died of pneumonia in 1901.

The Story of the Chinaman at Steep Bank.

Told by E. Cunningham.

Near Macmillan Bridge, up river from Clare, a man by the name of Basket, in 1895 owned a small mixed farm. There he supplied teamsters who use to the bridge on their way from Bowen to Ravenswood. Mr. Basket also grazed cattle and fossicked for gold. His partner, a Chinaman, worked his market garden for him. One day when Mr. Basket was away mustering, the Chinaman decided to leave. After taking what money and gold he could find and a little food, he set out on foot for happier horizons. Mr. Basket on returning, did not take long to sum up the situation. He sprang onto his horse and set out at great speed hoping to head the Chinaman off along the road. At Steep Banks he caught up with the culprit, assaulted him and tied him to a tree. Mr. Basket then rode to seek advice from the Manager of Woodhouse Station who advised him to go to the Telegraph Station at Clare and report it to the police, who eventually sent a Mounted Policeman from Townsville. However, upon return to the Chinaman at the tree after such a space of time. He was found to be dead. Mr. Basket went to Court and was sentenced and became one of the first inmates of Stuart Prison in Townsville. However, he was pardoned after a short term, because of a petition claiming that the was too valuable, as a cattle thief investigator, to remain in prison.

The Chinaman was buried at Clare, and later his remains exhumed and sent back to his homeland and so he found his happier horizon.


17 Education

Clare had a long wait for the establishment of a formal school, for it was not until 1950, some 88 years after the first pioneers settled in the district that the temporary building was erected.

Education in the pioneering days meant that the mother or a governess gave the younger children schooling based on reading, writing and arithmetic, while the older children were sent far afield to boarding school.

It was understandable then that many of the early settlers had scant enough education. A small percentage were fortunate enough to be given the benefit of secondary schooling; for the most part pioneer children of Clare, as in most frontier townships, received their further education in the "school of life". It was a hard school, but equipped them well enough for the challenges of North Queensland rural life in the early 1900’s.

Flashbacks of School Days in the early 1900’s

Comments from descendants of early pioneering days give a :flashback: that makes it so real.

The Hotel proprietor’s on, Mr. Ted Larkin, commented that he had had very little education. He was only a small lad when his father came to Clare and the nearest school was 14 miles away at Airdale so he and his brother rode a horse to school. It was a short-lived schooling because the boyish abuse of their horse, chasing kangaroos on the way, caused their father to bring it to a halt.

Ethel and Ruby Nelson, daughters of the Clare Telegraph manager, received their early education by governess. Mrs. Minnie Larking (nee Ellis) tells a little story of her sister and herself visiting the Nelson girls at Clare. Mr. Swan, the mailman who drove the coach from Ayr to Swan’s Lagoon, was a kind old gentleman and allowed the girls to take the reins. It pleased them immensely when he told them that they were the first young ladies to ever drive the coach to Clare! Mrs. Larkin remembers staying that night at the Hotel and walking over to the Telegraph Station next morning. The governess gave the girls the day off, being suck a "red letter" day, and also because the Ellis girls had to return to Ayr by coach that afternoon.

Charles and Phyllis Schultz, children of Bridget and Charles Schultz, of Woodhouse Station, went to the Convent Boarding School at Bowen. It was quite and arduous journey for young children of 4 ½ and 5 ½ years of age. Mrs. Schultz drove the children in he four wheeled buggy and pair into Ayr where they caught the train to Bowen. However, in flood times Mrs. Schultz saw them across the river to the Home Hill Railway Station, and so they continued on to school.

Mr. Les Cox at "Brookfield" went to school with his older brothers in a buggy until such time that he was the only one of the family at primary school, then he rode his horse. All the boys went off to Townsville Grammar to Secondary School.

18 The Church in Pioneering Days.

In the 1880’s, the Clergy of all denominations would have had to make long and arduous journeys to the northern towns of Bowen, Townsville and Cardwell by sea; then travel by coach or on horseback to such places as Clare, Ravenswood and Charters Towers.

There is no doubt that the administration of the Sacraments to the families at Clare would have been a very irregular intervals.

An Anglican (? Would have been Church of England at that time.) Clergyman Rev. Perkins once visited Mr. McKenzie at Seaforth, coming from Townsville by a Sugar Packet Steamer which moored at Plantation Creek Wharf.

In 1887 Catholic Church records establish that Fr. John Walsh visited this area on his journey from Bowen to Townsville. He stopped over at Inkerman Station and Brandon then continued on by coach through Clare and Reid River to Townsville.


19 Landmarks

Red Hill – Just a Dream!

At certain times of the year, when travelling to Millaroo past Steep Bank, Red Hill stands before you bold and remarkably red. Gold was found there, but no great finds were ever recorded. Still it is quite evident that gold fossicking there, and around the nearby hills, was more than someone’s dream.

A narrow road spirals up Red Hill, and mullock heaps are dotted about the hill. Not so very long ago there were the remains of an old crushing plant and a windlass. The names of these men and their dreams seem to have gone, and with them those who could have told the tale of Red Hill.

Pengelly’s Pinnacle

Over two hundred feet high, Pengelly’s Pinnacle protrudes from the earth like a giant tooth. (Some distance between Woodhouse Station and Hillsborough). It is well foliaged as is the ground around it, and it is believed to have been a safe overnight retreat for Mr. Pengelly’s flock of sheep, which he guarded from below. Rough timber fence surrounded the Pinnacle and his small bush hut. Mr Dan Pengelly was a man of true pioneering fibre.


The Shepherd’s Wall

Across the river from Clare in 1860 – 1870, Mr Bob Towns built himself a stone hut and spit stone wall around a conical rocky hill, where at night he shepherded his flock of sheep. This strong hold was fort-like, making a safe haven from dingoes and natives. Traces of this wall can be seen today.


Macmillan Bridge –

Link to the Goldfields

South of Clare on the Burdekin River below the Bogie River Junction, are the remains of the old Macmillan Bridge built in 1872, and named after A. C. Macmillan (the then engineer in charge of Public Works, Bowen). It was constructed to give swifter access from Bowen to the goldfields (Ravenswood and Charters Towers) because at that time Townsville was threatening Bowen’ position as the central port of the north.

The bridge was constructed of timber only and raised but a few metres off the bed of the river On completion, bullock teams loaded with machinery and all necessary commodities for the goldfields, proceeded from Bowen up the Don River to Bingee, then followed the Bogie River to Macmillan Bridge and on to Ravenswood, and Charters Towers.

It was in operation for perhaps ten years, and then lay in disuse until the drought in 1926 when it was repaired to bring drought-stricken sheep from the west to the more nourishing grasslands on the coast.

Like evidence of much of our past, it is regrettable to find that so little remains. How may thousands of wagon loads of ore, machinery and food would have passed that way for thoseten years or so! We will never know.

20 Clare 1900 – 1950

"The Years Between"

By 1920 it seemed that the township of Clare was to share the fate of extinction that befell many of the early townships of North Queensland which mushroomed in the vicinity of the goldfields. Because of the small agricultural community and the surrounding graziers, the township retained its identity though little else.

It was not until 1948 with the commencement of stage one of the Burdekin Dam Scheme and the establishment of the soldier settlement, that the old Clare township received a new lease of life and once again became a busy and bustling community.

The years between were difficult and the few hardy families that eked out a livelihood from their riverside farms were true pioneers in every sense. Isolated from the busy, develop0ing sugar towns on which they depended to sell their produce, they shared little of the relative prosperity of these areas. Life was hard, pleasures simple and tragedy and serious illness were constant neighbours. If adversity brings out the best in the human race then surely these hardy people were an outstanding community.


Early Farming at Clare

Mr. Richard McLaughlin recalls the time his father, Robert McLaughlin of Maidavale, owned land at Clare. He bought a freehold block from Mr. Edward (Hotel Proprietor, Clare) in 1904; some of the land he leased to Mr. William Nelson, (Telegraph Officer at Clare) to grow tobacco. The crop however, was a failure because the floods that came that year swept everything before them.

The land then lay more or less dormant because of droughts until 1915. Then, when the first break in the weather came and storm after storm brought new growth to the countryside, Mr. McLaughlin and his wife drove 100 head of cattle and forty horses from Maidavale to Clare. When it was time for dipping, the cattle were mustered and taken to Mr. Cox’s yards at the Rocks. In 1918, the land was leased to Mr. Cunningham until 1948, when it was resumed for "The Irrigation Land Settlement Scheme for Tobacco Growing" for Ex-servicemen.


"The Rocks" Homestead, Station and Mona Park Area.

"The Rocks" homestead is situated beside the Rocks Hill on the bend of the river about 6 miles north of Clare. The property is managed My Mr. Geoff Cox, and has been in the Cox family for almost a century. The original holding was a 160 acre freehold Selection block owned by Mr. J. T. Ware in the 1880’s; purchased later by Mr. Harry Cox who acquired adjoining land from Mr. Edward Cunningham. The property has since been owned by Mr. Bob Cox and currently by Mr. Viv Cec and Geoff Cox. "The Rocks" area stretches from the homestead to Barratta Creek an area of 55,000 acres.

"Brown’s Paddock", which has become quite a large section of the present Mona Park cane area, was purchased many years ago from the late Edward Cunningham by Mr. Harry Cox, for his son Les Cox (Gainsford). In about 1956, Mr. Les Cox bought the old "Mona Park" homestead, dipping yards and a narrow river strip from The Hughes Bros., who had acquired it from Mr. Ted Cunningham of "Strathmore". Mr. Les Cox sold Brown’s Paddock and the "Mon Park" homestead, yards and Leasehold about 1950 to Mr. Paul Beebe of the Northern Territory, who took possession and established a Brahman stud. It was only a few years before Mr. Beebe sold out to Mr. Ben Haselton, retaining the Lease Block along Dearness Road. Mr. Roy Young later became the owner of the Lease Block and sold it to the Minuzzo Brothers of Clare. (This Leasehold Block has since been resumed by the Queensland Water Resources Commission for further subdivision).

In 1964, the Haughton Sugar Company purchased from Mr. B Haselton 2,000 acres of what was, in the main, the old Brown’s Paddock, which was subdivided into cane farms.

The remaining land was then owned by Mr. Ben Haselton and his sons Stanley and Neville. The sons subdivided some of their property selling a number of farms while still retaining sufficient land for their own requirements.

Life at "Mona Park" – in the 1930’s.

Mrs. Jess Parker, nee Young, remembers the rather quiet life she lived at "Mona Park" homestead with her father who was caretaker at the time.

Some evenings they would walk across the paddock to Mr. McQuart’s for a talk. The old Clare Road at that time went around the back of Jim Mitchell’s home farm, and came out at George Spentgaris’ corner, somewhere near where Mr. McQuart once lived.

Entertainment in those days was limited; occasionally families and friends would picnic on the bank of the river; families would visit one another in the evenings. With the wireless being battery operated it was not use as frequently as they would have liked. The old kerosene lamp too, although a blessing, was a deterrent to reading and needlework.

Jess helped her father milk the cows for their milk and butter needs. Her father grew sweet potatoes and corn to feed the pigs and laying hens. Their supplies came from Woodhouse station. Mr. Young was assigned the special duty of caring for Mr. Schultz’ brood mares and stallion in the Green swamp paddock. At mustering time, five or six men came from Woodhouse Station for a busy few days.

Mr. Les Ebbage brought the mail and called in to Mona Park each week.



Mail Run to Clare

Mr. George Ebbage, formerly a cab proprietor in Ravenswood, contracted the mail run from Ayr to Clare in 1921. His son Charles Ebbage at the age of 14, with a special licence, drove his father/s coach on the mail run to Clare beginning the same year.

Young Charles collected the mail from the Ayr Post Office very early each Tuesday morning, sorted it and tied it into appropriate bundles for easy delivery into mail boxes en route. Before leaving Ayr, all the orders of bread, meat and groceries were collected from the various businesses. The passengers were then collected ant the coach, an open 4 wheeled wagon, set off for Clare. The coach was drawn by two horses, except in wet weather when it was heavier pulling, the four horses were used. During the wet weather the coach was covered with canvas and passengers wore mackintoshes. At the Rocks, ten or twelve miles from Ayr, the horses were spelled and driver and passengers revived themselves with a cup of tea from a flask. Sometimes they would watch the crocodiles basking in the sun on the sand amongst the rocks. The coach arrived in Clare at Mrs. Mary Schatzel’s (the old hotel building) where everyone met to collect their mail an perhaps pick up passengers and sort out everyone’s orders. Mr. Singleton from Gladys Lagoon picked up the mail etc., for the families further up the river.

On the return trip, after collecting all the orders for the following week and the mail, Charles Ebbage drove to Mona Park where the horses were changed. Mr. Tim McKinley, Caretaker of Mona Park, always had ready Mr. Ebbage’s change horses, and assisted young Charles to hitch up. The horses were quite after a week’s spell in fresh paddocks, and Mr. McKinley had to have all gates open for Charlie’s big take off. The horses were allowed their heads for a mile or so, until where the road went through the trees, but by this time they were glad enough to steady down to a good trot.

In 1925, Charlie went to Brisbane and his brother Les took over their father’s mail run to Clare, and drove his father’s Model "T" Ford, which was a ‘far cry’ from the days of the coach, buggy and sulky. "Progress Speeds On"! Les continued the mail run until 1939.

Mailmen to Clare from 1921

George, Charles and Les Ebbage

Bill Carless

Bill Weston

Jack Caspani

Les Sculley

Laurie and Charlie Webster

Bill Fagg

Charlie Webster and

Mrs. Fagg (now Mrs. Gray)

Mr. Carty’s Recollections

Ron Carty of Giru, who once lived at Clare gave a vivid account of his life at Clare.

He said that thousands of head of cattle passed along the stock route through the "Mona Park" yards each year.

His words:-

No farming was done at "Mona Park" but a centrifugal pump forced water up the river bank onto the homestead garden and filled the tanks. Floods have been through the homestead up to a foot high. He recalled the Managers of "Woodhouse" Station and "Mona Park" were Charles F. Schultz, Mr. William Britt and Jim Ferguson. The caretakers of "Mona Park" were as he remembered, Tim McKinley 1921 = 1925, Jack Ferguson 1925 – 1930, Harry Young 1931 – 1936, Les Larkin 1939 – 1945, Jack O’Malley 1945 – 1953, and Stan Kierle 1953 – 1955.

Mr. R. Carty owned the land next to "Mona Park" (upstream) which had previously been purchased by his brother, Mr. C. Carty from Mr. Ernest McQuart. Mr. McQuart used to grow potatoes and tomatoes. He burnt charcoal and cut firewood for many hotels and businesses in Ayr.

Mr. Carty cleared a lot of land and rented some of it to the Fry Brothers, who built a house there and grew potatoes and pumpkins which were watered by pumping from the river. On the rest of the land Mr. Carty ran several head of cattle. The Government resumed this land in the 1940’s (Government Gazette). Mr. Carty had to accept the price offered or settle it in Court, so he accepted the Government price.

On the old Clare reserve there were three graves. The old hotel building, was occupied by Mrs. Mary Schatzel’s who kept a herd of goats and some poultry.

Mr. George Granshaw and two sons, Harry and Bert, lived a short distance up river from the hotel. They ran a dairy and delivered milk to Ayr, as well as growing potatoes and tomatoes.

Later the first Government Experiment Block of Tobacco was grown on his property under supervision, in preparation for a proposed Irrigation Settlement.

Mr. Herb Norris owned a farm near there and grew mainly potatoes. Further up the river stretched other blocks of land farmed by Syd Newton, Frank Brock, Jim Sullivan and Jim Guy who grew tomatoes, potatoes, pumpkins and watermelons besides funning a few head of cattle.

On Gladys Lagoon, Aubrey Singleton bred horses and grazed cattle. In the 1940 Flood, the family found that the stockyard was the only place above water level. At Steep Banks after a flood, Mr. Carty has seen debris on top of the bank three feet high. He and Mr. Robinson caught an eight foot crocodile there and took it to the zoo in the back of a Whippet car.

The township of Millaroo was build on some of the land owned by Mr. Ron Carty’s father who was a cattle man. At the mouth of the Bogie River (80 years or more ago), Mr Basket grew vegetables on land know as Basket’s Selection. Teamsters travelling to and from Ravenswood across the old Macmillan Bridge were able to obtain fresh vegetables and fresh goat meat. A chinaman who once worked a market garden there met his death at Steep Bank and was buried beside the road. On the other side of the River at the mouth of the Bogie River was once a Native Police Barracks.

The big flash flood waters of 7th March, 1946 swept, many feet deep, all over where the Clare farms are today, and if every another similar flood comes again, Mr. Carty said that people will be picking up their pots and kettles going through under the Burdekin Bridge. The day before the flood the river bed was almost dry; the next day he saw a tremendous amount of water rise to 40 feet within a very short space of time. This water continued to rise and came up over the banks and spread out in one great sheet of water from the Haughton River to well south of the Burdekin. Mr. Carty and Mr. Bob Hall told of watching cattle being swept down the river. After the level of water dropped back to normal, the two men investigated the banks of the river a Landers Creek and found of all things a brand new whistling kettle. Further along the bank they were startled by two crocodiles lumbering about in the water. During the period that Mr. Carty was a resident of Clare he said Mr. Ebbage, was the mailman and later Mr. Carless delivered the mail.

River Flood of March, 1946

In 1946 at Sellheim, the river height was reported as 46 feet. Usually, when flooding took place at Clare and Home Hill, the Sellheim records would read 60 feet. So the unusual "flash" flood was caused mainly by sudden flooding of the Bowen and Bogie Rivers entering the Burdekin at the same time. At Home Hill, a cattle train was washed off the railway bridge with the loss of two lives. Miraculously, most of the cattle swam to safety.

Mr. Herb Norris recollected some of the history at Clare, and told from his own experience, of a rather frugal existence endured by ten or so small crop farmers eking out the barest of a living along the river bank.

He first recalled memories of "Mona Park" house being built in 1911 by Mr. Owen Hughes. Mr. George Teitzel whom he thought was manager or caretaker planted all the mango trees that are still there. Mr. Jack Ferguson was caretaker at {Mon Park" while Mr. Norris was living at Clare. Mr. Norris spoke of the two stock routes to Townsville; one route was from Clare to Reid River and on to the Ross River Meat Works and the other route was behind Clare leading to Green Swamp and Major’s Creek, across the Jump Up and around the mountain to the Alligator Creek Meat Works.

Mr Norris owned a block of land up river from Clare and his farmhouse was situated where the main road now runs and the site can be identified by a large mango tree at the road side in front of the farm currently owned by Ken Lewis. Mr. Clancy Goodall worked this farm until Mr. Norris moved onto the land in 1941, taking with him, his wife, May, and children, Mavis, Bernice Kay and Ron. Farming during those years was quite a struggle and required the co-operation of every member of the family and they worked from sun up so sun down. Using a 3" centrifugal pump, Mr. Norris irrigated from the river, 10 acres of fertile river soil, where he grew potatoes and tomatoes. With a dairy cow, fowls and a pig or two the family provided their own fresh eggs, mil, butter and bacon. Mr. Norris bred his own draught horses and took great pride in them; it took six such horses to pull his double disc plough.

On Wednesdays, the children rose to meet the mail cart at Mr. Neal Christensen’s hut (near the graves at Clare) to collect and send not only mail but school correspondence work.

The names of the farmers living at Clare at that time that came to Mr. Norris’ mind were Aubrey Singleton, Jim Sullivan, Syd Newton, Frank Brock, Robert McLaughlin, Clancy Goodall, Herb Norris, later Lyell Pratt, Jim Buy, Bert O’Brien, George Granshaw and sons Bert and Harry, and Stan Kierle, head stockman of Woodhouse Station, who leased the Clare Reserve where he grazed his cattle. Mr. Ron Carty owned land next to "Mona Park" homestead.

Mr. Norris remembered the Prisoner of War Camp across the river on Mr. Kelly’s farm, where 300 Italian prisoners (from the North African Campaign) were stationed. They grew some of the most beautiful vegetables that he had ever seen. Mr. Dick Cussons was the Farm Manager at the Camp. Some years after the war many of the ex-prisoners returned to Queensland to live.

Before Mr. Norris moved to Clare he was Manager of "Major’s Creek" (out-station of Woodhouse), and after leaving Clare and living in Ayr a few years he returned to "Major’s Creek" until 1971, when he retired and went back to Ayr.

In 1943, the Land Army Headquarters in Brisbane despatched three groups of Land Army girls to the Burdekin area. Each group of 30/40 girls was assigned to a particular farm where they camped under the supervision of a matron who catered for them. Mr. Ham Kelly’s farm on the opposite bank of the river to Clare was the camp for one of these groups. The girls were trained to handle horses and do all the necessary jobs on a farm from milking cows to harvesting crops. Four of the Land Army girls sent to the Burdekin area married local farmers. They are: May Bulfin (Mrs. Granshaw), Thire Buckley (Mrs. Della Cort), Eileen Britten (Mrs. Baggot), Joan Harvey (Mrs. Ahern).

The people in the community were happy and friendly and everyone made their own entertainment.


Mr. Jack O’Malley

Mr. Jack O’Malley came to Clare in 1947 after managing "Major’s Creek" Station for four or five years. He was born in Ingham, went to school in Airville, and spent ten years or so in Ravenswood, Mr. O’Malley was caretaker of "Mona Park" homestead from 1947 until 1952. While at Clare he drove the Clare school bus for Mr. Ypinazar of Ayr. Also on Thursdays he drove the bus to Ayr for the ladies of Clare to do their weekly shopping. His son Pat, was the fist child to be enrolled at the new Clare School in 1950. Brian his elder son, also attended the new Clare School. In 1952, Mr. O’Malley went to live I Ayr.

Story – Mrs. P. Dobbins

Time Waits for No One

Mr. Bill Walsh, manager of "Byrne Valley" Station, was short handed for a muster, and flood waters were rising. He sent to Woodhouse Station asking for extra stockmen. Charles Schultz Jnr. And four or five other stockmen rose to the occasion and swam the river on horseback at Steep Bank. After quite a big day they all bunked down for the night at "Byrne Valley" stockmen’s quarters. However, not long after they were settled down, news came across from the homestead that Mrs. Walsh, an expectant mother, had gone into labour. The stockmen stirred themselves and returned to Woodhouse station with the news. Mrs. Schultz and her daughter took the Model "T" Ford, and in great haste drove into Ayr where they sought Mrs. Walsh’s sister and the necessary medical equipment. They beat a hurried return to Steep Banks, where waiting for them was a small row boat, and on the other side of the river a horse and sulky was ready for an immediate take off. However, the baby did not wait for such formalities, and the Aunt was met at the door with lusty cries from a very healthy baby girl.

The untimely arrival of the babe at Byrne Valley on 11th January, 1926 was so eventful that it demanded recognition so to record the event, the babe was given three names associated with the occasion. "Lorna Beatrice Phyllis", "Lorna", a friend, "Beatrice", the sister who came too late and Phyllis Schultz (Dobbins), who with her mother drove the "T" Ford for help. Later, Lorna, affectionately known as "Birdie", married Bill Searle (who has been with the Q.W.R.C. Clare since 1949), and by some strange coincidence the youngest daughter, Charmaine is to married on the 24th July this year – Clare’s Centenary Celebration Day!

Photo Singleton’s home on Gladys Lagoon.

22 The Rebirth of Clare


In compiling the events of the past thirty-four years, I have not confined my writing to the historical facts. I could not resist the temptation to make comment on many of the issues and events of that period. Having lived in Clare since 1950 and enjoyed the questionable distinction of being an original soldier settler, I felt that I was well qualified to comment.

I do not deny that my views are probably biased, but I believe that I have recorded the events as they were seen to unfold, through the eyes of the farming community.

In my view, there was a need to comment, especially on the Soldier Settlement issue, which was very controversial at the time.

Because these events have occurred during the lifetime of many of us, they are very recent history and, in recording them, it has been difficult to remain objective. My aim has been to provide an account of events that is both interesting and informative.

K.N.S. Lewis.



The Soldier Settlement

As every farmer knows, the cycle of life is one of birth, life, death, decay and rebirth.

Clare has completed the full cycle and it rebirth can be timed at around 1948.

The Government of the day, faced with the problem of re-establishing the thousands of ex-servicemen in some form of civil occupation once again, looked at this pool of enterprising young men to venture forth and develop large areas of hitherto undeveloped land.

The objective of the War Services Land Settlement Scheme was to increase the nation’s productivity, assist the balance of payments by increasing our export earnings or decreasing our imports of primary products (such as tobacco) and at the same time, enable our ex-servicemen to establish themselves as farmers of graziers if they were that way inclined and had the necessary attributes.

Thus it was decided to establish a soldier settlement at Clare to grow tobacco. The scheme was to be part of Stage 1 of the Burdekin River Project, a scheme designed to dam the Burdekin River above the falls in the Leichardt Range and develop the extensive Burdekin flood plain as well as to generate electricity through a hydro-electric station incorporated in the dam.

The progress of the scheme depended to some extent on the agricultural development at Clare. In retrospect, the importance of this first step seemed to be greatly under-estimated, for the decision to establish 63 tobacco farms at Clare was taken with a great deal of enthusiasm but very little serious research.

As the serious business of establishing a tobacco farm from 60 acres of forest proceeded, the problems for the soldier settler were many and varied and mostly serious.

The whole scheme was administered by State Government departments, the Irrigation and Water Supply Commission built the channels and supplied the water, which in the early years of the scheme, was often in very short supply at the critical few months of October and November. Initially, the Main Roads Department built roads and mysteriously the tobacco barns, bulk sheds and settlers’ houses. A lot of the timber was second-hand being accumulated from old Army buildings. So, much of the work was substandard. The houses might have been acceptable as Army barracks but scarcely up to the standard for a settler with a wife and family. Bathrooms consisted of an enclosure underneath a tank stand and the water supply from the Burdekin was often a muddy brown.

The Agricultural Bank was the financing authority and its system, of necessity, was restrictive in that little allowance was made for individual enterprise on the one hand, and was open to abuse on the other.

Despite the hardships and shortcomings of the scheme, everyone went about the business of setting up their farm with great enthusiasm. The community spirit was quite extraordinary and everyone helped his neighbour wherever he could. The wives, many of them city girls and used to better things, cheerfully ran the house, looked after the kids and did a day’s work in the tobacco fields. It is remarkable the bond that adversity engenders. For to this day, old Clareites from those early days have a special relationship that time or distance cannot dim.

Tobacco as a crop was a temperamental one. The early years of its production were encouraging, and a world record price was obtained by a Clare grower, Mr. C.D. Ross.

However, it seemed that Murphy’s Law (anything that can go wrong will go wrong) was to apply to the industry.

The insect pests built up, and arsenate of lead was recommended insecticide. It didn’t kill all the pests but the residues on the lead was considered liable to kill off our smokers. So without warning, considerable quantities of cured leaf was condemned on the sale floor. The loss to the tobacco growers was substantial and serious.

Nut grass became a serious pest; then nematodes began to seriously affect some areas. The weather had to get in on the act, and sever hail and wind storms played havoc on occasions.

In spite of these problems, farmers persevered and some did relatively well, but the final ‘coup de grace’ was administered by the tobacco companies who had always resisted and Australian industry. They had eliminated the Western Australian industry.

They then turned their attention to the Burdekin and all but put it out of business, and then put the squeeze on the Victorian and southern Queensland industries. Their tactics were simple, either reject the leaf outright, claiming the quality was not up to standard, or pay a price below the cost of production. It was their legal right, as the buyers, to do this; but morally it was unprincipled and there was very nearly blood shed over this issue.

Alternative crops to tobacco were of some help, but distance from markets and the size of the farms made these, for the most part, only a means of prolonging the agony.

Seven years after the soldier settlement was established, the exodus began. Farmers walked off leaving everything including their debts behind them. It was a sad business to see men who had spent four or five years serving their country in time of war, and who just as courageously attempted to start life again on the banks of the Burdekin, have to once again go out into the world without either capital or civilian qualifications and remake their lives.

The soldier settlers did not take all this adversity without becoming very vocal. Farmers’ meetings were lively affairs, and most department heads were loth to front up to the angry settlers. The exception to this was the Commissioner for Irrigation and Water Supply, the late Mr. Fred Haigh.

Mr Haigh, himself a returned soldier, attended meetings whenever he was in the area; although he received little credit for his doing so. Most of the settlers all recognised that he felt deeply for their plight and he helped where and how he could.

The R.S.L. was the organisation to which the soldier settlers turned to help. A sub-branch was formed in 1956 and the support of the North Queensland District Council of the R.S.L. was, after some procrastination, secured. The late Doug Suthers, a Townsville solicitor and a District Councillor of the R.S.L., undertook to take the case of the Clare soldier settlers to State headquarters in Brisbane. The support of this very powerful pressure group was obtained and as a direct result of this, the State Government appointed a Committee of Inquiry into the soldier settlement.

By 1960, the plight of the Clare area was desperate. Some tobacco was still being grown but maize and beans, bother for seed and for market, were the main crops. Hybrid maize and sorghum seed was produces under contract. However, these crops on 60 acre farms provided no more than subsistence for the farmer.

The State Government’s Committee of Inquiry into the Clare Soldier Settlement had been formed in 1957 and after much disagreement (no committee member wanted to admit that his department was in error) finally recommended that the soldier settlers’ debts to the Crown be written off. The Committee also observed that the only solution to the problem of farm viability was to increase farm sizes to 120 acres, and at the next expansion of the sugar industry, have the land assigned to a sugar mill.

The increase of farm sizes never eventuated, but in 1964, sugar cane assignments did. Many of the surviving soldier settlers, finding that they now had an asset in the form of a cane farm and under pressure from their trading bank, decided to sell and try elsewhere. They were for the most part disillusioned with the scheme. They had children of secondary school age due to move into the workforce. They did what seemed at the time the sensible thing.

By the mid 1960’s the ranks of the original soldier settlers were indeed very thin. The Clare Soldier Settlement had joined the long list of unsuccessful soldier settlement schemes. Why did they fail so miserably?

It is easy for the armchair critic to say that servicemen make poor farmers. That is, of course, a lot of nonsense. The Clare soldier settlers were a fair cross section of any Australian community and, if anything, were above average in intelligence and application to the job in hand. They were highly motivated on th one hand but inexperienced as farmers on the other.

The failure of the scheme, in retrospect, was inevitable and beyond the control of the farmers themselves. Tobacco, as a crop fertile levee soils of the Burdekin, was a very unwise choice. It would have failed irrespective of the experience of the farming community.

The farm sizes were too small, thus inhibiting any real chance of diversifying into alternate crops.

Today, thirty-four years later, there is still no answer to an alternate crop on the levee soils, other than sugar cane.

It is an indisputable fact, that had the Clare Soldier Settlement been established with sugar cane as the crop, then the failure rate would have been minimal and the Clare Soldier Settlement an outstanding success.






Staff of Water Resources Commission

1948 Onwards. (List not complete)


Haigh, Frederick Clarke, Don

McKeon, C.J. Fleming, Mick

Moore, Bruce James, Stan

McCutcheon, Graham Kimber Bob

McDonald, D Graham, Peter

D – 30 Photos taken at Clare.

32 – 2 The Sugar Industry

In 1964, after a very intensive inquiry into the advisability of a substantial expansion of the Queensland and New South Wales sugar industry, it was decided that the time was right for an expansion of some 20%.

This was Clare’s long awaited opportunity and along with Millaroo and Dalbeg it was assigned to the Invicta Mill at Giru, thus replacing the Ingham line cane (cane grown adjacent to the railway line north of Townville) which was assigned where it rightfully belonged, to Victoria Mill at Ingham.

Once again, there was an air of optimism in the community. The tramline from Giru to Clare was constructed, cane was planted, new machinery purchased and a few new houses began to appear where the old original Clare houses had stood. Farms changed hands and a lot of new faces appeared.

Fate has a way of cutting the human race down to size, for no sooner had everyone settled down to the business of growing cane, that the price slumped to disastrous levels. However, for the surviving soldier settlers, by now experts at surviving on low incomes, it was no great tragedy. At least they knew that good times would return to this highly organised and efficient industry.

And so it proved to be. Today the irrigation areas of Clare – Mona Park, Millaroo and Dalbeg supply 60% of Invicta Mill’s total crush. Production per acre is high and consistent, and Clare today justifies the future of the area. We have fertile soil, abundant water and lots of sunshine, sure prerequisites for agricultural prosperity. Clare sugar cane farmers, true to form have always been active in their industry organisations and our local representative on the Invicta Mill Suppliers’ Committee is Chairman of that important organisation.

The Invicta Mill Involvement in Clare District. & Map of area,

Advent of Cane Growing 1964 on.

Following sustained efforts by miller and grower advocates, numerous applications, representations and hearings before the Central Sugar Cane Prices Board during 1963-1964 the memorable decision to introduce cane growing to the Clare area was finally realised with an assignment of 52 acres with a cane peak of 1,050 tons cane being granted to 58 assignees at Clare.

The tramline link from the terminus of Upper Haughton outside of Giru to a terminus past Claredale of 25 miles was approved for construction by the Board of the Haughton Sugar Company Limited in November 1963 and work began with contracts for bridges, earthworks, and formations being let and the laying of the line was awarded to Mr. E. T. Weldon (Jnr), (a present cane assignee at Mona Park) at a contracted rate of 1,600 pounds per mile. The railway line used in the project was obtained from Western Australia. New 18 ton diesel locomotives appeared in th locomotive fleet of Invicta Mill to move the cane from the Clare area. The new 18 ton diesels were appropriately named "Clare" and "Northcote".

Twenty one (21) of the original selected assignees still grow cane in 1982 in the Clare area. Present assignees total 65 in Mulgrave (Clare) and 22 in Northcote (Mona Park) with assignment of 2,115 hectares with cane peak of 208,987 tonnes of cane.

Two significant events since the 1964 event of having cane assigned and the line built was firstly the building of the extension to the tramline of a spur line to service the Mona Park area and secondly the wisdom of establishing the Burdekin Rural Education Centre and the granting there to of a substantial cane assignment which is recorded in 1982 as 174.3 hectares with a cane peak of 11,970 tonnes of cane.

The 1965 harvest was indeed humble from the new Clare assignees with a restrictive 30 acres to be harvested as directed from the Central Sugar Cane Prices Board.

Like the acorn, from such a start the Clare area has grown into one of the better cane growing areas of the Queensland Sugar Industry. Production has developed from 82 tonnes cane per hectare in 1966 to a hight of 132.67 in 1973 levelling to around 115 tonnes can per hectare over the past eight years with an annual harvest around 225,00 tonnes of cane.

The Rice Industry

In 1953, the Department of Primary Industries established a research station at Millaroo. One of its briefs was to select crops that would assure viable productions from the heavy flood plain soils of the Burdekin Delta.

Rice had been successfully grown on these soils by Richard (Dick) Cussons in his capacity as farm manager of an earlier experimental farm at Clare. It was inevitable then that, as Mr Cussons had been transferred as farm manager at Millaroo, he would use his knowledge of the crop in th following trials.

The research station was also fortunate in having two capable and dedicated agriculturalists in charge of research, namely Don Seaton and Jim Greenaway.

The Millaroo trials on rice were very successful and in 1967 commercial seed was released to the local farmers so that they could build up their seed stocks.

In 1968 a farmers’ co-operative was formed to mill and market the first crop. Such was the enthusiasm and confidence in this new industry that, initially two mills were built, one at Brandon being privately owned and one at Home Hill being co-operatively owned. Eventually, the co-operative mill purchased the assets of the private mill and the co-operative currently mills and markets the total Queensland crop. The rice grown is a hight quality hard, long grained variety and it is marketed under the trade name "Mahatma".

From the outset, Clare was a major contributor to the total rice crop. Much of the land behind the fringe of cane farms, because of its topography and impervious nature of the soil, has become highly productive rice land. The crop is a second crop to sugar in most instances but nevertheless, is a major contributor to the total income of the district.

Such is the local interest in this industry that the Board of Directors of the co-operative rice mill has always had a strong Clare representation, and with one exception had always a Clare grower as it s chairman and deputy chairman.

The Queensland Rice Growers’ Association also drew its early leadership from Clare and this organisation was responsible for initiating and organising the approach to the Government to form a Statutory Body which became known as the Queensland Rice Marketing Board.

This Board is grower elected and controls the production of rice as well as formulating policies that have far reaching effects on the viability of the Queensland rice grower.

The current chairman of this Board is a Clare grower, thus upholding the Clare tradition of providing leadership in the industries in which it is involved.


Seed Bean and other Industries

In the mid 1950’s when it became apparent that total reliance on tobacco as an income earner was to say the least, precarious, farmers began to try a range of alternative crops to supplement their income. Many of those crops are still grown in the area and serve the same purpose.

Maize was always popular and still is. Vegetables for the southern markets are still produced during the winter. Bowen Special Mangoes are produced on some farms.

Seed bean production dates back to the late 1950’s. They were initially produced by labour intensive methods in relatively small areas. Today they are a full mechanised crop, crown on an extensive scale and Clare/Mona Park is a quarantine area producing the only disease free bean seed in Australia. It is, therefore, a small but extremely important industry.

The Q.W.R.C.

No history of the past 35 years of Clare would be complete without a chapter dedicated to the Queensland Water Resources Commission, or I.W.S. (Irrigation and Water Supply Commission) as it was known for most of that period.

The "Commission" or rather the people who served the Commission, made the whole scheme possible. The planned and constructed the pump stations, the irrigation channels, the access roads and the weirs. The maintained and administered the area and through the years have built up a constructive liaison with the farmers.

Farmer – I.W.S. relationships were not always harmonious. The hard pressed farmer had scant sympathy for a departmental officer who was late delivering water or didn’t keep up with his channel cleaning or over-estimated his water usage, overflowing the channel and flooding the farm. On the other hand, water officers took a dim view of ---

Photo of early I.W.S. Office Clare.

--- farmers who interfered with meter gates and channel checks. Some of the troubles had a financial base. The I.W.S. was always short of money for maintenance and the farmer was always short of money! Increasing prosperity certainly improved relationships all around.

In the early years of the Clare Irrigation Area, the I.W.S. personnel played a leading role in the social life of the community. They ran a 16mm open air picture show – there was no TV in 1950. They helped wherever they could in community projects. The first swimming pool at the Clare State School was designed by the engineer in charge, Don Clarke. I.W.S. bulldozers did the excavation. The formwork appeared as if by magic and I suspect a lot of the cement and sand did too.

It was truly a community project and the inter-school swimming carnivals at the old pool were one of the highlights of the year. It is a fitting tribute to the Q.W.R.C. that the Delhridge meter wheel features prominently on our centenary year logo.

Photo Queensland Water Resources Commission office – 1982.


The R.S.L.

Looking back over the past thirty years, it is evident that Clare has had a great many well supported community organisations; perhaps because there was a need for them, perhaps because of the type of people who made up the community.

Whatever the reason, they all played an important role in making Clare what it is today.

It was understandable that in the days of the Soldier Settler predominance, the R.S.L. was the organisation that came to the fore in community affairs. It had the great advantage of being highly organised on a district, state and national basis, and was an exceedingly successful pressure group that had the ear of the governments of the day.

The Clare Sub-branch was formed in July 1956 and its first year of operations reflects the last stages of the great optimism that infected the original soldier settlers.

The following are gleanings from the Minutes of the Sub-branch.

The initial meetings were in the old Catholic Hall which had originally been the Ayr R.S.L. hall prior to its being moved to Clare, where it doubled as a community hall as well as a Catholic Church.

There were moves to take over the dormant Clare Bowling Club and establish a bowling green, the Club to be named the Services Memorial Club.

The Clare Sub-branch, keen to own its own premises, applied to the I.W.S. for the purchase of the old clinic building. Although there was a great deal of correspondence re this transaction, it fell by the wayside as did the bowling club, as the economic pressures began to be felt in the community.

On 13 October, 1956, the North Queensland District President of the R.S.L., Mr. J.A. Sheriff, formally presented the Sub=branch with its Charter. The occasion was celebrated by a barbecue and there were 117 adults in attendance. Certainly the whole of the population of Clare was there. The members of the Sub-branch were still very mindful of those ex-servicemen or their dependants less fortunate than themselves and scarcely a meeting passed without a donation being made to some charity.

Anzac Day was observed with a Dawn Service complete with piper to play the lament, followed by a 10.00 a.m. public service. This observance was carried out and well supported for many years until dwindling numbers of ex-servicemen finally caused its discontinuance. It was a very special day in Clare for the memories of the war were very fresh in everyone’s mind and most of the male community and some of the women too had seen active service.

By mid-1957, the mood in the community had changed. It was obvious that the problems that had beset the community were getting worse and that it would nee government intervention to right a situation that was fast becoming untenable.

The Clare Sub-branch began to concern itself with the wider issues of gaining support through its district and state headquarters, in its representations to the Queensland Government. In that year the R.S.L. was lobbying the State Treasurer, the Hon. T. Hiley, to enlist his support in getting the area assigned to Invicta Sugar Mill.

The State politicians were reassuring and mainly through the influence of the North Queensland District Council in Townsville, the sub-branch executives, were busy interviewing every Cabinet minister who ventured north of Capricorn. Vice-President of North Queensland District Council Chairman, Mr. D.A. Suthers, as Problems Committee Chairman, gave freely of hi time and influence, and the community was greatly indebted to him.

As a direct result of this representation, a government-appointed Committee of Inquiry into the Clare Soldier Settlement was instituted and the sub-branch prepared itself to convince this committee that sugar assignments were the only answer to the problem. It took a lot of time and expense to convince this Departmental committee, and had it not been for its chairman, the Co-ordinator General, Sir James Holt, it would have taken a lot more time and money. He summed up the situation very quickly and was in complete agreement with the sub-branch’s submission.

Still the interviews went on, with the Premier, Mr. Nicklin, and even with the Commonwealth Minister of Primary industries in Canberra.

Meantime concern was being expressed for the secondary education of the growing families of Clare, and agitation was mounted to obtain a student hostel in Ayr.

The sub-branch agreed to meet half of the expenses for a local mother to visit a son’s grave with the pilgrimage to the Bomana War Graves in New Guinea. Herbert River Sub-branch, always a loyal supporter, paid the other half.

In 1959, the Committee of Inquiry still dominated the discussion at meetings, and the outlook for sugar assignments was anything but bright.

Domestically, it was business as usual as far as funds would permit. Charities were still being supported, but rather more selectively.

Debate at meetings was to be controlled, it seems as a motion on the minute book decreed that meetings must terminate by midnight.

Concern was felt for the new lands to be opened and Mareeba and Government policy was changed on farm sizes as a result.

A government proposal to increase farm sizes in the irrigation area by elimination one settler in three and re-locating him, met with no support.

In January, 1960 the debts of the Soldier Settlers to the Crown were written off. This was a recommendation of the Committee of Inquiry. It was not as generous as it sounds as most of the debts were irrecoverable.

Some settlers were having health problems and working bees were being organised by the sub-branch mainly to get the tobacco harvester.

The activities of the sub-branch began to become more domestically orientated. The ranks of ex-servicemen were fast thinning out and the sub-branch carried on mainly to commemorate Anzac Day. Eventually, the members were so reduced that the sub-branch folded up in 1972.

In the twenty years of its activities, the Clare Sub-branch of the R.S.L. was able to influence many decisions by Government that had far reaching effects, not only in Clare, but also in other areas. It showed, sometimes quite dramatically, that governments can be influenced by pressure groups, especially if the cause is popular.

Perhaps, more importantly, it was an excellent training ground for a group of men eager to learn the ways of the civilian world. Many learnt their lessons well and have gone on to occupy positions of responsibility in both private and public life.

37 – 1 Photocopy of Services at Clare.

.Clare Business.

The business community of Clare, to some extent reflected the economic state of the faming community. From modest beginnings the township blossomed into a busy business community and at its peak, the township comprised a general store, a confectionery store, a bakery, a butcher’s shop, a garage, a Post Office, licensed club, three fuel depots and a carrying business.

The offices of the I.W.S., the police station and the State School completed the public buildings. With the decline in farm incomes, the businesses found their viability falling correspondingly.

Paradoxically, when prosperity finally returned to the community it also brought new motor cars and a sealed highway to Ayr, thus a great deal of business was conducted in the larger town.

The butcher’s shop. Bakery, confectionery store and finally the garage closed down. The picture show fell victim to the T.V. set. Farmers were not the only casualties of the varied fortunes of Clare.

A great deal of appreciation should be accorded to those business people who continued to service the community in good times and bad. The credit extended by some helped many a hard-pressed farmer to carry on and finally win through.

38 – 1 The General Store

The first storekeeper to open for business in the new Clare irrigation area was a Mrs. Anderson, wife of one of the I.W.S. employees. Mary McDonald, in her history of the early days of the Clare soldier Settlement, describes the premises as "a shed built from second hand iron". She goes on to say that Mrs. Anderson "stuck a counter across the front of it (the shed), and opened a general store – known from then on to all and sundry as ‘the store’".

Mrs Anderson’s store was opened in 1949 and in 1950 she sold her business to the farmers’ co-operative that was formed to purchase and conduct the store. The co-operative expanded the business by adding a Commonwealth Savings Bank agency and a Shell fuel depot.

The old galvanised iron building was situated on the river bank in front of the present Pump Station "A" and was strategically placed to serve the large I.W.S. construction camp situated opposite and spread along the river side of the road downstream.

In 1955 the co-operative purchased an allotment in the town site and built a masonry brick store which, with extensions and refinements, still serves the community.

The following year the business was in financial trouble and was sold to R.J. and E.M. McMullen for 5,000.00 pounds.

Bob McMullen continued to expand and improve the business. He added a fertilizer agency and operated the aqua ammonia depot.

Today the general store is a modern supermarket, and a tribute to Bob McMullen, a citizen of Clare who played a leading role in its business community. He always generously supported any community project and gave credit to many a hard pressed family.

38 – 2 The Baker’s Shop.

Jim and Bernice Steven were amongst Clare’s earliest business people. In 1950 they purchased their allotment in the townsite and making the concrete bricks themselves, built an excellent bakery in the new townsite. The first batch of bread was bake in April, 1951.

Such was the pressure to get the business underway that the roof was only half complete when the first bread was baked.

Business grew rapidly with deliveries of bread to Clare, Millaroo and Dalbeg. The I.W.S. construction camps were big customers and when the Gorge Weir was under construction, the order was for 300 loaves three times a week.

Baking days were Monday, Wednesday and Friday to coincide with the mail run. Mondays were pie days and Wednesday cream buns, the Clare school children being the best customers.

For nine years, Jim and Bernice Steven conducted the bakery, baking in the peak years some 2,500 loaves a week. The had an apprentice for one year, otherwise it was a very hard working husband and wife team.

The bakery was sold to J. Scully in 1960, then in turn sold to Jack Jesse in 1964. Eventually Jack Jesse sold the business to Crowdey’s Bakeries of Ayr who have supplied Clare with bread ever since.

The old baker’s shop stands abandoned in the main street but it served the community well for many years and may well still have a future in the years that lie ahead.

Photo Clare Main Street 1982

38 – 3 Fancy Goods Store

A small store dealings mainly in confectionery was opened adjacent to the Post Office in 1952 by Mrs. Chalmers, and was especially popular with the school children. It was subsequently owned by Mrs. Suffren, Mr. Scully and finally the general store keeps, Mr. & Mrs. McMullen. It was one of the casualties of the business area.



The garage was built and operated for a number of years by Roy Taylor. It was a busy operation employing one apprentice and attending to farm repairs and fabrication of farm equipment. Roy Taylor’s ex apprentice Alan McMullen, purchased the business and the sold to Barry Mitchell. Barry left the area for greener pastures and closed the garage.


Butcher’s Shop

The shop was build by Mr. Les Cox of Ayr and subsequently leased to Arthur Burkitt, Andy Covington and Toby Courtenay. Finally, it too closed down.

A The General Store

The first storekeeper to open for business in the new Clare irrigation area was a Mrs. Anderson, wife of one of the I.W.S. employees. Mary McDonald, in her history of the early days of the Clare soldier Settlement, describes the premises as "a shed built from second hand iron". She goes on to say that Mrs. Anderson "stuck a counter across the front of it (the shed), and opened a general store – known from then on to all and sundry as ‘the store’".

Mrs Anderson’s store was opened in 1949 and in 1950 she sold her business to the farmers’ co-operative that was formed to purchase and conduct the store. The co-operative expanded the business by adding a Commonwealth Savings Bank agency and a Shell fuel depot.

The old galvanised iron building was situated on the river bank in front of the present Pump Station "A" and was strategically placed to serve the large I.W.S. construction camp situated opposite and spread along the river side of the road downstream.

In 1955 the co-operative purchased an allotment in the town site and built a masonry brick store which, with extensions and refinements, still serves the community.

The following year the business was in financial trouble and was sold to R.J. and E.M. McMullen for 5,000.00 pounds.

Bob McMullen continued to expand and improve the business. He added a fertilizer agency and operated the aqua ammonia depot.

Today the general store is a modern supermarket, and a tribute to Bob McMullen, a citizen of Clare who played a leading role in its business community. He always generously supported any community project and gave credit to many a hard pressed family.

The Baker’s Shop.

Jim and Bernice Steven were amongst Clare’s earliest business people. In 1950 they purchased their allotment in the townsite and making the concrete bricks themselves, built an excellent bakery in the new townsite. The first batch of bread was bake in April, 1951.

Such was the pressure to get the business underway that the roof was only half complete when the first bread was baked.

Business grew rapidly with deliveries of bread to Clare, Millaroo and Dalbeg. The I.W.S. construction camps were big customers and when the Gorge Weir was under construction, the order was for 300 loaves three times a week.

Baking days were Monday, Wednesday and Friday to coincide with the mail run. Mondays were pie days and Wednesday cream buns, the Clare school children being the best customers.

For nine years, Jim and Bernice Steven conducted the bakery, baking in the peak years some 2,500 loaves a week. The had an apprentice for one year, otherwise it was a very hard working husband and wife team.

The bakery was sold to J. Scully in 1960, then in turn sold to Jack Jesse in 1964. Eventually Jack Jesse sold the business to Crowdey’s Bakeries of Ayr who have supplied Clare with bread ever since.

The old baker’s shop stands abandoned in the main street but it served the community well for many years and may well still have a future in the years that lie ahead.

Photo Clare Main Street 1982

Fancy Goods Store

A small store dealings mainly in confectionery was opened adjacent to the Post Office in 1952 by Mrs. Chalmers, and was especially popular with the school children. It was subsequently owned by Mrs. Suffren, Mr. Scully and finally the general store keeps, Mr. & Mrs. McMullen. It was one of the casualties of the business area.


The garage was built and operated for a number of years by Roy Taylor. It was a busy operation employing one apprentice and attending to farm repairs and fabrication of farm equipment. Roy Taylor’s ex apprentice Alan McMullen, purchased the business and the sold to Barry Mitchell. Barry left the area for greener pastures and closed the garage.

Butcher’s Shop

The shop was build by Mr. Les Cox of Ayr and subsequently leased to Arthur Burkitt, Andy Covington and Toby Courtenay. Finally, it too closed down.

Fuel Depots 2Post Office 3 Clare Club 4 Early Builders

The original fuel depot was established by Ken Hope, a local tobacco farmer. He established a following for Mobil products which persists today. Subsequent Mobil agents were Bob McMullen, Minuzzo Brothers and finally Malpass & Co. of Ayr.

The Shell depot was conducted by the Co-operative Store and was discontinued with the sale of the store to McMullens.

The Neptune agency was held for a few years by local farmer, Andy Coventon.

Finally, the Amoco agency was established in later years by the Minuzzo Carrying Co.


Post Office

The first Post Office was operated by an I.W.S. employee, Tom Knight, in the original I.W.S. administration building which was situated where the loco shed and Cane Inspector’s residence stands today.

In 1953, the post office was conducted by Bernice Steven wife of Jim Steven, and was situated in the front of the baker’s shop. The telephone exchange remained in the I.W.S. administration building.

18 months later, George Mole. an I.W.S. water officer, completed the construction of the post office building and the Post Office and Exchange were shifted to the new premises. George’s wife, Marie, became Post Mistress. Subsequent Post Mistresses have been Rene Wilson, Tina Wilson (no relation), and Trish Kassulke. Recently, the Post Office was taken over by Bob McMullen and post office business is now conducted in his store.


Clare Club

The original Clare Club was to have been a bowling green established though not one bowl was bowled on it. A pre-fab hut was erected for a club house.

Interest in the club waned and it was taken over by the R.S.L. sub-branch, but they too had more pressing problems and the green became overgrown. A grass fire finally burnt the old pre-fab hut down.

In 1962 the I.W.S. mess hall at Dalbeg was purchased by a revived Clare Club committee, and shifted somewhat precariously in tow pieces, to its new site, where the present bocce bowl courts are situated. The transporting of the building was not without some excitement as the load was nearly lost in the Landers Creek crossing, and when crossing under power lines near Clare. The T.R.E.B. linesmen cut the power off at the wrong transformer and a fireworks display of some magnitude resulted. It was a somewhat shaken crew that delivered the old building on site.

Photo Clare Club – 182

The Club operated unlicensed for a number of years. In 1967, the present modern licensed premises were erected by a very energetic and dedicated committee, and was officially opened by the Hon. P. Delamonthe, M.L.A.

A highlight of the activities of the present club was the celebration of the 100th birthday of Mrs. Houff, the mother of May Hall, one of the original soldier settler wives. Guests to the celebration came from all over Queensland and especially from the Blackall district where the Houff family was one of the earliest and most respected families in that district. Today the Clare Club is a credit to the community and a tribute to those few citizens who worked so diligently to establish it.

Clare Club Managers

1967 B. Dawson

1970 J. Black

1972 A. Lander

1975 D. Ciffuenti

1980 B. Mealing

1982 A. Lewis

  1. M. Wright


Early Builders.

The first builders in the new irrigation area were the Main Roads Department. They constructed barns, bulksheds, stringing sheds and dwellings all to the one plan and using for the most part second-hand material from demolished army buildings.

There was a great deal of complaint about the design of the buildings especially the houses, the standard of workmanship, and the price to be charged for the buildings. No-one seemed to know what the price would be to the farmer.

Subsequently farmers were advanced finance to build, and either employed contractors (Parkside Timber Co. being the major contractor) or built themselves.

In 1954, building contractor Bob McMullen secured the tender to build eight staff houses for the I.W.S. and this was followed by five Housing Commission houses. All this building was in the town site and comprises a major part of the town today.

Having completed the building contracts, Bob McMullen purchased the Vacuum oil depot, established a carrying business and an agricultural aviation business using "tiger moth" aircraft to spray tobacco.Finally he settled down as Clare’s storekeeper.

5-The Picture Show

The first films were shown at Clare with 16mm projectors. They were in the open air and the patrons sat on the grass of brought their own chairs. The venue was the old I.W.S. administration building. The film club was a voluntary one, admission was a silver coin if you could afford it.

The films were shown every Friday night and, as well as entertainment, the evening provided an opportunity for families to get together and discuss the week’s events. They were happy occasions and contributed greatly to the strong community spirit that prevailed at the time.

When the I.W.S. administration building was shifted to the town site, the film club erected and excellent screen on the end of the community hall and continued to screen weekly.

The advent of the T.V. set finally made the film business unviable and the club ceased operations and donated its projectors to the Clare State School.

Clare Community Hall

The Clare Community Hall was erected under contract for the Ayr Shire Council in 1957 to supply the needs of the community for dances, fancy dress balls, meetings etc. and it continues to function in that capacity.

There was some drama during the construction of the hall, for when it was all but finished, a freak wind storm completely wrecked the building. It looked like a pile of matchwood. The contractor was lucky, for through an oversight by an S.G.I.O. employer, he was covered by storm and tempest insurance during the construction. Insurance companies apparently do not normally accept such cover.

Photo of Clare Community Hall - 1982






Clare Churches

Roman Catholic

The first Roman Catholic Mass held in modern Clare was conducted at Pat Dunn’s residence in 1949, Monsignor K. J. Kelly was the priest and henceforth he regularly came out from Ayr to administer to the spiritual needs of the Clare Catholic community.

The temporary school building was used for subsequent masses until, in 1952, the old R.S.L. hall in Ayr was purchased and removed to Clare where it was erected on high blocks on the corner allotment opposite the present Clare swimming pool. The blessing and opening mass took place on 2nd November , 1952. The church was named St. Kevin’s and it not only served the Roman Catholic community for 18 years, but in the early years of Clare it doubled as a community hall. The first children christened in the church were Barbara and Bert Granshaw on Christmas Day, 1952.

Photo Roman Catholic Church 1982.

In 1960, the old building was lowered on to low blocks, extended, and a priest appointed to St Kevin’s. In 1962, the new parish of Maryfields was formed. Father T. Lambert being the resident priest and he worked from Clare to administer to the new parish which included Millaroo and Dalbeg.

The same year, 1962, and allotment adjacent to the Clare Club was purchased for the erection of a new church and eighteen years later in 1980 the architecturally striking church of St. Joseph’s was build and consecrated.

The year before the building of the new church, 1979, the Parish of Maryfield was absorbed into the wider Parish of Burdekin Valley.

The Catholic Priests, from 1864 – 1890, for the Northern Diocese were:-

Bishop Quinn, Charters Towers.

Fr. McGinty, Fr. Connelly, Fr. Bergeretti, Fr. Bucas, Fr. Souhy, Fr. McDonough, Dr. John Cumerford, Fr. Mouton, Fr Clemontoni, Fr. Hanley, Fr. Hacket, Fr. Tynan, Fr. Weare and Fr. Murray.

Roman Catholic Priests:

Monsignor K.J. Kelly 1949

Father T. Garvey -

D. McKenna 1952

B. Buckley and D. McKenna 1953

B. Buckley and P.S. Carroll 1954

T. Garvey and P.S. Carroll 1956

K. Clancy, P.S. Carroll, B. Foster 1957

T. Garvey, K, Clancy, R. Jones, B. Foster 1958

T. Garvey, K. Clancy, R. Jones. 1959

L. Perry, R. Jones, B. Foster 1960

V. Ashwood, b. Foster, B. Jones 1961

T. Lambert 1962

K. Huddy 1967

D. Smith 1972 J. J. Holyoak 1973

L. P. Harney 1975

R. Jones 1977

Burdekin Valley Parish

In January1979 the church came under the Sacred Heart Parish – Priests Father Ferlazzo, J. Robinson. D. Lancini, M. Minton, M. Lowcock.

St Catherine’s Anglican Church

Following a preliminary meeting of interested Anglican ladies at the I.W.S. mess hut, the first meeting to form a church guild was held on 17 April 1953. This meeting was convened by Mrs. Gauvin and chaired by Canon A.D. Thorpe.

The early church services were often held in farmers’ homes or bulk sheds. One baby, Geoffrey Aylmer, was christened at a service at Doug Tiller’s farm.

A willing band of guild members held many functions to raise funds, and a building fund was established. A number of their dedicated menfolk commenced building St Catherine’s Church hall after a stump capping ceremony carried out by Bishop Shevill. The building, which was of timber and fibro cement, was built entirely by voluntary labour, and opened, free of debt, on 29 May, 1955, at an official opening and blessing by Bishop Shevill. The rector was Canon Thorpe and his assistant was Rev. George Tung Yep. About 120 people from Clare, Ayr and district attended the opening ceremony, and afternoon tea was served in a large marque. St Catherine’s still stands today, maintained by the efforts of guild members, and services are held twice monthly.

Photo of Anglican Church – 1982

Anglican Rectors

Rev. P> Clive 1885

Rev. A.G. Perkins 1894 – 99

Rev. A. Hokey 1900 – 02

Rev E.W. Tomkins 1902 – 05

Re. V. Tubman 1905 - 06

Rev. L.G. Vance 1906 – 08

Rev. F.R. Gillespie 1909 – 12

Rev. W. Hughes 1912 – 16

Rev. H.J. Hendy 1916 – 19

Rev. C.E. Edwards 1919 - 24

Rev. Norman Michael (Canon) 1915 – 29

Rev. R. Johnson 1929 – 30

Rev. J.H. Innes 1931 – 51

Rev. A.D. Thorpe (Canon) 1951 – 67

Rev. George Tung Yep 1967 – 73

Rev. John Payne 1973 – 77

Rev. E Steele 1978 – 82

Among the assistant priests who served the Community of Clare and district have been:-

Rev. L. Wheratt

Rev. Peter Lepine (now a Franciscan Friar)

Rev. W. Cropt (?Croft)

Rev. "Sandy" Marshall (now Canon)

Rev. Lyall Cowall

Rev. Roderick

Rev. S. Williams

Rev. C. Cussons.

Rev. J. Nolan

Rev. A. Clarke

The Presbyterian – Methodist Church

From about 1951 church services were held on the first and third Sundays of every month, the Methodist minister Rev. T. Scarlett would take his service on the first Sunday and the Presbyterian minister Rev. R. Painton would take the third Sunday.

These services were held in a prefabricated hut on the river bank, and the later in the new Butcher’s shop which had been built but not then occupied.

In 1954 the local combined church committee decided to build a church at Clare and, with the financial assistance of the Ayr Presbyterian Church proceeded with the work.

Working bees were held almost every Saturday to make concrete bricks. Approximately 5,000 were made. Skilled labour was employed for the actual building, and the committee members acted as builders labourers to save on costs. When finished the building was approximately 35 feet long and 22 feet 6 inches wide, with a wooden floor 3 feet above ground level.

Photo of Scots Church – 1982

The church was named "Scots Church", Claredale, and was dedicated by Rt. Rev. R.H.C. Crowe, Moderator of the Queensland State Assembly on October 1st 1955. A Time Capsule was located behind the foundation stone. The Rev. Painton was still the Presbyterian minister of this charge and it was largely due to his hard work and enthusiasm that the church was built.

The fine masonry brick church has continued to serve the Presbyterian and Methodist community of Clare throughout the intervening years, and a number of Clare babies have been christened there. One local wedding was celebrated in Scot’s Church, that of Pat O’Malley to Barbara Vidler.



Rev. Painton

Rev. Jones

Rev. Pike

Rev. Todd

Uniting Church

Arthur Lane

Peter Phillips

Jack Hughes


Wallace Gregory

Noel Kidd

Graham Ross

David Rayment

H.C. Krohn

Robert Morgan

Ian Walker
Ken Hooper

Ron Potter

Garth Read

Keith Turpin

George Cheetham

Bert Johns


Clare Police Station

The work of the police at Clare has varied somewhat through the years and for most of the first century of the settlement the nearest police station was Bowen and then Ayr. The following report from the "The Port Denison Times" gives an insight into police work in 1871


At Strathalbyn Station on the Lower Burdekin on the morning, 16th June 1871, George Stanley Lampton. Superintendent George A. Longfield Overseer. Treacherously murdered by natives whom for years had been treated with confidence and kindness.

Double Murder by Blacks

On Saturday last a telegram was received in Bowen from Inkerman announcing that Messrs Longfield and Lampton had been murdered by blacks at "Strathalbyn".

The Sergeant of Police has received the following information from Mr. Toms, the Ravenswood Mailman, who passed through "Strathalbyn" shortly after the sad event. It appears that Messrs Longfield and Lampton with a black [(dog) I think this should be boy going on info further down] left "Strathalbyn" Station during the night of Thursday 15th June for the Black’s Camp about 10 miles in an attempt to get tow black boys belonging to some neighbouring station and supposed to be living in this camp. The got to the camp at day break. Lampton dismounted and entered the camp on foot. Some dispute appears to have arisen in consequence of which a shot was fired. Lampton was immediately knocked down speared and his face gashed with tommyhawks. Longfield’s horse we struck on the head and after going a few yards fell with his rider who before he could arise was speared in the back and fearfully beaten with a Nulla Nulla. The Black boy got back to the station with his horse speared in the neck On reaching the Station and hearing of the murder, Toms went to the camp and found the bodies of the unfortunate gentlemen. The bodies were not stripped, the only articles missing being their carbines and revolvers. One carbine was found close by broken and covered with blood. The camp was deserted. Toms sent a man with a report to Ravenswood Police and a Black boy to Leichardt Downs and hurried to Bowen himself know Sub-Inspector Fitzgerald had left at noon the day before. The Constable sent to convey the intelligence, unfortunately missed him.

The Sub-Inspector, however, returned to the town the following morning an on receipt of information started at 2 p.m. for the scene of the murder.

Extracts from "The Port Denison Times" date June & July 1871.

We are informed by Mark Watt Ried, that the reports of the Strathalbyn murder published by us as received from Mr. Toms are not quite correct. The version given by Ried is as follows:- "A black boy named "Mangrove" had run away from the station in charge of Ried, taking his (Mangrove’s) gin with him.

Lampton and Longfield believing Mangrove was at Strathalbyn camp made up their minds to go there and see for themselves, and if he was there, to take him out. They arranged to arrive about daylight before the Blacks had dispersed. The demanded Mangrove and were told as before that he had gone to Inkerman. Seeing Mangrove’s gin in the camp they doubted the accuracy of this statement and said so. While this discussion was going on one of the blacks threw a Nulla Nulla at Lampton and knocked him down. Almost simultaneously, Longfield was speared. No shot was fired by either of the murdered men, so the Blacks had not been provoked.

Extract from "The Port Denison Times" dated June & July 1871.

Clare had to wait until 1955 for its first police station. Prior to that the Ayr Police kept a lawful eye on the burgeoning settlement that had began to mushroom in 1948. It is a credit to the Ayr police at the time that although the community was isolated, and made up of a great admixture of people, including a large migrant community who were mainly refugees from the European war, there was no serious crime in the area.

It was the rule for the Ayr C.I. branch detectives to ‘look over’ every new intake of construction workers and to ‘move on’ any known undesirables. It may not have been very democratic, but it worked, and the residents of Clare were grateful for their surveillance.

The first permanent police officer at Clare was Eric Horrabin and he was appointed in 1955.

The following are Police Officers who have been appointed at Clare:-

Eric Horrabin

Pat Galway

Clarrie Williams

Padden Jones

D. Ruddel

A.T. Henry

B. Cross

K. Eustance


Clare State Primary School

The first school at Clare was a provisional one. It was situated behind the present head teacher’s residence, and was a standard prefabricated masonite hut of the type used in great numbers by the Irrigation & Water Supply Commission at Clare as accommodation for construction workers and staff.

The tiny school was opened in 1950 with twelve pupils. The first teacher was Mr. Houston.

The present Clare School comprises a composite building, being made up of two schools from other areas in the Burdekin with some additional rooms being added, and a modern classroom block opened in 1980.

The first permanent school to be constructed was moved from Pioneer Mill, the second from Maidavale, later the present teacher’s residence was built. Most of the carpentry was the work of Mr .D..J.V. Cussons, a carpenter employed by the Public Works Department.

Photo of Clare’s first school building – 1950.

The Clare State School has always been a focal point in the community and has enjoyed full community support in its activities. The Annual Fancy Dress Ball was the outstanding entertainment of the year for Clare parents. Sports days were also well patronised, and in the earlier years the adults joined in the competitive fun.

An outstanding example of community involvement in the school was the construction, during the depressed years of tobacco growing, of a fine swimming pool and changing rooms. This was all achieved by voluntary labour and public subscription subsidised dollar for dollar by the State Government.

Photo of First section of present Clare School being moved from Pioneer.


Joseph Emmet Houston 1950

Edeth Marie Paul (Mrs) 1951

Ray Pearce Dougherty 1952

Edeth Marie Paul (Mrs) 1952

Ray Pearce Dougherty 1953

Edward Brian McKenna 1953

Joseph Noel Rollings 1957

Harold George Wilson 1959

Charles Henry Willie Todd 1963

Robert William Haslam 1970

Graeme Norman Adsett 1972

Peter Butler 1975

Howard Bullock 1977

Roland Murray 1980

Paul Campbell 1982

Photo Clare School break-up with Christmas tree

Assistant Teachers

Neal Davis O’Connor 1953

Mrs Rita Mary McKenna 1953-57

Mrs. Maureen Margaret Lepinath 1955-59

Thomas Alfred Knight 1955

Edward George Dau 1957-58

Robert Arthur Gault 1957-61

Edward George Dau 1959-61

Pamela Carrol Bayley 1959

Richard David Howell 1959-60

Patricia Elizabeth Gault 1960-61

Phylis Heather Boundy 1960-61

Terry Phyllys Hodgetts 1961-62

Robyn Marjory Wheeler 1961

John Herbert Stanborough Kelly 1961-63

John Barker 1961

Mrs Maureen Margaret Lepinath 1962-64

Kerry John King 1963

Peter Russell Ryan 1964-66

Judith Ann Connell 1965-67

Ronald John Todd 1966

Russell John Clark 1967-68

Heather Jones 1967-68

Mrs. Maureen Margaret Lepinath 1969-72

Barbara June Dawes 1970

Douglas Tait 1970-71

Richard John Williams 1971

Michael John Clutterbuck 1971-72

Robert Alfred Caton 1972-75

Maureen Margaret McMullen 1973-82

Robert Alfred Caton 1974-75

Gary John Cristaldi 1976-78

Barbara Mitchell 1976

R. Patch 1976

W Hanson 1976

Norma Maud Lovelace 1976-77

Susan Mary Dick 1977-78

Dianne Rae Shann 1977-78

Monica Mary Leahy 1977-79

Deborah Shirley Stewart 1977

Mrs Kathleen Mary McLennan 1978-82

Moira Jean Fitzgerald 1978-79

Leon Michael Stubbs 1978-79

Bruce Anthony Johnson 1979-82

Julie Anne Bagley 1979-82

Patrick Jeremiah Donnelly 1982


Photo Clare School break-up - 1951

Clare State School 1982




The migration of people from other lands to Australia has had a great impact on the character of most of our communities.

Clare, throughout its history, has seen a great many migrants, initially most of the were itinerant, but eventually many came to stay, and modern Clare would comprise a majority of citizens born outside Australia or First generation Australians born of migrant parents.

It can be assumed that initially Clare was established, and patronised by migrants, mainly from the British Isles. Many of the travellers to the goldfields of Ravenswood and Charters Towers would have disembarked at Port Denison as "new chums" and had their first taste of Australia on the track through Clare to the goldfields.

In 1948, when construction began on the irrigation scheme, a great deal of the work was done by manual labour. Many of the I.W.S. employees at that time were migrants, being in fact "displaced persons" as a result of the war in Europe.

They were of many nationalities, from Latvians in the north, Poles, Czech’s, Dutch an Yugoslaves. Many had seen their country divided or annexed by Russia and were seeking a new life in Australia.

Some stayed for a time as I.W.S. employees or as farm workers, but most moved on as the construction work was completed.

The 1964 sugar expansion triggered a big population change in the farming community. Those farms that had been sold prior to, but in anticipation of, the sugar expansion, were mostly purchased by farmers of Italian extraction. These people were originally migrants who had worked hard in the sugar industry for many years, mainly as cane cutters, with the one ambition, that of owning their own farm.

The Clare farms gave them an opportunity to buy that piece of Australia at a price they could afford. Some of course sold farms to buy in at Clare, some came from leased farms, but as the farms changed hands they were invariably purchased by farmers of southern European origin.

They were without exception, very competent cane farmers. They prospered and today they make up a very high percentage of the farming community.


A Brief History of the Burdekin Rural Education Centre

The Lower Burdekin Rural Training School Board, which held its first meeting in March 1971, was given the job of establishing a rural training school in the Lower Burdekin. In April 1971 the Board recommended the purchase of land G.F. 3065 near Clare, which, together with most of an adjoining stock route, became the 3300 hectares on which the Burdekin Rural Education Centre was established.

40 students commenced their tropical agricultural training at the Centre in 1976 with minimum campus facilities and unimproved grazing country. Over the following six (6) years, while building contractors completed the campus building programme, students and staff developed the farming/grazing areas of the Centre’s educational farm. The Centre now has a sugar cane assignment of 12,000 tons, a rice quota of 200 tonnes, annual cultivation of over 300 acres of grain, vegetables and fruit crops, a beef cattle herd of 1,500 head, a dairy herd of 30 head, 80 horses and a 12 sow piggery.

119 male and 20 female students can be accommodated. Over $5 million has been spent to establish the Centre including the acquisition in 1981 of a further 4,300 hectares of cattle grazing land in the Gladys Lagoon area, west of Clare.

B.R.E.C. is one of four Queensland rural training schools which offer a unique form of agricultural education and training in Australia. Managerial control of these farmer training schools has been delegated and decentralised to those people and those places, where the real business of farming goes on. That is they offer farmer/grazier education and training as organised and controlled by farmers and graziers in the Burdekin, Dalby, Emerald and Longreach districts.

The Lower Burdekin Rural Training School Board as originally set up consisted of:-

Mr. N. Thomas (Chairman)

Mr. R. Rossitter (Deputy Chairman)

Mr. L. Cox

Mr. R. Mann

Mr. R. Hughes

Mr. G. Smith

Mr. G. Kirkwood (Secretary)

Photo of Burdekin Rural Education Centre – 1982

In the course of time some retirements and movement of people out of the District occurred, and the Board now consists of :-


Mr. J.R. oey (Chairman)

MrHoHoey (Chairman)

Mr. R. Mann (Deputy Chairman)

Mr. B. Boniwell (Principal)

Mr. R. Hughes Mr. J. Barnes

Mr. W. Tudehope Mr. J. Eaton (Secretary)

Mr. H. Heatley.

Happy Valley

Drop me somewhere out in Claredale

With no pub to quench my thirst;

Where the blockies all are wondering

Whose tobacco is worst.

Where the chewing of the loopers

Echoes through the tropic night,

Where the roots of our tobacco

Give the eel worm such delight.

Where the toil is so terrific

There’s no time for vain regrets,

All the settlers somehow living

On the interest of their debts.

"Water Joeys" madly rushing

Up and down the dusty roads

Helping us to grow tobacco

To support our nematode.

Why desire to live in Claredale

With so grim a way of life?

It may be my natural dumbness

Or my love of toil and strife.

Or perhaps a hopeful pipe dream

That, if I can but survive!

I may live to reap a harvest

One good year in twenty five.

Do not think that all my reasons

Are as futile as my verse;

Every settler is a Digger,

Every second wife a Nurse.

So the little "Good Australian"

Is the common right of all,

And I humbly claim the honour

With such folk to stand or fall.


Therefore, drop me out in Claredale,

Though the going may be tough,

For there dwell my kind of people,

Decent, Friendly – Tough Enough.

Pat O’Clare.

War Service Land Settlement Scheme Clare, N.Q.

Servicemen to draw blocks 1949 – 1952/3


Albietz, Brian, dec.

Allen, Victor Bendigo, Vic.

Aylmer, Laurence Bundaberg, Qld.

Baldwin, Robert Bundaberg, Qld.

Bennett, Norman Sandgate, Qld.

Brockill, Frederick Drew block, did not occupy.

Brooker, Russitica Bowen, Qld.

Buckle, Norris Brisbane, Qld.

Bundy, George Ayr, Qld

Burke, Lionel J. Townsville, Qld.

Callaghan, Francis M. Townsville, Qld.

Conventon, Andrew John Brisbane, Qld.

Davidson, John Clare, Qld

Day, Charles Deadman Is. Via Sarina, Qld

Dayes, Michael J. Brandon, Qld

Dearness. Thomas. Dec.

Drew, William Brisbane, Qld

Dunn, David Ayr, Qld

Dunne, Patrick J. Townsville, Qld

Fenwick, Robert Charters Towers, Qld

Foxwell, Norman Warwick, Qld

Foxwell, Stanley Drew block, did not occupy

Freeland, Leslie Ipswich, Qld

Freeman, Edward J. Brisbane, Qld

Gyton, Geoffrey. dec.

Hale, Ron Stanthorpe, Qld

Hall, Stanley T.J. dec.

Hartell, Bertram F. Tully, Qld

Hodgetts, Hilton A. dec.

Hope, Colin. Dec.

Hope, Kenneth Toowoomba, Qld

Hughes, Lionel Townsville, Qld

Jensen, Mervyn Brisbane, Qld

Kenyon, Kevin J. Ayr, Qld

Kraft, Gordon F. dec.

Laufer, John R. Townsville, Qld

Lewis, Kenneth N. S. Clare, Qld

Malone, Patrick A. dec.

McDonald, Donald Tolga, Qld

McLain, Andrew Ayr, Qld

McLaughlin, Peter J. dec.

Michod, William Bundaberg, Qld.

Mitchell, James J. Clare, Qld

Moore, John A. Townsville, Qld

Morton, Albert

Muir, Archibald. dec

Mullins, Edward Dimbulah, Qld

Mullins, Vince Dimbulah, Qld

Muspratt, Arthur R. Brandon, Qld

Norris, Bernard. Dec.

Orr, Thomas Mt. Isa, Qld

Rains, Charles G. Townsville, Qld

Rayment, Frank Brisbane, Qld

Reeves, Barney. dec.

Read, William A. Townsville, Qld

Reid, (Dooley) Clarence John. Dec.

Reid, Frederick M. (Snow) Brandon, Qld

Roberts, Thomas H. Brandon, Qld

Ross, Douglas C. dec.

Shadforth, Esmond A. dec.

Shelley, Allen E. dec

Shelley, William L. dec.

Slade, Len. dec.

Strauss, Eric A. Ayr, Qld

Studt, Charles Bowen, Qld

Suffren, Charles F. Caloundra, Qld

Tait, John P. Warwick, Qld

Tiller, Douglas H. Brisbane, Qld

Thomson, Thomas McKenzie Ayr, Qld

Turnbull, Charles. dec.

Walsh, Kenneth Sydney, N.S.W

Watson, Frederick Townsville, Qld

Whitfield, Louis J. Brisbane, Qld



Ownership Details of Irrigation Farms.

Stage one

Block Number Name Year

34 Aylmer Laurence 1949

Pegoraro Guiseppe & Gilda 1971

35 McNee Hugh 1949

Puglisi Frank & Mary Rose 1964

Malaponte Bros 1974

Becke Ray E. 1982

36 Reid Frederick Magnus 1949

Rayment E. 1954

Aylmer Laurence 1960

Pegoraro Guiseppe & Gilda 1971

37 Hope Kenneth N 1949

Bourke Frank 1957

(This block has now been divided up, and marked

down as Block Numbers 157,158,159, 160)

38 Tiller Douglas H. 1949

Suffren Charles Francis 1954

Steven James 1963

39 Reid (Dooley) Clarence John 1949

Norris B. J. 1955

Steven James 1963

40 Slade Len L. 1949

Rayment Francis Rupert 1954

Francescutti Elio & Giovanna 1961

41 Studt Charles 1949

Hall Benjamin Henry 1953

Scuderi Paolo & Pierina 1961

Maccarone Rosario 1964

Maccarone Joan Eunice 1979


42 Brooker R. W. 1949

Young David Alexander 1954

Evans Elton Roy & Gloria Frances 1964

Maccarone Rosario 1959

Maccarone Joan Eunice 1979

43 Dunne Patrick Joseph 1949

Read William Alfred 1961

Rossato Giovanni Emilio & Guiseppe Antonio 1967

Rossato Guiseppe Antonio & Del Patricia 1982

Ownership Stage Two.

Block Name Year


44 Shelley Allen Edward 1950

Spentgaris George 1960

45 Hartell Bertram Fredrick 1950

Tait John P. 1955

Piron Gustaaf Marcel 1961

Cvjetanovic Randinko & Peter Tomislav 1965

46 Hodgetts Hilton Allen 1950

Reichardt Arnold Henry 1963

47 Mitchell James Justin 1950

49 Roberts Thomas Henry 1950

Muguira John & Patricia Dawn 1978

50 Laufer John Redfern 1950

Mio Guiseppe & Rena 1961

Frasson Paul & Maria 1973

51 Ross Douglas Craig 1950

Ross Norm 1975

52 Shelley William Laurence 1950

Gozzola Tomaso

Baldi Oscar Delfin 1951

Rapisarda Guiseppe 1973

53 Hope Colin 1950

Pizzalato Francesco 1960

Rapisarda Guiseppe 1968

54 Moore John Angus 1950

Torres Santos 1968

73 Muspratt Arthur (Later sub-divided into additional area

for attachments for existing farms) 1950

74 Mullins Edward 1950

Wassmuth John & Beryl 1960

75 Gyton Geoffrey 1950

Freeman Edward Roy 1954

Piotto Ottavio & Angello 1961

76 Morton Albert 1950

Hughes Lionel 1954

Rapisarda Sebastiano & Guiseppe 1967

Fiamingo Alfio, Sarina & Peter Angello 1976

89 Dayes Michael James 1950

Lomonaco Salvatore & Guiseppina 1968

91 Freeland Leslie George John 1950

Shadforth Esmond Arthur 1959

Shadforth John & Peter 1972

Mio Guiseppe & Rina 1973

108 Mullins Vincent 1950

Dunn David 1960

Marchioni Albino 1971

109 Albietz Brian J. 1950

Castles John 1954

Minuzzo Antonio & George 1963

Minuzzo Luigi 1964

110 Day Charles 1950

De Luis M. & Patroni Peter 1955

Patroni Peter 1960






Ownership Stage Three

Block No Name Year

55 Kraft Gordon Francis 1951

Fabbro Aristo 1955

Fabbro Bruno Giovanni 1964

56 Jenson Mervyn 1951

Lovisa Noel J. 1955

Fabbro Angelina 1978

57 Burke Lionel John 1951

Buckle Norris E 1951

Piron Gustaaf Marcel 1963

Plaza J. & M. L. (Sub-lease to E. Totorica) 1971

61 Collier William 1951

De Par

Tieppo Nicodema 1950 ?60

Daniell Etteoredo 1962

Maccarone Rosario 1963

Maccarone Joan Eunice 1979

63 Raines Charles Gordon 1951

Cvjetanovic Frank Milan 1968

Cvjetanovic Randinko & Peter Tomislav 1971

65 Bennett Norman Alfred 1951

Freeman Edward J. 1953

Sorbello George & Marchetti O. 1955

Sorbello George (Sub-lease Giovanni Licciardello) 1961

Oliveri Leonardo & Helen 1978

69 McLaughlin Peter John 1951

McLaughlin Bernadini 1978

71 Foxwell Norman 1951

Raines Charles Gordon 1961

Marson Dino & Flora 1966

72 Malone Patrick Aloysius 1951

Floriani Leonardo 1961

77 Shadforth Esmond Albert 1951

Lewis Kenneth Norman Swetenham 1961

Castellana Guiseppe & Guiseppina 1968

Shann Charles & Mary Gauseen 1972

Barbagallo Giovanni, Lucia & Gregorio 1978

78 Michod William 1951

Di Bella Sebastiano 1960

Rapisarda Guiseppe 1970

79 Lewis Kenneth Norman Swetenham 1951

80 Kenyon Kevin John 1951

Fiamingo Vito & Maria 1967

81/82 Turnbull Charles 1951

Fiamingo Alfio & Sarina 1967

84 Hall Stanley T.R. 1951

Hall Lindsay G.R. (Estate of S.J. Hall) 1981

85 Watson Frederick 1951

Dal Santo Luciano & Angelo 1967

88 Orr Thomas 1951

Moretto Frederick 1955

Granshaw Bertram William Valentint 1960

Cvetanovic Randinko & Peter Tomislav 1965

89 Dayes Michael James 1951

Lominaco Salvatore & Guiseppina 1968

97 Reeves Barney Desmond 1952

Patroni Clement Battista & Natalina 1967

112 Bundy George Albert 1951

Dalsanto Luciano & Angelo 1970

115 Hale Ronald George 1970

Divided Farm Blocks No’s:

161 – A.H. Reichardt

162 – T Dearness

163 – A. T. Christensen

164 – N. Bournas

116 Thomson Thomas McKensie 1951

(Previously drawn but not occupied by Stanley


Bournas Nicholas 1960

117 Coventon Andrew James 1951

Bournas George 1961

Torrisi Giovanni & Michael 1973

118 Dearness Thomas 1951

Leased to Jim A Mitchell 1980





Ownership Stage Four

82 Hughes Lionel J. 1952

moved to farm 76 1954

83 McLain Andrew John 1952

Mio Guiseppe & Rina 1970

92 Davidson Jack 1952

Brickell Frederick (drew for Block, but did

not occupy)

93 Fenwick Robert 1953

Caltabiano Guiseppe 1961

95 Walsh Kenneth 1952

Davidson Jack 1961

100 Wellington George (claimed for block, but did

not occupy). 1952

Casey James (sold in 1976 lived in house

from) 1954 – 1981

McNee Russell Kevin 1976

103 MacDonald Donald 1952

Mainadis Lino 1960

Marino Sabastian, Maria & Venerando Carlo 1073

104 Allen Victor 1952

Salanitiri Vincento 1967

Poletto Francesso 1973

105 Strauss Albert Eric 1952

Marchioni Albino 1977

106 Muir Archibald 1952

Marchioni Albino 1966

107 Dunn David 1952

Marchioni Albino 1971


113 Baldwin Lionel Robert 1952

Spero Peter C. 1961

Arrate Augustin & Maria 1971

114 Drew William 1952

Spero Kereakos Christos 1961

119 Read William Alfred 1952

Beebe Paul & Florence Ann 1962

Young Roy Arthur 1967

Christensen Alexander Thomas

& Noreen Isabella 1969


51 – Other Farms


Number Name Year

29 Granshaw Bertram William Valentine (freehold land) 1923

Previously owned by father George Granshaw.

One section later became an Agricultural and

Stock farm, another section was the Irrigation

And Water Supply depot.

B. Granshaw later sold his home farm to –

Bonanno Guiseppe 1970

The I.W.S. depot is now the Haughton Sugar Mill


58 Brocke (freehold block)

Sorbello Georgio 1961

Spero Spero Christon 1964

Lovisa Noel James & Anna-Maria Christina 1970

(Portion 58 has now been sub-divided and is now

owned by Angelina Fabro and John Ross)

24 Di Bartolo Alfio 1959

Bisinella G & L 1959

Pagotto S & A (Sub-leas Ross Francescutti) 1971

23 McNee Rodney (was not a soldier settler farm from 1955


Peterson George Alexander & Sheila 1968

Oliveri Leonardo & Helen 1969

101 McNee Kevin Patrick 1954

McNee Russell Kevin 1972

102 Poletto Giovanni (not a soldier settler) 1956

Poletto Antonio

48 McLain A. J. 1960

Michielin Ottavio 1967

176 & Hall Lindsay 1965


141 McNee Kevin 1960

Ohlsen G & G (Brothers) 1976

Caltabiano Guiseppe 1980

165 Caltabiano Guiseppe 1965

171 Frasson Paul & Maria 1978

178 Mio Guiseppe & Rina 1972

188 Mio Guiseppe & Rina 1970

192 Reeves Della 1960


189 Lewis Mark Thomas 1978

26 Kierle Stan 1965

32 Ross John 1965

  1. Ross John

99 Shadforth Esmond Arthur 1960

Transfer to John Shadforth 1965

Vecchio Vito Sabastiano & Maria 1973

Dal Santo Luciano & Angleo 1981

120 Bundy G. 1960

Poletto F 1968

Steven J 1973

121 Mitchell J. J. 1960

138 Mitchell J. J. 1960

Subdivided to:

G Spentgaris 1976

H. Reichardt 1976

H. Reichardt 1976

T Dearness 1976

A. Christensen 1976

S Marion 1976

F Poletto 1976

M Torisi 1976

J A Mitchell 1976

A E Strauss 1976

Transferred to A Marchioni 1977



In this, our Centenary year, we look back over the chequered history of Clare.

This small settlement, situated away from the bustle of the cities and the activities of the main supply routes of North Queensland, could well have been just another small community being passed by in the rush of progress of a fast developing State.

That is has been instead, a vital and colourful community, making opportunities and often leading the way, is due of course to the calibre of the people who chose to come here, and apply their varied talents to an area that to them always showed potential.

Live at Clare has seldom been easy, but because of this, its residents throughout its history have always had a special bond with each other.

We have in this history the story of an 86 year old lady whose father was a telegraphist at Clare, at the turn of the century, This wonderful old lady is immensely proud to be able to say "I lived in Clare in the days of the Overland Telegraph".

And so it is for all of us who have been part of this community.




McKay, Frederick Way, John

Kotek, Merik Milsom, Frank

Taylor, Alf Redmond, Len

Dunne, Ron Credlin, Bernie

Ross, Stan


Office, Foremen Electricians, Mechanics and workman.

Hughes, Keith King, Mick

Searle, Bill Kossendy, Eric

Hibberd, Tom Williams, Humphrey

Bailey, Stan Soloduhin, Em.

Brand, Col Vidler, Jack

Toy, Keith Bertram, Graham

Dowd, George Watson, Kevin

Johnston, Garney Neil, Murray

Taggart, Col Martin, Fred

Ferguson, Bill Kelly, Doug

Scott, Malcolm Ellis, Peter

Thomas, Neville Foster, Des

O’Callaghan, Tom Grunden, Peter

Grubb, Barry Capra, Peter

Aylmer, Geoff Smith, Brad

Maloney, Brian Lewis, A. E.

Prosser, Jim Walls, Jim

McMullen, Allen Connell, Sam

Knafelc, Stephen Searle, Jack


Searle, Kathy Hibbard Gladys

Steven, Carol Granshaw, Joy

Kimber, Judith Paff, Marion

Roots, Ruth Hughes, Pam

Staff, Karen Maloney, Bev

Lovisa, Maryann Flamingo, Maria (or Fiamingo)

Water Officers

Cox, Joe Shelley, Vince

Perry-Peddle, Keith Smith, Doug

Mole, George Wheeler, Eric

Gilmore, Jack Bukbardis, Edward

Thorley, Syd (also Surveyor)

Denaro, Sam Roots, Len

Watterson, Jim

Vogandt, Neville