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Martin O'Donohue

Mourilyan Harbour Entrance 1885
hcmourilyanharbourentrance1885.jpeg
www.slq.qld.gov.au

Mr Martin O’Donohue was then the acting Land Agent and Ranger of Crown Land for the Mourilyan district who knew all the statistics for that area.

 

There were 66 occupied conditional purchase selections, with an aggregate area of 76,831 acres; 9 forfeited conditional purchase selections, with an aggregate area of 7,880 acres;

14 occupied homesteads, having an aggregate area of 2,238 acres; 4 forfeited homesteads, having an aggregate area of 640 acres;

19 occupied agricultural farms, having an aggregate area of 6,480 acres; no forfeited agricultural farms.

 

There were three other selections, the owners of which had given notice to forfeit, but they had not yet been dealt with by the department and had not been surveyed so their area was unknown.

 

There were also four special leases to Chinese, having an aggregate area of 36 acres, for market gardens, under a certain section of the Act which they applied for. The first Chinaman who applied for a lease got it on sufferance for six months, and was liable to be removed at any time on six month’s notice. The second Chinaman got his lease on the same terms.

 

The two last leases, one for fourteen acres and the other for twelve acres, to two different Chinamen, were for five years and still had three years to run. There was a clause in their lease to the effect that if the land was wanted at any time for public purposes they were to give it up. The rent for these Chinamen was one pound per acre of very good scrub land, which were now to be cut up into areas of three and a-half and five acres. This was simply in compliance with the wish of some people so the surveyor received instructions to cut up certain areas of land, which included the two large special leases held by the Chinese.

 

These leases had been let subject to no compensation for improvements, so a Chinaman might have spent 10 or 15 pounds an acre planting his land, and it could be taken away from him at the end of six months with no compensation as there was nothing to compel the Government to pay anything.

 

Some settlers of the district had leased their land to Chinamen, after making it a freehold, for 30s. an acre rent.

 

Each of these small Chinamen employed from three to four other Chinamen, as they did the same in other places, and there were altogether about eighty labourers employed in the district, along with some owners of private property who employed Chinamen themselves.

 

The approximate area of cultivated land held under the “Crown Lands Alienation Act of 1876” in Mourilyan was 4,232 acres, with an area of 882 acres comprised of 500 acres of grass land, and the balance about 382 acres was used for corn and fruit growing. This did not include the waste or the sugar land.

 

Under the 1884-85 Act, just four years previous, the cultivated area held was 125 acres.

 

These areas of cleared and cultivated land were originally covered with a dense jungle and the government conditions on these large selections had been very well performed.

 

Though in the case of a Mr Hamilton where he had put in trees and planted them well and the certificate given, he removed them across the river to another selection, even the homestead as well. But only after he obtained his freehold.

 

The return for the number of Polynesians employed in the district on 31st December 1888 was six hundred and thirteen, which included twelve ticket boys. They were mostly employed in sugar with some, outside of the plantations, in tropical agriculture, with selectors, some of whom were freeholders. Some of this number showed a desire to obtain liquor but, as a rule, this was without the knowledge or consent of the employer. But some employers were more particular than others.

 

Several convictions were obtained against people surreptitiously supplying the islanders with liquor, with employers so desirous of putting a stop to it that they assisted the Inspector by taking cases into court themselves. Calls were made to prevent other coloured races, such as the Chinese, from supplying the kanakas with liquor, which could so easily be prevented but the staff of police was so small that it was utterly impossible to prevent it.

History Connections * 26 Bingil Bay Road * Bingil Bay * Queensland * 4852 * ABN 74192722377 peterjkel@bigpond.com