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Ipswich History

Click on the links below to discover more about the history of Ipswich.

Early Exploration

The Bremer Discovered

Two rowboats left the new settlement at Redcliffe on Saturday 16, 1824.  In the party were John Oxley, Allan Cunningham, Lieutenant Butler of the 40th Regiment and the boats' crews.  They went across Moreton Bay, to make the second survey of the Brisbane River.

After rowing up the river, they began the return journey and on September 25, at 5 p.m. made a camp on the north bank, opposite a tributary, which Oxley named "Bremer's Creek."  At that time Captain James Gordon Bremer (later Sir James), was in charge of the H.M.S. Tamar, in New South Wales.  The captain's name was adopted for the newly discovered creek.

Captain Patrick Logan, commandant of the Moreton Bay Penal Settlement, was a member of the 57th regiment, visited Moreton Bay District in 1825.  On September 28, Lockyer went up the Brisbane River to Bremer's Creek or another creek in that vicinity.  The latter creek was subsequently named Lockyer's Creek.  He went up one of those creeks, which one it was is not definitely known; but the evidence strongly indicates that it was Bremer's Creek.

Limestone Hills Discovery

Patrick Logan went from the Penal Settlement at Brisbane in December 1826.  His objective on that occasion was to explore Bremer's Creek.  In addition to being commandant of the settlement he was an ardent explorer.

After going some distance up that creek, Logan landed.  There, he discovered some hills of lime stone.  That was in the latter part of that month.  Some months latter, in 1827 he sent an overseer and five convicts to quarry the lime stone and to erect a lime burinng kiln.

The lime was required for the erection of the stone buildings of the settlement of Brisbane.  Lime burned weekly was 300 bushels.  It was conveyed to Brisbane in small boats down Bremer's Creek and the Brisbane River.

Allan Cunningham at Limestone Station

Allan Cunningham, explorer and Her Majesty's Botanical Collector, discovered the Darling Downs in 1827 and also a gap in the mountain range.

After returning to Sydney he came to Moreton Bay District, for the purpose of finding an approach to the gap from that direction.  On July 24, 1828, Cunningham, Captain Logan and James Fraser, Colonial Botanist, with five other men and four pack bullocks, left Brisbane for that purpose.

The party went by the way of the Logan river, which had previously been discovered by Logan.

On August 11, Logan and Fraser returned to Brisbane.  On the same day, Cunningham and the remainder of the party arrived at the "Bremer River."  From there two men and two bullocks were sent to Brisbane.  Also on that day, rations arrived by boat from Brisbane.  It should be noted that Cunningham always used the name "Bremer River."

The party pitched tents and remained at the Bremer River for five days.  On August 24, one of Cunningham's men found the "gap."  On the next day Cunningham arrived and confirmed the finding.  That "gap" now has the name Cunningham's Gap.

Coal Discovery

Cunningham, in his report to Governor Darling on February 24, 1828, stated that he had seen a seam of coal on the Bremer River, above and below Limestone Station.  He stated also that he had seen coal at three or four miles to the north of that river, in the steep banks of dry creeks, which were tributaries of the Brisbane River.  He saw also coal in the bed of the Brisbane River.

Cunningham traversed the winding Bremer River to the Brisbane River, measuring each reach.  He measured the Bremer for ten miles from Limestone Station.  There was tide at that point.

His opinion was that Limestone Station was the head of navigation for boats of 30 to 40 tons.  Immediately beyond Limestone State there were ledges of rocks in the bed of the river, above which it rose to fresh water.  To the point to which the tide flowed, there was sufficient water "to float a ship."  there the river expanded into a natural basin more than 100 yards wide.

Cunningham wrote, "the importance of building a wharf on the right hand bank of this basin to which produce of the interior might be conveyed, will at a future day be seen."

In the same report he made the prophesy, "It is therefore highly probable that upon the site of these Limestone Hills a town will one day be raised."

The Lime Burners

In one of Cunningham's despatches there is an interesting reference to the lime burning operations (this was about the year 1828).  He states that a kiln was built, and a party of convicts, consisting of an overseer and five men, stationed at Limestone Hill to commence lime burning.  "From 300 to 400 baskets of excellent lime (the despatch says) are bunt weekly at this station, which is regularly conveyed down by boat to Brisbane Town, and there used in the buildings in progress.  The limestone of Bremer's River is very different in appearance from the calcareous rocks of Argyle, Bathurst, or Wellington Valley.  From these it differs, not simply in colour, which is either yellowish brown or brownish white, but also in its quality, it containing much earthy matter, without impressions of shells or organic remains."  It may be mentioned that recent investigation by Mr. R.A. Wearne, B.A., and other geologists, have shown that this limestone is the product of decomposed basalt, the lime being derived from felspars with lime-bearing minerals - in all probability, form depositions of hot springs somewhat similar in type to that found in the pink and white terraces at Tarawera, New Zealand.

Free Settlement

Limestone Station, as well as Brisbane, was in the District of Moreton Bay and a part of the Colony of New South Wales.  During the days of the penal settlement, there was a regulation, which prohibited free settlers and even casual visitors to be within 50 miles radius of Brisbane.  Although Limestone Station was within that radius, the commandant of the penal settlement sometimes allowed a breach of the regulation on Limestone Station.

The Penal settlement was closed officially on May 5, 1839.  However, sufficient number of convicts with guards remained to do maintenance work and to assist surveyors.

It was not until February 10, 1842 that the District of Moreton Bay was proclaimed open for free settlers.  Soon after that date, the Governor of New South Wales, Sir George Gipps, came to Moreton Bay District, to make inspections before planning the two towns of Brisbane and Limestone.

Because conveyence by river to Limestone, was much easier than by overland, Governor Gipps decided on a site for an inland town.  It was on a site on the Bremer River near where was a large basin.  "The Basin" is almost in the centre of the present City of Ipswich and is shown on the map on page 8.

Special instructions were given by the governor that the then existing road from Brisbane to the Darling Downs, should be property laid out and errors of direction corrected.  That "road" was merely a winding bullock dray track.

Notwithstanding the governor's instructions, the district surveyor surveyed the township on another and not so suitable site, for those days.  Nor did he do anything to improve the road.

The First Dwelling House

The exact location of this first dwelling house in Ipswich has given rise to many discussion in modern times.  Russell mentions in his history that the cottage "stood in a bight, formed by the junction of a deep gully, on the western aspect, with the Bremer, which flowed by it on the north, about a hundred yards away."  Reliable authorities state that the site of the cottage was within a short distance of "Claremont", in which the Hon. George Thorn M.L.A., lived for many years.  "Claremont" was built by the late Mr. John Panton, who resided in it for some time.  In the early days tobacco was grown on the slopes of Devil's Gully, and there was a tobacco shed near where the Girls' Central School now stands.  This locality, then, at the junction of Devil's Gully with the Bremer River, is the centre from which "Modern Athens" has radiated.  It might have comforted the early historian could he have known that the lonely cottage he visited in 1840 was the beginning of a city, and that the Melbourne and Sydney-bound trains now pass daily within a few feet of where the old cottage stood.

Ipswich a Customs Port

The port of Moreton Bay was extended up the Brisbane River to Ipswich on October 1, 1860.  Dutiable goods could then be warehoused there in accordance with "An Act to provide for the General Regulation of Customs in New South Wales."

Messrs. Gray and co's premises in Ipswich, were licenced as a bonded store, for the whare-housing of dutiable goods.  So Ipswich had its Customs House.  The steamboats Brisbane, Bredalbane and Bremer were licenced for the conveyance of goods under bond to Ipswich.  Those arrangements eliminated the delay of bonded goods in Brisbane for customs purposes.  Instead, they went immediately to Ipswich.

Council Gained Control of Wharves

The few months old Municipal Council did not waste time before claiming it right, according to the Municipalities Act, to gain control of "bridges, ferries, wharves, jetties, piers and public thoroughfares."

After much discussion on March 28, 1861, the council resolved to make bye-laws for that purpose and to lease the wharves at the rate of 4/- a foot a year.

The bye-laws were adopted by the council on September 11, stating that the government was willing to place all the wharves in Ipswich in the control of the council; but recommended that the special claim for exemption by Walter Gray and Co. should be acknowledged.  A likely reason for that exemption could have been that Walter Gray and Co's premises had then recently become the Customs House.

By that time the Municipal council had received many applications for wharf frontage leases.  Two prominent shipping firms in Brisbane were among the applicants.  They were the Australian Steam Navigation Company and J. and G. Harris.

The Basin Deepened

In May 1865 excavations were being done, by the Government Works Department, to deepen the Basin.  There was a rock near the "neck of the Basin" with only four feet six inches of water above it; but the rock could not be found.  The steamboat "Platypus" had previously struck it.

The steamboat "Settler: was plying between Ipswich and Brisbane during 1866".

As time passed, some of the occupiers of the wharves refused to recognise the council's authority of the wharves; so, according to the council, the occupiers were years in arrears of rent.  Therefore the council decided to request the government to give a decision on the problem.

On August 17, 1869, the government made legal its original agreement, so that the Ipswich Municipal Council could issue notices for the payment to it, of the arrears of rent.

The council then offered leases of five years to wharf occupiers who consented to pay two years' rent arrears.

Other steamboats, not already mentioned, which were in the Ipswich-Brisbane service throughout the early years were the "Breadalbane," "Ipswich," "Bremer," "Kate," "Emu," "Enterprise," the steam punt "Glide" and latterly the steam punt "Essex" which plied between 1905 and 1928.

It was the construction of the railway from Ipswich to Brisbane in 1874 which took away the river trade and caused most of the steamboats to cease plying to Brisbane.

Separation from New South Wales

The Reverend Dr. John Dunmore Lang had advocated the separation of the northern districts since 1845.  In 1859 he began an active campaign for more support for it in the northern districts.  So he came to the Moreton Bay District and held a meeting in Brisbane on November 25 of that year.  That was a very enthusiastic meeting.

On December 1 Dr. Lang addressed an equally enthsiastic meeting at Ipswich.  Those present strongly supported the decisions at the Brisbane meeting.

John Panton, a member of the Legislative Council in Sydney, who previously had voted in that Council, against separation, spoke in favour of it at that Ipswich meeting.  The meeting was held in George Wakefield's billard room.

Another meeting was held on the next day with Frederick A. Forbes as chairman.  Dr. Henry Challinor proposed that a petition should be sent to Queen Victoria "to erect this territory from the thirtieth parallel of south latitude to the Tropic of Capricorn into a separate and independent colony."  Arthur Macalister seconded the resolution which was carried unanimously.

It was decided to form a committee to raise funds to send Dr. Lang to England to present the petition.  Subscriptions had already been received in the Moreton Bay District, most of which came from Ipswich.

The result of the subscriptions in Ipswich was £100.

The advocates of separation nominated Dr. Lang for election to the New South Wales Legislative Council, for the County of Stanley, which included Moreton Bay District.  Dr. Lang was elected on May 23, 1854.  That gave him an advantage to advocate in the council for separation.

By January 1856 nine petitions for separation had been sent to Queen Victoria.  A number of those petitions went from Ipswich.  In the same month there was a meeting in Brisbane which authorised Dr. Lang to take a petition to the Secretary for State in England, to name the new colony "Cooksland," to honour Captain Cook who discovered that land.

A despatch from Henry Labouchere to Governor Denison, dated July 21, 1856, stated that "the time has arrived when separation would be desirable.  Her Majesty's Government will have no difficulty in fixing the 30th parallel as the boundary."

Soon after the arrival of that despatch, a meeting was held in November in Brisbane.  The residents of the Moreton Bay District were so pleased that, at that meeting, it was decided to send a message to the Queen, expressing "Strong feelings of approval."

Governor Sir William Denison and others in Sydney, were opposed to the 30th parallel south latitude, being the boundary of the new colony.  They desired to exclude the Richmond and Clarence Rivers District from the new colony.

That caused the people of Ipswich to send another petition to Queen Victoria.  It was sent to Governor Denison, who forwarded it to England on January 8, 1857.

There was widespread fear in the northern districts that the suggested boundary would be altered, so on February 28, 1858, the Ipswich residents sent another petition to the Queen.  It thanked her "for the concession made to their wishes in separating the District of Moreton Bay from New South Wales," but it protested against the alteration of the boundary from the 30th parallel.  The petition was laid before Her Majesty "who was pleased to recieve it very graciously" but the petition was not granted.

That petition was signed by hundreds of Ipswich people, many of the names of those who were prominent in the early days of the town.  It is implicit that the residents of Ipswich had sent another petition to the Queen.  A despatch, dated July 15, 1858, from Governor Denison to Lord Stanley, in England, mentioned "A petition from certian inhabitants of the Town of Ipswich that Her Majesty would cause the necessary steps to be taken for the Separation of Moreton Bay from New South Wales and for the assignment of the 30th parallel of south latitude as the boundary between the colonies."

The petitioners urged that some final decision should be made on the subject by the government in England.  The petition was not acknowledged.

The Ipswich petitioners complained to Governor Denison, so he wrote to Lord Carnarvon on October 27, 1858 and stated that "petitioners should be informed that it has been laid at the foot of the throne."

There was concern that a government for the new colony might be imposed on it, as there was originally in New South Wales.  That was a government of one chamber, nominated and controlled from overseas.

Therefore, a meeting was held in Ipswich on November 17, 1858.  Those present advocated a double-chamber government, the lower chamber to be entirely elected.  From that meeting a petition was sent to Governor Denison for such a government.  An additional petition was sent for the 30th parallel to be the boundary of the new colony.

Named Queensland

News from London was received on August 16, 1859, that Queen Victoria had signed Letters Patent creating the new colony at the 28th parallel of south latitude.  The name chosen was Queensland and not "Cooksland," because the Queen preferred the new colony should have her name, in preference to Captain Cook, who discovered the land.


Ipswich Founding Families

To celebrate Ipswich 150, the Council invited descendants of early Ipswich settlers to attend a function at the Ipswich Civic Centre on 15 December 2010.

Approximately 200 descendants of people who settled in Ipswich prior to 1890 attended the event and they provided information about their ancestors.  Information gathered so far is available in a pdf format for you to download.

Early Settlers A-E (PDF, 4.7 MB)

Early Settlers F-L (PDF, 479.9 KB)

Early Settlers M-Z (PDF, 7.9 MB)

If your ancestor/s settled in Ipswich before 1900 and you haven't already submitted information, please print and complete one of the forms below and return it to the Council.

Registration form - Maternal Ancestor (PDF, 38 kb)

Registration Form - Paternal Ancestor (PDF, 38 kb)

The information you submit will be included in the database that contains the names of our early settlers, where they lived and their occupations.  If you have a photograph of your ancestor or their property please send this as a jpg image on a CD.

Early Residents, Pioneers and Prominent People

Henry Wade came to the Bremer River early in 1842, to survey "Garden Allotments at Limestone."  The site was one mile from the "site of the proposed town" of Limestone.  The "garden allotments" are now in Little Ipswich (West Ipswich).  On his map, Wade indicated the site of Dr. Dorsey's residence, as in the roadway of the newly surveyed Moore's Lane (now Hooper Street).

Later in that year, Wade surveyed the site of the "Township of Limestone."  His first map of the site included the names of the streets.  They were East, Bell, Nicholas, Bremer and Brisbane.  The survey of both places was completed on December 21.

The first land sale of Ipswich allotments took place on 11 October 1843 in Sydney for land bounded by East, Bell, Brisbane and Bremer Streets.

George Thorn bought the first two allotments on the south east corner of East and Brisbane Streets and Robert Edmund Dix purchased the adjoining allotment.

Further information is available on some well-known Early Settlers (PDF, 359 kb) of Ipswich.

Royal Visitors

1868 - Prince Albert

1920 - Prince of Wales

1958 - Queen Mother

1962 - Royal Highness Princess Alice

Prince Albert

The first Royal visitor ever to come to the Australian colonies, was Prince Albert son of Queen Victoria.  That visit roused much interest, excitement and fervent patriotism.  It should be recognised that, at that time, there were few Australian born adult residents.  Most had come from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

A coachman applied to be employed to provide a coach for the alderman, to go to the reception of the Duke.  The application was not granted.  The council decided to walk to the ceremony.  But later on, they altered the decision and decided to use a coach provided that the coach was not more than £10.

A committee of aldermen was formed to make arrangements for the welcome of the Duke and to prepare an address of welcome, which was engrossed by a local artist.

The Duke came to Ipswich by steamboat and arrived in Ipswich on February 26, 1868.  There was a large and enthusiastic crowd of Ipswich and district residents present to welcome him, at the wharf.  There was a great demonstration of patriotism.

The mayor and the aldermen of Ipswich were present and presented the engrossed address to the Duke.

Prince of Wales

Returned soldiers figured prominently in the visit to Ipswich by the Prince of Wales in July 1920.  (The Prince later became King Edward VIII who abdicated to marry Mrs Simpson).

The Prince arrived by train and the newspaper commented "The Prince made a fresh, pleasant appearance ... attired in a light grey overcoat, wearing red and white sweet peas in his buttonhole, his blue eyes sparkling".  He then was taken to Queens Park where a civic reception was held.  The Prince had specifically asked to meet returned soldiers and representatives of groups such as the Red Cross and Comforts Fund.

Overhead, a Captain Snell had arrived in an aeroplane and "flew from one end of the city to the other, and the nose diving and other feats were greatly admired."  However by this time, the Prince had moved on to a lunch in the Town Hall and missed the display.


Ipswich Businesses in 1918

Survey Maps of the Ipswich Central Business District in 1918 are a valuable resource that provide information on the businesses that operated in the Central Business District of Ipswich at that time.

The block numbers are those that were written on the original survey maps.

Businesses in 1918 (PDF, 54 kb)

Joseph Fleming's Bremer Mills

The story of Joseph Fleming's Bremer Mills began in the early years of free settlement in the Moreton Bay District.  Joseph was the son of Henry Fleming and Elizabeth Fleming (nee Hall) and he was born in Cumberland, New South Wales on 6 January 1811.  Joseph's father was the first free child born in the colony and the first child to be given a land grant of 30 acres on the banks of the Hawkesbury River.

Joseph was educated in Sydney and he married Phoebe McGuinness of Wilberforce on 24th April 1831.  He owned an inn and was involved in various other business enterprises.  From 1842 to 1846 he was the Chief Constable of Wollombi and from 1844 to 1846 he was the Inspector of Distilleries.  He acquired a property called 'Orrabar' in New England in 1846 and he moved to Queensland in 1848.

The population of Ipswich in 1846 was sixty-four males and thirty-six females.  By 1860 there were eight hundred and six males in the electorate of Ipswich.

The correspondent for the 'Moreton Bay Courier' newspaper reported on 2 October 1847 that 'We understand that it is the intention of one of our oldest colonists to establish a flour mill at or near Ipswich, not certainly from any expectation that immediate profit will accrue from the undertaking, but from prospects in future'.

Joseph began taking up land on the Darling Downs before moving to Ipswich where he purchased the first of the properites to become part of the Bremer Mills.  By 1850 Joseph Fleming and Jacob Gorrick had established a 'Boiling Down Works' in Ipswich.  This establishment was capable of rendering down 1000 head of sheep or 100 head of cattle per day.

An advertisment appeared in the 'North Australian' newspaper on 27 September 1850 advertising prices for fine flour, sharps and bran.  Two months later the paper announced that Joseph Fleming was 'now prepared to supply from his stores in East Street, flour and bran, of superior quality, at Sydney Mill prices, with freight added'.  Joseph Fleming operated a store in Ipswich which he called the 'Bremer Mills' store.

In 1851 Fleming purchased portion 13 at Bundamba and this became the site of his boiling down works.  In April of that year, Gorrick and Fleming began advertising in the Moreton Bay Courier that they were ready to receive and boil stock at their establishment from 12 May.  The charges included six shillings per head for boiling horned cattle, six pence for boiling sheep and one shilling for salting and packing hides.  The charges included drying and bundling skins and whenever practicable the tongues of the animals were supplied cured upon halves.  Casks were supplied at cost price and goods were delivered in Brisbane free of freight.

On 1st November 1851 Fleming purchased additional land at Bundanba (now spelt Bundamba) where he established the Bremer Mills.  Portion six consisted of seventy-six acres of land, portion seven was seventy-five acres and portion eight was fifty-seven acres.  These purchases were entered on record in the Register of Land Purchases on 20 February 1852.  The land was granted under the hand and seal of Sir Charles Augustus Fitzroy and Sir William Thomas Denison respectively, Governors of the Colony of New South Wales.

The Bremer Mills Estate was located at Bundamba, with a three nautical mile frontage to the Bremer River. The Estate included a steam flour mill, a steam sawmill, a melting down works, a seven room house with detached kitchen, serving quarters and store, stabling for 20 horses, a superintendent's house, cottages for 300 workers and their families, a church and school house, a fruit and flower garden, wharves and tramways.

In December 1859 Joseph Fleming was elected to the first Queensland Parliament as the member for West Moreton and he was appointed a Justice of the peace in 1860. In 1861 he was a member of the Provisional Committee of the Moreton Bay Tramway Company.

Further Information: for a personal account of life at Bremer Mills please refer to the section titled 'Memoirs of Janet Alexander Titmarsh (nee Adams)'.

Memoirs of Janet Alexander Titmarsh (nee Adams)

Janet Titmarsh (nee Adams) was a schoolgirl at the time of the 1857 flood and her father worked on the constuction of the Bremer Mills.  In her memoirs written in Munbilla in September 1901 and dedicated to her grandchildren and great grandchildren she writes about the Bremer Mills.  The following information is an extract from Janet's memoirs.

Father started from Brisbane to look for work.  He got as far as Ipswich, got a few weeks work and afterwards went to Bremer Mills to shingle the sawmills.  Then we came up the Brisbane River in the 'Hawke' in June 1856.  There was a flour mill and boiling down and stonequarry, they sank for coal in the end.  Towards Dinmore, this property was owned and carried on by a native of Parrammata named Joseph Fleming, who afterward pioneered the stations on the never never but became bankrupt and lost everything.  He had a selection at Blackfellow Creek, still later he kept a gate-on-siding at Mitchell and afterwards died in Ipswich Hospital.  He was buried in his own vault beside his wife who had died many years before.  There were a great many men working here.  They were divided into two lots, the mill and the boiling down.  The boiling down only worked part of the year, from May or March (hard to read) to the end of July or beginning of August.  The lamb season began in July and the shearing in September, so the men generally went to the shearing after the boiling was over.

There was another establishment up the river at Town Marie and another at Redbank.  There was no church or school for some time but one was started down at the brickworks near the Mill by Mr. & Mrs. Munroe-smith of Ipswich, assisted by Mr ....bury every Sunday at 2 o'clock.

There came a terrific flood in 1857 on the 18th May - covered all the country and huts with all our books.  The steamer 'Hawke' was getting repaired and the whole of the Mill men and families would have been drowned.  They stayed in their houses till they were surrounded.  There was a big swamp at the back of the huts and River in front.  The bank on the north side was very high but there was no boat so the steamer took them off and tied to the top of a gumtree.  She floated near the middle of the rise.  Some of the people near us went and camped on the ridges while others took refuge in stable lofts.  There were German, English, Irish, Scotch, blacks and chinamen and the rest colonials.  I had a favourite dog.  When I was carrying him aloft I slipped off and the dog jumped over my shoulder into the water and mud.

I had to fish him out and make another start, also with my rabbits and kittens.  My dog went up on a part of the straw which was occupied by a German woman and she called me in broken English to show my dog where to go.

My mother had no very young children.  She volunteered to bake any flour that could be found.  The flood only came in one corner and after 2 days mother started to bake; the men brought the wood and kept the fire up which was no easy job.  There was a mob of beautiful cows brought to the boiling down, but the flood dispersed them.  The butchers helped themselves and some got back to their runs.  One young woman shifted twice with her baby three weeks old.  She was wet all the time for the rain was continuous.

The Christmas before this flood, my mother had a son on December 23, 1856, died 29th of the same month and was buried in Ipswich.

After the flood, most of the land was sown with wheat round the Bremer Mills.  Mr. Fleming went to Adelaide and brought a shipload of wheat to start the mill.  The wheat used to roll like waves on the sea, golden along the banks of the Bremer, but all this came to an end, the best equipped in Qld.

First they had six pots and then they added six more.  They did not boil but steamed the pots.  They got far more out of the meat this way, more tallow.  The squatter gave the hide, horns, hoofs and bones and all the boiling meat for killing.  The boiling master provided the tallow casks.  At the busy time the coppers were kept day and night, but instead of knocking off when the killing was done, they stopped all the year round.  The casks were made of cudergy and silky oak cedar staves, they got a flat sedge for a seam.  At R.J. Smith's they knocked off on Saturdays but at Bremer Mills they worked Sundays as well.  There were such a lot of men at the establishment, each got rations; 4lbs sugar, ½ lb tea, 16lbs flour, ¼lb tobacco in the boiling time as much beef as they liked, at other times 24lbs.  This was for the ones that were hired by the year.  The huts were built in clumps.  Here drunkenness was paramount.

After the flood, news came out one Sunday about the Indian Mutiny in 1857.  Then the Taloome diggings broke out.  My brother David was born in 1858 on 6th July.  The same year my father got leave of absence to go to the diggings.  He got some gold.  There was a great number of people and very little rations - mutton and rice and rice and mutton, and two days' journey to get it on foot.  Some got very fine god and some very little.  My father and one John Gorman and John Joseph Stye started on foot carrying their swags.  My father's consisted of grey calico sheeting tent containing 24 yards, made like a fly with holes worked at intervals, one pair of no. 8 boots, one crowbar, Jackshey quart pot, some rations, change of clothes, £25 in money.

I rode from Bremer Mills and carried my father's swag to the old race course and the other two men carried their own.  I heard afterwards they boiled their quart pots and rested.

The diggings were reckoned to be 100 miles from Ipswich.  Fleming dispatched both horse and bullock drays loaded with supplies or else there would have been great starvation.  The top gold was soon all got.  I saw a piece like a shoulder of mutton in a shop when Sir George and Lady Bowen visited Ipswich for the first time.  They came by road and went back by steamer.  I went to Ipswich when the Governor was embarking, and this digger was also embarking in the following steamer.  When his steamer was moving down the river he held up this piece, it was very bright.  The people cheered again and again.  He said he got more cheers than the Governor!  When he got to Brisbane he exhibited it in Warry's grocery window and all that came to see had to pay 1/-  He got £40 for the Brisbane Hospital.  I was told he took it to the Melbourne Mint.  He was dressed in a cabbage-tree hat, red flannel shirt and dark trousers.  He pretended to throw it into the river after holding it for a time, standing on the paddle box of the steamer.

My father's leave was up at the diggings.  He got a horse to ride home, belonging to one of the storekeepers of the Bremer Mills.  His other mates took reaping and sheep shearing about New England.

Then Mr. Whitehead of Ipswich came out and started a Sunday School for a short time.  We did not go to this.  The next one Mr. Davenport kept a School in the gig house and Mr. Reeves started services on Sunday and Sunday School.  He also was leading man in the Congregational Church, Brisbane Street.  Then over the Limestone Hill to Kilners paddock where we played all we knew how.  There was no creed at this time protestants and catholics read and went together.  At election time, there were very bitter fights, but there were no regular schools.

My father and I used to walk from Bremer Mills on Saturday nights to get the groceries.  We would carry soap, soda, tea or coffee, books and drapery, also pots and dishes.  One night my father was carrying a saddle and bridle.  We took a short cut through the paddocks and then along the banks of the river and the first pub on the banks of the river was the 'Steam Packet' and the next was the 'Donnibrook' by billy O'Rouke.  There was no bridge then over 'Devils' gully only a gumtree felled.  The tide used to come up under the log.  One night a man that lived in Basin Pocket fell off into the mud and sank.  He could not get out himself, so he called for help till the tide went over his head and he drowned.  The people living near just thought it was a man drunk calling out, but it was in the morning they found him standing in the mud dead.  The Council then built a bridge.  There were a number of fellmonger establishments.  There was one near the basin of the Bremer River.  There was a garden and a small house where we had to pass and here a man committee suicide.  No colonial would pass the place day or night for years.

Cribb & Foote Store was a small shingle-roofed house with a verandah.  They used to put the camp-ovens at the door on one side and cheese and fruit on the other, the boots up aloft and the showroom at the back.  The back store was another shingle-roofed place, the dining room and kitchen another old house all in Bell Street.  They called it Bell St. after one of the Ministers belonging to the Congregational Church. The corner of Bell and Brisbane Streets was then owned by a Mr. H.M. Reeves a hard worker in the same Church and Sunday School.

All the time we lived at Bremer Mills we had to carry the wood and water.  When the river was bad or salty we had to go to Bundamba Creek and down to Quarrie Creek.  It was miles further.  Sometimes we took a small tub between 2 of us, or just one go with 2 cans.  There was a swamp near the Mill.  I went 32 times one day with a wooden ....  The huts were generally built for fine weather.  It was nothing to wake up in the night to find everything soaking wet and the floor became very wet and muddy.  We lived here five years and three months.  My brother John was born 4th March, 1861.

My father had bought a piece of ground on Goodna Creek near Redbank.  Before we left we used to go down 3 days a week, Nellie, Jeanie, Willie and myself to rake the wattle leaves and burn the fallen timber.  Nellie and Jeanie taking turns to cook.  At home there had been many ironbark logs.  We used to walk down in the mornings and carry our dinners.  Sometimes Mother would ride down to have a look.

Mails were carried on horseback between Ipswich and Brisbane.  One day when we were coming home, a gentleman was riding along the Brisbane Road, we were coming home carrying the rake.  He asked Mr. Fleming where the women had been making hay.  He called us 'Women'.  We did not work in those days but we had to take our days of cooking.  Jeanie always had her tongue out of the side of her mouth when she was carrying the three-legged pot going to prepare dinner.  We had a Sawyers Cookery Book, and the pies and duffs would have astonished Sawyer himself.

One day Mother was in town (Limestone we used to call it then) and I was getting the tea.  Alice and a girl named Maggie Burke were gathering the heads of grass for flowers when she started downhill and fell into the river.  I did not know anything about it till a kind man brought her dripping wet and half dead with fright.  I stripped her at once and put her to bed.  My father was coming home at the time to his tea.  Someone told him 'there is a girl of yours in the river'.  He thought it was me because I used to run from one end of the pine rafts to the other.  There were sunken logs floating end down.  Sometimes they were only held up by one on each side.  They were covered with slippery green moss.  He met me at the door and gave a sigh of relief.  While sitting at tea he missed Alice.  I told him what had happened.  She was only 5 years old and small.  As soon as he heard of it he went and looked.  A piece of the bank was torn but he said she would not have got into the river if she had not been pushed and so it turned out when inquiries were made that Maggie Burke pushed her in.  It was the brother of this girl that threw down the match at Riverview Orange Sports, that caught poor Esther Meredith's dress and burnt her to death.  When she was leaving Ipswich in the morning someone remarked how well she looked.  This fellow said she won't look so well when she comes back, and neither she did.  She was burnt to a cinder although she lived to come home.

The year that my brother John was born it was very hot.  When he was five days old I was watching him.  I had on a hat and when I was stooping the sun got at the back of my head.  I did feel bad, but the next day I had to go to town so I walked in and while I was standing in front of Cribb and Footes, down sank a working bullock in a trance.  They hurried him off the street to where the A.J.S. Bank (Aust. Joint Stock Bank) stands now and put a shade over him.  They bled him and gave him Epsom Salts.  Afterwards the man started for his home in Goodna Creek.

There was a woman going to Bremer Mills so we asked for a lift on her dray.  When we walked to the foot of Limestone Hill she must refresh herself at the pub which was called the 'Cottage of Content'.  She asked for gin and water, and the woman told him to drink it himself - for mixing it.  She wanted to drink the gin first and the water afterwards.  We got started and another woman with a baby 2 weeks old ... Had not got far before the woman showed signs of being drunk and could not mind the baby.  It was crying and nearly roasted.  When we left the dray at Bundamba Bridge, the bullock driver took the woman and carried her to the shade and took the baby himself.  We went on home.

While here we became acquainted with my future mother-in-law Mrs. Titmarsh.  Her daughter Rebecca, John and Emma the youngest came to the Sunday afternoon Services and before this these three went to Sunday School at the brick huts.

Between the births of my Brothers Dave and John, I went for a few weeks to help a neighbour at North Ipswich.  She gave me a heifer and I had to bring it home.

So off I started with my brother Willie, on Saturday morning, from Bremer Mills carrying a rope as big as any wool rope and when I arrived I could hardly see it for lice.  I had been washing it with tobacco.  Anyhow I started for Jeffrey's ferry and got her to the punt, but going along the bank of the river I could not manager her because Willie's attention was taken with a circus company going around the town, and I was debating in my own mind what to do as she wanted to get back to the punt.  She kept turning round and round - was just thinking she was a nuisance as I heard someone laugh - it was my father.  He had walked up from Bremer Mills.  After that it was all fair sailing.  We kept it tied up for a time.  Afterwards a neighbour named Gordon let it run with his.  This man and his family went overland to Rockhampton and settled at a place called Yamba.

Next thing was a brand, so I went to see Tommy Roderick.  He agreed to make me a brand for 5/- and I borrowed the 5/- .  She turned out a fine cow.

When we left Bremer Mills, my father went to Brisbane and Mother and part of the family, while myself, Jeannie and Willie stayed for 3 months at Goodna Creek at the farm to look after the cows and what horses we had.  My father and I built the hut with the old shell and iron bark and the thick bark of the iron bark and roofed it with stringy bark.  There were people living about two chains away.  I had a terrible job to get Willie to work, as all we planted was peach trees and they bore the best peaches I ever saw.  They were a single blossom pale pink and a double pink.  Very large, they ripened juicy in the middle of October.  We grew English potatoes and afterwards my father farmed more extensively.  Mother was a great cabbage and melon grower.  Father still worked at Brisbane but Mother stayed with us for 6 months.  He rode home of Saturday night and first thing Monday returned to work.  I led the horse down on Saturday evenings and went down Monday morning to bring the horse back.  At first the grass was good but it set in dry and I had to ride one horse down and stop in Brisbane till Monday.  Then my father rode the other horse on Monday morning then I rode it back - but one Monday morning, the horse gave in and I left him at a persons' place, walked the other 13 miles home.  After this I often walked down and up the whole 17 miles, then crossed the ferry where the Victoria bridge is now, and on to Fortitude Valley.  Sometimes I would carry a piece of beef and a pound of tea or perhaps my clothes.  Money was always scarce at our home, and the work was sometimes slack, but sad to say, the whisky was always to the fore.  Each one had their favourite drink and it was thought quite necessary.  Some thought wine was best and some thought beer was perfection.  When the grapes began to get plentiful the growers began to make wine.  One drunk man told another to look at him for ninepence - it seemed that one of the manly attainments, also to smoke and chew tobacco.

Soon after the mail coach started from Brisbane and then they surveyed the train line from Brisbane to Warwick, but it was never built.  The first railway line was built from Ipswich to Toowoomba.  After a while, my father came to work at the first part of Woogara Asylum and the contractor had the Toowoomba job at the same time.  So my father went to work as a driver of either horses or bullocks.  He had to turn to and help the teams up the main range with lime and other materials.  It was very wet one time when he rode down horseback to see us.  He left Toowoomba at 7 o'clock in the morning and arrived at Goodna at half-past 2 in the afternoon.  Another day he was in Toowoomba to collect his mail, he saw a bullock team bogged in front of the Post Office with only the guard irons of the dray visible!  Sometime later my father came to work again at the Asylum.

January 1st 1863 I met my future husband at a Church Tea meeting.  Although we had been acquainted with Mrs. Titmarsh and other members of the family, he and I had never met.  There was a revival at this and other Churches and, I believe, all over the world - England, Ireland, Scotland and the other colonies.  My husband Isaiah Titmarsh and I were married on 2nd October, 1863 at Mr. Titmarsh's house.

Mrs. Titmarsh died on 30th June, 1863 - three months before.

A guide to unravelling the unique history of your house

Increasingly people are interested in the history of Ipswich buildings.  Many people after buying an older property have a desire to restore it or gain an understanding of the history of the place.

Who has lived there before them?

When was the house built?

How has the building been altered?

Ipswich City Council commissioned Margaret Cook to write 'Every House has a history' to assist researchers in anwering some of these questions.  If you would like to download or print the cover and contents of the booklet please click on the links below.

Every House Has History (PDF, 3 mb)

Ipswich Celebrates

150 years of Municipal (Council) history: 1860-2010

In 2010 the Ipswich City Council and the community celebrated 150 years of muncipal government.  Attaining muncipality was a major milestone for Ipswich as the colony of Queensland had been proclaimed only months before.

Ipswich was one of the first settlements in the new colony to take advantage of the Municipalities Act passed in 1858. This achievement is a tribute to the drive and ambition of the 3000 Ipswich residents at the time.

Ipswich 150 Commemorative Magazine

The Ipswich 150 Commemorative Magazine titled "Ipswich 150: 1860 - 2010 Proud Past Exciting Future" was produced to celebrate and compliment our 150 years of Municipality.

Click here to view the publication. (This will open the publication in a new browser window).

Ipswich 150 LogoI150-logo-clr

As part of the Ipswich sesquicentennial celebrations Council invited people to use the Ipswich 150 logo for promotional material including brochures, books, newsletters, invitations and programs.

Ipswich 150 Commemorative Council Meeting Booklet

The Ipswich 150 Commemorative Council Meeting Booklet was produced to compliment the Agenda for the Commemorative Ordinary Council Meeting that was held on Monday 12 April 2010 at the Ipswich Civic Centre. The Commemorative Council Meeting was held on this date as this was the 150th anniversary of when the process of electing the first council for Ipswich began.

Front Cover (PDF, 832 kb)

Council History (PDF, 628 kb)


Petitioners for Municipality (PDF, 1.1 mb)

Crest (PDF, 1.5 mb)

First Council Minutes (PDF, 1.3 mb)

Mayors and Councillors (PDF, 1.3 mb)

Back Cover (PDF, 761 kb)

100 Years as a City: 1904-2004

Ipswich has a very proud past going back to the early settlers when we were part of New South Wales.  On December 1 1904, we were declared a city, before the advent of radio, television, and way before computers and the internet.

100 years later we have grown into a prosperous regional city and this book honours those who have contributed so much to the development of Ipswich.

Introduction: a new century begins (PDF, 31 kb)

Ipswich becomes a City

The term "city" conjures up many images today: concrete, traffic lights, a large population, a fast pace of life.  But when Ipswich became a city in 1904, it had a population of 8637 people and covered little more than a few CBD blocks.  So how and why did the little town of Ipswich become the city of Ipswich?

In Britain, the term city originally had a specific meaning.  It was either a cathedral town which was the seat of a bishop, or some other important town which had been created a city by royal charter.

In Queensland, the concept of a city did not exist formally before 1902.  In this year, the State Government decided to consolidate its existing laws relating to local authorities.  The result was a complex bill with 400 separate clauses; it was passed in December and became known as The Local Authorities Act of 1902!

Clause 10 of this legislation stated that there would be two classes of local authority: towns and shires (country districts).  It also stipulated that any community could apply to be proclaimed a city.  The word city was not clearly defined.  There were no formal requirements and each application was to be judged individually on its merits.  While the bill was being considered, an amendment was introduced to create three cities as part of the legislation: Brisbane, Rockhampton and Townsville.  The explanation given was that Brisbane had already been calling itself a city and, as a courtesy, this would be formalised.  Rockhampton and Townsville were important towns and were being made cities because they were sees - places with cathedrals and bishops.

The Hon. Berkely Moreton objected because he thought all the eligible large towns should be made into cities at the same time instead of elevating only three.  The Hon. Andrew Barlow thought the whole thing was a little ridiculous in Australia because "a city was a purely ecclesiastical thing: it was the seat of a bishop.  In this country, they had no concern with ecclesiastical matters".

In spite of these objections, the amendment was allowed and the Hon. Peter McPherson commented that he expected that other places including Charters Towers, Toowoomba and Ipswich would soon ask to be proclaimed cities.

However there were no practical advantages in becoming a city, for example no extra powers and no extra funding, and for a while, there was little interest in the concept.  Then the larger towns realised that there was an advantage simply in the grander title.  Toowoomba became a city on 20 October 1904 and its mayor commented: "It might seem that the new designation was just another name, but it had a very practical advantage, in that it gave the community a definite prestige".

Alderman Alfred Stephenson of Ipswich raised the subject at a Council meeting a few days later.  Ipswich at that time was a very small municipality of 6.5 sq km in extent - less than Toowoomba.  Only Brisbane City proper (4 sq km) and Charters Towers (1.6 sq km) were smaller.

Stephenson pointed out that the surrounding suburbs such as Workshops Estate, Tivoli, Booval and Bundamba were actually in the neighbouring shires.  If these were included, Ipswich would be considerably larger than Toowoomba and would be well justified in being proclaimed a city.  Other aldermen pointed out that the past and present importance of the town, citing the Railway Workshops, the mines, the only woollen mill in Queensland and the first Grammar School in Queensland.

Another said that in England, a community was considered a city if it possessed a cathedral.  The new St Mary's Church had been blessed only three weeks earlier and, he said "Ipswich now had a cathedral - so that there was that additional reason for having the town proclaimed a city".

He was not quite correct because St Mary's was not a cathedral, but the impressive church was still a powerful influence on local thinking.

The motion to apply for city status was passed unanimously by the Council and was quickly granted by the government.  On December 2, a telegram was received from the local state parliamentarians, James Blair and William Maughan, stating that the request had already been approved by the Governor-in Council and a notice would appear in the Government Gazette next day.

The initial celebrations were modest - raising a few flags and making a few speeches in Council.  A more formal celebration was held two weeks later, when present and past aldermen and citizens were invited to a function in the Town Hall.

In proposing a toast to the new city, local businessman G.H. Shillito was reported as saying: He felt that they were making history that night.  Years hence, their children or their grandchildren would read the report of that night's proceedings and think of what had been said and done.

He knew that some of the citizens did not look seriously upon the step taken in having the town proclaimed as a city - they said it was a matter of sentimentality - that there was not much in it.  But sentiment played a big part in the history of nations ...

The sentiment that caused Ipswich to be proclaimed a city might be the tie that would draw the citizens closer together, and enable them to stand shoulder to shoulder in assisting to advance the properity of the place.

Time Line

The Ipswich History Time Line is a select chronology of events in the history of Ipswich. It includes details such as exploration, convict settlment, free settlment, establishment of churches, construction of significant buildings and major events in the history of the City.

Ipswich Time Line (PDF, 66.0 KB)

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