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Collins, John (1812–1898)

from Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld)

On Sunday morning, the 14th instant, the long life of Mr. John Collins, of Mundoolun, Logan River, came to an end. The following account of his life and work will have an interest for the many true friends who are left to mourn his death:

He was born in Ireland, in County Cork, on the 10th of September, 1812, and lived there till 1839, when he married Anne Martin, eldest daughter of Mr. Robert Martin, a revenue officer of Queenstown, then called "Cove of Cork." Leaving Ireland a few weeks afterwards, they arrived in Sydney about September, fifty nine years ago, after a tedious voyage of ninety-nine days. Thc first few months in Australia were spent with friends and relations on the Hunter River and Liverpool Plains districts. One of these, Mr William Humphreys, a cousin of Mrs. Collins, afterwards came to Mundoolun, which he took up, he being one of the first band of pioneers to the new district of Moreton Bay. The country life had a great charm for Mr. Collins, and, "building castles in the air," he determined that if possible he would make a home for himself in the bush. This was, however, beyond his means at the time, so he returned to Sydney, and turning his business knowledge to account he joined the mercantile firm of Messrs. Hughes and Hoskings. He continued in this occupation for nearly four years: then coming to Moreton Bay, he arrived at Mundoolun in June 1844, joining Mr Humphreys, who had become his partner. Mr. Humphreys left the Logan for the Burnett in 1847, and Mr. Collins then became sole owner of the station. For upwards of fifty years he lived to enjoy the object of his early life–a home in the bush. Investing his modest means in sheep, he succeeded in making headway against all the difficulties, and in spite of all the hardships and privations which beset the early settlers.

The unfitness of the coast country for sheep soon began to show itself. In consequence of this Mr. Collins took all his sheep which remained out to the Dawson. His sons, two of whom left school at the end of 1861, began to materially assist at this time. Some country was secured in 1863, at the head of the Dawson, and the sheep were taken there in the beginning of 1863, and Westgrove station was formed; the adjoining station, Box Vale, was added to it in 1872. The Dawson country proving unfit for sheep in its turn, another move westward was made in 1875. Morney Plains and Whitula Stations, in the South Gregory district, were formed. Mr.Collins's sons being the pioneers in that part of the country, and the first to take sheep west of Cooper's Creek. Mount Leonard, on the Lower Diamantina, was taken up and stocked in the same year. In the following year Morney Plains and Mount Leonard were sold, and in 1877 Whitula was also sold. In this year Warenda, in the North Gregory, was purchased, and Mount Merlin taken up. The latter was stocked in 1878, and is still held by the firm. Warenda was sold in 1881.

The friendship of Sir Thomas Mcllwraith and the Hon. William Forrest had been secured during the sixties, they being occupiers and owners of Merivale and Mount Hutton stations, adjoining Westgrove. The Messrs. Mcllwraith, Collins, and Forrest took up a large area of country in the Northern Territory of South Australia in 1877, and purchased the Inkermann and Woodstock stations, between Bowen and Townsville, with a view to establishing large cattle stations in the territory. At first the enterprise looked very promising, but, although it has not ended in failure, the many causes which have brought about ruin in so many cases in the far west and north, during the last ten or twelve years, have prevented this one from being a pronounced success so far. A large herd of cattle has, however, been maintained in the territory for many years, and the original project of fully developing its resources has never been abandoned.

The sheep country in the Flinders now comprised in the Eulolo run was purchased by the Messrs. Collins in 1883, and the station was formed and stocked by them the same year. In 1888 it was incorporated with Beaudesert and Strathfield stations, the whole property being from that time owned by Messrs. Collins, White. and Co. Many minor enterprises might be mentioned, but sufficient has been noted to show the part that Mr. Collins took in developing the pastoral resources of Western Queensland.

Returning to the East, it may be mentioned that, on the resumption of the country by the Government and Mundoolun being thrown open to selection. Mr. Collins secured his old homestead and a proportion of the adjoining lands, so that the old home has been well preserved, whilst the most friendly and cordial relations have ever been maintained with all the neighbours who came in with the new order of things. Tamrookum was purchased by the firm in 1878, and Rathdowny in 1884.

Original publication

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Citation details

'Collins, John (1812–1898)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/collins-john-19731/text31027, accessed 24 November 2017.

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