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William Clark (1837–1918)

from Brisbane Courier

Mr. William Clark, one of the sturdy old colonists who in early days pioneered the pastoral industry of Queensland, passed to his rest on Saturday last. Mr. Clarke, then a lad of 12, arrived with his parents in Moreton Bay in the barque Lima (one of Dr. Lang's vessels), in 1849, after a passage of 22 weeks from London. His first experience of life as a colonist was assisting his father in felling pine timber, and splitting laths and shingles for the late Mr. Andrew Petrie, sen., in the dense pine scrubs which then covered the river banks from the present Fairfield railway station to Oxley Creek, taking a turn occasionally at the end of the big sweeps in the punt conveying the timber to Brisbane. In 1853 he assisted his father to remove cattle from Cooper's Plains, in order to form a cattle station between Cleveland Point and the mouth of the Logan River. This run included the Hedland Bay and Mount Cotton districts, and was subsequently resumed for closer settlement purposes. In 1855 he engaged with the late Mr. James Reid, of the firm of Reid and Boyland, to travel his sheep from Cooper's Plains to Camboon station, on the Dawson River. On reaching Rawbelle, on the Upper Burnett, they found themselves on the outside edge of settlement, and took with them a family of blacks to act as guides in crossing the Range on to Dawson waters. Only one other station had at that time been formed on the Lower Dawson Ranges, the property of the late James and Charles Leith Hay. W. H. Wiseman, Crown Lands Commissioner, had his stockade on this station. The latter had received instructions from the New South Wales Government to select a site for a township on navigable waters, on the south bank of the Fitzroy River. The Upper and Lower Dawson squatters were enthusiastic over this project, as their nearest port for wool at that time was Maryborough, via Gayndah. As Mr. Wiseman had only two orderlies, he applied to Mr. Clark to form a party to assist him. This party, after cutting a track through the Dee River scrub, followed the Fitzroy River down to the present site of Rockhampton, and fixed their observation camp at Yeppen-Yeppen Lagoons. Soon after Mr. Clark's arrival at Camboon, the blacks attacked the native police camp, killing one trooper, and severely wounding several others. In 1857 he had occasion to visit the station next to Camboon—John Ross's Redbank station, Auburn River—and the Fraser massacre by blacks of the Hornet Bank tribe took place while he was there. A few days after this the natives killed on Camboon station four of Mr. Clark's men, who were working at an outstation. Two of these men were Eurasians named Blair, sons of an Indian officer, and had been educated at the Military College, Madras.

In 1861 Mr. Clark purchased sheep on Jimboomba station, Logan River, and travelled them via Camboon to Brown's Lake, Comet River, arriving at the lake in 1862. Dr. Leichhardt camped at this lake on Christmas Day, 1844. The lake was named by Leichhardt after the member of his party who discovered it, after they had been three days without water. In 1862 Mr. Clark explored the great Comet delta—where Leichhardt lost most of his animals—and tried to find a pass through the Carnarvon Range to the Warrego waters. But he utterly failed to get through the walls of perpendicular rock on its eastern face. On Christmas Day, 1863, he started from Consuelo station, and in crossing the Consuelo Ranges to Purbrook Downs country he discovered a fine tableland. Removing from Comet country in 1803, he occupied for three years part of the Cullin-la-ringo run, Nogoa River, near Garden Creek, where Mr. Wills, sen., and 19 of his station hands were massacred by blacks in 1861. In 1866 he occupied country on Mistake Creek, Belyando River. Soon after his arrival there his brother and partner, Mr. Henry Clark, was murdered by the blacks while forming an outstation. Mr. William Clark was at the time on the Suttor River. His brother's death did not end their troubles, for some of his shepherds were speared, and sheep were driven from the station. Ultimately Mr. Clark sold out and left the Belyando. In January, 1868, Mr. Clark and his other brothers started No. 2 South Smithfield Mine, Gympie. He subsequently engaged in cattle breeding at Traveston. During 34 years residence at Gympie he filled various public positions—the magistracy for 21 years. He was chairman and member of the Goldfield Divisional Board, and gave evidence before the Royal Commission appointed to enquire into the method of administrating the Local Government Act on goldfields. By the judges of the Supreme Court he was appointed a justice to administer the provisions of the Marriage Act. During the last five years of his residence in Gympie he acted as Excise Officer. For many years Mr. Clark had been a valued contributor to the columns of the Courier and Queenslander, and his articles on the pioneering days of Queensland have possessed not only historic interest, but literary charm.

As stated, Mr. Clark arrived in 1849 by the Lima, Captain Yule. After running in under the lee of Cape Moreton, the captain was engaged for some hours in firing signal guns to attract the attention of the pilot. Sometime afterwards Pilot Exton came alongside, and brought the vessel to a spot near Cowan Cowan, where he left her. Captain Yule was not satisfied with this anchorage, and next morning, with a boat's crew, he proceeded further up the Bay, taking careful soundings all the time. Finally he found a safe anchorage in that portion of the Bay which has ever since been known as Yule Roads.

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Citation details

'Clark, William (1837–1918)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 25 June 2024.

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