The 25th May saw the capture by the native police, aided by some of the well- disposed blacks, of one of the greatest scoundrels, of his time - Dundalli. Dundalli seldom ventured near the Settlement Generally he remained about the Pine or on Bribie Island, but one day, deeming it safe to visit Brisbane, he came over and camped in the Valley. Blacks who were afraid of him quickly gave the police the hint, and after a desperate resistance he was captured.
His had been a merry life of depredation extending over eight years, his name being connected with nearly every native murder or outrage perpetrated. He belonged to the Bunya district, but for years had been associated with the blacks on the coast, over whom he possessed great influence. On being arrested he denied that his name was Dundalli, saying he was known as Wilson, but he was too well known to be able to deceive the authorities.
On the 2nd June he was brought up and committed for trial for robbery with violence at the Rev. J. G. Haussmann's station in 1845, for the murder of Mr Gregor and Mrs. Shannon in 1846; for the murder of Boller and Waller in 1847, for the murder of Charles Gray near Bribie Island, and for the murder of Mr McGrath's shepherd.
Although heavily ironed he was most violent while awaiting trial so much so indeed that stops were taken - but without success - to obtain a special commission to try him at once. There was a great gathering of the Ningy-Ningy tribe from the northern coast of the bay with Billie Barlow at their head, who swore revenge on whites generally and on those blacks who had assisted in Dundalli's capture in particular.
On the 21st November Dundalli was found guilty at the Circuit Court, and was sentenced to death. Up to the last he would not admit that he was likely to suffer death, asserting that when "the whiteman" (hangman) arrived he would take him to Sydney, but would not "hang him up ".
On the fatal morning (5th January, 1855) Dundalli did not express any fear until the executioner went into his cell to pinion him. Then he cried and wailed piteously to all around to save him. To avoid the possibility of escape, the gallows was surrounded by police, while a rope was passed through the cord that pinioned the prisoner's arms.
He went up the rude ladder, however, without force, but continued to call on all who knew him, and then, as if recognising that his entreaties were unavailing, he shouted in his native tongue to the crowd of blacks who lined Windmill Hill. This, it was afterwards understood, was an appeal to his wife and other members of his tribe to take revenge for his death.
In the midst of this tumult the bolt was drawn, but owing to some unpardonable bungling on the part of Green, the executioner, the feet of Dundalli firmly fell on the top of his coffin beneath the gallows. A constable quickly drew away the coffin, but still the feet of the hanging man touched the ground, and the spectators, many of whom were women and children - for the executions were public and took place about where the present Post Office is - were shocked by the sight of old Green lifting up the legs of the malefactor and drawing them backwards towards his pinioned aims by the rope that passed through the pinioning cords!
Before quitting the subject I may record the execution of 'Davy' for the murder of Mr. Trevethan at Wide Bay. Davy had killed Mr. Trevethan while the latter was actually making presents to the blacks, but at his trial a legal point was raised, and the sentence of death was held in abeyance Early in August, however, the point was decided against Davy, and he was executed on the 22nd of that month in Queen street
An important event in the history of church matters occurred on 29th October, 1854, when St. John's was consecrated by the Bishop of Newcastle. Unfortunately for the peace of mind of some of the worshippers, the Rev. Mr. Irwin, the clergyman, introduced the offertory at morning service, and this gave much offence.
A vigorous protest was made, but not only did Mr. Irwin refuse to attend the meetings of the malcontents to discuss the matter, but the Bishop coincided with the innovation, and backed up the incumbent. Several meetings were held, all characterized by more or less wrangling, and very strong language was used in opposing what was described “as an unseemly and offensive interruption of the worship of God."
After some six months, finding the members of the church drifting away and the incumbent and Bishop firm, the discontented members decided that they would return to the church, though when the offertory was taken they would walk out, which they did for some little time. Eventually this practice was modified by a resolution which affirmed that they would no longer leave when the offertory was being taken up, but would refuse to give. This ended the trouble, and with time the system introduced by Mr. Irwin has grown into general practice. As a result of this wrangling the Church of England Association was formed.
On several occasions during the few previous years reports had been circulated that a white man had been seen with the blacks. First he was in the Wide Bay district, then at the Pine, and again he would be in the Bunya scrub. Many attempts were made to capture him, but all were unsuccessful until 20th December, when Lieutenant Bligh while patrolling the Bunya scrub came upon him, and after some trouble apprehended him.
This trouble was not due to any attempt to escape on the part of the man, whose name was found to be John Fahy, for he made no demonstration, but displayed an anxiety to be taken, though the blacks formed a ring round him, and at one time it was questionable whether Lieutenant Bligh's party would not be beaten off.
Fahy had arrived in Sydney in 1838 under a sentence of a transportation for life, but absconded from the New England road party on the 11th November, 1841. He was however, retaken, but managed to get away again on the 24th April, 1842, from which date up to the time of this arrest he had been at large over eleven years.
When found he could scarcely speak his mother tongue, but he soon regained this. He was known among the blacks as " Gilbury." On being sent to Sydney for trial he was sentenced to work in irons on the roads for twelve months. There was little sentiment about the authorities in the early fifties!
The steamer ‘Boomerarg’ on the 15th December brought the welcome news of the fall of Sebastopol mid the sensational intelligence of the Ballarat Stockade. As, however, neither event has any direct bearing on the history of Moreton Bay I shall not deal with them further, except to say that a very large sum was collected to aid the widows and orphans of England's heroic soldiers. I may also mention that our estimable citizen, Mr. John Sinclair, made his acquaintance with Brisbane on this trip, he being engineer of the vessel.
The figure-head of the Boomerang caused some consternation among the natives who for some time could not be induced to approach the ship. The ornament was painted black, and it afterwards transpired that the natives thought Dundalli had come to life and this belief could not be shaken until all had felt the figure-head.
As was natural with a place where the products and population increased the wants became more numerous and urgent. The difficulty of communication between the two sides of the river early in 1855 suggested a bridge and a company was spoken of to build a pontoon structure sufficiently high to allow the river craft to creep under.
The modest sum of £10,000 was all that was required, and since £1000 a year tollage might be counted upon surely the Government would not object to assist! Yet this is exactly what the Government, or rather the Governor, did, he in turn suggesting a steam ferry. In less than a fortnight the possibilities of either scheme had however, sunk below par, and both went the way of all commencements for which a dip in the public pocket was required.
Excitement was furnished on 8th July by the burning of Pettigrew's mills - a serious conflagration, which elicited practical sympathy for the owner. A movement was made for the incorporation of Brisbane, but it can scarcely be said to have gone further than discussion. Ipswich made another decided kick for ascendency over Brisbane, and, recognizing the power of the Press in respect of its adversary Brisbane, the North Australian made its appearance there on the 2nd October.
The first move towards the introduction of railways in the northern districts was made on the 18th September, when Mr. Hood, of Talgai station, moved in the Assembly that an address be presented to the Governor-in-Council, praying that his Excellency would be pleased to place on the estimates for the year 1856 the sum of £3000 for the purpose of obtaining a survey and estimate for the construction of a tram-road from the head of navigation at Ipswich to the Darling Downs, and thence by way of Warwick and Tenterfield and New England.
It was pointed out to Mr. Hood, however, that he had previously spoken against such a proposition, and had actually presented petitions praying that such a scheme should not be sanctioned. Recognising the position in which he was thus placed Mr. Hood wisely withdraw his motion, and nothing further was heard of this extraordinary scheme to divert trade from Brisbane for some time.
Perhaps one of the most important events of this year was the passage of the new Constitution Bill, which gave to the colony constitutional Government, and with it the nominee system as touching the Upper House, as well as the two-thirds majority clause behind which the members of the present Legislative Council sheltered themselves when throwing out Sir S. W. Griffith's Provinces Bill.
Extensive reductions made in the strength of the native police brought upon the heads of the powers that be, the condemnation of the people of these districts, and subsequent events proved that the people here knew their requirements in this respect better than those who governed. Murders and outrages were reported almost daily. For instance, at Rannes, the station of the Messrs. Hay, in the Leichhardt district, a slaughter took place which alone was sufficient to rouse the indignation of the Northeners.
One day in September the blacks gathered in great numbers and intimidated the shepherds. Another mob attacked five native troopers who were encamped about 200 yards from the head station. Two were killed on the spot, two died the following morning, and the other a day or two later. This completely put a stop to shearing, for the shearers were compelled to patrol the run for the purpose of affording protection to the shepherds.
Two months later, too, six persons were killed by the blacks at Gladstone - in fact from every direction came reports which went to prove the statement that it would be impossible to hold a station to the northward, much less to occupy new runs. The fact that the Government stood by and did nothing was exasperating, but this attitude only made the determination to secure separation stronger. Indeed at this time there was a bit of blue sky showing through the clouds which betokened that separation was within measurable distance.
The wreck of the Venus with a cargo of 250 tons of sugar in Freeman's Channel on the 21st November furnished excitement of a mild nature, and stimulated the agitation for the proper marking of the bay and the erection of a lighthouse at Cape Moreton. This bore such good fruit that on 1st March tenders were called for the latter.
Of course there was the customary delay on the part of the Government, who seemed to require some startling occurrence to rouse them in matters affecting the welfare of Moreton Bay. They dallied and dallied with the lighthouse until the 5th May, when the Phoebe Dunbar, a ship of 700 tons, with 270 immigrants, went ashore, and was only saved at a ruinous expense to her owners. Owing to the absence of a light the captain mistook Point Lookout for Cape Moreton, and went ashore eastward of Amity Point.
After this the tender of Mr. Faviell, of Sydney, was accepted, and the work was commenced, though it was generally believed that if justice had been meted out, Mr. Andrew Petrie would have had the contract.
From the 6th May 1856, dates the first trade with New Caledonia, the brig Maria taking on that date the first shipment of sheep and cattle which ever left these shores for the French Settlement. On the 21st June the population was added to to the extent of 250 souls, who arrived in the Persia. With the 1st November came a visit from the Bishop of Newcastle, and as indicating progress in religious matters I may record the opening of the Wesleyan Church in Albert Street (then occupying the site of the present Deposit Bank buildings) which event took place on the 7th December.
The first elections under the new Constitution Act excited considerable interest, and were the means of bringing out men, as far as this district was concerned, who became powerful politicians. Leaving Separation out of the question there were three topics over which a good deal of bitterness was excited.
All these were born with the Constitution Act, and were a nominee Upper House, the two-thirds majority clause over which there was recently so much trouble, and the 53rd clause which voted £50,000 for religious endowments. As indicating the progress of the Separatists it may be mentioned that provision was made whereby the division of the colony could be accomplished if deemed necessary.
The late Mr. H. Buckley was brought forward for the Stanley Boroughs, but having sat in the revision court he withdrew and contested County Stanley in opposition to Mr. W. M. Dorsey whom, let me add, he defeated by a very large majority. Two members were required for the Boroughs, while four gentlemen offered their services. These were Messrs. Richardson (the late member), A. Macalister, Thomas Holt, and F. A. Forbes.
At the poll which took place on 7th April, 1856, Messrs. Holt and Richardson were elected, the former securing four votes more than his opponent; and the result showed that while Brisbane electors had voted almost to a man for them, those in Ipswich had done ditto for Messrs. Macalister and Forbes.
Mr. Gordon Sanderman had a walk over for Wide Bay, Burnett, and Maranoa, and Mr. Clarke Irving wrested from Mr. Colin Mackenzie the seat for the Clarence and New England districts. It is not my intention to follow the new Parliament through its eventful career, but it must be recorded that shortly after it met, Mr. Holt was appointed Colonial Treasurer, and was re-elected by the electors notwithstanding the warning voice of Dr. Lang.
After this agitation for separation went on apace, but there was great dissention as to whether the Richmond and Clarence River districts should be included in the new colony, and thus the attainment of the great object was deferred.
Fresh petitions to the Queen were drawn up, but the reply those met with in June, 1856, was that Her Majesty's Government had resolved for the present to "abstain from any measure for the purpose of separation." In the midst of all the wrangling which ensued, however, the despatch was received announcing that separation had been decided on.
Never was there such rejoicing here, but in New South Wales the news caused sullen captiousness. The good news arrived on the 10th July, 1859, letters patent appointing Sir George Ferguson Bowen first Governor of Queensland, having been approved by an Order in Council of 18th May. On the 6th June a second order was made, empowering the Governor to make laws and provide for the administration of justice within the territory. Thus was the birth of Queensland.