History of Aramac, QLD
All but two streets of the town commemorate the names of identities, who were associated with the early history and development of the town and district.
Drury Street was named after E.R. Drury, who was the original owner of the block of land at the corner of Burt and Gordon Streets, where the Methodist Church now stands. The County named after him and situated to the north-eastern corner of the district, further perpetuates his name.
McWhannell Street honours Thomas McWhannell who was the original owner of Rodney Downs Station and was the first Chairman of the Aramac Divisional Board. He was actively associated with the town's early development and was a member of the town's early committees and societies.
Rule Street commemorates the name of John Rule, who took up Aramac Station in 1863 with Dyson Lacy.
Gordon Street, straight down from where the Aramac Station homestead used to be, honours the names of that colourful character Alexander or "Long" Gordon as he was better known. He was well over six feet tall and very thin. While he also took part in the affairs of the town, he is vividly remembered for avenging the death of his friend Lacy by the blacks.
Kerr Street was named after Robert Kerr at one time manager of Bowen Downs Station and who, with Nat Buchanan, drove the first mob of cattle into the district from Port Cooper, near Bowen.
Cook Street appears to have been wrongly named as this street has never been called by that name by the authorities. It is actually a continuation of the Muttaburra Road. The Shire Council, whose perogative it is to name streets, has named this street Kingston Street, after John William Kingston, the father of Aramac Hotelkeepers and in honour of the family which has been associated with the town since its formation.
Booker Street perpetuates the name of Joseph William Booker, who was one of the early stoekeepers, first in the partnership of Brown and Booker, when they occupied J.T. Tilbury's old store at the corner of Gordon and Burt Streets. Later he moved into business on his own account in a two story building further along Gordon Street on vacant land ownded by the later Mrs. Dot Egan. Booker was a member of the Divisional Board and was very actively assocated with the town's development.
McAuliffe Street, the northern most street, was named after the well known grazier, John McAuliffe who owned Stagmount, Barbarah and Ballyneety. He was also a Shire Councillor.
Forsyth Street brings to mind William Forsyth (often referred to as King Billy) who managed Aramac Station for many years for Travers and Gibson. He was also on most of the town's committees and boards.
Burt Street was named after Alfred Burt, who was the first manager at Aramac Station after it was bought by Travers and Gibson. He later had a store on the new vacant allotment at the corner of Gordon and Burt Streets. This store was later conducted by Alfred Thompson.
Porter Street commemorates the name of George Porter, well known as the first licensee of the Royal Hotel and the owner of Boongoondoo Station.
Lodge Street and Boundary Streets are the two streets not named after personalities. The former gained its name by reason of the fact that the town's first Masonic Lodge was situated there on the corner allotment now occupied by Mrs. Shaw. The latter as the name implies was at one time the western boundary of the town.
In the 1880's the town had six stores, four of which have now disappeared. J.T. Tilbury, the father of Aramac Storekeepers, owned three of these at the one time. His prinicpal place of business, the Marathon Stores, was on the corner of Gordon and Burt Streets, where Phillip Penny's home now is. These premises were later occupied by Brown and Booker. This partnership later dissolved with Booker moving into a two story building near near the present chemist shop in Gordon Street, and Brown opened up further along the street near the Albion Hotel.
Some of the other old time storekeepers were Edward Schneider, John Farrell, Alfred Burt, Alfred Thompson, Cashion and Thompson and L.E. Tuckerman.
The name of Kingston, which is synonymous with storekeeping in this town, entered the field in 1883 when C.J. Kingston went into his first store, situated between the Aramac and Albion Hotels. From there he moved across the street to George Porter's old private residence. He built a top story onto this building and called it "Kingston's Bazaar". From there he moved down the street to the business founded by Thompson and Cashion in 1878. Just prior to C.J.'s death in 1922 he disposed of this business to his son, W.J. Kingston. This business still operates under the name of W.J. Kingston Pty. Ltd., although most of the shares in the company were purchased in 1958 by Meacham and Leyland. It was built into a thriving business by W.J.'s two sons, Billy and Wilfred.
A.J. & H.H. Hassell conduct the other store in a new building recently built by Walter Reid and Co. on the site of Kingston's old bazaar. The bazaar was only dismantled in 1957 when Dickson and Ferguson went out of business.
Although the town was at one time served by two butchers, only one, R.C. & T.J. Banney, now remains. The first person to enter the butchering trade here was William Mills, and he had his butcher shop where the present shop is now. A chinaman, named Ah Thoy, was the next to obtain a slaughtering license on 14/1/78.
The next in the butchering field was John Dickson, the pregenitor of Aramac's well known Dickson clan. The old "King" as he was known, obtained his slaughtering license on 11/6/1978. He had his business on the extreme western end of Gordon Street, between the now deserted Raven and Forsyth Streets. Derelict wagon wheels still mark the spot. He also had a dairy, baked bread and made confectionery. The old ''King" was considered by old timers to have been the wildest man to ever set foot in Aramac. Dickson's Crossing which fords Aramac Creek at the nearest point to his old home, now perpetrates his name.
At one time the town had two bakeries, but one of these have now vanished. Cordial factories have come and gone, the last one being operated by Mr. Fred Bowden. The father of Aramac Cordial manufacturers was Edward Schneider.
In 1330 the town boasted a newspaper, known as either "The Aramac Times" or "The Aramac Mail". It was edited by William John Hodda. Hodda sold to a man named Maxwell, who shortly afterwards closed it down and moved the plant to Winton on a dray. A Soap works was established by a Mr. H.R. Brown in 1880, setting it up on the site now occupied by the Aramac Golf Club.
Brick works were established in 1879 by gentlemen named Christian Petersen aad Thomas Genner between the channels of Aramac Creek approximntely 200 yards downstream from the traffic bridge. Evidence of their enterprise is still evident at this spot, as it was in the old fireplace of the Royal Hotel.
The drought of 1926 sounded the death knell of the wagons, which had given such stirling service in opening up the backcountry of Queensland, carting the produce of tho district out and goods to sustain life and improve the lot of the people on its return journey. Motor lorries, the forerunners of today's modern transports took over, and the turn around of these early vehicles in getting from point A to point B was nothing short of miraculous. One such motorised bus set a speed record beween Aramac and Barcaldine of three and one half hours.
Extending the Railway line west from Rockhampton was to do more in opening up the west than any other single phase of transport. The first link Rockhampton to Westwood was opened on 17th September 1867, to Emerald 26th May 1879, to Boguntungan 1/9/1881, to Alpha 22/9/1884, to Jericho 2/6/1885, to Barcaldine 7/11/1886, to Longreach on 15/2/1884, which became the western termini until the late 1920s when it was extended to Winton and linked the two seaboard cities of Rockhampton and Townsville, by an inland route.
As already stated one of the first roads to the district wns from the township of Bowen. The next was a blaze line track from Clermont via Long Gully, Red Rock, Surbiton, Speculation, Grayrock, then along Aramac Creek to the town. The road from Blackall came to Coreena, then along Politic Greek to Aramac Creek then into town.
As natural surface water dictated the first roads, and to get to Muttaburra in the west, one had to follow Aramac Creek to Scarrbury, and on to the Thompson River. Flooding along these water courses presented problems; if the Thompson wasn't crossable there was a road up the eastern side through Crossmore; if the Thompson was crossable one could cross to Camoola and go up the western side, but always there was the chance that you would get caught by the northern watercourses Landsborough or Cornish. With the tapping of the Artesian Basin water flowed fairly freely & soon we saw the advent of boredrains twistlng and winding their way over black soil plains thus obviating the long daily trips to water for thirsty stock, and with the construction of Kellys Dam, the road to Muttaburra became more direct, and the road via Scarrbury fell into disuse. Acacia Dam was next constructed and was a scene for a callous murder by one named John Raynor in the early 1880's and now bears the name of Murdering Dam.
The first Post Office was established at Aramac on 1st March 1874. The first Post-Master was Mr. C. Cannon receiving the princely sum of £12 per annum from
1.3.74 to 21.10.74; Senior Constable R.S. Allen then carried out the work of Post-Master as a sideline to his Police duties from 1.10.74 to 16.5.1975. One of the
town's first Storekeepers E. Schneider whose shop was near where the Australian Cafe now stands carried on 'till 14.1.1879. W.H. Morrison was his successor and the remuneration was increased to £40.
Mail services radiating from Aramac followed the introduction of horse-drawn mail coaches from Clermont on 1st.January 1874, a distance of 200 mile each way and at end of one year the contractor could expect to have travelled 20,300 miles in the execution of his duty and count back how much he had saved out of his
contract price of £225 per annum. The mail service between Aramac and Cork (i.e a property in the Winton district - Winton wasn't formed then) was operated by horse once a fort-night a distance of 265 mile and for that the contractor received £280 per annum. The commencement of Telegraphic facilities at Aramac are not known, but the Post Master General's Annual Report for 1878 shows that the staff at Aramac consisted of one lines repairer-in-charge and one line repairer, proof enough that facilities for sending telegrams were available before that date. The date of installation of the first telephone here is not known; information on hand is that the first switchboard installed at the Aramac Post Office in 1900, had four subscribers namely Bowen Downs, Barooorah, Aramac Station and Stagmount. Tho P.M.G's report reveals that a new building was erected at Aramac and possession taken thereof in 1879. The official Post Office was situated next door to the Police Station in Burt Street on the site of the present Q.C.W.A. Hostel. About 1896, a new Post Office and residence was erected on the Corner of Lodge & Gordon Streets, and transferred to the Commonwealth Government at Federation. When the Postal Department vacated the old building in 1896, representation was made to the State Government to take it over as a residence for a Police Magistrate and that a resident Police Magistrate be restored. A deaf ear was turned by officialdom on this request. The old building was purchased by Storekeeper John Carlin who engaged John Muller and Thomas Vincent to pull it down and rebuild it. Purchased later by the late A.D. Cameron it served as home for he and his family until the demise of son Alex in 1968. The house still stands in Kerr Street.
The present Post Office and residence was built in 1914 at a cost of One thousand six hundred & forty six pound ten shillings.
Tho Blacksmiths who kept the wheels of transport turning, have long since disappeared from the town. John Coleman, who pioneered the trade here, had his shop at the corner of Porter & McWhannell Streets. The last village smithy here was Walter Hall, who had his forge and anvil set up on the corner of Kerr and Porter St. where the Roman Catholic Presbytery and Church now stand.
"Black Dan" an American Negro whose correct name was Daniel Carrington Haineworth, had his shop at the rear of where Aramac Motors Garage now is.
Charles Moeser, one of the town's first saddlers had his shop just around the corner in Gordon Street. This too is a redundant trade, none now operate in Aramac.
That August body, the Aramac Branch of the Q.C.W.A. held its inaugural meeting at the premises of the Bank of N.S.Wales on 24th.June 1924. The following Iadies were present: Mesdames Carney, G.L.Bowyer, Lavden, E.M.Bowyer, Flower, Eaton, Gayforrd, and Misses Watson-Smith and Bowyer.
Mrs.G.L.Bowyer took the Chair for the election of Officers and the following results ensued; Mrs.Tait was elected President subject to her acceptance, and Vice-Presidents elect were Mesdames S.H.Fraser, D.McAuliffe and Eaton & Miss Watson-Smith. Miss J.Bowyer was elected Treasurer; Mrs Gayford was Secretary.
The Association used to meet in the Shire Hall or the School of Arts. On 22.4.1939 the Association was Gazetted Trustees of the School of Arts; This body has now built a Waiting Mothers Hostel on the site and serves a most useful purpose in the Association's activities.
Great changes have occurred since William Landsborough, the explorer discovered and named Aramac Creek after his friend R.R. McKenzie, and great will be the changes still to come.
"The Past is the Parent of the Present,
The Present a Parent will be,
But look you well to the Future,
Forebear of the vast mystery,
Eternity guards its great secrets,
But reason was given to see,
That Infinite Will is the Master,
And Time but a finite decree."