Wednesday, July 8, 2015

John Douglas visit to Maryborough, QLD in 1878

On 20 March 1878, Douglas accompanied the governor on a visit to Maryborough, Bundaberg, and Rockhampton. They arrived at Maryborough on 21 March, where a salute was fired from guns in the botanic gardens.[1] The previous year, Douglas and Chester, while on Mabuiag Island in the Torres Strait, came across one of these guns. It was an old one-pounder brass cannon found buried on the beach. Douglas had the cannon cleaned and sent to Brisbane, where it was extensively restored. Douglas had the cannon mounted and presented as a Christmas gift to the people of Maryborough,[2] for use as a time gun, in response to criticism that the town had no clock. The Cooktown Courier was unimpressed with this largesse.

Is it true that Douglas found the time gun which he has presented to Maryborough up at Thursday Island?  If so it is another case of robbing the north to satisfy the cravings of the ‘cormorant’ south. Demand again the Flagstaff Hill.[3]

On 23 March, Governor Kennedy turned the first sod of the Maryborough-to-Gympie railway.[4] Douglas received a warm welcome in Maryborough because, with the notable exception of employers of South Sea Islander labour, he was considered to have done “common justice” to Maryborough, which, before his election as its local member, was widely believed to have been “systematically held back and defrauded of its rights.”[5] The reason for this warmth and generosity lay in Douglas approving the railway from Gympie to Maryborough.[6]  

[1] “Maryborough.” Brisbane Courier, 22 March 1878, p. 2
[2] Tony Matthews. River of Dreams: A History of Maryborough and District, vol 2. Maryborough, Maryborough City Council, 1995, p. 571; Queensland Evangelical Standard, 22 December 1877, p. 296; Maryborough Chronicle, 29 January 1878; John Douglas to Edward Douglas, 30 June 1899. OM 89-3/b/2/(c)/11. Douglas Papers, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland
[3] “Brisbane.” Cooktown Courier, 9 January 1878, p. 2. Flagstaff Hill overlooks Cooktown, and the town wanted a time gun of its own located there.
[4] “Summary for Europe.” Brisbane Courier, 27 March 1878; “Maryborough.” Brisbane Courier, 25 March 1878, p. 2. Among the assembled throng were 300 Aborigines, who regaled Douglas with “For he’s a jolly good fellow.”
[5] “Maryborough.” Queensland Times, 7 March 1878, p. 4. For more comments in a similar vein, see “Maryborough.” Queensland Times, 14 March 1878, p. 4
[6] At Rockhampton, Douglas was less cordially received because he declined to guarantee them a railway.