The WEDEMEYERs of Eastern Australia, Chapter 5
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WEDEMEYER properties… subdivided from the Walla Run
In 2004 and 2005 I visited GHL's 160-acre property near Walla and I am grateful for the hospitality and guidance of the present landholder who has corresponded with me over the past several years. Probable remnants of GHL's slab hut home were flat sided columnar(?) basalt boulders arranged in a 10m X 4.5m rectangular pattern... like the igneous rocks arranged around the edge of the Nanango slab hut pictured at the left. Note the rocks beneath the floor bearers, which could have been arranged in a similar pattern in GHL's hut at Walla. GHL's basalt was brought in from outside the area, since the local parent rock is a water permeable conglomerate which would have been an encouragement to white ants if used in the same way. Perhaps his sons brought the stone in on their bullock teams. Pictured above is a slab hut at Nanango, 175km S of Walla. Note the rocks beneath the floor bearers, which could have been arranged in a similar pattern in GHL's hut at Walla.
The report by the bailiff on 8 Apr 1888 said that GHL’s 160 acre selection was occupied by the selector (Elizabeth Wedemeyer, widow of GHL Wedemeyer) and family, used for grazing horses and cattle. It had a garden of 5 acres planted with fruit trees, with a milking yard, stockyard and horse yard. The improvements were: 3 room slab house, kitchen, shingle roof: £60, Railing: £21/3/-, 2 stockyards & piggery: £40, 50a forest land cleared, stumped & ploughed: £20. Total: £111/3/- . The file then gave this further information……. Transfers: Transmission by death from GHL to Elizabeth Wedemeyer on 10 Mar 1888. Deed of Grant of this Selection on 30 Apr 1890, for a payment of £20. (Qld State Archives Reference: LAN/AG195).
This report gave us hints of what we should look for. Fortunately, our chances of finding something remaining were increased by the elevation of the house paddock from the river out of reach of the floods. …. as well as the fact that in modern times it has not had a fire history and has not been cultivated. The paddock is wide and flat and runs out to a spur with a very deep gully running to the river on one side and the river on the other.
The above photos are of the northern corner of the spur facing south. On the left is a morticed split post (probable GHL's) and at that point the block slopes east towards the Burnett River ....in places the slope is gentle enough for horses to drag water tanks up to GHL's house. The right hand photo shows the flat homestead block extending south with a slope down to a steep gully and rainforest on the west. The few old split and morticed posts found were probably part of the cattle yard. There were a number of old boundary posts which followed a different alignment to present day boundaries and had three large drilled holes in each, in contrast to the modern 5 strand fence.
Closely spaced and undrilled posts were found near the house site (see below left) and could have been posts for a hitching rail (see example below right from nearby Nanango). On the other hand these posts might have been part of gates to a fence close to the homestead.
Garden remnants were oleander, crepe myrtle and quince trees, which caught the attention of the present owners. One early handmade and kiln dried brick was found amongst the grove of crepe myrtles. It might have been the remnant of GHL's separate kitchen?
Walla Run was one of the first Burnett pastoral leases. The owners of Walla Run in 1884 were George Robert Johnston, Bankstown, NSW and Arthur Alfred Johnston who lived at Walla. In 1 Jun 1886 application was made under the "Crown Lands Act 1884" to subdivide Walla Run (Qld State Archives Reference: Walla Run File Mar 1871 – Jan 1899; LAN/AF1142). However, there were already a few Selections taken up including CWL WEDEMEYER Selection 1262 on 18/12/1883 (Louis aged 17), GHL WEDEMEYER Selection 1256 on 13/12/1883, JWH WEDEMEYER Selection 1255 on 13/12/1883 Harry aged 20). All consisted of 160 acres.
The three WEDEMEYER properties were grouped together and and started from the junction of the Perry and Burnett Rivers, extending approximately 70 chains NNW with the Burnett River on their eastern borders. Please use this link to see a map showing the properties. On GHL's death the selection passed to Elizabeth WEDEMEYER on 10 Mar 1888.
The lease was converted to freehold on 30 Apr 1890. GHL's selection was the middle WEDEMEYER property, and its south east corner was 22 chains NNW from the junction of the Perry and Burnett Rivers.
GHL did not have long to enjoy his lease. GHL died at Walla, on 5 Oct 1885 at the age of 60. The cause of death was given as senility (presumably meaning that he died because he was old). Note that at the time of his death his children are listed as Harry, Louis, Minnie, Elizabeth, John, Maggie, and 2 deceased male children. He was buried on 6 Oct 1885 at Walla. The officiant was one of his neighbours, Paul Mittelheuser. The witnesses were Alfred S. Austin and Claus H. Linde. It is probable that he was buried in the Walla Station graveyard pictured here. Note the stone slab resting against the base of the tree. This stone does not have an inscription .... perhaps it was used to mark GHL's grave? The earliest grave here is of George Thomson, accidentally drowned 11 Dec 1830 aged 31 years.
Walla Station is located on the Walla Rd which runs from the western side of the Bruce Highway just north of the "Tim Fischer Bridge" over the Burnett River, south of Gin Gin, Qld.
This photo is of the graveyard at Walla Station where the earliest grave is of George Thomson, accidentally drowned 11 Dec 1830 aged 31 years. Note the stone slab resting against the base of the tree. This stone does not have an inscription .... perhaps it was used to mark GHL's grave? Walla Station is located on the Walla Rd which runs from the western side of the Bruce Highway just north of the "Tim Fischer Bridge" over the Burnett River, south of Gin Gin, Qld. As one travels along the Walla Rd towards the Goodnight Scrub, the first road to the right is Mittelheuser Rd ( named after the man who took GHL's funeral?), and then 2.6 kms along the road is a bridge over the Agnes Creek and straight after this on the left is a brown painted fence and a private road to the Walla Station homestead. On the right hand of the private road and just before the homestead are extensive cattle yards. Behind the cattle yards at the corner farthest away from the homestead is the graveyard. GHL's property was just an extra 3kms further towards the Goodnight Scrub in the Morganville locality and it seems unlikely he was buried on his own land since there was a graveyard a short distance away and also that owner of GHL's property has found no traces of graves on his property.
Walla Station became Walla Station Bed and Breakfast for several years. Walla Station was subsequently sold at auction for $570,000 at about 22 Apr 2004. The advertisement said:
"On the banks of the Burnett River sits the oldest cattle property in the district, home of the famous Don Pedro Manso Brahman Bull. The property also has an original 160-year-old slab hut and old family graveyard. The large garden surrounding the house has been nurtured to its former glory and contains many exotic mature trees. The 128ha (320 acres) of undulating fertile country has pangola grass and various types of legume. It operates as a Masa stock horse stud. There are cattle yards, horse paddocks and extensive sheds on the property plus the manager's residence. Property description: Lot 16 on BN3755, County Cook, Parish Walla. Street address: 315 Walla Road, Morganville. Area: 129.32 hectares. Zone: Rural."
When I drove past the property in 2004 the B&B sign had been taken down. Shortly after, the property was re-named Walla Station Country Retreat and was under new management.
The Story Continues
- Chapter 6: GHL's wife.