Sunday History Photo / Qld

Submitted: Sunday, Jan 29, 2017 at 10:45
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Birdsville is a small town and locality in the Shire of Diamantina, Queensland, it is located on land traditionally owned by the Wangkanguru People, in the Channel Country of Central West Queensland, Australia. It is 1,590 kilometres West of the state capital, Brisbane, and 720 kilometres South of the city of Mount Isa. Birdsville is on the edge of the Simpson Desert, approximately 174 km East of Poeppel Corner.

Birdsville was known as Diamantina Crossing from 1881. There are a number of different theories as to the origin of the name. One is that the name derives from the prolific bird life in the district. The other is that a store was established by Percy Bird and George Field and they called it Birdfield. However, in 1882, G. and R. Wills, of Adelaide, misaddressed a consignment of goods as going to Birdsville and that name stuck. Another is that a man named Burt established a store and called it Burtsville which corrupted to Birdsville. Whatever its origin, by 1882, the name Birdsville was in common use and was formalised at the proclamation of town in 1887.

Birdsville Post Office opened on 1 January 1883.
In 1885 there were plans to build a railway from Hergott Springs (Marree) to Birdsville, a letter from August 1909 suggested it was impossible.

Birdsville was located at the border of South Australia and Queensland to collect tolls from the droves of cattle being moved interstate.
Many of Australia's pioneering European explorers travelled through the Birdsville district well before the town was gazetted. Monuments to acknowledge the feats of Captain Charles Sturt, Burke and Wills, Cecil Madigan and others are located throughout the town.

The first mail service was pioneered by Jack Hester in 1884 followed by a mail-passenger service opened in 1886 by August Helling using packhorses and buggy. From Birdsville it was George Roberts' job to get the mail to Haddon Downs. He left Birdsville on 27 December 1884 for the last time. His body was found near Nappanalka two weeks later. Sometimes the mail went by boat. In April 1887 the track between Cowarie Station and Goyder's Lagoon was flooded to such an extent that the only way to get the mail to Birdsville was by boat. In 1902 it was Frank Booth who had the mail contract using a buggy and five horses. It was not until 1922 that the mail and some other supplies were delivered by car. Since 1970 the mail is carried by plane.

In 1890 it was suspected that Mr Helling, or his driver, was also involved in Sly-grog selling, although this was never proved. This practice was quite common. Eating houses which operated at Clayton, Blazes Well, New Well, Mungerannie and Mulka were all suspected of illegally supplying alcohol. Very few cases have been proven and even fewer convictions made.
The best known mail man along the track was Esmond Gerald (Tom) Kruse, MBE, of 'Back of Beyond Fame' who delivered the mail for nearly twenty years, come drought, 'hell or high water'. Over the years mail, stores and passengers have been dropped off at Lake Harry, Clayton, Dulkaninna, Cannuwaukaninna, Mona Downs Tidnacoordooninna, Etadunna, Kopperamanna, Killalpaninna, New Well, Mulka, Oorawillanie, Mungerannie, Blazes Well, Appatoongoonie, Cowarie, Kalamurina, Mitta Mitta, Mount Gason, (named after police trooper and later publican Samuel Gason) Minnie Downs, Karratunga, Alton Downs, Mays Hills, Clifton Hills, Pandie Pandie, Andrewilla, Diamantina and Birdsville.

Birdsville Hotel is a heritage-listed hotel at Burt Street, Birdsville, Shire of Diamantina, Queensland, Australia. It was built c.?1884. It was added to the Queensland Heritage Register on 21 October 1992. The singled-storeyed sandstone building was erected c.?1884 as the Birdsville Hotel, Birdsville, for publican William Blair. The earliest section of the Birdsville Hotel is likely to have been constructed in 1883 (possibly from stone quarried at a site about 16 kilometres from the town), as the first license for this hotel was issued to William Blair in that year. On the official Birdsville town survey plan of mid-1885, the building is marked as Wm Blair's hotel. On 24 February 1886, Blair purchased from the Crown, for £206, the allotment at the corner of Adelaide and Burt streets which contained the hotel. A month earlier he had bought for £12 the allotment at the rear, which contained a fenced yard and had frontages to Burt & Graham streets; also an unimproved allotment adjacent to this, fronting Graham Street, for £8. Each block comprised 2 roods.
Following Blair's death in 1898, title to all three blocks passed to Queensland Trustees (Charles H Morton was the licensee during this period), then to the Hayden family in 1912, the Gaffney family in 1918, and the Dixon family in 1947. The building continues to function as a hotel, and has become nationally famous. With its longevity, romantic remoteness, and as a focus for festivities associated with the annual Birdsville Races, the Birdsville Hotel has become an outback icon.

It is understood that in 1905 a storm destroyed all of the structures on the site other than those constructed in stone. In 1964 the southeast corner of the building collapsed, also as a result of the storm. This section was reconstructed c.?1990-91, although not to original detail. A fire destroyed the front bar, also in 1964; this has been rebuilt. The major changes to the building have been the replacement of the front verandah, additions to the northern end, and reconstruction of the southeast section. Internally, no original finishes appear to exist as the floors have been laid in slate, walls plastered and painted, and ceilings altered. The building however retains its essential character.
Birdsville had a population of over 300 at the turn of the twentieth century. It had three hotels, a cordial factory, blacksmith store, market gardens, police and customs facilities but after Federation in 1901, the tolls were abolished and the town fell into decline to about 50 people throughout the 1950s. Livestock trade kept the region alive and in recent times tourism has joined cattle as the major industry in the area.

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Reply By: Member - Tony H (touring oz) - Sunday, Jan 29, 2017 at 11:45

Sunday, Jan 29, 2017 at 11:45
Thanks Doug
Hope your all 'mended' now!
Insanity doesnt run in my family.... it gallops!

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Reply By: Member - Keith P (NSW) - Sunday, Jan 29, 2017 at 15:06

Sunday, Jan 29, 2017 at 15:06
AAHH...Its on my bucket list of places to see...
The bucket list is getting to be about 5 feet long....better start tickin' 'em off pretty soon.
A good write up as usual Doug.

Cheers Keith
Nothin is ever the same once I own it ...........

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Follow Up By: Life Member-Doug T NSW - Sunday, Jan 29, 2017 at 17:00

Sunday, Jan 29, 2017 at 17:00
Hi Keith
Here are some suggestions

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Reply By: Members Pa & Ma. - Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017 at 14:22

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017 at 14:22
Thank you for the information.
My grandmother was Emily Morton of the Morton family who owned that Pub.
She then married and moved out to Anandale with her husband working for Kidman.

Take care, safe travels. Ma.
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017 at 14:33

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017 at 14:33
Ma, you have links to real history.


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