Sunday History Photo / Person

Submitted: Sunday, Mar 18, 2012 at 09:15
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The old Camooweal Road, known as Smith’s Highway winds from Cloncurry through the Argylla Ranges towards Mount Isa. Beside the road, just before it crosses a small creek, a tributary of the East Leichhardt River, on a small rise beneath a big bloodwood tree, lies a tiny grave.
This little grave has a wrought iron fence, over which every year a wild ivy plant climbs and twines among the railings. The white engraved headstone reads:

“Sacred to the memory of Elsie Grace Campbell,
Who Departed This Life 5 May 1914.”
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Nearby in the creek is a lovely clear spring.The grave at this place Charley Creek has always been a source of interest and inquiry to ‘passers-by’ who wonder what happened there, all those years ago.
There is much sadness and much courage in the following story of this little child’s grave, as recalled by family members who lived those times and cared very much.
The baby was the daughter of Lizzie and Arthur Campbell who had taken up much of the unoccupied grazing land between Devoncourt Station and Calton Hills in 1908. The property covered about 800 square miles. In 1911 Arthur Campbell moved his family with four young children out by the spring in a creek, to the area now known as Old Glencoe, and there set up their homestead.
On 8 January 1913 Elsie Grace Campbell, known as “Chubby” was born in Cloncurry, as were all the Campbell’s eventual family of nine children.
In May 1914 the eldest child, Jack, was eight years old, Ethel 6, Colin 5, and Hobart (Margaret) then a toddler. Chubby, the then baby was 16 months old.
In late April 1914 the family visited Cloncurry, and there the children contracted whooping cough. Colin and Chubby were particularly ill, and the baby was treated in Cloncurry by Sophia Elliott. She was then discharged as well again by Dr McLennon.
Arthur Campbell packed his family into their buggy and set off homewards. His route followed the old wagon road connecting Cloncurry and Camooweal, which had overnight and change stops at Wonga, Marrabah and Trafalgar Springs where there was a hotel, through Argylla and the West Leichhardt and on towards Camooweal. The route passed within about seven miles of the Glencoe homestead. The family stopped overnight at Marrabah, at the old hotel run by the Webb family. The baby seemed unwell.
The next night they stayed at Trafalgar Springs where the two children again became ill. Mrs Campbell was there, helped by Mrs Jones whose family ran that hotel. The two women stayed up all night caring for the children, and they seemed improved by morning. The family then set off for the last thirty miles of the long homeward journey to Glencoe.
The baby’s condition worsened during the day, and on arrival at Glencoe, Arthur rushed to get the fire lit and water heated to treat Chubby, but all efforts were to no avail. The little one died in her mother’s arms as she sat nursing her in the doorway of their home. She died of whooping cough, with complications of pneumonia, on the day of 5 May 1914.
Arthur Campbell got fresh horses, and rode next day to West Leichhardt Telegraph Station, seventeen miles to the north west. He was unable to get through on the line and next day rode across again, and made the connection to Cloncurry to get permission to bury the baby. This was obtained, and the little grave was dug beneath the big shady bloodwood on the banks of the creek.

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Meanwhile a blacksmith named Charlie Leonard who worked the “King Solomon” mine about three miles away, had fashioned a small coffin from dynamite boxes and lined it carefully with tin. Dave O’Grady helped. He walked across the three miles carrying it, and he and another miner named Clay, helped Arthur Campbell who carried his little one in the tiny coffin on his shoulder up the rise to lay her to rest. The mother kept the little group of children some distance back. It was a very sad day indeed.
It is thought to be Mrs Clay who later planted the ivy vine on the grave. This plant has never died in over eighty years. A kurrajong was also planted at the foot of the grave and gave shade for many years.
The next day, the children now all being ill, Arthur took his wife and children across by buggy to meet the Camooweal coach which was returning from Camooweal about 130 miles to the west. They met the coach at Argylla and the camp that night was at Wonga where they slept in swags. A family named Honan's had the mail change at Argylla. When the coach reached the Federal Mine the next day there was a motor vehicle waiting for Lizzie and her children. Arthur had returned to West Leichhardt Telegraph Station and contacted a man named McGilvray who also owned a motor vehicle. He drove out from Cloncurry along the rough buggy tracks 25 miles to meet the coach, and bring the family in to town.
When they arrived in Cloncurry the hospital was full, as there was by then an epidemic in the town, so the family stayed at the Strovers Hotel where they were nursed back to health by the kindness and assistance of Sophia Elliott.
Later the headstone and fence for the baby’s grave were ordered from Townsville. They came by train and then by wagon to the Wee McGregor Mine and were then brought over from the Wee McGregor Mine on camels by an old Afghan camel man named Muldoon. The headstone was packed flat in a box and the railings tied in bundles on each side of a camel, and Muldoon laid his camels down just beside the grave to take them carefully off.
Over the years four more children were born and life continued at Old Glencoe until 1925 when Arthur and Lizzie moved their family of eight children over closer to the newly begun mining township of Mount Isa, closer to medical help and schooling for the children

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The above photo's show the crossing of Charley Creek, then another 100m the track bends around and the grave is on the left, in the bottom photo can be seen the headstone through the trees. I have not been back to the site since I left Mt Isa in 2006 .

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Reply By: David & Kerry W - Sunday, Mar 18, 2012 at 10:02

Sunday, Mar 18, 2012 at 10:02
Great post Doug.

Know some of that country well, grew up in Mount Isa. The blacksmith you mention Charlie Leonard was a mate of my Dad's. I knew him too during my apprenticeship - he was a great jovial old man when I knew him. Interestingly he still holds, as far as I know, the rcord for the longest employed employee of MIM - over 50 years. He used to make shark hooks for us to fish at Kurumba.

Thanks for that, great country, great story regarding great paople.

Cheers, David
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Reply By: Member - Tony H (touring oz) - Sunday, Mar 18, 2012 at 12:29

Sunday, Mar 18, 2012 at 12:29
Thank you so much....another great story.

Did you sleep in this morning??
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Follow Up By: Member - Doug T (NT) - Sunday, Mar 18, 2012 at 12:36

Sunday, Mar 18, 2012 at 12:36
Like a log mate.

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Follow Up By: Crazy Dog - Sunday, Mar 18, 2012 at 16:11

Sunday, Mar 18, 2012 at 16:11
That Doug my friend would be the best one yet.

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Reply By: Member - Doug T (NT) - Sunday, Mar 18, 2012 at 16:30

Sunday, Mar 18, 2012 at 16:30
I'm always in touch with a previous owner of Mt Bundy, Bill Ross of Murgon, Qld, he owned it from early 50's to 1967, he told me he went to Brisbane and bought an Austin Truck and drove it back to Mt Bundy, He would have travelled on the Old Mt Isa-Cloncurry road in the truck pictured below, as did all the Redex Trial cars go speeding past Elsies Grave.

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Reply By: Member - Tony H (touring oz) - Sunday, Mar 18, 2012 at 17:25

Sunday, Mar 18, 2012 at 17:25
Not trying to ruin your Sunday,
but i just read your tribute to Dusty.....say no more
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Reply By: Nomad Navara - Sunday, Mar 18, 2012 at 20:18

Sunday, Mar 18, 2012 at 20:18
Always a great story Doug, please keep them coming,they are well respected, Thank You.
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Reply By: Member - Joe n Mel n kids (FNQ - Sunday, Mar 18, 2012 at 23:32

Sunday, Mar 18, 2012 at 23:32
Hi Doug, can you give me the gps fix on the site, i would love to take the kids there to see it soon, we are planning a trip in as soon as the raods dry out and will visit it..
Cheers and well done again..
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Reply By: Member - Dunworkin (WA) - Monday, Mar 19, 2012 at 00:01

Monday, Mar 19, 2012 at 00:01
Such a sad story Doug but very typical of those times. We have come across many graves of such a nature through our bush travels and each one touches my heart strings. Thanks for the great post.



Simba, our much missed baby.

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