John Douglas purchased the property of Tooloombah in the Marlborough district of Central Queensland in 1860. This extract from my PhD thesis on Douglas provides the details as well as the background.
Queensland achieved separation from the colony of New South Wales on 10 December 1859, when the inaugural governor, Sir George Ferguson Bowen, was sworn in. The new colony included the Darling Downs district, which Douglas had represented in the New South Wales parliament. However Douglas did not initially seek office in Queensland, content to forge a political career in New South Wales while residing in Sydney. The first sitting of the new bicameral parliament in
took place on Brisbane 22 May 1860, comprising 26 members from 16 electoral districts in the legislative assembly and 15 members in the legislative council. Bowen’s private secretary, Robert George Wyndham Herbert, then aged just 28 and fresh from , was the colony’s first premier and colonial secretary. England
At the time of separation, the pastoral industry provided 71 per cent of the new colony’s revenue and 94 per cent of its export earnings. From 1860-67, following separation, the pastoral industry further expanded. The colony’s progress was due to this ongoing development, coupled with an initial economic boom based on rail and construction activity.
Queensland were conducted on similar lines to that of colonial parliaments elsewhere in , based on the principles and ideals of British liberalism. Because the squatters were the dominant group in the new colony, its parliament tended to be largely composed of property owners of different kinds, and “behind most of the major conflicts were issues concerning the dominance of special kinds of property.” Politics were parochial, with Governor Bowen remarking, “ministries are upset in Australia not so much on great principles of policy, but rather on the wrangles about the distribution of the general revenue among public works.” The inhabitants of Queensland, along with those in the other British colonies, believed they were duty bound to develop their country and environment in order to achieve economic progress, and this could best be expedited through large-scale immigration and railway-building directed towards more intensive land settlement. Australia
This opportunity drew Douglas to the new pastoral frontier in Queensland. The Darling Downs had been on the geographical periphery of
New South Wales, but following its inclusion in it was now at the heart of the new colony. Queensland Douglas sensed that there were future riches to be made in the colony’s northern districts and moved quickly, “hoping to push his fortune in the north.”
In July 1860, while still living in
Sydney, he purchased the property Tooloombah, north of Marlborough, in the Rockhampton district, as well as two adjacent runs, Dundee and Montrose. To pay for them he was obliged to enter into a mortgage agreement with the firm, Gilchrist, Watt & Co., for £5,000. Sydney
A. H. Campbell, one of
Douglas’s station hands at Talgai, supervised the droving of some 1,500 head of cattle from Talgai to Tooloombah in 1860. While Douglas was living in Sydney and contesting the election for the seat of , a cousin and close friend, David Armstrong and his wife Isabella, who was Mary Douglas’s sister, managed the property. They ran the property until May 1868, Camden Douglas considering Armstrong to be a steady, safe fellow, who was also “a fine man, full of fun.”
After resigning the seat of
Camden in July 1861, the Douglas family moved to Tooloombah, arriving in the district a month later. A reflective Douglas later conceded that:
If he had stayed on the
Never a hands-on squatter, he continued to leave the running of the property to Armstrong, and became involved in the social and political life of the burgeoning district. Rockhampton, the centre of the region, had been proclaimed a municipality only one year earlier. Governor Bowen, then on a tour of the colony, wrote of it as, “a small hamlet of wooden huts with scarcely five hundred inhabitants, who had recently settled down in the primeval wilderness.” Despite its small size and recent origin, Rockhampton was by 1861, “a stirring and lively township,” and one that “presented a busy scene, as many expeditions ... were daily starting north and west [from there] in search of country.” The district had boomed with the discovery of gold at Canoona in 1858, but although this field had been a duffer, a steady stream of pastoral speculators traversing the central and northern districts ensured Rockhampton’s continued growth and viability.
Douglas continued to purchase land, paying £30 for a block at the inaugural land sale in the new
. It is likely that this purchase was for speculation or investment purposes only, as he never subsequently lived or spent any time in Bowen. township of Bowen
The course of life was monotonous, unless a flood or a drought, or an election disturbed it. Public amusements there were none … there must have been a good deal of self-contained life in those days. In truth there could have been little room for anything else. Travelling was slow, sometimes difficult, mostly expensive, and in wet weather well nigh impossible.
I knew the district when the Archers first took up Gracemere. They were very interesting times and I was among the first out on Peak Downs. There was no payment of members then, and no railways, and no fenced in country. We rejoiced in our youth. It was a beautiful time, never to come back again.
It was no surprise, then, that by the end of 1861 Mary and John Douglas had left the district, taking up residence in
. While Brisbane Brisbane was very small compared to , having only 7,000 inhabitants in 1861, it was considerably larger than Rockhampton, which had a mere 800. By 1863, Sydney Douglas was known as “a retired squatter” despite being only 35 and still owning Tooloombah. Nevertheless, he continued to take a keen interest in the district and nominated to contest the parliamentary election for the seat of Port Curtis when it fell vacant in April 1863.
The panic of 1866, the influence of which was felt in
Douglas had the misfortune to be one of those “largely” in debt and holding an “outside station.” In 1867, he was forced to transfer the Tooloombah property to Gilchrist Watt & Co, who financed the purchase of the property by Fred and Owen Beardmore the following year. However, the sale of the property did not fully clear
were all speculators, more or less, but in every instance their souls were not bound up in their breeches pockets. There were some persons who had higher ideas than that of merely making money - who desired at the same time to benefit the country in which they lived.
Ross Fitzgerald (1982), A History of
: From the Dreaming to 1915. Brisbane, University of Queensland Press, p. 112 Queensland
 Fitzgerald, p. 112; Our First Half-Century: A Review of
Progress Based upon Official Information, p. 164. Queensland
 Fitzgerald, p. 113; Our First Half-Century: A Review of
Progress Based upon Official Information, p. 164 Queensland
 In 1861, the European population of
was only 30,059 people, comprising 27,133 in the south, 2,840 in the centre, and 86 in the north. (Glen Lewis. A History of the Ports of Queensland : A Study in Economic Nationalism. Brisbane, Queensland Press, 1973, p. 282) University of Queensland
 There had been a gold strike at Canoona, north of Rockhampton, in 1858, but it soon petered out. (Lorna McDonald. “The Rockhampton Delusion: a Brief History of the Canoona Rush.” Queensland Heritage vol 3 no 10, May 1970, pp. 28-35)
 Agriculture was insignificant, with only 3,353 acres under cultivation in 1860. (Fitzgerald, p. 126; Our First Half-Century: A Review of Queensland Progress Based Upon Official Information, p. 16)
 Noel Loos. Frontier Conflict in the Bowen District, 1861-1874. MA thesis.
James Cook University of North , 1970, p. 69; Lewis, pp. 25 & 28 Queensland
 Ibid., p. 30.
was the only Australian colony to begin with two houses of parliament. (Fitzgerald, p. 113) Queensland
 A. A. Morrison. “Colonial Society 1860-1890.” Queensland Heritage no 1, 1966, p. 21, quoted in Lewis, p. 30
 Lewis, p. 31
 As early as May 1859 Douglas had expressed interest in leasing property in the Leichardt district, situated in present day north
. However, he does not appear to have actually leased any runs in this district. (Letter from John Douglas, Queensland 17 May 1859. W. H. Wiseman Letterbook, Archives, PRV/7208, Microfilm Z 316 ) Queensland State
Downs Elections.” Examiner and Times, Warwick 6 March 1875, p. 2
 Mason, p. 48; Lorna McDonald. A History of the Beef Cattle Industry in the Fitzroy Region of
Central Queensland, 1850s-1970s. Brisbane, University of , 1985, pp. 156-57; “Runs Held by Members of Both Houses of Parliament.” Journals of the Queensland Legislative Council, Session 2 of 1867-68, vol 11, p. 1046; Queensland Government Gazette, no 64, 20 October 1860, p. 367. Tooloombah was also known as Langdale. John Peter Campbell, an early speculator in pastoral runs, had taken up a number of leasehold blocks in the area in 1855 and applied for the land known as Tooloombah in July 1855. This property originally consisted of four separate pastoral runs, Panuco, Tivola, Borenia and Tooloombah. The licence was granted on Queensland 21 September 1859 and each run was twenty-five square miles (6,475.2 hectares) in area, a total of 100 square miles or 259 square kilometres. Tooloombah was transferred early in 1860 to J. A. Newman, who transferred it to A. P. Raymond and J. Cameron later that year. Dundee and Montrose had their licences granted on 17 October 1859. Douglas paid a combined rent of £60 per annum and an annual assessment fee of £20 for each run, £180 in total. (“Runs Held by Members of Both Houses of Parliament.” Journals of the Queensland Legislative Council, Session 2 of 1867-68, vol 2, p. 1046)
 Mortgages no 78. Book 1,
Archives, SCT/CD I. The mortgage was secured over 1,900 head of cattle and fifteen stock horses Queensland State
 Bird, pp. 176-77.
Campbell spent six months working for Douglas at Tooloombah before working for the Archer Brothers. There appear to be inconsistencies in Bird’s account. He states that Campbell, who later became the North Rockhampton Town Clerk, left Tooloombah after Douglas sold the property to O. C. J. Beardmore in late 1860. However, although Douglas sold the property to Charles and Frederick Beardmore, the final transaction took place in May 1868. (Mortgages, Book VII, no 176. Archives SCT/CD I.) Bird also states that Queensland State Campbell delivered the cattle to Tooloombah in late May 1860 whereas Douglas only purchased the property in July of that year.
 Mason, p. 45; John Douglas to Edward Douglas,
27 July 1898. Andrew and Lorraine Douglas Papers; McDonald (1985), p. 157. Douglas was related, for Armstrong’s father was Douglas’s mother’s uncle. Before managing the property in 1860, Armstrong and his wife Isabella, who were married in Wollongong in 1856 (New South Wales Marriage Certificate no 2183/1856) were living on a dairy farm in the Illawarra and prior to that were living on the Murrumbidgee, both in New South Wales. Isabella Armstrong (nee Simpson) was Mary Douglas’s younger sister. After working for Douglas at Tooloombah, the family settled in Maryborough where Armstrong managed a sugar estate before being appointed to inspector of distilleries and later returned to his native Scotland before returning to where he died in 1884. (John Douglas to Edward Douglas, 27 July 1898, Andrew and Lorraine Douglas Papers.) Tooloombah was not the only property Douglas purchased in central Brisbane Queensland for he is recorded as transferring his leases for the , Llandilo, Llangollen, Killaney and The Lagoons runs in the Leichhardt district to Hood and Manning in 1860. (Transfer of Runs. Queensland Government Gazette, vol 2, no 28, Mount Pleasant 20 April 1861, p. 224.) These holdings and the speed and manner in which they were transferred were most unusual. Douglas and Hood purchased them from Charles James Clarke of Gayndah after 1 July 1860. Before the year was out they had then been transferred to Douglas who shortly afterwards transferred them to Hood and Manning. (See Queensland State Archives CLO/N1-3, Register of Runs-Leichardt District, 24340, in particular nos. 60/1168, 60/1566 and 60/3004.) Why these complicated arrangements and transfers took place is unknown, as the then prevailing New South Wales Land Act placed no restriction on the acquiring of properties outside of the settled districts of the Colony. Neither did the first Queensland land legislation, the Unoccupied Crown Lands Occupation Act, which replaced the legislative land arrangements and was assented to on New South Wales 18 September 1860. (Bernays, p. 308.) Douglas also purchased 45 acres in the parish of Allora, between Toowoomba and Warwick, for £45 on 5 March 1860. (Queensland State Archives, 47/1, vol 1. Deed of Grant 595 of 1860; Government Gazette, no 79, Queensland 29 December 1860, p. 539)
 Mason, p. 46
 “Mr. Douglas at Drayton.” Darling
Downs Gazette and General Advertiser, 26 September 1883
Douglas was on the inaugural committee of the Rockhampton School of Arts. (Bird, p. 34; “ .” Rockhampton Bulletin and Central Queensland Advertiser, School of Arts 27 July 1861; “Inauguration of the .” Rockhampton Bulletin and School of Arts Central Queensland Advertiser, 25 February 1865)
 Stanley Lane-Poole, ed. Thirty Years of Colonial Government: A Selection from the Despatches and Letters of the Right Honourable Sir George
Bowen, K.C.M.G. Ferguson , Longmans Green. 1889. Vol 1, p. 240 London
 De Satge, p. 138
 Mason, p. 46
Port Denison Land .” Rockhampton Bulletin and Sale Central Queensland Advertiser, 26 October 1861, p. 3
 Pugh, Theophilus P. Pugh’s Queensland Almanac.
, 1863, p. 197. The post-office was first established at Marlborough Station in 1861. (Pugh’s Almanac, 1862, p. 126) Brisbane
 William Coote. History of the Colony of
from 1770 to the Close of the Year 1881. Brisbane, William Thorne, 1882, pp. 234-35. For a good account of the isolation and hardships encountered by these early settlers, see Henry Ling Roth. The Discovery and Settlement of Port Queensland : With Numerous Illustrations, Charts and Maps, and Some Notes on the Natural History of the District. Mackay, Queensland , F. King & Sons, 1908, pp. 62-65 and John Kerr. “Rediscovered Route of the Mackay Expedition, 1860.” Royal Historical Society of Queensland Journal vol 11 no 1, 1979-80, pp. 70-88 Halifax, England
 John Douglas to Edward Douglas,
28 September 1897. Douglas Papers. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, OM 89-3/B/2(a)/15
 Eve Douglas, p. 7;
Post Office Directory, 1868 &1874. Their house was on the corner of Wickham Terrace and Queensland
 Frederick A. Algar. A Handbook to
. Queensland , 1861, p. 13 London
 “Preliminary Meeting of the Port Curtis Electorate.” Rockhampton Bulletin and
Central Queensland Advertiser, 19 April 1863
 Eve Douglas, p. 7
 Mortgages no 78, Book I,
Archives, SCT/CD I. According to the Tooloombah Cattle Books, the number of cattle on the property at the end of each year was; 1860, 1,702; 1861, 2,407; 1862, 3,996; 1863, 3,539; 1864, 4,461; 1865, 5,147; 1866, 6,242; 1867, 6,238. Queensland State
 De Satge, p. 203
 He was not alone, with James Taylor, a squatter of thirty years experience and the member for Western Downs, informing parliament in early 1868, “Ninety-nine out of every hundred squatters in
were insolvent.” (Mr. Taylor. “Pastoral Tenancy Bill.” Queensland Parliamentary Debates, vol 6, 1868, p. 1018 Queensland
 Queensland Government Gazette vol 8, no 81,
5 October 1867, p. 900
 McDonald (1985), p. 157. The final payment to
Douglas took place in May 1868. (Mortgages. Book 7, no 176. Archives) Queensland State
 Estate of Hon. John Douglas no 818.
Archives. Despite selling the property, he still owed money on it. Queensland State
 “Mr. Douglas at the Town Hall.”
Courier, Brisbane 23 September 1868, p. 2
 Mr Douglas. “Claim of the Hon. Louis Hope.“ Queensland Parliamentary Debates, vol 2, 1865, p. 596