04 January 2012

Farming in the Macleay region

I was out at State Records again this week. I looked up a whole lot more probate, deceased estate and primary application (a land ownership process, by which owners could convert land granted before 1863 to the new land title system) records.

One of the probate packets I looked at was for Thomas Wickham, who I have previously written about here - going to the Macleay region, rather than the Mackay region which I originally thought.

I found out what he was most likely doing in the Macleay region when I was at State Records, from looking at the probate packet: he was farming. He, unbeknownst to my living family, had two bits of land up there, one part way between the NSW towns of Gladstone and Belmore River, of 44 acres, and the other, less than 10kms away, near Kinchela, of 75 acres. I've managed to find both of them on original parish maps, using maps from the Parish Map Preservation Project of the Department of Lands. The thing is, as a bit of a novice at this type of thing, I'm now not sure whether there is any more I can find out - I'd be hoping that there might be original purchase documents and that sort of thing, but I don't know whether they would still exist... Can anyone help?

Searching through historical newspapers on Trove I found that it is likely that Thomas Wickham was a sugarcane farmer - though I don't know whether the articles referred to Thomas Wickham junior or senior (as both lived in the area). I was quite surprised at this - I didn't realise that sugarcane was farmed that far south on the east coast of Australia - I would have thought Queensland was more the domain of the sugarcane industry.

In the historical newspapers I also found a long listing for title deeds, ready for delivery from the Surveyor General's department, including part of Thomas' 44 acre property - "2057 Thomas Wickham, Kinchela, 22 acres 3 roods, portion 27", from The Empire newspaper, 21 May 1860. I can't find any notices for the other bits of property Thomas owned.

A number of Thomas Wickham's sons lived in the Macleay River region, but I am not sure who moved to the region first from the family. According to a notice in the paper about his death, Thomas Wickham jnr lived at "Belmore River" and I think that this may have been Thomas Wickham snr's 44 acre property, which he would therefore have taken over from his father.


  1. Prue, Lands records in NSW are not my "thing" but if u r in Sydney I'd try the Lands Dept office nr St Mary's Cathedral. I think you'd be able to find out more there with their historical docs but the system is a bit convoluted. Carole Riley also does searches for a fee if that is more suitable...it's what I had to do as I didn't know enough bat the system and my time was limited. Hope this helps.

  2. Convoluted is the word. Their website is mystifying. I've been asking questions of Carole on one of her blogs. Thanks for the tips Pauleen. : )

  3. They still do farm sugar cane on the north coast of NSW. They were burning some of it when we passed through last June/July.