History of the Burdekin

The first Ayr Post Office


Burdekin River discovered by Captain Wickham in H.M.S. Beagle, first called the Wickham River, changed to Burdekin by Leichhardt.


Portait of James Morrell

James Morrell

James Morrell was one of 14 crew members shipwrecked on the Great Barrier Reef on board the barque, the Peruvian. Cast ashore at Cleveland Bay 42 days after the wreck, he was the first European to inhabit the area, living with the Bindal people (a local Aboriginal tribe) for 17 years.


Lower Burdekin visited by Captain Sinclair and James Gordon from Bowen in the year of separation.


Great Land Grab occurred for land in the area north of Bowen. Jarvisfield Station was taken up by Robert Towns and Alexander Stewart, of Sydney, for the running of stock. Jarvisfield was much larger than that known by that name at the present time.


Burdekin’s most disastrous flood. The schooner “Three Friends” was carried down the river on to land nearby, later to be refloated after a trench had been dug and the river rose again.


Portrait of A.C. MacMillan

A.C. MacMillan

A.C MacMillan took up country on the Burdekin for the purpose of raising stock; one of the earliest settlers.


Burdekin Delta Sugar Co. formed by R.W. Graham and Macmillan.


John Spiller, founder of the sugar industry in Mackay, and Henry Brandon started Pioneer Estates, selling out in 1882 to Drysdale Brothers.


Township of Ayr surveyed by Mr E.W. Lymburner and was gazetted in 1882. Brandon gazetted soon after. It was named by Premier of Queensland, Sir Thomas McIllwraith, after his Scottish birthplace.

First shop erected by Benjamin Bros.


Township of Clare officially named Clare after being known by many other names such as “Mulgrave”, “Burdekin Crossing” or “Hamilton’s Crossing” in earlier years.

Pioneer Hotel opened in Brandon, the first hotel in the area. It was blown down 21 years later by Cyclone Leonta and rebuilt into houses.

First town blocks sold in Brandon.

Kalamia opened by Charles and John Young.


First Post Office was opened in Queen Street, Ayr followed by Police Station and Court House.

Airdmillan Sugar Mill began crushing the first sugar cane.


Seaforth Sugar Mill

Seaforth Sugar Mill

Seaforth, Kalamia and Pioneer Mills start crushing sugar cane.


Irrigation of sugar cane lands introduced by George Russell Drysdale.


First school established in Ayr.


Queens Hotel in Ayr

Queens Hotel in Ayr

Queen’s Hotel opened on Queen Street. It became the centre of district life.

Ayr Divisional Board inaugurated as first local authority with Charles Young as Chairman. Later became a Shire Council in 1903.


First newspaper published in the district called “The Ayr Chronicle”. The current Burdekin community newspaper is called “The Advocate”, printed twice a week on Wednesday and Friday.


Amalgamation of Seaforth and Kalamia mills effected by John Drysdale, then manager of Kalamia.


Ayr Tramway Joint Board formed by Townsville, Thuringowa and Ayr local authorities under the chairmanship of Joseph Hodel.


Ayr linked with Townsville by rail, the 44 miles from Stewart’s creek, or Ayr Junction, being laid in 10 months.

Population of the district was about 1500 and the town was 338.


“Cyclone Leonta” practically demolished the township of Ayr and Brandon; the towns were rebuilt.


Delta Iron Works

Delta Iron Works

The Delta Ironworks, formerly known as the A.J.Green Engineers, Metal Founders and Boilermakers, which had been a big asset to the township and district, was established by Mr A.J. Green.


Population of the Shire was 2300 and the township of Ayr was approximately 700.


Delta Theatre

Delta Theatre

The Delta Theatre officially opened with a bachelors’ ball. Next evening, The Amateur Theatrical Company, assisted by the Australian Natives Association from Townsville, staged the military comedy drama “All for Gold”.


The name for the township of “Home Hill” was adopted. It was first called “Inkerman”.


Home Hill settlement had begun with news that a mill would be erected.


Inkerman Bridge

Inkerman Bridge

The first railway bridge over the Burdekin river officially opened and was known as Inkerman Bridge. Ayr and Bowen now linked by rail.


Inkerman Sugar Mill

Inkerman Sugar Mill

Inkerman mill, erected by John Drysdale on the southern bank of the Burdekin, crushed for the first time.


Power House was constructed in Ayr, one of the first country towns to be electrically lighted.


Lower Burdekin District Hospital

Lower Burdekin District Hospital

Lower Burdekin District Hospital opened.


Inkerman irrigation Scheme opened by Premier, Mr E.G. Theodore.


First edition of Home Hill newspaper “The Observer” was printed.


Drysdale Clock in Ayr

Drysdale Clock in Ayr

Death of John Drysdale, memorial clock in his honour unveiled in 1930.


The streets of Brandon were illuminated for the first time by five or six street lights.

Comments are closed.