The SANDS OF TIME Collection – 27. The Etheridge

27. The Etheridge
Richard Daintree, John McKinlay & John Graham MacDonald — 1020 x 760 mm
© Robert Morgan

Geologist and Photographer

Richard Daintree was born on 13 December 1832 at Hemingford Abbots, Huntingdonshire, England.  Daintree as a geologist contributed greatly to opening up the mineral resources of North Queensland.  But for Daintree’s pioneering work, the gold resources of this area would probably not have been developed so early.  His discoveries apart from gold, also included copper and coal deposits.  Daintree had a great passion and flair for photography.  He has left us with a superb collection of historical photographs that present a vivid picture of early settlement in Queensland.

Daintree’s task in life was to promote Queensland and further its settlement and prosperity.  In his work as a geologist, photographer, propagandist and immigration official he contributed immensely to doing just this.  At the 1871 Exhibition of Art and Industry in London, Daintree’s collection of photographs and geological specimens formed the mainstay of Queensland’s contribution, and he was sent to England as commissioner in charge of this display, although much of it was lost when the ship carrying Daintree and his family was wrecked.

Afterwards in England he was given the task of stimulating assisted immigration to Queensland.  Although personally hardworking and honest, it was later revealed that his clerks engaged in various malpractices.  The offenders were dismissed and Daintree, whose health had deteriorated, resigned in 1876.  Daintree succumbed to tuberculosis and other ailments at Beckenham, Kent, on 20 June 1878, soon after his appointment as C.M.G., and was survived by his wife,  Lettice Agnes, two sons and six daughters.

JOHN McKINLAY (1819-1872)

John McKinlay was born on 26 August 1819 at Sandbank on Holy Loch, Argyllshire, Scotland.  Educated at Dalinlongart School, he migrated to New South Wales with his brother Alexander in 1836.  In August 1861 McKinlay was chosen by the House of Assembly to lead the South Australian Burke Relief Expedition, and during it discovered much new pastoral land.  His party was the second to cross the continent from south to north and, like J. M. Stuart, he never lost any of his men although they suffered great hardships.  He did much to open up the settlement of the Northern Territory, selecting suitable sites for settlement and landholders.  He revisited the Northern Territory in 1870 to select sites for holders of land orders and then offered to survey the route for the overland telegraph from Darwin but his terms were rejected by the government.

In 1865 McKinlay was chosen to lead an expedition to determine a better site for settlement than Adam Bay in the Northern Territory. He sailed from Port Adelaide in September and arrived at the bay in November. He denounced it as worthless for a port and city, and went in search of better country. He found patches of good country south-east of the Adelaide River.  Between his explorations McKinlay continued to take up new runs. On 17 January 1863 at St George’s Church, Gawler, he married Jane Pile. Worn out by hardships he died on 31 December 1872 and was buried at Willaston cemetery with a very large funeral.


MacDonald was born in NSW in 1834, later becoming a farmer and grazier near Geelong.  His elder brother also schooled him in basic surveying during the Geelong years.  A man of many careers, MacDonald was an irrepressible entrepreneur, an adventurer.  As an explorer, a pioneer pastoralist, a forward looking businessman, a parliamentary candidate, a magistrate and a Gold Commissioner, MacDonald’s name was known throughout Queensland and to most residents of the far north.  His enterprises had a huge impact on the Gulf country.  He did well there, became a Justice of the Peace and took a prominent part in local affairs.  Being an ambitious young man, he looked at the opportunities opening up to the north of NSW.  Queensland was about to become a separate colony.

MacDonald joined an expedition 1861, to assist Dalrymple, who was employed to explore the Burdekin Valley.  On 11 August 1864, he led the party of three to explore the Albert and Gregory Rivers.

Upon the failure of his pastoral enterprises, MacDonald took up with the public service in 1872 and making a new career.  In that year he became Gold Commissioner at Gilberton on the Etheridge Gold Field, and then was appointed a Police Magistrate, first at Charters Towers, then Springsure, Bowen, Townsville and Warwick.  His last appointment was to south Brisbane in 1904 and from that position he went into retirement in 1905.  He died in 1918 aged 84 years, a remarkable man who made a remarkable contribution to Australia.

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