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Mount Abundance Homestead

  • 600371
  • Warrego Highway, Roma

General

Classification
State Heritage
Register status
Entered
Date entered
21 October 1992
Type
Pastoralism: Homestead
Themes
2.3 Exploiting, utilising and transforming the land: Pastoral activities
2.4 Exploiting, utilising and transforming the land: Agricultural activities
2.7 Exploiting, utilising and transforming the land: Experimenting, developing technologies and innovation
6.4 Building settlements, towns, cities and dwellings: Dwellings
Construction periods
1860–1923, Mount Abundance Homestead (1860c - 1923)
1860–1923, Mount Abundance Homestead - Homestead - main residence (1860c - 1923)
1860–1923, Mount Abundance Homestead - Kitchen (1860c - 1923)
Historical period
1840s–1860s Mid-19th century

Location

Address
Warrego Highway, Roma
LGA
Maranoa Regional Council
Coordinates
-26.599074, 148.703435

Map

Street view

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Significance

Criterion AThe place is important in demonstrating the evolution or pattern of Queensland’s history.

Mt Abundance Homestead provides rare surviving evidence of the pastoral development of western Queensland from the 1850s.

The resumption of Mt Abundance during the 1920s, and the subsequent division into smaller farming properties and re-settlement during the 1930s, is important in demonstrating the pattern of land use and occupancy in rural Queensland during the early 20th century.

Criterion BThe place demonstrates rare, uncommon or endangered aspects of Queensland’s cultural heritage.

Mt Abundance Homestead provides rare surviving evidence of the pastoral development of western Queensland from the 1850s.

Criterion CThe place has potential to yield information that will contribute to an understanding of Queensland’s history.

The place has the potential to provide archaeological evidence of building construction techniques from the mid-19th century and of the formerly extensive pastoral station complex, of which only the homestead and attached quarters are known to be extant.

Criterion DThe place is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a particular class of cultural places.

(Criterion under review)

Criterion HThe place has a special association with the life or work of a particular person, group or organisation of importance in Queensland’s history.

The Scottish Australian Investment Company, which played an important role in the development of the pastoral industry in Queensland during the latter part of the 19th century, established the reputation of Mt Abundance as a fine grazing property and the association of this company with the property is of importance.

History

This single storeyed timber homestead was built c1860 for Stephen Spencer, a squatter from New South Wales who arrived in Queensland in 1857.

The Mt Abundance run was taken up in 1847 by Allan MacPherson, a young squatter from New South Wales. MacPherson had come to Queensland seeking new pastures, and had followed the route of Sir Thomas Mitchell into the Mt Abundance area. Mitchell had named Mt Abundance in 1846 during his expedition to find a route from New South Wales to the Gulf of Carpentaria. Following constant conflicts with local Aboriginies, MacPherson decided Mt Abundance was a dangerous place and in late 1849, MacPherson withdrew his sheep from Mt Abundance, leaving it as a cattle station, and returned to England. In 1856 MacPherson briefly visited Australia at which time he disposed of his pastoral interests, including the sale of Mt Abundance to Stephen Spencer.

Spencer and his family are considered to have been the first European family to settle in the area. It is recorded that when they arrived at the station, it was found to be run down, and the buildings damaged by fire. Rough huts provided temporary quarters until Spencer built a new homestead, and Mt Abundance station is described as the focal point for the district during this period. Spencer ran a supply store, and the station formed a depot for European explorers heading into the western districts. A post office was opened at the homestead in September 1861. AC Gregory arrived at Mt Abundance in 1862, and selected a locality for the township which become known as Roma, proclaimed in September that year. The post office at Mt Abundance homestead closed at the end of 1863 when the Roma post office opened.

A stone causeway over Bungeworgorai Creek is believed to be contemporary with the development of Mt Abundance, however little is known about the stonework.

The Spencers are recorded as being interested in agriculture and horticulture, growing the first wheat in the district, and experimenting with grape vines, fig, peach and apricot trees.

By late 1868, Spencer was heavily in debt and in 1869 the Government auctioned the freehold of 175 acres of land on which the Homestead and other associated buildings of Mt Abundance Station were erected. The land was purchased by Robert Morehead and Matthew Young of Sydney, who represented the Scottish Australian Investment Company. The stock was auctioned early in 1870, and was also bought by Morehead and Young.

The Scottish Australian Investment Company was active in investing in pastoral property in Queensland between 1860-1890. The Company had been founded in Scotland, encouraged by reports from Scottish settlers in Australia, and was established with two main purposes: acquisition of land largely for grazing and agricultural pursuits; and granting loans or advances on property mortgages. Despite this two-fold purpose, in its first twenty years in Australia it was primarily a loan and mortgage company. During the early 1860s through the persistence of Robert Morehead as its Australian manager, the Company entered into pastoral activity and acquired property in Central/Western Queensland (Bowen Downs) and in the Gulf Country. During the 1860s, the Company made a number of loans to Queensland graziers, including Mt Abundance.

An article in 1875 recounted that when the Company took possession of Mt Abundance, The "improvements" consisted of only a wretched homestead, and suggested that He [Spencer] was contented to live in his bark-covered buildings till they were old, and dilapidated. It is possible therefore, although not actually stated in the same article, that the Company may have erected a new homestead on the property in the late 1860s. Documentary evidence to confirm this has not been available.

By the mid 1870s, Mt Abundance station was described as one of the largest establishments in the Maranoa and considered to be one of the best grazing properties in Western Queensland. The Head Station comprised a Homestead (occupied by the Manager), sub-Manager's residence, office, store, residences for the storekeeper and bookkeeper, mens' quarters, workshops, two large receiving stores and 7 acres of garden. Stock returns for 1875 indicate that Mt Abundance was run in conjunction with Nive Downs, a property north of Charleville which had also been acquired by the Company. The woolshed to the southwest of the homestead was reputed to be one of the largest in Queensland in the early 1880s. Photographic evidence indicates that the shingle roof of the homestead was clad with iron between 1890 and 1895.

Mt Abundance station was resumed by the government in 1923, being regarded as offering the best prospect for successful closer settlement. The main purpose of the resumption was the subdivision of land for the combined raising of wheat and sheep, and to extend agricultural settlement into the western districts. The land was made available for selection in 1927, and the Mt Abundance Homestead block comprising 2018 acres was selected by Ernest Martyn. Following the death of E Martyn, the property passed to his son PJ Martyn, who died in 1993. The property was further subdivided in the late 1970s, and presently comprises an area of just under 500 hectares. Of the former complex of buildings, only the homestead and quarters to the rear of the building are extant.

Description

Mount Abundance Homestead, consisting of house and attached quarters, is located approximately 5km west of Roma and 1km south of the main road to Charleville. It is sited on high ground on the southern bank of Bungeworgorai Creek. The approach is via a stone causeway which crosses the creek.

The main house is a single storey structure of three main rooms facing north with a wide verandah on three sides and services rooms on the south side. Part of the verandah has been closed in creating additional rooms. The north side and the portion of the west side which remain open feature a decorative timber valance. The main roof is a moderately pitched hip which reduces in pitch at the verandah line.

The foundations are a system of load bearing bed logs that support floor joists and tongue and groove timber floors. Damage to the foundations has caused the western end of the house to subside. The wall construction is a timber frame with chamferboards to the external walls. The interior walls and ceilings are constructed from tongue and grooved boards which are finished in a dark stained varnish. Two of the main rooms have masonry fireplaces with brick and stone chimneys. Six sets of french doors open out from the main rooms onto the north side verandah. One of these has been altered to create a window.

The roof is clad in corrugated galvanised iron laid over the original timber shingle roof and cantilevered beyond the earlier roof line. The cantilever section is supported by decorative brackets off the timber verandah posts.

The main house connects via a covered way to a single storeyed structure set on low timber stumps which housed quarters and a kitchen. Located to the south of the house, this building has exposed timber frame construction, timber cladding and a steep corrugated galvanised iron gabled roof with skillion additions.

Little remains of the original fencing but original steps and mounting stones can be seen. Forming the front entrance to the homestead are the original stone gate posts and iron gates. This entrance, which has been relocated, is flanked by large bottle trees.

Image gallery

Location

Location of Mount Abundance Homestead within Queensland
Licence
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last updated
20 January 2016
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