A Journey Around my Great Great Grandparents, George and Janet MacGillivray
By Lorraine and Rob Ratcliffe
I loved and greatly admired my grandmother Constance Georgina MacGillivray
(1882-1962) our Nancy, and wanted to visit the location of her birth and
youth, Cloncurry, Queensland.
Two years ago we flew to Mt Isa to hire a car for the purpose. While there
we did the tourist walk which included a replica underground mine. We emerged from the shaft to change from our miner’s overalls and found a photo from early last century of Douglas MacGillivray, Nancy’s brother one of the three founders of Mt Isa Mines. Nancy was born on her father’s property “Leilavale” east of Cloncurry.
Prior to our visit we had contacted the present owners of the former MacGillivray properties “Leilavale” and the adjacent “Eddington Station” and were invited to visit. The two properties are much smaller now than the original leaseholds and the only remnant of the MacGillivrays we could find were stone foundations of a house and Cobb and Co change station at “Leilavale”. But that was where Nancy was born and we were elated.
At Cloncurry we saw where Nancy had lived, we walked along MacGillivray Street and visited the graves of Nancy’s parents Alexander and Catherine ne Cocks and those of her three brothers. We returned home well satisfied and in admiration of those brave early settlers of our outback, George and Janet and we decided to trace their footprints in Australia.
Our odyssey began at Portland, Victoria where they arrived as assisted migrants on the “John Davies” in 1852. The harbour on our visit was dominated by an enormous floating oil rig being serviced. We pictured the diminutive sailing ship at anchor, the women and children corralled on shore as land owners went out to the ship to select labourers for their properties. George was contracted to Henry Munro of “Crawford” near Branxholme for a year at five pounds plus rations.
We imagined Janet and George walking the 30 miles of track to “Crawford”. Our next stop was Mr. Munro’s property, now running sheep and cattle with a significant vineyard producing wine for export to Europe. It was here their first son, Alexander; my great grandfather was born in 1853. We saw original stone foundations of the now magnificent home that may have been laid by George who though employed as a shepherd had trained in Edinburgh as a stonemason. After a pleasant wine tasting we were off to Buninyong where their first daughter Henrietta was born at nearby Hiscocks Gully in1856 where George tried his luck at gold mining.
Buninyong is a fine town of old conserved and tasteful modern buildings that has become a dormitory suburb for Ballarat. We read in George’s obituary that his prospecting was largely unsuccessful and from Ballarat they moved to “Kamarooka” probably via the diggings at Eddington (near Bendigo).
At “Kamarooka Station” of 60,000 acres carrying 20,000 sheep on Picaninny Creek near Heathcote George was an overseer. Here their second daughter Georgina Margare was born in 1860 and died 9 months later. While searching unsuccessfully for a grave site on our way to “Kamarooka” we met a grand nephew of Hugh Mackay who invented the famous Sunshine harvester on the property where the nephew now lives. At “Kamarooka” the present owner has lovingly restored both the homestead (which post-dates George) and the 1857 shearing shed of 20 stands for hand shearing and we were invited to inspect them. The owner now runs a herd of Highland cattle. Our next destination in pursuit of George and Janet would be Tilpa on the Darling River.
Constance Georgina Boulton (nee MacGillivray)
1882 – 1962