This article was first published in The Border and Beyond – Camooweal 1884-1984 by Mrs Ada Miller (nee Freckleton).
It is reproduced here with the consent of Mrs Miller.
The Camooweal district has produced some fine sons and daughters whose achievements are many and varied, indicating that the hardships borne by the pioneering forebears were not in vain.
Beaumont, Clanchy, Lewis, Miller, Pedwell, Watson, Saltmere, Hooker, Fernie and Cunningham men have given their lives to the pastoral industry as drovers, stockmen, managers and engineers of remarkable ability – all working on the Barkly Tableland.
One of the Bridson boys, James, born at Camooweal (a member of the family who provided some of the first students for the very first school) ‘copped’ a bullet almost as soon as he arrived at the front in World War I, aged 17.
Jack Carrington (teamster) left his mark in the district with his grandchild, Biddy Conlan, owning the Post Office Hotel, Camooweal while Planet Downs remained a family property near Gregory until its recent sale for a ‘tidy’ sum by his grandsons, John and Alex Carrington.
Audry Cronin (grand-daughter of Kate Cronin) became a nursing sister and Vernon Finlay (great grandson of Kate Cronin) became a Stipendiary Magistrate.
Mrs Donaldson, a young Sydney school teacher, arrived in the district with her husband who took up management of Carlton Hills for his uncle (Sir Robert Philp) in 1909 prior to World War One before moving on to Riversleigh and Rocklands Stations.
Mr W. Donaldson died in 1927 while Rocklands manager in a Qantas air disaster near Tambo, leaving Mrs Donaldson to rear a handful of children a task which she accomplished brilliantly.
One of these children became a Queensland Rhodes Scholar, one had an engineering works in Toowoomba and several girls settled in the Theodore district where their husbands were wheat farmers.
All have fond memories of their ‘bush’ lives and Mrs Donaldson, who died aged 92 years, said;
‘She never regretted any of it’.
Her home at Toowong, Brisbane was fittingly known as ‘Rocklands’ and her very first inquiry of me when I met her during the 1960s was ‘Is Topsy still living?’
Topsy being Topsy Harry of her Carlton Hills days.
Finlays still hold Norfolk Station and Millers Undilla while the name Letts is over the gate at Split Rock and Malbonvale and Andersons still are master of all they survey at Tobermorey Station.
These properties are among the few owner-held properties in the district.
One of the Hooker sons became a stock inspector while a Lanson girl helped establish a successful trucking firm in Brisbane.
Emily Conroy’s (McMahon) daughter, Violet, became a pupil/teacher in Camooweal before moving to the Mackay district.
Emily’s great grandchildren have followed in these footsteps and those of her Irish forebears and became nursing sisters and teachers.
Pat Dawson became Sister Pat at Brisbane’s Mater Hospital.
David and Shirley Shaw, Lorna O’Dowd, Kerry Gordon, Muriel Moy, Vivienne Scott, Robyn Alsop are teachers as is Margaret Kaye Miller currently English subject mistress at Kalkadoon High School in Mount Isa.
Joanne Ciabatti is a ballet teacher and dancer in Trieste, Italy.
While her brother, Velemir Duguna is a violinist with the Verona Symphony Orchestra which regularly tours throughout Europe.
One grandson, Walter Gordon, became a chief engineer with the C.S.R. Company serving in Fiji, at Wittenoom and with Rhodes Chemicals and Bradford Home Installations before retiring recently.
One of the McCaw/Miller sons was mentioned in despatches for bravery under fire at Darwin during the Japanese raids.
Other Camooweal sons died in France, Egypt, and New Guinea or were victims of the Burma Road (Ron O’Donnell).
John Molony (a great grandson of W. Beaumont who was Camooweal Publican in 1889) and Lilian Ada Miller (grand-daughter of Emily McMahon) serve on the Mount Isa City Council and Neville Willmer, son of Dora Willmer (nee Beaumont) became a doctor.
Mount Isa Mines attracted dozens of the younger generations and Ah Wings, Biondis, Darcys, Dalleys, Fernies, a Hollins, Leons, Amades, Lewises, Molonys, Rankines, Trindles, Wilsons have clocked in there – some continuing to do so.
The Russell family have long been connected with Jimbour and with politics on the Darling Downs.
Debbie Sowden, the first Aboriginal student from Camooweal to continue to tertiary study is currently studying at James Cook University along with Lynette Kum Sing.
Marie Spratt, daughter of Jack and Mrs Spratt (nee Lloyd) of Avon Downs was a brilliant academic.
While Gavin, second son of Sam McDonald (Avon’s long serving bookkeeper and his hardy, wonderful Scots wife) is now executive vice-president and chief operating officer of Utah Development Company.
Hoe and Kim Freckleton in partnership with the writer own the Synnott, Murray and Scholes business previously owned by their father, Joe Freckleton.
Frank Synnott flies for a crop dusting firm and his brother, Noel, is employed at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Brisbane, having first studied for the priesthood.
Well have we held our father’s creed
No call has passed us
We faced and fought the wilderness
We sent our sons to die.
From “Women of the West” by George Essex Evans
Researched by Kim-Maree Burton.
Written Mrs Ada Miller.
First published in The Border and Beyond – Camooweal 1984-1994. Photographs courtesy of Mrs Ada Miller.