Canelands beside Tinana Creek, Queensland

Selected for Google Maps and Google Earth

Maryborough Sugar Company was formed in August 1865, by some of the Maryborough leaders (including Henry Palmer the mayor, R.B. Sheridan the government agent, John Eaton, William Davidson) with a former Mauritian sugar planter, Thomy de Keating, as the manager and a 1000 acres pictured here on the far side (west) of Tinana Creek. It was heavily timber with rainforest scrub which included hoop pine. Clearing it was a formidable undertaking.

The land was intended to be cleared by contract but the contractors were unable to achieve hoped for results. Instead it was cleared and planted principally by the labours of young male immigrants. The first of these arrived from Schleswig-Holstein (Germany) on "Sophie" on 30 August 1865. The young men and some single girls were recruited directly from the vessel the night they were brought up-river on the "SS Eagle" that relayed them from the "Sophie" to Maryborough. They never forgot their first night in their unknown new homeland land, and they related that they ate their first meal from a half-coconut shell at midnight 30 Aug 1865 on the left bank of Tinana Creek (about 1km upstream from edge of photo).

Those young immigrant labourers included Johann Stehbens (20), Katharina Stehbens (15), Wilhelm Stehbens (12), 3 Burchard brothers, 3 Wieckhorst brothers, Johann Andresen and Andreas Andresen and scores of others. The Wieckhorst brothers selected land opposite the plantation, but John Stehbens selected his land in rainforest scrubland near the Burnett River (at what became Bundaberg). Mr Stehbens, seeing the failure of the Maryborough Sugar Company resolved not to grow sugar cane and preferred corn, citrus, livestock and successfully pioneered tobacco growing at Bundaberg.

Show more
Show less
Save Cancel Want to use bold, italic, links?

Comments (8)

amadeus2050 on March 14, 2012

Amazing Landscape. LIKE. Greetings from Spain.


Ian Stehbens on March 14, 2012

This is the sugar country of SE Queensland, amadeus2050 and it always delights me when driving, and how much more so when looking down from the air at the colours and patterns.

Thanks for your visit and encouragement.


C haydeé on March 15, 2012

Hola Ian :

¡Excelente serie de imágenes aéreas!

Me gusta y favorita para esta bella imagen en la que se ven los sembradíos de caña de azúcar.

Saludos desde Argentina. Chaydeé.

Conquilha on March 15, 2012

Very beautiful aerial photo...LK.

From Portugal - Conquilha

Ian Stehbens on March 16, 2012

Warmest greetings Chaydeé. Thanks for your appreciation of this landscape and for your encouragement.

This is where my Great Grandfather laboured when he first arrived in Australia in 1865. He was recruited to clear the rainforest and plant the cane for the just formed Maryborough Sugar Company - a start of the Australian sugar industry.

The series will continue - and I think aerial images may become my distinctive contribution to Pano...



Ian Stehbens on March 16, 2012

Thanks again, Conquilha. The landscape has a lot of colour and pattern and it is a thrill for me to fly over it.



Drew J Schmidt on September 17, 2012

Hi Ian,

Great photo but I hate to tell you that this is not the site of the 1865 Maryborough Sugar Company Plantation.

The real site is a little further upstream. It lies between Teddington Road and the creek. (The other side of Teddington road are the 3 farms selected by Wieckhorsts in 1868, 1870 & 1871.) I can give you further information including original maps and title deeds if you desire.

Best regards,


Ian Stehbens on October 7, 2012

Researching the Maryborough Sugar Company's Plantation

It really was a thrill for me recently, to walk on the historic ground of the Maryborough Sugar Company's plantation. I was attempting to sense what it must have been like for about 10 young men from Holstein who arrived here in the dark about midnight 30 August 1865.

Here they first set foot on Australian soil, in a vine jungle, in the pitch dark, separated from their family, ending their life in the hold of a small vessel of the previous 4 months.

Seven months earlier they had gone to the migration barracks in the port of Hamburg in the hope of emigrating from rural poverty to a new land in Queensland where they were promised they would be able to own land after 5 years, call no one their master, and live in a free land of eternal summer.

They embarked on the "Sophie", a small vessel and were crowded into the hold, at a similar density to the earlier slave trade. For 4 months, their small vessel never sighted another vessel nor land until they reached Bass Strait. The "Sophie" entered Moreton Bay, some 34 immigrants were disembarked for reuniting with a family member who had preceded them to Brisbane, then the boat was sent north, its cargo of migrants assigned to Maryborough.

On 29th August 1865, the Sophie went in to Hervey Bay looking to rendezvous with a small steamer the "SS Eagle" that would take its passengers, their chattels and ballast of bricks up the Mary River to the fledgling port of Maryborough.

That excited anticipation of that day wasn't realised. The "Eagle" didn't arrive. But next day, about mid morning, the "Sophie" sighted the "Eagle" coming down into the bay.

Two hours after the rendezvous, the tranfer of immigrants and cargo completed, the "Sophie" sailed away into the South Pacific, and the "Eagle" steamed up to the river heads, then up river to frontier Maryborough.

Just after they passed the heads and entered the river, kangaroos were sighted grazing and propping on "Kangaroo Island". At 6pm in the darkness of a mild winter's evening, the "Sophie" berthed at the Maryborough wharf. But the recruiters of the Maryborough Sugar Company, supervised my a former Mauritian sugar planter, Thomy de Keating, were there and they required about 10 (or so) young single men to begin the work of establishing a plantation on a 1000 acres (400Ha) of land on the west bank of Tinana Creek, 12 kms upstream from the wharf.

They arrived at the proposed plantation site, in the dark to a small clearing in a dense vine scrub on a steep bank of the creek. It was midnight 30 August 1865. Were the huts ready for them, or did they have to construct them later?

How excited, even scary it must have been for them to hear absolutely unfamiliar sounds, sense unknown odours, being uncertain about everything around them ... and what lay ahead, in the morning. They were pretty well exhausted by the early rise, and the events of the day, including the unloading of the "Sophie" and reloading the "Eagle". A lack of fluids, and very hungry from the long disruption from meal times, made their first meal eaten from half a coconut shell something they remembered for the rest of their lives. It was a chilly night.

Thoughts of their first sighting of kangaroos they had seen from the "Eagle" inside the river heads were about all they had to go on, to interpret the sounds and silences of the night, there on the banks of Tinana Creek.

Right where I surmised they must have landed, I found a long abandoned winch concreted into the upper bank of the creek, proving that the site had remained the loading/unloading site for years later. That, for me was a wow moment.

The task of these young men would be a big learning experience, requiring hard physical labour: felling timber, clearing and burning the jungle, building huts, installing the winch, winching up equipment as it arrived and months later ploughing and planting setts of cane to produce the first crop of sugar.

The route to Maryborough was by ketch. The local aboriginal population were living nearby, a short distance from the riverside vineforest. And on one recorded occasion, while the men were clearing the plantation land, some of the aboriginal men entered the huts and stole tobacco, flour and some personal effects. For that curiosity, the police were sent on a punitive assignment!

Today the 1000 acres of the original land the MSC rented from the Queensland Government is owned in different parcels by a variety of owners. The area where they first landed is located just out of this image, upstream about 1km.

The land, pictured, was originally selected by M. Braun in 1866 and 1867. Today it is owned by Russell Hatchman. Hatchman’s home and machinery shed can be seen in the centre background.

Sign up to comment. Sign in if you already did it.

Photo details

  • Uploaded on March 13, 2012
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by Ian Stehbens