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Canelands beside Tinana Creek, Queensland

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.

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Photo details

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