Wednesday, 27 April 2016

W is for Walker and Walkerston #AtoZChallenge2016

My theme for the AtoZChallenge is exploring the Walker family . Thinking about the family I realised that they were around in Mackay, Queensland in the early days of settlement so I have decided to discover some snippets of early Mackay as it relates to this family and others in my family tree. I hope you enjoy the journey.

W is for Walker, the Walker family that I discovered in January this year.

Alexander Walker was born in Belfast,  Co. Antrim, Ireland on the 11th June 1825. His obituary states that he went first to New Zealand and then to the Mackay district in Queensland in the mid-1860s. See the Daily Mercury notice below:
1909 'DEATH OF AN OLD RESIDENT.', Daily Mercury (Mackay, Qld. : 1906 - 1954), 23 November, p. 4. , viewed 27 Apr 2016,
I have found a record of Alex arriving in Hobson's Bay, Victoria on board the Alhambra from Port Chalmers, Dunedin, New Zealand but as yet have not found an immigration record of him leaving Ireland or arriving in New Zealand.

There are many other mentions of Alex Walker in the Mackay Mercury and the then Daily Mercury over the years, principally about stallions standing at stud and other farming news. Two very intriguing snippets occurred in the Mackay Mercury in August 1888, see below:

1888 'No title', Mackay Mercury (Qld. : 1887 - 1905), 25 August, p. 2. , viewed 27 Apr 2016,

1888 'No title', Mackay Mercury (Qld. : 1887 - 1905), 28 August, p. 2. , viewed 27 Apr 2016,
So we are left to wonder, what was the narcotic used and was Alex taking it for pain relief? Perhaps it was laudanum which "is a tincture of opium containing approximately 10% powdered opium by weight (the equivalent of 1% morphine)" (Wikipedia) and was frequently used in the 1880s for pain relief and sedation. We will never know.

Alexander Walker died on the 13th November 1909 and was buried the next day in the Walkerston Cemetery.

Now for Walkerston ...

Walkerston, a rural town on the Peak Downs Highway is six km west of Mackay. Situated on Bakers Creek in a sugar cane area, the settlement was known as Scrubby Creek in the late 1860s and early 1870s.

Town named by the Surveyor General 22 December 1881 (listed in the Queensland Government Gazette p.1411) when the townships of Walkerston and Alsatia were combined. Walkerston named by John Walker ( - ) lessee of Homebush pastoral run 31 May 18661.

 In 1903, when Walkerston's population was approaching 400 people, it was described in the Australian Handbook
I think it is quite ironic that Alexander Walker first chose to settle in Walkerston, perhaps he told his children it was named after them? That would be an interesting "family story".

[1] accessed 26 April 2016

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