Featured Image: King Pedro (Cubby Pedro) and Bob Mackay from ‘Tinagroo’ Scone at Lawn Hill Station, FNQ, c. 1970. The brass plaque is now retained by my brother-in-law. It holds pride-of-place in his home near Tea Gardens.
Extract from the Native Title Register:
Dec 9, 2010 – 5: Jack Riversleigh (including his children Doris Aplin and Vera Johnny, Annie King and Elaine Cairns). 6: Diana (Dina) Jackson. 7: Fred Mangala (including his children Jimmy Doolan, Tommy Doolan, Oscar Gregory and Queenie Bell) and King Pedro (including his children Dinny, Jock and Cubby Pedro).
The titles refer to areas of land found in the Riversleigh/Lawn Hill area of Far North Queensland in the lower Gulf Country. Lawn Hill Station was once the domain of the Mackay Family of New South Wales. It was rumoured that in FNQ one hundred years ago ‘there was God, the Mackays and the Rest’. (Mack Lee Warner).
For many years 1957 – 1974 Lawn Hill was managed for family interests by my late father-in-law Bob Mackay from ‘Tinagroo’, Scone, NSW. Bob was a sincere, reserved and compassionate man who made very regular sorties to Lawn Hill. He often took interested friends with him. Sadly I missed out being too late on the scene. The on-farm overseer/manager was Bill Kahl. Lawn Hill was a gigantic pastoral lease of ‘4001 square miles’. At its peak it could hold some 35,000 head of cattle. These were very well acclimatised and habituated Shorthorn Cattle originally introduced by pioneer settlers.
Cattle work on Lawn Hill was ‘seasonal’ during the ‘Dry’. Aboriginal stockmen were accessed from the nearby Doomadgee Mission. Doomadgee is a largely indigenous community located in the Gulf of Carpentaria, approximately 140km from the Northern Territory border and 93km west of Burketown. The community is positioned alongside the Nicholson River and provides access to the coast, freshwater rivers and Lawn Hill National Park, one of the Gulf’s most popular natural tourist attractions. The Waanyi and Gangalidda people are recognised as the Traditional Owners for the region surrounding Doomadgee.
The Aboriginal stockmen were apparently offered a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) My brother-in-law has a copy of a Memorandum of Agreement (dated 1949 I think) between a named aboriginal of Doomadgee Mission and the agent acting for Lawn Hill. It is for employment at Lawn Hill at £7 per week; which was quite good for the time I believe? The memo is signed by the agent and with a thumb print by the aboriginal stockman. Interestingly it is not counter-signed by the owner or owner’s representative?
For a number of reasons the Lawn Hill Pastoral Lease was sold by Bob Mackay to Brazilian interests in the mid-1970s. The property since 1996 has reverted to mining and local aboriginal title under the banner of the Lawn Hill and Riversleigh Pastoral Holdings Company Pty Ltd (LHRPHC).