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Archibald Chisholm Munro was born 24th June, 1879, Brisbane and died on 1st October, 1934 in Lowood. He was known to his friends and contemporaries as “AC” and to family and intimates as “Roey”. In this epistle he shall be named “AC”.
AC was the eighth and youngest child of Colin III and wife Mary Neill Young. Records show older siblings born at Fisherfield, Albert River, from 1869 – 1871, and then in Brisbane 1873. It would seem that from 1873 – 1879 the family was living in Brisbane (elsewhere stated to be at Twine Street, Wickham Terrace). It is known that AC’s growing up mostly took place on his father’s property, Drynie, near Home Hill in North Queensland, where his father had cattle and sugar interests. The property was largely staffed by Kanakas (South Sea Islanders). The Kanakas are generally people with a happy nature and a great fondness for children.
When quite a small boy AC.was playing with matches and accidentally set the cane alight, resulting in considerable damage to, and loss of, cane. This happened at a time when Colin III was plagued by severe economic problems and could ill afford this significant loss. Thinking the Kanakas were responsible, Colin III flew into a rage sufficient to reignite the fire (he operated on a short fuse) and withdrew several weeks’ of their tobacco ration! Not a soul gave away the secret, the punishment was accepted without a murmur, and the little chap escaped punishment.
So, one can imagine a happy childhood, growing up in what then was virgin country surrounded by affection on all sides, and with numerous siblings spaced over a fifteen years age difference; growing up to develop a lifelong love of the country, and, too, learning to be ready to turn his hand to most things. He made our beds, a table, a swing, and joy of joys a rowing boat. This latter was taken to the Brisbane River where it ran through Uncle Will’s property, and moored there. It gave us much enjoyment – fishing from it, or skylarking! The boat was moored at a spot near our favourite picnic spot called “Maggie’s Delight” - who Maggie was, nobody knows! For me, my father’s crowning handiwork was a birthday present (sixth, I think) of a two-storey doll’s house, make from a packing crate (guess it was left over from our return journey from Warnambool). I could enter and sit down in it!
He even turned his hand to architecture. In the late 1920’s the Scottish community in Toogoolawah wished to build a Presbyterian church so AC set to work at night, with his set square and drafting board, drawing up plans for it. I remember watching until I was sent off to bed – and I also remember the stump capping ceremony which finally took place.
AC’s mother had grown up with a bevy of brothers and was educated along with them by private tutors as was the custom then amongst the gentry (for the boys anyway). Indeed they were educated up to university entrance standard – not necessarily very usual at that time. This gave her an abiding respect for education, but indulging it in pioneering times in North Queensland was not easy, it became largely a catch as catch can business. So a tutor would be employed, and when he moved on another was found to take his place. This led to some innovative adjustments to historical facts.
I think it must have been when AC was in his early teens his mother received a small annuity so she used this to send him to boarding school (Brisbane Boys Grammar School). This new turn of events found AC very homesick and after a relatively short stay he ran away and made his way home. Family legend also has it he ran away to Charters Towers where there was a new gold strike, but I do not know the timing of this. He did not make his fortune, and he always came home. AC was beginning to know the world around him, and what an exciting one it was in the latter half of the 19th century. I remember hearing AC tell of his favourite exploit, “swimming the Burdekin in flood”.
Archibald Chisholm Munro
EDITOR : This is the second in our series of pioneer Queensland families sent to me by Mrs Ailsa Stubbs-Brown. By coincidence, Inverness, the heritage listed house mentioned in the article and in which Ailsa was born, came up for auction at the end of May.
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Archibald Chisholm Munro