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Donald Munro of Stuckghoy
EDITOR : From the Munros of Stuckghoy and Barnaline to sawmillars and fat lamb producers in Toowoomba.
Barry Munro from Hodgsonvale in Queensland can trace his family tree to Donald Munro of Stuckghoy, the first of that line in Argyle. No date of birth but he was a member of an assize at Inveraray in 1664 when his name appears in the record as “Donald McNorovich.” The Munros in Argyle were formerly called by that name, which is supposedly a corruption of the Gaelic form of the name Mac an Rothaich. These Munros were supporters of the Covenanter Earls of Argyle as can be seen from the following story.
The Earl of Argyle was convicted of treason in 1682 and escaped to Holland. He invaded Scotland in the following year and was captured and executed in 1865. Tradition tells that while the Argyle estates were forfeited, Archibald the young Earl stayed with Munro of Stuckghoy and to avoid a search party of Athollmen who came to Glenshira, he hid nearby in a spot called “Leabaidh-an-Iarla.” When the place was discovered, the Earl went to the Munro’s house, a long “black house” situated in the bottom of the glen, some way below the rock. Munro put on Argyle’s cloak and led away the pursuers, later accompanying him in his wanderings in the mountains.
A few generations later, we come to the brothers Archibald and Duncan Munro who came to Australia from Argyle in 1871. They were the sons of Duncan Munro (VIII) of Barnaline and when their brother Hugh (IX) died in 1901, Archibald succeeded to the entailed estate to become Archibald (X) but after obtaining approval for an instrument of disentail, he sold the lands of Barnaline & Altacaberry in 1902.
The brothers set up their first Geham “Argyle” timber mill on the banks of Geham Creek in 1874 and used bullock teams to haul the timber to the mill on a tramway they built using wooden rails. In 1898 they extended their tramway to Hampton and replaced the wooden rails with steel rails purchased second hand from the Queensland Railways.
In 1903, they decided to introduce steam locomotives and Duncan Munro went to the USA where he purchased a Shay engine made by the Lima Locomotive Company in Ohio. The engine was shipped to Australia in pieces and reassembled at the Perseverance Mill by local blacksmith Ernie Shum and mill worker Olaf Olsen. So satisfactory was this locomotive that they bought a second one and together they worked the line from the forests to Hampton for almost 30 years.
By the turn of the century a self contained little township had grown up around Munro’s mill, with about 20 small mill houses for the employees – timbergetters and bullockies (the company owned 8 teams) and the millworkers. Munro’s store supplied most of their needs and there was a butcher’s shop.
In 1901 a school was opened with 21 children in the mill grounds. As there was already a Perseverance Creek School some 5 miles away, a new name had to be found for the school. When the district inspector had first come to the area to report on the need for the school, he had noted “beautiful palms” along the creek, so “Palm Tree” was the name the name adopted for the school and then for the locality.