They Came and They Stayed

‘They Came and They Stayed’: Settlement Patterns of the German-Queensland Communities

Unlike South Australia that had a large immigration episode in the mid 1800s from the Silesian province of Germany, the situation in Queensland is more complex in terms of immigration from the provinces of Germany and eventual settlement patterns.

The attached settlement map shows the extent of the massive German influx into southern Queensland in the mid-late 1800s and until the First World War, when German immigration came to a halt. Today the number of Queensland town named from this large influx is a legacy of the German diaspora into Queensland.

In simplistic terms, German immigration commenced with the settlement of the Gossner group missionaries at ‘German Station’ (Nundah) in the 1830s – soon after Queensland gained separation from New South Wales as a free colony, until the era just prior to World War I with the influx of assisted German migrants for the Apostolic Church of Queensland community ventures.

After the small settlement of missionary pastors and their families at Nundah (now a suburb of Brisbane), the next major phase of immigration and settlement was in the 1850s/1860s with the need for shepherds in the Darling Downs region of southern Queensland.

Large pastoral holdings were being established and assisted passages were provided to many folk – the chance for a shepherding position for 2-3 years with an established wage. This enabled many immigrants work, ‘learn the country’ and then set themselves up with their own (small) property. German labour was well regarded and the possibility of an assisted passage to Queensland was looked upon favourably.

Many hundreds of Germans partook of this opportunity, and with the associated need for skilled tradesmen, large regional centres, such as Toowoomba, were centres of this ‘second phase’ of German settlement. Many labourers and shepherds brought their families.

The first really concentrated German group settlement occurred between August 1863 and January 1864 when 23 families from the Uckermark region (northeastern Germany) established a village/farming enclave at Bethania on blocks relinquished by English cotton-growers. This Logan settlement became a focus for a continued stream of later German migration which spread into the regions immediatelt surrounding the south of Brisbane – Beenleigh, Eagleby (previously called Philadelphia), Mt Cotton, Carbrook, Gramzow, Steigltiz and Pimpama districts.

To the north of Brisbane farming settlements were taken up in the 1880s in the Zillmere, Pinkenba (‘Germantown’) and Eagle farm suburbs – now taken up by the Brisbane Airport and suburban expansion.

The ‘third’ major phase of immigration was in association with the development of closer settlement and the intensive agricultural expansion in southern Queensland. In the period from the 1870s until as recently as 1910 many areas of southern Queensland were converted from virgin scrublands into a farming mosaic landscape.

Districts such as the Lockyer, Fassifern, Logan, Brisbane Valley, Darling Downs and the southern Burnett as well as the coastal districts of Southport, Maryborough and Bundaberg were earmarked for closer (farming) production and attracted large numbers of German pioneers intent on making a living from small cropping or mixed farming on their small 40 or 80 acre blocks.

For instance both the Lockyer and Fassifern districts were settled by hundreds of German pioneering families – forming close religious communities and many areas were exclusively pioneered and populated by German immigrants. Clearing of the scrubland vegetation was undertaken and the rich volcanic and alluvial soils were farmed intensively – supporting the many large families. For a generation the many families were viable but eventually the quest for extra farming land was a necessity – as many of the pioneers produced large families. Families with more than 10 children were commonplace – but the record stands with the Stephan family of the Fassifern district with 23 youngsters!

The first ‘Australian’ generation ventured in a number of directions, to take up newly ‘opened up’ selections.in more distant districts. For instance young men from the Logan district made their way to the Fassifern, North Coast and Witta areas; from the Lockyer region their was an extensive movement of the first generation onto the Darling Downs and the South Burnett (Kingaroy/Wondai/Murgon) district.

The ‘fourth phase’, or last phase, of the influx of the German diaspora, involved a series of separate groups of immigrants from Central Germany. Three of the groups were brought out under the direction of Apostle Heinrich F Niemeyer of the Apostolic Church of Queensland (Hattonvale) and these immigrants formed communities at Tansey, Binjour, Riverleigh and Baffle Creek. Pastor Bernoth sponsored five separate groups between 1908 and 1910 and these trades people settled at Mt Etna, Alligator Creek and Milman (all in the districts north of Rockhampton). These distinct ‘group settlements’ persisted to varying degrees. The Binjour settlement has persisted until today, with most descendants still farming on the verdant plateau.

In addition to this expanding of these internal ‘cluster’ movements there were other smaller internal migrations of German pioneers from other regions of Australia – often movements of religious affiliations. The migration of a number of families from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Australia (ELCA) from the western district of Victoria to the newly opened agricultural settlements of Headington Hill, Mt Kent (near Clifton), Greenwood (north of Oakey) and Kumbia (south of Kingaroy) took place in the early 1900s.

The German settlement of Downfall Creek (Gulugaba) occurred in 1909 when a group of South Australian setllers from the Barossa district took up land holdings in the vine-scrub ridge country north of Miles. The Stiller, Hoffman, Bahnisch and related families were the original settlers from the South Australian German community and these families still farm in the Guluguba district.

In addition large urban centres such as Brisbane, Toowoomba, Warwick, Maryborough, Bundaberg and Rockhampton had considerable numbers of skilled German tradesmen and merchants by the 1890s. For instance stonemasons, blacksmiths, cabinetmakers, undertakers, medical doctors and butchers were positions in which many German migrants were known to succeed. In centres such as Brisbane and Toowoomba German clubs and societies were established to cater for the social and welfare needs of these large urban settlements. Today’s Brisbane German Club is a legacy of this earlier urban settlement group.

Even though the bulk of German immigrants settled in southern Queensland rural regions, other small communities were established throughout the huge State of Queensland. Germantown Road, in the Mena Creek district of South Johnstone, supported a number of German farmers who grew sugarcane. Today the road sign is all that remains of this former settlement. German workmen and billockies spread throughout Queensland and most rural towns had at least a small number of settlers of German origins. Even towns in far western Queensland, such as Barcaldine, had a number of German residents.

For a more detailed and comprehensive account of German settlement and history in Queensland the book ‘Queensland and Germany’, written by Alan Corkhill and published by Academia Press in 1992.

85 Comments

  1. Thank you for this interesting article. My German ancestors were in the “third” phase, settling in the Lockyer Valley in the Minden area.

    • My mother’s family were the Felsman(n) & Murr families of Downfall Creek German community. Her dad was a Felsman & mother a Murr …Thanks Brian

  2. Jennifer Soi

    My family are the Muckert’s and Pieper’s and they settled in the Fernvale area and then around the Murgon/Wondai/Byee areas………

    • Hans Konrad Hayden

      My great Grandfather,Herman Pieper, settled in the Lowood area, 1860’s. His daughter Marie, married Jacob Mengel, from Hessen Germany,in 1907, & farmed at Fat Hen Ck. in the Kilkivan district. I Am the eldest living grandson of Jacob Mengel. Thank you for the informative article.

      • Jennifer Soi

        Hi Hans….my great granmother is Eva My great grandmother was Eva Muckert (Pieper) her parents were Rudolf and Ana Pieper. my dad mentioned a Lindsay Pieper but wasn’t sure who his parents were, they lived near Vernor at Fernvale. my email is tjsala@hotmail.com

  3. Malcolm Maurer

    Thank you for the interesting article.

    My Great Grandparents and my Grandfather (age 1) was part of the group who settle in the Binjour Settlement (Munduberra)- 1910.

    Descendants of the Maurer family still reside in the area.

    • Mervyn Goronszy

      Would you by chance have information on my grandfather and family, Gustav Goronzy. They probably arrived around 1910

  4. Glad I found this. My husband’s German ancestors arrived from Schleswig Holstein (NE Germany) in the 1860s. One brother settled in the Gayndah district and another headed much further north. The youngest, (husband’s Great Grandfather) settled in Brisbane.

    • robert smith

      are you related to annie ethel kann .she was my grandmother.

    • janelle groves

      My lot the Glindemann family arrived from Holstein to Moreton Bay in 1865 August 10th, on the Peter Godfroy

      • HI JANELLE, JUST BEEN DOING RESEARCH INTO THE BRIX FAMILY AND WAS LOOKING THROUGH THE SHIPS REGISTER OF THE “PETER GODEFFROY” AND THEY WERE ON THE SAME SHIP. THEY CAME FROM ZLOTOWO PRUSSIA. I AM TRYING TO FIND OUT HOW TO LOCATE ANY REMAINING FAMILY IN POLAND-ANY SUGGESTIONS? THE BRIX FAMILY WENT TO BUNDABERG AND THREE GENERATIONS REMAINED THERE.

    • robert b smith

      annie ethel kann was my grandmother

  5. Hi,
    Great info. Thank you very much.
    Andrew _ Musician Brisbane German Club

  6. Good afternoon. The Jondaryan Woolshed west of Toowoomba is holding a special event in September this year and we would like to have involvement from the many different cultures who were involved with the Jondaryan Station during the early 1900s. Do you have any information on German families in this area or any contact details for a German association in our area? Thanks so much.

  7. Jim Staats

    My Great Grandparents,Staats, arrived together with Sachs,Payard and Stuhmcke families from the Uckermark region in 1866 on board notorious vessel Wandrahm> They initially settled at Germab Station and then Marburg. Would like to hear from anyone with further information

    • Adelia McCallum

      My great great grandfather Christian Henselin was a passenger on the Wandrahm 1866. Having trouble finding passenger list.

  8. Jill Davy

    My great great grandfather Jakob Friedrich Rauchle arrived 8 Feb 1856 aboard the Johann Caeser and went to Middle Ridge Toowoomba. His wife Catharina Rauchle nee Beck and children arrived in 1857 aboard the Fiery Star and joined Jakob at Toowoomba

    • I am a book-author and writing a book about German emigrants from Neckarrems. Can you please contact me. I need some more information about Rauchle and Riethmuller.
      Thanks and best regards
      Gerhard Bickel

  9. would anyone out there have any information about the Glindemann family came over in about 1864

  10. gail hambridge

    my great, great grandmother came out here on the Herder with her parents and older brother and sister – they were the beegling and they went from south australia to the tumut/adelong area of nsw. the year they came out was 1844

  11. Audrey Blinco

    I’m also a great-great granddaughter of Jakob & Katharina Rauchle.

  12. Sue Macrae

    Can anyone help me with history of German settlers in Crows Nest near Toowoomba, and the Schulte family who came out about 1872

    • Natasha (Mewing)

      I am related to the Mewing family who lived in Crows Nest. I have come across the most spectacular pristine old trunk of photos – around 900 of them between early 1800-current of a large number of families including Mewings, Armitage, Schmidt, Tweedale, Egan…the list goes on. I also have a large number of amazing portraits (postcards) sent to my Great Grandmother Margaret Mewing (Nee Egan) who married Percy Mewing. A lot of these postcards and photos are unidentified and I would love to get them back to ancestors. My Grandfather Kevin Egan Mewing is 94 next week and I have been doing a lot of working compiling digital copies of a lifetime of photos, including tracing 2 previous generations with original photos as well! It is truly a marvelous collection and I am very honoured to pass on this legacy to my own children to ensure their memories live on.

      • I was born in Crows Nest, however my German relatives, Heinrich Bartefeld (Henry Butterfield) and Elizabeth Heid settled in Haigslea and Walloon.

        • desmond butterfield

          hi tom henry butterfield was my great grandfather and i have info for you about our family if you would like to contact me cheers des.

      • Hi Natasha,

        My name is John Mewing son of Robert Mewing of Crows Nest. He was the brother of Percy.

        I also am researching my ancestry so am very interested in your photo collection

        • Sandra McDonnell

          Hello John,
          I have been helping Cathy Mewing with her family tree and found you on this site.
          Your father Robert, was Cathy’s fathers cousin. Cathy’s father was Kevin Mewing. I don’t know whether you were close or not, but Cathy is getting together a heap of ancestors photos at the moment that she would not mind sharing.
          Cathy can be contacted at
          sailorgirl56@hotmail.com.au

      • Carolyn Mewing

        Hi Natasha, I’m researching the Mewings and would love to hear from you. My husband is the great grandson of Herman Mewing.

      • Anne-Marie Foster

        My great grandfather was a schmidt, he bred horses and was involved in the tobacco industry. I believe he was Heinrich and his son Gustave, daughter annette if anyone has any info would love to hear from you

      • Hi Natasha,
        Margaret Egan had a big brother Austin Egan. He had one child, Neville Egan. Neville is my father. I have been trying to track down dad’s Egan family for so long.

    • I am a descendant of Wilhelm Stark born 1834 at Hohensarge, Stettin, Prussia, Germany and Dorothea Ernestine Schroder born 1837 at Petershagen, Prussia, Germany. They moved to Highfields / Crows Nest area. They had children: Auguste, Carl, August, Hermann, William and Christian. There is a book called “Stark Reminders” written years ago now. Hermann Stark is buried in the Crows Nest cemetery.

  13. great reading
    I think my grandfather was in the 1850 phase at Bethania queensland,

  14. I’m writng a book about living in Toogoolawah where there were/are quite a few German settlers. I was interested to hearing when they migrated out here .Thank You.

  15. sandra johnston

    Johann & Johanna Jantzan [nee Schonknecht], are my great great grandparents. Johann Heinrich & Katharine Schonfeld [nee Dreier] are my great grandparents, peter & maria eva Hoffmann [nee eck] great great great grandparents, August Ernest Rano is my great grandfather, all born in Germany. does anyone have info on Rano?

  16. Does anyboyd have any information about the Miezner family who settled in north Queensland around Townsville possibly Bowen. Just want to know who they are all i Know is they come form Germany and they are my dads family

  17. why were there 4 phases in the procedure and why did QLD part from NSW

  18. Christine

    Excellent website. I too have ancestors who settled in this region – though one of the initial three Schmidt siblings and his family settled in Cooktown. I hope you do not mind but I have put your map and an excerpt from your text on my ancestry.com tree.

  19. Karen Byrne

    Looking for information on Harstorf family arriving 1866 on board the Wandrahm

  20. Graham Stritzke

    My great grandfather immigrated from Gadankz in Poland ( East Prussia) somewhere around 1870,s. Any info from fellow Stritzke’ s would be helpfull. Thanks.

  21. looking for a copy of a picture of wandrahm please my family came on board this illustrious ship.

    any help please

  22. My great grand parents on my mothers side Otto Koehler Berlin Russia married Theckla Christiane Winkler in Brisbane. They later moved to Cairns. Don’t know what happened to Otto.
    Would love info

  23. Apologies, I didn’t obtain full info for you. This boat is a barque and has a long, interesting history which one can read at http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/descriptions/ShipsWZ.shtml
    If you only want a image of that type, there were many German immigrant vessels that would suffice. When and IF I find one, I’ll try to send it along.

  24. HEISE / SIPPEL
    My husband is a descendant of Gustav Herman HEISE & Susannah (nee SIPPEL) We have never been able to find the final resting place of Gustav (Sometimes known as George HEISE / HEYES)
    ANY help would be appreciated.
    pascoesplace at g mail . com

    • HI GAIL, IF YOU GO TO AUSTRALIAN CEMETARIES (OR THE LIKE) JUST PUT IN THE LETTER “H” FOR SURNAME AND IT WILL BRING UP ALL NAMES STARTING WITH “H” AND THAT MAY NARROW THINGS DOWN. ALSO QLD BIRTHS DEATHS AND MARRIAGES SITE MAY BE HELPFUL AS WELL (COST $20 FOR CERT OF DEATH.JUST PUT IN THE YEAR RANGE AND NOT AN EXACT DATE AS THIS WILL NARROW YOUR SEARCH. GOOD LUCK

  25. I’ve done a few internet searches to try and trace my father’s German ancestors but just keeping finding American families. Any suggestions on how to proceed would be appreciated. His grandfather, Otto Hocker, apparently founded the German Club in Brisbane. Otto’s father John Hocker (only have the anglicised name) may have emigrated from Germany to Australia in the mid to late 1800’s. Many thanks.

    • wendy barlow

      my name is Wendy Barlow. My late husband David Watson mother Lorna Watson nee hodgson mother Ivy Norman Hocker is the daughter of the otto hocker you mention
      have some information if you are interested
      thanks

  26. My maiden name is “Frohloff”. Anyone wanting to know more please feel free to contact. My great-grandfather Herman Frohloff arrived on the ship “Quetta” into Brisbane on 15 Sep 1989.

  27. Sorry previous comment on arrival of Herman Frohloff on the ship “Quetta” should read “15 Sep 1889”.

  28. brian schmidt

    my great great grand parents arrived on Susannah godfry in 1865 and settled in cooktown

    • Hi Brian, I am a great great granddaughter of Johanne Caroline and Carl August Schmidt, who settled Cooktown. My grandmother May was born there 1887.

  29. roslyn galey

    Is anyone decended from Christian Jacob Xander Or Zander.who emigrated from Germany to Farm Creek SW qld in 1856 ?,He is my g.g. granfather

    • Sandra johnston

      I’m also great,great, great, great,grandfather,his daughter is my great great great grandmother Wilhelmine.

      • roslyn galey

        Wilhelmine is my great grandmother Ernestine’s sister .Ernestine was my grandmother Charlotte Ann mother.

    • Susan O'Connell

      Hello Roslyn,
      He was my great great grandfather as well. His daughter Dorothea was the mother of my grandmother Elizabeth Dorothea.

  30. Howard Cowling

    Writing a story about Charles DIFLO (DIFFLO) who arrived on ‘Aurora’ in 1855.
    Charles was in prison for contempt of court for over 2 yrs owing to a dispute over a gold nugget. He was released in 1862 and seems to have ‘disappeared’. Any further information would be appreciated.

    • Hello Howard
      I am a descendant of the Diflos and am also chasing info on Charles. On the papers that I have, there is a suggestion that Charles and Andreas are cousins. A family chart on RootsWeb also shows this link. There is an article in Trove dated Dec 1863 stating he acted as an interpreter in a court case. Unfortunately his english was no better that the defendant so he was dismissed. This shows that he was still around at the end of 1863.
      I have a death certificate for Matlene Diffolo 1862 C271 and I believe this is Charles’ wife. She died a month after giving birth.
      Would like to hear from you.

      Peter Hale

    • Peter Hale

      Hi Howard
      I am a descendant of Andrew Diflo but got side tracked on Charles Diflo as I believe he and Andrew were related. I have found a death certificate for Matlene Diffolo and have been to the Qld State Archives for an inquest file for Karl Deffler, died 15 November 1865 in Toowoomba. I suspect this could be Charles. Send me an email and I will give you as much of the details as I can.
      Regards
      Peter

  31. Neil Renaud

    I am descended from Abraham and Wilhelmine Renaud, German immigrants (from the Uckermark) who settled in Toowoomba in 1884, with their 6 children. Abraham was a farmer. The 6 children all married and had families, so there will be lots of descendants. I would like to contact as many as possible to continue my already considerable research.

  32. Brian Groth

    Hi to Len Brauer. I have a photo of the Wandrahm. Contact me on 0429453772 or email bcgrothy@gmail.com. Brian

  33. Georg Zimmermann

    This is an interesting article. I’m looking for any information on Johann Baptist Zimmermann, born 1865 in Bavaria. He emigrated to Australia. I still have a picture of him, the picture was taken in a photo studio in Perth. At bdm.qld.gov.au i found, that he died 1955 in Queensland. His Name is angliciced, John Zimmerman, his parents were Joseph Zimmermann and Anna Maria Hutter (angl. Ann Hutten). Maybe, that John Zimmerman had a son named John with Fanny (Frances) Cunningham (Thorpe), but i found no information about a marriage between John and Fanny. The son died 1946 as John Thorpe. I wonder, if there are still any descendents of John Zimmerman in Australia or elsewhere.
    Thanks for any helpful information.

    Georg Zimmermann

  34. lance shaw

    I am still looking for my ancestors…. fredericke beduhn, believed to have arrived at nundah, 1880’s….then went to minden later

  35. Pamela HIggins

    Hello, I am researching my Mothers family and would love to hear from anyone who has history on Otto Martin Ohlbrecht or Catherine Groth his wife. Catherine’s father was Friedrich Groth and arrived in Australia around 1873 – Otto’s father arrived Queensland 1872. Also Catherine’s mother Emily (mn Hammer) – her father John Hammer arrived Queensland 1864.

  36. Thanks for this info. I’m a great great grand niece of Carl Stephan whose wife bore 22 kids. My great great GD was his older brother Friedrich Wilhelm – he & his wife only had 18 kids. Pathetic. Needed this info for German settlement research. Definitely useful.

  37. Rebecca Swayn

    I’m a descendant of Heinrich Scholl who married Ida Pauline Kampf, settled in Binjour plateau/Gayndah. Interesting article! Thank you x

  38. Barbara Drew

    I am researching the Dittmann family. My Great Grandfather was August Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm Dittmann and he arrived in Maryborough in 1871. His first wife was Wilhelmina Carolina Schafer and second wife was Anna Goll.

  39. Elizabeth Bradbury

    My great great grand mother Elizabeth Theroucks believe her to be indigenious from a concubine relationship with property of Theroucks around 1880 Maryborough QLD, plus as there are no birth certificates, marriage to George berry (Wondai) or death certificates of her. Dreadful really . But her name on all great great uncles and my great great grandma Matilda Elizabeth Berry have noted on birth certificates mother Elizabeth theroucks or thurix they were illiterate at this time. No registration of birth marriage or death hence my belief that Elizabeth to be indigenous a nobody with no records and disgraceful really please desperate to have answers for only living aunty 80 this year my only relative . please help Elizabeth Berry , Bradbury Theroucks etc. Accepting that these things happened back then but want to find her with thanks Any support appreciated Elizabeth

  40. I am helping my cousin with her son-in-laws family history. Wilhelm Seiler and Bertha (Kahl) came to Australia in 1912 with 8 children 2 more born in Queensland. Richard Seiler is the person we are most interested in. He and his family lived around north coast – Kingaroy /Wondoan area. The family does not have any information. BMD says the parents came from Silesia, Germany. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  41. My German ancestors are buried at Nundah Historic Cemetery. Johannes Zimmerle and Christina Friederika Zimmerle(Schwartz). Would love more info on them

  42. Denis J Bennett

    I have put two to three years aside to refurbish the whole lot of oakey historical museum, i am currently up to building a room to contain the history of the first settlers to this region,plus a follow on to this day,

  43. Georgia Schneider

    Really interesting. My family is and has been a founding family of the Apostolic Church of Queensland since my ancestors immigrated from Germany.

  44. I am trying to track the german genealogy of my QLD parents – ie Marriage of Eric Loch and Nancy Metzger (Emerald /Rockhampton) and Hulle /Campbell , Radcliffe Marriages (mainly in Brisbane )
    I am interested in how and why and when the german individuals of these families came to Australia. Thanks June Campbell

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