Welcome to the News Website of the Toowoomba and Darling Downs Family History Society.
We will be posting regular updates of Society News and other Local Family History items.
Check down the left hand side of the page for links to some great Society resources and past news items.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Our Latest Publication -August 2023


Our Latest Publication.

We have gone beyond our own backyard to include the interesting stories of people who are buried in cemeteries from around the Darling Downs.

 A full listing of contents can be downloaded HERE

Cost $25 plus Post and Package.


Wednesday, March 29, 2023


Recently in our Members Discussion Group we talked about Land Settlement in Australia and the records created. At the time several of our members gave an outline of some of their research.

One of our group spoke at length about an interesting lease taken up by one of her relatives. The following are some notes about her research:

Her story follows:-

“Your grandfather won the block at Maclagan in a ballot!”

With only a statement like that how do you find out the information?

I had no idea what a ballot was but that was my starting point. This is from the Queensland Archives website:

Ballot: The Queensland Government released land to build communities in the fledgling state, wishing to encourage more intensive use of agricultural land to increase food production. When demand for land outstripped supply, the government used a lottery to allocate land fairly.

I soon discovered there were many types of ballots. My only information was his name and that he received land in a ballot.  I started with Trove Newspapers.

Finally after searching ‘Trove’ for months, I found a sentence in a report in the Daily Mercury (Mackay Qld), Saturday 9 July 1932, page 16: On The Land.  The newspaper gave me a date and the following sentence gave me the area and type of ballot and Philip Walsh was mentioned.  All the information I need to start my search.

‘For portion S3, parish of Rosalie, containing 320 acres, in the direction of Moola and which was opened at Toowoomba on Monday for prickly-pear development  and perpetual lease, there were 265 applicants.  Philip Walsh senior, of Kingsthorpe, won the ballot.’

I needed to find out about prickly-pear and the leases offered. The newspapers had many articles about the prickly pear in Queensland. The Land Acts were mentioned:     Land Acts 1910 to 1931, The Prickly-Pear Land Acts 1923 to 1931 and also amendment to the above Acts, these had information to explain the prickly pear development ballot.

It was suggested that I send an email to the Queensland State Archives asking if they had information on Philip Walsh. A very positive reply came back there was file with 65 pages in it!

 This warranted a trip to the Archives. 

The very first page in the file was the application for a Prickly-pear Development Selection.  This form puts the applicant’s name into the ballot.

At the land selection ballot events, numbered marbles (called ‘olives’) were placed in a locked ballot box in equal number to the applications for land received. The Land Commissioner then chose a non-applicant to draw marbles from the box using the extractor. For each block, the non-applicant would draw a marble and whoever held the corresponding number would be allocated that block. 

Reading the 65 pages I collected from the Archives gave the details of the 40 year Prickly pear Development lease from the application, to the final sale.

I had used maps from the Queensland folder in the TDDFHS Library but where exactly was it? This was answered by a gentleman who worked for Philip Walsh.  He drew a mud map with current directions. FAN (Family, Associates and Neighbours) came to our rescue.

Don’t discount any source for your search. Results do happen!

Further Reading:


Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Interpreting School Admission Registers

 Following on from our last post about our School Admission Records in our Library Holdings we put together some notes on the use of the records.

Do you know how to milk every last bit of information from that school record you have just found?

 Here is how to interpret the information in the columns. Over the years there were different requirements in the information given. At first the information was given orally and later there was a form to fill in. When the child left the school to go to another school a transfer form with the information was filled out.

The admission register does not always follow the following format as the columns may come in a different order. The very early books do not show the name of the parent or a very detailed address. 

1919 Register

1877 Register 

Click on any of the images above to enlarge.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

School Admission Registers


Early pupils Toowoomba North State School
Photo Coutesy John Oxley Library

We are lucky in Queensland in so far as so many of our public school students admission register have been deposited at the state archives. Over the years TDDFHS has purchased many of the registers and made them available to members and visitors. These include many small schools which no longer exist and many well outside our area.

We have an ongoing indexing project to ensure their easy accessibility.

The information on the registers has varied throughout the years but will include a date of enrollment ( and usually leaving), date of birth or estimate  of age, religion,  guardian or parent's occupation, (name in later rolls) and importantly their residence. Other children enrolled gives a snapshot of families in the district.

Link to .pdf  file of a listing of what is available at TDDFHS.

Image courtesy of QSA
Click on image to enlarge.

In the above register information included a note about the school closure due to the 1919 Influenza Epidemic. ( the Spanish Flu) A note against one child also indicates that he sat and passed the state scholarship examination to proceed to secondary school.

 We also know that the younger boys in  Class one were educated in the Girls and Infants part of the school, so it is worth checking information in those registers the year before.

Checking school registers can reveal so much about families!