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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: