The WEDEMEYERs of Eastern Australia, Chapter 4

The "WEDEMEYERs of Eastern Australia" section of this site is divided into 10 chapters, and also appendices extending over 5 pages (sections). Please read in sequence by following the links at the bottom of each page or use the "Quick Nav" at top right. If you wish to select individual chapters, please click on the top left link to the Sitemap page. Please note the WEDEMEYER photo galleries here.

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GHL in Drummers Creek & nearby Yarrol Reef

GHL expanded his business interests to Drummers Creek in 1872, keeping his existing assets in Gayndah. Pictured below is a photograph of GHL WEDEMEYER's 10 ac Hotel property included the now cultivated field in the foreground.

View NE from Drummers Ck Rd View NE from Drummers Creek Rd to the Hotel site,
500m SE from intersection with GinGin – Mt Perry Rd.
Photo: PD Strong, 2005

Drummers Creek was about 65 kms north of Gayndah by the old road and also 5 kms north west of Mt Perry. His opportunity arose from the commencement of mining in the Mt Perry area in 1869 and more specifically the Normanby Company establishing its mining holdings in the Wolca and Drummers Creek areas by January 1872. The large increase in both local population and in road traffic made a hotel an attractive possibility. Perhaps GHL used his experience as a boarding house owner in Meson St., Gayndah to apply for the issue of a "Country Publican's Licence" at Drummers Creek.

Application for the licence for the 'Southern Cross' Hotel WEDEMEYER’s Southern Cross application. Mt Perry Mail & Mining Times, 14 Nov 1872

In explanation of this advertisement, Fyfe-Barnett was a private mining town next to the government town Tenningering. Fyfe-Barnett plus Tenningering were called Mt Perry. GHL's application related to Portion 55, County of Bowen, parish of Wolca 400 metres SE from the intersection of Drummers Creek Rd and the Gin Gin to Mt Perry Rd. His application was initially unsuccessful since his premises did not afford the necessary accommodation.

MONTHLY LICENSING MEETING.— Before the Police Magistrate, on Tuesday last, the following parties made application for publicans’ general licenses:—Mr. Cox. for the Canterbury Hotel; Mr. Wedemyer (sic), for the Southern Cross Hotel; Mr. Mitchell for the Mining Exchange Hotel; and Mr. Marshall for the Welcome Inn. All were refused; the first three because their premises did not afford the necessary accommodation required by the Act, and the last because his wife had been convicted of sly grog selling within the last twelve months.

Source: Mount Perry Mail & Mining Times. 12 Dec 1872: 3.

However, GHL's application must have been finally successful, since a letter relating to his Gayndah selection on May 9th 1873 shows his address as "Southern Cross Hotel".

The sale of the 'Southern Cross' Southern Cross Hotel for Sale
Mt Perry Mail & Mining Times, 1873-4

Hotel values can be measured in either capital value or income stream. In Mount Perry, values would be determined by population levels, which were in turn dependent on the copper prices and subsequent level of mining operations. In Nov 1873, GHL advertised the sale of the "Southern Cross" Hotel, at a time when population had reached a peak of about 3,000. He moved to Yarrol Reef, 38km NW of Mount Perry to take advantage of a local gold rush. Thirsty miners would generate an excellent income stream.

Around 1874 he applied for a licence for the "Royal Beehive" hotel at Yarrol on his own property.

Source: Bundaberg and district pioneers: A biographical index to 1901. Bundaberg Genealogical Association, 1988: 323.

The hotel would have been named after the "Royal Beehive Mine". See the map below, for the location of Yarrol relative to Monto and Mount Perry.

Map of YarrolYarrol Gold Prospect
Courtesy Diatreme Resources

All did not go well with his Yarrol venture! There were no buyers for his Drummers Creek hotel. He advertised the sale of the "Southern Cross" in the "Mt Perry Mail and Mining Times" over the period from 27 November 1873 to 19 March 1874 on at least nine occasions. His competitor, the "Royal Hotel" Wolca was also advertised for sale in April 1874.

In May 1874 he had his "Royal Beehive" hotel licence cancelled.

Source: Norris, M. Queensland hotels & publicans index 1843-1900. Queensland Family History Society, 1996.

Perhaps the licensing board did not permit him to have hotel licences in both Yarrol and Drummers Creek? Perhaps the licence was relinquished since the gold rush came to a disappointing halt.

In 1876, the Royal Beehive Mine quartz-crushing machine was put up for sale.

"For Sale, or For Lease, The Beehive Quartz Crushing Machine, now erected on Yarrol Station. The gold-bearing reefs in the neighbourhood show a reasonable prospect of being worked to produce a profit by practical men, and the proprietor of the machine is prepared to lease the machine at a moderate rent, or to make absolute sale of it on easy terms. Apply R.B. Ridler, Cania; or J.E. Brown, Maryborough."

Source: Bundaberg and Mount Perry Mail. 27 Apr 1876.

Perhaps the small amount of gold ore obtained placed doubt on the value of the ore-crushing machine?

"Mining at Yarrol started in the late 1800s and continued spasmodically until 1938. Production records are incomplete but only 300 tonnes of ore are believed to have been produced with variable high grades and a likely average grade of 10 g/t gold".

Source: Diatreme Resources Website. Note: Diatreme Resources is the current owner of the Yarrol Gold Prospect.

GHL continued to live in Yarrol for a short while. There is the subsequent record of his letter relating to his property selection in Gayndah from "Yarrol Reef" on July 27th 1874, and also on 10 Aug 1874, his son (John) Ernest was born at Yarrol.

GHL then moved back to Drummers Creek, unaware that international copper prices would cause the closure of Mount Perry copper mines and smelters in 1877. He became active in local affairs in establishing the Drummers Creek School in 1876, and his youngest child Maggie was born at Drummers Creek on 27 Mar 1878.

There is an 1876 reference to GHL's hotel in "Perry's Past" in the context of moves to establish a school:

"The growth of population in the Wolca- Drummers Creek area made a school necessary in this area, and a subscription list was circulating in 1876. A public meeting at Wedemayer's (sic) Southern Cross Hotel at Drummer's Creek elected a Committee consisting of T.B. Mason (Secretary), E. Stone, G. Hunter, H. Gillen, J. Allen, J. Lindy and L. WEDEMEYER to continue fund-raising. The subscription list stood at £33-12-0."

Source: Royle, M. Perry's past: A centenary history of Perry Shire. Mount Perry: Perry Shire Council, 1998: 69-70.

Drummers Creek School Drummers Creek School. Courtesy Pat Smith.

Drummer's Creek Provisional School opened on 5 April 1880, next door to George’s "Southern Cross" hotel. At that time GHL's children were Harry aged 16, Louis 13 yrs, Minnie 9 yrs, Elizabeth 7 yrs, John 5 yrs and Maggie was almost 2 yrs. There is a recollection that at least Louis was enrolled at the school.

Iris Bancroft (1903 - 2003), a highly regarded source of oral history in Eidsvold, knew Louis WEDEMEYER well. She said in a letter to Frank WEDEMEYER: "Louis went to Drummers Creek School, because my aunt Mrs. George Blundell (Mrs. Dahtler’s mother) attended there with him - that would be about 1878 - 79". This could not be confirmed, since the school’s admission register relating to that time has not survived. Note that this school became a State School in January 1909 and closed on 1 Dec 1959.

There were a number of 1884 references applicable to GHL in the Mount Perry - Drummers Creek - Wolca area.

There is record of GHL signing a petition in Nov. 1884 for a Post Office at Wolca Siding.

Source: Bundaberg and district pioneers: A biographical index to 1901. Bundaberg Genealogical Association, 1988: 323.

The WEDEMEYER family were successfully sued.

On 7 Apr 1884 Patrick Reddy claimed £10 as value of a horse killed against Louis Wedemeyer Snr " Jnr. Both parties appeared in Court. Judgement £4 + £1/17/- costs (Total £5/17/-)

Source: Small Debts Court, Tenningeering. Minute Book 6 Dec 1882-13 May 1885 (QSA Ref A/5009).

However, 1884 was a year of good opportunities for GHL! Mervyn Royle says:

"There was some resurgence of mining around 1884 in anticipation of the completion of the railway line" from North Bundaberg to Mount Perry. Also: "The Southern Cross was kept by Louis Wedemayer (sic), who offered it for sale in 1884, the asking price being £350."

Source: Royle, M. Perry's past: A centenary history of Perry Shire. Mount Perry: Perry Shire Council, 1998: 15, 47. Note: I was puzzled by a reference to an 1884 newspaper item when the 1884 local Mt Perry newspaper was not on microfilm. Microfilm holdings are— Mt Perry Mail (Burnett, Wide Bay & Bundaberg Advertiser): 25 Jan 1872 - 30 Dec 1875. Bundaberg & Mt Perry Mail & General Advertiser: 17 Feb 1876 - 26 Dec 1879. Then a gap, including 1884. Then 16 Jan 1885 - 9 Dec 1892. Much delight when I subsequently received an 1884 photostat relating to the hotel sale from Pat Smith of Mount Perry. See the image beneath.

The sale did not occur, and the Mount Perry area then fell on hard times. Next year on 3 Apr 1885, the Editor of the "Bundaberg and Mt Perry Mail" passed this judgement on Mt Perry following the recent closure of the Mt Perry copper mine: "Those who remember that town in the flush times and see it now can scarcely realise that an Australian settlement could become transformed from a bustling commercial centre to a quiet deserted village occupied by a few people full of hope —and a large number of goats."


Newspaper Advertisement Hotel Sale: Bundaberg & Mt Perry Mail 14 Mar 1884

News from Mt Perry depended on the infrequent contributions of a local correspondent. He wrote on May 8 1885: "It is now some time since I sent you any news from here, but the chief reason was the absence of anything which might be considered of sufficient public interest to your readers.” A significant change in the "Bundaberg and Mt Perry Mail", which had Mt Perry as its centre of operations only 10 years before, when it simply called itself the "Mt Perry Mail". This local journalist didn’t even mention the fire, which burnt down Wedemeyer's Hotel on the night of 23rd April 1885, and the ensuing inquiry, which sat on three separate days from 28 Apr to 5 May.

The inquiry took evidence from George Wedemeyer, Elizabeth Wedemeyer, Minnie Wedemeyer, Martin Madsen, Charles Keller, James Petersen and Joseph Allen. The line of questioning showed that no possibility was neglected in the inquiry, particularly when the WEDEMEYERs would have benefited by the fire. No verdict was found in the documents. I have placed the family’s statements in the Appendices, to tell the story of the fire, to describe the hotel construction, and to give insight into how the family lived at the time.

What happened to the hotel site? The photo at the top of this page shows GHL’s hotel property... cultivation has removed all possible traces of the hotel. The Mt Perry Rate Books and a Supreme Court Intestacy Order fill in details of the story of the hotel and its site from 1872 to 1904. Many thanks to Pat Smith of Mount Perry, for copies of the relevant sheets from the Mt Perry Rate Books.

In 1883 GHL and his 20 year old and 17 year old sons commenced their move from hostelry and back into farming at Walla Run at the mouth of the Perry River, where GHL died. See Walla Run for GHL's final venture.



The Story Continues