Steuart Street, North Bundaberg.
Steuart Street, North Bundaberg.

HISTORY: How Steuart St in North Bundy got its name

Many of us have driven on the North Bundaberg road, but how many know the true origin of the name?

The following story was told in a special publication released by the NewsMail several years ago:

In 1866 brothers John and Gavin Steuart were cutting and splitting ash ad white cedar for timber for staves for the tallow casks needed by a “boiling down” establishment for surplus cattle at Baffle Creek.

When they heard from a small vessel captain that large quantities of these timbers might be obtained in the scrub at the mouth of the Burnett River, they set out on an expedition that led to the future town of Bundaberg.

After a disastrous try in an open boat, John Steuart set out on foot in November, accompanied by Aboriginals Jackey and his wife Mary.

Dense Eucalyptus forest, thick scrub, numerous creeks, and the unfordable Kolan and Burnett Rivers proved formidable obstacles to the intrepid explorer, especially as he couldn’t swim. Jackey and Mary swam him across the Kolan River, but when they came to the Burnett, they lashed three logs together with their fishing lines, and the group successfully landed at Rubyanna.

Realising the suitability of the country for agriculture, John spent the next six weeks exploring the countryside, contending with mosquitoes, ticks, leeches and snakes.

He returned to Baffle Creek in time for Christmas and to organise a small cutter and competent captain so he could ascertain the viability of sea access to these reaches of the Burnett River.

By February 1867, the brothers had set up camp on a 320 acre selection which they named Woondooma.

The brothers had a hand in many aspects of early Bundaberg life, including helping to establish roads to Maryborough and Mt Perry, as well as the School of Arts and the first state school, and helped many early settlers of that time.

Although the brothers continued to be productive members of Bundaberg society, they were ruined by a bad cane season in 1875/76 and soon after they left the region.

In a strange twist, they died on the same day of the year, seven years apart – John on April 16 1889, and Gavin on April 16 1896.

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