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Bellthorpe is an area of undulating plateau about 65 miles nor- nor west of the Queensland capital Brisbane. It overlooks the Stanley Valley and the nearest town of Woodford. Settlement started early in the 1900s when a track for a road starting in the east at Stanmore was found, rising about 2000 feet in 5 miles with several hairpin turns through some steep forest. Quite often bushfires went through the area and burnt out trees fall over the road. When heavy rain occurs the mountain road is subject to washout and land slides as well as the bridge access at the bottom being washed away. Up to 14 families have over three quarters of a century tried to clear the forest and scrub and make a living from dairy farming sending cream to the Woodford butter factory. In the early days they also made their own cheese and used the separated milk to fatten pigs. To the north a track across the Gap leads to the prosperous Maleny district. Another access in the west is over Sandy Creek from the Kilkoy road. This was the main route used by Brandons to service their mill community.


The Davies family purchased and lived on the original Campbell dairy farm in the early 1950s. We had sold our Kenmore Park herd and equipment in the month before the move but unfortunately father went to bed with another bout of Rheumatic Fever about a week before the move. My brother Allan and I rode our ponies leading three others overland from Kenmore staying the first night at Tom Martyn's farm near Dayboro then completing the trip via Mt.Mee and Woodford the next day. Riding about 30 miles a day without any hurry, we arrived on Bellthorpe by mid afternoon of the second day. The appearance of horses in the home paddock came as a surprise to our new neighbour over the road, Alan Keir who had spent most of the day hiding in his milking shed watching our furniture and goods being unloaded. But he went to fetch his cows for afternoon milking and missed our arrival. Thus some weeks later when he became friendly he asked how we had achieved this. He also passed on the information that the bull running with our new herd was useless as he had "doctored" it to stop it interfering with his herd. This meant that our cows were not in calf and it would be more than nine months after we purchased a new bull that we were likely to see any calves and fresh milk. The only way to relieve this was to buy cows about to calve or fresh in milk. We went ahead and bought about twenty new milkers and a bull only to have a similar number die in the drought several years later. Farming is tough! Our farm was in the south east corner of the mountain area bounded on the south by 10.000 acres of government forest actively being logged and on the north is the road through the district to the west. The eastern boundary is the top end of the Range Road. We called this eastern area the "Far Paddock" and apart from the level area where there was an orange grove on the right backed into a small cliff, most was steep forest and scrub going down to the lowest part of the farm. There was a rough steep track west never travelled by me leading to another part of the property. Follow the road and take the left fork after passing what is now called Bellthorpe Environmental Park, on the right the Daybell family farm and on the left our "top paddock" with the south edge bounded by a sheer cliff several hundred feet down to the low point. This being the highest point around, it was a good place to take visitors to survey the area below and see the true rain forest indicated by the darker green of the foliage. Continuing west and leaving the entrance to the Daybell house and sheds, both the field and road goes steadily down to where on the left a steep cleared area leads down to our lower paddock. A spring rose at the head of the creek and was gravity piped into an old cemented bathtub for permanent fresh water for the stock. During hot summers the cows fought to get to the cool fresh water rising and often knocked the pipe out so that it was a daily job to check and replace when needed. From this spring in the drought I had to bring water up to the dairy. A job with a heavy horse pulling a sled carrying a 44 gallon drum. Red Cedar trees provided shade for the animals. Following the creek down through thick scrub led off our property to the more open forest below. We liberated wild orchids, large and small along with stag-horns and elk-horns for decorating our garden. The road rises up past on the right Alan Keirs' mothers house [ Marcia Deakin lives there now owning both the Keir farm and our property] and along past our dairy and house and top paddock.

Keir Road goes off to the right as we pass the Village Hall, tennis court and One Teacher School. On the left the Simpson farmhouse before going west down a steep hill. Half way down was the Simpson dairy shed on the left and to the right the driveway to the farm where the teacher lodged and housing the telephone exchange. The bottom of this hill sees the start of poorer forest soils that do not support good grass growth able to sustain dairy farming. The Simpson farm was probably purchased to give access to the timber in the government forest south of there as they had a large mill at Chermside supplying house building materials for the expansion of Brisbane. Both sides of the road were Lantana scrub with Passion fruit vines growing through that provided lots of ripe fruit for kids walking home from school. Several miles on Bob Campbell and wife lived on the left. Bob worked as a tree-feller as the farm was unable to support a milking herd. This being typical of the dairy industry on the mountain. A road off to the right led to the Deakin farm and just past this road on the right was a family living in a tent who were trying to clear the land and eke out a living . Continuing west on the left was the Osmond family home and sawmill. The last house was on the right and the home of John Craig and wife. A few miles on past the Sandy Creek Road to the left, the Bellthorpe Road ended in the Brandon Mill and log yard. There were a number of dwellings for employees followed by a logging track to Jimna.


Back to where the Range road turned sharp left round the Environmental Park, a road led past a share farm on the left towards the Gap. On the way a road on the left went to Plumbs farm. Just before reaching the almost impassable track across the Gap, another branch of the Campbell family lived and farmed with the children having a long walk to school. At the bottom end of Keir road having passed Alan Keirs dairy shed, was a second branch of the Keir family living and operating a sawmill. The family were musical and had made their own instruments to play in the village hall. The remains of these were found by us kids stored under the stage from before WW2. Events held in the hall included an occasional Saturday night dance and weekly card night. My brother and I were good card players and quite often won until some one claimed that we were cheating and we were banned. This was their loss as they never had any more of mums chocolate ring cake. The women used to whip it away and take turns to take it home. Many tried to cook a perfect ring cake but never knew that mum used a ring tin to create the perfect round hole. They all tried to cut a hole after cooking with disastrous crumbling results. 

When the Simpson family, relatives and friends came up during school holidays it was usual to have a dance in the hall.  The visitors brought music and a great night would be had by all. Especially as a 20 gallon keg of beer would be on the back of a utility at the rear of the hall. It should be remembered that "alcohol" by law should not be within 50 yards of a place of entertainment. A good watch was kept on any lights climbing the mountain to be sure it was not the Police Sargent. His transport was a ex ww2 Harley and sidecar that displayed a single headlight and a distinctive exhaust sound, so could be identified a long way off giving time for the booze to disappear. Before WW2 the owner of the Simpson farm was well known for his home stilled "corn whiskey" made in a double wall of a room under his house.  No doubt this helped the dance to swing ?

Behind the hall was the tennis court where almost every sunday the local people played.  A team from here competed in the local league. The fence had plenty of holes in the netting and the net was abit the worse for wear. A good net was kept for use when other teams visited. When Allan and I played we usually went the short walk home for lunch but found that if the ponies were up in the top corner of our home paddock, we could catch on each and ride down to the house. After lunch if the horses stayed near the house it was possible to reverse the journey. It did not take long for the animals to learn that noise from the court area ment they should be at the other end of the paddock to avoid being caught and be off up the top when we were at lunch. A good stock of tennis balls was kept as most days several would be lost into the bushes round the court. Lineing the court was carried out with an old teapot full of whitewash and usually no guide so that the lines ended up being six to eight inches wide . During play line calls were often disputed and " I saw the white come up, "  a common justification for the ball being in the court.


    The School
The school was one room with four off five place desks and long stools each side of a centre isle looking foward to a chalk board each side hung on the wall. Teachers desk  front left and a cupboard in each corner. A door led onto the rear open varenda where visitors likethe travelling dentist set up his equipment and carried out necessary treatment on the pupils. It was not plesant having holes for fillings drilled with a pedal operated burr with no pain killing injections.  Teachers were young ladies straight from training school and it must have been a bit of a shock for them finding a spread of all aqges from five year old  starters to those in their last year about to leave to start work at fourteen years. Having spent most of my primary school life in large city schools,  it was an easy last year for me before I and two similar aged lads [ one Plumb and oneDeakin] sat the State Schlorship exam along with many other locals at Woodford School. To our great delight ,I was successful and became the first to pass since before WW2. The following year the girl from the farm where the telephone exchange was passed too. My first teacher was Anne Francis who was the daughter of the government Chief Botanist and a very well educated girl who married Dave Keir, son of a local sawmiller. I helped Dave build his new house just passed the mill and later worked with him in the mill.  The replacment teacher was Marcia who married one of the Deakin brothers.The teacher lodged at the farm below the school and helped run the exchange that was only open for outside calls to the main network between 7pm and 9 pm at night. These trunk calls off the mountain were dialed and connected during these hours by the operator at the exchange. Although this was not a "party line" system, it might as well have been. Soon after we arrived on the mountain. we recieved a phonecall from relatives telling us that Mum's father Granpa Bailey had died at Eventide .  When I went to school the next day the teacher said she was surprised to see me as my Gramp had died. We knew no one and had told no one so mum and dad concluded that the operator must have been listening. For the rest of the time there if we were on the phone to the city it was best talk in riddles or if you needed something broadcast locally then shout it down the phone. There was inter-family rivalry among the older boys and I took our set of "Boxing Gloves" for sparing bouts at lunchtime. I thought this would stop fights and serious damage to one another but it was banned after one families parents complained. This did not stop us chasing others with rotten crabapple fruit, up the stairs of the school and leaving the stains on the front door. Another popular game was " Tig in the tree". There was a large tree with a long horizontal limb about five feet off the ground in the yard and we climbed all over this and I don't recall any broken bones .


Our house was of wood frame construction, weather board clad and the usual corrigated iron roof, the lot sitting on stumps abour two feet above the gtround. Within a few days of our arrival I had been bitten all over by fleas. These were coming up from cracks in the dry soil under the house and to try and stop this we were forced to spray DDT cattle dip to reduce this infestation. I still have a scar on my leg where a bite scratched by me went septic and was cured by sprinkling flowers of sulphur over the sore. We were never sure what caused this infestation. It may have been the previous occupiers who allowed animals to live under the house or just natural. Timber used in the construction of the house was from local logs pit sawn nearby including the inside wall lining of hand planed tongue and grooved six inch wide beech. A large hollow beech stump near the road at the front of the house we thought this was the source of the beech used. There was also a twelve 

.inch square by six foot long hand hewn water trough at the dairy shed. Round the house was a hedge, some times with the kikuyu grass shoots reaching the top so that we could say that the grass was growing over the cows back. There was a short path from the back steps to the side gate on the way to the dairy. A seville orange tree grew in the corner and this was a good home for orchids that attached themselves . When they flowered the scent from even the smallest was very strong.  The view from this side gate first thing in the morning after overnight rain had cleared ,  streached all the way to the sunrise on the Pacific Ocean and every thing in between including the Glasshouse Mountains. We never ceased to stand and look for a moment on our way to morning milking.

It was possible to look out to the east in the afternoon and see the rain coming in off the Pacific and estimate when it would  reach us so that we were able to go down and round up the cows in the dry for evening milking. There was one occasion when a cyclone came down the coast and inland over the mountain producing continuous rain and high winds for several days leaving us in cloud  for over a week. During the first night the wind removed the iron roof of the shed at the back of the house and as it passed over the house it damaged the roof so that there was only two rooms dry inside. The most urgent repair was to the "Little House" behind the Big House that had been blown over on its side. We did not see the sun for days and most of the house was damp inside ,so the furniture went mouldy. Still the cows had to be milked and getting them up off the bottom paddock in the cloud and rain sometimes took hours. With use of the pony and our two dogs, we would start out driving some up only for them to disappear in the cloud back into the scrub. The roads were all un paved and it became difficult to drive about especally if the vehicle was unloaded.  At the foot of the mountain , the approaches to the creek bridge was washed away and nearer Woodford the Stanley River had flooded over the road and surronding  area making it impossible  to reach the town. Even John Craig could not get through.

John Craig was the Royal Mail delivery contractor who lived on the mountain for many years and had become a J.P. and local coroner. The stories told about him and his exploits were endless. On previous occasions when the bridge approach had been washed away, he had chopped down suitable trees and used them to bridge the gap. At normal times the carrier would take cream from the farms to the butter factory three times a week and return with meat, bread, groceries and any other goods required by the farmers. John Craig used a flat bed truck on these days and his car on the other three days when delivering the mail. While we lived there, the Deakin Brothers also operated a similar transport business in opposition to him. It was necessary to send a letter of authority to the post master in Woodford to allow Deakins to collect your mail. If you used Craig to deliver the mail it was always a day late as he was known to take it home and read it before delivery. Should you upset him he was likely to toss the mail out without stopping. Any goods would be treated the same and possibly urinated on including the food. If you were on the road in your vehicle, he would never give way and you had to leave the road to avoid a collision. It was always possible that he was drunk and been taken out of the pub by the police sargent and put in his vehicle to drive home. As he passed over the culverts on the Stanmore flats he would put his foot down on the accelerator to jump between the white marker posts before they came together. On one occasion he drove the truck off the mountain road  and it rolled down until it lodged upside down on a tree. He took to the tree with an axe and let the truck roll down onto its wheels on the lower road. It started on the key and he drove to the top where the engine seized as all the oil had drained out while upside down. Most of the old people on the mountain hoped not to die up there as they did not want him as coroner looking at them after a lifetime of hating him.

The butter factory paid monthly so it was usual to run a monthly account with the butcher, baker and grocer in Woodford. We learned that the grocer one month had found he had failed to charge for a bag of sugar so just added a bag to each account that had purchased some during the month. Only a few disputed this  leaving the grocer well up. It was not possible to pay the monthly bills during the drought and we were left with no food. Dad had to get a job in the city and my formal education at Brisbane State High came to an end with me at home helping mum to run the farm. I spent the next couple of years milking the cows and grazing them on the long paddock [the road side and government forest] returning them to the dairy shed for afternoon milking with my pony and two dogs for company five days a week. Dad came home friday night with food for us for the rest of the week. The weekend was spent doing repair work that I was unable to carry out. We had a AWA battery radio that I used to listen to the major programes from all over the east coast by having a long copper wire antenna placed up in the pine tree beside the house. There was no electricity on the mountain. Our milking machine and separaton was powered by belt drive from a 3Hp Lister diesel in the cowshed. Lighting was from kerosene lamps. When we first went up there we needed a refrigerator and we purchased a kerosene one from QPS at the royal show. Dad managed to get the demo. one from the show display and this had an "Alladin" blue burner that was very efficient and we were able to make icecream.

To use up the separated milk from the dairy , we first stored it in open 44 gallon drums in the sun where it often turned into curds and whey before it was fed to the pigs to fatten them for market. The horses took a liking to the curds and would often sneak the lid off the drums and tuck in. If we caught them at it in a drum that was not full it was possible to sneak up while their head was covered by the drum and give the outside of the drum a hefty thump. The horse would get a big fright and stayed up the other end of the paddock for a few days. Come rain, hail or shine the pigs were fed twice a day and I had to carry two four gallon drum-buckets down the steep hill to the feed trough. On some trips in the wet I lost my feet and emptied the contents over myself but still they must be fed so another trip was necessary. The dogs didn't mind as they ate the curds off the grass. We had our own large white sow and had to watch her when she was ready to drop a litter of pigs. She would hide on the low paddock and usually make a bed in bracken fern have the piglets. We would know it had happened when she was missing at feed time. The usual way to find her was to take the dogs down and search heaps of fern. The sow would come out to chase the dogs and we would have to herd the lot back up to the sty and close them in for feeding. On one occasion we managed to keep the sow in the sty during the births and I helped the piglets make the journey to feed while she was still giving berth to others. Cleaning the mouth so that they could breathe was necessary on a few. As soon as the sow had berthed the last one I had to scramble out for she was very protective of her litter. Later one of these pigs when fully grown and being fattened, bit my finger when it was sick and not eating as I tried to hand feed it curds.

Fun was had when trying to load them for transport to market . If they see daylight through a fence they will stick their nose in the crack and push their way out. At this time they weigh about two hundred poundsand are very strong so the only thing to stop them is a solid wall. We tried to feed them in the loading pen to get them used to it but still they tried to go over or through the fence. It usually took about half a day but we would get them loaded. The prices attained at Cannon Hill Market were never high enough after all the hard work.

After several years working in the city, Dad sold the bread delivery round in Hendra and came home to work for the local saw mills. Between milking we went round to the forest below and fell trees for a Brisbane Mill. The last bullock team snigging logs was at work in this forest.  We also worked in both Dave Keir and Osmonds mills cutting export apple cases. For a few months we worked in the mill in the Woodford railway yard to the east of the platform. All this helped to eke out a living until we sold the farm moved to Petrie.


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referance BellthorpeWix


My life story and family history and
 stories are published on "Kindle", at
My art relating to it is at
In memory of Uncle Ernie at




Bob's Bellthorpe in the 1950s




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