Homestead Park in the north of Forest Lake is the site of the earliest settlement in the suburb, and home to Archerfield House; the property included all of Forest Lake and much more.
It was purchased by the Durack family in June 1882 and mined for coal by the Queensland Land and Coal company, however no coal was ever found. It was then sold to Patrick Perkins.
John Henry Hart purchased the property in 1915. He was the last private owner of the Archerfield Estate. After he died, the Archerfield property was purchased by Patrick Perkins in February 1888. Patrick Perkins was one of the investors in the Queensland Land and Coal Company, who formerly owned the land. He owned the land until 1893.
Archerfield station was an investment for Perkins, who was then at the height of his success. In 1888 he also floated Perkins & Co, a large brewing and hotel business, with the Premier Sir Thomas Mcllwraith and Boyd Morehead (who also became Premier later that year.)
Like other owners, Perkins never lived at Archerfield but sought immediately to on-sell or lease the property. In 1892 he sub-divided Portion 47 into six smaller blocks. But by the banking crash of 1893 Perkins was in financial trouble and control had passed to Mcllwraith’s Queensland Investment and Land Mortgage Company (which itself was having difficulties).
However, the caption to a newspaper photo of Archerfield House suggests Perkins may have used the house, reading:
“‘Archerfield’” near Darra, One Time The Country Home of the Hon. P. Perkins.”
Perkins, the man
Patrick Perkins was born in 1838 in County Tipperary, Ireland, the second son of a farmer. The family migrated to Victoria in 1855.
After success on the Bendigo Bank and Ballarat goldfields, Perkins had opened Queensland’s first brewery in Toowoomba in 1867, and by 1869 it was one of the largest breweries in the southern hemisphere. In 1872 Perkins extended his operations to Brisbane with the purchase of the City Brewery.
It was not until 1928 that rival Castlemaine Brewery – in Milton since 1878 – took over Perkins brewery to form Castlemaine Perkins, which in 2023 is owned by international food and beverage company Lions.
Perkins also invested in property and mining, including the Mount Morgan mine and coal mining. He bought 20% of Thomas Mcllwraith’s North Australian Pastoral Co.
Like many entrepreneurs, Perkins entered politics. In 1877 he was elected to Parliament. He was Minister for Lands in the first Mcilwraith Ministry (1879-1833.) But in 1883 Perkins was found guilty of electoral fraud. However he was elected again soon after, and following the 1893 election McIllwraith appointed him to the Upper House for life.
Perkins later used Aubigny house in North Quay from 1883-1898. It was named after the electorate he represented in 1877-1884. This building became the first Mater Hospital in 1906.
In the 1890s, Perkins moved to Melbourne. There he attended the opening of the first Australian Federal Parliament at the Royal Exhibition Building on 9 May 1901 and caught a chill, which developed into bronchial pneumonia, from which he died two weeks later.
By Vicki Mynott, Before Forest Lake – Adapted for print by Jamie Furness.