Home » The Durack Family – Forest Lake History Part 4

The Durack Family – Forest Lake History Part 4

Jamie Furness    March 11, 2023    4 min read   

The Durack’s were perhaps the only owners of the Archerfield station to actually live on the property. Michael Durack married Catherine McInnes in Goulburn in 1873.

The family lived at Archerfield House from 1882 until 1886, and the contemporary birth notices show that two Durack children were born at Archerfield House, in 1884 and 1885.

Michael Durack was one of the famous family of pastoralists who had pioneered outback Queesland. But after twenty years out west, Michael sold and moved to Brisbane and Archerfield Station for personal reasons.

We have sold during the past week the Archerfield Estate, 8827 acres, stock, furniture, plant &c, for £7000 to Michael Durack, Esq. … . (Western Star and Roma Advertiser, February 1 1882 p2.)

The Kimberley

However, even then “While Kate moved in with her family her husband’s attention was fully occupied organising the Kimberley expedition (Durack, p213). Almost immediately, in July 1882, with his two brothers and family friends, Michael set off from Archerfield Station to explore the Kimberley region of Western Australia.  “Stumpy” Michael was the leader “since he combined all of the necessary qualities of bushcraft, leadership, and sure judgement of country…” (Durack, p211.)

Returning to the Archerfield house in 1883, Michael wrote an abstract of his diary of the expedition, which was published in a number of newspapers across the country, including “Mr M Durack’s Exploration of the Kimberley district, Western Australia…” in the Southern Argus on November 10 1883, page 4.

At once, the Duracks sent four mobs of cattle on the famous overland droving trek from Queensland’s Barcoo to the Ord River in Western Australia. Even before it started, the trek was famous among drovers:

“Many would be over-landers … turned up at Archerfield, Stumpy Michael’s place outside Brisbane, asking to be put on.”

“Stumpy” Michael, with L Hill, sent a mob of 2000 cattle. The 2500 mile trip took over two and a half years (1883-1885) with his cousin Michael J Durack (“Long Michael”) in charge. “Stumpy” Michael provided his experience and travelled largely by ship between Archerfield station, the new lands, the Ord river and business meetings in Perth.

In Brisbane, Michael and his brother J J Durack “Galway Jerry” pursued horse racing enthusiastically. Jerry built a racecourse at his property Moorlands (near Rosewood) and Michael kept a string of top racehorses at Archerfield Station. Both were foundation members of the Brisbane Tattersalls Club in 1884. Michael was also involved in local racecourses – he was the starter at Goodna Jockey’s first meeting in 1885 in Wacol, and the first president of Rocklea Jockey Club formed in 1887.

Michael bought a thoroughbred horse Quamboneson in June 1884, but a year later financial pressures forced him to “give up the turf” and he sold this and other horses to his brother JJ (Jerry) in May 1885. On December 11 that same year, Quamboneson won the Tattersalls cup.

Durack had added to the Archerfield property in 1884. He also advertised part of Archerfield house for lease, however, his brother Patrick Durack was right: “we are kings in green castles that may be blown away upon a puff of wind.”

Poor seasons, the depressed times and unsuccessful events led to Michael losing the Archerfield Station. The Brisbane Land and Coal company took ownership of Archerfield House, though the Duracks were still living there.

The Duracks moved out of Archerfield House in 1886, but the bad times continued, leading up to the 1893 economic crash. Michael was again in Kimberley when he became ill and eventually returned to Brisbane. A few weeks later Michael Durack died – greatly in debt – on 1 August 1, 1894.

The Duracks were the fourth owners of Archerfield. They were only there for four years, and Michael spent a considerable amount of time away. Yet it is the Durack name that is honoured locally in the suburb of Durack, in Durack suburb and Durack State School, though neither was ever on Durack land.

By Vicki Mynott from Before Forest LakeAdapted for print by Jamie Furness.

Avatar photo

Jamie Furness