Home » The first selector and owner of Forest Lake – Forest Lake History Part 2

The first selector and owner of Forest Lake – Forest Lake History Part 2

Jamie Furness    March 9, 2023    4 min read   

A little information about the founding European settlers of Forest Lake; the first selector; Henry Charles Farley and first purchaser; William Edward Murphy.

The First Selector

In 1876 Henry Charles Farley was the first government selector, and ‘Father of Forest Lake,’ in terms of European settlement.

With white settlement came a new view of land ownership, which also involved the displacement of the traditional owners, the Jagera people. The government controlled all the land and European settlers could select portions to lease or purchase.

Henry Farley was the original selector of the land which includes Forest Lake and he built his homestead in what is now known as Homestead Park.

The first public record of the Forest Lake District appeared in Brisbane newspapers in October 1876, reporting that the Lands Court had accepted an application to select Crown Lands on Conditional Purchase – “Henry Farley, 5760 a (acres), second class pastoral, Woogaroo.”

Farley’s application was ‘to Lease lands before Survey,’ which indicates that he was in fact the first person to apply for this parcel of land. 

Farley was an avid investor and businessman and owned several hotels in Brisbane. However his main interest was in ‘mining investments’ as this was the era of the “Gold Rushes.”

Farley speculated on new mines and built up hotels and businesses in the mining towns such as Ballarat, Tuepeka (New Zealand), Gympie, Hodgkinson and Stanthorpe then sold them on.

In 1878 Farley transferred the lease to his solicitor William Edward Murphy before passing away in 1880 under unusual circumstances in Sydney.

Why relinquish Woogaroo?

Farley was a businessman/entrepreneur so there is the possibility that Woogaroo was simply another investment he intended to develop and on-sell. 

However Farleys investment in such a fine home suggests it was initially intended to be his own. There are some clues as to why he may have changed his mind.

Being some 20km out of Brisbane City the location perhaps proved inconvenient. Farley travelled frequently for business, potential investments and possibly his wife. There is no evidence Mrs Farley lived on the property while she ran their Stanthorpe Hotels.

Perhaps he was in need of funds. Farley had many investments including the Hodgkinson goldfields at the same time as taking up this selection. The previous year in 1875 he had also financed a small coal mining venture in Rosewood outside Ipswich. Neither venture provided the return he hoped for. 

Farleys health had begun to fail, possibly leading him to give up on developing his Woogaroo land. Now in his mid fifties and still travelling, he reportedly “suffered from general debility” and was “under treatment” when he died.

The Purchaser: William Edward Murphy 

Murphy’s land in 1880. Source: Ed Parker

In 1878 William Edward Murphy became the second lesse – but the first owner of the land that became Forest Lake. 

He took over the lease from Farley in 1878 and completed the purchase of the land in 1880.

Murphy the man 

Murphy was a bachelor solicitor born and educated in Sydney. In the early 1860’s he found much work in the new colony of Queensland and is listed frequently as a passenger on steamships sailing between Sydney and Brisbane. He moved to Brisbane in 1866.

Like so many gentlemen of the time, Murphy dabbled in politics. He stood for Fortitude Valley in 1874 and in 1876 he became the first member for the new seat of Cook on Cape York – though he didn’t stand for subsequent elections. He also dabbled in breeding stock and racehorses, speculated in mining and of course in land.

As a solicitor, Murphy dealt in investments, providing mortgages and loans to and for clients. He also took over property when clients were unable to meet mortgage payments. His knowledge of land dealing led to his being made chairman of a Royal Commission into the operation of the Queensland Real Property Act (In 1879).

The Lake News acknowledges the Jagera people, the traditional custodians of the land where Forest Lake is today and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging. 

From Before Forest Lake by Vicki Mynott – Adapted for print by Megan Woolley.

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Jamie Furness