Zachariah Skyring Senior (1828- 1894)
Zachariah Skyring Senior was born in England on the 6th January 1828 he was the eldest son of Daniel Budd Skyring and Ellen Lavinia Skyring nee Dunn. The family arrived in Sydney on the sailing ship “Esther” on the 12th July 1833 with their children Eliza, Zachariah and younger brother Daniel Skyring Junior. It is from him that the family branch became part of the Gympie district’s history.
He was 16 years of age when the family moved from Sydney to Moreton Bay (Brisbane). The family started a diary at Kedron which Zachariah and his brother Daniel worked in conjunction with their mother. In 1853 the two brothers applied for leases of cattle runs called “Whidlka-Whidlka”(Tuchekoi),”Canando” and “Yandina,” an area of 61,850 acres. Two of these leases had southern frontages on the Maroochy River. These tenders were re-submitted in 1856 together with a fourth run “Pooreema” (now Pomona) of 29,000 acres. Each run was considered to be capable of grazing 6oo head as the cattle grazed on the more thinly timbered flats and grassy ridges; it would be difficult to muster cattle in the otherwise thick tangled scrub.
Thus the Skyring brothers were the first cattlemen to enter the Maroochy district proper. The Gipps proclamation of 1842 had created an aboriginal reserve of the Maroochy District where the Bunya trees grew and effectively the act forbade the cutting of trees in this area. When the colony of Queensland was established on 10th December, 1859, the Crown Lands Occupation Act of 1859 provided for squatters and timber getting licences. In 1858 the brothers allowed the leases to lapse and it was on 29th September of this year that Zachariah Snr married Amelia Louisa Sparks.
Both brothers bought a great deal of land around Brisbane and became the first owners of large parcels of land in many of the well-known Brisbane Suburbs. As an example, they paid 2 dollars an acre for land at Mitchelton. Additionally Zachariah owned a number of butcher shops around Brisbane that he was to eventually sell to his brother- in- law Alonzo Sparks.
Zachariah was variously described as a well- known Brisbane cattle and sheep dealer when in 1867 he was seduced by gold fever whilst on a trip to Nanango to look at a large draft of sheep. It was while he lodged at Bright’s Burnett Inn he met an old digger from Victoria, a shepherd on Nanango Station, who through the course of the evening hinted that there were more valuable things than sheep in Nanango. On taking Zachariah to his hut, he said that he had found a gold field that” licked Victoria into an old hat” and produced two bags from around his waist that contained about one pound each of good alluvial gold.
At first light, both of them headed for the gold valley about three miles from Nanango where they walked down to a small gully and with a pick, shovel and dish panned for gold; the first attempt produced two pennyweight of gold and they continued panning all day. It was decided that as Skyring knew nothing about gold mining that he should be the one to go to Brisbane to register their claim.
Two days later he met with the Premier, R.G.W.Herbert (spilling out a bag of golden nuggets on his desk), who promptly escorted him to meet with the Executive Council and the Governor Sir George Bowen at Government House and such was the excitement that Lady Bowen joined them. After securing the legal title to the claim, Skyring sold his gold to Flavelle Brothers Jewellers of Queen Street. The Nanango gold fields petered out after a short period, Nash had also tried his hand there before going to Gympie.
Zac Skyring Senior arrived in Maryborough three days after Nash reported his find and he headed straight for Gympie. He staked a good claim at White’s Gully and when established sent word for his wife, three daughters and ten year old son Zachariah Daniel Sparks Skyring Jnr to join him on the field. The journey from Brisbane took 14 days in a two horse dray driven by an uncle, Mr Alonzo Sparks.
Zachariah Senior built a small slab humpy on Mount Pleasant. He was unable to get timber to enlarge the place as there were no sawmills only pit –sawyers and splitters and the demand far exceeded the supply. This saw Zac snr deciding to split for himself and he took the dray to the scrub and rigged a camp on the flat on Pie Creek and took Zachariah Junior with him. The family were to live in the house for a further three years.
He then selected land at Green Swamp in the Mumbeanna district so called after” Mumbe “the chief of the local aboriginal tribe. Though not fluent in their dialect, Zac Snr could communicate with the local chief as he had acquired a considerable knowledge of the language of other tribes in his travels. He recorded the languages in a notebook. His son was accepted as one of the tribe, hunted with them, and was fluent in the Wide bay dialect.
Zac Snr worked three claims in Gympie and also engaged in building in Gympie, erecting many houses in the rapidly growing town. He selected freehold land under the 1868 Act in the Parishes of King, Widgee and Glastonbury. His homestead was at Mumbeanna, at Pie Creek, near Mooloo, from where he rafted timber down the Mary River to Maryborough.
As a result of the discovery of Gold at Gympie the Brisbane Gympie road was constructed an a mail coach service initiated with Cobb and Co providing a bi weekly service from the 10th November 1868 taking 28 hours from Brisbane to Gympie. The Passing of the Crown Lands Alienation Act 1868 sometime referred to as McAlister’s Act enabled the public to obtain freehold land; formerly it was leased from the government. This was as important to the timber-getter as the discovery of gold.
Zachariah Snr made a considerable amount of money from gold, building houses, property and timber getting in the Gympie District. He did lose a considerable amount of money during the bank crash of 1893 and when some of the mines in in Gympie flooded.
As well as running cattle his main occupation at Munbeanna was timber getting pine and then cedar which grew thickly along Eel, Pie and Amamoor Creeks. He and his son hauled timber by bullock team and sent it first to Ferguson’s Union Saw Mill in Gympie and then to Maryborough.
Zachariah Senior died in Gympie in 1894 at the age of 66 years, when a log that he was sawing in a saw pit rolled on him. His wife Amelia Louisa Skyring died two days before him of Tetanus Poisoning
Clarice Tuck (nee Skyring), great grand-daughter of Zachariah Skyring freely acknowledges that Zachariah and his wife were very much part of Queensland’s pioneering history.
Clarice Tuck( Nee Skyring) “ Information on Zachariah Skyring Senior From My Grandfather Zachariah Daniel Sparks Skyring (his Son)
Gympie Times- Friday, July 22nd 1994 p 7 “The Great Weekender “.