Amelia Louisa Skyring (nee Sparks)

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Amelia Skyring (nee Sparks) born Sydney 1941

Amelia Louisa Skyring (nee Sparks) was born in Sydney in 1841. When she was 17 years old she married Zachariah Skyring Senior on 29th September 1858 at St John’s Anglican Church in Brisbane.

In the early years of their marriage she resided in Brisbane with her husband who was a well-known sheep and cattle dealer. He owned land and a number of butcher shops, that he would later sell to his brother-in-law, Alonzo Sparks.

In 1867 her husband Zachariah had staked a good claim at White’s Gully on the Gympie Goldfield. Once he was established he sent word for his family to come. In January of 1868, Amelia, accompanied by her children Zachariah, aged 10 years, and their three daughters, travelled by a two horse-drawn dray driven by her brother, Mr Alonzo Sparks to Gympie. This journey took 14 days. It would have been considerably longer if they had not fallen in with the Ambrose family with their two horse dray. The horses of both teams would be hitched to one dray at a time to cross creeks and go up hills. It was laborious as most of the load was dumped going up spurs and sometimes up to four trips would be made to bring up the gear. There were occasions when there was no water to drink for long distances as the wet had not yet set in. There were also many others on the road, coming back from the field (Clarice Tuck Gympie Times 22nd July 1994 pp7-8).

After this adventure, Amelia and the children literally camped at Mount Pleasant in a slab humpy that was built by her husband. Her son, Zachariah Junior, reflects that his father then selected land north west of Gympie and called it Mumbeanna. He was on friendly terms with the local aboriginal population and was able to speak some of the dialects. Father and son built a house and once again called for Amelia and the rest of the family to join them.

After the house was finished, Amelia moved to Mumbeanna with the children. She was primarily living on her own for 12 months. Her husband visited only on weekends. Young Zachariah, known as “Bunda”, was friendly with the aboriginals. He was adopted by the chief, became fluent in their language, and went on hunting expeditions and walkabout with them. It says a lot of Amelia’s character that she was resilient and assertive in dealing with her son and his aboriginal friends. On occasions she would demand that he was not to go on hunting expeditions until his chores were done. His aboriginal friends would help and would separate into gangs, one cutting enough wood to last for a week and the other filling every available vessel with water. There was trust, acceptance and respect of their different cultures.

Amelia lived through times when her husband made a considerable amount of money from gold, building houses, property and timber, as well as times when there were considerable losses such as a bank crash and when the mines flooded. Their main occupation at Mumbeanna was running cattle and timber – both pine and cedar, which was hauled by bullock team, first to Ferguson’s Union Sawmill in Gympie and then to Maryborough.

Amelia Louisa Skyring died of tetanus poisoning in Gympie in 1894, aged 53 years. Her husband died two days later when a log that he was sawing in a saw pit rolled on him. Amelia and Zachariah were very much part of Queensland’s pioneering history and the development of Queensland.

References:

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 “.

Gympie Jubilee “ Gympie In Its Cradle Days” 1867 to 1917, pp 64 -67 ( reprinted 1985).