A camping party on horseback, similar to John Sidney's, visit the Bunyas in the early days.
A camping party on horseback, similar to John Sidney's, visit the Bunyas in the early days. Contributed

Early Days: Sidney's Stores and campouts

Myall Street which extended along the eastern side of the creek, seemed a popular location for businesses in Dalby's early days. Samuel Stewart established his wayside shanty there in 1847 and some years later John Sidney opened his large store there between Bunya Street and Drayton Street. He advertised that he had been in business since 1849. But that must have been in some other area as it seems he only opened in Dalby in the late 1850s.

His store was described as a long, low lying building on the creek side of Myall Street and was about 200yards from the brick dam which was about where the Edward Street weir is today. As the town grew he constructed a foot bridge across the creek so customers could cross the creek easily to go to his store,

John Sidney also had his elegant home in the area which was remembered as Sidney Lodge. It had dormer windows with lighting in the upper story bedrooms. A brick culvert was constructed at the owner's expense in front of the building.

In 1862 he advertised in Pugh's Almanac: "Sidney's Stores, Myall Creek, Darling Downs, Central Queensland." It seems the name Dalby hadn't taken on very much at that time.

In 1867, Sidney led a party of friends, including men and women, on a camping trip to the Bunya Mountains. They rode on horseback taking a fair supply of food with them. They supplemented their provisions with bunya nuts. They were met by Charles Barlow who had spent seven years in the mountains working in timber operations. He guided them to many interesting areas. They were impressed with the views and delighted to observe the vast Darling Downs and also the South Burnett area from the same lookout.

John Sidney carved his name into the bark of a large Gympie Gympie

stinging tree, With difficulty it can still be seen today but is much clearer to see in a 1930s photograph. A detailed account of the campout was printed in the Dalby Herald after they returned.

After some years in this country John Sidney returned to England. Perhaps he returned to his home country of Derbyshire where he likened the trout streams to those in the Bunyas.


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