BETTER DAYS: Bunya Creek is a perfect picture in good times, but in severe drought can almost completely dry up.
BETTER DAYS: Bunya Creek is a perfect picture in good times, but in severe drought can almost completely dry up. Contributed

Tumultuous times for George Routley

YOUNG George Routley put in a strenuous year looking after their cattle on Bunya Creek before they had to abandon the selection.

The season had changed, the creek dried up and the cattle were doing no good on the long dry grass.

Added to that was the problem of dingoes. They were killing the calves as soon as they were born and many of the bigger ones lost a tail or an ear to the predators.

In 1884 Cumkillenbar Station, along with Jimbour, was formed into the Darling Downs and Western Land Co and a block of land on Moola Creek was up for sale.

George's father bought the 1136 acre block and the Routleys moved their cattle on to it.

They named their new property "Craiglea”.

George and his brother were given a long tail, single furrow plough and told to keep the bills down. They began growing maize, potatoes and onions and when they had a bumper crop they employed a teamster to take the produce to town.

There was a big flood in 1887 followed by a severe drought the following year when they lost a lot of their breeding stock.

They enjoyed a few good years, and then in 1893 there were two record floods.

It was also a good year for George as he married a young Scottish woman, Isabella. He set to work with the help of a carpenter to build a four-roomed cottage for his bride.

During the summer of 1900-1901, the countryside looked a picture. However the good time became a sad time as his father, Richard, passed away suddenly.

The three sons inherited their father's property and George became to owner of "Craiglea” which he continued to work with his brother Colin.

After the good year, came the notorious drought of 1902, when they had no rain for about ten months.

George claimed he had never experienced anything like those last five months of the drought.

After the drought, a bad form of pneumonic Influenza swept the district and two of their closest neighbours were taken. By now George and Isabella's family were needing to go to school, so they rented a house in Dalby.

He went back to live on his own for a time. It was the latter half of 1912 when one day when he was shearing a sheep, it kicked and the shears put a cut into the back of his left knee.

It appeared to heal but one night his knee began to swell up.

He was taken into his home at Dalby and for six weeks two doctors attended him.

They opened up the old wound but could find nothing so his brothers Colin and Richard brought Dr McKenzie from Toowoomba.

The doctor declared his body was septic and he may only live 24 hours.

So he took him to Toowoomba, but by this time George had passed out.

This was to be the fight of his life.


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