This is the story of Spencer Sivyer and provides information taken from the newspaper articles of the day that reference Spencer Sivyer or S. Sivyer. The National Library of Australia's digitisation tool Trove which can be found at http://trove.nla.gov.au/ has been invaluable in providing a link to the pioneering life that Spencer led in both New South Wales and Queensland.  To read about the life of Spencer in the context of the complete Sivyer family click here.
Spencer Sivyer was born at Peasmarsh, Sussex, England on 6 October 1833.  He was 5 years and 6 months when he arrived in Australia with his parents on 1 April 1839.

As a starter to gain an understanding of Spencer you can read his own letter to the Brisbane Courier of Wednesday, August 7, 1878. This letter was written when he was living in Maryborough, Queensland.

"Our Native Timbers -Turpentine, &c.
SIR, - In your issue of the 6th instant you have an article on our native timbers written by Mr Donavon, In which he gives a description of the turpentine wood and recommends it for building and other purposes as one of the best woods we have. If so, how comes it that turpentine has been a prohibited wood throughout the colonies by architects and builders? Ln 1857 I put a log of this wood on to my pit to cut a few flooring boards for my verandah, intending to cut the rest into scantling and joists and my mate and I often cursed our folly for being led away by appearances (as it looked such a fine tree and lay right at the foot of our skids), for it was impossible to keep the saw sharp owing to the gutty nature of the timber I had greater cause than this though to repent using them, before the boards had been down a month I had adzed all the edges off between the joists, and soon after had to replace them by putting in others of spotted gum.
Mr. Donavon says it is a good splitting timber, and that any old bushman will bear him out. Well, Sir, I have been forty year engaged amongst timbers in splitting, fencing, sawing, building, bridging, boatbuilding—in fact, using timber in every way that bushmen have to do at times, but I never yet got a turpentine log to do as he describes. As for backing-off to split posts, rails, or palings—l think one would need have the patience of Job.
In 1843 my father contracted with a Mr. Croft, of Balmain, for the supply of timber to repair the Shamrock steamer, and submitted some turpentine planks to him (Mr. Croft) for approval, but he would not take them on any account; they were for the floats for the wheels of the steamer. During the construction of the viaduct at Honeysuckle Point, Newcastle (N.S.W.), a turpentine pile was attempted to be driven, but alter a few blows it broke short off. On the coal and copper company*s line at Red Head, Mr. Morgan, the engineer, refused to allow it to be used for  stringers and also for framing for the tunnel.  Mr. Donovan says it is a good wood for the saw-mills. About three years ago I saw a log 20ft long and 9ft through cut at the Mungar saw-mills, the whole of which had to be cast into the waste heap, and the saws after cutting it looked as though they had been on a grindstone. None of our hard woods suffer more from exposure to the weather than turpentine, none are less adapted to carry a weight; I care not what weight is put upon it if the sun and weather act on it will twist and warp—so much so that it has been condemned by all  architects and engineers throughout New South Wales.
At Brisbane Water, whence Sydney draws the greater part of its timber supply, and where turpentine grows in abundance, none has ever been cut I have bad to fell trees 2ft. and 3ft through, and 40ft. or 50ft long, in order to get at other timber, but would never think of cutting an old turkey.
White ants are not so destructive to this timber as they are to others; at the same time it is not uncommon thing to see them in it If fallen in a damp place and the bark left on, the wood soon decays. It and white gum are the two worst timbers we have.
For general purposes none surpasses spotted gum, whether for house, ship, or other buildings; for rails and for tramways none equals it—always keeping clear of the sap. Red-gum, or what is called here blue-gum, is an excellent timber for the ground; perhaps none better. In 1858 or 1859 I contracted to erect a temporary bridge over the Picton Creek (N.S.W.), 80ft. of the old one having been washed away. I was allowed by Mr. Moggridge to use any of the old timber that was sound, and all the stringers were taken from the old bridge, which had been built entirely of red gum, and had been in use thirty - five years,  and put into the new one. The timbers proved as sound as when they were first used, and within one month of completion of the work a traction-engine with wagons and load; weighing sixty tons, passed over the bridge, the whole of the weight being on it at one time.
There are other timbers equally good for different purposes. In conclusion I would remark that no part of the colonies that I have, been in can equal this district for the purity of its spotted-gum; borers attack it less here than elsewhere too, I have noticed. Ironbark and red gum are equally good. Our other hardwoods are not up to much."
Maryborough, July 17,
S. Sivyer 

Spencer's own letter to the Brisbane Courier of Wednesday, August 7, 1878 can be downloaded here.

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Spencer Sivyer - timberman, woodman, timber specialist, sawmiller, road and bridge construction, Inspector of Timbers for Queensland Rail, pioneer, settler and farmer these are all descriptions that fit with Spencer throughout his life in the colonies of New South Wales and Queensland. 
Spencer was born, raised and worked at a time when the nation was a colony of the British Empire. He lived and worked in the colonies of New South Wales and Queensland. Spencer lived to see in 1901, Australia become a nation. Given the role he played as a pioneer in the colonies this must have given him great personal satisfaction.

He worked in the timber industry when this industry was the essential building block for the new colony and the developing nation of Australia. The selection of the correct timbers for use in the construction of railways, bridges, houses, boats and foundations, was a skill that Spencer Sivyer excelled at and built his reputation on.

In his letter to the Brisbane Courier of August 7, 1878 Spencer wrote that he had been engaged for forty years amongst timbers, in splitting, fencing, sawing, building, bridging, boat building "in fact using timber in every way that bushmen have to do at a time".

Spencer I believe, worked for his father, James Sivyer and learnt his trade from James. James Sivyer lived in Wellington Street, Newtown and many of those cottages from the 1870's are still there today. James died in 1871 but Harriet (Spencer's mother) continued to live at the same address until her death. The Sands Directory from 1858 onwards has James and Harriet residing at this address.
Spencer married Elizabeth Hogg Bathgate in 1851 at the Wesleyan Chapel, Chippendale (today's Haymarket area of Sydney). On the wedding certificate both are listed as residing at Newtown. 

For those who wish to read more about Newtown and its history the City of Sydney has The Newtown Project.

For those wishing to know more about James Sivyer and his relationship to the Goodsells of Newtown, I have compiled this document using information taken from internet references. This will also give you an insight into early Sydney.

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Spencer Sivyer - Life in the Colony of New South Wales
From his own words and researching the newspaper articles of that time, Spencer's working life in NSW is outlined below.

Firstly the railways and roads that he contributed to the construction of are listed then I have documented chronologically the newspaper references. This gives a picture of the contribution he made to the development of the communication methods of the mid to late 19th century. All text in italics is a direct quote or extract from the reference provided.

1. Railways and Roads

1855 Hunter River Railway
The Hunter River Railway which became known as the Great Northern Railway ran from Maitland to Newcastle. Its intention which still happens today was to move coal from the mines at Maitland to the port at Newcastle. Initially the line terminated at Honeysuckle Point (Spencer refers to this in his letter) but was further extended to the city of Newcastle. Honeysuckle Point Station today is Civic Station. Given the time line of construction and the corresponding newspaper references to Spencer Sivyer I am confident in stating that Spencer was present for the construction of the railway from 1855 to 1857. 
The web links below will take you to historical information on the railway.

1857 Great Southern Railway, Campbelltown to Menangle 


Notice is hereby given that Tenders will be received  at the Railwny Office, Phillip-Street North, until WEDNESDAY, 23rd December next, for the whole or portion of 5000 Tons of Ironbark Billet Wood, cut into convenient lengths and sizes, subject to approval, to be delivered at any station on the line. Each tender must state the price per ton of 50 cubic feet, the place, the quantity, and the time of delivery.

Tenders must be addressed to the Commissioners for Railways, endorsed "Tender for Billet Wood-Great Southern Railway "

Further particulars may be obtained at the Railway Office, Phillip-Street.

The Commissioners do not bind themselves to receive the lowest or any tender.

By order of the Commissioners

JOHN RAE Secretary;

Railway Department, Sydney, 28th November, 1857

The "Gold Rush" years saw the railway line hurtle south from Sydney to Goulburn, and for some years Campbelltown was a major railhead, with its station opening - with much fanfare - on May 4, 1858. History of Campbelltown - Campbelltown City Council 

The railway link from Campbelltown to Menangle was not opened until 1863 and this allowed overnight milk deliveries to the Sydney Market.
For those who wish to read more about the Campbelltown area one can access the Campbelltown City Council's web site below.

From research it appears that the building of this extension took a number of years and there were great difficulties and challenges provided by the topography of the landscape. Spencer in his letter to the Brisbane Courier states that "ln 1858 or 1859 I contracted to erect a temporary bridge over the Picton Creek (N.S.W.), 80ft of the old one having been washed away".

Of interest is the Railway Viaduct and Wesleyan Chapel

1859 Great Northern Road between Morpeth and East Maitland

1860 Great Southern Road Second District (Picton - Goulburn) Tenders 20, 23 and 26
2. Newspaper and Government Gazette References

New South Wales Government Gazette 1854. Page Number 2296

Return of persons who have obtained Licences to cut timber on Crown Lands from 1/1 to 30/6/ 1854 - Police District of Gosford - Spencer Sivyer

Spencer in his letter to the Brisbane Chronicle 1878 speaks of Brisbane Waters where Sydney drew most of its timber. Brisbane Waters is in the Gosford District.

Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday May 19, 1855

The business of Timber Merchants, lately carried on by Messrs, Griffiths and Sivyer at Newtown, in partnership, is THIS DAY (May 18, 1855) mutually dissolved; and all debts due to this firm are requested to be immediately paid to Mr. Sivyer, who will still carry on the business.

Whether this is James or Spencer is at this time unable to be known but given the year and the work that is referenced to Spencer from 1855 to 1860, I believe this is where James handed the business over to his son Spencer. Spencer's older brother Frederick John married into the brick making Goodsell family of Newtown. Frederick John's first child, Frederick James, kept up the brick making trade when he came to Ipswich Queensland at the turn of the 20th century and then to North Queensland. In Newtown at one period of time in the colony of New South Wales the Sivyer name was involved with the timber and brick industry, the foundation blocks of construction.

The Maitland Mercury, Thursday September 10, 1857

Wesley Church Building Fund, Singleton - Treasurer's Report - Proceeds of Foundation Stone Fund
Mr. Bathgate - One Pound
Mr. Sivyer - Two Pounds

Spencer was of the Wesleyan Methodist denomination and he married into the Bathgate family. Elizabeth (Spencer's wife) had a brother John born in 1833 and two other younger brothers. James was born in 1840 and Alexander was born in 1842. Newspaper references have a James and Alexander Bathgate as living in the Morpeth and Maitland areas in the second half of the nineteenth century. 

Northern Times Newcastle, May 1, 1858
Subscriptions to the Newcastle Indian Mutiny Relief Fund - Collected on the Hunter River Railway
J. Goodsell - Two Shillings and Six Pence
S. Sivyer - Two Shillings and Six Pence

Goulburn Herald and County of Argyle Advertiser, April 13, 1859

Government Notices
Railway Tender - The tender of Messrs, Sivyer and McGowan has been accepted for sleepers, Great Southern Railway, Campbelltown to Menangle.

Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, May 7, 1859

Messrs Sivyer and McGowan - For fencing bridges on the Great North Road, between Morpeth and East Maitland.

Sydney Morning Herald, May 27, 1859

Wanted, Two or three pairs of SAWYERS, to cut railway sleepers; logs provided; price per cut, one shilling and six pence. Apply to SIVYER and McGANN, D'arcy's Hotel, Campbelltown.

The previous newspaper references to McGann and McGowan could be the same person. The reporting or spelling of the surname could have been a misprint.

Sydney Morning Herald, June 13, 1860

Accepted Tenders - The following have been accepted by the Government for the execution of certain works on the 2nd District of the Great Southern Road. ... Mr. Spencer Sivyer Contracts 20 and 23.

Goulburn Herald, August 4, 1860

Tenders Accepted - 2nd District Great Southern Road, Contract No 26 Mr. Spencer Sivyer

Sydney Morning Herald, Thursday march 14, 1861

Insolvency Court
In the estate of Spencer Sivyer, a single meeting. One debt was proved and insolvent was allowed to retain his household furniture and wearing apparel.

Birth of Emmeline Sivyer at Newcastle, November 27, 1862 

Birth of Albert August George Sivyer at Picton, May 14, 1864 

Above are the last two references of Spencer Sivyer and family whilst they lived in the colony of New South Wales. One can speculate as to the reasons for Spencer's insolvency but he continued to work and provide for his family. The birth of Emmeline in Newcastle and Albert in Picton coincide once again with major rail and road development for those areas. Spencer's skills were in the selection and use of timber for the construction of rail and road. He would have been living and working where major construction projects were taking place and allowing him to use his experience and timber skills. Further research is required to establish how long Spencer stayed in New South Wales before moving north to Maryborough, Queensland.

Spencer Sivyer - Life in the Colony of Queensland

Why did Spencer move to the colony of Queensland and when? The other question to be answered is why he went to Maryborough and not Brisbane, Warwick or Ipswich or any of the other key early towns of the new Queensland colony. In 1868 Spencer was 35 years of age and had spent at least 20 years working in the timber industry, becoming a business man and supplying timber for the construction of the NSW colony's major roads and railways. In 1861 he was declared insolvent but remained around the Goulburn and Picton areas where his son Albert was born. One can speculate as to why he moved north to Queensland but the answer could be a new place of opportunity and a place to apply his timber knowledge.

The first record of Spencer Sivyer and family in Queensland is in the Post Office Directory of 1868 (Held by the John Oxley Library, Brisbane). This establishes him as the first Sivyer in Queensland and with Elizabeth his wife (later also with Harriet Coram) starts the Sivyer family name in Queensland. The first Sivyer born in Queensland is Archie Ernest William Sivyer born on November 28, 1873. He is the youngest of the children born to Spencer and Elizabeth (Hogg - Bathgate). The other children were born in NSW.

1868 Sivyer S - Road Overseer - Yengarie, Maryborough - Biggenden Rd. West of Maryborough.
This is the first documented evidence of Spencer in Queensland. Whether Spencer was living in Maryborough or Queensland prior to 1868 and the birth of Albert at Picton (NSW) in 1864 is unknown.

Why Maryborough?

The following information is sourced and direct extracts provided from "The History of Maryborough and Wide Bay and Burnett Districts From the Year 1850 to 1895" Compiled from authentic sources by Geoege E. Loyau and published in 1897. The direct extracts are in italics.

In May, 1842, when Mr. Andrew Petrie and Mr. Henry Stuart Russell were despatched from Brisbane in a small brig, to survey and explore the northern rivers, and on the 17th May, 1842, they entered the river now known as the Mary, which they so named in honour of Lady Mary Fitzroy,
and the Fitzroy River was also named from the wife of the then Governor of New South Wales. A sad calamity unfortunately occurred to this lady, who was killed at Parramatta, through her carriage being overturned in 1849. After Messrs. Petrie and Russell had made reports on their expedition, Mr. Burnett was despatched in July, 1847, to further examine the Wide Bay district, and it was by him the district and the river, now known as the Burnett, was named. Like those who had preceded him, Mr. Burnett's report was satisfactory, as it stated that, "although Wide
Bay had an excellent harbor for coasters, and would in time become a place of great importance, it would never be able to compete against Moreton Bay for harborage of ships of large tonnage."As soon, therefore, as it was publicly known that the Mary River was navigable, and a large fertile territory unoccupied, many intending settlers began to go northwards, sheep and cattle stations were established, and the first township founded on the run in 1848.

Maryborough was accessible by the Mary River and became a key regional town in the colony of New South Wales and then subsequently Queensland. So for those wishing to explore and settle or create new lives north of Brisbane, Maryborough was a very welcoming major centre.

It was from New South Wales most of our Wide Bay pioneers came overland, generally with their belongings, or else in some of the fleet of brigs, schooners, and coasters which plied to the old Mary River for timber. In 1841, Victoria, now one of the principal colonies of the Australian group, had but a population of 2,500, and only 150 acres of land were under cultivation. There were few things there to attract settlers, and the extensive districts of Moreton Bay, Burnett and Wide Bay appeared to present more pleasing features and more abundant facilities for pastoral enterprise; this, indeed was just what suited many of the immigrants to New South Wales, to whom the free wildlife of the bush and cattle-tending, stockriding, horsebreaking, and mustering, offered great attractions—hence there was a greater influx to Queensland than Victoria in the early fifties, before the Wand of Fortunatus in the shape of monster nuggets at Ballarat and Bendigo had allured population back to the hills and gullies of those magnificent goldfields. From 1851 onwards, rushes of a more or less exciting character occurred, and though prospecting over the Wide Bay and Burnett country was carried on by fossickers in a desultory or half-hearted manner, it was not till 1876 that Gympie gold showed that Queenslanders had struck the right spot.
Maryborough also had a developing timber industry starting in the 1860's. The following extract from George E. Loyau's book of 1895 is referring to the Hon Andrew Wilson M.L.C. who appears to have been the first person in conjunction with his business partners establish, to realise the potential of the timber industry to Maryborough.

ANDREW HERON WILSON is a native of Ayr, Scotland, where he was born on August 24, 1844. He was educated at the Ayr Academy, and intended for the Law, but whilst pursuing his studies his health was impaired, and being advised a change, he left for Queensland in 1863, arriving in Maryborough on April 2, 1864, where, after spending over a year in endeavouring to find suitable investment for capital, he met with Messrs. Robert Hart and the late James Bartholomew, practical and experienced men, with a thorough knowledge of the saw-milling and wood-working trades, and was induced to unite with them in partnership, the firm from that period being known as " Wilson, Hart, and Bartholomew." Mr. Wilson's observations of the extensive operations carried on in the Wide Bay district, in the large and valuable pine and cedar scrubs and well-timbered hardwood country adjacent to Maryborough, was convincing proof that his partners' knowledge of the trade, combined with his own energies and capital, would be well directed, and, in order to facilitate operations, he, accompanied by Mr. Hart, went to Great Britain, where they purchased a complete saw-milling plant with all the newest "up to date" appliances in machinery. This was safely landed in Maryborough, and erected in 1866, on the river bank, Granville, opposite the residence of J. E. Brown, Esq., and though the business was at first but gradual, it had reached a prominent stage of prosperity when, unfortunately, in 1881, the works were totally destroyed by fire, and the labour of years lost. 

Given that Andrew Wilson and his associates established this saw mill in 1866 it was only two years later in 1868 that Spencer Sivyer (the timber man) is living in Yengarie just to the west of Maryborough.


This extract from George E. Loyau's book of 1897 gives a historical perspective of the extent of the timber industry in Maryborough from 1860 to 1895.

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Spencer's Working Life and Contribution to the Colony of Queensland

From the first recorded entry of Spencer in Queensland in 1868 until 1877 his actual life is unknown. One could assume that he was in the timber industry. In his letter to the Brisbane Courier he does speak of the Mungar Saw Mill and being there in 1875. The first record of Spencer after 1868 is when he tendered for the supply of timber that was used in the first bridge being built across the Mary River at Maryborough. This bridge replaced the Princess Ferry which operated until the bridge was built.

Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnet Advertiser Thursday October 11, 1877 
Timber For Bridge Over The Mary River at Maryborough, Sawn Stuff 
The approximate amount required is two hundred thousand (200,000) super-feet.
The sizes will average four (4) inches in thickness and six (6) inches in width.
All heart to be out of that supplied, and the timber will be restricted to ironbark, blue and spotted gum. All must be thoroughly free from all defects what so ever. Tenders to be given for delivery either side of the river, and time to state in which it will be supplied.
A deposit of ten (10) per cent will be required to be deposited on amount of order given.
Payments will be made at the rate of eighty (80) per cent on demand.

Notice of the awarding of the supply of timber for the Mary River Bridge, 1877 to Spencer Sivyer

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This photograph shows the first bridge that was constructed to connect Maryborough with the south, ca. 1876. The bridge was badly damaged in the 1893 flood and the Queensland Government decided that is was uneconomical to repair. Terms of Use This image is provided for research purposes only and must not be reproduced for other purposes without the prior permission of the Maryborough Wide Bay &​ Burnett Historical Society. Please contact the Fraser Coast Regional Libraries library@frasercoast.qld.gov.au

Spencer Sivyer and the Second Sivyer Family ( The Queensland Family)

In November of 1880 Elizabeth (Spencer's wife of 30 years) dies. In July of 1881 Spencer remarries. His new wife and future mother to Spencer's Queensland family is Harriet Coram. The separate page for information on Harriet Coram can be found here.
Harriet married Spencer on July 21, 1881 in Bundaberg. At the time of writing it is not known when all of the children from the first marriage of Spencer (to Elizabeth Hogg Bathgate) moved to Queensland. But by at least 1885 it appears that all of Spencer's descendants were now in the new colony. They were all living in the Maryborough, Bundaberg or Gympie areas. In September of 1892 Spencer Sivyer's name was on an extensive list that contained those who were to be omitted from the electoral list for Maryborough. While it is know that he had not been residing in Maryborough from before 1882 the address is given as McAdam St. Maryborough. It could be presumed that this was the Sivyer's address prior to leaving Maryborough and Spencer joining the Queensland Railways.

The marriage of Emmeline (third child to Spencer and Elizabeth) to Arthur Hurley took place at the home of Spencer on February 28, 1882. The family notices from the Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser, Tuesday March 7, 1882 states;

Marriage of Emmeline Sivyer.
Hurley — Sivyer. — On the 28th February,at the residence of the bride's parents, Moolboolaman, by the Rev. W. J. Bray, Arthur, second son of Mr. Job Hurley, contractor, of Maestaeg, Glamorganshire, South Wales, to Emmeline, second daughter of Mr. Spencer SivyerChief Inspector Bundaberg Railway Line.

Mt. Perry - Bundaberg Railway
This is the first reference to Spencer as an employee of the Queensland Railways. As Queensland Rail started in 1865, Spencer was employed when the expansion of rail was taking place. It is apparent that he was used for his knowledge and expertise in the timber industry. As an Inspector of Timbers he appears to have lived wherever new railway lines were being established. Firstly the Mount Perry to Bundaberg line then the Maryborough to Kilkivan line and in 1888 to Pimpama where the Beenleigh to Nerang line was being established. 
As stated previously Emmeline was married at Moolboolaman in 1882. Eva the first child to Spencer and Harriet was born at Gillen’s Siding. Eva was adamant in recalling her place of birth as Gillen's Siding not Moolboolaman on 18 May 1882. This may have been because the Sivyers were resident at both Gillen's Siding and Moolboolaman. Edgar Hubert Sivyer; Spencer and Harriet's second child was born at Moolboolaman on 13 March 1884. Spencer and the Sivyer family were in the Moolboolaman area for at least three years while he was working as Inspector of Timbers on this line.

image-480952-Mount Perry Bundaberg Line 1904.jpg?1440291829814
This map is courtesy of Queensland Historical Atlas web site. http://www.qhatlas.com.au/ It shows Gillen's Siding as the next stop in the line travelling west from Moolboolaman.

This file is a historical account of the Mount Perry to Bundaberg Railway Line. It appears that Moolboolaman was the last station on the first part of the line. The extension to Mount Perry was delayed due to a tunnel having to be dug through the mountain. The tunnel still exists today.

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Kilkivan Branch Railway
The Queensland Government Gazette (page 294) of 1885 states that Spencer Sivyer had two horses stolen from Dickabram, on the Woolooga - Kilkivan Railway Line. This incident occured on January 6, 1885. Both horses were bays one being 16 hands high. The Gazette of 1886 states that both were recovered. On June 18 of 1886, Walford Arnold Sivyer was born to Spencer and Harriet Sivyer at Boowoogum, Queensland. Boowoogum was a station or siding on the Kingaroy to Kilkivan Line. On December 18 of 1886 the Maryborough Chronicle and Wide Bay Advertiser published an article by a special reporter on their journey from Kilivan to Maryborough travelling on the newly completed railway. The following is taken from that article.
Shortly after leaving Brooya, a very picturesque piece of scenery comes into view; at this point a siding or cutting, with only one side, has been excavated from a spur of an adjacent mountain. The formation here was, one of the contractors asserts, phenomenally hard, and required a great quantity of dynamite and labor to accomplish the end in view, this being the hardest cutting on the whole of the line. After passing out a few miles, Bungmullerer Creek is seen to the left, and Boowoogum Station, or rather Sivyer's Siding, as it is now more euphonically termed, is reached shortly after…”
image-480953-Kilkivan Line 1904.jpg?1440292182844
This map is courtesy of the Queensland Historical Atlas web site. http://www.qhatlas.com.au/

The heritage listed Dickabram Bridge where Spencer Sivyer was an Inspector of Timbers during the construction of it in 1885 and 1886. This picture is taken from the Gympie Heritage Trail web site. http://gympieheritagetrails.com.au/k2-1/

Beenleigh to Nerang Railway Extension of the South Coast Railway
Stanley Hume Sivyer was born at Pimpama, April 23, 1888. The Brisbane Courier, Wednesday October 28, 1885 published that “In the LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY yesterday, the plan, section, and book of reference of the Southport and Nerang extension of the South Coast Railway were approved of.” It was not until 1888 that the line was and finished and opened for travel. 
The Queenslander, December 31, 1887 reported the following. “In addition to those already notified, tenders are invited in Saturday's Government Gazette for the erection of goods-sheds at Yatala, Main Camp, Pimpama, Coomera, Helen's Vale, Nerang, and Southport, on the. South Coast Railway line, tenders to be in by 4 p.m. on the 13th January next.” An assumption could be made that Spencer was at Pimpama in 1887 as the Kilkivan to Maryborough line was complete and the South Coast Line was nearing completion as tenders were being called for the erection of goods sheds in December of 1887. 

The Queenslander, January 22, 1888 reported the following from government sources. “The works on the extension of the South Coast Railway to Southport and Nerang have not of late been carried out satisfactorily. The contractor (Mr. George Basbiord) has disappeared, and it is believed he has left the colony. The Government have taken over the works, which are at present being carried on by the district engineer. During last month the progress made has, therefore, not been satisfactory. The Coomera Bridge has advanced fairly; all the cylinders are bottomed except one, and nearly all are filled with concrete. The superstructure has been completed by local founders, and will shortly be conveyed to the site. The screw piles and super structure of the Coombabah Bridge are on the ground. No progress has of late been made with the Albert River Bridge.”

The Queensland Railways Construction Division (District Engineer) was now involved with the extension to Nerang and Southport and given Spencer's experience and history of bridge and timber work this could be the reason why he and the family were at Pimpama for a short period of time? The research does show that Albert Sivyer (Spencer's son) attended the Star of Pimpama Lodge meeting in November of 1887 as reported in the Logan Witness on November 19, 1887. “The Star of Pimpama Lodge, No. 47, I.O.G.T., held its regular session on Wednesday night instant. The minutes of previous meet were read and confirmed. The following officers were installed into their respective offices for the quarter ending 31st January 1888 ….. W.S., Bro. A. Sivyer; ……..” The Logan Witness of January 7, 1888 published a list of those qualified to vote for a member in the Legislative Assembly for the electoral district of Albert. In that list is Spencer Sivyer, householder, Pimpama.
image-480955-South Coast Line 1904.jpg?1440292315229
This map is courtesy of the Queensland Historical Atlas web site http://www.qhatlas.com.au/
The North Coast Line
Apart from the significant reference in Spencer's obituary there is currently no documented evidence found to support Spencer's role in the building or establishment of the North Coast Line which was built in stages. Currently the Queensland Railway Employee Records have not been accessed to verify Spencer's exact role. The line was built from two distinct points. Gympie South and Brisbane North. The Brisbane to Caboolture line was opened on Saturday June 16, 1888 as reported in Queensland, Figaro and Punch on June 23, 1888. Ida Maud Sivyer was born on July 21, 1889 to Spencer and Harriet Sivyer at Nundah, Brisbane. The following taken from the previously mentioned newspaper on June 23, 1888 may give an explanation as to why Ida was born at Nundah. “The Caboolture railway was formally opened on Saturday last by Sir Thomas McIlwraith. This is the first section of the North Coast line to Gympie. The line leaves the Sandgate railway above Nundah.” Nundah was the station where the North Coast Line branched off as it headed north towards Caboolture. Spencer would have been stationed at Nundah when construction of the North Coast Line was taking place.

North Coast Railway between Brisbane and Gympie, ca. 1891 Picture Queensland ~ State Library of Queensland: digital image collection Publisher: John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Owing to not having accessed the Queensland Railway Employee Records there is no evidence to show where Spencer worked or lived on the North Coast Line between the years 1889 and 1892. There is family anecdotal stories passed on from Stanley and Wally Sivyer (Spencer's sons) that they lived at some time at Nambour and Nandroya. Given that the final piece of the North Coast Line was finished between Yandina and Cooroy in 1891 this coincides with Spencer retiring for the first time from Queensland Railways. In 1892 he selected 155 acres at Tinbeerwah, east of Cooory on the Tewantin - Noosa Road and named it Devon Park.

The last two sections of the North Coast Line were completed by July of 1891. The Cooran to Cooroy section (the fifth section) was opened on April 1, 1891. The last section (fourth section) Yandina to Cooroy was finally opened on Friday July 17, 1891. The Yandina to Cooroy section was the last piece opened due to the selection of the route to be taken over or around the range between Eumundi and Cooroy.

The Queenslander, April 4, 1891 reported the following in an article titled Current News. “For some time past a daily mail has been running between Brisbane and Gympie, but, pending the completion of the railway between Yandina and Cooran, about nineteen miles; that portion of the journey had to be made by coach. The break in the line has now been reduced to about ten miles, as on Ist instant the railway from Gympie was opened to Cooroy, which is nine miles nearer to Brisbane than Cooran, the former terminus. The remainder of the line is in a forward condition, but the date at which trains will be run through has not yet been decided. The Gympie mail will in future reach Brisbane at 6.12 p.m., and the Brisbane mail reach Gympie at 6.10 p.m.”

This is a copy of the article North Coast Railway Brisbane to Gympie which was published in The Queenslander, 18 July, 1891. This article has historical significance as the reporter describes the railway journey and the surrounding country side of 1891.

Download File
image-480957-North Coast Line 1904.jpg?1440292670465
This map is courtesy of the Queensland Historical Atlas web site http://www.qhatlas.com.au/
Devon Park
The following extract is from the book written by Ron Sivyer; The Story of The Families of William and Elizabeth Sivyer Who Emigrated to Australia (pages 39 to 42). The book is available on this web site at the web page Sivyer Family History.

"The Queensland Government Gazette dated 18 June 1891 shows that the 155 acres that Spencer selected was gazetted for sale at one pound or $2.00 per acre. It should be mentioned here that the Six Mile Creek in questions is the one between Cooroy and Tewantin at Tinbeerwah. The 155 acres was bounded by the Creek, Sivyer’s Road and the Gumboil Road. Land records show that the original selector was a man named S. Sigvartsen but the original grantee was Spencer Sivyer.
It is on record that Spencer paid nineteen pounds seven shillings and sixpence or $38.75 for the 155 acres from the Government. The deeds were granted to him on 11 March 1897. After the rail was opened at Cooroy, Spencer moved his family out to his farm at the Six Mile Creek. The year 1892 was given to the writer by Stanley and Walford so it is assumed that the original selector let his payments lapse.
This photograph has been taken looking from the top of the hill which is where Stanley Sivyer eventually lived looking down onto the farm house and farm where Spencer Sivyer built and where Wally Sivyer eventually lived. This is the land and surrounding area which Spencer Sivyer selected and the paper work below shows the details of this land. Stanley had often mentioned that as a very small boy when he first came to Tinbeerwah he remembered a foreigner living in a bark hut some 400 yards east of their home. This would be roughly somewhere near what is known as Fenwick’s or later Hooper’s house.
The property which Spencer selected was always known as “Devon Park” and on Gertrude’s Birth Certificate, her place of birth is given as Devon Park, Gympie. She was born on 11 December 1895. Her marriage certificate shows that she was born at Cooroy and was resident at “Devon Park”, Tinbeerwah at the time of her marriage. Percy was also born at Tinbeerwah. So it is safe to assume that it was sometime during the year of 1892 that Spencer moved to “Devon Park”, Tinbeerwah."

Queensland Railway records show that Spencer was officially removed from the employment list on November 23, 1891. This is also listed in the Queensland Government Gazette of 1892, Vol. 4, page 532. He had now officially retired from Queensland Railways.

This photograph has been taken looking from the top of the hill which is where Stanley Sivyer eventually lived looking down onto the farm house and farm where Spencer Sivyer built and where Wally Sivyer eventually lived. This is the land and surrounding area which Spencer Sivyer selected.

Spencer Sivyer - Inspector Queensland Railways - 1897 to 1903

The Queensland Railway Employee records show that Spencer was employed by them as an Inspector, Chief Engineer's Office, Construction Branch between the years 1897 to 1903. In 1903 it is stated that he is 71 years of age and on annual salary of 250 pound. The question is why did Spencer return to work for the Queensland Railways? He owned Devon Park and the deed number 84322 was registered to him. The family speak of Spencer being "called back" by the Queensland Railways. One may never know the real reason but at 64 years of age he returns to work as an Inspector providing valuable expertise, knowledge and experience in railway construction and maintenance of timber. In the period of time leading up to the turn of the twentieth century the Queensland Government had made a large financial commitment to the further construction of rail in the developing colony. Further research will be done to establish the role Spencer played in this second career with Queensland Railways.

The electoral rolls and postal records show the following information as to the residence and of life of Spencer and family between 1897 and 1903..

1897 and 1898 - Electoral records show Spencer as Grazier Cooroy
1900 - Electoral roll has Spencer as listed as Tewantin 
30/06/1900 Qld Govt. Gazette page 3180 Spencer is listed as Inspector, Construction Brach, Queensland Railways
1901 and 1902 Postal directory shows Spencer as living at Corinda, Moreton District (Queensland Railway Employee.
There is also an advertisement in the Brisbane Telegraph of October 13, 1898 stating "WANTED a young milk Cow, just calved, Ayrshire preferred. , Mrs. Sivyer, Corinda". If this is Harriet Sivyer then this places them at Corinda from 1898 to 1902. Queensland Railway records are yet to be accessed to validate this.

1903 and 1904 Postal directory shows Spencer's residence as Cooroy

There is a reference in the Gympie Times and Mary River Mining Gazette of Tuesday August, 1902 to Inspector Sivyer. “A serious accident happened at the Gympie railway station on Saturday morning, a man named James Kean, aged 56 years, falling beneath the wheels of the Brisbane train and getting his right arm badly crushed. Kean was up at the railway station when the 7 a.m. Brisbane train was going out; and was talking to Inspector Sivyer of the Railway Maintenance Department, when the train moved off. By some means he overbalanced and fell between the moving carriage and the platform, and the wheels passing over his arm, completely smashed it. Mr. H. Callaghan witnessed the accident and promptly called the attention of the engine driver, with the result that the train was immediately stopped, and further injuries to the unfortunate man averted.“

Patent Applied For
In the Queensland Government Gazette of 1899 on page 1102 a Patent Application No. 4889 was applied for on April 17. This patent was in the names of Spencer Sivyer, James Frederick Sivyer and James Spencer Alexander Sivyer. The patent was for "An Improved Coke and Lime Burning Wagon and Kiln"

Following his second retirement from Queensland Railways Spencer spent the remaining eleven years of his life at Devon Park, Tinbeerwah.

The most appropriate way to end the story of Spencer Sivyer's life is with the obituary printed in the Nambour Chronicle of July 3. 1914.


The death occurred on Thursday last of Mr Spencer Sivyer, one of the oldest residents of this district, at the age of 81 years.
Mr Sivyer was a colonist for 74 years, he having arrived in Sydney with his parents in the late thirties (1830's) and for over 50 years. He was resident of Queensland.
He was contractor and worker on the first railway built in Australia, and was engaged otherwise in the sawing, road contracting and later as Inspector of Timber and Bridges under which he oversaw the works of the North Coast Railway from Caboolture to Cooran.
On the completion of these works, he selected land in Cooroy and was engaged in the timber industry for many years, but latterly, he directed his attention to dairying.
He was highly respected by everybody and a most genial companion, and most hospitable host. He was an enthusiast in Church matters and was always ready to lend his home for the Church services, but the Methodist Church was the denomination to which he attached himself.
His health had failed for some considerable time and his friends and relations realised that his end was approaching but his faculties were good right to the last, except that his memory failed him at times. He will be sadly missed by many of his acquaintances as it was always a pleasure to sit with him for an hour and listen to his pleasant reminiscences.
He leaves a widow and 12 children, all grown to manhood and womanhood. His family altogether was 15, but 3 predeceased him.
The remains were brought to Cooroy on Friday and were interred in the Methodist portion of the Cemetery, the burial service being conducted by Rev Martin, in the presence of a very large congregation.

I would like to recognise the historical research and work performed by my father Ron Sivyer more than twenty five years ago. Ron I believe is the first of  Spencer's descendants to start researching and documenting the Sivyer story in Australia. It is due to this and the inspiration drawn from his work that this web site and my current research is due. This web site is intended to provide to the current and future "digital generation"; the work of Ron Sivyer and the previous generations of researchers as well as the new information provided by the digitisation of records housed in the online resources now available.

Please note: The following is important in the context of my current research using the on- line world and digital resources available.

The following has been given by Ron Sivyer to Betty Sutton and published in “Pioneer Families of Cooroy & District”, Edited by Betty Sutton and published in 2002 by the Cooroy-Noosa Genealogical & Historical Research Group Inc.

As at August 2015, all of the sons of Stanley and Ellen Sivyer, except for Ron, have now passed on.  Ron lives in Brisbane and at this date is 89 years of age.


Devon Park was the chosen name of the Sivyer selection, Portion 1657, at Tinbeerwah.  It is derived from Devon, in England, where Mrs Harriett Sivyer was born. Spencer Sivyer, with this wife, Harriet and family, came to the Cooroy district as an employee of the Queensland Railway.  Spencer is shown in the Railway Archives as an overseer and later as an Inspector of Bridge Timbers. He worked in various places between Bundaberg and Maryborough, namely the Mt Perry line and as far down as the Mary Valley.

Spencer was born in England and arrived at Sydney, Australia on 1 April 1839 on the ship Argyle, along with his parents, James and Sarah, brothers Fredrick and Stephen; and sisters, Elizabeth and Harriet.  In 1851, he married Elizabeth Hogg-Bathgate, in Redfern, Sydney.  They, with their family, later moved to Maryborough, where Spencer commenced employment with the Railway Department.  Their son, Archie, was born at Maryborough in 1873.  Elizabeth died at Maryborough in 1880.

The eldest son, James Spencer Sivyer, at 20 years of age, went to Gympie in the gold rush era to work in the mines.  The second child, Martha Elizabeth, is the ancestor of the Pickering, Lister, Campbell and North families of the Pomona and Cootharaba districts.  Emmeline became Mrs Hurley and moved away.  Albert went to Brisbane to work.  He married and remained there.

Archie, after he left the farm at Tinbeerwah, went to Mr Perry and later took up property in the Mackay area, where he and his family became successful sugar cane farmers.

In 1881, Spencer married Harriet Coram, a girl from Devon, England, who had arrived in Maryborough on the ship Earl Derby.  His first family, now grown into adulthood, except Archie, had left home.  Harriet reared Archie along with her own children.

As the railway line was being built north from Brisbane, he moved with it from Nambour to Nandroya, which is approximately 4 km south of Cooroy.  There was a railway gatehouse at Nandroya, at the crossing that was built for the teamsters to cross the line. In 1891, when the rail link between Cooron and Cooroy was nearing completion, Spencer selected 155 acres, Portion 1657 on the Six Mile Creek at Tinbeerwah.  He intended to create a farm for his family and to retire there.  He did not move his family there until 1892.

The property was bounded by the Six Mile Creek, Sivyer’s Road, through to the Gumboil Road, thence following the Gumboil Road south, crossing the creek on the southern side, until the boundary met up with the Walter’s property and the Gumboil Road.  The boundary went east until it met up with the current Tewantin Road at its junction with Dath Henderson Road.

Five acres was resumed for a road, later to be named Sivyer’s Road.  Part of the property is now submerged under the Lake McDonald Dam.  The purchase price was 19 pounds seven shillings and six pence ($38.75), which was rather high in those days.  The Deed of Grant for the property was granted to Spencer Sivyer in 1897.  At that time the family of Spencer and Harriet were Eva, Edgar, Walford (Wally), Stanley and Ida.  The two youngest, Gertrude and Percy, were born at the Tinbeerwah property.

The Sivyer family resided at Tinbeerwah for a short time before the Railway Department offered Spencer employment in the Brisbane area.  The elder children were of school age and requiring education so he accepted and moved in 1897, to live in the suburb of Corinda.  The family returned to Tinbeerwah in 1902.  Once the selection was cleared, dairying commenced.

Meanwhile Wally (Walford) Sivyer went to Fraser Island to work with the teamsters in timber-getting.  He had the misfortune to suffer an injury to his foot as the sult of a wagon wheel passing over it.  He later worked at Cooroy for Dath Henderson and company.  Stanley, who was born at Pimpama, in April 1888, was by this time 14 years of age.  He worked on the farm and also in the timber industry for the Dath Henderson firm.

Percy and Gerty went to school by horse and sulky to Tewantin. Then for a sort time, they went by horse and sulky into Cooroy to catch a train to Eumundi to attend school.  It is thought that they caught what was referred to as the cream train to travel back to Cooroy in the afternoon.  They then harnessed the horse and sulky in the railway yard to drive back out to the farm.

Some years passed and Wally Sivyer decided to move into the timber industry in a fairly big way.  He bought a horse team and he and Stanley began timber getting.  Upon Wally’s marriage to Ruby Dunbar in 1911, he moved into Cooroy to live, and operated his team from there.  His home was situated on the right hand side of the road, if facing south, between the overhead rail bridge and the Cooroy Golf Club House.  Ruby’s brother, Vere Dunbar, was one of the early ambulance bearers in Cooroy.

The brothers, Wally and Stanley, cut and hauled pine logs from the flat country west of Cooroy, as well as other places in the district.  Wally later disposed of the horse team in preference to a bullock team, because, as he stated, the horses required a 3 am rise every day to feed them, whereas the bullocks would feed and chew their cud during the day.

Wally purchased another property on the Gumboil Road at Tinbeerwah for the hardwood timber that grew there.  Wally, Staley and Wally’s brother in law, Vere Dunbar, established a small sawmill on the home property in the early to mid 1920s.  The location of the mill would be due west of the stone that commemorates the site of the Tinbeerwah School.  The mill area is now under the water of Lake McDonald.  Ron Sivyer, Stanley’s son, remembers the wagon days and the bullocks being yoked in the early morning.  Ï have clear memories of the sawdust heaps and the old boiler that was there for many years.”

By the time the mill began operation, Wally had purchased the main portion of the farm from his widowed mother and Stanley had another section of the farm.  After the mill close, Wally continued working with the teams from the home farm until approximately 1933 or 1934 when he sold the teams and commenced dairying.  He also became a very successful pig farmer, winning many prizes with his champion pigs.  In the early years of World War II about 1941, Wally sold his portion in Cooroy and moved his pig industry to Biloela.

Stanley developed his portion into a small crop farm, which he combined with the job of cutting railway sleepers.   Ron said, “As a boy, I can remember that we dug all the trees out and burnt them, and whatever else you have to do to clear the land.  Crops such as corn, watermelons, beans and pineapples were grown. Stanley sold his farm in 1953 and retired to live in Cooroy.

Spencer who died in 1914 aged 81, and Harriet who died in 1934, are buried side by side in unmarked graves in the Cooroy Cemetery.  Their family grew up at Tinbeerwah. 

The eldest, Eva, became Mrs George Cartwright of Gympie and is buried in Gympie Cemetery.

Edgar Hubert, tailer-out at Fenwick Brothers’ Sawmill in Cooroy, was accidentally killed in 1922, when a flitch that became caught on the saw was flung forward and hit him in the chest.  As no doctor was available at short notice, Councillor Charles Crank, a JP, was called upon to pronounce life extinct.  There is no record of “Ned” being buried in the Cooroy Cemetery yet the Coroner’s report clearly states that he was buried at Cooroy.  He left a widow and one daughter, May.

Wally, (Walford Arnold), Sivyer married Ruby Dunbar and had no children. He died in 1967 and is buried in the Aspley Cemetery.

Stanley married a Finnish girl, Ellen Marie Ronlund.  The Ronlunds were also early selectors in the area.  A road that connected the old Tewantin Road to the current Tewantin Road accessed their property. The road was there in the 1930s and used to come out onto the Tewantin Road at what was called the black bridge or via Walter’s property, where the Gumboil Road used to connect to the Tewantin Road. This road turned off just on the Cooroy side of the present brickworks and went through there.  It is now underwater of the dam, but was on the western side of what was then known as Fred Walter’s farm.

Stanley and Ellen raised five sons on their portion of 1657.  On retirement, they moved into Cooroy to live in the big house on the corner, between the ambulance station and the laneway.

Ron relates, “My father proudly told me one day that he had cut the timber for the house on the piccabeen swamp flats.”  That is on the way to Tewantin about two miles out of Cooroy. It was originally the home of the Webster family.  Mr Webster was the ambulance bearer at the time.

Mervyn, the eldest of Stanley and Ellen, on leaving school, went scrub-felling and later became a painter and sign writer.  He served five years in the armed forces during World War II and after that he worked at his trade on the Gold Coast.  He was also in the real estate business.  He now lives at Gilston, Nerang.

Maurice, the second son, started an apprenticeship with Dave Boyce of Cooroy Motors as a mechanic, but after a motor car accident he was forced to give that up.  He became an officer worker and he later purchased an undertaking business in Casino, New South Wales.  He is now retired and living at Caloundra.

The next was Ken, who, after leaving school, worked in the Cooroy district and then on properties in the Longreach district, until he joined the AIF in 1941.  After his return from the war, he grew bananas and then worked for the City Electric Light Co.  (now Energex).  He lives in retirement at Clontarf.

Ron was born at Cooroy in 1926.  He worked on farms and at sleeper cutting until joining the AIF in 1945.  After the war ended, he married Elizabeth Helen Lettman of Cooroy and moved to Lismore, NSW.  They returned to Cooroy in 1948 and moved to Brisbane in 1950.  He later joined Queensland Forestry as Communications Officer until 1986 when he retired.  Ron and Betty now live in Brisbane.

Neville, the youngest, remained in Cooroy where he lived in the old home until 1987.  He worked for a short time in the Doonan area with John Harth and also at the Cooroy Sawmill.  He joined the City Electric Light Co retiring as senior clerk in 1987.  He then sold the home in Cooroy, which had been his parents’ house and moved to Coroki in NSW, where his wife, Jean, had come from.

Many Cooroy people remember Neville as a piano accordion player at the local dances.  He was a gifted musician who played by ear, never having studied music.  Members of his mother’s family, the Finnish Ronlunds were violinists.  Neville’s grandfather Ronlund, had made violins out of local timbers and these had taken prized in the Sydney Royal Show.  While they were never violinist of nay note, they were all musical.  Stanley used to play the button accordion for the square dance calling.  Ron’s grand daughter, Melissa-Kay Sivyer, has shown quite a remarkable ability in the music world and is currently studying for a degree at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music.

The next born after Stanley was Ida.  She married Walter Fenwick, one of the Fenwick Brothers who establish Fenwicks’ Sawmill at Cooroy, where he worked for many years. Ida is buried in the Cooroy Cemetery. After Ida came Percy. He didn’t marry and lived on the farm until his mother died.  He worked at scrub felling and he later worked with Wally on the home farm and also with Stanley on his farm.   Percy is buried in the War Cemetery at Lutwyche (World War 1).  The youngest was Gertrude or Gerty, who became Mrs Bill Wall.  They farmed at Cooroy Mountain and later in the Yurol area.  Bill Wall died very early and Gerty lived on until over 80 years of age.  After retirement, she lived at Scarborough and is buried in the Redcliffe Cemetery.

The Sivyer’s neighbours on the northern side were Colletts.  Gordon Collett selected the property before World War II.  Originally he had land out along the Tewantin Road. In 1914, he gave a piece of this land for the Tinbeerwah Provisional School.  It was closed in 1916 when a new school was built.

On the eastern side, across what is now Sivyer’s Road, were Hooper’s residence and the Tinbeerwah School.  The Government had purchased a piece of the Hooper’s property for the school.  This school was opened in 1916 and closed in 1963.  The school records show that the purchase of the piece of land from the Fenwicks was in progress when they sold the farm to Hoopers.

Along the Gumboil Road was the farm of the Reids, previously owned by the Fogg family.  Martins originally selected this land.  Coming back on the western side towards Cooroy, you came to the Billy Walters junction, between Billy Walters and Fred Walter’s farms.

The southern boundary was actually the Six Mile Creek and portion of Bill Walter’s property.  Bill Walter’s farm was between the Tewantin Road and the Six Mile.  An interesting point in the Tinbeerwah history was the existence of a trotting track on the southern bank of the Six Mile Creek in Walter’s paddock.  It was built by Percy King for the purpose of training horses as trotters.

With the sale of Devon Park in 1953, Portion 1657 finally passed out of the ownership of the Sivyer family after 57 years.