Auchenflower Landowners - Part I, Arnold Wienholt

Arnold Wienholt's Auchenflower land from a 1970 cadastral map (left), overlaid on a modern Auchenflower map (right). The areas contained within the dotted lines were retained as part of the "Wienholt Estate" and the rest of the land reverted to the Crown. Wienholt Street is highlighted in blue.

Looking out over our lush and busy Auchenflower neighbourhood it’s hard to imagine it as a barren grazing land, the rolling hills interspersed with shrubs, tree stumps, creeks and cattle. But photos of colonial Brisbane prove that this was indeed the case, well into the twentieth century in some areas. Government lands were initially raided for useful timber, then cleared, grazed, sold, subdivided and built on in a pattern radiating from  Brisbane Town. The river was the first highway and it spawned some of the early villages along its path, but in between these proto-suburbs the lands laid dormant, waiting for roads and railways to pave the way for for residential construction.

In my research of house histories and past inhabitants I eventually end up with the original Deeds of Grant, documenting the passing of the crown lands into private hands. For most of the inner Western suburbs these documents date from the mid 1800’s. Written in florid and formal style and signed by the earliest governors of the colony - Bowen, Blackall etc. - they reveal the name and place of residence of the first owners. And in many cases these owners were leading citizens of their time - people of wealth, political and industrial power playing important roles in Queensland’s journey from a penal outpost to independent state.

In this series I will look closer at some of these land owners and attempt to put together short biographies based on a variety of sources. As always I favor the real-time reporting of contemporary newspapers as the most illuminating (and entertaining) source of information. And I will start at-home, with the first owner of the land that I’m sitting on right now. So please allow me to introduce Mr Arnold Wienholt, the original owner of the rather substantial area of Auchenflower land located between Birdwood Tce, Milton Rd, Bangalla St to the East and Gregory St to the West.

Arnold Wienholt was born in 1826 in Carmarthenshire, South Wales, one of thirteen siblings descending from a family of Austrian aristocrats. The family father, John Birkett Wienholt, was a successful merchant and gentleman farmer and young Arnold showed an early interest in the pastoral opportunities offered by the Australian colonies. He arrived in Sydney in the late 1840s and quickly deployed some of the family capital to acquire the Maryvale station in the Warwick district(1). Maryvale was predominantly a sheep station but Arnold transformed it into a leading Clydesdale stud by breeding local mares with stallions imported from Prince Albert's Royal Stud in England (2). The "AW1" brand of draughts became know throughout Australia, one source describing them as "a class of hourse that is always in demand - low-set, round barrelled and with plenty of action"(1).

Arnold's early success prompted three of his brothers; Edward (1833-1904), Daniel (1822-1865) and Arthur (1835-1892) to join him in 1853. Over the following decades, the "Wienholt Bros" acquired vast tracts of land including the Fassifern, Goomburra and Jondaryan stations on the Darling Downs; Degilbo on the Burnett; Saltern Creek, Katandra and Warenda in the Western districts; Mount Huton on the upper Dawson and the Rosewood and Tarampa stations in the Brisbane valley(1). The Wienholt Estates Company was floated on the London stock exchange in 1888, raising a total of a quarter of a million pounds(3). By the end of the decade their business empire comprised 290,000 acres of high-quality land as well as mills, mines, quarries and shipping(4).

Arnold's land in Auchenflower was acquired in 1869(5)  however much of it reverted to the crown and was later re-released to Simon Edwin Munro, leaving the "Wienholt Estate" to include smaller portions located to the South and South East of the area as detailed in the above map(5,6). The retained lots were carefully selected for proximity to the Auchenflower train station to the East, and the nascent North Toowong business district to the West. The remainder of the parcel would remain undeveloped until the early 1900s.

1862 - Arnold proposes a duel
Apart from his pastoral and industrial interests, Arnold held a position as JP and briefly occupied a seat in the Warwick Legislative Assembly, where he vigorously opposed any forms of "state aid" - except for rural churches and clergy - but supported the construction of a road through Cunningham's Gap and a bridge across the Condamine(2). Like most of his peers he openly used his public position to further his own interests and those of his squattocrat fraternity.

A search of the newspaper archives reveals hundreds of clippings relating to Arnold's rather mundane political life, his memberships of various clubs and organisations, land and livestock transactions etc. A more sensational story, referred to as "An Affair of Honour" by the Brisbane Courier, began as a "difficulty" between Arnold and a Lieutenant Seymor at an Ipswich clubhouse in February 1862. The two agreed to settle the matter by duel, the redcoat preferring pistols and Wienholt swords. They were prevented from resolving the matter on the spot and agreed to rendezvous in Brisbane, which gave the Ipswich magistrate enough time to forewarn his Brisbane colleagues. Tempers eventually cooled and the gentlemen decided to "reserve their valor for a more fitting occasion"(6). The cause of the dispute was however kept under wraps.
1858 - Arnold captures
a  horse thief

On another occasion, in the winter of 1858, a "notorious horse stealer" lost his way and approached Maryvale for directions. Arnold recognized the man from a description left by his pursuers, pulled him off the horse and bound him to his hands and feet. The subsequent act where the criminal escapes and is re-captured reads like a Wild West novel, as per the attached newspaper clip(7).

At the end of the 1870s Arnold retired to Switzerland. He made several trips back to the colony to but eventually died unmarried in the Locarnio Grand Hotel in the winter of 1895(1). His nephew Arnold, son of Edward, later rose to great local fame as a big game hunter, Boer War hero and politician. Rosamond Siemon reflected in The "Eccentric Mr Wienholt" that "very few Wienholt men lived mundane lives. They liked to be where important things were happening"(8). But by the mid 1900's the Wienholt's role in Queensland's history was finished. Maryvale was sold in 1908 and subdivided into farms(2). The homestead is long gone but a street in the nearby township still bears the Wienholt name. The Estates Company was wound up in 1916 and the family line eventually disappeared from the continent(1).

Arnold's Auchenflower land passed to his remaining relatives and was advertised and auctioned in lots between the years 1888 and 1912(6). The auctioneer for many of the sales was William Kellett and the land that was surrendered to the crown was eventually purchased by Simon Edwin Munro. We will look at these gentlemen in later posts.

(1) The History of Queensland, Its People and Industries; States Publishing Company, 1919-1922
(2) The early history of the Warwick District and Pioneers of the Darling Downs, T. Hall, 1925
(3) The Daily News, 8 November 1888
(4)  Yes, I have this ref somewhere in my database and I will find it
(5)  Department of Natural Resources and Mines; Deed of Grant of Land no 775; 16th July 1860
(6) Land sales notices in the Brisbane Courier; 24 Sept 1888, 3 Oct 1893, 14 Dec 1897, 14 Sept 1912; 13 Nov 1912
(5) McKellar's Map of Brisbane and Suburbs; Surveyor General's Office; 1895 

(6) Brisbane Courier; 15 February 1862
(7) The North Australia, Ipswich and General Advertiser; 24 Aug 1858
(8) The Eccentric Mr Wienholt; Rosamund Siemon; University of Queensland Press; 2005

If you have any additional information or corrections to this particular subject please let me know. 


  1. Just read your interesting article on the Wienholts. Just to say that they originated from Germany as merchants, and were not aristocrats from Austria. It's the first photo I have seen of Arnold Wienholt which was interesting - the family likeness has continued.
    Helen Faircliff (nee Wienholt)

  2. Thanks Helen - great to hear from a real Wienholt! Do you know of any official source for this information? The Austrian origins are mentioned in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.