Auchenflower Landowners - Part II, Simon Munro

Simon Munro's Auchenflower land holding from the 1904 Grant of Land to the left, and highlighted on a 
modern map to the right. Munro Street is highlighted in blue.

Is your house located in the Auchenflower area highlighted in red? If so, your land was once the property of  a colonial grazer, sportsman and pioneer of the Australian pearling industry - Simon Edwin Munro (1865-1945). 

Simon's land was acquired by a 1904 Grant of Land covering an area measuring "sixty acres, two roods and twenty six perches", equivalent to 245,000 or so square meters. He had no intention of retaining the land which was immediately sub-divided and on-sold in more than 150 separate transactions from 1904 to 1919(1). In many cases adjacent plots were picked up by the same developer, which can be seen in streets where the houses are of the same original design. The full Deed of Grant for Simon Munro's land, signed by none other than the honorable Herbert Chermside, is available here for anyone researching the history of these properties. 

Simon "Gongie" Munro
As for Simon Munro the man, he was born in Toowoomba in 1865 to Scottish immigrant parents and moved to Brisbane as a youth to attended the Normal School in Fortitude Valley. Leaving school at 13 he spent the next 15 years working his way to the position of Manager of the building materials merchant James Campbell & Sons on Creek St, which was owned by his uncle. After a few years managing a pearling operation on Friday Island he struck out on his own, and in 1896 formed the partnership of Munro, Outridge & Co which over the following years acquired several pearling ships operating in the Torres Strait and Arafura Sea(2)

The fortunes of the company, as well as of many other pearling operations in the North, were severely tried by hurricane Mahina which devastated the Cape in March 1899. In one of the greatest maritime disasters in Australian history some 70 vessels and 407 lives were lost when the Category 5 hurricane swept across Princess Charlotte Bay, which at the time contained almost all of the North Queensland pearling fleet. Simon Munro and his two brothers were initially reported as lost on the ship "Silvery Wave" but in fact were among the few who managed to ride out the storm on board their sturdy 102 ton schooner "Aladdin"(2). The storm surge generated by the weather system reached a height of almost 15 meters and in some areas it reached 5 km inland. It was one of the most intense hurricanes observed in the Southern hemisphere and the most devastating ever to hit the Australian East coast(3).

"Gongie" preparing for a dive 
on the ship "Crest of the 
Wave", late 1890's
The pearling fleet was re-built and Simon's presence in the industry continued for several decades, but by the beginning of the new century he became increasingly involved in the pastoral industry and acquired a portfolio of land holdings. Other interests included directorships of the Brisbane Gas Company and the Telegraph newspaper, and of course memberships of several prominent Brisbane clubs. 

Following his marriage to Mary Hunter in 1910 he took residence in "Darlo", on Bellevue Terrace in Clayfield. The couple had two daughters who after the death of their mother in 1934 made a donation to the University of Queensland for a scholarship in Modern Languages in her memory. A second donation founded a scholarship in Agricultural Science. The scholarships are still active and awarded yearly to students showing exceptional proficiency in their respective fields.

Simon died in 1945 following complications from a stroke, and his remains rest at the Mount Gravatt cemetery.

"Aladdin"

Sources:
(1) Department of Natural Resources and Mines; Deed of Grant of Land no 90955; 23rd July 1904
(2) Simon Edwin Munro biography, http://www.highland-pony.com/pearling/simon%20edwin%20munro.html, accessed, 23/01/2013
(3) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclone_Mahina, accessed 23/01/2013
(4) Brisbane Courier, 27 January 1914
(5) TBC


Photos were sourced from the Munro Family History Website.


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

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