Life on a Selection

Original author Anthony Healy. From Museum records. Compiled by Barry Kenny.

It was in 1886 that Anthony and Ann Healy (Flanagan) decided to take up a Selection on Burnett Creek on the Upper Logan River; they were married eighteen months with a seven month old daughter.  

They set out on a bitterly cold day in May with a pick and shovel and two shillings and sixpence (2/6d) to their name.  Ann and the daughter rode their horse ‘Roany’ while Michael walked beside them.  It took three days to reach their selection.

On arrival they lived under a friend’s dray until they had built a Bark Hut.  They stripped the bark from trees and used saplings on both sides to try and keep the bark as flat as possible.  The hut measured 4.5 metres by 3 metres with a dirt floor.  Their bed was made of blady grass laid on the floor.  All cooking was done in the Galley outside.  Ann Healy (Flanagan) was a kind caring lady with great culinary skills and a capacity for hard work.  Ann had an extraordinary Christian faith, she was always calm though life on a Selection was not.  Folklore tells us in no uncertain words “She was a saint, a woman of great generosity”.  Twelve children were born to them, two were still born and one lost in an accident.  

Now they had a shelter Michael got work on the roads, ten hours a day, six days a week for two pounds and eight shilling  (£2/8/-) per week.  Ann worked grubbing round trees uncovering tree roots while Michael was away, both working on weekends and evenings stoking fires round the trees to clear them for a cultivation.

Heavy rain occurred and washed away the Hut and all their possessions with it.  They rebuilt in the same place since they only had kerosene tins to carry and store water in.  Michael and Ann cleared enough land to plant a patch of corn, it was a bumper crop.  Harvesting was done by hand at night, husked and shelled also by hand it was taken 75 miles to Brisbane Market taking seven days.  They received five shillings (5/-) for a four bushel bag.  (1 Bushel of Corn = 25.4 Kg.).

Trees were felled and split into palings to make a Pig Pen.  In winter the pigs were killed and the bacon taken to Brisbane calling at Hotels and Barry and Roberts (still in existence in the 1950s) to sell it.  The trip took two weeks and they returned with a large supply of groceries.  

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