Springsure - Culture and History

The area around Springsure was first explored by Ludwig Leichhardt during his 1844-45 journey through central Queensland. Leichhardt eventually reached Port Essington in the Northern Territory and, upon his return to Sydney in 1846, his glowing reports of the area around the Comet River prompted graziers to move into the area.

Some kind of town sprang up at Springsure as early as 1859 although it wasn't surveyed and gazetted until 1863.

The Aboriginal resistance to the encroachment of Europeans was courageous and violent. At Cullin-la-ringo (north-west of the town) a group of Kairi warriors killed nineteen people in the largest recorded massacre of whites in Australian history. It is likely that the massacre was prompted by a combination of frustration at the loss of land and as an act of revenge for the atrocities which were being committed with monotonous regularity by both the whites (who were eager to rid themselves of the Aborigines) and the dreaded native police who had stolen tribal women.

It is still possible to see the mass grave in which the victims were buried but the residents of Mount Helmut station discourage visitors because of a bad record of disturbing livestock and being careless with rubbish and fire. Ask at Old Rainworth Station for more details.

The massacre at Cullin-la-ringo occurred before any kind of permanent building could be constructed. All buildings on the site post-date the killings. It is therefore worth visiting Rainworth Fort, which is located 10 km south-west of the town near the Wealwandangie Road, which was constructed in 1862 a year after the Cullin-la-Ringo massacre. It is not clear whether, as is suggested by the name 'fort', it was built to resist Aboriginal attack. Certainly it was designed as a storehouse not a home. The diary of Jesse Gregson, part-owner and manager of the station, states that the building was designed as a store house. The name 'fort' has grown as a legend.

It is ironic that the massacre at Cullin-la-Ringo was probably as a result of an attack made on the local Aborigines by Jesse Gregson who was manager of Rainworth Station. The local Aborigines had 'stolen' 300 sheep (they probably thought they had a right to them as when Gregson arrived at their camp they invited him to share their meal) and Gregson responded by shooting a number of them.

Cattle duffers, the Kenniff brothers overlanded to Springsure in 1891 after being convicted of stock stealing in northern New South Wales. They undertook bush work, raced horses and opened books on the local race meetings, before moving on to more dubious activities on the Upper Warrego (see entry on Mitchell).

The area around Springsure is characterised by a rich black clay soil which, in recent times, due to extensive irrigation, has produced a range of crops including sunflowers. In season the fields of sunflowers to the south of the town put on a spectacular display.