Easter celebrations figure large in the annuals of St George’s Church Aramac. How do I know? Following a visit to Aramac in October last year, intrigued by people I met and what I saw, I decided to explore the history of Aramac, in particular, the early days of Aramac’s St George’s Church.

Do you know that Aramac is one of the oldest towns in Queensland’s central west? Do you know that the original St George’s Church Aramac was the first church built in the central west? These are two of the discoveries I made.

Moreover, I discovered that Easter celebrations coincided with two of St George’s and the town’s red-letter days.

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St George’s Church Aramac today. Photo source: Private collection 2019.

 

NOTE: A list of references I used in preparing this story is found at the end of the post. References are numbered and noted throughout the text by brackets: [X].

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The 50 days of Easter

For many people, Easter is a four-day holiday that begins on Good Friday, includes Easter Sunday (when the Easter bunny visits) and ends on Easter Monday. However, Easter is much more than that. Easter does not actually include Good Friday, nor does it last for just four days.

According to the Christian Church calendar, Easter is a period of 50 days, beginning on Easter Sunday (or Easter Day) and ending on Pentecost Sunday. The 50 day period is sometimes called Eastertide. For Christians, Easter is a season of great rejoicing, as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (Easter Sunday) and the descent of the promised Holy Spirit on Jesus’ disciples (Pentecost Sunday).

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About Aramac and St George’s Church today

Aramac is a small town and locality in the Barcaldine Region of central western Queensland. It’s located 68 kilometres north of Barcaldine and 530 kilometres west of Rockhampton. At the 2016 census, Aramac’s population was 299. [1]

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Aramac Hotel, Gordon Street, Aramac, Queensland. Photo source: Private collection 2019.

 

During a visit to Aramac last year, my husband and I had lunch at the Aramac Hotel. Today, it’s the only hotel in the town. Here we met a few of the locals. One man of “about 60” happily told me his story. “Ampy” has lived at Aramac all his life, as did his parents before him. Ampy was a source of much information about Aramac. For example, he told me about Aramac’s four hotels, when each one was built and what happened to the other three. When I asked him about Aramac’s churches, he said “There used to be three, now there are two.” He told me where to find them. I asked, “Are they still in use?” “Oh, yes,” he replied, “for weddings and funerals.”

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Ampy, one of the locals I met at the Aramac Hotel. Photo source: Private collection 2019.

 

St George’s Anglican Church is one of Aramac’s two church buildings still used as a place of worship today.

It’s one of the churches of the Barcaldine Mission District (the former Barcaldine Parish), along with St Peter’s (Barcaldine), St Mark’s (Alpha) and St Matthew’s (Jericho). The Barcaldine Mission District is part of The Anglican Church Central West Queensland. The Central West region of the Anglican Diocese of Rockhampton is vast, the size of a small county. It comprises three parishes (Longreach, Winton and Barcoo) and the Barcaldine Mission District.

The Reverend (Rev) Graeme Liersch currently oversees three of these (Longreach, Winton and Barcaldine). Rev Liersch’s position, and that of his wife, Rev Susan Liersch, is supported by The Bush Church Aid Society

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Rev Graeme Liersch and my husband, after a service at St Peter’s, Barcaldine, 27 October 2019. Photo source: Private collection 2019.

 

As far as I am aware, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and church closures, Rev Liersch conducted a communion service at St George’s Church Aramac once every two months.

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Aramac’s early days

European settlers came to the district from the early 1860s. Wealthy pastoralists took up large tracts of land, such as Bowen Downs (1862) and Aramac Station (1863), raising sheep and cattle. The Iningai people were the original inhabitants of this part of Queensland. [2]

In 1869, the Queensland colonial government set aside land by Aramac Creek as a town site. Here, John (Jack) Kingston had already opened a rudimentary store and James Watt ran a hotel. [3] A post office opened in March 1874. In 1875, the town was surveyed and named “Aramac”. Prior to that, the locals called the town “Marathon”. [4]

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Historic marker cairn, Gordon Street, Aramac, Queensland.

 

By mid-1878, Aramac boasted four stores, three hotels, three butchers’ shops, a post office, bank, courthouse and surgery. There was a provisional school with 15 pupils. The town had a police magistrate, medical practitioner and bank manager (Queensland National Bank). [5]

The town continued to grow and prosper. By the end of 1879, Aramac had a local newspaper, soda water factory, watchmaker’s shop, chemist shop and a fourth hotel. A hospital building had been completed and a primary school and teacher’s residence were being constructed. [6] However, these additions didn’t include a church building:

Our great public want is a court-house. … We have a fine hospital, which will be opened to patients in the early part of next month; a post and telegraph office, roomy, complete, and well built; and a school and teacher’s residence now in course of construction. When these buildings are finished we shall possess most of the appliances of modern Christianity and civilisation, a public reading-room and a church being notable by their absence. [7]

Aramac’s first church services

By 1881, Aramac had a population of 398. [8] In 1882, after persistent complaints about the unsuitability of the town’s courthouse, Aramac gained a new courthouse. The new building was ready for use in January 1883. Mr Hugh Milman was Aramac’s police magistrate at the time. [9]

The new courthouse provided a suitable venue for Aramac’s first public church services. Mr Milman, a layman, inaugurated weekly Sunday evening services in the courthouse by reading the Order of Evening Prayer from the Church of England Prayer Book. [10]

Around the same time (1883), the Anglican Diocese of Brisbane sent its first clergyman to Queensland’s central west.

The district’s first Anglican clergymen

In 1883, the Rev John Alldis, recently arrived from England, came to work in the Aramac-Muttaburra district. [11] He was the first Anglican clergyman to serve in Queensland’s central west. Rev Alldis conducted services and provided pastoral ministry not only in and around Aramac and Muttaburra (in the north), but as far south as Blackall. There were no church buildings, a widely scattered “flock”, and few converts. [12, 13] He was constantly on the go, with no fixed church base. Rev Alldis laboured in this seemingly impossible role for two years (1883-1884). [14]

In the meantime, Anglican laypersons continued to conduct weekly Sunday evening services at Aramac’s courthouse. It is not clear how many people came to these services, but I suspect the number was few, sadly. “Religion does not seem to be a strong point on the Aramac” wrote one commentator in 1887 in relation to these services. [15]

Rev George L Lester (1886-1889) followed Alldis. During his tenure, Rev Lester performed “remarkable self-denying work” [16] in the ever-expanding Mitchell District of Queensland’s central west. Like Alldis before him, Rev Lester had no fixed church base. He travelled extensively and tirelessly throughout the district.

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1877. Aramac Station. One of the many stations Rev George Lester visited in course of his ministry. Photo source: State Library of Queensland. Public domain.

 

The following extract from one of Rev Lester’s half yearly reports gives some idea of the nature and scope of his ministry, and his vision for the church [17]:

July, 1888.

My Dear Friends.

I wish to put before you my third half-yearly report of church work, and to draw your attention to a few points which, I think, may be worth your consideration with regard to the future of the Church of England in this district:

Holy Communion celebrated 8 times. Baptisms, 27; Marriages, 8; Funerals, 1.

STATIONS visited (nearly all twice in the 6 months): Crusoe, Hardington, Tower Hill, Culloden, Lerida, Kensington, Greenhills, East Darr, Evesham, Corona, Silsoe, Vergemont, Kempsie, Maneroo, Strathdarr, Bimbah, Beaconsfield, Rodney Downs, Coreena, Stainburn, Aramac Station, Sardine Creek, Bowen Downs, Reedy Creek, Tuaburra, Ambo, Crossmore, Tablederry, Mt Cornish.

WOOLSHEDS: Aramac, Coreena, Rodney Downs, Bowen Downs.

TOWNS: Muttaburra, Aramac, Forest Grove.

The attendance at Church during the half-year has been very good in Aramac, reaching 64 as a maximum, but in Muttaburra there has been a noticeable falling off, except at the Good Friday evening service, when we numbered 45. The Sunday School attendance at Aramac has also been regular, while in Muttaburra the removal of several Church of England families has pulled down our members considerably. I do not, however, think that this is anything more than a temporary diminution of our congregation in Muttaburra, for there is every reason to hope that others will take the place of those of the church members who have left.

And this brings me to a subject which I wish to bring under your notice, viz.: that of starting a fund for building a church in Muttaburra. … It may be a selfish consideration to urge, but it is nevertheless true that the burden of a clergyman’s work in these bush districts is materially increased by the absence of any one place specially set apart for the holy services in which it is his privilege to take part. …If it does nothing else, will secure to this district its character of a settled church parish, and give it every hope of a succession of resident clergymen.

I am your faithful friend and pastor,

GEORGE L. LESTER.

Note that, in July 1888, Rev Lester made a plea for a church building at Muttaburra. In the meantime, the Anglican folk at Aramac were making plans to erect a building in their town.

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Aramac’s first church building (Easter, 1889)

It seems that planning for Aramac’s first church building commenced sometime in 1888. The congregation established a Church of England building fund. By October 1888, £105 had been raised:

The Church of England Building Fund has now reached the sum of £105, the majority of which has been subscribed in our lazy little town, and when we obtain a few subs from some of our squatters in the neighbourhood there is no doubt that the building will be taken in hand.[18]

Construction commenced in February 1889. Mr H R Brown donated land adjoining his business premises in Burt Street as the site for the new building. Mr Lowther, the building contractor, planned to have the structure finished in time for Easter (Easter Sunday fell on 21 April that year). Given the Easter deadline, the people of Aramac anticipated that Rev Lester would be present for the opening of the building. [19]

Mr Lowther completed the plain four-walls and iron roof building with plenty of time to spare. He handed it over to the building fund committee on 28 March 1889. The little church, when the pews were added, seated 100. The interior was tastefully furnished. Sage green and maroon curtains adorned the chancel. The altar cloth was sage green material trimmed with lace and old gold bands down the middle. Neatly-patterned matting covered the floor of the chancel. [20]

Aramac’s St George’s Church building was a first for central western Queensland. Rev Lester conducted the first two services in the building on Sunday 7 April 1889, two weeks before Easter. However, Rev Lester and the church folk put off the building’s official opening until Easter Sunday, a more suitable day on which to celebrate their achievement. [21]

Thus, the official opening of St George’s Church Aramac, on 21 April 1889, was the first of the church’s and Aramac’s two red-letter days that coincided with Easter celebrations.

A dearth of clergymen

The Anglicans of Aramac had a church building, but no resident clergyman. Rev Lester continued to spend his time travelling throughout the district, conducting services at little settlements, isolated stations and in the towns. He completed his term of service in 1889. [22]

In 1894, however, Rev Lester returned to the region, this time as Archdeacon of the West. [23] He chose Longreach, not Aramac, as his home base. Longreach was the new boom town of the central west, the railway line west from Rockhampton having reached Longreach in 1892. The anticipated rail link between Barcaldine and Aramac didn’t eventuate, a blow for the people of Aramac. (Some years later the Aramac Shire Council itself built a rail link between the two towns.) Longreach was about 420 miles (675 km) west of Rockhampton and about 70 miles (112 km) south west of Aramac.

Nevertheless, Rev Lester didn’t neglect the people of Aramac. He planned to visit the town once a month [24]:

The Rev Mr Lester, Church of England, arrived in town on an informal visit last Friday, coming from Mount Cornish. As he stayed over Sunday he held a children’s service at ten o’clock, and the usual services at eleven o’clock and eight in the evening, when he preached to a large congregation, the little church being full. A number of parents took advantage of Mr Lester’s presence in Aramac to have their children baptised, there being services for that purpose at both morning and evening services. It is Mr Lester’s intention to settle at Longreach shortly, and work the district from there, visiting Aramac about once a month.

By mid-1895, the Anglicans of Longreach had erected a church building of their own. The Right Rev Nathaniel Dawes, Bishop of the newly-formed Anglican Diocese of Rockhampton, consecrated the small wooden Church of St Andrew at Longreach on 7 July 1895. [25]

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St Andrew’s Anglican Church, Longreach, c. 1908. Photo source: State Library of Queensland. Public domain.

 

As Archdeacon of the West (1894-1897), Rev Lester single-handedly covered great tracts of land, faithfully ministering to the people of the west. He was constantly on the move and endured much hardship. When at Longreach, for example, he slept in the church vestry (there was no rectory) “amid hundreds of huge cockroaches”.  [26]

A time of planting

In 1897, Rockhampton’s Bishop Dawes came up with a scheme to provide more effective ongoing Christian ministry in the west. What Dawes envisaged was a team of “brothers” – young, unmarried, ordained men with no encumbrances – who would dedicate themselves to this bush ministry for several years at a time. The brotherhood, as opposed to a person ministering alone, aimed to meet the clergyman’s need for companionship – to overcome the mental and spiritual burden of loneliness – and provide greater continuity of ministry in the west. To keep costs at a minimum, the Church would provide the brothers with a place to live, food, clothing and basic transport. But little or no remuneration. [27]

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The Right Rev Nathaniel Dawes, first Anglican Bishop of Rockhampton, 1892-1908. He was the first bishop to be consecrated in Australia. Photo source: State Library of Queensland. Public domain.

 

Bishop Dawes’ supporters in England accepted his scheme and agreed to help fund it and solicit recruits. Thus, the Bush Brotherhood of St Andrew, based at Longreach, became a reality. [28]

The Bush Brotherhood of St Andrew

The first bush brother, George Halford, arrived at Longreach on 14 September 1897. Rev Halford was a young, enthusiastic English priest, not long out of Oxford. Soon after, two other young ordained Englishmen, Tom Chapman and Alexander Perry, joined him. Halford was head brother. [29]

The brothers lived communally at Longreach in a specially designed house. The so-called Mission House was a large well-built dwelling, with excellent amenities and five comfortable bedrooms (catering for up to five brothers, each with a room of his own). A large central lecture hall served as meeting room as well as a classroom for catechism and Sunday School classes. In the early days, the Mission House and the small wooden Church of St Andrew stood on either side of a bare yard. [30]

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St Andrew’s House (The Mission House, 1897), original home of the Bush Brotherhood of St Andrew. Photo source: Private collection 2017.

 

The three brothers began their ministry almost immediately. Besides the Longreach district (which had a population of about 2000 by this time), their charges included Aramac, Barcaldine and Ilfracombe. They travelled via an American-type buggy – a four-wheeled vehicle drawn by two horses. [31] Once every three weeks, for Sunday services, one brother went to Aramac, a second brother went to Barcaldine and a third brother stayed at Longreach. [32]

One of the brothers led a service at Ilfracombe once every three weeks, usually a weekday evening. In fact, with Brother Perry to help them, the Anglicans at Ilfracombe began to build a church. They already had a block of land and, less than a year after the advent of the bush brothers, the congregation had a building of their own. Bishop Dawes dedicated Ilfracombe’s little Church of St John on 1 July 1898. [33]

As congregations in the central west grew and became established through the ministry of the bush brothers, church buildings followed. The Church of St Peter at Barcaldine was opened and dedicated on Saturday 28 October 1899. [34] At Winton, the parishioners had their new church building completed and ready for use by December 1899. In fact, Brother Alexander Perry, who moved from Longreach to Winton at the end of 1898 to become Winton’s first rector, designed the building himself! [35] Winton’s Church of St Paul was officially opened and dedicated in February 1900. [36]

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St Peter’s Anglican Church, Barcaldine, Queensland. Photo source: Private collection 2019.

 

A new church building for Aramac (Easter, 1913)

Aramac’s first church building, St George’s (1889), served the people of Aramac for more than 20 years. However, members of the Anglican community at Aramac looked forward to the time when they could afford a new, larger and more suitable building than the one they had. It took years for them to raise sufficient funds. In fact, by the time the new church building became a reality in 1913, many of those who initiated the project had either left the district or been gathered to their fathers. [37]

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c. 1906. The main street of Aramac, Queensland. W. F. Thompson General Store and the Royal Hotel can be seen. Photo source: Aussie Mobs. Public domain.

 

The dedication and official opening of the new St George’s Church Aramac was scheduled for 30 March, the Second Sunday of Easter, 1913. For days before and after, the town was a hive of activity, due to a large influx of visitors who came from Barcaldine and Longreach for the special occasion. [38] 

Never before had the little town of Aramac seen such a large number of clergy in its midst. (And perhaps it hasn’t since!) All five bush brothers, as well as other clergy, were there. Given that Aramac was under the aegis of the Bush Brotherhood of St Andrew and an important part of the great Mitchell District, on such an occasion as the dedication of a new church, all members of the Brotherhood made an effort to be present. Other clergy, including the Bishop of Rockhampton, the Right Rev Dr George Halford (the first St Andrew’s bush brother, 1897-1902) arrived from Barcaldine on the Friday. [39]

For the occasion, the Aramac Tramway management put on the fine new car, which had been lying in a shed at Mildura, waiting for the official opening of the tram line linking Barcaldine and Aramac. From where the rail line ended (it had not yet reached Aramac), passengers travelled the rest of the way to Aramac by road. [40] (The tramway was officially opened three months later, on 2 July 1913, although the line between Barcaldine and Aramac was not completed until September 1913.) 

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September 1913. Engine No. 1 with the first train to arrive at Aramac. Photo source: State Library of Queensland. Public domain.

 

At Aramac, Mr A J H Elliott, one of St George’s churchwardens and manager of the Aramac branch of the Bank of New South Wales, accommodated Bishop Halford at his home. Most of the other clergy stayed at the Royal Hotel. [41]

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Shearers outside the Royal Hotel, Aramac, Queensland, 1920. Photo source: State Library of Queensland. Public domain.

 

About the new St George’s Church Aramac 

Messrs Sam Clelland & Co of Barcaldine erected the new building alongside the old one. Mr A J H Elliott (architect) designed the structure, complete with chancel, vestry and vestibule. The building stands on four-foot (approximately 1.2 m) blocks and the roof overhangs two feet (approximately 0.6 m). The windows are gothic-headed lancet, frosted, and open on a pivot. There are six on either side, which helps cool the interior when all six are open. All the windows have mouldings, which are varnished. The walls are hardwood, the timber’s colour giving the appearance of age. Inside, the ceiling is made of Maryborough pitch pine. There is an arched opening to the sanctuary, which is carpeted. The font is a large clam shell set in an iron stand, a novel addition to the new church. The ladies of the church made the altar frontals and other linen items that adorn the interior of the building. The building was completed entirely debt-free. [42]

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St George’s Church Aramac today. Photo source: Private collection 2019.

 

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St George’s Church Aramac today, another view. Photo source: Private collection 2019.

 

A time of rejoicing

Celebrations began on the Saturday evening at the Aramac Masonic Hall with a reception for the clergy, invited guests and out-of-town visitors. A large number of Aramac folk attended. George Halford, now the Bishop of Rockhampton, addressed the gathering. Clearly, he had a keen interest in how the Anglican church at Aramac had progressed since the time he laboured in the district, first as a bush brother and more recently as Archdeacon of the Mitchell District (which covered most of the central west). He began his address by relating interesting reminiscences of his early days in the district.

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The Right Rev Dr George Halford, second Bishop of Rockhampton, 1909-1920. Photo source: State Library of Queensland. Public domain.

 

In his remarks, which were highly congratulatory, Bishop Halford reminded his listeners that Aramac was one of the oldest centres of church life in Central Queensland. He said, “The first church building in the district was erected at Aramac.” Bishop Halford spoke highly of Rev Lester’s work in infusing life into the Church before the advent of the Brotherhood and the part Rev Lester played in Aramac gaining its first church building in 1889. He concluded by saying:

The church at Aramac has progressed since those days. The result is the fine building I will dedicate on the morrow. I hope you will make good use of the church, and make a point of attending the services, which will be held at least monthly.

The main celebrations took place at the church the following day, Sunday 30 March, the Second Sunday of Easter. Four services were held: two in the morning, one in the afternoon (a confirmation service) and one at night. All were well attended.

For the Dedication, Consecration and Choral Eucharist service (the main morning service), and Evensong at night, the church was packed. Both services involved much pomp and ceremony (as is common in the Anglo-Catholic tradition) and included an impressive procession of clergy and church officials, congregational hymn-singing, prayers, Bible readings, a sermon and significant contributions by the well-conducted and well-prepared choir. The morning service lasted 3 hours and the evening service 2 hours!

NOTE: The preceding account of events associated with the dedication of the new St George’s Church Aramac is based on a newspaper report entitled “Church of England, Aramac. Dedication of St George’s Church. An Imposing Function.” [43]

Thus, the Second Sunday of Easter 1913 was another red-letter day, not only for St George’s Church Aramac, but also for the people of Aramac and district. It was surely the highlight of Easter celebrations that year.

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A time of mourning

Just over a week after the dedication of St George’s Church Aramac, the people’s jubilation turned to sorrow. One of the bush brothers died suddenly and became the first person to be buried from the new church building.

In 1913, the Brotherhood of St Andrew comprised five brothers: Reverends C M E Hicks (head brother), Frederick Hulton-Sams, E H Coulcher, Walter Park and Guy Maude-Roxby. All five took part in the services associated with the dedication of Aramac’s new church building on Sunday 30 March.

Unfortunately, Rev Maude-Roxby came down with a fever following the morning service, and was unable to participate in the afternoon and evening services. The next day he had such a high fever he was hospitalized. The attending doctor diagnosed typhoid fever. As the days passed, Maude-Roxby’s condition worsened.

On Saturday evening, the doctor summoned the Brotherhood. Rev Park was in Aramac, Rev Coulcher in Barcaldine, Rev Hicks and Rev Hulton-Sams were at Longreach and Jericho respectively. They all came immediately. Rev Hicks and Rev Hulton-Sams, who had the farthest to travel, arrived very early on Sunday morning (the Third Sunday of Easter). At the hospital the brothers were allowed to see Rev Maude-Roxby for a short while. They all spoke to him and received his blessing.

The next day, Monday 7 April, at 8.30 am, the four brothers held a communion service in the hospital ward. Although very weak and in pain, Maude-Roxby joined in and was greatly blessed. Shortly afterwards, he lapsed into a coma. The doctor gave the brothers the bad news: Maude-Roxby had intestinal perforation, so there was little hope of recovery.

On Monday evening, a surgeon came from Barcaldine to perform emergency surgery. The operation was successful. However, very early on Tuesday morning, Maude-Roxby took a turn for the worse. Again, the brothers were called. By 4.00 am, all four were by Maude-Roxby’s bedside. He was still conscious, and each brother said “Goodbye”. Rev Guy Maude-Roxby died peacefully at 6.30 am on Tuesday 8 April.

With Mr Roxby’s last breath the sun sprang up and blazed on the whole bed and the clergy around it. We are informed Mr Roxby had a most beautiful death, and that he was quite resigned and content in the knowledge that his Lord was with him. As he had lived in his Faith, so has he left all a lesson by the manner in which he passed away.

Rev Maude-Roxby’s unexpected illness and death shocked not only the Anglican community but also the many who knew, appreciated and loved him in his private life. The young English clergyman had been a member of the Brotherhood of St Andrew for just over 2 years; he was 26 years old. For 12 months, Rev Maude-Roxby worked at Barcaldine. Recently, during Lent, he had been stationed at Muttaburra where, it is thought, he contracted the disease that brought about his untimely death. (I’ve written about this disease previously, in A Deadly Disease: Rannes, Queensland, in the 1920s and 1930s.)

The first funeral service in the new church

Rev Maude-Roxby’s funeral service was the first one held in the new church. The service was scheduled for 6.30 pm on Wednesday 9 April. The brothers chose that day and hour to allow Bishop Halford (who had returned to Rockhampton after the dedication), and folk from Barcaldine, ample time to reach Aramac.

By the time the service began, a large crowd had congregated, inside and outside the church.

One could almost feel the sorrow that seemed to permeate the precincts of the little church, which only a few days previously the late Rev Maude-Roxby had so joyfully and reverently assisted to dedicate. Few dreamt that their beloved pastor would, in but a week’s time, be the first to be buried from the little church.

The four remaining bush brothers and St George’s two churchwardens comprised the six pall bearers. As Bishop Halford led a procession bearing the coffin into the church, and as the coffin was placed on the trestles in front of the chancel, the choir sang the hymn On the Resurrection Morning.

Every eye seemed to be riveted on the sacred casket. Everywhere in the holy little building there were visible signs of emotion, and of the genuine sorrow felt by all at the loss of one who had so endeared himself.

The service comprised Psalm 39 (sung as a chant), 1 Corinthians 15:20-58 (a passage about the resurrection of the dead) and a musical rendition of the Dead March from “Saul”. To conclude, as the Bishop, pall bearers and coffin exited the church, the congregation sang (with much difficulty) the Nunc dimittis (based on Luke 2:29-32).

The funeral cortege that made its way to the cemetery that evening was one of the largest ever seen in the little town of Aramac.

NOTE: The preceding account concerning Rev Maude-Roxby is based on a newspaper article entitled “Obituary. Rev G J Maude-Roxby.” [44]

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There is a time for everything…

When war broke out in Europe in 1914, members of the Brotherhood were among those keen to enlist. Rev Frederick Hulton-Sams of the Brotherhood of St Andrew, on leave at home in England at the time, was one who enlisted. [45] He planned to return to his work with the Brotherhood after the war. However, this was not to be. Hulton-Sams was killed in action at Hooge, Flanders, on 31 July 1915. [46] The people of Barcaldine, where Rev Hulton-Sams had been serving prior to the war, were heart-broken.

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Bush brother Frederick Hulton-Sams (left) was known as “The Fighting Parson”. He was a strong, athletic type and came from a family of boxers and clerics. Photo source: Webb (1978). Public domain.

 

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Memorial to Rev Frederick Hulton-Sams, St Peter’s Church, Barcaldine. Photo source: Private collection 2019.

 

The death of Rev Hulton-Sams, “The Fighting Parson”, was a sore loss to the Brotherhood. Rayner put it this way [47]:

The Bush Brotherhood on the whole became extremely popular and brought a great fund of goodwill towards the church in the bush. … Some of [the brothers] became almost legendary … such as Frederick Hulton-Sams of the Brotherhood of St Andrew, whose loving spirit, bored with officialdom but full of Christian joy, brought a bond of sympathy with the informal layman of the bush.

In 1915, the Brotherhood of St Andrew decided to move its headquarters from Longreach to Aramac. After 18 years at Longreach, the Brotherhood was able to realize its dream and move to a smaller place, having successfully prepared the way for the parochial (parish) system at Longreach, Barcaldine and Winton. The Longreach Anglican Church purchased the Mission House to use as a rectory. [48]

At Aramac, the Brotherhood bought a house, quite near to St George’s Church, for its new headquarters. [49] Brother Walter Park, who had been based at Aramac since 1912, moved in. It became his home for the remainder of his service with the Brotherhood.

In 1918, after 6½ years at Aramac, Rev Park resigned. For a number of years he had been working unassisted. During the war years, the Brotherhood of St Andrew saw no new recruits. The “brotherhood” had ceased to exist; here was a lone clergyman (as in the days before the Brotherhood). Eventually, the strain became too great. [50]

Walter Park was the last brother of the Brotherhood of St Andrew. [50] His resignation signalled the end of a very fruitful period of Christian ministry and evangelism in Queensland’s central west and, after 21 years, the end of the Bush Brotherhood of St Andrew. [51]

For St George’s Church Aramac, and the Aramac district as well, it was the end of an era.

 

FOR REFLECTION

Many years ago, a wise man (thought to be King Solomon) wrote the following words:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

(Ecclesiastes 3:1-11, New International Version)

 

REFERENCES

Click here for details of references I used in preparing this story.

  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). (2017). 2016 Census QuickStats: Aramac. Online: Retrieved on 10 April 2020.
  2. Aramac, Queensland. Wikipedia. (Website). Online: Retrieved on 7 April 2020.
  3. Advertising. (1868). Rockhampton Bulletin and Central Queensland Advertiser (Qld. : 1861 – 1871), Saturday 16 May, page 3. Online: Retrieved on 7 April 2020.
  4. Aramac, Queensland. Wikipedia. (Website). Online: Retrieved on 7 April 2020.
  5. The Aramac District. (1878). Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 – 1929), Saturday 13 July, pages 12-13. Online: Retrieved on 6 April 2020.
  6. Aramac. (1880). Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), Saturday 3 January, page 6. Online: Retrieved on 7 April 2020.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Population and Livestock. (1882). Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 – 1939), Saturday 24 June, page 785. Online: Retrieved on 7 April 2020.
  9. Aramac, Monday. (1883). Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 – 1947), Tuesday 9 January, page 3. Online: Retrieved on 7 April 2020.
  10. Western Mail News. Aramac. (1883). Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 – 1954), Thursday 8 March, page 3. Online: Retrieved on 7 April 2020.
  11. Rayner, Keith & The University of Queensland. (1962). The History of the Church of England in Queensland. (Thesis). Keith Rayner, p. 250.
  12. Local and General News. (1883). Western Champion (Blackall/Barcaldine, Qld. : 1879 – 1891), Friday 27 July, page 2. Online: Retrieved on 7 April 2020.
  13. Notice. (1883). Western Champion (Blackall/Barcaldine, Qld. : 1879 – 1891), Wednesday 21 November, page 3. Online: Retrieved on 7 April 2020.
  14. Rayner, Keith & The University of Queensland. (1962). The History of the Church of England in Queensland. (Thesis). Keith Rayner, p. 250.
  15. Aramac Affairs. (1887). Western Champion (Blackall/Barcaldine, Qld. : 1879 – 1891), Tuesday 24 May, page 2. Online: Retrieved on 7 April, 2020.
  16. Rayner, Keith & The University of Queensland. (1962). The History of the Church of England in Queensland. (Thesis). Keith Rayner.
  17. Anglican Church Affairs. (1888). Western Champion (Blackall/Barcaldine, Qld. : 1879 – 1891), Tuesday 24 July, page 2. Online: Retrieved on 7 April 2020.
  18. The Mitchell. (1888). Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 – 1954), Wednesday 3 October, page 6. Online: Retrieved on 7 April 2020.
  19. Aramac Affairs. (1889, February 26). Western Champion (Blackall/Barcaldine, Qld. : 1879 – 1891), Tuesday 26 February, page 2. Online: Retrieved on 5 April 2020.
  20. Aramac Affairs. (1889, April 9). Western Champion (Blackall/Barcaldine, Qld. : 1879 – 1891), Tuesday 9 April, page 3. Online: Retrieved on 18 November 2019.
  21. Ibid.
  22. Rayner, Keith & The University of Queensland. (1962). The History of the Church of England in Queensland. (Thesis). Keith Rayner, p. 250.
  23. Ibid., p. 255.
  24. Aramac. (1893). Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 – 1929), Saturday 2 December, page 28. Online: Retrieved on 18 November 2019. 
  25. Longreach. (1895). Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 – 1929), Saturday 13 July, page 27. Online: Retrieved on 8 April 2020.
  26. Rayner, Keith & The University of Queensland. (1962). The History of the Church of England in Queensland. (Thesis). Keith Rayner, p. 156.
  27. Ibid., p. 352.
  28. Webb, R. (1978). Brothers in the Sun : A History of the Bush Brotherhood Movement in the Outback of Australia. R.A.F. Webb (Brother Paul), p. 16.
  29. Ibid., pp. 16, 17.
  30. Ibid., p. 17.
  31. Ibid., p. 17.
  32. Ibid., p. 20.
  33. Ibid., p. 21.
  34. Dedication of St Peter’s Church. (1899). Western Champion and General Advertiser for the Central-Western Districts (Barcaldine, Qld. : 1892 – 1922), Tuesday 31 October, page 10. Online: Retrieved on 24 November 2019.
  35. Rayner, Keith & The University of Queensland. (1962). The History of the Church of England in Queensland. (Thesis). Keith Rayner, p. 22.
  36. Winton. (1900). Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 – 1929), Saturday 17 February, page 9. Online: Retrieved on 8 April 2020.
  37. Church of England, Aramac. Dedication of St George’s Church. An Imposing Function. (1913). Western Champion and General Advertiser for the Central-Western Districts (Barcaldine, Qld. : 1892 – 1922), Saturday 5 April, page 11. Online: Retrieved on 16 November 2019.
  38. Aramac. (1913). Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 – 1929), Saturday 12 April, page 43. Online: Retrieved on 16 November 2019.
  39. Church of England, Aramac. Dedication of St George’s Church. An Imposing Function. (1913). Western Champion and General Advertiser for the Central-Western Districts (Barcaldine, Qld. : 1892 – 1922), Saturday 5 April, page 11. Online: Retrieved on 16 November 2019.
  40. Ibid.
  41. Ibid.
  42. Ibid.
  43. Ibid.
  44. Obituary. Rev G J Maude-Roxby. (1913). Western Champion and General Advertiser for the Central-Western Districts (Barcaldine, Qld. : 1892 – 1922), Saturday 12 April, page 11. Online: Retrieved on 5 December 2019.  
  45. Rayner, Keith & The University of Queensland. (1962). The History of the Church of England in Queensland. (Thesis). Keith Rayner, pp. 364-365.
  46. Rev and Lieut Frederick Hulton-Sams B A. Reported Killed in Flanders. (1915). Western Champion and General Advertiser for the Central-Western Districts (Barcaldine, Qld. : 1892 – 1922), Saturday 14 August, page 6. Online: Retrieved on 10 April 2020.
  47. St Andrew’s Anglican Bush Brotherhood. (1915). Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 – 1954), Thursday 12 August, page 6. Online: Retrieved on 5 December 2019.  
  48. Ibid.
  49. Religious. (1919). Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), Saturday 15 March, page 7. Online: Retrieved on 5 December 2019.
  50. Webb, R. (1978). Brothers in the Sun : A History of the Bush Brotherhood Movement in the Outback of Australia. R.A.F. Webb (Brother Paul), p. 83.
  51. Religious. (1919). Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), Saturday 15 March, page 7. Online: Retrieved on 5 December 2019.

 

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Easter at St George’s Church Aramac (1889, 1913) via @jsalecich
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17 Comments on Easter at St George’s Church Aramac (1889, 1913)

    • Dear Stephen. Thanks for taking the time to read my story and to provide a comment. If you were born in Aramac, you must have some special memories of the town (depending on how long you lived there). Did you worship at St John’s Catholic Church there? It’s a really unusual church building – I think you’d remember it. Best wishes, Judy.

  1. Dear Judy, I was very interested when I saw that your story was about the St.George’s Anglican Church in Aramac. Bob and I attended a funeral there in early November 2000. Our friend, Tom Ferguson ( Ferguson’s Transport) had passed away on the 5th November 2000. As we were getting ready to leave Townsville, to visit him in the Aramac Hospital, we received a call to say he had sadly just passed away. His family said to still come so we took the long way through Winton to Aramac to be there for the funeral. A minister came from Blackall for the service. While at the cemetery the rain poured down so we didn’t attend the wake but headed for home. At the service station outside Clermont, a truck driver said that if we wanted to get to Charters Towers to leave immediately which we did, and then on home.to Townsville. So I remember the little Church well. We are still friends with Tom’s family and enjoy receiving their calendar each year. I hope you are enjoying the Easter weekend Judy, a time to remember the real meaning of Easter.

    • Dear Elaine. Thank you for sharing your memory of this sad occasion. I’m so sorry you didn’t get to see your dear friend before he died, but it was a blessing that you were able to attend his funeral. Aramac is a long way from Townsville! Clearly, the weather was treacherous at the time, so I’m glad you made it home safely. It’s good to hear that you are still in touch with Tom’s family. My best wishes to you and your family this Easter. Love, Judy.

  2. hey thanks for that. My grandfather was the minister there Rev Johnston My mother was born there. My uncle is on the Centaph in the park edntrance as serving 2nd World War
    Cheers

    • Steve, my pleasure. Thank you for taking the time to read my story and to provide feedback. How special it is to learn that your grandfather was a minister at Aramac at one time, that your mother was born at Aramac and your uncle is honoured on the cenotaph at Aramac. You have so many connections with the town. It must hold a special place in your heart. Many blessings, Judy.

  3. On a lighter side I went to Aramac last year with Ruby co worker . I had her looking for Grandfathers headstone for an hour then telling coucil they had lost him. they were adamant he wasnt there . I told them i Had visited before and he was. Turns out last time i was there to look at Mrs McAlistrs grave and Robert Johnston is buried Nth Rockhampton Cementary.

    • Steve, that is funny! But it is good to read that you have kept your connection with Aramac and visit the town from time to time. And cemeteries are so important, reminding us of the past and causing us to remember and honour those who’ve gone before us. I hope you have kept the faith of your late grandfather, bless his soul. Kind regards, Judy.

  4. Hi Judy The church buildings I can relate to. When we lived in Emerald we went to
    the Methodist Church and it was very much like the ones in Aramac. .. The clergy out at
    Aramac must have been very devoted going out to the homesteads the way they did.
    What a difference today!! The roads they traveled would have been terrible and yet out
    they went .What history there is in these outback towns. We have just watched Songs of Praise and it was from Jerusalem with Aled Jones. A lovely half hour.
    Thank you Judy
    Margaret

    • Dear Margaret and Nev. It’s good to receive your feedback. You know, I recall the Emerald church building you have referred to – yes, it is similar to St George’s. Regarding the clergy who worked in these remote places – they did an amazing job. And, as you say, the roads were not like the ones we are used to today. Apparently some of the bush brothers rode bicycles, too, on the shorter trips. Incredible! Best wishes, Judy. xx

  5. My husband is a descendant of C.J. Kingston, brother of early settler John Kingston. He grew up in Aramac until age 8. His parents were married in that church and his cousin Fred Lawrence was a minister there in recent years.

    • Barbara, thank you for sharing with us your connection with Aramac and its earliest settlers. How special that you also have family connections with St George’s Church. So many memories! God bless, Judy.

  6. My Father was Deacon at the Church for many years. I grew up in the Aramac District and attended Sunday School and Church there. I was also married there in 1979. So I have many memories of that building.

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