Bromelton House, near Beaudesert, was the main residence of a large run owned by Hugh Henry Robertson Aikman who held the first squatting licence for the property in 1842, possibly the first squatting licence issued for Moreton Bay. He called the house “Broomelton” after his home in Lanarkshire in Scotland.
The pastoralist and politician Thomas Lodge Murray-Prior joined Aikman at Bromelton in 1844 until Aikman returned to Scotland in 1849. Murray-Prior , who had come to Australia to make a pastoral fortune married Matilda Harpur in 1846.
Their daughter Rosa Caroline became the novelist Mrs Campbell-Praed. By 1872, large tracts of the property had been resumed by the Government for closer settlement. Since then, numerous people have called Bromelton their home. During this time, the property has been used for the raising of sheep for dairying and beef production and later for pecan tree cultivation.
A dominant feature of the property is the lagoon which aboriginal legend said was dug by a platypus trying to escape a dingo. The lagoon is nearly a mile in circumference in some parts ninety feet deep and it had a reputation of being the home of a monster known as the “Bunyip”. Aboriginal tribes believed the Bunyip lived in Bungropin and Ilbogan lagoons with a tunnel between.
The McDonalds came to Bromelton in 1860 and lived there longer than any other family. By 1860 when the land was sold again it was a property of 13,500 acres. The homestead, which underwent many additions and alterations over time, was built of red cedar from the banks of the Logan River. Home to many visitors, the guest book has 4,500 names including that of the opera singer June Bronhill. The house was built above a huge calabash shaped lagoon and the garden is dominated by a Castanospermum australeor Black Bean tree. 150 years later the tree is still there. The garden also had roses, citrus trees, grapevines. Extended to include a wide range of plants including tropical and temperate gardens Bromelton House was included in the Australia’s Open Garden Scheme.
The State Library of Queensland holds several books and photograph albums on Bromelton House including : Photograph albums of the MacDonald Family of Bromelton Station 1850 – 1910; Rosa Caroline Praed Papers ca. 1885 – ca. 1930; George Knight Erskine Fairholme [Work of Art] ca. 1845; The William Boag glass plate negative collection; The Macdonalds : Australia – 1814 onwards : by sea, by land : and a place called Bromelton by Joyce Gloster.
Karen Hind – Librarian, State Library of Queensland