Queensland Places – Westmoreland Station – Cape York

Westmoreland Station is located close to the border with the Northern Territory as well as being located near the Gulf of Carpentaria. This large cattle station was originally taken up in 1881 by Thomas and Robert McIntosh, Robert Philp and William Kirk, in partnership with each other, with the hope of making it a commercial success. When first taken up, the station covered some 165,000 hectares, making it one of the largest in the area.

Thomas McIntosh initially managed the property on behalf of the partners, setting about establishing pastoral operations and making improvements. In around 1882, he constructed the two roomed stone house, which is now known as Old Westmoreland Homestead. Still standing, this building is believed to be the oldest surviving residence in the district. The 1880s was also a period of on-going conflict with the local Indigenous peoples and this is reflected in the building’s construction. The homestead has thick stone walls, inward opening doors and few windows, thereby providing as much security as possible.

By 1887, as a consequence of poor seasons and declining economic conditions, the South Australian Mortgage and Land Company had taken over the lease of Westmoreland Station. By 1891, the lease had been transferred on to the Bank of Australasia, with the property being consolidated in the mid-1890s, but the lease was eventually forfeited. In 1912, it was released to John Norman McIntyre, then leased onward to a series of successive owners. Sometime after the 1950s, a new residence was built adjacent to the old homestead residence. The original building is built from sandstone blocks using ant bed mortar and fill, with the floor also made of ant bed or dirt. The roof, originally of early corrugated iron, was nailed to bush timber rafters, with the ceiling left unlined. In the period after 1980, Old Westmoreland Homestead underwent substantial restoration and renovation.

In acknowledgement of the importance of the Old Westmoreland Homestead residence within Queensland’s history and development, in particular the Cape York region, it has been listed on the Queensland Heritage Register.

Westmoreland Station Homestead. Courtesy of the Queensland Heritage Register

Westmoreland Station Homestead. Courtesy of the Queensland Heritage Register

This image, taken from the Queensland Heritage Register, shows the early Westmoreland Station building as it appeared in around 2005.

Brian Randall – Specialist Librarian, State Library of Queensland.