Part 1: A Brief History of land selection

Land Selection & Pastoral Leases Lease Records – Series 14033 (LAN/AG) and 14050 (LAN/DF) at Queensland State Archives

This series of land blogs was developed from research done by historian Ruth Kerr

The process of land selection (as opposed to sales) began in Queensland in 1860 and continued under a series of land acts thereafter. Land was considered the colony’s greatest asset. Prosperity of the colony was measured according to the extent of land settlement. Rent from land leases was the colony’s largest revenue earner. The initial political contest was between pastoralists and selectors lead by the ‘town liberals’ who desired that immigrants have an equitable right to small land holdings. Closer settlement for agricultural purposes was promoted by the British government who desired settlement by immigrants to Queensland and exports of agricultural produce and raw materials such as cotton and wool. No group (pastoralists or town liberals) held a dominant control over land policy. Legislation was framed with the aim of a comprehensive land policy but was changed following to energetic efforts to interfere in areas of occupancy conditions and priority for selection, and the tension between free selection and long leases particularly for pastoral class land. Consequently there were over 50 principal and amending acts covering all land legislation up to 1910.

QSA, Digital Image ID 2335: Farmlands near Allora, 1897

Queensland governments developed the most comprehensive land legislation and settlement program in Australia in the nineteenth century. The key legislation for land selections since 1860 was:

Crown Lands Alienation Act 1860

Crown Lands Alienation Act 1868

Land Act 1876

Crown Lands Act 1884

Land Act 1897

Land Act 1902

Closer Settlement Act 1906

Land Act 1910

There were various land acts in between these dates which dealt with a variety of specialized land settlement policies and developments eg. Village Settlements in country areas (very small blocks), commune settlements (1890s), irrigation developments etc. Village settlement land files are in the LAN/DF series (ID 14050). Files on the communes have not survived either in the government agency or at QSA.

The bulk of the land selection in Queensland was done under the first six acts listed above. General conditions of the land selections appear in Part 5: Key legislation for Land Selections since 1860.

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8 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    We don’t have – or at least don’t have access to – Public Curator (Trustee) tax records here in Queensland, the way Britain has. So how can we gauge personal wealth sectors and trends in early Colonial Society? This story throws light on real property being the measure. Thank you for a wonderfully succinct introduction to this topic.

  2. Keith Smith

    How do we find details (Plan) of where a selection is located. Our Great Uncle Walter Leslie Coleman selected Agricultural farm number 1963 (portion 231, parish of Malanda, County of Nares in December 1912. We have a copy of the original License to Occupy and Agricultural Farm and would like to locate it on the ground. WL Coleman was killed in Action in WW1 on 5/10/1917.

  3. Annette Hughes

    Is there an intersection between these land selection acts and Land clearing Acts in Queensland? Where can I find what is specifically meant by ‘improvement’ ?

  4. Doug McCrum

    Ref: Perpetual lease – Emerald district. PLS3366 Lot 47 on Plan DSN585.
    Under name of R.T. McCrum & J.M. McCrum (EMESL 00069)
    Also G Baynes & R. McCrum ( ITM 54069 ) Nanango 69
    Info required of 1. Location of selection. 2. Improvements completed. 3. Final end of selection, sold or other.

    Robert McCrum is my great grandfather and am trying to piece together some of his history
    Any info would be helpful. Thank you

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