Part 4: Research uses

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

Land records are commonly utilized as a source for family history research as they detail the geographic location for where people’s ancestors lived and at what dates. As well land selection files are an enormous source of data on the Queensland economy, social issues, government policy on development of Queensland’s land resource, vegetation and environment, use made of the land for agricultural purposes, development of local industries, construction of buildings, transport, wartime arrangements for selectors who had enlisted, birth and death certificates where relevant to the administration of the selection, local government matters which can tell the stories of regional Queensland and the outer urban areas.


These extensive series provide opportunities for big data research projects covering topics such as:

  • Mapping the vegetation types on the selections in areas of Queensland, using the survey plans in the files.

prickly map

  • Mapping the extent of clearing of land by study of the Reports of the Land Rangers and the Certificates of Fulfillment of Conditions.
  • Investigation of expenditure on infrastructure on the selections in accordance with the requirements for development of the land.
  • Investigation of debt levels in agriculture in Queensland at any one time by extracting the mortgage data from the selection files.
  • Study of the development of agricultural industries in particular areas of Queensland.
  • Study of the timber resources of Queensland and their exploitation.
  • Identifying and checking land tenure status of land within Native Title Claims.
  • Interpretation of watercourse flow over land and flood levels where appropriate. Selection files also contain details of wildlife eg crocodiles and wild dogs where relevant.
  • Study of rents paid by selectors in particular areas of the colony and state.
  • Study of land selections held by women and under what conditions.
  • The land selection undertaken under the Crown Lands Alienation Act 1868 had a major impact on Indigenous people in excluding them because of fencing of selections. The extent of this could be traced and would assist in mapping areas of Indigenous influence and retreat.
  • Livestock capacities on various types of selections.
  • Social condition of life on selections (as shown in Certificate of Fulfillment of Conditions, the Land Rangers’ Reports and the correspondence.

Some of these research studies lend themselves to statistical projects involving big data.


QSA, Digital Image ID 1337: Paronella Park, Innisfail, c 1935

The survey plans in the files contain details of vegetation types on the land as well as soil types. These records are one of the best sources of data on the vegetation of Queensland historically. The data is very extensive because selections covered the whole of the colony and state, except for the areas taken up under pastoral lease or Permit to Occupy or had been purchased at auction as freehold (Agricultural Reserves or Suburban lands {two miles from a town or village}). Pastoral Lease files contained reports of Inspectors on the type of land and vegetation so that annual rents could be determined.

Sample descriptions are:

  • Yellow mostly stony soils, slate formation.
  • Very heavy timber.
  • Very rough broken ranges. Dense vine scrub.
  • Thickly and heavily timbered with oak box and bloodwood.
  • High stony ridges, poorly grassed.
  • Poor grazing land.
  • Poor grazing land.
  • Low swampy land.
  • Dense scrubby undergrowth.
  • Tea tree, mahogany.
  • Heavy vine and brigalow.
  • Black soil open plains
  • Gravelly country
  • Rich chocolate soil
  • heavily timbered with apples, gums and iron barks
  • high range – dense jungle
  • vine scrub

The survey plans also show creeks, lakes, mountains and their names.

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