FRENCH Gilberton Station, Einasleigh, Queensland 1869
By Kelly Aitken In Awardees On May 26, 2022
The story of Gilberton Station is a tale of three interwoven cultures, European, Aboriginal and to a lesser extent that of the Chinese.Tom and Lydia Martel were the founders of Gilberton circa 1869 they acquired the property more or less by squatting, as you did, as you could! The family’s stone fortress completed in 1870 still stands and helped them survive early aboriginal hostilities.Almost 50 years passed before they agreed to pay rates (with arrears ) and have their holdings formally acknowledged.Tom hailed from the island of Guernsey, and his marriage to Lydia produced 15 children of which five survived. Robert French is the couples great great great great great great grandson.Tom worked as a teamster carting or from the mines in Ethridge to Townsville a six week trip returning with goods and supplies for the miners.At sometime he also owned a hotel and a butcher shop. Beef for the shop was sourced from Chudleigh Station 100 km to the south west and the family is in no doubt Gilberton was quietly stocked by “paddy dodging” on the back trip!Today Gilberton and satellite properties run Brahman cattle and the family operates a thriving tourism business. They are passionate custodians of the environment and dedicated guardians of its significant aboriginal cultural sites.