History of pioneering Paceys

Bush poet Bob Pacey.

My great-great grandfather Robert, the youngest son of Patrick Pacey and Ann Cowell, was a few weeks old when his father was involved in the election riot in Carlow in 1837 and was just over a year old when his father was imprisoned in the Dublin jail prior to transportation to Australia.

He was 12 years old before he saw his father again. Little is known about Robert’s early years in the colony but in 1856 he joined his sister Margaret and her husband when the overland party travelled to Gracemere with the Archer stock.

Robert was employed by the archers as a stockman and horse breaker, probably up until the early 1960s.

In November 1858 the first sale of town allotments in Rockhampton was held and Robert and Edward Kelly were among the seventy people who purchased blocks.

On 20 March 1858 Robert Married Flora Mc Donald at Mr Walker’s Hotel at Gayndah. Flora at the age of 13 had arrived in Sydney on the 25th May 1849.

Robert and Flora had five children – Robert Lachlan ( My Great Grandfather ) , John, Mary Ann, Archibald, and Flora.

In December 1860 Robert received the deed of Grant for his town allotments and in 1861 he sold one allotment to Sir Montague Manning of Sydney for Twenty pounds and in November 1866 another to Charles Harden for 180 pounds.

The 1860 land act set aside special reserves within five miles of the towns. to encourage agricultural settlement in these areas. In 1862 Robert acquired some of this land. The selection was some of the best grazing land in the district with rich well watered pastures and was the beginning of the Pacey’s property between Nine Mile and Gracemere, called Windmere. Windmere was a successful dairy for many years.

Robert unfortunately drowned in the Fitzroy river on 17 April 1868 at Eighteen Mile Island assisting the Archers in moving cattle across the river.

Widowed with five young children Flora found the agricultural block purchased by her husband too small to support her family and in 1869 and in succeeding years flora attended the Gracemere resumptions ( being one of the few women to do so ). By 1889 records show that Flora had increased her landholdings from the original 160 acres to a total of 3744 acres.

Robert is buried in the Archer private Cemetery at Gracemere and Flora after her death on 5 March 1906 was interred in the Yamba Cemetery. The property at Windmere was passed onto Floras eldest son Robert Lachlan (my great-grandfather ) who ran it as a successful dairy for many years with his six sons.

The property went through successive sales and name changes over the years and records show that it was renamed Helensvale by a Mr Campbell Bennett. Pacey’s lagoon Windmere is now the site of the well known Acton property Paradise lagoons.

Robert Pacey: A poem by Pat Little (nee Pacey).

His name as Robert Pacey he was tough and down to earth.

He sailed across the ocean from the country of his birth.

He chose this land Australia to start a brand new life

He met a true and gentle girl; asked her to be his wife.

This lass, Flora McDonald was Scottish born and bred

She gave to him her promise that soon they would be wed.

He met up with the Archer boys those pioneers of fame

As he had worked with cattle, head stockman he became.

Exploring land, these fine brave men found and named this town

Rockhampton’s such a lovely spot they thought they’d settle down.

Bob then returned from whence he came; brought back with him his wife

Once more they crossed the rugged land to a whole new way of life.

One happy day his wife gave birth to the first white baby boy.

Born at Archer’s home of Gracemere their hearts were full of joy.

They found a spot and settled down on the banks of a lagoon.

With gum trees growing straight and tall wildflowers all in bloom.

They started then to build their home the land they had to clear.

Of hand-cut slabs they built the house and called it “ Windmere “.

Though work as hard and hours long, T’was good to be alive.

They faced each day with faith and hope; of children they had five.

As time went by they had their share of both good and bad luck.

Happy in the home they‘d made and then disaster struck.

In that river called the Fitzroy, Bob‘s destiny he found.

While crossing cattle with his boss Robert Pacey drowned.

Flora watched him laid to rest in Archer’s cemetery.

She knew she had to raise alone their precious family.

Through many years have passed since then somehow I seem to know

The spirit of that fine brave man still watches Rocky grow.

And we the Pacey family would like to make it clear.

We’re mighty proud descendants of that Rocky pioneer.