Just General Maclagan Knowledge

Had an interesting question passed my way this week, about a tree in the middle of the road in Maclagan. The challenge we were set was to confirm (or deny) the existence of this tree. Now I’d like to think that I’m pretty observant when driving but I don’t remember ever seeing a tree in the middle of the road when driving through Maclagan. There is some dispute amongst the locals as to whether or not the tree ever existed and they’re in need some kind of proof one way or the other.

Image: Brigadier General Sinclair MacLagan, Commanding the 3rd Brigade in front of Headquarters mess at Bray 1916 Source: Australian War Memorial

Image: Brigadier General Sinclair MacLagan, Commanding the 3rd Brigade in front of Headquarters mess at Bray 1916
Source: Australian War Memorial

The Maclagan Township was known as Bismarck (or Mt. Bismark) and was named after a famous German General, but the name was changed in 1917 due to anti-German feeling throughout Queensland to be named after a Scottish General. According to local lore even the butter/cream factory had to change its name after a shipment of Mt. Bismarck butter was destroyed at the Brisbane docks in an anti-German riot. The only picture of the town that I found was a 1978 aerial photo of Maclagan Township but there’s no tree visible on either of the crossroads through town. Could it possibly be that if it was “The Bismark Tree” then during the war it could have been cut down.

Skimming through the history of the Rosalie Shire, I finally found mention of a named tree in the Maclagan area which was listed as: “Mt Bismark (the hill north of Maclagan) still bears the Bismark name and that a huge Moreton Bay Fig on the top is noted on some old maps as the Maclagan Tree

Now Mt. Bismark is also described as being just north of Bismark but after searching Parish Maps, Topographical Maps and the old Station Maps for the area, the only named peak north of Maclagan is Fair Hill. After asking my local expert (that’s Jenny from Quinalow Library) she informed me that Mount Bismark is a bit optimistic, it’s more like a Bismark Hill.

And so after all this searching the only thing I can say for sure is that aerial photos of the township and surrounds from preceding decades may assist in settling this dispute. The National Australian Archives hold a large body of survey photographs taken by the Army, and the Queensland State Archives holds some of the Lands Department records. The Department of Natural Resources and Mines (The Lands Department) also have a geological section that may be able to assist in tracking down an image.

Well that’s all for this week, I know I wasn’t able to solve the problem but that’s how things turn out some times. See you all next week.


One thought on “Just General Maclagan Knowledge

  1. Hi Jamie,
    Just thought I’d let you know that the name change was more likely 1916 after the Post master at Bismarck requested it. It seems too that his son had been fighting under the Brigadier-General Maclagan and so thought this was an appropriate name to use instead. Have attached the date from the newspaper article from 1916 to help prove. Must ask Maynards and Weedons in Maclagan about the tree!
    Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), Wednesday 4 October 1916, page 6


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