Thomas Petrie

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Thomas Petrie
ThomasPetrie.jpg
Portrait
Born (1831-01-31)31 January 1831
Edinburgh, Scotland
Died 26 August 1910(1910-08-26) (aged 79)
Pine Rivers Shire
Nationality Scottish
Occupation Grazier, explorer
Children 9
Parents Andrew Petrie, Mary Cuthbertson
Relatives John Petrie

Thomas Petrie (31 January 1831 – 26 August 1910) was an Australian explorer, grazier and friend of Aborigines.

Petrie was born at Edinburgh, fourth son of Andrew Petrie and brother of John. His family travelled to Sydney, arriving in October 1831 and his father entered the government service as a supervisor of building. They moved to Moreton Bay (subsequently Brisbane) in 1837, where Thomas was educated by a convict clerk and allowed to mix freely with Aboriginal children. [1] He learnt to speak the local language, Turrbal and was encouraged to share in all Aboriginal activities. At 14 he participated in a walkabout to a feast in the Bunya Mountains. He was accepted by the Aboriginals and was often used as a messenger and invited on exploration expeditions. He also learned about surveying, bushcraft and the local geography while travelling with his father.[2][3]

In 1851 Petrie prospected for gold in the Turon region of New South Wales and spent the next five years on Victorian goldfields, "finding only enough gold to make a ring". He returned to Brisbane and married Elizabeth Campbell in 1859. He bought a ten square miles (26 km²) property in the Pine Creek district and named it Murrumba, an aboriginal word meaning "good place". Aboriginals helped him to clear his land and build his farm buildings. He continued to look for new timber and places suitable for European settlement, became the first white man to climb Buderim Mountain in 1862 and surveyed a route from Cleveland to Eight Mile Plains. He also arranged for some Aboriginals to welcome the Duke of Edinburgh in 1868. In 1877 the Douglas ministry established Queensland's first Aboriginal reserve on Bribie Island with Petrie as its chief adviser and overseer, but the reserve was closed in 1878 by colonial secretary Palmer.[3][2]

Petrie died at Murrumba, survived by his wife who died aged 90 on 30 September 1926 and by two sons and five daughters of their nine children. Though Murrumba had been reduced to 3000 acres (12 km²) the family kept the property until 1952. In 1910 the name of the North Pine district was changed to Petrie in his honour and the next year a free-stone monument was erected in the township and unveiled by Sir William MacGregor.[3] There is also a new suburb in the area named Murrumba Downs.

In 1904 Tom Petrie's Reminiscences of Early Queensland was published, written by his daughter, Constance Campbell Petrie. The book is regarded as one of the best authorities on Brisbane's early days.[4]

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