Samuel Johnston (Waterview)

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Samuel Johnston Snr
Samuel Johnston Snr.jpg
A photo of Samuel Johnston Snr, circa 1890.
Born 23 January 1840
Kilrea, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland
Died 10 November 1924
Occupation Cane Farmer, Sawmiller, Entrepreneur
Spouse(s) Ann Denahy (1841-1898)

James Barret Johnston (1864-1948) John 'Jack' Johnston (1866-1935) Mary Johnston (1866-1954) Elizabeth Johnston (1867-1947) Annie Johnston (1869-1930) Margaret Ellen Johnston (1871-1953) William Samuel 'Bill' Johnston (1874-1952) Isabella Johnston (1874-1960) Samuel Johnston Jnr (1875-1947) Sarah Johnston (1877-1952) Florence Jane Johnston (1879-1912) Ethel Johnston


Samuel Johnston Snr (Born 1840, Drumsara, County Londonderry;[1] died November 10, 1924) was an Australian pioneer, arriving in Victoria, in 1858 from County Londonderry; like so many immigrants of the time he made his way to the gold diggings. Gold mining and industry eventually led him to Queensland, where he proved himself to be a most useful pioneer to whose efforts the state owes the rapid development of previously unsettled and practically unknown portions of her territory.[2]

Heading north, he ended up in Rockhampton; which, when in its infancy he owned a sawmill on the Fitzroy River. After a period spent in Rockhampton, he moved further south to the Burnett. In 1867 he purchased a site on the northern banks of the Burnett River to erect his sawmill, which he bought in by the ketch "Violet"; the first vessel to enter the river. He is the man responsible for establishing the Waterview Estate.[2]

In 1868 the town of Bundaberg was established by the government, no doubt due to the presence of the small settlement, composed of the Stewarts, Watsons, Alexanders and Samuel Johnston.

After aiding in pioneering industry with his sawmill, he expanded his operations and pioneered the sugar industry in the Bundaberg district; he established a sugar mill and plantation, again carrying the Waterview name.

Many years after beginning in the Burnett region, and after the early settlements had expanded to the far north, he continued to show his enterprise by extending his interests to Port Douglas, becoming the owner of "Drumsara" (named after his place of birth), a sugar estate on the Mossman River.

He had four sons and eight daughters.[3] Many of whom continued the pioneering Johnston spirit and became integral members of the community from the cape to the central coast.


Apart from designing and owning the Waterview sawmills, Samuel Johnston became the Chairman of the New Moonta Copper Mine[4] (~80km West of Bundaberg) and was also one of its Provisional Trustees.

Waterview Estate[edit]

The first establishment in Waterview estate was the Waterview sawmill, which began operating in December 29, 1868. Samuel Johnston also started the Waterview sugar mill in the 1860s. By 1872, commercial production of sugar was in full swing at Waterview.

The Waterview saw mill was affected in the 1875 flood but was rebuilt. By 1888, the Waterview saw mill had 70 horsepower engines, two storeys, a planning room, 50 employees, and supplied Rockhampton as well as local lumber. As the mill prospered, the government extended the railway that linked North Bundaberg with Mount Perry eastward towards Waterview Mill.

The sawmill closed in 1903 after being destroyed by flood.[5]

Waterview Distillery[edit]

Samuel Johnston and Mr. Forshaw established the Waterview Distillery in November 11, 1892, immediately opposite the Millaquin Refinery. Waterview Distillery obtained molasses from the Waterview Sugar Refinery. The proximity of the distillery also made water carriage convenient, because the distillery was situated at a distance of not more than fifty yards from the river’s edge, where every facility for shipping was present.

Waterview Distillery measured 100 feet in length by 30 feet in width. Mr. Forshaw manufactured the entire distilling plants, including improvements on the old process of distillation.


  1. ^ Taken from copy of birth certificate of Samuel Johnston Jnr, dated 11 March 1899. Qld certificate no. 14147
  2. ^ a b Matt. J. Fox (1923); The History of Queensland: Its People and Industries, Vol III, p773
  3. ^ "Bundaberg History". 
  4. ^ "Old Memories Revived". The Bundaberg Mail And Burnett Advertiser (3509). Queensland, Australia. 23 May 1908. p. 3. Retrieved 23 March 2016 – via National Library of Australia. 
  5. ^ Kerr, John. "Waterview Mill" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-02-14.