Red Deer, a distinctive feature of Somerset
When travelling through the region it isn’t uncommon to see Red Deer grazing among the rolling hills of Somerset but why are these majestic animals so important to Somerset and its history?
THE HISTORY OF RED DEER IN QUEENSLAND AND SOMERSET
In 1841, David Cannon McConnel settled Cressbrook (now known as Cressbrook Station) as the first run to be taken up by British settlers in the Brisbane Valley. It was then still known as the Colony of New South Wales.
On 6 June 1859, Queen Victoria signed letters patent to form the Colony of Queensland. In 1873, Queen Victoria sent a royal gift of Red Deer to the Queensland Acclimatisaton Society, in celebration of the state being so called in her honour. The two stags, Norman and Bolingbroke and four hinds, Atlas, Alma, Ada and Martha arrived from the Windsor Castle gardens aboard the Great Queensland 8.
It has been reported that the keeper of the deer aboard the Great Queensland was named Bolingbroke 9, therefore suggesting that one of the stags was named in his honour. The Governor of Queensland at the time was The Most Honourable George Augustus Constantine Phipps, Marquess of Nomanby GCB GCMB PC (also known as His Excellency Lord Normanby), who approved the intention to locate the deer at Cressbrook 10, and who consigned the cargo of deer by Her Majesty the Queen 11. It can therefore be inferred that the second stag, Norman, may have been named in honour of His Excellency Lord Normanby.
On 9 August 1873, the following information was published about the Red Deer aboard the Great Queensland, in the Queenslander – The six splendid red deer, a present from Her Majesty the Queen to the Colony of Queensland, are located on deck in three boxes of 5 feet square each. For their sustenance during the voyage four tons of food, consisting of beans, carrot, onions, mangolds, swedes, oilcake and hay have been provided, of which I understand the animals will consume about a bushel a day in addition to the fodder. The allowance of water is a gallon a day each deer. On 19 September 1873, the deer arrived at the McConnel family property, Cressbrook, from Ipswich in timber crates atop drays. The deer were liberated by the McConnel family and well-wishers at Scrub Creek on Cressbrook, in an event still celebrated today by the McConnels, and historians in Windsor, UK. Releases of Red Deer continued on Cressbrook until 1878.
Additional Fact: Christopher David McConnel of Cressbrook station, His Excellency the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC, Governor of Queensland and Somerset Regional Council Mayor Graeme Lehmann unveiled Norman, the bronze Red Deer sculpture at the Somerset Regional Art Gallery – The Condensery. The sculpture was hand crafted by sculpture artist the late Bodo Muche.
WHERE CAN I SEE RED DEER?
Keep an eye out for Red Deer throughout Somerset however you will most likely see Red Deer wandering through the paddocks of Somerset in the Northern end of the region near Toogoolawah, Harlen, Moore and Linville.
1 James Henry McConnel, son of David and Mary McConnel was the second generation owner of Cressbrook.
2 Caitlin McConnel, “Cressbrook” Station, Toogoolawah.
3 The McConnel family crest was registered in 1860 and includes “stag’s head erased, charged with trefoil at the neck” and bears the motto ‘Victor in Arduis’, meaning ‘triumph in adversity’. The crest had been used by the family prior to its registration in 1860, and is still used by the McConnel family of Cressbrook today.
4 Caitlin McConnel, “Cressbrook” Station, Toogoolawah.
5 Queensland Government, https://www.qld.gov.au/about/how-government-works/flags-emblems-icons/coat-of-arms/, accessed 12 July 2017.
6 In 2008, the Shire of Esk and the Shire of Kilcoy amalgamated and is now the Somerset Regional Council.
7 Ruth S. Kerr, Confidence & Traditional – A History of the Esk Shire (Council of the Shire of Esk, 1988).
8 The Queenslander, p 2, 6 September 1873.
9 Report of the special meeting of the Queensland Acclimatisation Committee, The Brisbane Courier,
p 3, 2 September 1973 “Importation of Red Deer”.
11 The Queenslander, Op Cit.
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VISIT NORMAN THE RED DEER STATUE
Somerset Regional Art Gallery – The Condensery
29 Factory Road, Toogoolawah Qld 4313