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Leichhardt's staging-post for Port Essington - and departure point for disaster.
E 1 Cecil-Plains Sheep-washing ca1895 SLQ 24009 THUMB

 


  

 

    

 

 

THEN

From Jondaryan, Leichhardt’s journey south, to return to Sydney, next took him to Cecil Plains, where he arrived in April 1844.

Cecil Plains Homestead was the focal point of life on Cecil Plains Station which was claimed in 1841 by Henry Stuart Russell, the first European in the area. The property was named in honour of his mother, Cecil Charlotte Pemberton, and began with a single slab cottage on the western bank of the Condamine River.

At the time, Cecil Plains was at the western fringes of European settlement. Russell “welcomed Leichhardt as a sophisticated and diverting guest,” wrote John Bailey, “but what happened at Cecil Plains during Leichhardt’s stay was far more significant than a discussion about bones, birds, sheep and reminiscences of France and Italy, where Russell had also sojourned. During a long veranda discussion, no doubt attended by wine and the grandiose conversation for which Russell was famous, Leichhardt recruited his first expeditioners for Port Essington ... and set his course.”

After his triumphant return from Port Essington, Leichhardt’s later visits to Cecil Plains were to be less fortuitous. On his first, vain attempt to cross the continent, Leichhardt recorded on 3 December 1846 that "the rainy weather at this time of year is unusual but Mr Russell told me that he had witnessed a flood of the Condamine some years ago."

Dogged by bad weather and sickness, that expedition was abandoned, and Leichhardt was to return a year later on his final, fateful departure for the west.

NOW

The history of the station is inscribed on a plaque at the entrance to the historic homestead, situated on the eastern side of the township, and the Slab Hut Museum is a timber slab hut and antique collection there.

Cecil Plains homestead has many reports of paranormal activity from the owners and guests that stay at the Bed-&-Breakfast. Other ghostly hints of spirits long departed are at the Old Station Cemetery. Tombstone details have been preserved in a rustic hardwood memorial surrounding a huge gum tree in the centre of this historic cemetery.

During the mid-2000s, the annual ‘Ludwig Leichhardt Pageant’ featured a weekend of fundraising events for the local Bush Nursing Service each May, with an evening campfire appearance by ‘Leichhardt’s ghost’.

Accommodation options include the B&B at Cecil Plains itself, or the classic Victory Hotel in the township. Visitors can stay at the historic Hotel Victory or the caravan park located in the centre of town, with easy access to the library, general store, hotel, swimming pool and the Condamine River.

During the harvest season (April to July), the peak working times of the Cecil Plains Cotton Gin, one of the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, see the streets turn white with cotton balls.

Above: Sheep-washing at Cecil Plains station around 1895. (State Library of Queensland 24009)

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Above: The main building of Cecil Plains homestead today. (AussieTowns.com.au)

E 3 Cecil-Plains old-slab-hut  AusParanormal Investigators Apr2010 THUMB
Above: The old slab hut on the Cecil Plains property has a lively ghostly reputation. (Australian Paranormal Investigators April 2010)

 
 
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