This study is the culmination of over twenty years research into the history of the Widgee district, situated about 20 kilometres west of Gympie. My interest in the district is derived from the fact that my family were amongst the early agricultural settlers at Widgee. These investigations were commenced as a purely personal family history inquiry, which, in response to community interest, were eventually enlarged to a district study. A major part of this research focussed on the development of the district's first European business venture, the Widgee Widgee station, which existed in the period 1849 to 1912. It seemed appropriate that my research should not be limited to the common, narrow, parochial local history. Instead, it was decided to prepare the present study as a detailed and interpretative micro-history of the station. Although the history of the station displays a plethora of unique attributes, its story is, in numerous ways, synonymous with many of Queensland's typical pastoral properties. Care has been taken to place this investigation within its broader regional and state context. I feel that the results of this study, in providing factual and quantitative proof of many of the generally accepted trends in Queensland's pastoral history, is sound verification of this form of "history from the bottom up".
Throughout this analysis, the overbearing theme is man's struggle to control and use the land to his benefit. This struggle is evident in each of the stages identified in the station's life cycle. The introduction reviews important aspects of Aboriginal culture. This is important in appreciating the contact between Aboriginal society and the European invaders. A brief analysis of Aboriginal culture is also important in understanding the problems encountered by Europeans in using the environment. The eight chapters are basically structured in a chronological format. Each chapter explores significant developments in the station's life cycle. This gives recognition to the stages of change in community development, business arrangements, land use and land legislation. These stages are explored in relation to the continuous and changing struggle for Europeans to control the land.
The focus of this study is then, the life cycle1 of Widgee Widgee station from its tentative beginnings in 1849, through varying periods of hardship and expansion to the time of its demise, when it was surrendered to the Queensland government as a repurchased estate in 1910-1912. A theme of life cycle seems appropriate when the station is likened to a living organism which grew from minute beginnings to become a strong and prosperous business before ending its life, a casualty of the demand for its valuable freehold land to support agriculture in the district. Within the life cycle of the station numerous life cycles of local residents are evident. These are particularly noticeable in relation to employees and their families who made the station their home for many years. The dynamics of kinship and the household provide a revealing insight into the social development of the wider community, of which the station was an important part. It is particularly relevant to note the persistence of second and third generation families as primary producers in the same district or other neighbouring districts as they were opened up to closer settlement. The life cycle of the station is examined within the developing social, economic and cultural structure of the district. This development follows stages similar to those identified by D. S. Smith - Experimental, Socialization and Provincial Maturity.2 These stages correspond closely to the changes in business and politics in colonial Queensland identified by G. P. Taylor.3 The life cycle of the station follows similar stages, which relate more directly to the various systems of land tenure in use in the district over the years. ………..