This study is about the development of Jondaryan Station on the Darling Downs. It was undertaken in an attempt to find out more about the nature of Queensland colonial society. More specifically, it sought to discover something of the material and social condition of both pastoral employer and pastoral employee and of their relationship within the specific context of Jondaryan Station on the Darling Downs.
Colonial employer and employee alike had emigrated in hope — hope of greater material wealth and an improved social position. Their expectation was that New South Wales would be a classless society, a land of equal opportunity and social mobility for all, and that the reward for patient toil would be land. The reality, however, was that even to become a Downs squatter in the 1840s, an illegal tenant, let alone a land-owner, required such large amounts of financial backing as to preclude the English labouring classes. In the 1840s this capital was provided by English and Scottish gentlemen with British capital to invest and convict labour at their disposal. This input, coupled with British market demand, created rural capitalist enterprises on the one hand and a rural proletariat on the other. Jondaryan Station was one such enterprise.
The Downs squatters' production of a much needed export staple and their direct links with the Sydney "establishment" soon secured for themselves the status of respectable gentlemen. Men like James Andrew, John Coutts, Walter Gray, Robert Tertius Campbell, the Tooths and their resident manager at Jondaryan, James White, became Jondaryan's new entrepreneurial breed of the 50s; a breed which was Southern inspired, Southern-controlled and which exercised a political and social control out of all proportion to its actual numbers. Their use of the Masters and Servants Act to try and re-establish a "proper" relationship between themselves and their employees and their insistence on their right to control the labour market were to remain a constant source of conflict between pastoral employer and pastoral employee.
As the 50s drew to a close, Downs society had largely solidified structurally. Downs squatters modelled themselves on the English landed gentry and assumed a dominant position within the community. They chose to express their dominance and their hierarchical view of the world through the same forms as were used by the ruling elite in Britain……