Walter Trueman PAGET
1885-1890, 1901

Born:      Abt. 1854 (Hagley, Worcestershire, England)
Died:        23 December 1930 (Mooloolah, Queensland) aged 76 years
Buried:    Mooloolah Cemetery, Queensland, Australia.
Parents:  Arthur PAGET and Esther GRAY
Marriage:
(1) 9 August 1884 , Mary Jane DOWNING. 
                 
(2) April 1889, Alice Elizabeth Ruth HADEN
Religion:   Church of England


Walter Trueman PAGET was the youngest of three brothers to arrive in Australia, The eldest John arrived in Mackay in 1871; Walter then aged 18 years in 1872 and Arthur in 1874. They were the sons of Arthur Paget of Hazley, Worcester, England. 

All three brothers took up land in the area known as “Nindaroo”. They started as small crop farmers growing vegetables; tobacco and maintaining a small dairy herd and beef herd and supplementing their income by tree felling mainly Cedar in the scrub forests of Nindaroo.

John Paget drowned in the Pioneer River in 1876 and the remaining brothers concentrated their assets to obtain capital and built a sugar mill in 1883. The mill commenced crushing in August 1883 and had a capacity of 700 tons. The mill developed a good reputation for making good quality yellow sugars and was said to have made the best Demerara crystals in Queensland.

Shortly after installing a new plant at the mill in November 1887, one of the boilers exploded killing two Kanaka workers, Tavee and Dowla and severely scalding another. He received criticism at the time for not allowing the press to have the details of the accident.

He was regarded as a fair and compassionate boss and on one occasion took a number of his “boys” to an opera performance in town where it was said they behaved better than the white boys.

By 1894 the mill and plantation employed 55 whites and 160 islanders. Most of the Nindaroo plantation was on hill scrubs not the best land for cultivating sugar cane.

He married Mary Jane Downing on 9 August 1884 however was widowed when she died 4 months later. He later remarried in April 1889 and had four children, two sons and two daughters.

The Nindaroo Mill crushed its last crop in 1900 and the Paget’s bank took possession of the mill.

Walter Trueman Paget's Headstone at Mooloolah Cemetery
 (photo: Carol Stanley December 2005.)

The local Queensland member of the Legislative Assembly for Mackay, J.V. Chataway died on 12th April 1901.  After being approached by a number of prominent citizens Walter Paget showed his interest of running for the seat.  He had been a councillor with the Pioneer Divisional Board from 1883 to 1890 and served as Chairman from 1890 to 1895 and in 1901. He had also been on the Harbour Board, Bridges Board and the Hospitals Board. Running against Simon Tait the Labor party candidate, he won the by-election comfortably and entered Parliament on 11 May 1901 as the junior member for Mackay. The senior member was David Hay Dalrymple. At that time Mackay had two members of the parliament.

In 1908 Paget became Minister for Railways and Agriculture.  He held the Agriculture portfolio until 1911 but retained the Railways portfolio till he retired from Parliament in 1915.

During his term as Minister for Railways, Walter Paget had the honour of turning the first sod for the opening of the North Coast Railway, the section opened being that from Mackay to Sarina. He turned the sod at the intersection of Paradise and Archibald Streets in July 1911.  The siding was named Paget Junction after him. He was credited with opening more track than any other Queensland Minister for Railways since 1859 to 1915. The railway to Netherdale was completed as well during this period. The line to Netherdale was closed in 1990.

Following his retirement from political life, he later moved to Mooloolah on the Sunshine coast where he engaged in fruit growing and dairying. He died on 23 December 1930 after apparently suffering a stroke and suffering wounds from falling on a knife. He was aged 76 years.

It is fitting that the man who was in charge of most of the construction of the Railway in the Mackay district now has the Mackay Railway station in the locality named in his honour.

Sources:

Kerr, John. (1980).  Pioneer Pageant. Mackay, QLD: Pioneer Shire Council.

The Daily Mercury, December 26, 1930.

Queensland Pioneers Index, 1829-1889

Queensland Federation Index 1890-1914.


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Mackay Historical Society


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