Good Friday - Bad Sunday

19.09.2014

tags: Queensland Police, Murder, Homicide,

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By Noel Johnson

From the September 2014 issue of the APJ.

A Son of Pioneers

Today’s Brisbane suburb of Brookfield is only some 13 kilometres west of the city’s central business district, yet in the 1860s it may as well have been a million miles from anywhere! The Brisbane River, the fast flowing creeks, rough gullies and dense local bushland made what was then called the Moggill Creek area virtually inaccessible. The word Moggill is a derivation of an Indigenous word for water lizard but Europeans did not venture there in large numbers until the second half of the 19th Century, when the first hardy selectors began to clear the rugged land.

In such trying conditions, baby George Doyle entered the world on 28 April 1869. He was the firstborn son of Julia and George Doyle Snr, and he might have been the first child of European descent to be born in the area. However by 1874 a number of families had settled in Brookfield so a school was opened. As a lad, George attended this school and upon finishing his education entered into the dangerous occupation of timber hauling. This involved clearing the land of huge trees and moving the timber via the waterways to the fast developing city of Brisbane.

A Bush Policeman

George Doyle developed into a hard-muscled, handsome young bushman ready for adventure. At the age of 22 and with his tough, wood-cutting occupation behind him, George joined the Queensland Police Force – an organisation only slightly older than the new recruit (it having been formed in 1864). Being known for his ability with a horse, George was soon posted to the Gulf towns of Normanton and Croydon. His official duties often meant him having to spend weeks in the saddle, making his way through rough country that few Europeans had ever seen.

Although he was 2000km from home, George loved ‘the job’ but in early 1895 he unfortunately became ill with what was then termed fever and plague and had to resign his post. He returned to Brisbane and found work as a relief warder at the gaols at St Helena Island and Boggo Road. Six months later George fully recovered and was reinstated to the police force. He was sent to the Charleville area to work in the small country town of Bollon, some 630km west of Brisbane. He also saw duty at Wyandraand Cunnamulla before eventually working in Charleville itself.

Regard for this young policeman was high so it wasn’t surprising that he earned a posting as Officer in Charge of the newly built Upper Warrego Police Station, about 190km to the north-east of Charleville. Two men were assigned to assist him, ConstableStephen Millard and a highly skilled Indigenous Tracker Sam Johnson.This small station was opened to put a stop to the lawless activities of cattle duffers(rustlers) who were operating in the region.

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