Dunluce, 1906-2006.

Stewart-Moore Family History – the Australian Story

The Stuarts

Twins, James and Henry Stuart, were born at Ballyhivistock, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, in 1853. They were the 3rd & 4th sons in a family of 8 boys and 2 girls. It is likely that they were educated at home and did not attend university. Neither seemed inclined for the church, the army, or the navy, despite their connections in these professions, buying another estate was not possible financially, and going into business or trade was not socially acceptable. But, there were the colonies, with the prospect of buying land cheaply, acquiring capital and then returning to Ireland to purchase property.

In 1871, a successful early pioneer, Samuel McCaughey had returned to Ireland from Australia where he had already acquired a number of holdings and was favouring fellow countrymen to manage his large stations. On this return visit he persuaded his brother David to join him and he also sought out other potential managers or partners in his ventures. It was at this time that he met Henry and James Stuart. He was evidently convinced that the then 18 year old twins had a capacity for hard work since he promised them an “apprenticeship” on one of his properties and the possibility of later buying land. Lack of money prevented them from immediately accepting the offer but when their older sister Elizabeth Frances (Bee), married into the Stewart-Moore family, of nearby Ballydivity, finance became available as their new brother-in-law James, lent the boys ₤5,000  and they left for Australia in 1874, aged 21.

They gained valuable experience quickly, working under Samuel McCaughey and his men, working with stock, doing lengthy droving trips, some of them far into Queensland. On the return journey from delivering a mob of sheep to Boulia, possibly en route to the port of Bowen, they passed along the Flinders River through Marathon Station, and wrote in their journals that… “The country along the Flinders is some of the finest we have seen”….and in a letter in February 1877 back to their brother-in-law James Stewart-Moore in Ireland….. “Marathon Station was sold lately to Captain Stewart. It is one of the finest stations on the Flinders, well watered and would carry eight to ten thousand head of cattle.  It was sold with only eight hundred head at four pounds fifteen. This was a rare chance as there are few large stations like that sold so lightly stocked………I don’t know if we could ever be able to go into a station. If not we might buy a few hundred head of cattle and start away back and take up new country.”

Stuart BrothersHowever, five years later in 1882, they bought Rockwood Station in partnership with Samuel McCaughey. It is situated on the headwaters of the Thompson R., 80 miles south of the then recently established township of Hughenden, on the Flinders R. and was approximately 700 square miles in area. By 1892 there were over 100,000 sheep on Rockwood. Two younger brothers, Wallace and George, came out from Ireland and after working for a time on Rockwood they took out a lease on a nearby station which they named  Antrim, and in 1897 James and Henry added another 300 square miles to their holdings when they purchased the lease of Barenya, a station adjacent to Rockwood.

James Stewart-Moore Jnr (Jemmy)

It was about this time that their brother-in-law, James Stewart-Moore’s son James came to Australia from Ireland to work at Rockwood for his uncles. It was in 1906 when he was overseer on Rockwood that he put in for, and was successful in, the selection of a block to the west of Hughenden, that was part of a 107 ½ square mile resumption from Afton Downs, and named it ‘Dunluce’ taking the name of the local Parish where he grew up in Northern Ireland, it was also the name of an old ruined castle on the coast nearby. Jemmy’s brother Charles also came to Australia and after a time, acquired a block of land, ‘Sandalwood’ to the south of Hughenden.

By 1909 Jemmy had built a house near the railway line that had been built a few years earlier, had an artesian bore drilled, and married the local police magistrate’s daughter, Katherine Marion Jackson, whose parents Anna and John Jackson had come to Australia in the 1870’s. They lived at Taabinga near Kingaroy, then Glen Haughton at Taroom before John gave away the pastoral industry and became a police magistrate, a job which took the family all over Queensland, including Hughenden from 1904 to 1912.
In those early days he was also able to attach a phone line on to the already existing telegraph line that ran close by, into Hughenden. This meant that he had a telephone well before the family did back in Ireland. They had 6 children, 4 born in Townsville, and 2 born in Tasmania where the family had gone for an extended holiday in 1918. John McKillop was the 5th of these children, born in 1919, at Sandy Bay in Hobart.

Two other blocks, Warianna, and Como, adjacent to Dunluce, (the rest of the 107 ½ Sq Mile resumption from Afton) were subsequently acquired in 1920, making the run a useful size of around 75,000 acres.

The Lloyds

Around the time that the family went to Tasmania, Mr Geary, of Cameron Downs, recommended Mr Owen Lloyd, to manage Dunluce while the family was away. Owen Lloyd was subsequently engaged and took up residence in the main homestead along with his wife Una and their daughter Shirley.

By 1922 James Stewart-Moore Snr was losing his eyesight, so his son James, being the eldest, decided that he had to go back to Ireland to help him. He took his family with him, in 1923. Children settled in schools and one thing and another, meant that James only ever went back to Dunluce once, during the 1926 drought.

Owen Lloyd remained manager of Dunluce until his retirement in 1956, a stint of some 36 years of loyalty on one hand and trust on the other. This trust was made very clear in James Stewart-Moore’s Power of Attorney, which he gave to the Union Trustee Co, of Sydney, in 1923 in which he said,

“The Manager of the Station is Mr Owen Lloyd, and I have implicit confidence in him. Do not disturb him in any way, unless of course, something unforeseen happens; further, I do not want your Pastoral Inspector to visit the property.”

Also, 50 years later, in a letter from the Lloyd’s daughter Shirley Godfrey, to John Stewart-Moore in 1973 when they were arranging for a headstone to be erected on Dunluce, Shirley wrote;

First plane on Dunluce 1938

 “Dad was ever grateful to all the Stewart-Moore’s for his years on Dunluce. When we hear of managers positions now, we realise with what trust and confidence Dad was employed, and Dad valued that till he died.”

Owen Lloyd was one of those very special people, whose commitment, loyalty, and keen judgement of his surroundings, made him highly respected by those who knew him.

John & Joanna Stewart-Moore

In 1948, John McKillop Stewart-Moore retired from the British Navy, in which he had been, since going to Dartmouth Naval College in 1932, at the age of 13. The options were to take up a farming career on one of the home farms in Northern Ireland, or to take up the challenge of becoming a sheep grazier in Australia. The latter was chosen, and Telemon, a 60,000 acre freehold block (that was adjacent to the earlier mentioned Marathon Station, and just to the north of Dunluce), was purchased in the names of John and his next eldest brother David, and so John brought his wife Joanna and 3yo daughter Carol to Australia. Joanna often wondered how she ended up on a sheep property in Western Qld after having married a British Naval officer from Northern Ireland! In some reflections written in later life, John wrote; “I always said that a career in the navy was an ideal training to become a sheep grazier in Western Queensland, but an Agricultural College Degree would have been better!”

John ran Telemon separately to Dunluce until Lloyd’s retirement in 1956 when he formed a partnership with his father and ran the aggregation as one. Annandale had been acquired in 1951 and that joined the properties together. Their second child Ninian was born in 1953, and during the 1950’s Carol went off to boarding school at Armidale in NSW.   

John was sometimes referred to as ‘that drunken sailor’ because of his sometimes successful; sometimes not so successful; innovative ideas. One of these that was physically successful was the growing of sorghum crops, and putting them into underground silage pits for a drought reserve, however, long term storage, and low sheep prices made it not so financially successful over time.       

The Scamps

After beginning to breed Brahman/Shorthorn cross cattle at Dunluce during the mid 1950’s , John engaged Bill Scamp as manager of Dunluce in 1958 and moved to Toogoolawah in the Brisbane Valley to concentrate on breeding Droughtmaster Stud cattle, a venture at which he was very successful. As one of the foundation members of the Droughtmaster Breeders Society, John had a lot of input into the development of a now major breed of beef cattle.

Bill Scamp lived at Dunluce with his wife Gert, and their children Sharon, Darryl, and Raelene, and managed it for 19 years, applying his skills of breeding and handling sheep, cattle and horses to the property. During this period, Dunluce bred wool, sheep, cattle, and horses won countless show ribbons around the district.

John sold his Brisbane Valley property and stud in 1965, but kept the Telemon Droughtmaster Stud operating at Dunluce under Bill’s skilful eye.

For the next ten years, John and his family lived in Brisbane where he took on various business ventures, the most notable of which was setting up and running a prawn fishing company ‘South Sea Fishing Co’ that operated initially in Papua New Guinea, but then mainly in the Gulf of Carpentaria. This allowed him to apply some of the skills he had acquired during his 16 years in the British Navy and appease some of the yearning for the sea.

However, when the dry seasons of the late sixties and early seventies not only put a lot of financial pressure on Dunluce, they also failed to flush the young prawns out of the Gulf of Carpentaria Rivers. South Sea Fishing Co was wound up in early 1976 and John returned to live at Dunluce. It was at this time that his son Ninian had completed Agricultural College and returned to Dunluce also.

Carol married Ed McCormack in 1968, and they live at Glenmorgan in southern inland Qld, breeding Droughtmaster and composite cattle. They have 3 children, Clare, Charles, and Angus, and 6 grandchildren.

Ninian & Ann Stewart-Moore

 When James Stewart-Moore Jnr died in the 1960’s he left Dunluce, Warianna and Como to his daughters, Nanette and Prue, and 2nd son Hume, and they remained in partnership with John and David until 1979 when it was decided they would wind up the partnership and go their separate ways. The Dunluce homestead block was purchased by Ninian, and Warianna and Como were sold off. The aggregation was soon to expand again, and Sylvania was purchased from the Westcott family in 1984.

In 1982, Ninian married Ann Cowley who grew up on a property south of Cunnamulla. They have two children, Jack, born in 1986 and Kate, born in 1988.  John and Joanna Stewart-Moore retired to live in Brisbane in 1992 and now live at Forest Place on the outskirts of Brisbane. In 1999 a succession plan was put in place and Ninian and Ann assumed sole ownership of the property. Sylvania and a portion of Telemon were sold off at this time; however, due to the untimely accidental death of Eric Smith, who purchased Sylvania, Ninian and Ann were able to purchase it back in 2001.

The last five years have all contributed to keeping the average annual rainfall on the lean side, but have shown the advantage that sheep have over cattle by virtue of being able to be retained long after the cattle had to go to market or agistment. Two significant changes have been made in this period, both aimed at finding a way to profitably stay in the sheep industry.


In 2002, when dingoes were on the verge of destroying the whole flock, a number of Maremmas (an Italian breed of stock guarding dogs) were purchased from a breeder in Victoria, and are now completely protecting the Dunluce flock, which in itself is changing also. In 2005 Dohne merino rams were introduced, and the entire 2006 drop of lambs will be 1st cross Dohne. These are a South African dual purpose wool/meat breed of sheep that are adapting well to these conditions and it remains to be seen how successful this will be. Please click here to read more about the Maremmas.

Written by Ninian Stewart-Moore, during March 2006, for the Dunluce Centenary Celebrations, planned for Easter, 2006. The information on the Stuart brothers was provided by F.C. Molloy’s book, “The Life of Francis Stuart”, who was the son of Henry Stuart.