Ayr is a town and locality in the Shire of Burdekin, Queensland, Australia.[2][3] It is the centre of a sugarcane-growing region and the administrative centre for the Burdekin Shire Council.[4] In the 2016 census, Ayr had a population of 8,738 people.[1]

Geography

Ayr is located 88 kilometres (55 mi) south of Townsville on the Bruce Highway and 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) away from the (smaller) town of Home Hill. It is 112 kilometres (70 mi) north of Bowen and 290 kilometres (180 mi) north of Mackay. Ayr is located near the delta of the Burdekin River. It is within the Burdekin Shire, which produces the most sugar cane per square kilometre in Australia, accessing underground water supplies and water from the Burdekin Dam to irrigate crops when rains fail.

Alva beach, also known as Lynch's Beach,[5] is a popular area for fishing and swimming located 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) east of Ayr.

History

Aboriginal history

Biri (Birri) is a language of Central and North Queensland. Biri refers to a language chain extending from Central Queensland towards Townsville and is often used as a universal name for other languages and/or dialects across the region. The language area includes the towns of Bowen, Ayr, Collinsville and Nebo.[6]

British exploration

The first British exploration of the area occurred in 1839 during the third voyage of HMS Beagle where Captain John Clements Wickham travelled 10 miles up the waterway later known as the Burdekin River. His progress was stopped by a fishing weir built by the local Aboriginal people that spanned the river.[7]

Interview with Natives of Wickham (Burdekin) River by H.S. Melville

In 1843, during the surveying voyage of HMS Fly, Lieutenant John Ince, Joseph Jukes and Frederick Evans sailed up the river near to where the town of Ayr is now located. They encountered two large tribes of Aboriginal people with whom they had friendly interactions, exchanging items and participating in an apparent Welcome to Country ceremony. Artist, Harden Sidney Melville was also present, later drawing a depiction of the meeting.[8]

Shipwreck survivor James Morrill lived with Aboriginal people in the region for seventeen years from 1846 when he was washed ashore on a makeshift raft. Morrill lived a traditional Aboriginal lifestyle and later made a culturally and historically important record of his experiences.[9]

In 1859, Henry Daniel Sinclair, James Gordon and Ben Poole conducted a sea voyage that examined the mouth of the Burdekin River. They travelled about 8 miles up the river but were afraid to explore further as they were wary of the resident Aborigines and had limited firearms.[10]

George Elphinstone Dalrymple led an overland expedition to the area in 1859 looking for land acquisitions and he returned again in 1860 as the head of a seagoing exploratory party. Dalrymple had several violent encounters with the local Aboriginal people during these expeditions.[11] In 1862, Dalrymple made another journey to the lower Burdekin region concluding that the "richly grassed open forest country" would become "a most valuable addition to the pastoral and agricultural resources of the colony."[12]

British colonisation

The area was opened up to pastoral squatting leases in 1861 and in that year Edward Spencer Antill (who was a son of the distinguished colonist Henry Colden Antill) arrived in the region to take up land.[13] In 1862, he selected a large area of land along the lower Burdekin River for a sheep station which he named Jarvisfield after the Antill family estate near Picton.[14] Groups of armed settlers and Native Police started to force the Aboriginal people off the land around this time, with James Morrill documenting a massacre of a resident Burdekin River tribe.[9] E.S. Antill bore a life-long scar on his forehead from a boomerang thrown at him during one of these episodes of frontier violence.[14] Morrill attempted to negotiate a treaty between the British and the Aborigines whereby the coastal area on the north side of the Burdekin would be a reserve for the Indigenous people but this was ignored by the authorities.[9]

After E.S. Antill had become established, other colonists took up land in the region, namely John Graham MacDonald who formed the Inkerman Downs property with the financial backing of Robert Towns,[15] and Edward Cunningham who formed Woodhouse station.[16] In retribution for murders and cattle spearing, punitive expeditions by the Native Police led by Lieutenant John Marlow would "disperse" the local Aboriginal population.[17][18]

A township, named Wickham,[19] was formed in the region in 1864 but was destroyed in 1870 during a flood.[20] Robert William Graham formed the Lilliesmere run in 1876 and in 1881 the township of Ayr was laid out on this property by surveyor Ellis William Lymburner.[21]

Ayr was named after the Scottish town of Ayr, the birthplace of nineteenth-century Queensland Premier, Sir Thomas McIlwraith.[22]

Ayr Post Office opened on 25 August 1883.[23]

Sugarcane plantations and mills

Archibald Campbell MacMillan

Large scale cultivation of sugarcane began in the region in 1879 with the formation of the Burdekin Delta Sugar Company through the partnership of local landholders Robert William Graham and Archibald Campbell MacMillan. Their plantation was called Airdmillan and in 1883 the Airdmillan sugar mill was built.[22] Both the mill and the plantation became financially unviable in 1885 after the repatriation of kidnapped[24] South Sea Islander labourers working on the plantation.[25] Of the 532 Islanders brought to Airdmillan, 128 or 24% had died by 1885.[26] In the 1890s, Airdmillan was subdivided and today much of the town of Ayr is located on what was once part of the Airdmillan estate.[22][27] The nearby locality of Airdmillan is named after the plantation.[28]

Other colonists also established plantations and mills in the region during the 1880s. James Mackenzie formed the Seaforth estate and mill, while Colin Munro built the Drynie mill. In 1882, John Spiller and Henry Brandon established the Pioneer plantation which was soon sold to the Drysdale brothers. The Drysdales built the Pioneer Mill in 1884 and later constructed the Inkerman Mill in 1914. Charles and John Young formed the Kalamia plantation in 1882, the Kalamia Mill being operational two years later.[22] Much of the labour on these plantations during the early years was performed by South Sea Islanders, many of whom died in the first year after being shipped in.[29] At Kalamia[29] and Pioneer,[30] the death rate was 14%, and at Seaforth it was 26%.[31] Islander labour in the region was discontinued in the early 1900s.[22]

The Pioneer, Kalamia and Inkerman mills are still operational and are owned by Wilmar Sugar.[32]

Schools and such

Ayr State School opened on 15 November 1886. In 1928 it was expanded to include a secondary school. In 1937, the secondary school became a separate entity, Ayr State High School.[33]

St Francis Primary School opened in 1912 operated by three Sisters of the Good Samaritan.[33][34]

War Memorial Park arch over the gate at the Memorial Park, 1937-1938

The Ayr War Memorial Arch is the entrance to the Memorial Park and commemorates those who served in World War I. It was dedicated in November 1925 by the shire chairman, Councillor Barsby.[35][36]

In 1926 Annie Dennis founded the Burdekin Community Church as a Pentecostal mission for South Sea Islanders.[37]

East Ayr State School opened on 8 August 1952.[33]

Ayr Opportunity School opened for children with disabilities in 1972. It was renamed Burdekin Special School in about 1985. In 2001 the name was changed to Burdekin School.[33]

Burdekin Catholic High School opened on 1 April 1974 in the Marist tradition.[33][38]

Burdekin Christian College was opened on 5 February 1982 by the Burdekin Community Church.[33][37]

Burdekin Library opened in 1984.[39]

In June 2018, the town become the centre of controversy when a racist poster was displayed in a shop window, asserting that foreigners and backpackers were not welcome. Within hours, Burdekin Shire Council Mayor Lyn McLaughlin condemned the people responsible for the poster.[40]

Heritage listings

Ayr Post Office, 2014

Ayr has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:

Ayr courthouse, 2009
Ayr State High School
Burdekin Shire Council Chambers

Demographics

According to the 2016 census of Population, there were 8,281 people in the Ayr urban centre.

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up 7.7% of the population.
  • 82.4% of people were born in Australia. The next most common country of birth was Italy at 2.1%.
  • 85.4% of people only spoke English at home. Other languages spoken at home included Italian at 2.8%.
  • The most common responses for religion were Catholic 37.3%, Anglican 15.7% and No Religion 15.0%.[1]

Education

Ayr State School is a government primary (Prep-6) school for boys and girls at 141 Graham Street (19°34′44″S 147°24′02″E / 19.5790°S 147.4005°E / -19.5790; 147.4005 (Ayr State School)).[45][46] In 2017, the school had an enrolment of 119 students with 14 teachers (11 full-time equivalent) and 17 non-teaching staff (10 full-time equivalent).[47]

East Ayr State School is a government primary (Prep-6) school for boys and girls at 43-73 Ross Street (19°33′48″S 147°24′59″E / 19.5634°S 147.4164°E / -19.5634; 147.4164 (East Ayr State School)).[45][48] In 2017, the school had an enrolment of 557 students with 47 teachers (40 full-time equivalent) and 22 non-teaching staff (15 full-time equivalent).[47] It includes a special education program.[45]

St Francis' School is a Catholic primary (Prep-6) school for boys and girls at 99 Edward Street (19°34′13″S 147°24′05″E / 19.5704°S 147.4014°E / -19.5704; 147.4014 (St Francis' School)).[45][49] In 2017, the school had an enrolment of 304 students with 20 teachers (17 full-time equivalent) and 17 non-teaching staff (11 full-time equivalent).[47]

Burdekin Christian College is a private primary and secondary (Prep-12) school for boys and girls at 2-12 Melbourne Street (19°34′22″S 147°25′01″E / 19.5729°S 147.4170°E / -19.5729; 147.4170 (Burdekin Christian College)).[45][50] In 2017, the school had an enrolment of 133 students with 13 teachers (12 full-time equivalent) and 10 non-teaching staff (8 full-time equivalent).[47]

Burdekin School is a special primary and secondary (Early Childhood-12) school for boys and girls at 159 Young Street (19°34′42″S 147°24′28″E / 19.5784°S 147.4079°E / -19.5784; 147.4079 (Burdekin School)).[45][51] In 2017, the school had an enrolment of 17 students with 5 teachers (4 full-time equivalent) and 11 non-teaching staff (6 full-time equivalent).[47]

Ayr State High School is a government secondary (7-12) school for boys and girls at Cnr Edwards & Wickham Streets (19°34′37″S 147°24′35″E / 19.5770°S 147.4096°E / -19.5770; 147.4096 (Ayr State High School)).[45][52] In 2017, the school had an enrolment of 480 students with 46 teachers (44 full-time equivalent) and 30 non-teaching staff (23 full-time equivalent).[47] It has a special education program.[53]

Burdekin Catholic High School is a Catholic secondary (7-12) school for boys and girls at 45 Gibson Street (19°33′53″S 147°24′52″E / 19.5646°S 147.4145°E / -19.5646; 147.4145 (Burdekin Catholic High School)).[45][54] In 2017, the school had an enrolment of 436 students with 40 teachers (39 full-time equivalent) and 23 non-teaching staff (19 full-time equivalent).[47]

Facilities

Ayr is home to a small, state owned hospital. The one-storey building offers basic emergency care and has a helipad for more-serious emergencies.

Amenities

Ayr has the usual chain stores, including Domino's Pizza, ten pin bowling, a toyshop, cinema, six pubs, and a range of sports, electrical and fashion stores. Ayr has several banks including the Commonwealth, ANZ, Suncorp, National and Bendigo Bank.

The Burdekin Shire Council operates a public library in Ayr at 108 Graham Street (19°34′33″S 147°24′14″E / 19.5759°S 147.4039°E / -19.5759; 147.4039 (Burdekin Library)).[55]

The Ayr branch of the Queensland Country Women's Association meets at 20 Chippendale Street.[56]

Burdekin Uniting Church has two churches, one at 130 Mackenzie Street (19°34′35″S 147°24′10″E / 19.5764°S 147.4028°E / -19.5764; 147.4028 (Burdekin Uniting Church)) in Ayr and the other in Home Hill.[57][58]

A wide variety of sports are played in Ayr, including Touch football, Rugby league, Rugby Union, Soccer, tennis and golf. Netball and Table Tennis (ping pong) are also popular. The Ayr Surf Life Saving club is small and well-established.

Media

Published every Thursday, the Burdekin Local News is the region’s only locally owned and independent newspaper distributed across the Burdekin region as well as Bowen and the Townsville CBD.[citation needed]

Transport

Ayr's main street, Queen Street, is a wide two-laned street. The A1 passes through the town. A mostly two-laned highway, it is the major road of the Burdekin, linking Ayr with nearby Brandon and Home Hill.

Ayr Railway Station is the town's rail-transit stop with regular services from Brisbane to Cairns. While the town has no public transport, several bus routes pick up school children across the region.

Notable people from Ayr

See also

References

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  3. ^ "Ayr – locality in Shire of Burdekin (entry 49421)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
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External links