Stockman Billy Mateer saves the day!

Our Heritage Collections reference service throws up many interesting stories from our history.  Here is one that we researched recently.

In 1893 it was Henry Plantagenet Somerset of Caboonbah Homestead who observed a fifty foot wall of flood water strike the 120 foot cliff at Caboonbah. As many as five cyclones that had crossed the coast near Noosa and had brought drenching rain to the Brisbane and Stanley River watersheds. It was when the waters broke over Sapphire Gully that Somerset decided to dispatch two men, one to Esk, the other to Petrie. Harry Winwood was dispatched to Esk with a telegram for the Post Master General - this telegram was never sent, its contents warning of the highest flood on record. H. P. Somerset rowed stockman Billy Mateer with two horses swimming behind the boat to high land adjoining the stock route at Reedy Creek, from here he made his way to North Petrie. Billy was able to get through to the telegraph and relay the telegram message to Brisbane.

“Prepare at once for flood. River here within 10ft of 1890 flood, and rising fast, still raining”. Subsequently Caboonbah was made an official flood warning station with a telegraph line from Cressbrook.

One wonders how many lives were saved as a result.

Flood waters on Albion St., Warwick, 1893, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Image No: 199833

Engraving of Vernor Family rescued near Fernvale, 1893. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Image No: 121166

Eagle Street, Brisbane, 1893. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Image No: API-033-01-0005


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Many people already forgotten what happen in the past and it is sad to know that they do not look back to this information. Today i am looking back to learn information about Henry Plantagenet Somerset. I need to admit that i read about Caboonbah Homestead before but i never had the chance to learn about flood water. Anyway, thank you for letting me know.Regards,Jsanjuan

I'm afraid the above story is only partially truie. The first 1893 flood (1-2/02/1893) was caused by a cyclone that crossed at Yepoon and delivered 36 inches of rain at Chroamhurst in 24 hours. Woinwood was sent to Esk with a message at that time and the above messge is the one sent. Approx. 2 weeks later, Mateer was sent over the Diagular Range (telegraph was dowen betweeen Esk and Ipswich - and the first message was mostly overlooked). There seems to be no record of Mateer's warning getting through)There were TWO other cyclones - a smallish one which crossed at Bustard Heads, 11/02/1893 and a destuctive cyclone which crossed at Bundaberg, 17/02/1893.Mateer was a game stockman fro Mr Kemp's station, Dalangal, Eidsvold, who just happened to be at Caboonbah at that particular time. Although 2 horses were sent with Mateer, one broke away and Mateer had to accomplish his epic ride with one horse called Lunatic.There seems a high probability that either or both of these latter cyclones contributed to the 2nd flood and Mateer's ride would have been made under very difficult, wet conditions.I just happen to be H P Somerset's grand son. Rollo Waite

I was up at the Somerset Homestead last year and got a lot of movie footage from outside,never got inside, there was a car rally in the grounds at the time and i got destracted and took a lot of footage of the vehicles which were all lined up.I work at sea and flew home to Brisbane a couple of weeks ago from Singapore , the next morning read about the Somerset Homestead "Caboonbah" burning down , what a loss for us all.I happened to call a mate Brian Benson( Movie Maker) , and discovered he was in the Redcliffe Hospital to my surprise ,so went and saw him, he made the movie "Deludge",on the ride of Billy Mateer and the Floods and story of the 1893 Floods.I'd been out to Toowong Cemetery with a relation looking up one of his family's graves,a few days after arriving home ,and photographed the grave of Arthur Hoey Davis ,"Steele Rudd", told Brian and he asked did I see Billy Mateer's Grave ?, I said I hadn't ,and then he told me about how he fitted into the movie which Ray Barrett starred in.Brian said he'd done a lot of research before making the movie (may have talked to you Rollo??)and told me that the day the funeral notice of William Mateer appeared in the Brisbane paper in 1934, there was a story in the same paper that the government was going to start work on the Somerset Dam.I then mentioned all this to Greg Hutson at Kilcoy at the Historical Hut up there,( phoned him to find out if it was raining up there and if so how hard) he asked did I see the grave of Hiram Barnes? again , who was he?? and it turns out he was an American who he said drove the first Cobb and Co. Stage coaches in Queensland ,died in 1917, and is buried there (Toowong cemetery),with his wife and another lady , maybe there daughter, never looked up the family tree.I know that was getting off the track, but the information just keeps coming in.Yes I just keep adding to the information, and it was just before all this rain ,(20-5-2009). I naturally thought I'd woken up the past with the ghosts of the 1893 floodsI'll go out there (Toowong)again from Redcliffe when I get a chance,and look up the graves mentioned, and place them on "Google Earth".I'm no relation to anyone connected to all these people, but take a lot of interest in all the history around the place, hard to find people connected to Queensland anymore , a lot from overseas the interstate. Engage someone in conversation in a pub, shop, doctors surgery etc.,and their eyes "glaze over" Ha ! Ha ! , then you find they are just here to make a living and have no interest or connection in the place what so ever.I have another story about a family connection in an unmarked grave in Toowong from1885,(I'll have to put a marker on it one day soon , it's half way up "Knob Hill"), also information about a grave which was on the corner of Anzac Avenue and John Street here in Redcliffe , a tavern has just been built on top of it, my granparents lived diagonally across the road,in 1910 after they were married, father and uncle being born in the house at 39 Anzac Avenue.Being a builder most probably was the one who discovered it while building the house, it was set well back on the block , I asked my dad why that particular house was set so far back ,I'd noticed all other homes down that side of the street were perfectly in line, he said when they went to dig the holes for the stumps,they found the remains of a grave,so just went back deeper into the block, I never asked any more about it,I assumed the gran father may have built the place,and that is why my father knew aout it, the way my dad told me, it was as if it was common knowledge, we never mentioned it again.(Pity)Yes it may have been common knowledge at the time, but they are all dead now. I told some people who I thought had positions who would be interested in the history of a town and was fobbed off with," it may have been just Old Folk Lore."I'm sure there are people put in positions just to dismantle our history, makes you wonder what they are suppose to be doing in there positions.I like to hear what everyone knows or has heard, maybe it triggers some other parts of the puzzle.Well I'd better finish , what is going to happen to the remains of "Caboonbah" ???Regards,Kaos

The 1893 and 1841 floods were the highest recorded in the Brisbane and Bremer rivers since 1840 (recorded history), far higher than the no. 3, the 1974 flood (cyclone Wanda). H P Somerset was in a commanding posiition to observe and wrote a note for the Esk news, 1932. Of course, his vain effort to warn Brisbane on two occasions was only a minor part that he played. Due to his persistence, Caboonbah became the first flood warning station in Queensland (which he manned without remuneration fo many years) and he was instrumental in getting the Somerset dam built (was a state politician for 16 years). Thus I urge all concerned with Heritage and History to urge the Qld. Water Board and Government to at least preserve the historical site of Caboonbah, which might well lead to some sort of rebuilding.The Water Board, in conjunction with the Brisbane Valley Historical Society has restored (1989) and kept Caboonbah going until its untimely destruction. For anyone who has been there, there is no experience more worthwhile than standing on that high vantage point at Caboonbahand thinking back to the times of 1893, where H P S saw it all. I have written a bit of an article on the status and importance of the 18793 flood in the history of Qld. Also included, is H P Somerset's 1932 article. This was filed by Ms Serena Coates ( Heritage, John Oxley Library). Having been brought up in that Mt Beppo district when it was thriving and vibrant with samll mixed farms everywhere, it seems sad to see the sparse settlement of today - almost as if the very district has died.However, the two dams and the beautiful mountains, hovering as they always did, it still is a great district toi visit - if only to look for the ghosts of the past. R B Waite

Thanks for all the great comments and discussionJohn Oxley Library

A few miles from the Caboonbah homstead, is the interdenominatal Caboonbah Church, built in 1905 by residents of the district - Henry and Katharine Somerset, Andersen's sawmillers in Esk, R D Soden(went guarantor for the church) and others. Services were held at about monthly intervals by various protestant denominations for many years (probably up until the 60's or so). As mentioned previously, the distict ceased to thrive and, as with many Brisbane and other churches, the frequency of services declined. However, this unique church has been kept going as a practical, historical treasure by various committees over the year and there has been at least one srvice held a year (usually November). Such services have been well attended by locals from the districts snd old residents returning, almost as a pilgramage. These days the Roman Catholic Church has taken part in these activities.Of course, there is cemetery behind the church where there are numerous family graves. All these graves are illustrated on the Shire council website.The local shire council (Esk, I think) has done an excellent job keeping the grounds well mowed etc. It is great to see that, even after all these years, the church has been well maintained and even improved on (a picnic shelter for use after the services and a modern toliet has been built by volunteers and subscriptions to the church funds). The church is still used for funerals , weddings and christenings.Personally, it was heartening to attend such a service only a few days after the Caboonbah homstead was destroyed by fire. Thus this old church stands as a memorial to the \`old days' in tthe Mt Beppo district.

The legend of Billy Mateer and the recognition of the part that Henry Somerset and Caboonbah played with the 1893 flood is due almost entirely to the efforts of various people who have concerned themselves with the history of the upper Brisbane Valley. I refer particularly to the making of the movie, \`Deluge' , about the 1893 flood - written by Andrew Mardi, directed by Martin Oversen and produced by Brian Benson and Denise Bender. They put their time and money into this effort which lifted this story from obscurity and put all concerned, including Caboonbah on the map. Of course, various members of the Brisbane Valley Historical Society played an integral part with all of this, including Somerset descendants (some had \`bit' parts in \`Deluge'). Personally, I stand in awe of those people who have contributed to the recognition of my Grandfather and the times in which he lived - where a heroic horseman, with little to prove but his courage and the needs of others, risked life and limb to ride across the Diagular under such hazardous condition. Bush poets (Ellis Campbell, Tony Hammill and others) have put have put pen to paper with tributes to those concerned, particularly Billy Mateer. In all of this, I'm not forgetting the John Oxley Library Blog. Thanks a lot to all concerned.

This is a submission from John Leach, Soomerset News, Toogoolawah, where he maintains (from experience) that the most outstanding of Somerset and Mateer was crossing the flooded river.Rollo,My apologies for my delay in replying to your emails of 22nd. Pace herehas been insane for a small newspaper, 11 to 12 hours in a day is justnot enough. Sincere thanks for sending copy of your Mum's account, and for the map last time. It will be my project to try to traverse one or more of those routes, one way or another. Your poem is really beaut. It sort of adds a bit more life to the natrrative, whilst remaining an historical account in itself. Many thanks for sending that as well. Reour discussion around Henry's navigation across the flooded combinedriver, I was not previously aware that it was 70 feet or more in flood.I have shot the rapids down the river when it was only 20 feet in flood,and we got from Somerset Dam wall to Lowood in one day. I know well how fast it can move. I have rowed dinghies all my life, sometimes in the flooded Brisbane River, at Sherwood-Indooroopilly, attempted a row"up-hill" against the ebb tide through 17 Mile Rocks ( before theyblasted it), rowed fair distances through fairly large swells in MoretonBay, rowed a 14foot canoe (with thwart, rowlock blocks & 7foot oarsfitted), 2km out to sea from Balinga Beach, trolling for tailor, acrosspast Kirra, to Greenmount, back & forth all afternoon. I really amutterly amazed and awe-struck at Henry's herculean feat in rowing aheavy pine-plank dinghy, with a passenger, and towing two horses through what must have been a fearsome torrent running at at least 30 to 40 knots. That alone was an epic, in terms of strength, endurance, & sheer guts. The extent of his gameness & fitness was well beyond the scope of most peoples' knowledge or imagination. Both heroic efforts must be preserved and promoted as a unique chapter in Brisbane Valley's history.Fictional "action" movies now look a bit tame don't they? Sincere thanks once more Rollo, and looking forward to catching up again. Regards, John Leach.

Each one of us should not forget the past because it plays important part in our lives as a human. Flood is a big problem to all of us and i need to admit that it is my first time to know about fifty foot wall of flood water situation. I hope to read more explanation about it. Thanks!Regards,Gold Bullion Coins

The Legend of Billy Mateer by Rollo Waite 12/06/09 The stockmen of Eidsvold were rugged and bold as they herded the shorthorns in days of old, through ironbark and brigalow - country's that rough, over rivers and ridges, these stockmen were tough. One name has lived on for many a year that daring young stockman, Billy Mateer. He herded Kemp's cattle, way out at Dalgangal, he'd sort any herd that got into a tangle. From dawn until dusk he would manfully work, there was no station job that Billy would shirk. He'd relax on the weekends and ride into Eidsvold, or Mundubberra at times, \`wherever the beer's cold'. There's many a mile between Eidsvold and Esk that's where Billy went on a horse buying quest, for he knew good horses as soon as he saw them and they needed good horses at Dalgangal station. So he visited properties from Esk to Crowsnest, then on to Caboonbah - as an uninvited guest. It was raining like blazes when Billy arrived, he unloaded his buggy and had his clothes dried. For the Bundaberg cyclone was sending it down, fresh floods were threatening the down-river towns. Between Esk and Ipswich the line was awash Any warning to Brisbane must be taken by horse. Henry Somerset knew of Mateer's reputation, as a daring stockman at Dalgangal station. and to warn of the flood he'd conceived a bold plan, that required a \`crack' horseman - Mateer was his man. So he put it to Billy, "it's rough going, no fear!" "She'll be right, don't you worry," said Billy Mateer. " The horses I'll give you are the best I can pick, the feisty one's Oracle, the other's Lunatic, but don't be put off by the Lunatic name, he's sure on his feet, and by jove he is game. They'll carry you far through water and mud and get you to North Pine to warn of the flood." Then Mateer led the horses down to the boat and both men jumped in to keep it afloat, Somerset did the rowing while Mateer held the reins and to make matters worse it was pelting with rain. Things only got worse as they surged through the foam For Oracle broke loose, swam the river back home. " What a pity," said Henry, as they got near the shore. " You'd have made it with two, but with one, I'm not sure." " That's o k, " said Billy, " but if I had to pick, the best horse by far is this one, Lunatic." Billy patted the muzzle of the one left to ride. " You're a game man," said Henry, " God be at your side." Billy leapt into the saddle with no more delay, shook hands with Henry and was then on his way to track Reedy Creek as it flowed to its source, they traveled so smoothly, both rider and horse. The going was heavy as they plowed through the mud To swim Reedy Creek as it raced with its flood. Billy grasped at the mane of brave Lunatic as they swam Reedy creek, running dirty and quick, then back into the saddle and onward they forged \`til they finally arrived at Diagular gorge, They followed the spur on their mountain ascent, They both took a breather, then onwards they went. They slid down the mountain to the valley below through rocks and past boulders, the going was slow. For this part was by far the most dangerous bit and both horse and rider just had to be fit. To Billy such adventure was really a treat, He thought nought of danger with his mighty feat. He paused for a while at the Terrors Creek pub, unsaddled Lunatic, had a beer and some grub. Asked directions as how to get to North Pine, saddled up and rode off to the railway line. He rode into North Pine, to the railway station, Henry's note was delivered at its destination. Now the years dim the memory of Billy Mateer, he departed this life in his sixty fifth year, our enquiries about him are mostly in vain, and a grave at Toowong is but all that remains. But his name will live on for many a year, That daring young stockman, Billy Mateer And we'll thrill to his ride on that horse Lunatic and for Somerset's warnings so thoughtful and quick. They were all heroes then, two men and a horse, braving the dangers of nature's harsh force. As I pass the Diagular, my thoughts become strange, ghosts of Billy and Lunatic might still ride the range.

My daughter is doing a family history, and I asked my sister for help. She told me about Billy Mateer, our mothers, fathers uncle. I googled him and came across your website. Thank you for the insite it make for a great read, I only wish my kids could have seen the movie. I can't wait to show the kids this wonderful website. Sincere thanks.Gail Irwin

Hi, I stumbled across this website and what a piece of history from my local area that I never knew. I am very fascinated and would love to know where to purchase/view the move Deluge about the 1893 floods. Thanking you for your assistance.

Hi,Please be aware that the first rider sent by Somerset was Henry (Harry) Winwood my Grandfathers Uncle. Any information with regard to him woulkd be of interest in our family tree research. He was from Cressbrook station.

Hi,Please be aware that the first rider sent by Somerset was Henry (Harry) Winwood my Grandfathers Uncle. Any information with regard to him woulkd be of interest in our family tree research. He was from Cressbrook station

Hi,I've been associated with the Brisbane Valley since 1960 and first heard the story of Billy Mateer's ride about that time. I recently wrote an article for the Somerset newspaper in which I stated that Billy's ride was quite demonstrably the world's greatest documented and celebrated ride. Paul Revere's 11 km ride down established roads in good conditions by moonlight pales by comparison. Billy rode in excess of 40 km in cyclonic conditions over rough bush tracks,flooded creeks and the D'aguilar Range to North Pine to wire Brisbane of the approaching flood.In retirement I am now promoting him in every way possible. I commissioned a painting of his ride which will soon be completed, and I hope to then set up a display in the valley honouring Billy and the great Henry Somerset.Eight poems have now been written about Billy,and I'm pleased to say I wrote the first in 1999, but greats like Ellis Campbell have done their bit and his poem' Valour Rode the Range' can be googled.I'd appreciate it if everyone could talk about and help promote Billy.Does anyone have a photo of Billy as a young man? My number is 38430624.ThanksTony Hammill

HiMy thanks to Rollo Waite, grandson of H P Somerset, for posting his fine poem 'The Legend of Billy Mateer' on this blog. Rollo and I are both researchers, though hopefully not rivals! Ellis Campbell,from Dubbo,is another mate of mine and the most accomplished bushman I have known. What he doesn't know about horses isn't worth knowing, and his praise for Billy and Lunatic is profuse.I haven't to date heard anything but praise about Billy.ThanksTony.

HiA quick correction:my figures in 15 should have been 11 miles and 40 miles, not km.ThanksTony.

HiWhatever fame accrues to Billy in coming years, let the record always show that the people who kickstarted the recognition process were Brian Benson and Denise Bender in their fine film 'The Deluge' from the 1990's.I count them both as friends.Tony.

HiAs stated, I hope to set up a display this year in the Brisbane Valley honouring notable figures,which I'll title 'Legends of the Valley.' So far i have Henry, Billy, and James Mcpherson, the Queensland bushranger.Harry Winwood, the stockman who rode to Esk for Henry to wire Brisbane in the first flood,also deserves a guernsey, so perhaps a relative would like to contact me with a photo and brief biography(ph 38430624).My ultimate aim in all this is world recognition for Billy,but I'm sure there will be positive spinoffs for the Valley.Tony.

HiI am sorry if this is off topic a bit but a quick question to Bob Kirkwood in regards to Brian Benson.I think Brian is the guy who made a video of the construction and opening of the Riverside Mine in 1983 and I am trying to locate a copy of the video any help that you could give me would be appreciatedRegardsWayne

Would anyone be able to tell me more about Billy Mateer's life? While conducting research on an unrelated story, I came across a reference to a Billy Mateer in a boxing match in Cairns, 1910 and other references re boxing from about 1890. Is this the same man or was there more than one Billy Mateer?

There's no doubt that this Blog has attracted a lot of attention. Certainly looking through google, it seems that there were numerous Billy Mateer's, for example an Irish darts player etc. The name has a great ring to it and goes well with the Billy Mateer of this blog - the one who rode the range back in 1893.I might have been in error having Billy travel from Eidsvold to Esk by buggy. In those times, long distance horsemen often used a number of horses; for example, Henry Somerset rode alone the 700 miles from Blackall to Toogoolawah using 6 horses. However, on another occasion he rode one horse (a mare, Joan) from Cardaga (North Burnett) to Cressbrook, 142 miles, in 25 hours -9 pm one night until 9.30 pm the next night. The reason for this was to take back a dray to transport dropped calves out to Blackall. It's truly amazing to discover just how people surmounted distance and difficulties in those days.

Sorry, the previous anon. was mine

I read with interest the messages about Billy Mateer and HP Somerset. Like Rollo Waite, I am related to HP Somerset, being his great grandson. What a wonderful history trail you are all leaving for us to enjoy - thank you. On a lighter note, my Father, Arthur Somerset, born at Caboonbah in the same room as his father Captain C.W. Somerset (my Grandfather and HP Somerset's eldest son) used to acompany HP Somerset in a horse and sulky to the planned site of the now Somerset Dam wall. Dad was about 5 years old at the time. Arthur used to carry a hip flask of Brandy to press to HP Somerset's lips in the event of a blackout of which he was expeiencing some episodes at this time.

Hi againIn Feb 1978 I interviewed old Madge Brennan on tape at the family home (now demolished) in Somerset Dam.She related her memories of the 1893 flood which stopped at her doorstep, H.P.Somerset visiting her father Paddy by sulky, and other pioneers of the district such as Lumley-Hill ("a blowhard!") and the Cross family who owned the Crossdale pub (the missus was a bit of a hard case!).Thought you'd enjoy some 19th century gossip! Hope this doesn't violate blog policy!I'll be transferring the tape to cd shortly.Tony Hammill.

ps: John, I know Arthur. He lives not far from my father;also Rollo, Ned, Joy etc.RegardsTony.

Message for Wayne Mc Lean re 'Riverside Mine'. Brian Benson can be contacted on his mobile 0419 769086 and can assist you with a DVD of the film he made of it years ago if you are still interested.

Here is a comment from H P Somerset's memoirs regardingtraversing the D'aguilar range from the Brisbane to the Pinerivers valley in 1872. Almost certainly, this is the route thathe sent Billy Mateer on in 1893:Henry had \`100 pounds to his credit with the Government SavingBank', when Mr Joyner at Samsonvale wrote, offering the MConnel's60 young store bullocks to fatten. McConnel did not want them butsuggested that H P S should inspect them for himself, offering torun, fatten and sell them (on agistment) if he bought them onpart cash terms. If suitable, Joyner would be required to droveand deliver them to Cressbrook. Henry proceeded to Samsonvale viaGregor's Creek, Kilcoy and Caboolture - a three day journey,arriving late in the evening. Next morning he inspected andbought the bullocks and waited while Joyner wrote out a saleagreement in his office. Looking at a map on the wall, he sawwhat a \`circuitous' route he had ridden as Mt Brisbane stationwas just past the D'aguilar Range." I'll return over the range," he told Joyner." Only blacks on foot go that way, you'll never make it," was theresponse, "but if you like I'll pilot you to to the creek andshow you a spur leading to the top".Having made a sketch showing Reedy and Byron creeks, and having acuppa with Joyner, he ascended the spur, dismounted and cut hisway through the scrub, using the knife Lord Alfred Churchill hadgiven him. He saw a creek down below with a gorge full of redcedars. He led the horse halfway down, mounted and, canteringalong a dray track, found Jack Conroy with a dray loaded with redcedar logs. He asked Conroy if he was on the right track for MtBrisbane." Yes, follow the creek, but who are you?"Natrurally, Henry told him \`who he was and where he'd come from.'" You're a bloody good sort of new chum, then," was Conroy'sreply.Thus encouraged, Henry made Mt Brisbane for aftrenoon tea andCressbrook for a late dinner.Thus, said Henry, " Joyner was wrong.". He attributed his skillswith \`sense of direction' to \`paper chasing directing' atWellinton College. Twenty years later, the first mob of cattle tocross that range were H P S's own fat's from Caboonbah, which hetook to meet a drover on the far side, to reach the sale yards intime for the Christmas markets and \`topped the price, despitetravelling night and day on the hoof'.Note: This has been rewritten in the third p[erson by R B Waite

My great grandfather, Matthew Cuthbertson, was one of the seven men drowned in 1893 when the Eclipse Mine flooded. I would dearly love to have a copy of the movie 'Deluge', so was wondering if anyone could help me.

Hi MaryThe State Library has a copy of the movie "Deluge" and it can be viewed at the library.I have been able to locate only one place that stocks this movie - Digital Education Services (based in Melbourne)… Oxley Librarian

Thank you so much for the information on the movie 'Deluge'. I have ordered it from the website you mentioned and I should have a copy in a couple of weeks. Your help is very much appreciated!

Hi MaryThe Deluge can still be purchased through the producers of the movie if you are interested. Denise Bender is away at the moment but you can leave a message on her email at (Billy's Publicity Agent)

Hi AllI can now announce that the painting of Billy's ride I commissioned from multi-award winning North Coast artist Pam Hopkins ( is completed and I picked it up yesterday.It is fabulous and I believe it is set to become an iconic image, one that will be immediately spring to mind when anyone mentions Billy. I will be disseminating it in every way possible with no profit to myself- through wine labels, tourist facilities,prints etc. Lunatic the horse is the star of this painting, and if anyone expects the brilliant sunny colours for which Pam is famous they'll be disappointed. Cyclones are not noted for their sunny atmosphere!Tony ( Billy's Publicity Agent)

Hi AllThe Billy Mateer painting by Pam Hopkins has received enthusistic reviews by numerous people including members of the Somerset family. The key words used have been 'dramatic' and 'authentic', and one woman said, " He reminds me of 'The Man from Snowy River' " which was music to my ears. I truly believe we have an iconic image here which I hope will soon be known everywhere as long-overdue recognition of Billy.The North Burnett Regional council has ordered a print for their tourist centre ( Billy came from Eidsvold) and it will be unveiled in late October when Ellis Campbell's poem on Billy will be performed by Ellis on tape, and both will feature on a DVD about Eidsvold shortly.I will relate further good news as it transpires.Tony ( Billy's Publicity Agent).

Hi AllI have just entered negotiations on an agreement to market Billy, and it is serious. It happened faster than I could have imagined. I will reveal more as the situation unfolds.Tony ( Billy's Publicity Agent).

How good it is that Billy Mateer has ridden back through the mists of the past in such a remarkable way. From a chance visit to Caboonbah on that memorable day in 1893, this stockman from Eidsvold (Kent's Dalgangle station) has taken his place in the rich history of \`those early days' in the upper Brisbane valley. In a way, Billy can be seen as representing all great stockman over the years, but none so tough and demanding as those in the pioneering days, when great horsemen rode all over Audtralia herding cattle and simply travelling.At the moment I am writing my grandfather's ( H P Somerset's) early expeiences. It is breath taking reading an account from suich an adventurous man - not only of his early childhood, but of his amazing adventures in the Australian bush (and this was when he first landed in Australia as a young man in his 20th year as a \`new chum'). Yes, Henry Somerset knew a good stockman when he saw one, such as Billy Mateer, because he hd been droving and riding over countless miles of Australia (northern rivers, NSW, and various drives through inland Queensland, way out to the Barcoo, well and truly beyond the \`black stump').So here's to Billy Mateer and all those tough Aussie stockmen over the years. From my poem, \`Queensland drovers'"When old age catches up with them and their droving days are done, they think of thos mighty cattle drives, of the hard times and the fun. For the day will come when they sadlle up for that stock route in the sky, But the legends that the leave behind will never ever die. And they'll ride once again as they did in days of yore, these stockmen of Australia." etc.

Hi AllOn Monday 9 November we had the launch of the Billy Mateer painting at the museum at Old Petrie Town. There were 15 people present including Councillor David Dwyer and Local Studies Librarian Leith Bartel. I spoke during the meeting of the Pine Rivers Historical Society, giving the background and significance of the ride, and stressing Billy had ridden down the road right outside the building, and that the railway station Billy sent the message from is now sited in their grounds.I had intended to unveil the painting, but was beaten to it by other forces. I was about to unveil it when asked a question about Hentry Somerset. I took two steps to the left, and had only uttered a few words when the ladies in the audience started squealing! I looked to the right and there was the blue cloth sliding off the painting, and the painting started rocking. Billy rides again, and in the direction of the station! I grabbed the painting, steadying it, looked to the ceiling and said, "Sorry, Billy!"The meeting loved the painting (and the show) and burst into applause.Maybe I'll actually get to do the deed on the western side of the range!Tony.

Hi allLeith's surname above is given as 'Bartel' but should read 'Barter'.Sorry, Leith!Tony (Billy's Publicity Agent)

Hi AllThe painting of Billy riding in the cyclone was unveiled in The Somerset newspaper in early December with an article by John Leach, and received a very positive response from the public. The artist, Pam Hopkins, received several orders for prints. My goal is to make that image instantly recognisable in the Brisbane Valley, and will try to get one hung in council chambers.I am writing a series of articles for The Somerset called 'Legends of the Valley.' The first one, Captain Logan, should have appeared this week. Billy is about No 6 in the series. Having recently completed proof reading of Henry Somerset's memoirs 'Trombone's Troubles's' which will probably be published this year, I'll be able to include some of his adventures.Best wishesTony (Billy's Publicity Agent-unpaid!)

To followes of this Blog,I have finished and widely circulated \`Discovering my Grandfather', which is the rewriting of my Grandfarhers memoirs with the theme of discovering Henry Somerset (he died in my parents home when I was five). This has been made available for the Somerset Reunion12-13/3/10 and, so far this long overdue effort has been well received, partcularly among H P S's descendents.Of course, this writing is mainly about his life from 1852 -1890. However, a summary of his life and an Eppilogue is included. I address the question of \`discovering him' and briefly discuss the times in which he writes.This has relevance to both Mateer and Winwood as it deals with the process of H P S's life which led to his living at Caboonbah and the part they all played with the 1893 flood. regards, Rollo Waite

Hello to supporters of this blog,The descendent's of Henry Somerset had a reunion at the Bunya Mtns. resoert last weekend. Approximately 120 descendents and others met over the weekend to remember our roots in the Brisbane Valley, with particular ref. to our Cabonnbah heritage.Two great descendents books were available, beatifully compiled by Christine Jackson (nee Somerset), plus my re writing of Henry Somersets memoirs, \`Discovering my grandfather'Qiuter apart from this activity, Denise Bender has almost finished \`Trombone's troubles' (Henry Somerset's memoirs) and Tony Hammill has been writing a series of articles for the Somerset (Toogoolawah newspaper), \`legends of the Valley (Brisbane).So all in all, the traditions of those far off, Caboonbah days are being kept alive. Billy Mateer and those other great hoprsemen still ride. Regards, Rollo Beaufort Waite

Hi AllThings are coming along at a rattling pace. Phil Close of Woongooroo Winery near Kilcoy has agreed to become Billy's official promoter and is staging an official launch at the winery in June, with competitions to be announced in bush poetry and art. He also intends to stage vintage car rallies, and is sponsoring a whole range of merchandise including mugs, tee-shirts, prints, wine labels etc.I have determined the date of Billy's ride beyond all reasonable doubt as Friday 18 February 1893, and his article in my Legends of the Valley series will be appearing shortly in The Somerset newspaper. John Leach of The Somerset has also discovered the actual route Billy took over the D'Aguilar range.This whole project, with the help of like-minded people, has succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. The final touch will be a statue raised to Billy.ThanksTony.

Hi AllThe date above for the ride should have been Friday 17 Feb not 18.John Leach of The Somerset newspaper informs me he has now absolutely determined the route of Billy's ride on Friday 17 February 1893. He has accomplished this through Henry Somerset's memoirs in which he describes the trail he himself blazed, and through a family at Toogoolawah who used the same route to get to the coast in the old days.This means we will be able to calculate the actual distance travelled by Billy to North Pine, and is a great step forward. John also intends to hold an annual 4WD trek along the route.We have snatched history from the jaws of oblivion. It's quite exhilarating, and shows what like minds and a team effort can accomplish. Tony (Billy's Publicity Agent)

For those who read this blog,It is interesting noting the various observations with particular reference to Billy Mateer's ride and the amount of delving is commendable. As Tony maintains that the ride occurred occurred on February 17, this coincides with the date a cyclone crossed the coast at Bundaberg.I can agree with John Leach's work re. the route Billy took. See my note of Sept. 9, 2009 in this BLOG.For further information I suggest that the following site be, ROLLO B WAITE

Hello out thereFoot note to my last submission: The excellent article on Henry Somerset in The Caboonbah Heritage article is incorrect with rtegard to Mateer's destination - He went to North Pine (Petrie) not Caboolture.Rollo B waite

It is with great delight that our Estate, Woongooroo Estate at Kilcoy, is promoting the name and legend of Billy Mateer. This year, we are organizing a $500 Bush Poetry Competition, a $500 Photographic Competition, relevant souvenirs and a special annual memorial horse event which will be announced at the Estate on Saturday 12th June at our Billy Mateer Open Day. We have commemoratively labeled Hero Country Red 2009 - a fruit driven medium dry Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Cabernet Franc. This superb wine has the Pam Hopkin's painting on the label. Billy bloggers can get more information at is indeed gratifying to see the renewed and awakening interest being shown in this legendary horseman. I hope our Estate can be a catalyst to aid this escalating awareness.Kind regards,Phil Close - Owner/Manager, Woongooroo Estate

Hi AllLast Saturday's first Billy Mateer Open Day at Woongooroo Winery near Kilcoy was fabulous! With bush poets,a kelpie demo, boot throwin' (not to be confused with boot scootin'!), oilskin-wearing horsemen, great food and wine (yes, the Hero Country 2009 red is fruit and spice heaven), a great product and memorabilia display,and the presence of the Mateer family in force gave a marvellous atmosphere of conviviality.Long may this event prosper and promote Billy!Tony Hammill.

Hello out there, The History of the Brisnabe Valley and Somerset is certainly coming alive with the activities of Tony Hammil, Phil Close, John Leach and others. It seems the spirit of Billy Mateer has carried folk along and 'the Valley' will once more resonate with the recounting of the past glories. I must say that I never felt inclined towards history (except my own personal memoirs), until I decided to write 'Discovering my Grandfather' (about H P Somerset). But once I got on the bandwagon I have been carried along. S9 I say ' good on all of you - may your activities increase. Hooray for now, Rollo B Waite

Hi AllAnd thanks Rollo.I am now resigning from the position of Billy Mateer's publicity agent. The position now rightly belongs to Phil Close of Woongooroo Winery who has adopted Billy wholeheartedly and will publicise him wherever his wines are displayed and sold. His efforts in only a few months since I first contacted him have been truly remarkable, as have those of the other visionary, John Leach of The Somerset newspaper, who has rediscovered Billy's trail over the D'Aguilar and published the findings.I will, however, retain my position of Guardian of the Legend along with John and Phil.All is well!Tony.

Hi AllOn Tuesday 8 June I attended the ceremony at The Spit at Somerset Dam at which the Governor presented a plaque to Somerset Dam for its recognition by Engineers Australia as an Engineering Heritage National Landmark. The day was fine and sunny with a cool breeze blowing, and the Dam made a magnificent backdrop to the proceedings.After the ceremony I served as tour guide to a small busload comprising Her Excellency, Her Excellency's aide, and engineers. We visited the dam and township, and I took the opportunity to regale my captive audience not only with the story of the dam, but also with the story and praises of Henry Somerset and Billy Mateer. To use the old cliche, a great time was had by all!We now look forward to the first annual Billy Mateer trail ride later this year, which will involve both horses and four-wheel drives.YoursTony.