John Arthur Macartney bought and sold dozens of rural properties in the second half of the 19th century, travelling vast distances into largely uncharted territory in search of suitable land.

Story by Georgina Somerset

Reading through John Arthur Macartney’s reminisces of his early pioneering life in central Queensland, you are struck by the traits that he has passed on to future generations, such as adventure, enterprise and a love of the land. His great-grandson, Tim Macartney-Snape, who was the first Australian to climb Mount Everest, is the best known of his descendants, but there are many other reminders of the pastoralist, stockman and explorer. His offspring have not only travelled widely, but they also maintain a link to agriculture. For example, his great grandchildren include a live cattle exporter (Roger Robinson) and a grazier who has pioneered farm tourism in outback Queensland (Beau Robinson).
Macartney came to Australia from Ireland in 1848 at the age of 14 with his family (his father, H.B. Macartney, was the first Dean of Melbourne) and attended school with his cousins at Woodlawn, near Melbourne, which was his first association with rural life in Australia. In the same year he also travelled with his cousin, Rawden Green, to see the shearing at “Glenwillan”, the family’s station in Wimmera, Vic, and his passion for pastoral Australia was born.

This story excerpt is from Issue #46

Outback Magazine: Apr/May 2006