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Archeologist Karen Murphy talks about Mill Point and books – Page 2

The mystery of the sauce bottles...

READERSVOICE.COM: What is the layout of the site, with buildings, houses, shops, a church, the mill itself?

KAREN MURPHY: Because we don’t have any of the original company records and the remains of the settlement have deteriorated so much, the layout of the site still has a lot of pieces missing.

There are written descriptions of the layout at the time, and a map sketched by a man whose ancestors worked at the site.

From our survey we have been able to identify the location of the mill itself right on the point beside the lake, and the location of some of the workers’ housing, the tramway and the cemetery.

But we only have one photograph of the entire settlement viewed from the top of the main mill building to show us where other buildings were located.

Further archaeological investigations may help us to identify the location of such places as the school, and the blacksmiths.

Because the buildings would mostly have been made of timber though, there will be little remaining of the structures themselves.

RV: At your talk you spoke of the discovery of sauce bottles, and how they differed from brands at another site.

Also you found hair tonic bottles from the U.S. Can you explain how the discovery of these artefacts led to other questions?

KM: One of the most common products we have found is Lea and Perrins Worcestershire Sauce – which of course you can still buy in the shops today.

What is interesting is that Lea and Perrins is the only brand of Worcestershire Sauce we have found. Holbrook’s sauce was also popular at this time, but there is no evidence of it in the Mill Point settlement.

This directly contrasts with the archaeology at the gold-mining towns of Paradise and Mount Shamrock in the Upper Burnett region – where the only sauce bottles the archaeologists found were Holbrook’s – no Lea and Perrins.

This leads us to questions about the transfer of goods into the settlement.

Was the company dictating what was available for the workers?

Did they have any choice as to what could be ordered?

It also leads to questions of broader patterns of global distribution of goods and patterns of consumption.

Or was it just the storekeeper’s favourite brand?

We have also found hair tonic bottles such as St Jakobs Oel from the Charles A. Vogeler Co in Baltimore, in the USA which was popular from the 1880s for treating hair loss.

They also had the competing preparation for hair loss at the settlement – Barry’s Tricopherous from New York – which was popular from the very early 1800s.

I find it interesting that they only had one brand of Worcestershire sauce but two brands of hair loss tonic!
RV: What were the squares found there on the last day of one field excavation?

KM: In keeping with one of the “rules” of archaeology – that is, you always find the most exciting things on the last day – we revealed our first possible structural evidence of the workers’ houses at the end of the February field season this year.

The concentration of bricks we found in two of the 1 metre by 1 metre squares that we excavated left us with a promising place to start excavating in June and July.

During the June-July season we revealed a large concentration of bricks around 3 metres by 2 metres in diameter along with a high concentration of artefacts.

We are not yet sure what the brick concentration indicates – perhaps a fireplace, or they were used for helping with soggy ground in front of a house, or perhaps related to the footings or stumps of the house itself.

We’ll need to do some more analysis for a clearer picture, but based on the artefacts, it does appear to be the location of a house belonging to a family.

RV: Would people who lived there have travelled to Brisbane or anywhere else? How would they have got there and by what route?

KM: The company’s steamer the Culgoa made regular trips up and back to Brisbane from nearby Tewantin.

The boat would take shipments of timber and passengers to Brisbane, and would return with goods and passengers.

Smaller paddle-wheel boats then made their way from Tewantin to the settlement for both passengers and goods.

The Brisbane Courier often had a front page advertisement for passage to Gympie via Noosa on the Culgoa, calling it the “shortest route”.

This was before the completion of the Brisbane-Gympie rail line so the trip by boat was no doubt much quicker and more comfortable then trying to get through on the rough roads from Brisbane.

There was also a route from the settlement to Gympie along Cootharaba Road which would also have been used by the residents either by horseback, coach or bullock dray.

There is one story of a sawmill worker, from a personal letter from the time, who used to row a small boat from the settlement all the way down to Tewantin on his days off, to visit his fiancée, and then he would row all the way back overnight to start work first thing the next morning.

Finally, Mr Luya, one of the owners, suggested that if he married the girl he would provide the timber for him to build a house for the couple at the settlement and he wouldn’t have to row to Tewantin all the time.

-continued next page.