George Elphinstone Dalrymple



George Augustus Frederick Elphinstone Dalrymple (1826-1876), explorer, public servant and politician, was born on 6 May 1826, the tenth son of Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Dalrymple Horn Elphinstone of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, and his wife Graeme, née Hepburn. He was the younger brother of Ernest Dalrymple. He left Scotland in the 1840s and became a coffee planter in Ceylon. He arrived in Australia between 1856 and 1858 and went to the Darling Downs where he was unable to take up land as he had intended. The unoccupied north attracted him and in February 1859 he published in Brisbane Proposals for the Establishment of a New Pastoral Settlement in North Australia. His proposed syndicate soon attracted subscribers and he organized an expedition to explore the Burdekin River watershed (Kennedy district). His party, including Ernest Henry and Philip Sellheim, set out from near Rockhampton in August and reached the site of Bowen.

The Queensland government countermanded the decision to open the new district for settlement in January 1860 and the syndicate's plans to tender for runs were forestalled. In compensation Dalrymple was made commissioner for crown lands in the Kennedy district. In August he went with Lieutenant J. W. Smith in the Spitfire to explore the coast and examine Port Denison as a port of access for the Kennedy. As officer in charge of the proposed settlement of Bowen, Dalrymple then planned the expedition to establish the township and led the overland section. After he arrived Bowen was proclaimed on 11 April 1861. He was soon beset by official duties in a frontier town and by problems of administering the new Land Act, but neglected his mounting clerical tasks for more adventurous field-work. When Dalrymple went south on sick leave he fell out with his superior, Augustus Gregory. In 1862 when several land commissioners, including Dalrymple, were to be replaced by professional surveyors, he resigned rather than accept alternative posts offered him in Bowen. (

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