In late 1857, after just 2 years of marriage, Rachel and David Nunn of Chevington, Suffolk embarked on a journey to Australia. Enduring 109 days on the high seas aboard the ship Irene they arrived in Moreton Bay in February 1858, accompanied by their infant son Elisha (Elijah). 1. The Nunns like almost everyone on the ship were “government immigrants”.2.
As farmers in England they would have been used to a tough existence however this voyage must have been challenging for the young couple surrounded as they were by about 300 strangers all living in close and rudimentary conditions. Elisha would have celebrated his first birthday on board. Imagine the responsibility of an active toddler in such conditions with little privacy and danger lurking everywhere, above and below decks. Also, seasickness would have been an ugly reality and constant companion for many passengers.
Without wasting too much time the Nunn family settled in Dinmore becoming some of the earliest settlers in the area.3. As pioneers, the area grew up around them. There would have been little but scrub there when they arrived. In fact, no real development took place in the area until the 1880s, although one or 2 small mines did exist in earlier days. By that time the Nunns had been living in the area for close to 30 years! The Dinmore Railway Station was built in 1884.4. New Chum, Rylance and Whitwood collieries commenced operation in 1880, 1882 and 1887 respectively.5. Dinmore Brick and Tile Company was established by 1884.6., and Hudson’s Pottery founded in 1887.7. These were all Dinmore area businesses of note.
140 blocks of land known as the Dinmore Township Estate were listed for sale in April 1887. The blocks were located between Brisbane Road (then known as Main Road), Dinmore Railway Station, and River Road (then known as Government Road). At the time of the land sale 9 houses already existed on the eastern side of Government Road.8. This suggests that the Nunns were part of a small community by the 1880s.
The Nunn estate totalled ‘125 acres situated half-a-mile from Dinmore’ 9. It was described as having rich soil, good clay, coal seam and deep water frontage to the Bremer River. 10. JBS Australia’s beef processing facility (and prior to that Australia Meat Holdings (AMH)) at Dinmore now stands on the site of their property.11.
David Nunn was both a miner and a farmer. He was also a businessman in a way as he sometimes leased his land, particularly during the decades of the 1870s and 1880s to other hopeful miners and farmers. He entered into coal, clay and cattle leases. Unfortunately, these arrangements did not always go smoothly. Several culminated in court action due to broken leases, unpaid rent and work not being completed as agreed.12. 13. 14. On more than one occasion David and neighbour James Ivory found themselves in dispute.15. In 1874, this involved impounded cattle, broken fencing and damage to crops allegedly caused by straying bullocks. It was dealt with in Ipswich Police Court.16. However, 1874 was significant to the Nunns for another reason: ninth and last son William was born. By the close of that decade Rachel and David had completed their family of 12, including three daughters.
The Dinmore area continued to expand as the Nunn family had done. The local population numbered 250 by 1896.17. On 19th January 1891 Dinmore State School commenced with the enrolment of 63 pupils. 18. It is possible that some of the Nunn grandchildren were amongst those first enrolments as by this time the older Nunn children were adults and some married. Elisha was 34 years of age with Amos, George and Albert just a few years younger. The siblings had much in common. ‘Most of David and Rachel’s children lived in slab huts on the property.’19. Like the cabin of Amos and Isabella Nunn the huts were likely to have had dirt floors.20. The brothers mostly became miners and were enthusiastic cricketers. For the 1895-1896 season Arthur, Sidney, Walter, William, David (junior) and Albert played for the Whitwood Cricket Club21., so called because the team worked at the Whitwood Colliery. From at least 1885, cricket and soccer matches were often played on Nunn family land commonly referred to as “Nunn’s Paddock”. 22. The boys’ mother Mrs Rachel Nunn ‘.. was a keen enthusiast of both “soccer” football and cricket, and she always made it a point of honour to be present at all the matches of any note.’23.
Mr David Nunn the patriarch of the family died after a short illness in January 1900. ‘He was well known and much respected..’24. At the time of his passing David was survived by 38 grandchildren.25. Rachel died in 1912 at the age of 75 after a long and fruitful life.26. Sadly, son Sidney was a victim of the Spanish flu epidemic in 1919 at just 46 years of age.27. His siblings however all survived into old age and many continued to reside in Dinmore.
As well as pioneering the area, perhaps the greatest legacy of Rachel and David Nunn is their large family of descendants some of who endure in Ipswich today.
Information taken from: