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Peak Downs Station Peak Downs Station

Peak Downs Station was selected by James Archer who sold it to W.R. Stewart. Stewart and Rutherford held it prior to 1863 at least. George Fairbairn (1816 - 1895) purchased Peak Downs Station from Messrs Ronald and Burnett in 1869. The run totalled around 150,000 acres; 80,000 of which was freehold. Mr Rawdon Green was Manager until the early 1870s when John Turnbull took on the role. Mr Turnbull, in conjunction with other pastoralists formed the Lansdowne Pastoral Company in 1880 and acquired the former Fairbairn property Lansdowne station on the Barcoo. Mr J. (possibly James) Wylie and Mr F.H.B Turner then became Peak Downs managers. Mr Turner bought and moved to Rainworth Station in about 1887 and in 1901 became manager of the Dalgety and Co Rockhampton branch. Edmund Casey managed Peak Downs until 1898.‚Äč Managers of other Peak Downs district runs in 1875 were Donald Wallace at Logan Downs, John Burns at Retro, William Kilgour at Gordon Downs, Henry Devereux at Huntley and Mr Elliott at Langton Downs.

In the 1870s and 80s George Fairbairn purchased the Peak Downs district runs, Logan Downs and Wolfang, as well as other stations further west. His eldest son George (1855 – 1943, Sir George in 1926) managed Peak Downs and Barcaldine stations for his father for some years, pioneering the use of wire-netting on Peak Downs to keep out kangaroos in 1878. He oversaw the construction of the Peak Downs homestead.

George’s second son, Charles Fairbairn (1858 – 1926), became actively involved in the station’s management some time after that and in 1894 built a homestead on the Magenta section (run) of the property, to the west of the Peak Downs station headquarters. Charles bought Langton in 1907 for £40,000. 

After George Snr’s death in 1895, George and Charles floated the Queensland properties Barcaldine Downs, Home Creek (both purchased in 1877), Bimerah, Peak Downs and Wolfang into a company concern and registered the title Fairbairn Pastoral Company. Shortly after the formation of the company, Mr Charles Maclean was appointed general manager of all its Queensland properties and he made his headquarters at Magenta. George Fairbairn Jnr sold his Peak Downs interests in 1902.

Mr Charles Maclean is listed as the owner of Corry and Rocky runs in the 1913 Australian Pastoral Directory. He went on to purchase the 44,000 acre Langton station from Charles Fairbairn in 1919. Mr Maclean served on the Peak Downs Divisional Board – which became the Peak Downs Shire Council in 1903 - from 1899 to 1921. His son Kenneth served on Council for a total of 14 years from 1928. 

Mr James Richardson was promoted from overseer at Barcaldine Downs to manager of Peak Downs station in 1900 and was there during the 1901-02 drought. He resigned in 1905 when he purchased Emerald Downs from Donald Wallace, selling that station again in 1908 to move to Ascot Downs, Barcaldine.

George Snr and his wife Virginia Charlotte nee Armytage had four other sons. Frederick Fairbairn (1865 – 1925) who, after studying at Cambridge, acquired Logan Downs station. (At the time of its sale by G.A (Bo) Fairbairn in the mid 1900s, Logan Downs was the last Fairbairn family owned Queensland property.) Fourth son was James – a doctor, fifth Thomas – a pastoralist, and sixth was Stephen whose pastoral interests included Beaconsfield and Delta (until 1911, although he had moved to England in 1904) and who was also a noted rowing coach.

James Valentine Fairbairn (1897 – 1940, son of Charles) lived at Magenta from 1919 until somewhere around 1923, after undergoing treatment for injuries received during WWI while a member of the Royal Flying Corps. He went on to be Minister for Air and Civil Aviation in the Menzies Government and was killed on the 13 August, 1940, when on a plane that crashed on approaching the RAAF airfield at Canberra, now known as Fairbairn Aviation Park. Brigadier Geoffrey Street, Minister for the Army, and Henry Gullet were also killed. (James' brother George Patrick also died in a plane crash at age 26.)

The remaining 92,596 acres of Peak Downs station (including the Magenta run) were sold in 1924 to James Clark, Peter Tait and Charles Maclean. It passed to the Peak Downs Pastoral Co. (possibly a Maclean family company) which sold it in 1948 to the Queensland - British Food Corporation (QBFC) for £86,000.  After the winding up of the QBFC, the Queensland State Government subdivided Peak Downs into farming blocks of approximately 5000 acres (2000ha) and opened these up for selection in 1956.