HISTORIC: Christopher McConnel, Governor of Queensland Paul de Jersey AC and Somerset Graeme Lehmann unveil the plaque.
HISTORIC: Christopher McConnel, Governor of Queensland Paul de Jersey AC and Somerset Graeme Lehmann unveil the plaque. Contributed

A piece of Somerset's history celebrated

AFTER an eight month journey by boat, six red deer from the gardens of Windsor Castle set foot on Somerset soil for the first time in September of 1873.

The two stags and four hind were a gift to the state of Queensland from Queen Victoria and settled on Cressbrook Station, owned by the McConnel family.

A special celebration was held on Saturday at the Somerset Regional Art Gallery - The Condensery in Toogoolawah to recognise the 144th anniversary of the deer being released.

Governor of Queensland Paul de Jersey AC, Somerset Regional Council mayor Graeme Lehmann and Christopher McConnel unveiled a plaque commemorating the event, in front of the life size bronze statue of 'Norman' the deer, which was crafted by Somerset artist Bodo Muche.

Mr McConnel spoke about his family's rich history in the area to the more than 100 people in attendance.

"Today, I am sure, would give an overwhelming sense of satisfaction and pride to the previous four generations of my family's predecessors, to see the local community and indeed the family celebrating the milestone,” Mr McConnel said.

Cressbrook Station was established in 1841 and the release of the deer onto the property occurred 31 years prior to the establishment of the township of Toogoolawah.

Norman, Bolingbroke, Atlas, Alma, Ada and Martha arrived at the station from Ipswich in closed timber crates after much anticipation.

Mary Banks, Mr McConnel's great-great-aunt, wrote at the time: "every man, woman and child on the place was present... all were dressed in their Sunday best”.

To complement the event, an exhibit showcasing Australian history through the eyes of two distinguished local artists, Mr Muche and Susan McConnel, is on display at the gallery until October 8.


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