The Dawson Valley with its rich supplies of food and water provided an excellent living environment for the Aborigines. According to Gangulu culture, the Rainbow Serpent (Moondya Gutta) formed the rivers and streams as he wriggled across the land; the deep waterholes were his special resting places.
HISTORY 100 Years of “MOURA” Run from selection in 1854 to resumption in 1954
The “Moura” Run had a somewhat chequered history during its hundred-year existence.
Selected by Charles Marshall in 1854, the lease, together with several other portions, was not granted until 1857. It is considered likely that Marshall gave his property the name “Moura” after a town in southeast Portugal where he had served in Wellington’s Army. Marshall did not retain his properties for long and there were several transfers during the next few years.
None of these lessees it seems settled or stocked the land, till 1874, when Edward Thomas (E.T) Homer, John Broadbent and Daniel Williams, trading as Homer and Company purchased the Moura lease and several adjoining properties on either side of the river. By 1880 they controlled an area of 332 sq.miles (85000 hectares) taking in 43 miles (70km) of Dawson River frontage. In 1889 these Runs were consolidated to form the “Moura Run”. Edward Homer was the resident manager, making his headquarters and building his homestead on the banks of the Dawson (approx. 6 miles – 10 km from present day Moura township).
Dissolving the partnership of Homer and Company in 1894, ET Homer moved to “Barfield”, Banana, which is still in the Homer family 112 years later – a remarkable achievement.
During the following few years “Moura” Run again changed hands several times as lessees experienced financial difficulties, and sometimes being worked in conjunction with the “Banana” Run James Hamilton and his family acquired “Moura” in 1910. They began to clear the scrubland and battled the encroachment of prickly pear, which threatened to engulf the property. James died suddenly in 1914.
With both sons away at the war, Margaret Hamilton was fortunate to have a competent manager, who remained on the property for a number of years. During this period several sections of the “Moura” lease were resumed for selection. Norman Farmer already owned nearby “Kianga” when he took over the “Moura” lease in 1924.
During the 1920s the government had great plans to develop a major irrigation scheme on the Dawson. Moura was one of five zones to be developed.
The Castle Creek zone (renamed Theodore) was begun in 1924 and the rail line from Baralaba completed in 1927. However, the Nathan Dam did not happen; the Great Depression did; the small Theodore farming blocks proved unviable and the scheme was abandoned. “Moura” Run was saved from resumptions for the time being.
In 1931 Norman Farmer sold to Robert Davey of “Roundstone” and the Davey family moved to “Moura”. The effective control of prickly pear; and a change in Government led to a new policy of “closer settlement”.
By 1936 much of the “Moura” Run (and “Kianga”) had been resumed for much larger farm blocks and “Moura” was reduced to the Homestead block by the river.
A weir was built at Moura and following WW2, a new Dawson River irrigation scheme was revived. In 1952, the remaining lease was resumed to make way for eight larger ballot blocks.
After almost 100 years “Moura” Run was no more.
European settlement would drastically affect the harmonious tribal existence; by the 1880’s Europeans had forcefully overpowered the aborigines. Some of the aborigines who survived worked on stations; others were forced into Missions to survive. In 1896 fifty pair of blankets were issued from Banana Police Station. By 1925 only a handful of Aborigines were in Banana. Among those registered were the last two official black-trackers - Arthur and George. They remained living in Banana with their families behind the police quarters until 1932.
The origin of Moura’s town name is uncertain; sources suggest an Aboriginal word for dog, an Aboriginal word describing a deep waterhole or it could be named after a small Portuguese town.