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Mini Biographies of Scots and Scots Descendants (C)
Currie's in Australia


Archibald Currie (1827-1916) and his brother Duncan Currie (1831-1924) were born in Dunoon Scotland and emigrated to Australia in the 1850's, where they left their mark forever on the Richmond River district of NSW. 
 
At the age of sixteen Archibald became apprenticed on a sailing vessel trading to the East Indies.  I believe Archibald arrived as a crew member in Sydney, Australia on 26th July 1853, aboard the "Earl of Elgin", a steamer carrying 372 Government immigrants.  Three weeks after the "Earl of Elgin" arrived, on 22nd August, the Government Gazette posted an advertisement for Archibald Currie, 5'4" with fair complexion, brown hair, grey eyes as having deserted ship with a 5 pound reward.  In September 1853 Archibald settled on the Richmond River on the north coast of NSW, working as a cedar-getter (as a lot of other sailors who jumped ship did).  Life in the 'big scrub' as they called the area inland from Ballina was hard and primitive and with no ministers or police interference and little contact with civilisation, the cedar getters lived to their own rules.  The work involved felling enormous trees, often 80 feet in height or more, using springboards.  In December 1854 Archibald returned to Sydney and joined a schooner trading between Sydney and the Richmond River as chief officer.  He married Susan Hutcheson (originally from Dundee 1835 - 1897) at Scots Presbyterian Church in Sydney in 1855 and settled in Lismore NSW in that year.

Arhibald in front of his shop
Archibald in front of his shop

Five years later he was joined by his brother Duncan who initally was engaged in cedar getting and later took up farming.  Duncan named his farm "Dunoon" after his birth place in Scotland and the name was adopted as the name of the parish and is still retained as the name of the adjacent village.  Dunoon today is known as the 'macadamia capital of Australia' and Duncan Currie is considered its founding father.  Duncan made himself a prominent citizen in the region, winning prizes for his fruit at the local agricultural shows, he also built and owned The Junction Hotel, a 22 room affair in North Lismore which had parlours, dining rooms, brick fireplaces, gas and plumbing.  He built Dunoon house but rented it out, preferring to live in a slab and shingle humpy overlooking his orchard.  He called macadamias 'bush nuts' and considered flying foxes 'a delicacy'.  I have read that it was Duncan who first saw the opportunity for growing bananas in the area and also (unsuccessfully) petitioned the C.S.R to build a rail line to Dunoon to ship the sugar cane.  Duncan had the foresight to speak against the opening of the land at Rocky Creek dam for settlement, arguing that it would be needed for water (the Rocky Creek Dam now supplies the whole area with water).  A keen walker, Duncan would cross the Nightcap Range to the Tweed in a day.  He was well liked and respected and was always invited to attend local events as a guest of honor or patron.  Duncan never married and lived to the age of 94.  He prized two books he had brought with him from Scotland, a bible and a volume of the poems of Robbie Burns.  

Archibald and his brother Duncan established a small store, firstly near what is now called Currie Park in North Lismore.  21 years later Archibald had a more 'pretentious' store in Bridge Street, North Lismore.  He conducted business on a system of exchange.  Archibald dealt in timber trade, shipping up to 200,000 feet a month.  His store also carried a large and comprehensive stock of general merchandise.  Archibald and Duncan were amongst the first to select land in the surrounding region in the 1860's (old parish maps still show their names) and Archibald owned several town lots in Lismore.  Archibald was one of the first aldermen elected for the borough and a member of the first Lismore council of which he was one of only 6 members.  He served as Alderman from 1879-1882 and from 1885-1888 and was involved in the Lismore Agricultural and Industrial Society and on the Lismore Hospital Committee from 1881 - 1914 including two years as president.  A Justice of the Peace for the State, Archibald was also an active member of the Presbyterian Church in Lismore and for many years an elder.  He was made a Mason in 1879 and occupied the highest official positions in both this lodge and the Sons of Temperance.  Archibald Currie was, in short, a consistent champion for the advancement of the town of Lismore and the surrounding district and for the well-being of its people.

Rocky Bridge
Opening of the Rocky Ck Bridge, with Duncan Currie with his white beard on the far left

Archibald had 9 children, 8 of who survived infancy.  A daughter Elizabeth died of typhoid at the age of 25.  Only three of Archibalds children had children of their own, Susan, Margaret (my great grandmother) and Mary Isabella.  As neither of his Archibalds sons had children the Currie name ended with this generation.  
 
Both of these brothers were true pioneers who put their backs and their hearts into their adopted land with energy and vision.  It was noted that they remained close friends right up until Archibalds death.
 
Cathy Jensen
Further information can be found at http://www.archibaldcurrie.page.tl/
Pictures courtesy of the Richmond River Historical Society.

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