In 1862 brothers, William Henry Westaway and Richard Westaway, set off in a small boat from Eagle Farm, Brisbane bound for the Maroochy River. It was here that they scouted for land as far north as the vine scrubs around Belli. The brothers chose land which was approximately 6 miles up stream from the mouth of the Maroochy River at present day Bli Bli. They then turned around and rowed back to the Brisbane River.
The Westaway brothers left Eagle Farm with Mr Edmund Lander, (later of Eudlo), Mr Thomas Laxton (later of Glenview), and Mr Thomas Maddock (later of Mooloolah), with 500 head of cattle, pack horses and drays laden with supplies to start their new life on the Maroochy River.
The men followed a track cut in 1842 by the Archer brothers of Durundur Station (near Woodford) and swam the cattle across many flooded creeks and rivers (North Pine and Mooloolah Rivers). To cross these flooded creeks and rivers, they had to dismantle the dray off its wheels and axle shafts and modify the dray into a punt with the use of tarpaulins, which was then used to transfer their supplies across the rivers. The journey north took the men four months.
After managing to swim the cattle across the Mooloolah River and hacking their way through the dense vine scrub, the party was halted by flood waters at the Eudlo Flats, Eudlo Creek. The thick impenetrable vine scrub prevented them from continuing on with the mob of cattle.
Earlier their father (John Westaway) had taken over an early selection of Edmund Lander’s, which had been named Moolooloo Plains. This included the land between the Mooloolah and Maroochy Rivers. They turned back to John Westaway’s unoccupied property at Moolooloo Plains, where they settled and re-named the property Meridan, after their father’s birthplace in Devonshire.
The Westaway family ran cattle in and around Caloundra right up to the 1920s. They would swim their cattle over to Bribie Island, where they had a Drover's camp, when grass feed was scarce on the Mooloolah River floodplains.
The following video provides a snapshot into one of the pioneering families of the region.
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