The first European family to settle at Saunders Beach were the Saunders in about 1882.
The family comprised father George, a native of Hertfordshire England, mother Elizabeth, an Irish woman who had sailed on the Maryborough from Liverpool to Bowen in 1865, daughter Elizabeth Annie born about 1869, a second daughter Louisa Emma born 1872, a son George Alfred born 1876, a third daughter Cecile born 1878, and a second son Ernest William born 1880.
George Saunders began applying for ten-year leases of Crown Land from the Queensland Colonial Government north-west of the Black River from 1877. Over the next fourteen years he accumulated seven tracts of land totalling about 5 200 acres (2 100 hectares).
Springfield, as the Saunders called their dairy property allowed George and his wife Elizabeth to provide a stable, even prosperous home life for their five children. Both George and Elizabeth involved themselves in the local community by such activities as establishing the Springfield Racing Club, hosting house parties and acting as judges in the Townsville Show according to their individual areas of expertise.
One by one the three daughters married and moved away from the family home. George died unexpectedly in 1903. In time Elizabeth, her son Ernest and his wife moved into Townsville where Elizabeth passed away in 1924. Husband and wife are buried in West End Cemetery, Townsville.
In loving memory of George, the beloved husband of Elizabeth Saunders. Died 17th August 1903 aged 62 years. Also the above Elizabeth Saunders. Died 24th August 1924. Aged 82 years. R.I.P.
The naming of geographical features and towns after their founders is common and honours the contribution of pioneers. Saunders Beach was named after a true North Queensland pioneer, George Saunders and his name will live on for future generations.
Queensland State Archives Item ID 62829, 62929, 62876, 63112, 63221, 62304, Land Selection Files.
Note: George Saunders was christened on 31 Dec 1837 and 65 when he died. Ancestry.com. England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: England, Births and Christenings, 1538-1975. Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013.
Lanette West said:
The Saunders were certainly a great pioneering family. Love the name Springfield for the property and the Racing Club. Did the family actually have a bush race track on their property? and perhaps they owned a race horse or two as well. George was indeed fortunate to acquire 5, 200 acres in such a good location especially the beach front, it must have been wonderful fishing then !!
Thank you, Lanette. You’ve touched on several future posts. Saunders Beach’s traditional owners, the Wulgurukaba were great fishermen. Leslie NanKivell and his family moved to Saunders Beach in the 1930s in the Great Depression when they were evicted from their home in Townsville. Fresh fish caught off the beach were the NanKivell’s staple diet. (See next post.)
Mavis Robinson said:
A very interesting story on the Saunders family, I’m sure people are interested to know the origin of a place name and it also honours the hard work of the pioneers who opened up the locality. Further to the fishing comment, as a child visiting my uncle at Saunders Beach in the 1950’s, I can remember there were wooden fish traps (built from branches and driftwood) down on the beach, exposed at low tide allowing for the collection of any fish caught. Not sure who built them, maybe my uncle or the NanKivells’ or a joint effort.
Thank you Mavis for sharing your memories of the ’50s with us.
Linda Visman - wangiwriter said:
I live along the NSW coast, but have moved around to other states & territories over my life. I am always interested to find out about the places I live in, and it is great to see a community or group delving into their own area’s history.
Thank you for the encouragement, Linda.
Debbie Graves said:
Hi there. Thank you for sharing this. I a from the UK & have been living in Townsville the last year (2015).
My family name is Saunders (on my dad’s side) so I am very interested to learn more as I have fallen in love with the place & my partner & I are seriously considering moving to the Saunders Beach area as we love it so much!
Saunders Beach is a lovely place to live and it has a rich history too.
Den Greenwell said:
My wife and I visited Saunder’s Beach upon the recommendation of a mate (we’re from Geelong, Victoria,) who has stayed at the Holiday Units twice and has always extolled the virtues of the area. We weren’t disappointed! A great little place with old world charm and so close to the sprawling metropolis of Townsville.
Thank you for your lovely comment. Saunders Beach is undoubtedly a beautiful part of the world – as is your Corio Bay.
PS Go the Cats!