Get To Know Sir Augustus Charles Gregory, The Man Who Built Rainworth House

Sir Augustus Charles Gregory
Rainworth House, ca. 1885 (Photo credit: John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Negative number: 63037)

Built in 1862, Rainworth House is known as one of the few surviving original timber houses in Bardon. Get to know the life of Sir Augustus Charles Gregory, the man behind this historic home. 


Read: Discover the Rich History of Rainworth House in Bardon


Augustus Charles Gregory was born on 1 August 1819 in Farnsfield, a large village in Nottingham, England. He was only 10 years old when his family moved to Western Australia on board a ship called the Lotus.

Sir Augustus Charles Gregory
Sir Augustus Gregory (Photo credit: John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Negative number: 16036)

Queensland’s First Surveyor-General

He became the first Surveyor-General of Queensland, a position he held for 16 years, from 1859 to 1875. The position was originally created for Queensland, when it became a separate colony in 1859.

As the Surveyor-General, he was responsible for controlling and regulating the survey, sale, occupation and management of Crown Lands in Queensland.

Trained under John Roe, Sir Gregory showed great aptitude, bushmanship and an ability to manage men, qualities that aptly fitted him to the position of expedition leader.

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Sir Gregory was described as someone who worked with speed and efficiency, and an ability “to institute and oversee a large, complicated and important Government department.” 

The position was abolished in 1993, with Neil Graham Divett having served only three years of his term.

Explorer

Sir Augustus Charles Gregory
Sir Gregory’s Australian exploration routes (Photo credit: CC BY-SA 3.0/Summerdrought/Wikimedia Commons, Adapted from Australian Geographic map 1995)

Besides being a Surveyor-General, Sir Gregory was also known for being one of Australia’s greatest explorers. He undertook major expeditions from 1846 to 1858. 

During his first exploration in 1846, he was joined by his brothers, Francis Thomas Gregory and Henry Churcham Gregory. They explored a considerable amount of the country, with four horses and seven weeks’ provision.

In 1855, the Royal Geographical Society in London sponsored Sir Gregory’s North Australian Expedition. The purpose of the said expedition, which lasted for over a year, was to examine the natural resources of the region with a view to potential settlement. 

His last major expedition happened in 1858, when he led an expedition for the New South Wales government in search of German explorer Ludwig Leichhardt.

Rainworth House

Sir Augustus Charles Gregory
Rainworth in 2009 (Photo credit: Heritage Branch staff)

Sir Augustus Charles Gregory himself built the house in 1862. At the time, Rainworth House was the only farmhouse in the area. The name Rainworth was taken from a small town in Nottinghamshire which is close to his birthplace at Farnsfield.

He died unmarried in his home 25 June 1905 at the age of 85. His resting place can be found at the Toowong Cemetery.


Read: Bardon’s Blast From the Past: A Walk Down Memory Lane Through Heritage Homes


Today, there’s a few places in Brisbane that honour Sir Gregory, including Milton’s Gregory Park and Toowong’s Gregory Street. In Western Australia, the coast to the west of Northampton was also named Port Gregory, after him, as well as Lake Gregory, the freshwater lake near the northern Great Sandy Desert.