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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Haly, Charles Robert (1816–1892)

by M. Carter and A. A. Morrison

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972

Charles Robert Haly (1816-1892), pastoralist, parliamentarian and public servant, was born on 11 April 1816 at Amboise, France, son of Colonel Charles William Haly and his wife Ann, née Hutchings. His father's Irish lineage was documented over 800 years. The family moved to Newfoundland. In 1838 Charles and his brother William sailed from Plymouth in the James Pattison and arrived at Sydney in December. They settled first on the Hunter River but soon moved to the Gwydir River where they assembled a large party of men and sheep and went north to the Logan district. By 1842 they were seeking land in the Burnett district and were listed in 1846 as the holders of Taabinga, a sheep run of 305 square miles (790 km²). William returned to England in 1859 and died in 1861.

Unlike many other squatters Charles soon became aware of the dangers in over-exploiting land and as one of the first to detect intestinal worms in sheep he advocated remedial measures. In 1853 at Tamrookum in the Logan district he married Rosa Harpur. His homestead at Taabinga reflected spacious ideas, with some walls of two-foot-thick sandstone blocks and the interior woodwork in cedar, both produced on his property. A keen lover of good horse-flesh, he imported Arab and English sires and became widely known for the quality of his horses.

In 1860 Haly was elected for the Burnett to the first Queensland Legislative Assembly. With a new forum for advocating protection of the land, he continually recommended the preservation of indigenous grasses and the use of steam-ploughs and irrigation. He supported measures to deal with stock diseases and for supplying the capital with water from the Upper Brisbane River basin, and secured the abolition of the salt duty. Though never outstanding as a parliamentarian he won wide respect for his honesty and consistency; according to the Brisbane Courier, he would vote even against his own interests if the proposal were for the general good. Always cheerful and hearty, he was welcome everywhere. He held his Burnett seat until 1863 and again in 1865-67 and 1869-71, and in 1876-78 he represented Leichhardt.

Despite his efforts he experienced much trouble through diseases in his sheep and the rapid spread of speargrass. Forced to sell Taabinga, he became police magistrate at Dalby on 26 April 1882 and on 1 January 1891 also clerk of Petty Sessions. On 26 August 1892 he died in office, survived by eleven of his fourteen children.

Select Bibliography

  • J. E. Murphy and E. W. Easton, Wilderness to Wealth (Nanango, 1950)
  • A. A. Morrison, ‘Some lesser members of parliament in Queensland’, Journal of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland, 6 (1959-61)
  • Queenslander, 3 Sept 1892
  • register of officers, 1870-1910, COL 429 (Queensland State Archives).

Citation details

M. Carter and A. A. Morrison, 'Haly, Charles Robert (1816–1892)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 27 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972

View the front pages for Volume 4

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