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Wentworth D'Arcy Uhr (1845–1907)

by F. H. Bauer

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Wentworth D'Arcy Uhr (1845-1907), overlander and prospector, was born on 31 October 1845 at Wivenhoe station, Moreton Bay District, son of Edmund Blucher Uhr, grazier, and his wife Amy, née Kemp. He joined the Queensland Police about 1866 and by 1867 was acting sub-inspector at Burketown, a tough and lawless settlement; from May that year to March 1868, via Palmerston (Darwin), Perth and Brisbane, he escorted to Rockhampton a prisoner who was later discharged. Reputed to have allied himself with the rougher element of Burketown, he was refused promotion and left the force, probably in 1869. In 1872 he drove 400 head of Dillon Cox's cattle from Charters Towers to Darwin, pioneering the Gulf-McArthur-Katherine route. Late in 1872 he found the first gold at Pine Creek; a monument there records his find.

For the next seven years Uhr worked across north Queensland and the Northern Territory with various partners, procuring cattle for the Palmer goldfield and droving into the Thompson River country; he finally returned to the Territory about 1880. For a time he managed Florida station, formed on the Goyder River, Arnhem Land, by John Macartney. Hostile Aboriginals, distance and poor country doomed the venture, but Uhr became known as a fearless and competent bushman who had little sympathy for natives. In 1881 he ran a hotel at Yam Creek and was secretary of a prospectors' association. In 1883 droving with Nat Buchanan for Joseph Panton and W. H. S. Osmand, he organized reprisals for the Aboriginal murder of a stockman. Later that year Charles Fisher and J. C. Lyon charged him with cattle-stealing; found not guilty, he sued for unlawful arrest, won damages of £3000 in 1885 and took up the Exchange Hotel in Darwin. In 1886 he was at the Halls Creek, Western Australia, gold rush and then left northern Australia.

Uhr maintained his interest in both gold and cattle. He was at Coolgardie in 1894, too late for the gold rush but in time to form the D'Arcy Uhr Goldmining Co. in 1895 with a capital of £6000; probably a speculation, it was registered in New South Wales. He settled down to become a popular pillar of Coolgardie society; he had interests in several meat supply firms, including Butcher and Uhr, and was elected to the Municipal Council and the Roads Board despite possible association with the hated meat ring.

Uhr had married Jane Hayes on 2 May 1872 at Norman, Queensland; they had two sons. On 4 March 1885 at Darwin he married Myra Essie Thompson. They had four sons (all of whom died in infancy) and a daughter Gladys Vivien. He died in Coolgardie on 18 February 1907, apparently of natural causes, and was given a large public funeral.

Select Bibliography

  • G. Buchanan, Packhorse and Waterhole (Syd, 1933)
  • Votes and Proceedings (Legislative Assembly, Queensland), 1869, 1, 691
  • A. Laurie, ‘The Kimberleys, Western Australia …’, JRHSQ, 6 (1960-61)
  • Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 6 Feb 1874, 4, 18 Dec 1880, 23 Apr, 21 May, 11 June, 10, 12 Sept 1881, 23 Apr, 10 June 1882, 5 Apr, 27 Dec 1884, 14 Feb 1885
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 1, 2 Apr 1885
  • Coolgardie Miner, 6 Feb 1898, 19, 20 Feb 1907.

Citation details

F. H. Bauer, 'Uhr, Wentworth D'Arcy (1845–1907)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 24 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (Melbourne University Press), 1976

View the front pages for Volume 6

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