Harry Drew & Joseph Hann

Following official approval of the transfer of the application and claim for a lease, the Paynes sold ‘Coolort’ Station to Harry Drew for 90 pounds. Drew did not hold the property for long and in February, 1854, he wrote to the Chief Commissioner, Crown Lands, requesting that his application and claim for lease be made over to Joseph Hann.

Little is known about Harry Drew, although he is mentioned in a history of the Preston region as one of the first horse-drawn cabbies in the original Preston settlement in the 1860s.

The history of  Joseph Hann and his family is much better documented and their presence in the area is remembered by such local names as Hann Inlet, site of the RAN Naval Establishment, and Hann Creek Reserve.

Joseph Hann, a farm labourer, and his family arrived in Australia from Wiltshire in 1851, aboard the ship John Know. The family consisted of Joseph, his wife Elizabeth, four sons – William, James, John and Frank, and a daughter Caroline. They settled at ‘Coolort’ in 1853 and in 1854 were granted pre-emptive right of 640 acres (259 ha) in the southwest corner of Drew’s original Coolart.

However the Hanns were dissatisfied with their land. Despite good rainfall, the bush and scrub and poor native grasses – apart from dingoes and aborigines – prevented effective use of the land. In 1858 the stock assessment for “Coolart” was – 100 horses, 330 cattle, 20 acres cultivated, 620 acres uncultivated, 8000 acres Crown land.

In 1861, the Hanns decided to move to Queensland and Joseph with his sons William and Frank, went north seeking new land. In conjunction with Richard Daintree and other investors, they established Bluff Downs, Maryvale and Lolworth Stations on the Burdekin River, north of Charters Towers.

In 1864 Joseph was drowned in the great Burdekin flood of January 1864. His sons struggled with hostile Aboriginals, speargrass, dingoes and falling wool prices and in 1870 William had to overland their last 19,000 sheep back to Victoria; Lolworth and Bluff Downs were surrendered. William and Frank Hann both went onto to explore large sections of Queensland and Western Australia.