Alfred Delisser was here

Photo courtesy of John Henley

The Delisser Brothers, Edmund and Alfred were 19th century surveyors.

Edmund, the elder brother, surveyed the Nullarbor Plain in the 1860’s. Noting the distinct lack of trees, he coined the name “Nullarbor” from the latin words “Null” (lack of) and “Arbor” (tree). The Delisser Mobile Sand Dunes in Eucla National Park are named in his honour.

In the early 1880’s Alfred surveyed much of the Blackall Ranges and Glass House Mountains, proceeding via The Old North Road. On that journey he probably crossed Mosquito Creek.

You can read more about Alfred Delisser at John Henley’s excellent website about the Mapleton Tramway.

Along the Old North Road: Mosquito Creek

The crossing is still there today surrounded by peaceful bushland. I ride it quite regularly on my bike. By some strange quirk of geography, it rarely floods – even after much rain. There once was a bridge over this crossing, and I think it’s possible to see the remains if you look around hard enough.

Survey Tree, Kurwongbah

So I was delighted after finding this survey tree last week at Mosquito Creek just near the crossing to discover that it was blazed by Alfred Delisser in 1889. He had passed through this area several years earlier and was probably quite familiar with it, making him an ideal choice. No survey marks remain on the tree, apart from its original blazing. In fact the wooden “heart” of the blaze has fallen out. I thought it deserved a bit of respect so I cleaned it up and set it against the tree.

The tree itself isn’t that big. But it could easily be over 200 years old. Ironbark trees grow slowly.

Here’s part of the survey plan of the Mosquito Creek crossing created by Alftred Delisser in 1889. Many thanks to Leith Barter for obtaining this copy for me.

The survey plan is over 111 years old. But even as Delisser created it, the road he was on had been used for 45 years by Evan Mackenzie and the Archer Brothers as they made their way north to Durrundur Station.

But even that is fairly recent compared to the thousands of years that the original track had been in use by Aborigines walking from Meeanjin (Brisbane) to the Bonyi (Bunya) feasts in the Blackall Ranges.

4 Replies to “Alfred Delisser was here”

  1. Hi Neil, I have to correct one item in your excellent musings. It was Alfred’s older brother Edmund Alexander Delisser who named the Nullabor Plains. Alfred and he did many trips together through South Australia and there is an old map of Adelaide signed by both. This info comes from a (living) family member of Alfred’s. I did a lot of research on the family on their behalf. Edmund Alexander Delisser has 2 journals on that trip across the Nullabor held by State Library of S. Aust. “Explorations by Mr E A Delisser, Surveyor, between Fowlers Bay and Eucla in Nov 1866. Alfred Delisser also surveyed Bribie Island and I believe there is a survey mark of his near the Bellara boat ramp on Marine Parade. It seema to be a common misconception that Alfred did the naming of the Nullabor since his name comes up so often as a surveyor. Cheers, Jen.

    1. Hi Jen
      Thanks so much for the helpful info. I’ll update the post.
      Do you know Mike Delisser? He’s a mountain biker like me – I took him to the Mosquito Creek survey marker so he could see his great grandfather’s work. He was impressed.

  2. Hi again Neil, don’t know Mike, I’m only an in-law link to the family. If you type in a search for either E.A. Delisser or A.Delisser into Trove, you’ll get a wealth of info on them. Would love to read those journals because I think Alfred was with his brother some of the journeys. Alas, you have to read them at the National Library I think. A bit far for me! Cheers Jen.

  3. Great to find this post online and many thanks to Jen Leggatt for correcting the information on Alfred Delisser and Edmund Alexander Delisser, they were brothers of my great great grandfather Adam Lymburner Delisser who took on the surname of Lymburner. A lot of these blazes are starting to rot with the trees now, so thank you for posting the photograph. I often wonder if I’ll ever come across one that my great grandfather Charles Harry Norman Lymburner blazed when he was a surveyor in Western Australia.

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