Paul McKenzie and Margaret Robertson


Paul McKenzie (pictured in the main street of Rainbow) was born at Strathaird, Isle of Skye in Scotland on 22nd May 1842.

At the age of 10 he migrated to Australia with his parents Kenneth McKenzie and Janet McPherson and his siblings John (19 ), Catherine (17), Jockey John (11) and Marion (3). They sailed from Liverpool on the 21 June 1853 aboard the "Charles" and arrived on the 3rd October 1853 in Melbourne. The family settled in Mortlake.

Later Paul became a farmer and a carrier, running a team of bullocks from Warranambool to Ararat and Stawell.

Margaret Robertson was born at Strathaird, Isle of Skye c 1848 and in 1852, at the age of 4, migrated to Port Phillip, Australia aboard the Georgiana with her parents Lachlan Robertson and Christina McKinnon and siblings John (9) and Alexander (7). Some of the birth and death indexes state Margaret's maiden name as Robinson


Margaret and Paul married in Mortlake on 3rd March 1869 and in 1874 they sold the Mortlake farm and took up free selection land at Dunmunkle (Nullan) near Minyip (which is from an Aboriginal word meaning ashes or dust - or it may come from Monieup, camp place).

Squatters came around 1845. There were no fences, and shepherds minded the sheep and yarded them at night. A station would have thousands of sheep - for example 100,000 were shown at Kewell station. There were also some cattle. The Northern boundary of Kirkwood Station and the Southern boundary of Sheep Hills passed through the NW corner of Minyip. Sheep Hills was Archibald McMillan's in 1847.

Dunmunkle Shire was established 1864. Typically there was a long standing feud over where the Shire offices should be and attempts to move the office to Murtoa met with resistance and failed. For a long time the council met at alternate towns, and finally, in 1832, it was home at Rupanyup.

Then in 1869 the Land Act was passed and anyone over 18 could select 320 acres for 3 years at 2/- and acre for seven years when it would be paid off at one pound an acre.

To select a block the selectors marked the boundary with wooden pegs at least 3 feet in height with the selection forms attached. Between sunrise and sunset that day they returned to the Lands Office to file and application and wait for the next sitting of the Board. Selectors were required to make 320 pounds improvements on the property.

Paul and Margaret first applied for a licence in 1874 and Allotment 81 was granted in 1881. They also owned allotment 82.

At first the settlers in the area had to cart water and there was little grass but water was brought from Glenorchy Weir through Dunmunkle Creek in the 80s. Cobb and Co came through in the 70's and in 1886 the first steam train arrived. A flour mill was built in 1879, the Court House was opend and the Telegraph operated. In 1888 the Dunmunkle and Minyip Farmers Association and General Store Co Ltd was established and took over the store. A John McKenzie was a director. Also in 1888 Sheep Hills opened a Mechanics Institute. These were exciting times for the settlers as they saw their community growing.

Most settlers came from the British Isles, and some from Germany. The large families lived in homes made of sun dried bricks, wattle and daub and stringy bark boards, with corrugated iron roofs. Walls were often limewashed white or pastel and lined with hessian and paper. The houses were low, with small windows and large chimneys where meat was hung. Furnishings included starched tablecloths, lace curtains and very large tables. Food was plentiful and there were gardens around the houses. Education, the Bible, the Sabbath and picnics were important to the community. Everyone worked hard on the farms which were mixed sheep, cows, pigs, grain, chooks and gardens. There were no doctors or hospitals in the area and many died from typhus and diptheria. Surprisingly, Hindu and Afghan hawkers tramped the roads selling baskets of wares and drapery - they were very popular.


Their first four children were born in Mortlake, the others 10 at Minyip.

  1. Jessie Agnes McKenzie 1870
  2. Mary Ann McKenzie 1871-1871
  3. Charles McKenzie 1873-1904
  4. Charlotte McKenzie1875-1875
  5. Sarah Christina Fisher nee McKenzie1876-1955
  6. Lachlan McKenzie 1877 - 1934
  7. Kenneth McKenzie1880 - 1962
  8. Christina Fisher nee McKenzie 1881 - 1970
  9. Neil 1883 - 1918
  10. Annie Margaret Byrne nee McKenzie 1884 - 1956
  11. Angus McKenzie1886 - 1958
  12. Murdock McKenzie1888 - 1978
  13. Farquhar McKenzie McKenzie1889 - 1889
  14. Paul McKenzie 1889 - 1946

For more on the children go to the McKenzie-Robertson children page


Tragedy struck in 1889 when Margaret died one week after the birth of the twins on 18 November 1889. She had been sick for one week and died of bowel obstruction. She was 39 years old. One of the newborn twins, Farquahar, died a month later. They are buried at Minyip Cemetery.

After Margaret's death Paul selected land at Hopevale near Hopetoun. I came across a paragraph written at the time which mentioned Paul and his daughter Sarah working their way up to the Mallee to prepare their new life. Some of the younger children went to live with relatives.

In 1904 his eldest son Charles, aged 31, died of a burst appendix as he was being transported by wagon to the doctor. Paul sold out of Hopevale and moved to Charles' selection at Nypo near Rainbow. Eventually, when his health deteriorated, he leased this property and moved in with his daughter Sarah Fisher at Hopevale.

Paul and his son Paul had bullock teams. Below is a picture of one of the bullock teams, but it is not clear if it was father or son's.


Paul died 25th January 1914 aged 71. He is buried at Kenmare Cemetery along with his sons Charles and Angus and his grandchild Sylvia. His headstone reads

In loving memory
Paul McKenzie
Born in Scotland 1842
Died 25th Jan 1914
Peace Perfect Peace
Ever remembered by his loving family