Louisa Willmett must have been a true adventurer. She was a young adult when she reached Australia in March 1857. In 1862 she married William Jackson on the Monkey Gully goldfield near Ballarat. The pair were next found running a butcher's shop on an outback Queensland copper and gold mining area near Clermont, five hundred kilometres due south of Townsville.
W. H. Corfield remembered that "When crossing the Expedition Range, before reaching Clermont, on my way from Mistake Creek, I rode over to a small diggings to purchase meat. The only butcher was a man named Jackson, whose wife served me. She was a fine, comely woman, whom I afterwards met on the Lower Palmer, where her husband was keeping a store.
The Palmer River Gold diggings were even more isolated, 140 kilometres south west of Cooktown on the York Peninsula. There were several tracks to the goldfield, all in an anti-clockwise arc.
A shortcut involved passing through a narrow rocky gorge which became known as Hells Gate because it was a place where Aborigines resisted invasion by ambushing travellers.
Louisa would have been one of the few female shopkeepers on a goldfield where 90% of shops were run by Chinese.
In mid-1874 there were fewer than a thousand Chinese on the Palmer, and the majority of these had come from Southern gold-fields. A year later there were over five thousand, and the number was still risng; the new influx direct from China completely overwhelmed the European population and the established Chinese community alike.
W.H. Corfield who later became a Member of Parliament, wrote that in 1876, "Mrs. Jackson, whom I have mentioned as having met some years previously in the Peak Downs district, asked me to take 200 ounces of gold down to the bank. I agreed to do so, carrying it in my valise on the saddle. I was very glad when I reached the waggons to get rid of the gold, as it proved a very dead weight on my legs."
Murder on QLD goldfields
In 1876 Louisa's first husband was murdered at Maytown as described in this transcribed newspaper report.
[Evening News.] — Another barbarous murder has been committed here, excelling in fact anything that has previously occurred in these parts. Mr. Jackson, storekeeper, has been found robbed and murdered in his hut. The body of the unfortunate man, bearing marks which indicate a cold-blooded murder, was found lying beside his safe, which contained a quantity of gold, but which appears to have resisted the attempts of the robbers. Having been murdered, the hut was burnt over his head. The report is that the outrage is the act of the Chinese, but some people say it is a band of four desperadoes who, fully armed, are roving over the country robbing every Chinese packer they come across. , Trove.
At the time referred to Mr. Robert Philp, the present Minister for Mines, Works, and Railways, was setting out with loaded teams for the West, the furthest out camp being Conn's Waterholes, some twelve miles distant from the present town of Winton. Mr. Lynett met him, and, being on the lookout for an investment, at once opened negotiations with Mr. Philp, with the result that he purchased the teams as they stood, and took that gentleman's position as pioneer. Mr. Lynett passed Conn's Waterholes, and "set up business" on the site of Winton township. From " Tom Lynett's" tent has Winton grown, the pioneer at various times extending his business, and doing much to promote the prosperity of the place. At the present time Lynett's hotel and general store are among the largest buildings Is Winton, while their late owner was perhaps one of the best-known men In North western Queensland.
In 1894, during the Shearer's strike Walzing Matilda was publically performed for the first time in Winton. Its words were based on an incident just north of Winton.
"In September 1894, on a station called Dagworth (north of Winton), some striking shearers fired their rifles and pistols in the air, setting fire to the woolshed. The owner of Dagworth Homestead and three policemen gave chase to a man named Samuel Hoffmeister – also known as "French(y)". Rather than be captured, Hoffmeister shot and killed himself at the Combo Waterhole." Wikipedia
Louisa Lynett - Hotelier
When her second husband died in 1896 Louisa became a substantial Winton land holder. She was already 63 but went on to purchase more hotels.
In 1901, at 68, Louisa was granted a license for a hotel situated at Prickly Creek Gully, now known as Bonnie Doon Creek. The hotel was called 'Bonnie Doon Hotel'. In her later years Louisa was affectionately known as Granny Lynett'.