Burns Philp

James and John Burns arrived in Brisbane in December 1862. After a couple of years jackerooing at Springsure - Central Queensland, they set up as storekeepers at the Gympie goldfields in 1865.

By the mid-1870s, James Burns and Robert Philp had gone into a more diversified Townsville-based partnership, which included shipping links to Brisbane and Sydney for inter-colony and overseas trade.

After 1876, James Burns worked from an office in Sydney, where Burns, Philp & Company Limited was incorporated in 1883.

The modest North Queensland beginnings were followed by establishment of branches and steady expansion into a wider range of merchant activities and ship-owning, and establishment of Pacific Island plantations and trading points.

The Company was destined to become a pioneer and ambassador for Australia in much of the South West Pacific area, and in due time, a much-respected multi-national group of companies.

Its full story is recounted in detail in the two-volume official history of the Company.

What does Burns Philp have to do with the Australian Merchant Navy? Please read on...

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