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Maltese Pioneer of Queensland

The Maltese were an important factor in the evolution of Australia as a modern nation. Rigu Bovinigdon writes about one such pioneer who gave a substantial contribution to the construction of the sub-tropical state of Queensland.

Recently the tombstone of the burial site of Joseph (Giuzeppi) Busuttin (Busuttil) originally from Zejtun, Malta was cleared and made presentable as a mark of respect towards one of our early Maltese pioneers. (The clearing of the site and photography was carried out by Joe Attard of Mackay, North Queensland.

Joseph Busuttin, whose surname was changed by deed poll from Busuttil, arrived in Townsville, Queensland in 1883 on the steamship NUDDEA as part of an experimental Maltese contingent in organised and officially sanctioned migration to the sugar cane industry. Joseph was only sixteen on arrival but prior to his final sojourn he had called in at other Australian ports during his two-year stint with the British Merchant Navy.

He had an elder brother who never settled in Australia but who preferred to roam the wild seas of the South Pacific and the primitive civilizations of Papua New Guinea and several Pacific Islands.

It seems that Joseph never lost his love of island life as for several years he and his family took out leases on the islands of Brampton, Keswick and St. Bees, upon which he ran sheep stations. It was through his pioneering efforts that Brampton Island has today become the famous tourist resort in sub-tropical Queensland. It was his original notion to introduce palm trees to Brampton thus giving it that romantic carefree look of holidaying laissez faire. (The complete story of Brampton Island is related in detail in Valda Busuttin Windsor's book "The Island That We Knew"; V. Busuttin is the granddaughter of the pioneer Joseph).

Joe Busuttin is also credited with having laid the telegraph cable all the way from up to Cape York at the tip of North Australia. In Proserpine itself, where Joseph lived for some time with his elder brother Mick, he befriended the other pioneer Father Cassar, a capuchin monk who accompanied the experimental contingent from Malta. This priest who is also buried in North Queensland became wellknown amongst the aborigines towards whom, it seems, he had a special affinity. The Church of St. Catherine at Proserpine in Queensland is built on land donated by the Busuttin brothers.

The Busuttin descendants are a well-known and highly respected family in the Proserpine - Mackay region of Northern Queensland.

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