As reported earlier, there is a place called Punjaub in Australia, which has had this name for almost 150 years.
Numerous references in the national Australian archives say that the cattle station called Punjaub in Queensland was usually referred to as “the district of five rivers” or “the country of five rivers”.
Furthermore, SBS Punjabi reported yesterday that the same area in Queensland near the Gulf of Carpentaria has other cattle stations or parishes named Doab, Little Doab, Ravi, Chenab, Almora and Indus. There is even a county named Malwa further south of this area in Burke.
These reports have generated an immense interest around the globe, since the literal meaning of Punjaub and Doab coincide with their geography as well.
Punjab literally means land of five rivers, since ‘Punj’ relates to the number ‘five’ and ‘Aab’ means ‘water’. Similarly Doab literally means land of two rivers with “Do” translating to the number ‘two’ and ‘aab’ meaning ‘water’.
Sure enough, there are five bodies of water in the Punjaub station, and two each in Doab as well as Little Doab. The names of these rivers are mentioned in this article.
Interestingly, many indigenous families in the nearby Mt Isa region, still go by the surname Punjaub, as referenced in the article below.
So who gave Punjaub its name in Australia, almost 150 years ago?
Gurwinder Singh leads the Spatial Systems team in the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy in Queensland, and his job involves mapping the land and natural resources in the state.
In an interview with SBS Punjabi, he shared the research done by his department’s Museum of Lands, Mapping and Surveying, Mr Singh said, “The name of Punjaub was first used in the Burke Pastoral District on two runs which were applied for by a gentleman named Sydney Grandison Watson in 1877.”
“Mr Watson’s application was received by the Department of Public Lands, Queensland on 11 October 1877, and in fact he applied for two separate leases, giving them the run names of Punjaub No.1 and Punjaub No.2.”
This means that at one stage in the 19th century, there were two Punjaubs in Australia!
“The pastoral leases over these two pastoral runs were issued 1 July 1879, and they remained Punjab number 1 and Punjab number 2 for many years,” says Gurwinder Singh.
At SBS Punjabi’s request, Queensland’s Museum of Lands, Mapping and Surveying conducted family history research on Sydney Grandison Watson and it was found that he was born in India in 1816.
An article in the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and Outback Research Centre reveals that Sydney Grandison Watson was born in India on 22 June 1816 and in 1836, he moved to Australia at the age of 20.
Gurwinder Singh told SBS Punjabi, “Sydney Watson’s father was Archibald Watson, who was a Major in the East India Company military force, stationed in India at the time of Sydney’s birth. Archibald Watson went on to become Lieutenant General, East India Company and was obviously an influential man.”
“So it seems that owing to his Indian background, Sydney Grandison Watson named the two properties he was applying for in 1877, Punjaub No.1 and Punjaub No.2.”
SBS Punjabi has found archival references of 'the Australian Punjaub prior to 1887 as well. It is possible that the area was already referred to as Punjaub, even before Sydney Watson applied for the pastoral lease.
As reported earlier by SBS Punjabi, the Punjaub estate was sold by Sydney G Watson to "Messrs Travers and Gibson for £2000", according to an archived article published in the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin of Saturday, 7 August 1880. It's total area is recorded to be 446 sq miles or 711 sq kms.
A cropped part of a map below of Burke District sheet 3 dated 1892, shows the location and names of the original pastoral runs - namely Punjaub No. 1 and Punjaub No. 2.
Punjaub No 1 and Punjaub No 2 were consolidated in 1896 with additional original pastoral runs titled Sugar Cane, Maryan Vale No. 1 and 2, Albert Downs No. 1 and 2, and Gregory Downs No.1 and 2 and the consolidated holding was named run was called Punjaub.
“The date the lease was issued was 1 January 1896, as is evident from the Treasury Rental sheet for Punjaub cattle station.
A cropped part of a map of Burke District sheet 2 dated 1898, shows the location and names of the consolidated pastoral run that was simply called Punjaub.
By all accounts, the Punjaub station was quite influential in the late 1800s and early 1900s, with the local post office also running a weekly mail run through it.
The shape and name of the area captured by this run changed through time, as captured on the maps below. Here is a map of Punjaub and adjoining areas from 1929
And here is a map from 1961, where the Doab land holding is much larger than Punjaub .
As for the names Doab and Little Doab, there don't seem to be any records in the pastoral runs of the 19th century. Queensland’s Museum of Lands, Mapping and Surveying finds the first ever reference to Doab as the name of a parish in 1929.
According to Gurwinder Singh, "A parish is a defined boundary area for administrative purposes. Although a parish is usually associated with a church, but our land records show that parishes were specified areas for administrative - just like we have councils these days. Interestingly, Punjab, Doab and Little Doab appear both as land holdings, as well as parishes."
"Our records show that while Punjaub was named in 1887, the pastoral runs and holdings of Little Doab and Doab were created some time after 1930. But we have no information about when the parish names of Punjaub and Doab were created nor who selected these names for parishes."
"Even so, it is obvious that Doab, Little Doab, Ravi and Chenab were named much after Punjaub became well recognised as a flourishing cattle station, and probably these parishes and holdings were named as an influence of Punjaub being in their close proximity."
SBS Punjabi will continue to bring you more historical and anecdotal references pertaining to Australia's very own Punjaub.