Gordon family roots rekindled in Bowen after 150 years

From left: Second generation James Lott Gordon (1903-1988), James Gordon (1846-1941), James and Agnes, third generation William Gordon and first generation James Gordon (1877-1958).

A little farming family from Bowen spread its roots right across the country, but this year will bring them back to where it all began for a 150 year reunion.

A pioneering Irish couple, James and Agnes Gordon landed in Bowen on the 19th of August in 1865 to start a new life in Australia.

What followed was a legacy of farmers, stockmen and teamsters that gained a reputation right across the country, from Cape York to Western Australia and beyond.

Third generation family member Bill Gordon says the reunion will be a special opportunity to establish connections with a large network of extended family who all share the same roots, and the response so far has been fantastic.

“Quite a number of people have already booked accommodation in Bowen for the weekend… it looks like we will have people from Weipa to Melbourne,” he says.

But some needn’t travel so far; James Gordon and sons George and Ted still manage the Mt Pleasant Station between Bowen and Collinsville, which has been owned by the family for 99 years.

While others have settled down elsewhere, it seems everyone is excited to come back to Bowen for the reunion.

Bill Gordon expects around 60 family members to attend the event, with descendants spanning over five generations, from 1 to 102 years in age.

He says he is excited to make contact with relatives he has never met before, and expects there will be no shortage of stories and experiences to be shared.

“While they were graziers originally, now we’ve got architects, surveyors, school teachers, priests… there will be so many interesting people to talk to.”

Mr Gordon is no stranger to family history since publishing his book From Belfast to Bowen and Beyond that traces the legacy of James and Agnes Gordon. But the reunion is proof that the story is still unfolding.

“I wish one of the younger ones would take [the book] up and bring it up to date,” he says.

There are sure to be a few more chapters to add after the reunion, and the organisers are encouraging everyone to bring along their photos, memories and anecdotes to share with the rest of the family.

The reunion will feature tours of the town, a visit to the Bowen Historical Museum and checking out the Gordon family legacy as depicted in the town’s murals.

There will also be a reunion dinner at the Grandview Hotel in Bowen.

With more and more family members responding to the open invitation, what unfolds between now and the reunion will prove that family means much more than you can imagine.