Our Manx Stories


The Manx

Who are we?

The Manx are people who were born on the Isle of Man, an island of 588 square kilometres in the Irish Sea between England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Although it is a Crown Possession, with the Governor appointed by the English Crown, the Isle of Man is self governing with its own parliament called Tynwald which is the oldest democratic parliament in the world, having had over 1000 years of continuous service to the Island.

The capital of the Isle of Man is Douglas and the population of the Island is over 75,000. With a favourable tax system, the finance sector represents a large portion of the Island’s industry although tourism is still an important aspect.

The Manx are predominately Protestants and are derived ethnically from the Celts and the Norse. They have their own Celtic language that is closely related to the Gaelic of Western Scotland and the Northern part of Ireland with evidence of some Scandinavian.

The ancient traditions of the Manx differ greatly from those people living in other parts of the British Isles but they are fiercely proud of their heritage and independence.

Considerable interest in emigration to Australia by the Manx was generated by the gold rush in Victoria, so much so, that by 1891 there were about 1300 Isle of Man born people in Australia. This population started to decline so that by 1947 there were only about 700. During this time, a small number of Manx came to colonial Queensland as assisted migrants. Statistics indicate that by 1991 there were 117 Manx born people in Queensland, a figure that dropped to 86 in 1996.

Pick up any Queensland telephone book and you will find many typical Manx names such as Caine, Faragher, Kermode, Quayle, Quine, Quilliam, Corlett and Cowle sometimes with a slight variation in spelling. The Manx also carry British and Irish family names.

The Queensland Manx Society was established on 22nd August 1914 and is one of the oldest ethnic organisations in Queensland. The objectives of the society were, and are still today, to maintain a social fellowship and foster an interest in all things Manx.

The first function undertaken by the Queensland Manx Society was a picnic to Seventeen Mile Rocks in the Western area of Brisbane. On 14th November 1914, the steamer Vera Veg Veen with 93 members on board and flying the Isle of Man flag (a red ensign with the three legs of Man) set sail up the Brisbane River to the picnic spot.

Many of the Manx who came to colonial Queensland, followed careers in mining, farming or in occupations linked to transportation or the sea. Some of the new arrivals had already worked as miners in America or other parts of Australia. Their descendants own small businesses or have entered the professions of doctors, engineers, bankers and teachers. Others are engaged in the trades or have remained on the land.

Some past notable Manx Queenslanders were George William Cowin. He arrived in Australia in 1881 aged 17 and bought a farm at Grandchester 1886. He returned to Brisbane in 1887 and bought a draughthorse and established a carrying business. In 1893, won a contract to deliver refined sugar for the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. (Now known as CSR) and in 1913 he bought a petrol-engined, solid tyre truck and became the first master carrier to use motorised transport in Brisbane.

Edna Maud Coulson nee Mylchreest, came to Australia from the Isle of Man as a child in 1908 and during World War II undertook volunteer work. After the war, she was actively involved in on-arrival migrant welfare services and in 1988 was awarded for this.

Other Manx settlers were Alexander James Quayle who became the Mayor of Gayndah: Joseph Forster who came via the goldfields in America and Thomas Moore who bought his coachwork talents to the new country.

Although the first and subsequent generations of Manx share a yearning for their homeland, they are well integrated and loyal Australians renowned for their hard work and devotion to their families.