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Frank Fraser was a giant of a man who quickly grasped what was needed in the community, and capitalised on gaps in the marketplace.
Born in 1863, and raised in Scotland, in 1882 he left for the colonies of Australia. He worked his passage on a sailing ship, disembarking at Sydney where he worked in the building trade before moving north to the Richmond River district where the sugar cane grew. By 1887, he was in the Herbert River valley where he selected land at Stone River, followed by Lannercost and Victoria Estate. As a small farmer at Victoria Estate he combined growing sugar cane with sweet potatoes and dairying.
In 1889, he married Jane Fulton and they had seven children. He became an active advocate for causes in the community and quickly entered local politics becoming an elected member of the local Divisional Board serving for some years as a Councillor and Chairman.
By 1892, the Kangaroo Hills Mineral Field started to open up with stories of payable copper, tin, silver and wolfram. This attracted the attention of Fraser who staked his claim in 1901 as the first man to take a dray of supplies over the range thus setting up a direct line of equity between his provisioning Cash Store in Ingham and the burgeoning mining field at Ewan. By 1904 he was the manager at the Waverley Tin Mine Ltd. near Red Hill. In one shipment alone in 1905, he sent 827 bags of tin weighing 11 tons, to the coast to be shipped from the Port of Lucinda. He made substantial profits over the next decade from mining which enabled him to expand on other commercial interests throughout north Queensland
Fraser’s Cash Store in Ingham, was a long, lowset timber building with a deep veranda, enclosed on either end. It was situated Lannercost Street in the position the current shop is today, and it rose to become a popular wine, spirit and general merchant store selling grocery, domestic and household lines, as well as fresh beef, mutton, pork, milk and butter. In 1907, he built a second commodious brick building in East Ingham from bricks from his own brickworks. This became the principal butchery and a pasteurising plant for the town. That same year he purchased a salt works in Mackay and reasoned he could supply north Queensland with “20,000 tons of salt” per annum. Frank Fraser was indomitable.
In the early 1920s, Frank Fraser demolished his Lannercost Street store and rebuilt it with a first class brick building. It incorporated seven plate glass showroom windows along the front, fourteen decorative Corinthian columns to hold the broad awning, and ornate cast-iron fretwork with flower and leaf motifs. In 1922 he registered his business as a limited liability company under the name of ''Frank Fraser Limited".
By the mid-1920s Frank Fraser and his wife had retired to Sydney. He handed the reins of his business empire over to his three sons, who continued to build upon their father’s indomitable efforts and applied their inherited vision and creative business acumen throughout the district. This included breeding the first Santa Gertrudis cattle herd in Australia.
Frank Fraser, migrant, miner and entrepreneurial giant, died in his Sydney home in December 1929. He had dreamed big all of his life and was one very successful Scotsman in Ingham.
Images provided by the Ingham Family History Photographic Collection.