Allan McLean

(1839-1911)

 

Premier of Victoria
 1899-1900
Gippsland's first 
Federal representative
 1901-1906

      Allan McLean arrived in Australia from Scotland with his parents and sisters in 1842.  He was still a very young child, not really a pioneer but more a son who was to do his migrant parents proud.
 
     From Lachlan Macalister's New South Wales property "Clifton" they travelled to Port Albert on their way to another Macalister property, "Boisdale" station, the newly acquired leasehold in Gippsland.

      While at "Boisdale" the McLeans were shepherds, but only briefly.  In 1845 they took up the lease of "Glenaladale" run on the Mitchell River, upstream from the town of Bairnsdale.  With Allan's parents and siblings, his uncle Angus and his father's cousin's family it would have been a close knit settlement in the bush.

 

      It was here at "Glenaladale" that Allan learnt his farming skills; they had mostly sheep and some cattle.  In an interview published in The Argus in 1905 he recalled some of his memories of those days.  Stores came once a year.  You had to grind your own wheat into flour.  Communication was by a small steamer which brought stores and took away the wool and hides. 
     
They borrowed what they didn't have from nearby station owners - the McLeods of Bairnsdale, Taylor and Loughnan at Lindenow. 
      He remembered vividly the 1851 Black Thursday bush fires when the hills were alight to the Alps themselves - a frightful day.  Of course they had some difficulties with the aborigines.

Glenaladale homestead - earliest known photo

      They held the licence for "Glenaladale" until 1866 when it was subdivided into two stations: "Glenaladale" and "Mharlooh".   Under the Duffy Act, Simon Gillies, Allanís second cousin, took up "Mharlooh" , some 2,000 acres on Iguana Creek, which runs into the Mitchell River opposite "Glenaladale".  In that year Allanís parents, Charles and Ann, moved to "Alton Park" on the Maffra-Sale Road.
     
Now in their twenties, their sons Allan, Alister and Norman took a lease on "Lowlands", on the shores of Lake Wellington near Dutson a few miles from Sale.
Sadly while there Alister was drowned.
     
Allan McLean married in 1866, to Margaret Shinnick in the Stratford Catholic Church.  Her brother was the parish priest there.

     In 1872 Allan and other family members began the stock and station agency in Maffra, Allan McLean & Co., which was to become the largest in Victoria outside the metropolitan area. 
     
Later expansions saw agencies in nearby Gippsland towns such as Bairnsdale, Warragul and Traralgon, where his brother John was manager for twelve years. 
     
Uncle Angus worked in the Maffra branch and later son Willie took charge when his father was in Parliament.  

Maffra office of A. McLean & Co   

 


      Allan McLean began his political career through local government, firstly as a councilor in the Avon Shire from 1873 to 1875, when the Maffra Shire separated from Avon, and then in Maffra until 1880.  He held the office of Shire President from 1876 to 1879.  In 1879 he was instrumental in chairing the first meeting of the Municipal Association of Victoria in the Melbourne Town Hall. 
 
      In 1880 he resigned from the Council and entered the Victorian Parliament as the MLA for North Gippsland.
 He was Minister for Lands in the Munro Ministry 1890-1, Chief Secretary in 1891-2, Chief Secretary and Minister for Lands in the Shiels Government of 1892-3, Minister without a portfolio in the Turner Ministry of 1894-1899, and Premier and Chief Secretary from December 1899 to November 1900.  

      A Constitutionalist, or conservative, he came to identify with many liberal causes but remained an imperialist opposed to the federation of Australian colonies so ardently espoused by the liberal protectionist Alfred Deakin.
     
Reassured to some degree by Deakin's composite stand as an Australian Briton, McLean sent him to London in January 1900 as Victoria's representative in negotiations with the British government.  The result was the Commonwealth of Australia's Constitution Act which received Royal assent in July and took effect on the 1st June 1901.

Section of A. McLean & Co's saleyards at Maffra c1890

     Allan McLean lost office in Victoria in November 1900 but was elected as Gippsland's first member in the new Commonwealth Parliament.  His highest office was attained in 1904 as Minister for Trade and Customs in the Reid government, when he was in effect Deputy Prime Minister.  Surprisingly he lost his seat in the 1906 election, partly attributable to the fact that he was ill during the campaigning period.  Fuller details of his checkered political career can be found in the  Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10.

      Mr and Mrs Allan McLean had seven children: five sons and two daughters.  His wife Margaret died in 1884 and he remarried, to a Maffra lady, Mrs Emily Macarthur (nee Linton), at Port Melbourne, where he lived for the rest of his life.
      McLean died at his home in Beaconsfield Parade, Albert Park in July 1911 survived by his second wife.


 

 

 

 

 


Above:
"Duart",  Allan McLean's  home at Maffra   painted by local artist Janet Spark in about 1905

Right:
Statue of Allan McLean erected in Victoria Park, Maffra, October 2008


 

 

     Text and photographs have been adapted from The Hon Allan McLean 1839-1911: an Australian story published by Maffra & District Historical Society.  All photographs are held in the Maffra Sugar Beet Museum collection.


Page modified 15/02/2012