Angus McMillanPrint Page Print this page

Angus McMillan Cairn
Angus McMillan Cairn

Photographs supplied by Diane Watson

A monument commemorates Angus McMillan, the Gippsland explorer who was born on the Isle of Skye, Scotland in 1810, and who emigrated to Australia in 1838. The original plaque on the cairn has been replaced. 

BAIRNSDALE, Tuesday. In the absence of the Minister of Lands, the Under Secretary, Mr. H. O. Allan, addressing an assemblage of residents, who had gathered on Ambyne Hill, to witness the unveiling of the Angus McMillan cairn, said he was there to say that the Minister had reserved for public use an area of about ten acres surrounding the Hill as a park. This had been given the name of Howitt Park, to honor the memory of one of the foremost pioneers of the district, Dr. A. W. Howitt whose work in Gippsland as a bushman, geologist and anthropologist, was widely known. He would be better remembered by the general public as the finder of the lost Burke and Wills expedition. Subsequently the Governor declared the park open.

There was a large attendance this morning at Ambyne Hill, Lucknow, to witness the unveiling of a cairn erected to the memory of Angus McMillan, the discoverer of Gippsland, and the first pioneer settler of the province. Prior to the unveiling ceremony addresses were delivered by Sir James Barrett, Mr. Charles Daly, secretary of the historical memorials committee, and Mr.H. O. Anchin, district inspector of Schools. Lord Somers paid it was very fitting that the residents should be honoring at one and the same place and associating their memories in perpetuity, men who had done so much for the district. Like other parts of Australia, Victoria was greatly indebted to its pioneers for what they had done in opening up the country for settlement. There was still a great amount of pioneering work to be done if Australia was to be held effectively or to be peopled beyond its fringes. Young Victorians, if they studied the history of their country, would get an inspiration to emulate the deeds of the pioneers. The inscription of the cairn states, "Angus McMillan passed this way on the 17th January, I840." The Governor and party were afterwards entertained at luncheon by the shire president.

The Age (Melbourne) 6 April 1927. 

Employed by fellow Scot, Lachlan Macalister, he was sent south to look for pastures when drought struck. After several attempts he reached Port Albert in 1840. He took up a run at Bushy Park on the Avon River, where he developed one of the finest properties in the colony. He became known for his hospitality and public spirit. He was the first member for South Gippsland in the Legislative Assembly.  He cut tracks for the Government through the mountains to the gold fields to recoup his financial position after a disastrous bush fire. An accident at Iguana Creek caused his death in 1865 and he was buried at Sale cemetery. Memorials to Angus McMillan also exist at Bushy Park where he lived and at Iguana Creek where he died.

Public interest in Angus McMillan and Sir Paul Edmund de Strzelecki was initiated in a 1920`s campaign to recognise the European explorers in Victoria, and a chain of commemorative cairns was erected across the region. McMillan’s contribution to the region was also conferred in naming the Federal Electoral Division of McMillan in 1948, which includes original lands of the Gunai Kurnai in west and south Gippsland.

The view of McMillan as heroic explorer and pioneer was disrupted in the late 1970`s when historian Peter Gardner highlighted the extent of the frontier conflict in Gippsland, naming McMillan as a key figure. The attack on the Brataualung camped at Warrigal Creek following the murder of Ronald Macalister in 1843 was the foremost of several incidents that resulted in the loss of Gunai Kurnai lives. Historian Don Watson named McMillan as the leader of the ‘Highland Brigade’, a group of Gaelic-speaking Scotsmen who conducted reprisals against the Gunai Kurnai.  The extent of McMillan’s leadership of these conflicts has been contested although his own accounts indicate that he was involved.

McMillan was responsible for raising fears of a European woman held captive by the Gunai Kurnai, firstly in 1840 and again in 1846 - 47. Little was made of the earlier claim, but in 1846 with the European population of Port Phillip District expanding and frontier conflict a matter of public anxiety, McMillan’s reports sparked a heightened reaction to the missing ‘White Woman of Gippsland’. Two search parties travelled throughout Gippsland, bringing much disruption and more violent deaths to the Gunai Kurnai despite there being no firm evidence of a kidnapping.


Address:Princes Highway, Howitt Park Reserve North Side, Lucknow, 3875
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -37.823308
Long: 147.642551
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
View Google Map


Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:People


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Tuesday 5th April, 1927
Front Inscription

ANGUS McMILLAN EXPLORER Arrived At This Site On 17th January 1840

This Cairn Which Was Erected In His Honour Was Unveiled By HIS EXCELLENCY LORD SOMERS Governor Of Victoria On 5th April, 1927


Source: MA, VMR, MED
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
Proudly sponsored by UBC Web Design