William Gardner, a scholar in the area in the 1840s who compiled numerous detailed maps and manuscripts of early New England, has one explanation for the name Beardy Plains. His story is that two stockmen, Duval & Chandler, were the first to see the expanse of unexplored grazing country to the north of Armidale. They wore long beards & gentlemen from elsewhere looking for suitable land for stock were recommended to apply to ‘the Beardies’.
Both men have since been immortalised – Duval by the name of a mountain & Chandler by a peak & river. Beardy Plains represents an area near Glen Innes, but history will always associate the name with the two men who discovered the area – the Land of the Beardies.
However, as is often the case, legends are not always true. Mr Graham Wilson OAM, Heritage Advisor to the Glen Innes Severn Council, researched Chandler & Duval. While Duval/Duvell is well documented, it was not until he searched for Chantler instead of Chandler that he found convict records and more. Unfortunately as the men were not quite contemporaries the above legend must be questioned, romantic as it is.
Two new possibilities have now come to light:
A loach, a local fish resembling a European catfish, is referred to in northern England, Scotland & parts of southern Queensland as a ‘Beardie’.
As the area was settled by many Scots, they would have bought with them their sheepdogs known as the bearded collie or ‘Beardie’.
It is thought the origin of the term ‘Land of the Beardies’ comes from the book on the history of Glen Innes: The land of ‘The Beardies’: being the history of the Glen Innes District, published in 1922 by E. C. Sommerlad, editor of the Glen Innes Examiner (a signed copy is on display in the museum hallway). A reprint of this book, The Beardies heritage: a history of Glen Innes and district, updating the history to 1972 is also for sale.