William Duncan was born in Scotland in 1832 and migrated to Australia with his family in 1837. At the age of 14 he and another man, Edmund Harper, crossed the Tweed River into the Gold Coast Region in search of cedar. They are believed to be the first white men to have sighted the Gold Coast.
In 1854, at the age of 22, he married and, after years of wandering the valleys of the Gold Coast and Tweed regions cutting timber, he settled at Gilston on acreage in the early 1870's.
The first members of the pioneering Hinze family are believed to have settled in the Advancetown district where Carl and Johanna Hinze took up residence just over 120 years ago on what was to become the Hinze Dam site. Their home, a slab hut, was constructed near the current picnic area.
Many of the descendants of Carl and Johanna Hinze still live in the Nerang/Advancetown region. One of their grandchildren was the late RJ Hinze who was the member for South Coast and who was most instrumental in obtaining the current school site and school buildings several years ago.
The Zimmerman family were one of the first families to settle in the area. They lived across the Nerang River about one mile above the hall near the Gilston Golf Course and the Mill's dairy.
Mr Zimmerman also purchased land in the pocket at Numinbah Valley. The Zimmerman children, Henry and Billy, were on the first roll call at Gilston School. Henry and Billy became Bullock Drivers with their own teams hauling pine logs to Nerang.
Tom Latimer built the second Arrowroot mill in the area in 1900 and ran it until 1918 at Latimer's Crossing. After closing the Arrowroot mill they set up a dairy farm which was run by the family. Tom Latimer was capable with the technology of steam engines and was involved with a steam driven saw mill at Alstonville and one at Gilston. His brother Jim Latimer had an Arrowroot mill on the Nerang River off McLaren's Road near Nerang and this mill closed in the 1970s.
Gilston State School House history photos