Toowoomba The Real History

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Welcome to the land, of the real. This is the actual life history of Toowoomba and the Darling Downs Region, compiled from a number of online resources, so if you wanted to know what the actual history of the region is, you can find a heap of information is here. Pretty much all of it happend, to some extend ICly, however expect that some details changed. Useful for background information or anything else that takes your fancy.

Pre 1850 1824 Explorer Lieutenant John Oxley took a party of 30 convicts and established a colony at Redcliffe. Known as the Moreton Bay settlement, this later moved to the site now known as Brisbane.

1825 The name Brisbane Town was in use by now, and the main inhabitants in the area were the convicts of the Moreton Bay Penal Station.

1827 June; Allan Cunningham discovered four million acres of rich farming and grazing land bordered on the east by the Great Dividing Range and situated 100 miles west of the settlement of Moreton Bay (Brisbane). Cunningham named his find Darling Downs after Sir Ralph Darling, Governor of New South Wales.

1838 First free settlers started to move into the Brisbane area.

1839 Moreton Bay Penal Station was closed. Around 2,280 convicts were sent to the settlement between 1824-1839 and at the end of 1836 the convict population numbered 337

1840 The first settlers arrived on the Downs. George and Patrick Leslie established Toolburra Station 56 miles south-west of Toowoomba.

1840 The first crossing was Gorman's Gap, just south of modern-day Toowoomba. It was discovered with help from a convict recaptured after living with Aboriginal tribes in the area for 14 years. Gorman's Gap created a much needed supply line for early Darling Downs squatters. It eliminated the need to travel 800 km to Sydney but was aptly named the Hell Hole Road, due to its steepness and danger. It took three days to travel just 12 km.

1846 Brisbane population of 829.

1848 Royal Bulls Head Inn built to serve as a meeting place for pastoralists and businessmen of the newly settled Darling Downs. The first proprietor, William Horton, worked as a stockman for H. S. Russell at Cecil Plains.

1948 First Anglican service on the Downs held at the inn by the Reverend Benjamin Glennie.

1849 Early in 1849 Horton sent two of his men, William Gurney and William Shuttlewood, to cut away reeds in a marshy swampland area a few miles away that nobody from Drayton ever visited. When Gurney and Shuttlewood arrived they were surprised to find a pitched tent among the reeds. The tent's owner was bush worker Josiah Dent who was the first man to live in "The Swamp”.

1849 Surveyor J.C. Burnett found a better route to the north, which was to become the famous Toll Bar Road.

1850 - 1899

1850 Plans were drawn for 12-20 acre farms in the swamp (later to be drained and become the foundation for the establishment of Toowoomba) in the hope of attracting more people to the area to support the land and build up the town.

1851 People began purchasing the land but not new settlers. The new farm holdings attracted buyers from Drayton.

1852 Thomas Alford moved into his new home his wife gave birth to a son, Henry King Alford and, shortly after Josiah Dent's wife bore him a daughter, Pamela. These were the first white babies born in Toowoomba.

1852 On August 29, 1852 the town's only churchman, the Rev. Benjamin Glennie who had lived in Drayton since 1848, christened both children at the Alford home. It was the first Church of England service held in Toowoomba and the first day the word "Toowoomba" was written on a public document.

1853 Town block were surveyed between the east and west swamps, and became Toowoomba.

1853 A gang of 12 workers cleared and constructed a better road on the initial toll bar road route, already well used by bullockies.

1853 Early urban development of Toowoomba was in James Street which carried the traffic from the Toll Bar of the range en route to Drayton and beyond.

1854 Horton moved to the Separation Hotel at “The Swamp”

1854 Captain William Witham occupied the Bull's Head Inn until 1858.

1855 January. Toll Bar road opened. A simple gatehouse was erected at the top of the Range, near the current intersection of Ipswich and Curtis Streets in Toowoomba. A bar crossing the road and a fence either side stopped traffic and enabled toll collection of approximately 2 pence. With unlimited water and green pastures, the area near the top of the Toll Bar Road became a preferred stopover for bullock teams and the permanent settlement of Toowoomba soon sprang up.

1857 First steam powered sawmill was brought into town by James Taylor, and operated by Charles Cocks in 1858. The quiet and taciturn Cocks, born in Berkshire England in 1824, also set up Toowoomba’s first flour mill and built his fine two storey residence at the corner of Ruthven and Bridge Streets.

1858 Horton returned to Drayton, where the original inn was being replaced by the timber, brick, and plaster building that still stands on the site. Toowoomba was growing fast. It had a population of 700, three hotels and many stores. Land selling at £4 an acre in 1850 was now £150 an acre.

1859 10 December. Queensland separated from NSW.

1859 Brisbane became capital of Queensland. Population nearly 6000.

1860 On 30 June, 1860 a petition of 100 names was sent to the Governor requesting that Toowoomba be declared a Municipality. Governor Bowen granted their wish and a new municipality was proclaimed on 24 November 1860.

1860 Population estimated at 1000.

1861 The first town council election took place on 4 January 1861 and William Henry Groom, who had led Toowoomba people in their petition for recognition, polled the most votes.

1862 On August 12, Alderman Groom was elected to State Parliament as Member for Drayton and Toowoomba.

1862 Also in August, telegraphic communication was opened between Toowoomba and Brisbane.

1862 December 23, the area of Queensland was increased.

1862 The government let contracts for the construction of the Toowoomba gaol. (The site of the Park Motor Inn, beside DeMolay house). The foundations were made from basalt quarried on the Range and bricks were hand made and baked from clay pits dug in Queens’ Park and elsewhere. At a meeting of the municipal council in June 1863, it was noted that contractors for the new gaol, “were making bricks without leave or licence on the camping ground”

1864 In August, Andrew Ritchie, a man convicted of murder and robbery under arms, was the first to be hanged at the Toowoomba gaol. It was necessary for the hangman to come up from Brisbane to despatch those sentenced.

1867 Opening of the railway line between Ipswich and Toowoomba in April.

1867 Authorities lifted the toll on Toll Bar Road.

1869 It was decided that all male prisoners from the gaol, were to serve their sentences in Brisbane, and that the Toowoomba gaol was to be used for women prisoners. This plan went ahead despite protests from citizens.

1870 Alderman Spiro replaced William Groom as Mayor

1873 Council was granted control of the swamp area and offered a prize of £100 for the best method of draining it.

1874 The Toowoomba Railway Station was the first Queensland Government building constructed on the Darling Downs. It opened for public traffic on October 26, seven years after the Toowoomba – Ipswich line. Of Italian Renaissance design by colonial architect F.D.G. Stanley, the two-storey station was constructed over 18 months by contractor Hereford-born Richard Godsall for £1,870.

1875 The Toowoomba Gas and Coke Company was floated.

1875 Council pledged to erect street lamps to assist with the establishment of the fledgling company.

1876 Mr Frederic Hurrell Holberton had the property known today as Ascot House built, calling it Tor.

1883 DeMolay House built by Richard Godsall, to serve as a womens refectory just outside the Toowoomba gaol wall. The reformatory opened in 1889 and was in the charge of Matron Blaney, housing 22 girls from the ages of six to eight years.

1890’s Wealthy landowner, James Taylor commissioned Toowoomba architect Henry Marks to design a palatial residence for his holding of 600 acres close to Toowoomba. Construction of Smithfield Homestead was supervised by builder, Mr Syd Andrews, and the house included 12ft (3.6m) veranda’s on three sides and 2ft (0.6m) thick bluestone foundations set almost 14ft (4.2m) into the ground. Taylors homestead was bounded by Drayton Road, Cemetery Road (now Anzac Avenue), Stenner and Alderly Streets.

1892 The Under Secretary of Public Land proclaimed Toowoomba and the surrounding areas as a township.

1894 Frederick Holberton sold Ascot House to a wealthy gentleman, William Beit. He had an ornate two-storey section constructed between the arms of the ‘u’ and the unconventional structure became known as “Beit’s Folley”. Beit was an avid traveller, thespian and photographer; the son of the owner of Westbrook station. From the top story of the two-storey structure, he could check his horses at the Clifford Park race track. He was president of the Toowoomba Polo Club and Polo Street, Newtown was named because it marked the location of Ascot’s polo ground.

1898 The existing Town Hall was inadequate for the demands of a growing community.

1898 July. Council agreed that new municipal buildings and a Town Hall should be constructed on the site of the School of Arts which had been destroyed by fire earlier that year, pending the sale of the old Town Hall for £2,000 to the Roman Catholic Church.

1898 Council offered a prize of 25 guineas for the best design. Architect Willougby Powell's design was awarded first prize and the contract to erect the building at a cost of £10,000 went to Alexander Mayes who later was elected Mayor.

1899 Mr Frederic Hurrell Holberton, took the name Tor to his new home, on the corner of Tor and Wombyra Streets. It was one of the first houses in Newtown to have electricity connected, and is now located at 7 Devon St. The new owner of what was originally Tor, renamed it Ascot.

1900 - 1925

1900 New and current town hall opened.

1900 Toowoomba gaol closed.

1901 Australia becomes a nation and Qld, previously a colony, is now a state.

1902 13,000 horses broken in at Warra, outside Dalby, for use in the Boer War.

1903 The great drought breaks on the Downs.

1903 Thriving furniture business of Rosenstengal and Kleimeyer in Annand Street (Near Union Street, currently occupied by Budget used furniture). They also made coffins.

1903 Government set about demolishing the Toowoomba gaol, however in September 1904, before the walls could be removed, the grounds were purchased by the Austral Society to foster the Arts and Sciences. The Austral Society, headed by Toowoomba poet George Essex Evans, let a contract to roof half the gaol yard, the hall being dedicated as a war memorial to the Light Horsemen who died in the Boer War and in 1906, it is claimed that 10,000 people witnessed the final Austral festival in the hall.

1904 At noon on 20 October 1904 Toowoomba's status of a township was changed to a city and every bell and horn was sounded for half a minute to celebrate the event.

1906 Commercial Bank at Allora built on eight metres of black soil. Locals said it would sink but it is still there today.

1907 Cattle tick declared a pest.

1908 First Spring Flower Show held at the Warwick Town Hall.

1908 Goondiwindi to Warwick railway completed.

1908 Advertisement in the Toowoomba Chronicle, Saturday November 21, from Rosentengel & Kleimeyer, Universal Furnishers, after concerns of cheap imports affecting their business. “Chinese Labour Conquered. Malacca and Cane Furniture, of all descriptions, MADE IN AUSTRALIA, by WHITE LABOR ONLY”. Alongside a cane reclining chair in the advertisement were the words “cool, cosy, clean and cheap – and this Australian-made furniture is guaranteed to last ten times as long as the ordinary Chinese makes.

1909 First export of apples from the Granite Belt sent to Covent Garden, London.

1909 Essex Evans died.

1910 Prickly pear declared a pest.

1912 First tractor used on northern Darling Downs – a 60hp (44.7kW) mechanical monster weighing 10 tonnes. Queensland Government offers 100,000 acres (40,469ha) reward to the first person to eradicate prickly pear.

1914 Cannery producing Pass-More-Sauce Tomato Sauce opens at Passmore.

1914 Tornado flattens Cambooya.

1914 Typhoid epidemic in Miles.

1915 Elvery sets record of 2 hours 35 minutes by car from Brisbane to Toowoomba.

1915 Rail line extended through Toowoomba, called the Drayton Deviation. For fifty years after the station was built, the line did not go beyond Russell Street. Toowoomba Station was on a short spur line, and the line to Warwick left the main western line at Gowrie Junction, and passed through Charlton, Wellcamp, Westbrook and Wyreema.

1917 General Grant from Bowenville leads the charge of Australian Light Horse at Beersheba.

1917 Criterion Hotel, famous for its leadlight windows and pressed metal ceilings, built in Warwick.

1917 Prime Minister Billy Hughes splattered with egg while campaigning for conscription in Warwick.

1922 Hundreds of soldier-settlers take up 30,000 acres (12,141ha) of land on the Granite Belt.

1922 Pittsworth the first factory in Australia to pasteurise milk for cheese making.

1923 Dalby Cotton Gin opens. It cost more than £26,000 and was never used.

1924 Pittsworth Cheese factory sends the largest cheese ever made – 1½tons (1.52 tonnes) – to the Wembley Exhibition in London.

1925 Father of the Australian film industry, Charles Chauvel, right with his wife, Elsa, leaves Stanthorpe to make the silent film Green Hide.

1925 Rebuilding of Jimbour House completed – the party attracts 1200 guests.

1925 Radio comes to the Downs.

1926 W. Russell of Jimbour House transports sheep on specially built motor lorries, pioneering the road trains of today.

1926 - 1950

1926 Cactoblastis moth released to attack prickly pear.

1930 Thousands of nesting death adders exposed as cactoblastis moth destroys the prickly pear which they used for cover. At Boonarga, outside Chinchilla, residents build a hall in honour of the cactoblastis moth. It is thought to be the only hall in the world built in honour of an insect.

1930 The Toowoomba Repertory Theatre began with meetings held in private houses and the first play – A.A. Milne’s “The Dover Road” was performed at the City Hall, which was then the Toowoomba Town Hall.

1931 First export of grapes from the Granite Belt.

1931 Warwick gives a hero's welcome to local flyer Lt Hill after his solo flight from England.

1931 First successful harvest of wheat on black soil plains returns eight bags an acre.

1932 Main Roads Commission proclaimed the Toll Bar Road a State Highway.

1933 During the Great Depression the national unemployment rate is 28 per cent – Toowoomba's rate is only 6.5 per cent.

1935 Toowoomba Repatory Theatre members built their first club rooms in Union Street for £700. They then had 250 members and four plays were under rehearsal at one time.

1936 Warwick declared a city.

1936 Major upgrade to Toll Bar Highway.

1939 Grasshopper plague sweeps across the Downs.

1939 Toll Bar highway upgrade completed, with the new upper most section moving further north.

1940 Macintyre River dries up in drought.

1940 Warwick celebrates its centenary. The Second World War saw an invasion by American and Australian troops who took over the parks and major buildings for recreational, hospital and training purposes.

1942 John French, tobacconist from Crow's Nest, awarded the Victoria Cross.

1942 Drayton/Toowoomba celebrates its centenary.

1945 Introduction of DDT and the end of the fruit fly infestation.

1947 Cambooya's 24-voice choir chosen to represent Queensland at Melbourne's Centenary of Music.

1947 12 per cent of Downs residents own a phone.

1949 Much of Crow's Nest destroyed by fire.

1949 Drayton became a suburb of Toowoomba.

1950 to present

1950 First Carnival of Flowers held at Toowoomba.

1951 Dalby butter wins World Butter Championship in London.

1952 Sister Kenny, famous for her treatment for polio, dies in Toowoomba.

1956 Huge floods hit the Downs.

1957 Levee banks built on the Macintyre River at Goondiwindi after the floods of 1956.

1960 15cm of snow falls on the Bunya Mountains.

1960 Development of the city business centre grew within the triangle between the two swamps with Ruthven street taking over from James and Russell Street as the main business and shopping centre.

1960 Repertory Theatre club rooms demolished to make way for road works, so decided to convert a brick home at 94 Margaret Street into Toowoomba’s new Little Theatre. The 54-year-old structure was converted into a theatre designed by C.D. O’Keeffe. With 124 seats, it was the largest little theatre in Australia and with lighting and other essentials, it was valued at £11,500 ($23,000). At the official opening by the Minister for Repatriation, Mr Reg Swartz, patrons paid four guineas to have their names affixed to one of the seats. The President, Alderman Nell e. Robinson, said “Many are weary of machines – machines which speed us anywhere but into happiness. So, in a search for an anodyne, we are stealing back to the theatre” The first play at the new address was the comedy, “Watch It, Sailor,” by Phillip King and Falkland Carey, produced by Gordon Fister.

1961 Oil discovered at Moonie.

1961 First glass-covered silos in Australia built at Jimbour.

1962 Television comes to the Downs.

1963 Dalby celebrates its Centenary.

1964 Major work on the range highway with a duplication of the road with a new two-lane up section.

1965 Construction of the Leslie Dam begins.

1966 NASA tracking station for the Apollo moon mission opens at Cooby Creek outside Toowoomba.

1966 First Apple and Grape Harvest Festival held at Stanthorpe.

1966 First 'true' 50m Olympic-sized swimming pool built in Queensland at Millmerran.

1967 Queensland Institute of Technology (Darling Downs) began operations with 37 full-time students.

1970 Major amendments to the Education Act by the Queensland Government, changed the QITDD, to the Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education (DDIAE)

1971 Downlands College, Toowoomba, admits female students.

1972 Stanthorpe celebrates its centenary.

1973 Gunsynd, 'the Goondiwindi Grey', right, retires to stud (55 starts, 29 wins, total winnings of $280,000).

1974 Floods devastated Brisbane. 16 people lost their lives with an estimated $300 million in damage.

1975 Centenary of the planting of the first vineyards at Stanthorpe by Father Davadi.

1975 Channel 10/4/5 is the first channel in Australia to make full conversion to colour broadcasting.

1976 Huge hail storm damages a large part of Toowoomba.

1978 Dalby Agricultural College opens.

1978 Miles celebrates its centenary.

1981 Heritage Building Society forms in Toowoomba with assets of $148 million.

1983 Warwick celebrates its famous son and shearer Jackie Howe with the Jackie Howe memorial.

1984 Local athlete Glynis Nunn (nee Saunders) given a tickertape parade at Toowoomba after winning gold at the Los Angeles Olympics.

1988 Goondiwindi celebrates its centenary while Australia celebrates its bicentenary.

1989 Japanese garden opens at the Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education.

1990 January 1, the University College of Southern Queensland was created. (Formerly DDIAE)

1992 January 1, the Institution became the University of Southern Queensland (USQ)

1993 Pop star Bob Geldof attends the Goondiwindi B&S Ball.

1995 Warwick district is Queensland's largest producer of wheat, sorghum and barley.

1995 Distance Education made available through the Dalby Agricultural College

1996 Macintyre River reaches record flood level of 10.6m at Goondiwindi.

1996 Refurbishment of Town Hall was completed at a cost of $3.4 million and Council meetings are once again held there.

1997 Grand Central Shopping Centre opens in Toowoomba.

1998 Heritage listed Railway station renovation and restoration began in August, costing $1 million.

2000 Construction begins on the Millmerran Power Station.

2000 East State School in Warwick celebrates its 150th anniversary.

2001 The Border Federation Heritage Project begins at Wallangarra.

2001 More than 30 Granite Belt wineries in operation.