Stories of the Scenic Rim Communities
THE Scenic Rim region is a collection of close-knit, unique communities which are rich in history and tradition. The area was first settled in the 1800s, and has its origins in farming and timber-getting. The Scenic Rim’s links with its past are still very strong.
Read more about these communities:
Eastern Scenic Rim
THE township of Canungra was not formally surveyed until 1915, however a village settlement had evolved there from the 1880s, around the time Lahey Bros’s Canungra Sawmill was established there.
The town served the large area along Canungra Creek and the upper Coomera River and became a focus for emerging communities at Beechmont and Tamborine Mountain after the Canungra Branch Railway opened in 1915.
In the early 1920s the Commercial Bank of Australia established a branch in Canungra and growth went on from there.
The Lahey family built the Bellissima Guest House in 1916 to provide overnight accommodation for people doing business with the sawmill.
It was sold in 1927 and became the Canungra Hotel, with the addition of a bar on the eastern side. The Hotel was destroyed by fire in 1937 and rebuilt in its present form.
Several churches were built, as was a Hospital, which closed after the Second World War.
For more information on Canungra and its heritage go to Scenic Rim Museums or Our Communities.
In the 1870s timber getters and selectors began working their way up the Nerang River to the base of Beech Mountain. This was in response to the increased demand for timber and agricultural produce which accompanied the establishment of Southport as a seaside resort from the mid 1870s.
Small-scale sawmilling at Beechmont developed in the 20th Century.
Lahey Bros offered much of their cleared timber land on the western slopes of Beech Mountain as dairy farms in 1925. These were rapidly taken up and the Beechmont district received a substantial population boost.
Pig raising became an important adjunct activity to dairying, with pigs taken to Canungra and sent by train to the Murarrie slaughterhouse near Brisbane.
In 1947 Charlie and Alf Freeman established the Beechmont Timber Mill on the mountain. This proved an important source of milled timber for the Beechmont and Gold Coast building booms during the post Second World War years.
In the early 1930s Queensland Holiday Resorts Ltd, whose principals were Arthur Groom and Romeo Lahey, acquired portion 178, George Rankin’s dairy farm adjoining Lamington National Park.
Work on their Binna Burra Mountain Lodge began and the first cabins were ready in 1933.
Tourism continued to grow at Beechmont, and in the 1980s a number of craftspeople moved to the mountain, including potters, painters and lead lighters.
For more information on Beechmont and its heritage go to Scenic Rim Museums or Our Communities.
Tamborine Mountain was opened to selection in 1875, with the first sawmill established there in 1882 by Gustave Murray Carter and Hon. Cecil Peary.
It was steam powered and the area was abundant with trees to fell. However the project proved unviable due to the difficulties in transporting milled timber from the mountain.
Due to difficulties accessing the mountain, its population remained small for many years. By the early 1900s that had changed and in 1914 the Beaudesert Times reported that: ‘Tamborine Mountain is a different place to what it was a few years ago. About five years ago there were only five families on the northern end of Tamborine Mountain. Now there are enough people here to start a dancing club and a tennis club.’
From 1918 to 1925 rapid land subdivision on Tamborine Mountain, including the 1920-21 creation of North Tamborine and Eagle Heights, was the most active period of history of Tamborine Mountain subdivision prior to 1958.
Many of the Mountain’s new residents were retirees, attracted to the mountain for health reasons.
From the 1950s the pace of land clearance on Tamborine Mountain quickened as a number of dairy farms were subdivided into residential blocks.
Soon after the cream carrying service from the mountain was discontinued and many of the Mountain’s farmers turned to avocado growing and fruit growing.
Even in the early days Tamborine Mountain was recognised as an attractive tourist and holiday destination.
*Information taken from Beaudesert Shire: Thematic Historical Overview by Helen Bennett
Central Scenic Rim
THE land surrounding the town of Beaudesert was originally the traditional land of the Yugambeh people. During the late 1820s the district was explored by officials associated with the penal settlement at Moreton Bay who noted the suitability of the well-watered grasslands for pastoral purposes, and the useful stands of timber in the surrounding ranges.
In 1842 the first squatters took up land along the Logan and Albert Rivers.
Until the 1860s pastoral interests, sheep and cattle, dominated the economic activity in the district.
In the early 1870s the town of Beaudesert originated as a privately surveyed town intended to service the expanding agricultural settlements.
By the late 1880s Beaudesert had emerged as the principal commercial and administrative centre of the district.
The early 1900s subdivision of freehold estates provided further impetus for the expansion of timber getting and agriculture, especially dairying.
Pig raising and fodder production became important adjunct activities to dairying and until the 1930s depression the town of Beaudesert boomed, consolidating its position as the principal administrative and service centre in the district.
Two meat processing plants were established near Beaudesert in the 50s, providing much-needed local employment.
From the 1960s to the 1990s there was a shift away from dairying towards cattle grazing in the area. Struggling farmers on small acreages were encouraged off the land, and local butter and milk factories gradually closed.
*Information taken from Beaudesert Shire: Thematic Historical Overview by Helen Bennett
Lost World Valley
Lost World is a hidden plateau, a green shelf on Razorback Mountain, discovered by the O’Reilly family,
The original Lost World homestead, Cedar Glen, still stands and offers farmstay experiences to visitors.
The homestead was built in 1901 by Edgar Stephens who fled life in the city of Brisbane to start a dairy farm at Coopers Plains. He took up land in the Lost World in 1882 and continued to farm with his sons until he died in 1941. The home still sits on 1050 acres and has been maintained in its original condition.
Spectacular scenery and absolute peace abound in the Lost World Valley.
For more information on Lost World Valley and its heritage go to Scenic Rim Museums or Our Communities.
Kooralbyn, whose colourful aboriginal name means The Place of the Copperhead Snake, is situated 22km from the town of Beaudesert.
It was one of the great pastoral properties of the region for well over 100 years, and its history can be traced back to the 1840s. Its original settler was John ‘Tinker’ Campbell.
For more information on Kooralbyn Valley and its heritage go to Scenic Rim Museums or Our Communities.
Southern Scenic Rim
THE town of Rathdowney, which lies about 32kms south of Beaudesert, was developed during the early 1900s as a small service centre to the new farming districts. The Beaudesert Tramway opened to Innisplain in 1903 and proved such a success that by 1906 there were moves to have the line extended to Rathdowney.
The tramway extension was opened in 1911 and Rathdowney developed as the district centre.
The Stretton family erected the Rathdowney Hotel in the same year, and the Commercial Banking Company opened a branch office.
The Enrights of Beaudesert established a branch store retailing groceries, clothing and haberdashery until January 1971.
For more information on Rathdowneyand its heritage go to Scenic Rim Museums or Our Communities.
Mt Barney is visible from many points throughout the Scenic Rim, it is afterall south-east Queensland’s second-highest peak.
It rises impressively above surrounding farmlands in the Mt Barney National Park, which straddles the Queensland-New South Wales border.
The rugged peaks are all that remains of the ancient Focal Peak Shield Volcano which erupted 24 million years ago.
Mt Barney is 15km from Rathdowney and became part of the World Heritage Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves in 1994.
Mt Barney is surrounded by mountains, valleys, caves, rockpools and woodland forest.
A number of tourist-related businesses operate in the foothills of the mountain, and they all enjoy views of this stunning mountain.
For more information on Mt Barney and its heritage go to Scenic Rim Museums or Our Communities.
Mt Alford is an historic town situated at the foothills of the Teviot Range. It was previously called Reckumpilla, but was renamed Mt Alford after Thomas Alford who came to manage Coochin Coochin Station in 1868.
Homestead settlement began in the open country in the early 1870s and the township began in the 1880s.
The Mt Alford school began on April 4, 1888 and continues to operate today.
Mt Alford is a small town but what it lacks in size it makes up for in good old fashioned country hospitality.
As well as the school there is the famous Mt Alford Pub, and nearby the renowned Kooroomba Winery and Lavender Farm.
The School of Arts has long played an important role in local life and once hosted a performance by crime writer Agatha Christie, who was a guest at Coochin Coochin.
The quaint Mt Alford Store building still stands but is currently not being used as a general store.
For more information on Mt Alford and its heritage go to Scenic Rim Museums or Our Communities.
Western Scenic Rim
BOONAH is the Fassifern’s largest town centre, so it is fitting that the town’s creation began with a shop. In the early 1880s the Blumberg Brothers opened their store, a decision which soon prompted James Johnson to select his first block. Other selectors began taking up land, driven by the Queensland Government’s policy of encouraging closer settlement. Farmers moved into the area in the mid 1870s, and many of them had opened their own businesses.
A sawmill, hotels, general stores and a butcher’s shop followed in an area originally called Blumbergville Dugandan.
The arrival of the railway in September 1887 prompted residents to suggest the shorter name Boonah, which is said to be the aboriginal word for bloodwood tree.
The Milbong Council began in 1880, establishing its headquarters at Peak Crossing. However in 1888 the office moved to Boonah, in recognition of the town’s growth.
Land adjacent to the High Street was subdivided and sold and the town grew.
By 1890 Boonah contained a number of public buildings and over the years it established itself as the main service centre for surrounding rural enterprises. The rural sector continued to grow too, thriving on the rich agricultural and grazing land.
Dairying brought prosperity into the 1890s and continued to be a key local industry until the dairy deregulation in the late 1990s caused the industry to consolidate.
*Based on information taken from The Fassifern Story by CK Pfeffer
Northern Scenic Rim
KALBAR is the Fassifern’s second-largest town and is situated about 10 minutes north of Boonah. Its history dates back to the 1870s when farmers began to select the fertile land bordering the Warrill and Reynold Creek flats.
Many of the early settlers of Kalbar, or as it was originally known Engelsberg, were German migrants who were encouraged and sponsored by the Government or other settlers. Engelsberg was renamed Kalbar in 1916 after World War One, when it became common to rename towns with German names. Kalbar is the Aboriginal word for dry or dead trees.
The history of the Kalbar township dates back to 1876 when August Engels is said to have started trading from his home situated beside the street now known as Edward Street. In 1877 he sold most of his land, retaining only four acres on which he built a small store. Around 1900 George Eder built a store and operated as a cabinetmaker and undertaker.
The town of Kalbar also featured a butcher, a saddler and two hotels, The Fassifern and The Royal, which still stands and operates today.
Around 1907 EW Bickerton established a business on the corner of Edward and George Streets, which soon became known as ‘Bickerton’s Corner’.
During 1909 the Wiss Brothers, who had been in business 20 years, built another new store The Wiss Emporium, a beautiful building which still stands at the gateway to Kalbar.
Kalbar’s development took a hit in 1920 when all of the town’s buildings on the southern side of Edward Street were destroyed by fire. They were slowly rebuilt over the coming years. Saturday nights in Kalbar became a sought-after social hub, as local people flocked to the Kalbar picture theatre. The town’s two barbers would continue to cut hair until 9.30pm every Saturday night, which added to the late night buzz.
Residential development continued to occur, although not as extensively as in Boonah.
*Based on information taken from The Fassifern Story, by CK Pfeffer
In the late 1800s and early 1900s Roadvale was one of the Fassifern’s most densely-populated towns.
This township was named, so the story goes, after the view from the main hill which overlooks the vale containing many roads.
At its peak Roadvale featured two hotels, banks, a butcher, baker and branches of the Wiss Brothers and Humphries & Tow general stores.
But in 1915 most of the town was destroyed by fire. Buildings were constructed close together and with no firefighting equipment it was nearly impossible to save anything from destruction.
Following the fire some businesses were rebuilt but Roadvale never reached its previous size.
For more information on Roadvale and its heritage go to Scenic Rim Museums or Our Communities.
The tiny rural town of Peak Crossing was named after a road and a mountain. Both take prominent positions in this quaint town.
Peak Crossing refers to the road crossing of the Purga Creek, which was the junction at which prominent roads met. East of the township is Peak Mountain, commonly known as Flinder’s Peak, named after the explorer Matthew Flinders.
The town is located 20km south of Ipswich and is surrounded by prime agricultural land, with small cropping practiced right up to the town centre.
For more information on Peak Crossing and its heritage go to Scenic Rim Museums or Our Communities.
The town of Harrisville was first established in 1863 when Robert Dunn selected a black of land from the old Mt Flinders sheep station. This block was selected for its views of the plains in the foreground and the Great Dividing Range in the distance and it became Harrisville.
Encouragement by the then Queensland Government for people to settle in rural areas led to the establishment of the Ipswich Agricultural Reserve, focused around the Warrill and Warroolaba Creeks.
Land was surveyed into small blocks and made available to settlers. It quickly emerged that the land was fertile and by 1864 some 27 farms had been established.
The American Civil War had caused a world shortage of cotton and local settlers began growing cotton. John and George Harris opened a general store and cotton ginnery.
A railway branch line was built in 1882, creating an added incentive to development. The town soon had its own hospital, school of arts, school, churches, bank and post office. Dairying later became the main source of income for local families. A condensed milk factory was established and was later sold to Nestles.
For more information on Harrisville and its heritage go to Scenic Rim Museums or Our Communities.
The Rosevale Roman Catholic Church was opened and blessed by Bishop Dunne in 1889 and dedicated to Saint Brigid. It was built by John Madden & Son, Ipswich-based builders. In those days priests journeyed from Ipswich on horseback, or by pony and sulky, leaving on Saturday evening to stay overnight with Hugh Ahearn. On the following Monday the visiting priest would journey on to Moorang and Mass would be celebrated. Many of the early settlers were of Irish descent.
The Church of Christ erected its first chapel in Rosevale in 1896 on donated land, using donated timber.
Rosevale’s main industry was dairying and the Rosevale cheese factory was purchased in September 1917, when the Queensland Farmers’ Co-op Association began to manufacture cheese. In 1928 the Board of directors discontinued the manufacture of cheese at Rosevale. The last milk was received in 1929, and the building was then used as a cream receiving depot. This continued until 1943.
For more information on Rosevale and its heritage go to Scenic Rim Museums or Our Communities.
Aratula is the Fassifern’s youngest town, originating around 1915. It began life as Carter’s Gate and was later renamed Aratula.
Aratula’s main business centre straddles the busy Cunningham Highway and is a popular ‘stopping’ spot for passing motorists.
Aratula, like the other towns of the Fassifern was built on the back of agriculture and is still home to a number of highly-productive horticulture, beef and equine outfits.
For more information on Aratula and its heritage go to Scenic Rim Museums or Our Communities.