Queensland Railway Tourist Guide of 1890


TOOWOOMBA is a large and important town, in the centre of one of the best and healthiest agricultural districts in the Colony. It is also one of the oldest towns in Queensland. In the early days it was known as the "Swamp," from the wet marsh in the bottom of the valley in which the town is now partly situated. The word "Toowoomba" is the native name of a small indigenous melon, which grew there in abundance in the days of early settlement. This melon (cucumis pubescens ?) was also found by Mitchell on the Balonne, by Leichhardt away out on the Comet, and is known on the Barcoo and Belyando ; Gregory saw it on the Murchison in 1858. The blacks called the whole valley "Toowoomba," because there they
got the 11 Toowoomb," or 11 Toowoomba." The main part of the town is 1900 feet above the sea, but the adjoining slopes rise to over 2000 feet. The first land was sold by the New South Wales Government in 1855. Originally Toowoomba was not intended for a township, the first site fixed on and inhabited being Drayton, a town 4 miles distant, once the emporium of all the western trade, and now the centre of a rich agricultural district. The Toowoomba country was first seen by Allan Cunningham in 1827, when he crossed the Main .Range, and in his own words, "descended to a
beautiful and well watered valley, affording abundance of the richest pasturage, and bounded on each side by a bold and elevated range." In 1854 Dr. Lang travelled over the Downs when Drayton was the township, and he says it was selected because it "was the only spot at the time, when trading people and mechanics first desired to settle in the district, that could be had on any terms from their high mightinesses the squatters" ! He says it was a most unsuitable site for a town, but " this led to the formation of another and rival town called Toowoomba, in the same central part of the country, about 4 miles from Drayton." Governor Sir George Bowen wanted to combine both towns under one Act of Incorporation, but to this
proposal the Toowoombaites emphatically objected. In his reply to the Draytonian loyal address on his visit in 1861, he referred to the « rich natural resources and picturesque natural beauty of the scenery, which recalled to his memory the classic plains of Thessaly." In the address presented to him by the Toowoomba people is the following passage : We confidently hope that when the future seat of Government is brought under the consideration of Parliament, and your Excellency's opinion is solicited thereon, that Toowoomba may be deemed one of the first and most desirable, embracing all the essentials for the capital of Queensland." This suggestion was not adopted, and Toowoomba had to rest contented with the more modest position of chief town of the Darling Downs. The press was early represented, the Darling Downs Gazette being started by Lyons, at Drayton, on June 11th, 1858. This paper is now in Toowoomba, its younger rival being the Toowoomba Chronicle,
started in July 6th, 1861, by D. Hunt. The railway from Ipswich was opened on April 30th, 1867.

Toowoomba became a municipality on the 24th of November, 1860. It contains an area of 2733 acres. The population in 1886 was 6274, and is now probably about 8000. It possesses a State Grammar School which cost £10,000, and many handsome public and private buildings. A new asylum for the insane is being erected, to cost at the finish a total of £100,000. Water is supplied by pumping from a reservoir and the town is lighted by gas. The climate around Toowoomba is one of the most salubrious in Queensland. The mean maximum of shade in January is 86°, the highest 97°; the mean minimum is 60°, the lowest 55°. In January last year the lowest in the shade was 55°. The mean maximum of shade in June is 57°, the highest 66°; the mean minimum 42°, and the lowest 27° The town stands on red volcanic soil, in a dish shaped valley, the sides all converging on the centre, with a perfect natural drainage. The soil is rich, and produces flowers and fruit in splendid perfection, with a minimum of labour and expense. Toowoomba is famous for fruit, wine, and vegetables.

Excellent tables are kept at the best hotels and boarding houses, and board ranges from 25s. to 60s. per week at the hotels, and about 20s. to 35s. at the best boarding houses. The leading hotels charge 10s. by the day. The first house was erected by William Horton, in 1852. He planted a willow which still remains as a memento of the past, and is the father of all the beautiful willows which adorn the Toowoomba valley. Horton also built in the same year the first public house, a brick building still standing, and used for the same purpose. This venerable architectural relic of departed days is close to the present railway station. At that time sportsmen shot snipe, ducks, and various other water fowl where the main part of the present township is situated.

Politically, Toowoomba is remarkable for having returned the same parliamentary representative for 28 consecutive years, a fact probably unparalleled in the history of representative Government. Toowoomba district is now a favourite resort for people from the ,sea coast , and several Brisbaneites have erected private houses on the commanding crests of the Main Range. Five miles from town a large superior hotel stands on a projecting spur on the edge of a steep slope, and has a splendid view extending far off across a confused amphitheatre of spurs and cones and peaks and serrated ridges, stretching away to the dim blue summits of the McPherson Range. Only a lake or river is required to complete that beautiful picture. The rambler will find interesting and attractive scenery all round Toowoomba, either among the vineyards and orchards or along the summits of the ranges. Surveyed from the tops of the adjacent hills, Toowoomba is one of the most charming towns in Australia.

There are but few of the native black-, who survived the contest with that Anglo-Saxon civilization which has been more or less fatal to all the Australian aboriginals. The Toowoomba tribes belonged to the " Gooneeburra " or "Fire Blacks " of the Darling Downs. Among them is one Victorian gin, wife of a local aboriginal celebrity, who was educated in a convent, taught to read and write, play the piano, and do fancy work, and yet rambles about in all the primitive simplicity of the untutored gins of the primeval forest, preferring, like Lucifer, rather to reign in the Hades of freedom than serve in the Heaven of civilized bondage. This is the lesson taught by nearly all the practically useless attempts to civilize the Australian black.

The native name of Drayton is "Moyumneura," literally, "many tomahawks," originating in the manufacture of a lot of iron tomahaws by the first Drayton blacksmith, to be given to the blacks for services rendered or presentation purposes. Originally it was known as the "Springs," and at one time became an important town. An old resident says : "I have seen 70 or 80 gentlemen seated at dinner at Norton's hotel." Horton's hotel, at Toowoomba, in 1852, was called the " Seperation Hotel," more accurate in the sentiment than the orthography." Drayton was laid out early in 1849 by Surveyor J. C. Burnett. On April 7th, 1848, there was a public meeting at the Downs Hotel, at Drayton, to raise money to sink a town well. They collected £53 10s. in the room .

After leaving Toowoomba, the train passes away towards the Darling Downs, curving gradually towards the West. At "Gowrie Junction," seven miles from Toowoomba, the line to Warwick, Stanthorpe, and Sydney diverges towards the South, the Roma line starting on the journey towards the setting sun. At Gowrie Station, 113 miles from Brisbane, the traveller will see the first of that glorious Western Downs country, which excited the enthusiasm of Cunningham, Leichhardt, Mitchell, and Kennedy. He will see the beautiful Gowrie Plains, the green volcanic hills, the dark scrub on the low ranges, the sharp scoriae cones, the green fields of the settlers on the sunlit slopes, the white cottages nestling peacefully in repose on the crest of the ridges in the bordering brush, from whence they look down on apple-tree flats and natural meadows, with cattle, horses, and sheep feeding on the borders of black-soil watercourses, fringed by box gums, and flowering acacias. In Gowrie Creek were found the first fossil bones of the Diprotodon, on July 28th, 1873.

In seven miles more we arrive at Oakey Creek, the site of a large boiling-down and meatpreserving establishment, with many neat houses, and a general air of prosperous content. The traveller will long carry with him the memory of the surrounding scenery. From here to Jondaryan the train passes over fertile open plains, ending in scrubs of brigalow, casuarinas , turkey bush, and dwarf gums, the entire surface of the scrub land, as you approach Jondaryan, covered by prickly pear too thick for a man either on foot or horseback. At Jondaryan there is a beautiful view of the graceful plain sweeping away in the distance until it curves into the bosom of the bordering hills.The name Jondaryan should be " Jondooyan," or "Jondooee," the native name given to a lagoon in a sudden curve of the creek. The aboriginal name of the plain itself is "Joonamwiwi," the outcome of the following incident:-In the early days the blacks were chased by a party of white men, and driven on to the top of a hill overlooking the plain. On the summit of this hill stood a tall tree with branches reaching to the ground. All the piccaninnies climbed up this tree to see where the pursuers were situated, and hence the name " Joonamwiwf," the "place where the children climbed."

Passing for 24 miles through somewhat monotonous country, and past the wayside stations of Bowenville and Blaxland, the train arrives at Dalby, 153 miles from Brisbane. Dalby is situated on dead-level, lightly timbered, black soil plains, a monotonous scene, broken only to the north-east by the dark, pineclad Bunya Ranges. Dalby was proclaimed a municipality on August 31st, 1863. It was once the depot for all the Western squatters, and a lively town, patronised by wild bushmen, " men with strange oaths and bearded like a pard," where the squatter topped his Moet and Chandon in the swell hotel, while the unpretentious rouseabout and monopathic shepherd buried their sad remembrances of hard work and maddening solitude in the humble Nepenthean rum. Dalby was commonly and appropriately described as the " City of the Plains," the level downs stretching away in all directions, broken only to the north-east by the Bunya Range. The town has a population of 1400 people. The climate is dry and healthy, being generally a few degrees hotter than that of Toowoomba, but with much the same maximum in summer and minimum in winter. Last year the thermometer fell to 25° in June.

Twenty miles from Dalby are the celebrated Bunya Mountains, the habitat of Araucaria Bidwilli, one of the handsomest pines in the world, and some fine specimens of which are to be seen in the Brisbane Botanic Gardens, and elsewhere in private grounds in various parts of the suburbs. The word Bunya " is the native name of the tree. Correctly it should be "Bahnya," with a prolonged accent on the "Bahn." The nut is called ""yenggee," and the complete `s Bahnya-yenggee " is the Bunya nut." The first cones of this pine sold in London Covent Garden market at ten guineas each.. No part of Australia presented such a spectacle as the Bunya Mountains in the old days when the nut was in season . Here was
the " gathering of the clans," the meeting ground of the tribes for a distance of 200 miles. Blacks from Gympie and Maryborough, from the Balonne and the Maranoa, from the Moonie down to the Barwon, from all parts of the Darling Downs, from New England, away down the Brisbane River, across the Logan and Albert to the Tweed River, from East, West, North, and South came the scattered tribes, men, women, and children, to join in the great triennial festival at, the Bunya Mountains. Painted warriors from the " Jinjinbarras " of the Mary, stately savages of the "Gooneeburras " or " fire blacks " of Toowoomba, active Myalls from the " Cooyar " tribes of the dark scrubs of " Magenjie," the "Big River " (the Brisbane)
and wild fish eaters, " Talgiburrees " and " Chabbooburrees " from their far homes on Nerang and the Tweed, by the shores of resounding "Toomgun " (the ocean), where the green waves wash the white shores of old Minjerribah" (Stradbroke). All the blacks on the coast side of the Main Range assembled on friendly terms. In the, day of battle the tribes of the coast ranges and coast rivers stood arrayed against the tribes of the West. What a weird and splendid picture to rescue from the oblivion of time ! Alas ! no artist ever beheld those strange scenes at the assemblings of the tribes at the Bunya Mountains. They have gone for ever ; vague and shadowy now in the misty moonlight of memory, dim phantoms only in
the imagination. In fancy alone can we recall those multitudinous -dark forms, stalking stealthily through the pine scrubs ; in fancy only can we hear the soft footfalls of a thousand naked feet upon the fallen leaves. At night the promiscuous crowds gathered around a hundred fires, gins and piccaninnies flitting about among the recumbent forms of the warriors ; detached parties chanting their own ,corrobborees, or telling the stories of the vanished years. The " Booal, booal, beejoo, bigwaree," of the Tweed River, mingled with the "Booran booran, bayal, oh wahree," of the Darling Downs. The blacks from the sea coast related to the astonished natives of the West strange tales of vast canoes, like gigantic birds with white wings and filled with mysterious white men, whose glance was lightning and whose voice was thunder, who came far away from beyond the horizon where fire-eyed " Janahn " {the sun) rose from the waters of " Toomgun." Blacks from the Barwon told tales of the dread bunyip-vague legends of some unknown animal long extinct. By day the men dispersed to the hunt, the gins to collect the nuts of the bunya. In the evening the
gins came into camp laden with bags full of pine cones ; the men brought in bandicoots, iguanas, wallabies, snakes, scrub turkeys, eggs, sleeping lizards, 'possums, bears, and bustards from the Jimbour Plains. Then arose quarrels over tribal feuds, and elopement of gins with the young men. Fierce battles ended in the death of several warriors, who were roasted and eaten. Solitary men and gins were waylaid and killed as a feast for isolated marauding parties. The departing tribes were followed and stragglers cut off, roasted and devoured. There were great corrobborees of all the assembled tribes, the painted warriors dancing while the old men and gins beat time with boomerangs and nullas. There were friendly contests in which the young men displayed their skill with the boomerang, the nulla, and the spear ; and all the while they ate the roasted bunya nuts and became fat and sleek. The nuts ripened in March, but the blacks arrived long before , and remained long after the actual seasons. Some of them ex tended e ivr isitto five or six months.Many dialects were spoken by the assembled tribes-the Cabbee oof Wide Bay, Kamilaroi of the Balonne, Turrubul of Brisbane, Cogi of the Maranoa, Picumbill from the Macintyre, Wakka of ToowoomYoobkuam,-Yookum of New England, and Yakumbah of the Condamine.

The first station west of Dalby is Macalister, named after the Hon. Arthur Macalister, once a Queensland premier. On the way -out you cross the edge of the famous Jimbour plain, and see away on the far edge, at the foot of the bordering hills, the white homestead which forms the splendid mansion erected there by the late Sir Joshua Peter Bell, at a cost of £18,000. The Jimbour plain in spring time is a magnificent scene, one wide, calm sea of grass and flowers, red and yellow, the soft winds rippling the surface in fantastic waves, stretching away to the far off hills, where the trees on the edge of the horizon stand suspended in the azure, the light shimmering below them like the sunlit waters of some phantom lake, the plain curving up to kiss the cloud line, the clouds stooping to kiss the ascending plain. Jimbour was originally written "Jimba," and in Leichhardt's diary
it appeared as " Fimba." The proper name-unless from " Jimba," a sheep-is " Jinboora," the native name of a large reed growing in the local lagoons. The name of the plain is "Gooyambe4ani," the place where the blacks "threw firesticks in the grass." Jimbour is the station at which Leichhardt arrived on the 30th of September, 1844, on his overland exploration to Port Essington. He left there on October 1st, and in his diary records that "after having repaired some harness which had been broken by our refractory bullocks upsetting their loads, and after my companions had completed their arrangements, in which Mr. Bell kindly assisted, we left Jimba and launched, buoyant with hope, into the wilderness of Australia." The thermometer at sunrise the following morning was down to freezing point. He wrote his last letter from the Cogoon on April 4th, 1848, when starting on his last expedition. From that day, as Carlyle says of La Perouse, the famous explorer "vanished trackless into blue immensity, and only some faint memory of him lingers in all hearts and homes."

After leaving Macalister, the train enters scrubs of myall, brigalow, emu and lemon bush, casuarinas and cypress pine, dead-level country stretching away on all sides, no hill outlined on any part of the horizon. Warra (from "Warra-Warra," far away) is passed at 181 miles, and the same country continues for 203 miles to Chinchilla, a small settlement with three hotels, two stores, and about 100 people. Taroom is distant 100 miles. Stock from the North pass Chinchilla on the way to New South Wales. The district iscelebrated for deposits of fossil bones, notably those of Diprotodon, Nototherium, and the marsupial lion, Thylacoleo. Some of the best fossils in the Brisbane Museum were found near Chinchilla. In 1882, Kendall Broadbent shot 140 species of birds, among them being the wonga, bronze wing, and squatter pigeons, plumed bronze wing, scrub turkey, swamp quail, emu, plain turkey, night plover, spur wing plover, dotterell, white ibis, straw neck ibis, native companion, nankeen heron, wood duck, grey duck, white-eyed duck, pelican, and dabchick.

The next important station is Miles, at 231 miles, named after the late Hon. William Miles. Miles and Bungeworgarai, the next station to Roma, are remarkable in being the lowest between the Main Range and Charleville, both of them only 972 feet above sea, level. At Miles the train stops for a quarter of an hour for refreshments. Thence you pass through the same level country covered by brigalow, myall, emu and lemon bush, casuarinas, and cypress pine (Callitris Robusta). Here and there are lovely little pictures of open glades and park-like flats, dotted over with isolated clumps of myall (Acacia pendula) and round-topped brigalow shrubs, charming scenes, apparently laid out by some skilled landscape. gardener for the sake of effect. In the next 87 miles the train passes Drillham at 244, Dulacca at 258, Jackson at 265, Channing at 272, Yeulba at 281, Wallumbilla
at 294, and Blythedale at 308. The whole of this expanse of 87 miles is more or less a dead-level, chiefly covered with brigalow, myall, emu and lemon bush, and pine, with open forest flats overgrown by bloodwood, box, gums, and forest oaks.