Beyond 2000

A Dairy Adjustment Program was introduced from 2000 to 2008 which was charged with providing, amongst other things, Dairy Exit Payments for those who chose to leave the industry.  It was an offer many could not refuse. In the Toogoolawah district alone, only 15 per cent of the pre-2000 dairy farms remained in operation at the beginning of the new century.    Reports of the effects of deregulation by 2009 point to larger holdings with increased herds and increased milk production.  They also note that control of the industry has shifted to processors and large retailers like Coles and Woolworths who now dictate terms to the industry and the market place.

"Blokes on bikes" at Yimbun tunnel
"Blokes on bikes" at Yimbun tunnel
ATHRA riders at Toogoolawah
ATHRA riders at Toogoolawah

Just before the end of the Dairy Adjustment Scheme the then Deputy Premier and Minister for Infrastructure and Planning (later Premier Anna Bligh) announced a new initiative for the Brisbane Valley in January 2007.   This was to be a new recreational trail built on the disused rail corridor of the Brisbane Valley Rail Line at a cost of $3.6m.   It would be called the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail and provide a safe environment for walkers, cyclists and horse riders for 140 km from Ipswich to Blackbutt. It would include such amenities as horse yards, pedestal toilets, camping areas, water tanks and bike racks.

The original rail trail is finished, as well as extensions from Blackbutt to the original terminus at Yarraman and additional trails around the Blackbutt area. A Link Trail has also been opened on what was the old stock route from Yarraman to Nanango. The rail trail is well used in good weather and the northern sections are particularly popular with groups of riders from pony clubs and ATHRA. Bicycle Queensland advertises this rail trail widely and cyclists are commonly seen on the trail from adjacent roads.

The Toogoolawah sale yards currently provide the only cattle sales in the Brisbane Valley.   They are well patronised and additional lots can be accommodated in the Show Ground facilities nearby.

In 2008, following the passing of the Local Government (Reform implementation) Act (2007) the old Esk Shire amalgamated with the Kilcoy Shire and is now managed by the new Somerset Regional Council.  Similarly Rosalie (Goombungee) Shire amalgamated with Toowoomba and several other shires under the direction of the new Toowoomba Regional Council. Neither of these council have divisional representation.  On the other hand, the old Nanango Shire amalgamated with Kingaroy, Murgon and Wondai to form the South Burnett Regional Council that has retained divisional representation.

Years of drought were followed in 2011 by devastating floods in which one life was lost in the Brisbane Valley region.   As in the 1893 flood, the southern end of the Somerset region was worst affected.  Submissions about recommended improvements in flood mitigation were presented to the Queensland Floods Inquiry Commission, and individual reports of conspicuous bravery, generosity and resilience have now passed into local folklore.  The 2013 flooding damaged a heritage listed rail bridge over Maronghi Creek approaching the old Harlin station precinct on the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail that was built in 1910. The government’s attempts to render the damaged structure safe removed what little was left.  It was then removed from the Queensland Heritage Register on 25 May 2018

Steam train on the Harlin rail bridge
Steam train on the Harlin rail bridge
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Before the community had recovered from the flooding, reports that a mining company, (Coalbank, bought out by Lodestone Energy),  had applied for a permit to explore for coal over large tracts of the Brisbane River Valley were received with disbelief by those who were concerned for the future of the waterways in the valley and the  Brisbane River in particular.

Lodestone advised the Australian Stock Exchange that it would exclude areas within the Wivenhoe and Somerset dam catchment areas.   However the   permit included the towns of Esk, Toogoolawah, Harlin, Moore and Linville where there is a telemetry rainfall station, a telemetry river station and a manual river station.   The effect of coal seam gas production on useful agricultural land elsewhere has produced a storm of protest.   Debate rages.

But as spring comes, the water birds are returning to the lakes, oblivious of their role in the evolving history of the Brisbane River Valley.

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