The original Stock Routes from the Brisbane Valley to the Newmarket sale yards were described in a folk song, “The Drover”, first published in 1891, and now known as ‘The Brisbane Ladies’.
The cattle and sheep came from the Brisbane Valley through Toowong, past the still remaining Regatta Hotel and along Coronation Drive to Newmarket. After their sale the drovers returned through Caboolture, Kilcoy, Colinton, “the Stone House, Bob Williams’s paddock”, Blackbutt and Yarraman to Nanango.
There were no less than five stock routes out of Nanango which was the gateway to the South Burnett.
The Stock Routes through the Brisbane Valley to the fattening yards at Toowong, and on to the sale yards at Newmarket have been recorded in a song. It has been called variously The Ladies of Brisbane, Brisbane Ladies, Augathella Station, The Old Cattle Station, Overlanders, The Girls of Toowong and The New Chum’s First Trip as it was adapted to local conditions.
In its original printed form, the song appeared as The Drover in the Boomerang on 28 February 1891. It was written by Saul Mendelsohn who had worked at Esk and Nanango where he wrote the song. The original version describes the old stock route to the sale yards and back to Nanango via Kilcoy and the Brisbane Valley in some detail:
There are less flattering versions of this stanza about Nanango and there are also the inevitable bawdy renditions of the song that are probably only a slight exaggeration on the social customs of the day. An analysis of the origins of this folk song has been provided by George Groves, Nanango in a recent publication, Saul Mendelsohn and the Ladies of Brisbane that is available at the Nanango Visitor Information Centre. The first stop after Kilcoy was the Colinton Hut that has been relocated from Colinton Station to Ringsfield House, Nanango and visitors are welcome to view this building at any time.
The next stop was Stonehouse where stock could be left in William’s paddock. This building is no longer owned by the Williams family but it is still in private hands. Stonehouse is not open to the public but it can be seen from the D’Aguilar Highway beyond the township of Moore. The old route over the Blackbutt Range now boasts a sealed two lane highway, but walkers, riders and cyclists can follow the recently opened section of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail between Linville and Blackbutt across country the drovers knew well.
More specific information on Stock Routes, with associated maps, can be obtained from the Yarraman Heritage Museum - ph: 4163 8111.
Taromeo station was an important stop on the stock route to Nanango although the main highway has now diverted away from this resting place for drovers and coaches. Taromeo is also in private hands and not open to the public. It has a long and proud history and a unique stone walled cemetery built for the Scott family by the Williams family that built Stonehouse. The township of Yarraman has developed on Yarraman Creek that was the last stop for the drovers before Nanango. Yarraman Creek was once the dinner camp for the stockmen of the neighbouring Cooyar and Taromeo Stations, where they met to separate the cattle from the two unfenced properties before taking them to Nora yards. It has only been called Yarraman since 1932. There is the museum there (Yarraman Heritage Centre) with local historical displays available for public viewing.
The last stop for the drovers on the way home was Nanango which is the principal town of the Nanango Shire. From Nanango there were five stock routes to the Downs and the South Burnett, and in its heyday it was one of the busiest cattle centres in the state. The drovers would have been well entertained at Goode’s Inn before it was demolished and became the playground of a local school. From Nanango the drovers would return to the daily grind of old cattle station, and wait for the excitement of the next trip to Newmarket. The Nanango Visitor Information Centre has an excellent library of historical resources and other local heritage publications in the same vein as Saul Mendelsohn and the Ladies of Brisbane that served as the basis for this description of the stock route through the Brisbane Valley.
By and large the coach routes and the earliest surveyed roads in the Brisbane Valley followed these proven Stock routes, moving from homestead to homestead to saleyards and back again. The mud map of the mail coach route past Stonehouse in the 1880s deviates very little from Surveyor Stringfellow’s “road” between Ipswich and Nanango surveyed and mapped in 1872. And his handwritten notes for this venture indicate his use of local knowledge in this survey. It was the drover’s way AND the highway in those days until the rail line changed the concept of transportation (if you will excuse the pun) in the Brisbane Valley forever