Tribute to a Pioneer

Reg McCallum and his friend, the late Kevin Allery, were pioneers in the development of Rail Trails in Queensland, opening the first designated rail trail in Queensland over the Blackbutt Range from Linville to Blackbutt at Linville on 2 June 2006.  In November Reg accepted a Queensland Outdoor Recreation Federation Achievement Award for their efforts. (Country Focus, 10/11/2006, page 1)

On 22 January 2007 the Deputy Premier of Queensland, Anna Bligh, announced immediate government funding for three rail trails in Queensland.  This concept was developed from the Regional Trails Strategy prepared as a partnership between State and local governments and the Queensland Outdoor Recreation Federation: Reg and Kevin were both Nanango councillors at this time and had won their QORF award two months before the announcement.  Perhaps not surprisingly one of the trails to be funded immediately was the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail that involved, “converting the disused Brisbane Valley Railway into a 140-kilometre recreational trail from Ipswich to Blackbutt”.

This trail was extended from Ipswich to the railway terminus at Yarraman with additional support from the South Burnett and Toowoomba regional councils and from Yarraman to Nanango via the old stock route as a community incentive funded by the Nanango Heritage Bank Community Fund.  The signage for the stock route trail was completed by our association and it was opened to the public on 17 August 2019 by the local member for Nanango, Deb Frecklington, and………Reg McCallum, now aged 92 and described as ‘the ‘Nanango icon’ for the occasion.

Reg McCallum accepts the award from Qld. Outdoor Recreation Federation for the Blackbutt to Linville Rail Trail, 2006
Reg McCallum accepts the award from Qld. Outdoor Recreation Federation for the Blackbutt to Linville Rail Trail, 2006
Reg McCallum on the trail, 2010
Reg McCallum on the trail, 2010

Reg McCallum served on the advisory committee for the rail trail’s development and was the inaugural chair of the Ambassadors of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail who maintain the trail in the South Burnett region on behalf of the regional council.  Over the rail trail’s lifetime Reg has offered his considerable talents to the many groups who now regularly use the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail. His memory of the region over the last 90+ years has also served as the stimulus for most of the interpretive signage along the trail.

Reg presents himself, with some authenticity, as the “Battling Bushie” or perhaps a horseman of considerable repute depending on his audience.  Only once in living memory, as far as we can discover, did he wear his Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for visiting royalty and we don’t expect to see it on the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail any time soon.  We hope to see its recipient, however, for many years to come.

Reg McCallum is a Life Member of Brisbane Valley Heritage Trails and we are privileged to work with him.  On behalf of our members and those who derive so much pleasure from the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail, we salute a pioneer and join the many Queenslanders who are proud to walk, ride and cycle in his footsteps.

And just to remind the trail users about the achievements of Councillors Reg McCallum and Kevin Allery, signage was erected on the trail on 6 September 2018 after the rail trail had been completed.  These signs were prepared by Brisbane Valley Heritage Trails and now stand at the end of their first rail trail adventure (to Blackbutt in 2006) and at Macnamara’s camp, near Benarkin, where there are horse yards and all the facilities for a convenient break in the journey over the Blackbutt range.

But Reg is a hard man to keep up with, even at 92, and by 17 August 2019 this signage was already out-of-date when he and Deb Frecklington M.P. opened the new Link Trail on the old stock route from Yarraman to Nanango.  Technically the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail does finish at Yarraman but all its users can now complete the last 25 km to Nanango on this Link Trail and perhaps recall that the surveys had already been completed for the rail line to finish at Nanango had WWI not intervened.

Courtesy of Clive Lowe
Courtesy of Clive Lowe
“Nanango icon” Reg McCallum & Deb Frecklington MP open the Link Trail (Yarraman to Nanango), 17/8/2019
“Nanango icon” Reg McCallum & Deb Frecklington MP open the Link Trail (Yarraman to Nanango), 17/8/2019

Heritage Trails of the Brisbane River Valley

Brisbane Valley Heritage Trails Inc. is committed to recording the history of the Brisbane Valley featuring the routes forged through the Valley by its pioneers. To date these include the stock routes, mail and coach routes, rail trails, timber trails, heritage building tours, Memorial trails and racing trails

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 that was the gateway to the South Burnett. (Read More)

The history of the MAIL TRAILS records the lonely horseman with packhorse linking the pioneers of the Brisbane River Valley with their families of origin and the rest of the world by mail. The first mail contract between Gayndah and Nanango went to T. Price and Peter Gentle in 1856; Joseph Booth in 1859 and Joseph Birch in 1860. After Separation in 1859 until the end of WWI the Nanango mailman was Patrick McCallum riding from Gayndah to the Burnett (Goode’s) Inn, Nanango, via BanBan, Boombiyan, Boonara and Baramba and from Jondaryan to Nanango via Rosalie, Cooyar and Tarong.

Stonehouse in the fog
Colinton Hut, Ringsfield House, Nanango

By the time Ned McDonald’s mail coach brought mail from Esk to Nanango in 1884, Pat McCallum was also delivering mail between Kilkivan and Nanango, Kingaroy and Nanango and Nanango and Booie.  As well as this, he was also doing a round trip in 1895 from Nanango via McNamara’s, Kunioon School, Darley’s, Ennis, Taabinga, village of Taabinga returning via Kingaroy and Whitman’s with a detour to Cresselly (Wights) thrown in. By 1910 he was travelling from Nanango to Mulcahey’s and back via Baramba Road and delivering to all selectors on the way. By 1918 he was making this trip in a sulky rather than by horse and he died the following year aged about 80. His altercations with the bushranger, McPherson, are the stuff of local legend. (Read More)

In comparison, the COACH ROUTE through the Brisbane Valley followed, as closely as weather conditions would allow, the Upper Brisbane River Road that had been built under the supervision of Joseph Stringfellow of the Works Department in 1870. (see People menu)  The road cost £400 and these figures were tabled in Parliament at the end of that year.

The original map was found by Lands’ Office legend, Bill Kitson and a diagrammatic representation of it, visiting all the properties in the valley is shown here. Before there was a royal mail coach on the Upper Brisbane River Road, it served the bullock and horse teams as well as the occasional private coach or sulky.

This coach road, sometimes called the Great North Road, facilitated each of the major properties becoming receiving offices for mail from scattered settlers nearby. As these settlements grew, so the need for new mailmen with packhorses and new mail routes increased. In the lower part of the valley Robert Williams of Stonehouse was contracted to deliver mail to Mount Stanley. Ned McDonald rode from Mt. Esk to Deep Creek as well as to Nanango via Cressbrook, Colinton and Taromeo and Edward Oakhill delivered from Cressbrook to Kilcoy via Moorabool, Gregor’s Creek, Neara’s Creek, Balfour Lagoons and Woolmar. Just before the trains arrived at Esk, Joseph Christie brough the mail from Ipswich to Esk by coach in 1882.

From that point on there are only two contractors who delivered mail from Esk to Nanango by coach. The first was Ned McDonald who had done the job on horseback in 1881 and, by 1884, after driving the Premer from Esk to Colinton on Stringfellow’s Upper Brisbane Valley road, won the contract to deliver mail by coach from Esk to Nanango until 1891.  The last contractor to deliver mail by coach or sulky from Esk to Nanango was Alex McCallum who took over the mail coach contract in 1891 and continued until the rail service was established throughout the Brisbane Valley in 1913 and mail was then delivered by rail to the communities/towns that had developed around local industry by then.

Mailmen like Robert Soden were still needed to deliver mail on horseback or by sulky (1906) from towns like Toogoolawah to Mt. Beppo and Cressbrook station, while the following year Patrick Leo delivered mail from Kilcoy to Barambah via Hereford Hills, Monsildale, Foxlowe, Yaba, Manumbah, Courtleroy and Hibernia on horseback.  In the same year (1907) Jeremiah Kennedy began delivering mail from Caboolture to Kilcoy via Warraba, Paddy’s Pinch, D’Aguilar Receiving Office, Yatesville, Woodford, Nearum Creek, Yatesville, Villeneuve and Glenfern by coach.

Map of upper Brisbane River Road

By 1913 something bigger than a coach or sulky was required by Harry Bailes who was contracted to deliver mail and goods  from Esk to Kilcoy via Murrumba, Coal Creek, Crossdale, Mt. Brisbane, Brown & Broad’s Sawmill at Mt. Byron, Brown and Broad’s Sawmill and Hazledean with a ‘vehicle’ that was probably not a bullock wagon..  Despite the essential need these mailmen (and on one occasion a WOMAN!! around the Crossdale region) served, motor vehicles would appear in the war years and  no-one in the lower part of the Brisbane River Valley would challenge Pat McCallum’s extraordinary record of delivering mail by packhorse around Nanango for the best part of sixty years.. (Read More)

The rail trail in the Brisbane Valley was built on the Brisbane Valley branch rail line that linked Wulkaraka (first called the Brisbane Valley Junction) just west of Ipswich with Yarraman that served as the terminus. It passed through Fernvale, Lowood, Esk, Ottaba, Toogoolawah, Yimbun, Moore. Linville, Benarkin, Blackbutt and many smaller sidings along the way. It was commenced in October 1882. This was always a blind rail line, only carrying produce up and down the Brisbane Valley, in spite of constant agitation to link with Cooyar or Nanango.

The Brisbane Valley branch line was the quickest link for perishable produce from Nanango, so there was a well patronised bus and trucking service from there to Yarraman as long as the rail line remained open. Similarly farmers from Goombungee and Cooyar were necessarily linked to Yarraman by the trucking services that would eventually put the rail line out of business. The Brisbane Valley Rail Line was permanently closed in 1989. The last Ipswich to Yarraman steam train ran on 29 November 1969. (Read More)

Steam train on the Harlin rail bridge
Inside Linville railway station, 2007
Patterson's Sawmill at Moore
J.E. Smith, Lowood Sawmill, 1908

TIMBER TRAILS were crucial to the building needs of a growing Queensland population, especially in metropolitan centres and one of the principal reasons for the continuation of the Brisbane Valley line beyond Esk was to transport this timber from Moore, Blackbutt and Yarraman to Ipswich and Brisbane.  Initially timber from Pine Mountain was rafted down river to Joseph Fleming’s Bremer Steam Sawmill between 1852 and 1858.

It was more usually snigged by bullock wagon or horse teams to the eighty-three sawmillers (many of whom were “repeat offenders” in different locations) that the late and much lamented John Kerr has documented for us to provide a definitive time-line for the development of timber trails through the Brisbane Valley.  They include names of what became the major timber firms in Queensland  like Josias Hancock (and later Gore), Lars Anderson with his timber ‘railways’, Brown and Broad, Patterson/Finlaysons, Blank Bros. and Dennings of Fernvale.  This timber yard and land were sold to a Woolworths development recently and the timber business relocated, but remained in Fernvale.

And then there were the smaller millers like Mr. Jackson of Colinton who used a portable steam engine in 1875 for milling building timber on the station and later sold it to J.H. McConnel for use at Cressbrook station.  Selwyn Boon learned the ropes at Ravensbourne sawmill until his hand was hurt and then he became a sawyer and his own bullocky delivering timber from Eskvale to his father’s small mill at Chasewater during WWII. The sale of the Yarraman Creek sawmill to the Queensland Forestry Service that raised the anti-competitive ire of other timber companies during the Depression years also features on the timber trails of the Brisbane River Valley. Mills are still operating at Pine Mountain, Wanora; Dennings at Fernvale; Brisbane Valley Timbers, Esk; Finlaysons at Linville and Yarraman and Pro-Pine formerly Mullers at Taromeo. (Read more)

The HERITAGE LISTED AND UNIQUE BUILDINGS about the Brisbane Valley were often homesteads built to house large families towards the end of the nineteenth century.     They replaced the more modest accommodation of the pioneers exemplified by the Colinton Shepherd’s Hut. A tour of these buildings would ideally include Bellevue Homestead near Coominya and the home of Esk sawmiller Lars Andersen now called the Nash Gallery and café, Esk, after the current proprietor.

Continuing on the Brisbane Valley Highway to St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, Toogoolawah that was designed by Robin Dods and is open on Sunday and the Toogoolawah History Museum located in the old station building that served as the Exhibition station before it was relocated to Toogoolawah in 1904. This is open to the public from Thursday to Saturday with markets on the second Saturday of the month

St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, Toogoolawah
Norman guards the Toogoolawah Condensery Art Gallery
Roy Emerson Museum, Blackbutt

A trip to the Condensery Art Gallery in Toogoolawah, built in the beautifully restored Nestles Milk Factory packing shed is always worth a look and open to the public.  Photographs beside the Bodo Muche statue of ‘Norman’, the Red Deer from Queen Victoria, are probably mandatory From here it is a pretty drive to Caboonbah Church at Mt. Beppo (built by Lars Andersen), passing by Cressbrook Homestead and Church that is still the home of descendants of pioneers from 1841. Neither is open to the public. The Moore Memorial Hall and Gallery is open on the weekends for coffee and their markets are on the third Saturday of the month.  The timber in its construction, when Moore was a timber town, is definitely worth a look.

Stonehouse at Moore, originally owned by Robert Williams and built by his family of master stonemasons from Almondsbury, can be seen from the D’Aguilar Highway as you leave the Moore Hall for the Blackbutt Range.

Here it is the beauty of nature and the call of the bell birds that accompany visitors to the Roy Emerson Museum at Blackbutt.  This is housed in the old Nukku school, relocated to the Blackbutt railway precinct and where the famous tennis player spent his early school years. His statue is nearly as popular as Norman’s at the Condensery Art Gallery in Toogoolawah.

The next stop is almost certainly the Yarraman Heritage Museum, once a Sisters of Mercy convent school built of tongue and groove Crows Ash and surrounded by seven other old buildings including the relocated Yarraman railway station.  This is a big precinct with many displays including a well presented Light Horse presentation.  Another 22k further on, the D’Aguilar Highway takes visitors to Ringsfield House at Nanango that was a house also designed by Robin Dods and big enough to be used as a maternity hospital in the past.  This building retains the opulence of ‘country gentry’ in grounds that also house a small school, a country church and the relocated Shepherd’s Hut from Colinton. (Read more)

Blackbutt's Light Horseman

The MEMORIAL TRAIL in the Brisbane Valley probably begins at Fernvale where there is a rare memorial to those who served in the Vietnam ‘police action’. The impressive Esk War Memorial, that is heritage listed, had the foundation stone laid by Lieutenant A.G. Butler, originally of Kilcoy station and who went on to write the official history  of the Australian Army Medical Services in WWI .  It was officially opened by General Lachlan Chisholm Wilson and made by Frank Williams and Co. Ipswich. The Toogoolawah war memorial is a tall column on a large plinth that was also made by Frank Williams and Co.  Turning off the Brisbane Valley Highway onto the D’Aguilar Highway the next monument is all that is left of the ghost town of Colinton.  This war memorial was also designed and made by Frank Williams & Co. and it was heritage listed because it was the first memorial outside a cemetery in Queensland to those who served in WWI.  At Linville the monument is in the form of a padoga and was designed and built by the Cross family on behalf of their community.  Tom Cross served as a photographer and war artist before his return.   The Moore Memorial Hall houses the Honour Roll of those who served in the district and has already been mentioned on the historic building trail.  Benarkin has a unique memorial in the forest and not the township commemorating those soldiers who stormed Hill 60 as the last major assault at Gallipoli.  It is in the form of a fire tower with named plaques below. The Blackbutt memorial was prepared by Charles Lowther who served in 11th Light Horse in Palestine and for the first time on this memorial trail we find a Light Horseman standing in the ‘digger’ pose that became common amongst later war memorials.  It stands at the crossroads of the two main streets in the town.

The Yarraman memorial is unique in two ways.  It is made of Crows Ash because Yarraman was a timber town with plaques as honour rolls attached on all sides and it is covered by a roof.  This memorial is unlike anything else in the Valley. The Nanango memorial, like Blackbutt, also depicts a soldier, but in this instance it was carved in Italian marble by an Italian monumental mason and imported.  The plinth was made by A. Petrie and Son from Brisbane.  Approaching the Bunya Mountains from Nanango you will find a war memorial at Maidenwell that honours the service to the Empire of those who volunteered during WWI and WWII.  Once again it has taken the form of an obelisk rather than the diggers at Blackbutt and Nanango. (Read more)

The RACING TRAIL through the Brisbane River Valley before WWII was very extensive and included Nanango (1859); Wivenhoe (1872); Mt. Esk/Esk (1874); Fernvale (1883); Kilcoy (1887); Lowood (1890); Crossdale (1901); Blackbutt (1902); Moore (1904); Toogoolawah (1908); Yarraman (1912) and Linville (1913).  The early race courses were developed on private properties by those who were breeding horses for army service in Australia, Germany and India and thoroughbred horses like the Haly brothers at Taabinga.  Publicans were also keen to encourage picnic races with scant reference to Newmarket or Homebush rules of racing and Kilcoy, Fernvale and Crossdale races were commenced in the paddocks of the Glen Fern, the Royal Exchange and the Crossdale Hotels respectively.  Some of the luckier communities, like Esk, were granted sporting reserves but the first Esk race course was bisected by the  rail line arriving at Esk in 1886 and its committee needed to negotiate a new ‘home’ that included part of the adjacent forestry reserve.  Toogoolawah was one of the few townships that developed a privately owned race track that continued in operation until 1947. (Read more) The early history of racing in the Brisbane River Valley is available for sale – see Merchandise menu.

Fashion statement at the Esk races

Today only three of the original race clubs continue to hold meetings and these are Esk, Kilcoy and Nanango.  In 2018 Esk held their races in March, July and December; Kilcoy raced in January, April, June, August, September, October and December while Nanango’s meetings were scheduled for February, March, May, August, September and December.  Today female jockeys are a commonplace at regional race tracks and it has been suggested that they have allowed the local races to survive despite the severe restrictions imposed on the number of race meetings approved for each of these regional centres.  The highlight of Nanango’s racing season is the running of the Nanango Cup in August, while there is a dead heat at Kilcoy between the Kilcoy Cup in August and the Christmas Cup, from which Santa may not be barred.  Esk racegoers are looking forward to their last race in the Burnett to the Valley series in 2019 and everyone appreciates the camaraderie and fashions that are also essential parts of any regional race meeting. (Apologies to the horses duly recorded.)

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