|State electorate(s)||Ipswich West|
Lowood is a town in south-east Queensland, Australia. The town is on the Brisbane River, 66 kilometres west of the state capital, Brisbane or 31 km north of Ipswich. Situated in the Somerset Region local government area, at the 2006 census, Lowood (Urban) had a population of 1,010. Lowood (Suburb) had a population of 2,808 in 2006  compared with a population of 3,336 in 2011, a percentage increase of 18.80%.
Lowood was established as the first terminus of the Brisbane Valley branch railway in 1884 and the town grew from the subdivision around the new station. The name is derived from the "low woods" of brigalow in the Lowood area, as opposed to the taller trees elsewhere in the Brisbane Valley.
Due to its proximity to Brisbane and Ipswich, Lowood is becoming an area for hobby farmers and residential commuters. Nearby Lake Wivenhoe is a popular place for activities such as boating and fishing.
Lowood has two pubs, a sizeable supermarket, two medical practices, a Pharmacy, Fire and Ambulance services, two Law firms, a Post Office, an aged care facility, Junior and Senior State Schools, a petrol station, several retail shops, a police station, several churches, a bowls club and a golf club.
- 1 History
- 1.1 Indigenous
- 1.2 European exploration and settlement
- 1.3 Four shires and three electorates
- 1.4 Fires and flooding rains
- 1.5 2010–2011 Queensland floods
- 1.6 Houses of worship
- 1.7 Coal mine opens
- 1.8 Hospital
- 1.9 Railway station became first post office
- 1.10 Lowood gets WWII flying school
- 1.11 Railway closed, heritage remains
- 1.12 Racing circuit
- 2 Heritage listings
- 3 Climate
- 4 Housing
- 5 Education
- 6 Transport
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
In the 1880s there were still hundreds of Aborigines living off the abundant plants, insects, animals and birds in the 'Rosewood Scrub' that blanketed the region's hills and valleys, and the numerous fish species in the rivers and creeks. As settlers cleared the scrub and expanded their properties.
During settlement in the 1880s a Bora Ring, a sacred Aboriginal initiation site, was discovered at Clarendon, west of Lowood. In 1981 archaeologists recovered Aboriginal artifacts about 5300 years old from an ancient site near Fernvale, 9 km from Lowood. In the 1890s it was still well reported in the Queensland times that Aboriginal’s still lived in the Lowood district. The Beth-el Lutheran Church in Lowood today Trinity Lutheran Church, reported in "Lowood Bethel Lutheran Church Commemorative Booklet" that Johnny the aboriginal king of Tarampa would sometimes listened to their Church services.
European exploration and settlement
Major Edmund Lockyer and his party were the first Europeans to navigate the upper reaches of the Brisbane River. From 10 September to 6 October 1825, 14 men in two row boats explored the Brisbane River as far as its source, over 200 km from the penal settlement at Brisbane. On 17 September dead trees lying across the river forced the crews to pull the boats overland in the region where Lowood later developed - becoming the first Europeans to visit and explore this district. Near Lowood they discovered a significant Brisbane River tributary, later named Lockyer Creek. They encountered friendly Aborigines during their history-making explorations.
When the embargo on settlement within 50 miles of Brisbane was lifted in 1842, European settlers began arriving in the region to take up government leases. By 1848 18 large 'runs' had been established by the Brisbane Valley's first pastoralists, among them 'Fernie Lawn', 'Wivenhoe' and 'Tarampa', whose boundaries covered the area where later settlements would become Lowood, Vernor, Fernvale and several others.
In 1868, Government leases were opened up for selection and sale. Lowood was surveyed for Government approved 'closer settlement' by Surveyor R.D. Graham in 1872, Between 1868 and 1880 most of the then scrub was being cleared for the settlers to start farming,but the township did not start to develop until the mid-1880s.
Along with settlers from Britain, many immigrants from Prussia and Germany settled in the region and introduced their culture, farming techniques and language to this district. In these early days the most common spoken language wasn’t English but German. When Lowood became the first terminus of the Brisbane Valley Branch Line in 1884, the area consisted of many scattered farms, smaller selections, Hancock's sawmill and only three public buildings - Bethel Lutheran Church and Cairnhill Provisional School (1881).
Before the opening of Cairnhill Provisional School in 1881 the School committee decided that the school would be called the Upper Tarampa Provisional School, but this wasn’t well received by the Under Secretary for Education J.G.Anderson, stated that such a name was unsuitable because another School by the name of Tarampa was in existence and confusion could arise. So the name Cairnhill was adopted. The old school soon became too small. A new school was opened in 1889 under the head teacher Henry Lawson with 47 pupils on the present day site. In 1895 the School committee requested a building as a playshed. This building is still standing today. In 1897 the population of the town was appox 250 with an addition 350 living in a radius of 2 miles from the post office, with 108 pupils at the school.
The Bethel Lutheran Church the first public building in the district used the district name of Tarampa up until the 1890s. The early Lutheran Pastor’s serviced the whole district, Lutheran or not. Pastor Heiner from Ipswich set up the congregation already in 1875. By October 1876 the first worship place was dedicated, being on the site of their Cemetery about 2 km from the township.
The Beacon Light Hotel was built on the site of the old Police station, Corner of Main and Prospect Streets. It was built by Michael Feldhahn in 1882 and Michael Goos was the licensee. Michael moved to a new building in Railway Street in 1884, Michael Goos continued renewing his license until April 1889 when he passed away. The district was also known as "The Scrub", being the northern end of the Rosewood Scrub, the dense vine forest of brigalow that extended from Rosewood through Minden, Marburg, Glamorgan Vale and Tarampa.
Rail authorities referred to the location as '19 Miles', its distance from Ipswich, before officially naming the new terminus Lowood. Railway records give it’s meaning as "Descriptive of locality", referring to the low brigalow scrub (Acacia harpophylla).
Timber getting and small crop farming became important local industries. A thriving township developed around the railway precinct as shops, hotels and businesses were established and more homes were built. Lowood became the market distribution centre for surrounding communities. Soon tonnes of local produce were being dispatched daily by train to Ipswich, Brisbane and Sydney.
The district was remarkably productive: sheep, pigs, poultry and beef cattle were raised and Lowood became well known for its quality dairy produce. Agricultural crops in the district were as diverse as maize, fruit, lucerne, grapes, onions, potatoes, legumes, cotton, sugar cane and even coffee.
In 1889, a dairy factory was established in Lowood and that was the first dairy factory in Queensland. Its main job was to separate the milk and cream for the local farmers. Four years later the Lowood Dairy Company established a modern factory in Brisbane. Milk was still separated at Lowood, but the cream was railed to Brisbane. The in 1898 the Lowood Factory was remodeled and once again Butter was manufactured in Lowood. This plant now ha refrigeration and production was three tons per week. In 1909 the Lowood Milk Condensing Company was registered.
The Cairns Hill Farmer Factory later Around 1903 Harry Kitzelmann purchased the property as a fruitshop and general store, that became known as "Kitzelmann's Store". He also became the town's first undertaker. In March 1913 Kitzelmann put the business up for sale by auction conducted in English and German. A sale did not eventuate and Kitzelmann continued to run his business for another 12 years.
In 1925 Harry Kitzelmann retired and his son-in-law, Albert Profke, took over the store, naming it "Profke's Store - The House of the People". In 1963 Albert Profke retired after 38 years in business. This building dates from c1895-96 when it was built for Weyer and Rentel. It has housed several other businesses including an antiques centre, and is now a private residence.
Four shires and three electorates
In the early 1900s Lowood district was divided among four shires - Walloon (based at Marburg), Tarampa (based at Gatton), Rosewood and Esk, and three State electorates - Rosewood, Lockyer and Stanley. From 1912 to1917 Lowood had its own Shire Council, before becoming a division of Esk Shire.
Fires and flooding rains
Floods in the 1880s and 1890s destroyed thousands of hectares of crops and pasture, and washed away homes and other buildings along with hundreds of head of stock and sections of the railway.
In February 1893, the Brisbane River rose 86 feet (26.4m) at Lowood, still a record and metres higher than the major floods of 1974 and 2011. The railway line was submerged and the telegraph lines were several feet under water. Many properties across the district were partly or completely wiped out.
In the flood of 1893 the famous rescue of the Vernor family set of from the Lowood township. The rescuer Major J.F. Flewell-Smith and his brother Malcolm manned one dinghy and William Russell and renir Nunn took the second boat. They rescued Captain Vernor, this wife and their family from 2 gum trees from their property. After the flood the Governor of Queensland, Sir Henry Wylie Norman awarded the rescues with an Royal Humane society’s medal and certificate. A replica rescue boat is on display in the Lowood park as a reminder of the 1893 flood and rescue’s.
The 1974 Flood was 20 ft below the 1893 Floods in the Lowood area, but nonetheless it had a catastrophic effect on the region. Many residents were evacuated and farms were isolated and suffered extensive flood damage. Total damage to roads bridges and culverts in the Esk Shire was $280,000.
Nine major fires ravaged parts of the town between 1904 and 1940. The eastern side of Railway Street was destroyed three times in eight years - remarkably the opposite side of the street remained unscathed.
Thanks to the heroic efforts of the volunteer "bucket brigades" no lives were lost in these fires. After each blaze new buildings soon appeared and life went on.
2010–2011 Queensland floods
During 1–12 January 2011 nearly 560 mm (22 inches) of rain fell at Lowood. On 10 January the Lockyer Creek flood arrived at Lowood entering the already deluged Brisbane River at a point just 2.2 km below the Wivenhoe Dam. Much of Lowood and surrounding area was severely flooded with extensive damage to farms and businesses. Many residents had to be rescued by the emergency services and local volunteers, including some residents who had to be rescued from rooftops by helicopter.
The three major floods at Lowood have been:
Houses of worship
The first Anglican Church opened after the 1893 flood, when the Wivenhoe Church of England building was washed away in the flood. Coincidentally, when the Governor of the day Sir Norman visited Lowood to present the life-saving medals to the brave men who rescued the Vernor family. He also perform the stump-ccapping ceremony of the new Church of England – on the hill in Prospect St. The building was elected in 1894 and dedicated by Canon David. The only Church in Lowood with a bell kindly donated by Mr. J.D. Handley. This bell was used to herald Sunday Service and midnight of the old and new year’s.(St James Anglican Church Book).
The first Catholic Church was on the site of the Catholic Cemetery it was built in 1888 and called the Tarampa Catholic Church. It was opened and blessed by Archbishop Dunne assisted by Father Horan. In 1919 a new building was built in Lowood on the present day Catholic Site. In 1980 a new brick Church was built and opened by Archbishop Father John Gerry D.D. (Lowood – the first 100 years) The Church of Christ moved their church building to Lowood from Fernvale in 1949. The first Church of Christ building was erected in Vernor in 1885, it continued at Vernor for many years until it was moved to Fernvale 1926. (Going forward in faith).
The Uniting Church was first named the Wesleyan Church when first established on the corner of John and Church Sts. in 1887. Before the Church building was built a group of faith Wesleyan Methodist lived and worked in the district. Men like Mr. Ewald Michel (storekeeper for Cribb & Foote Lowood), William Denning (Sawmill owner), Heinrich Lindemann (businessman), Heinrich Linke (farmer) and Abraham Phelps (business man) became very important in the growth of the Wesleyan Church. In 1977 when the three Church bodies in Australia, Viz. Methodist, Presbyterian and congregational were united, the local Church was renamed the Lowood Uniting Church.
Coal mine opens
In October 1933 the Queensland Government Mining Journal reported the opening of the new mine known as Glendale Colliery. It was located south-east of the railway line near Vernor station.
In December 1933 The Mining Inspector's Annual Report stated: "B. Dodds and party, who have been prospecting near Vernor railway station, in the Lowood District, have driven a tunnel onto a small seam of coal, but so far they have been unable to find a market for their product." Efforts go unrewarded The miners were refused a production quota from the Coal Board, probably because of the coal's unsuitability for industrial use. They were able to sell coal by the sackload to local blacksmiths and Munro's butter factory in Lowood but eventually the mine was forced to close.
About 1907 a general hospital, comprising two large tents, is said to have been set up and run by 'Nurse Court' near the corner of Prospect and Main Streets.
In August 1912 a self-funded private hospital with accommodation for 12 patients opened in nearby Marburg. The following year a similar facility opened in Lowood. Lowood's 'Telephone Exchange' directory, published on 1 April 1913, listed 'Nurse Burt phone number 6', at the Private Hospital in Prospect Street (there were only 17 numbers listed).
The following year Sarah Burt registered 'Lowood Private General Hospital' with Lowood Shire Council. Council Minutes of 5 May 1914 state that Medical Officer, Dr William Jamieson "...had inspected the hospital and found it suitable for the purpose."
It's not known when this hospital closed, but in the 1920s a large private hospital opened next to the Royal Hotel in Michel Street and continued to operate there until the 1950s. Matron Theresa Heck looked after the Hospital for many years. Lowood Medical Centre now occupies that site.
The former hospital in Prospect Street is now a private residence.
Railway station became first post office
On 20 February 1885 a post and telegraph "Receiving Office" was opened at Lowood Railway Station. The Station Master was designated "ROK" or Receiving Office Keeper and was paid an extra £10 a year to operate the service. Other services were progressively added to the Station Master's workload and in 1896 the duties were described in The Queensland Times as "...telegraph operator, porter, ticket collector, goods agent, post master and savings bank official." (The Queensland Government Savings Bank had opened a branch at the station in 1894.)
Post office opens in Main Street
In 1899 a petition was raised to separate the Station Master's duties, but it wasn't until 1910 that the post and telegraph services were moved from the railway station to this shop and upgraded to "semi-official". In March 1913 the town's first telephone exchange was installed here. Initially there were only 17 local phone numbers and the exchange was operated by the daughter of the postmaster, J Sully.
PMG records from 1924 show that the Post Office rent was only 15 shillings a week but "...the present leased building is unsuitable." The PMG allocated £100 to buy land for its own building but it wasn't until 1936 that plans were approved for a new Post Office. It was built next door to the original, incorporating a mail room, modern telephone exchange and the town's first public public phone and is where Lowood Post Office still operates today.
The century-old first Post Office has been used by many different businesses and for some years was the TAB. It appears that the roof-top facade may have been replaced after the telegraph wires were removed. These days a popular acupunture & therapy centre operates here.
Lowood gets WWII flying school
In July 1941 Lowood district was selected for the establishment of No. 12 Elementary Flying Training School RAAF and 640 acres at Mt Tarampa were acquired by the Australian Government for £4,400. In 1942 the facility was upgraded to an operational base and intelligence centre to monitor and prevent Japanese activities in the region.
The complex comprised 138 individual installations of buildings and bunkers, including an armoury, workshops, photographic unit, post office, living quarters, mess huts, theatre, radar hut and tennis courts. There was accommodation for up to 540 personnel, later increased to about 700. In 1943 two barracks were converted for use by the Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAAF).
Stars & stripes move in
In March 1942 USAAF 36th and 80th Fighter Squadrons with their P-39 Airacobras were deployed via Amberley in Ipswich to Lowood. US Army 101st Coastal Artillery Battalion and 94th Coastal Artillery Regiment provided anti-aircraft protection with machine gun batteries and searchlights.
Apparently Lowood's single unpaved runway and limited facilities did not suit the Americans. The airfield was visible from a considerable distance, with few options to hide or disperse aircraft in the event of an attack. By May 36 Squadron had transferred to Antill Plains (Townsville) and 80th Squadron to Petrie (Brisbane).
RAAF back at Lowood
In June 1942 the Citizen Air Force unit No 23 Squadron RAAF was transferred from Amberley to Lowood, flying reconnaissance and anti-submarine patrols.
The airbase was a vital communications intelligence centre for allied troops in Asia. The 'City of Brisbane' Squadron was the main unit serving there.
In January 1943 71 Squadron RAAF (maritime patrol) was formed at Lowood, flying anti-submarine and convoy escort patrols. Lowood aircraft encounter Jap subs.
On 17 March 1943 a No. 71 Squadron aircraft attacked what was believed to be a Japanese submarine. 11 days later the same crew were fired on by another submarine.
On 5 May 1943 a No. 71 Squadron Anson was patrolling over a convoy when the merchant ship SS Fingal (below right) was torpedoed and sunk. The crew spotted the torpedo tracks but could not locate the submarine.
Lowood crew finds Centaur survivors
A few weeks later an aircraft from Lowood on anti-submarine patrol spotted a lifeboat containing survivors from the hospital ship AHS Centaur which had been sunk by a Japanese submarine on 14 May 1943 .
The loss of the ship and 268 of its 322 personnel were unknown at the time and this was the first sighting of survivors. No. 71 Squadron took part in the subsequent intensive search for further survivors and for the submarine responsible, but found only empty life rafts.
On 16 June an Anson encountered two ships torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. The aircraft ran low on fuel and had to return to base without sighting the submarine.
Five crashes, 12 deaths
Between 1942 and 1945 five RAAF aircraft from Lowood crashed during exercises with the loss of at least 12 crew. Two Ansons crashed during patrols in 1943 with the loss of their crews. In December 1943 No. 71 Squadron's headquarters moved to Coffs Harbour and the flight at Lowood followed in June. Other RAAF Squadrons used Lowood at various times.
What was left when Americans departed?
Myths persist that US military equipment was buried in underground bunkers when the Americans left Lowood. USAAF fighter squadrons were at Lowood for only six weeks, from 28 March to 10 May 1942. At that time every nut, bolt, bullet and gun was urgently needed for the war effort in the Pacific. Furthermore the aerodrome and its bunkers remained in use by the RAAF until the base was decommissioned in 1946. Parts of bunkers and wartime buildings are still visible on the slopes of Mt Tarampa and adjacent farmland. After it was decommissioned the airstrip became Lowood motor racing circuit.
This plaque commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the end of WWII is situated at the corner of Daisy & Forest Hill-Fernvale Roads, Mount Tarampa.
Railway closed, heritage remains
Improvements in roads and heavy transport progressively reduced rail transport to uneconomic levels. The Brisbane Valley railway line ceased operations to Lowood in 1989 after 105 years of service.
Lowood's historic railway station and rail yards now form part of a large public park in the town centre, while the rail corridor from Fernvale has become a popular section of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail.
After the war the airfield was converted into the Lowood Airfield Circuit and ran as a car racing circuit for 20 years, the highlight hosting the 1960 Australian Grand Prix. The airfield no longer exists but a small memorial marks its previous location.
Lowood has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:
The Somerset region experiences a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa) with hot and humid summers and mild to warm winters with cool overnight temperatures.
Median monthly rain fall at the Don St weather Station in Lowood since records began in 1887 is 68.35 millimetres (2.691 in). The highest recorded annual rainfall was 1,444.9 millimetres (56.89 in) in 1890, but records appear incomplete for the year of the 1893 Brisbane flood also known as the Black February floods. By contrast, the rainfall recorded for the year of the 2010–2011 Queensland floods in South East Queensland was 1,302.0 millimetres (51.26 in), but for the period February 2010 to January 2011, the total rainfall was 1,782.6 millimetres (70.18 in).
The traditional Lowood dwelling is a detached home on land. Several new estates are currently under development.
There are two schools, Lowood State School and Lowood High School.
Lowood State School includes a Special Education Unit [SEU] to support students with disabilities and an Early Intervention Centre [EIC] to support pre-compulsory education of children with disabilities.
At present times there is no longer any rail-transport to Lowood. The main rail link is to Ipswich and from there a bus service from Queensland Rail (QR). There are two services in the morning and return services in the late afternoon. Time tables are available from QR.
- Somerset Region for information about Recreation, the local Economy, and Telecommunications
- No. 71 Squadron RAAF
- ABS QuickStats 2011
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "Lowood (L) (Urban Centre/Locality)". 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 2007-10-28.
- ABS 2006 QuickStats
- Brisbane Valley Rail Trail, Indigenous Heritage
- Confidence and tradition: a history of the Esk Shire / Ruth S. Kerr: Aboriginals
- Confidence and tradition: a history of the Esk Shire / Ruth S. Kerr. Main Author: Kerr, Ruth, 1948. Publication, Esk, Q1d : Esk Shire Council, 1988 - Ch 1, Pg 3
- Queensland State Archives, Land selections prior to 1884
- Lowood : the first 100 years: a salute to the pioneers, Lowood High School
- Lowood District Community Website - Outstanding heroes
- Confidence and Tradition, Ruth S. Kerr, pg. 171, 1988.
- Witness Statement by Senior Constable Darren Rumbelow to the Queensland Flood Commission of Inquiry, dated 13/04/2011
- Mining magnate Clive Palmer's chopper rescues 60 people stricken by Queensland floods, Herald-Sun, 13 January 2011
- Confidence and Tradition, Confidence and tradition: a history of the Esk Shire / Ruth S. Kerr. Main Author: Kerr, Ruth, 1948. Publication, Esk, Q1d : Esk Shire Council, 1988 pg. 213 - 22
- Confidence and tradition: a history of the Esk Shire / Ruth S. Kerr. Main Author: Kerr, Ruth, 1948. Publication, Esk, Q1d : Esk Shire Council, 1988 - Pg. 160 - 162
- Australian Grand Prix - The 50-race history, 1986, pages 256 to 266
- Oz at war - Amateur historian site -Retrieved 2 November 2006.
- "Dental Surgery (entry 15271)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 2013-07-12.
- Bureau of Meteorology
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