Jill and Barry Whisson enjoy a cuppa at Withcott Sports Ground.
Jill and Barry Whisson enjoy a cuppa at Withcott Sports Ground.

Marburg’s past explored on visit by National Seniors members

WHEN you drive through the Marburg district on the way to Brisbane, do you ever wonder what it looked like in the early days of the colony of Queensland?

Garden City branch of National Seniors Australia members learnt some fascinating insights when they visited Woodlands of Marburg in August.

After morning tea at the well-hidden Withcott sports ground, where a worker enjoying his smoko took off at the sight of our bus load of seniors, we headed for Woodlands and a step back in time.

The area around Marburg was once heavily forested and known as the Rosewood Scrub.

It was a splendid source of mill timbers, including the highly valued Australian Red Cedar which was used for much of the interior of the magnificent home built on a hill, just north of what is now the Warrego Hwy, in 1881.

In 1868, Charles Smith had selected land at Marburg and built a steam driven sawmill and using what was then modern technology was able, by 1885, to supply electricity to the home and other buildings.

As the supply of timber diminished, the Smiths planted sugarcane, built a sugar mill and also contracted local farmers to grow sugarcane.

Upwards of 70 men, including many Pacific Islanders, laboured in the fields and lived in a small village on the property.

Not content just with producing sugar, a rum distillery was built producing 800 gallons a day, but this was short lived due to pollution of the nearby Black Snake Creek.

Drought and financial depression led to bankruptcy in 1905 and the property languished until it was purchased in 1944, by a Dutch Missionary Order, to be used as a rest home for evacuated New Guinea missionaries.

In 1946 St Vincent's Missionary Seminary priests and brothers renovated the building, built a grotto and cemetery and hand dug a half Olympic-size swimming pool.

Ipswich Grammar School bought the site in 1986 for extension activities and it was used for this purpose until brought by the Cooper family in 2002.

This family opened it up to the public and developed it into an events centre, its current role, popular for weddings and conferences where participants enjoy the old world charm of the original homestead and grounds now complete with modern facilities.

On the way home the group stop at the Apostolic Church at Plainlands where they learnt something of the history and present use of this magnificent church. It must be one of the few churches capable of seating 2000 worshippers and in fact doing that on a regular basis.

More info

  • The next meeting will be at the Drayton Bowls Club on Monday, September 21, at 9.30am.
  • Guest speaker will be Barry Whisson, who will talk about 50 years of the Rangeville Space Pilots
  • Phone Hazel on 4635 4519 for more information. about the group.

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