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Esk Visitor Information Centre
82 Ipswich Street
PO Box 117 ESK Q 4312
Ph: (07) 5424 2923


Part of the Brisbane Valley Heritage Trail
Brisbane Valley
Heritage Trail
Brisbane Valley
Heritage Trail
Toogoolawah Sawmill 1918
Nestle Factory Toogoolawah 1920
Toogoolawah Railway Station 1920
Toogoolawah Firms 1917
In 1841 D.C. McConnel and family settled in the Brisbane Valley
and established Cressbrook Station that is still in the hands of the
McConnel family. By the 1890s this area was opened up for closer
A town, Biarra, had been surveyed on the Esk-Nanango Road and
some of the allotments had been occupied. J. McConnel developed
a Condensed Milk factory on the banks of Cressbrook Creek, using
milk supplied by local farmers. "Cressbrook Milk" became a very
popular commodity.
When the first passenger train arrived in February 1904 there was
confusion between Cressbrook Station and Cressbrook Railway
Station so Mr. McConnel chose the name "Toogoolawah" for the
Railway Station. The family home in Brisbane on the Bulimba
reach of the Brisbane River was called "Tugulawa" meaning "bend
in the river" and this seemed an appropriate name for the new
railway station in the Brisbane Valley.
It wasn't long before Toogoolawah rather than Biarra became the
preferred township site. Allotments were offered for sale here and
so a town was born
In 1906 you had your choice of three ways of reaching the
tiny village of Toogoolawah: carry your swag, ride a horse or
catch one of the three trains per week that ran from Ipswich to
Kannangur (Yimbun), just four miles beyond Toogoolawah. From
the terminus Wally McCallum or his brother Archie drove the
coach to Yarraman.
With the development of the milk factory and rail line the town
grew. In 1907 Nestle's acquired the Cressbrook factory and by
the 1920s Toogoolawah was a busy centre with 3000 citizens and
another 2000 in the surrounding areas. There was an extensive
array of shops, hotels, cafes, hospitals, workshops, halls and
churches to cater to the needs of the people. In 1929 Nestle's
closed the factory and many families left the district. In 1972 more
farms were resumed for the Wivenhoe Dam. Today Toogoolawah
does not have the population of the 1920's but is still an important
primary industry area with cattle breeding and fattening, feedlots,
dairying, lucerne, horticulture crops and turf growing.
Because so many families have been associated with the area in the
past, the local cemeteries may be of interest. The Toogoolawah
cemetery is several kilometres north of Toogoolawah in the old
Biarra town. Older cemeteries associated with the Apostolic
and Lutheran Churches are located at Mt. Beppo, along with the
Caboonbah Church. There are still family cemeteries on private
land; the only one open to the public is located at Caboonbah

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Esk Shire Council took the RED DEER as its coat of arms in
recognition of Queen Victoria's gift of two stags and four does
to Queensland after separation. They came from the royal herd
at Windsor Park and were released in 1873 at Scrub Creek, on
Cressbrook Station. They are protected and can still be seen in the
wild throughout the Shire.
A packing shed is all that is left of the Nestles and Anglo-Swiss
Condensed Milk Factory that flourished here from 1898 until 1929.
Originally owned by the McConnel family, it was sold to Nestles in
1907. The "Condensery" had the first railway service to the district
(October, 1903) and in 1927 its generators supplied bulk electricity to
Toogoolawah. The factory closed in 1929 and a fire in 1951 destroyed
all but the existing packing shed.
The War Memorial,
erected in McConnel Park in
1916/7, is a Granite Obelisk,
made by F. Williams & Co.,
Ipswich and paid for by the
citizens of Toogoolawah.
Both the war memorial and
the park are heritage listed.
It is the second known
World War I monument
built in Queensland and
the first to remain in situ
outside a cemetery. It now
commemorates those who fell
in WWI, WWII and SEAsia
In 1884, all church congregations worshiped in the Union
Chapel, an undenominational church in the surveyed township of
Biarra some four kms NE of Toogoolawah on the Brisbane Valley
Highway. This old building was removed to Toogoolawah in 1906 and
became the Apostolic Church of Toogoolawah in 1929. Its shingle
roof was replaced and it has been extended. This church still serves the
St. Andrew's Church of England was dedicated in 1912
and designed by Robin Dods who developed a unique Queensland
architecture at the turn of the 20
century. This building has been
heritage listed for its architectural significance. It is characterised by
a steep roof shingled originally in crows ash. The buttresses on the
northern and southern sides of the building were added later. The church
is lined with tongue and groove and boasts a carved silky oak altar.
The A.R.S.L. Memorial Hall was built on this site in 1927 and
became the "Roxy Theatre" whose proprietor was Mr. Les Williams.
It was used for showing silent movies and also offered a venue for
roller skating. It was purchased by the RSL in 1949.
The Alexandra Hall was purpose built by the Toogoolawah
Amateur Gardening and Progress Association in 1906. It was later
enlarged, provided with electricity and re-opened on 31
August, 1921
with a fancy dress ball. This Hall still provides the venue for balls, dances,
concerts, public meetings, school activities and regular film nights.
The first hotel in Toogoolawah was the Club Hotel (1906),
followed by the Commercial Hotel (1908), now the Toogoolawah Hotel
and the Exchange Hotel (1911). All have been fire damaged with the
Commercial and the Exchange Hotels rebuilt in the original style.
The Toogoolawah Railway Station was opened to public traffic
in February, 1904. At its height, the Railway complex boasted a tool
shed, trolley shed, turntable, rail motor, goods shed, log loading stage,
bulk store for Thompson & Francis, camping quarters, lamp room,
receiving yard, cattle yards, council tanks, pig pens, station master’s
residence, fire station, platform, office and toilet facilities. The service
was discontinued in 1989 and only the offices remain.
The Post Office was established originally in 1904 as a receiving
office in Thompson & Francis's store (now Co-op.) It was removed to
the railway station in September, 1905 and a "semi-official" post office
was opened by T.E. Swan. This was accorded full official status in
1912 with W.W. Atkin as first postmaster .
The oldest and largest general store in town is the Esk District
Co-operative. It began on the present site as a general store in 1904
owned by Thompson and Francis. The original building proved too
small and this was moved to become the current corner store. Larger
premises were built for "T & F's" on the original site. These buildings
were purchased by the Esk Co-Operative Dairying Association in 1956
and extended in 1985. It carries a full range of goods necessary to a
rural community.
The Toogoolawah Show Grounds comprise forty acres bought
by the Toogoolawah Show Society in 1913 which are used annually for
the Agricultural Show, Campdraft and Rodeo.
The Toogoolawah Sawmill has been in continuous operation
since 1904 when it was owned by Lars Andersen, whose heritage listed
house remains in Ipswich Street, Esk. A railway siding was built in
1914 to serve this sawmill.
The Police Station,
with one cell, stall & fodder
room was built in 1908. By
1959 a two cell lock-up was
provided for the "larrikin
types" and female prisoners..
This lock-up was removed
in 1993 to go on permanent
display at the Barcaldine
Workers Centre.
The Toogoolawah Cemetery was opened in 1904. Much older
is the Apostolic Cemetery, where Mrs. Ernestine Grienke and her
newborn son were buried in 1884. Both here and in the Lutheran
Cemetery (1889) headstones in German celebrate the often harsh lives
of German settlers in the district.
Caboonbah Homestead
Skydivers Inc, Ramblers Drop Zone
Watts Base Bridge Airfield & Museum
53 Abbotsford Street, Toogoolawah (previously Ivory Creek
Provisional then Fulham Primary School)
(All heritage photos courtesy of Mr. J. Crandell)