Through some stories we may learn a little more about the history of our area.

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Take a trip from
Maleny  to  Biggenden

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You need to get away to an early start to get to Biggenden from Maleny and back again in the same day.   The trip that we take is via Maryborough.   On this story we will start from the outskirts of Maryborough as we have already travelled to Maryborough on another occasion.

Leaving the Bruce Highway at Maryborough we travel west towards Biggenden.   At this time, July 2007 the area is experiencing a very dry condition and the normal green areas are desert brown.  

There are several small rural townships in the Biggenden Shire.    These include Coalstoun Lakes, Dallarnil, Degilbo, and Didcot.   Other small settlements have now become grazing properties with most of the original timber buildings moved into Biggenden.    These townships included Chowey, Woowoonga, Lakeside and Mt Shamrock and Paradise, which were closed down when their gold mines ran out.

GENERAL STATISTICS

The town of Biggenden is situated approximately 77 kilometres North West of Maryborough and 97 kilometres South West of Bundaberg.   Brisbane is approximately 330 kilometres away.   The Shire covers an area of 1313 sq kilometres and has a population of 1600 whilst the town of Biggenden has a population of 800.

Biggenden's weather is similar to most inland parts of Queensland with long hot summers and cold mornings with some frosts in winter.   The average rainfall is approximately 860 mm per annum.    Biggenden is situated at an altitude of 397 feet or 121 metres.

Photo Left:
Typical of the dry countryside seen between Maryborough and Biggenden.

Europeans first explored the district that is now Biggenden in 1847 when the Assistant Government Surveyor of the time, James Burnett reported that the area was “open country with the finest sheep pasturage I have seen on this journey”.    This was the future site of the Degilbo Station and Homestead where William Henry Walsh, Oxford-educated, later to become a parliamentarian, Secretary for Public Works and Speaker of the House established an empire of 130,000 hectares.

The township of Biggenden came into existence in 1889 as a service centre to the short-lived goldrush towns of Paradise and Shamrock.   During their brief moment of glory they were well serviced by the police and the courts - and by hotels.   Paradise reputedly had seven, though some of them were no more than shanties and tents.

For some time activity was on the outskirts of Biggenden, but in 1891, Biggenden was linked by rail to Maryborough.    The first land sale was to Samuel Baxter who bought the site opposite the railway station for $54 where he re-located his hotel the "Live and Let Live" from the old coach crossing on Degilbo Creek, originally a rest-stop for coach passengers travelling west from Maryborough,

 

Many other settlers soon followed and took up land for sheep and dairy cattle.     The Biggenden Butter Factory (now a stock-feed producer) was opened in 1911.    These industries have largely been replaced by beef cattle, a variety of crops and the ever-growing tourism industry.

The railway station when the rail line arrived in 1891.   This railway line was constructed by Russian migrants along with the railway branch line to Dallarnil.  

Biggenden today is a progressive town with a diversity of industry and business opportunities. With the construction of the Paradise Dam we look forward too much further development in the Shire.   It remains a convenient stopover for travellers and becomes a destination in its own right when it stages its Rose Festival every second September.

The Biggenden Mine is located 8 km out of town and is clearly signposted off the Ban Ban Springs Road.    It is owned by Poseidon, the legendary company whose shares climbed to astronomical amounts in the share boom of the late 1960s.   The Biggenden Mine is an extraordinary example of how humans can literally convert a mountain into a hole.   It has been operating since 1888.

It is estimated that approximately 6000 ounces of gold (1888-1901),  200 tons of bismuth (1901-1938)  330 000 tonnes of magnetite  (1966 -1990), used in the treatment of export coal.   All mining now occurs underground.

The Paradise police station is now the Biggenden Museum.    This Museum was founded in 1980 and displays items of historical interest pertaining to the history of Biggenden and surrounding district.     The Museum in Edward Street.

The original inhabitants of this area belonged to various tribes including the Wakka Wakka, the Darielbelum and the Dundubara.    The boundaries of their land were the Aboriginal pathways which led from the coastal areas through this area and connected with pathways from Gayndah to the sacred site at Ban Ban Springs.    This special place of ceaseless water was consecrated to the Rainbow Serpent.   Unfortunately, the water supply at Ban Ban has recently been pumped dry due to the drought and current farming practices.

Approximately every three years people from all over this district and beyond to Fraser Island travelled this route to the Bunya Festival in the Bunya Mountains.    Most of the Aboriginal pathways were eventually followed and widened by the early European settlers.

The Old Coach Road which runs through our Shire from Gayndah to Maryborough was a much-used pathway.    Degilbo Creek was a major western boundary.    Major pathways were tribal boundaries marked with special marks.     These were large trees with bark removed at certain heights.    Any traveller could use the pathways but could not enter another tribe's area off the pathway.

Stringy-barks, cedars, ironbarks, and blue and spotted gums covered the area.   The abundant wildlife and vegetation provided a happy and comfortable life here for the  original inhabitants.

Biggenden's proximity to Mt Walsh and Coalstoun National Parks also attracts both experienced and casual bushwalkers.  

Mt Walsh National Park

The Mt Walsh park, which is 8km south of Biggenden, is set round the 645m peak and the Bluff Range.    It is a wilderness park with rugged cliffs, deep gorges and scrub-filled gullies through which walking tracks wind.

Photo right:
Mt Walsh national Park.
 

Mt Walsh National Park covers an area of 5240 hectares, featuring a rugged undeveloped landscape of fascinating granite outcrops in a mountainous park of forested slopes and a real diversity of vegetation from nine different plant communities, including some of the best subtropical vine forests in Queensland, which can be found in sheltered gullies.

 
This habitat diversity is complemented by a range of fauna, such as lace monitors, which sun themselves on rock surfaces amid heath communities.     Birdlife includes rare species such as the powerful owl, the grey goshawk and the peregrine falcon.

The volcanic history of the area is apparent everywhere.    There are two old craters about 25 km south of Biggenden which fill with water after heavy rains.    They are known as the Coalstoun Lakes.

Rising 200m above a broad cultivated valley, Mt Le Brun contains the two large craters.   These crater lakes are protected in Coalstoun Lakes National Park.    The lakes were named after Coalstoun in Scotland by Wade Brun, manager of nearby Ban Ban Station.

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Like the naked city there are a thousand stories in the
Sunshine Coast Hinterland

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