Yarrabilba History

The Wangerriburra Clan of the Yugambeh language group occupied this land before the arrival of Europeans. Yarrabilba means -place of song in Wangerriburra/Bundjalung language. The area still contains many artefacts and evidence of their occupation.

Original European settlers who took up land within the boundaries of Yarrabilba include Henry and Isaac Seymore, Thomas Plunkett, William Walsh, George Richardson, Alexander Watt, Daniel Kelso, Samuel Kelso, Andrew Watt and William Steele.

Steeles Road led to the property on bank of the river owned by William Steele, and taken up by him around 1862. He built a house on the Albert River and is considered to be the first white settler in the area. The falls on the river here were known as Steeles falls as was the creek and the road. It is thought that he grew cotton and later sugar and owned a mill. His property was known as Albert Park. It was later the home of the Waldron Family and later again was occupied by Alf Henderson, eldest son of James Henderson of Tabragalba.

Isaac Seymore was from Northern Ireland. Two families of Seymours arrived together on the Roddell Bay in July 1887, which included Isaac senior (61) and Junior (21), as well as Henry senior (60) and junior (15), Fanny (23), Henrietta (20), Catherine (18), Charlotte (17) and Charles (10). The Electoral rolls of 1879 indicate that Henry resided at Quinzeh Flat, and Isaac junior and senior resided at Parish of Moffatt and Logan Village respectively, which may well mean the same place. Henry senior died in November 1879 and by 1884, his son had moved to Veresdale. Henry senior was the first burial in the Logan Village Cemetery and land was formally subdivided from the Seymore property for this purpose in 1885. Land for the cemetery had apparently been promised back in the mid 1870s and William Drynan wrote to Peter McLean the local MLA reminding him of this in 1877.

Thomas Plunkett arrived in Queensland aboard the Fiery Star in 1863, along with Michael Yore, with whom he had a long friendship. Both initially went to the Gympie gold fields, where they met William Walsh. Yore and Plunkett then selected land together on the south bank of the Logan River, near the current intersection of Deer Lane and Waterford-Tamborine Road. The original property was known as Argyle according to the electoral rolls of the late 1860s. In 1872 Yore sold his share to Plunkett and took up land on the banks of the Albert River near Tamborine Village, where he established a dairy. In the 1880s his property was known as Villa Marie. (Presumably the property was named in honour of his wife Mary Ryan.)

Plunkett nominated as a candidate for parliament in 1888 and represented the electorate for eight years initially, before being defeated by local rival R M Collins, but was returned again in 1902, 1904 and 1907. He was instrumental in the construction of the railway from Logan Village to Canungra. Due to ill health he was unable to attend the initial turning of the sod ceremony in 1913, and died shortly after. His son Thomas Flood Plunkett took over the running another family property near Kerry. He was a member of the Beaudesert Divisional Board, a JP, founder of the local Farmers Union, Director and Chairman of the Logan and Albert Co-operative Dairy, trustee of the Logan and Albert Pastoral Society and treasurer of the Beaudesert Railway League. His brothers Christopher and Walter managed Villa Marie Estate.

William Walsh arrived in Queensland aboard the Prince Consort in 1862. He initially settled on the Logan River at Chambers Flat in the mid 1860s. He married Catherine Ryan in 1868 and she bore him three children. In 1869 he took up 100 acres near the Albert River at Tamborine and continued to add to that landholding, eventually owning 2,000 acres which he devoted to grazing, dairying and cultivation, and was the first in the district to use a plough. His property was known as Munster Vale. Catherine died in 1876, and he apparently went gold seeking on the Palmer River for a short while. He returned to the Logan district and married Margaret Yore, daughter of John Yore. Johns brother Michael Yore was an early landholder on Tamborine Mountain where William Walsh also selected land in 1875. William and Margaret had 8 children. He was a member on the Tabragalba Divisional Board (part of which later became the Beaudesert Divisional Board) and the first Chairman of the Tamborine Divisional Board in 1890 and prominent in the Shire Council from 1903. Sons Edward and Ernie remained in the district

The Ryan family have links to three families in this region through marriage. James Ryan and family came to Queensland on the Erin-go-Brah in 1862. Daughter Catherine married William Walsh, daughter Ann married Michael Yore, and Mary married Thomas Plunkett.

The Kelso family, Daniel (28), Samuel (29), their sister Margaret Pollock (30) her daughter Mary (8) and their mother Jane (50) arrived aboard the Maryborough in May 1866 from Glasgow. Also on board were Caleb (36) and Edmund F. Curtis (11). The remainder of the Curtis family came to Queensland aboard the Royal Dane in April 1867. They included mother Mary, and children Helena, Sydney, Edgar, Clifford and baby Ann. The family initially settled at Eight Mile Plains. Four more children were born in Queensland. Caleb and Mary selected land on the Albert River immediately south of Kelsos land. Curtis� Albert River property was called Leigh Farm. Caleb Curtis died in 1908 and is buried on the property, along with wife Mary who died in 1912. Other family members are also buried here including Ethel Lillian, Esther Sarah (daughter of Charlotte Kingston and Henry Curtis).

Edmund Curtis and his brother Sidney first walked up to Mount Tamborine when they were very young men and resolved to live there one day. In 1877 both brothers selected land there. Mary Jane Pollock married Edmund Ford Curtis in 1878 and produced 11 children. It is likely that Margaret Pollock lived with her daughter on the mountain, as the titles searches indicate Tamborine Mountain as her place of residence. The Curtis brothers erected the waterwheel on Cedar Creek in 1888. Daniel Kelso also selected land on Mount Tamborine.

Daniel Kelso died in 1886, Samuel died in 1907 and Margaret in 1895, their property being transferred to William Gordon Curtis, the eldest son of Edmund and Mary Jane Curtis (nee Pollock).
Residents of the Tamborine Village region, began lobbying the government for a rail connection in 1886 shortly after the Beenleigh line was completed. George Phillips surveyed a nine mile route to Tamborine Village township, but the main expense of the project was a bridge over the Albert River. Further agitations were made in 1888 led by J. W. Lahey. Laheys wanted to open up timber reserves in the Canungra area, and eventually began construction of a private rail line from Canungra to the upper Coomera, via a tunnel under the Darlington Range in 1901.

In May 1910 an inspection was carried out by the Premier (The Honourable W Kidston) and Cabinet Ministers of the proposed route of the railway. A non stop trip to Logan Village and a quick lunch at the hotel was followed by a horse and buggy trip to Canungra organised by the Tamborine Shire Council. An improvised bridge allowed for the crossing of the Albert River. The party reached Canungra by nightfall and were accommodated in tents. The Tamborine Shire Council representative William Walsh together with J W Lahey argued for the economic importance of the line for both the timber and dairying industries.

Construction approval was given in 1911. The line was completed to Bromfleet in March 1915 and to Canungra by 2 July. It was essentially a freight line. Passenger trains ran on occasional Sunday excursions to Canungra, which could carry up to 400 people. The Plunkett station was located on the north bank of the Albert River within the current suburb of Yarrabilba. When the Commonwealth War Service Homes Department bought the Canungra mill from Laheys in 1920, the tramway closed and although the Standply Timber Company later took over, the tramway operated spasmodically after that. The use of the line was limited to the quality of the track between Logan Village and Canungra and the strength of the bridge over the Albert River. By 1939 the service was reduced to two trains per week and many of the sidings were removed.

The busiest traffic on this line was to and from the American Army Camp from 1942. The camp was named in honour of Sergeant Gerald O Cable, one of the 32nd Infantry Division, or Red Arrow Brigade, who was killed during transport along the southern Australian coast when torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. The Australians had camps at Maclean, Jimboomba, Tamborine and Canungra and the Americans at Jimboomba, Tamborine and Beaudesert. The Americans built Camp Cable Road to link with Jimboomba and the road between Tamborine and Logan Village was sealed. All culverts and bridges in the area were upgraded. An army hospital was built on the south side of the river as well as a theatre, which was where General MacArthur addressed the troops as did Eleanor Roosevelt. This was a major camp housing men en route to service in the Pacific war and at one time had 35,000 soldiers stationed there. A railway siding was constructed at Logan Village and large igloos were constructed to house and handle the stores for the troops. The Logan Village Hall was commandeered to serve as a post office and administrative centre. After the war the Logan Village community constructed a small monument to the soldiers, built of rocks found on the site. Two other monuments also stand nearby at the Camp Cable Road intersection with Tamborine-Waterford Road. One is in honour of Vicksburg, a small dog who had stowed away on the S.S.Lurline and was not discovered until they were four days out of San Francisco. She became the Divisions mascot. She was born in the town where the final major campaign of the American Civil War occurred. Vicksburg was accidentally killed in Southport on 8th October 1942. The other monument is in honour of Sergeant Robert Dannerburg, killed in action on 2 June 1942. He saved a fellow soldier after his platoon walked into a snipers nest in New Guinea. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for gallantry. The soldiers arrived in Brisbane on 2 July 1942. The Red Arrow Brigade served in New Guinea and Luzon, and took the surrender from the Japanese in Luzon, Philippines on 2 September 1945.

Camp Cable had a major impact on the local area and provided business opportunities to many Queensland companies. Contracts were let to provide 122 latrines, 92 mess kitchens, 96 bath houses, 156 tank stands and 24 storage sheds as well as the 4 ward hospital and 5 infirmaries. Water was pumped from the Albert River and stored in tanks and able to provide 12,000 gallons (54,600 litres) per hour. Tradesmen failed to clean up following tank construction causing the death of a valuable heifer which accidentally ate scrap metal, and the owner, Stimpson, wanted his property cleaned up, re-fenced and compensation for the loss of the cow. The railway was closed in 1955.

Following the war a significant amount of this estate was purchased by James Fairlie Brett in 1947. Bretts had significant interests in sawmills throughout South East Queensland. From 1933 his company began the manufacture of plywood. In 1942 he established a business in New Guinea. His business interests came to include wool, gold, oil and cement companies. He never married and died in 1966 with his estate valued at $1,578 at the time. The degree of timbergetting undertaken by Bretts at Yarrabliba is unknown, but presumably they would have utilised whatever native timbers that were of use for their enterprises.
Hancock Brothers began purchasing land here from 1965. Hancocks business had been established by Josias Henry Hancock senior at South Brisbane in 1898. Josias Henry Junior, known as Harry, joined the family business as soon as he left school, and soon became the chairman of the board. The company by then was known as Hancock and Gore. His business interests were similar to that of James Brett. Hancocks also established a plywood mill in 1930-31 and became one of Australias largest plywood producers. He also had interests in New Guinea but was betrayed by a confidence trickster in 1944 and his firm suffered the indignity of a Royal Commission. He died the following year, leaving four sons and a wife.

Hancock brothers established a nursery to raise the seedlings and began planting Pinus Elliotti (slash pine) in 1966. John Hancock supervised the activities and employed seven men on the site. His brother Viv is credited with encouraging a sustainable approach to forestry. Timber from this plantation supplied the companys plywood mill at Ipswich. Plantings in 1966 covered 16 ha, with 93ha in 1967 and 139 the following year. From then on each year saw between 150 and 200ha planted until 1977, when the area was considered to be fully stocked. Logging in 1980 produced 18,000 cubic metres of timber. A large forest fire destroyed about 283ha in October 2001. Viv Hancock died in 1989 and is buried at the Logan Village Cemetery. The old Hancock mill was burnt down in April 2008.

One of the most controversial outcomes from WWII activities on the site has been the discovery of unexploded ordinances (UXOs). In September 1981 the Logan and Albert Times reported on three mortar bombs found in the area. In 1984 a resident on a new estate in the Logan Village area found an old grenade, which was detonated by Army ammunition technicians. Further articles on UXOs were published in the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1984.

In November 1991 Hancock Brothers called a public meeting at the Logan Village School to discuss a proposed rural residential development for the former Camp Cable site. A development application was before the Beaudesert Shire Council at that time. The Logan Village Progress Association lodged an objection because of the lack of services to the proposed 2000 blocks of land. By 1993 the Beaudesert Shire Council gave conditional approval to the staged development, the concern over the UXOs, led to the Beaudesert Shire Council listing affected properties on the contaminated land register. Local residents continued to lobby for the Federal Government to conduct a sweep of the area and commit to removing any UXOs. Residents staged a protests rally and street march in Brisbane in November 1995. Current advice from the Environment Protection Agency is that of minimal risk of contamination of the site from UXOs.