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Strathpine

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Strathpine, originally a farming community undistinguished from the surrounding Bald Hills and South Pine areas, was named by the Railways Department in 1887 when a distinctive name was sought for a railway station which was to be brought into service the following year when the first section of the North Coast Railway opened as far as North Pine (Petrie). The name is derived from a Scottish word strath which means valley; hence the valley of the Pine Rivers. According to a Queensland Railway publication on the nomenclature of railway stations, the name means between the pines. The opening of the railway was of great benefit to Strathpine farmers, as it enabled them to send produce to market with comparative ease.

Prior to the coming of the railway, the North Pine settlement provided most of the commercial facilities required by both the North and South Pine areas, but the discovery of gold at Gympie in 1867 caused an upsurge in the number of travellers passing through the region and this provided the impetus for some limited development. Although Tom Petrie's changing station and hostelry in North Pine catered adequately for the twice weekly Cobb & Co. coaches which passed through on their way to Gympie, occasional flooding of the crossings over Four Mile Creek and the North Pine River caused delays to the service which provided the incentive for another early Pine Rivers settler, James Wallin, to establish a second coach house on land he had selected in 1869 on the southern side of Four Mile Creek near the corner of Gympie Road and Buckby Street on what is now part of the playing fields of the Pine Rivers High School. As this building also operated from 1871 until 1877 as a licensed premises, known as the Four Mile Creek Hotel, it was the first hotel to open in the Pine Rivers area. All that remains of this important site, which later became closely associated with the pioneering Buckby family, is a large Moreton Bay Fig tree which once shaded the coach house.

In the 1870s, the Strathpine region had been a sugar growing area with at least three sugar mills in the vicinity. The most successful was the Port Royal Mill which opened early in the decade and was owned by a prominent Brisbane businessman, Owen Gardner. The distillation of rum from molasses, a by-product of the sugar milling process, was an activity carried on in many of the early Queensland mills. The Port Royal, which had changed its name to the Normanby Mill and moved to a more central position in 1873, commenced producing rum in 1875. When the growing of sugar eventually fell into disfavour in the Pine Rivers area, the Normanby concentrated solely on the production of rum using molasses obtained from other mills.

The rum, named in honour of the Marquess of Normanby who was Governor of Queensland from 1871 until 1874, quickly became popular and it achieved the rare distinction of being awarded the Bronze Medal at the Paris International Exposition of 1878. During the first ten years of its operation, the Normanby Distillery produced a weekly average of around 260 gallons (1,180 litres) of proof spirit. Small steamers, especially the Normanby commissioned by Owen Gardner in 1884, navigated the South Pine River on the high tide to deliver molasses from mills on the Logan, Albert and Coomera Rivers and take away the rum. By 1889, the Distillery was producing between 300 and 400 gallons (1,300 and 1,800 litres) of rum each week.

After changing ownership several times, the Normanby Distillery was taken over by Frederick Bennett and a partner in 1908. A lightly built branch line connecting the Distillery with the North Coast Railway line was constructed about 1911. Horses, bullocks, and later tractors, hauled wagons across Gympie Road near the present site of Westfield Shoppingtown to the Distillery, which was located on the western bank of the South Pine River. By the late 1920s, the Distillery's production had increased to over 1,100 gallons (5,000 litres) of rum per day and the Commonwealth Government was receiving 300,000 pounds per annum in excise duty. The railway siding was strengthened in 1942 to enable locomotives to shunt across the road. Bennett family members continued to manage the Distillery until 1963 and it finally ceased production in 1968.

One of the first bakeries in the Strathpine area was built in 1882 by Richard Piggott who, with his wife Ellen and other members of their family, operated the bakery and later a store until the business closed down in 1961. During 1889, the building of what is now known as the Old Shire Hall determined that Strathpine would become the administrative centre of the Pine Divisional Board (later the Pine Rivers Shire). In 1895, the Post Office, which had operated from the Strathpine Railway Station, was transferred about 400 metres to John Dow's Bakery and General Store on Gympie Road.

Gympie Rd. Strathpine, 1910 By 1910, the year in which it was decided that Strathpine should have its own school, the township contained two stores, one hotel (the Clyde, which had opened in 1874 and was located on the same site as its more modern successor, the Country Club Hotel), a butcher, two bakers, two blacksmiths and one saddler, as well as the Normanby Distillery. Strathpine also had its own racecourse which was situated on the western side of the railway line opposite the Clyde Hotel. The races, which were held fortnightly, attracted horses and riders from all parts of the district and special trains brought other participants and spectators from Brisbane.

The population of the area was greatly increased during the early 1940s when a large army camp was established off Samsonvale Road and three airfields, the largest of which extended along the present day alignment of Spitfire Avenue, were constructed in the area. Both Australian and American servicemen made use of these facilities. After World War 2, development continued slowly until the 1960s when Brisbane's rapidly growing population spilled over the boundaries of the Pine Rivers Shire causing many farms to be sold to satisfy an insatiable demand for residential land. Much of the residential and commercial development which took place during the late 1960s and early 1970s can be attributed to W. H. (Bill) Bowden who successfully marketed and developed numerous estates. Many Strathpine residents will remember Bill Bowden's slogan: "Little Aspley, that's Strathpine"

Reference:

  1. Barter, L. "Shire History - Strathpine"  Pine Rivers Shire. http://www.prsc.qld.gov.au/yourShire/History/Strathpine.htm [28/09/01] (Reproduced with permission 28/09/01. No longer available.)

September 4, 2013

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