Heritage and Culture
Step back in time and immerse yourself in Somerset’s history. From adventure, exploration to love and war, Somerset’s fascinating past is unique.
From historic buildings including the beautifully restored Somerset Regional Art Gallery – The Condensery, formerly the Nestlé Condensed Milk Factory packing shed, the unique 1942 Watts Bridge Memorial Airfield and the significant heritage of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail stretching throughout Somerset, you are guaranteed to discover something interesting from the past.
INDIGENOUS CULTURE AND EARLY SETTLEMENT
Somerset is home to the Aboriginal tribes of Jagera, Yuppera, Ugarapul, Yuggera and Jinibara people.
After the initial discovery of the Brisbane Valley made by Matthew Flinders in 1799 and John Oxley in 1823, there were many more explorers to follow, the most extensive discoveries being made by Alan Cunningham in 1829. The first settlers to the region in 1841 were the McConnels at Cressbrook, now known as Toogoolawah, Balfours at Colinton and the Norths at Fairney View. Somerset soon flourished with the success of dairy farms, cattle farms and timber mills.
Toogoolawah History Museum
Somerset Heritage Trail
If you appreciate history, why not lock-in a weekend to view and enjoy the historical elements of Somerset? With an abundance of fascinating stories, you’ll find yourself getting lost in the past of Somerset’s early settlers. Allow a full day to travel the 160km route, we guarantee you will be stopping every chance you get to take in the scenery along the Somerset Heritage Trail. Start your day in the southern town of Fernvale, with a stop at Fernvale Memorial Park the original site of the Fernvale Railway Station and home to the Fernvale Murals. Make sure to drop into the Fernvale Visitor Information Centre to pick up a map of the region before you explore the Somerset Heritage Trail.
From Fernvale, travel to the historical town of Lowood, which began its days in the late 1800’s. Here you will find an array of historical sites, such as the 1901 built Royal Bank of Queensland, now home to a local dental surgery or the Lowood Railway Station, first built in 1884 which is located on the first section of the Brisbane Valley branch railway line. Make sure to stop by the River Life Boat located at Clock Park, Peace Street. The boat was a gift to the Lowood community from the Queensland Government in 1898.
Continue your way through the picturesque valley to discover Esk, home to the fascinating homestead of Lars Andersen, a successful sawmilling pioneer who developed tramways to take timber from inaccessible places in the surrounding valley’s mountains. Find out more about Lars Andersen at one of his original buildings, now known as Nash Gallery and Café Esk. Add in a stroll to nearby Pipeliner Park where you will find the historic Esk Railway Station and locomotive. Enjoy a stroll down Ipswich Street to peruse the many antique shops and churches.
Enjoy the picturesque surroundings as you drive to your next destination, rich in Somerset history. Toogoolawah is just 15 minutes north of Esk, on the Brisbane Valley Highway. Designed by well-known architect, Robin Dods, St Andrew’s Anglican church is a must see. It is easily recognised by its signature steeped shingle roof. While in Toogoolawah, visit the Somerset Regional Art Gallery – The Condensery, and the Toogoolawah History Museum. The museum is located in the last operational station on the original Brisbane Valley railway line. The building initially built in 1882 was relocated to the area in 1904. Next on the itinerary is the hidden gem of Somerset, the Yimbun Railway Tunnel, located via Sinnamons Lane at Harlin. This incredible structure was first built between 1909 and 1910 and is the only tunnel that was constructed along the entire Brisbane Valley branch railway line. Take the opportunity to walk through this tunnel as part of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail. From here you can travel a short 10-minute drive to discover the Colinton War memorial which was unveiled by Henry Plantagenet Somerset on 18 January 1917.
Continue north to Moore where you will find a beautifully restored 20th century church, now known as Old Church Gallery Moore. This restored building is home to a contemporary art space which includes the perfect spot for a cuppa and a rest stop on the deck. Stay a little longer and discover the Moore Soldiers Memorial Hall, first built as a memorial for those who served in the First World War.
A short drive north of Moore is the historic town Linville, initially a settlement for farmers in the early 1880’s before the arrival of the train line in 1910 turned it into a bustling timber industry. Ensure you add the historic 1921 Linville War Memorial, designed by famous Linville First World War One veteran, Tom Cross, to your list before you leave. From here, head to Kilcoy, which first began its story in 1841 when early settler Evan Mackenzie took up land and began grazing sheep. From there the town grew into a bustling central business district. Learn more about the town’s history at the Kilcoy Hall of History or take a memorable photo with Kilcoy’s Yowie statue, both located in Yowie Park, Hope Street.
Brisbane Valley Heritage Trail
The Brisbane Valley Heritage Trail is a drive route between Yarraman and Fernvale offering amateur historians points of interest to visit along a pleasant 160km drive. For more information, visit brisbanevalleyheritage.org.au