Our History - Pine Rivers District

First inhabitants

Prior to European settlement, the Pine Rivers area was home to a number of Aboriginal clans belonging to the Turrbal, Kabi (Kabi Kabi or Gubbi Gubbi) and Waka (Wakka Wakka) language groups. These groups enjoyed a considerable amount of social interaction, especially at the time of the bunya feasts in the Blackall Range and the Bunya Mountains.

There were ceremonial bora rings at Samford, Samsonvale, Dayboro, Mount Pleasant, Laceys Creek, Petrie, Keperra and Kippa-Ring where neighbouring groups combined to carry out rituals.

During the mid 19th century, Dalaipi was a distinguished elder of the North Pine clan of the Turrbal people. It was Dalaipi, then nearly sixty years of age, who encouraged one of the district's best-known pioneers, Tom Petrie, to establish a cattle run in the North Pine area during the late 1850s.

Archaeological evidence, as well as the oral traditions of Queensland Aboriginal people, indicate that these first inhabitants occupied the land for many tens of thousands of years. Ultimately, however, the local Aboriginal population rapidly declined in numbers due to the effects of introduced diseases, alcoholism and dispersal.

European discovery

Although James Cook and Matthew Flinders sailed past Moreton Bay during the late eighteenth century giving names to some features which are still in use today, land exploration did not commence until the early 1820s when a search was underway for a suitable site for a convict settlement.

It was at this time, on 1 December 1823, that a party under the leadership of John Oxley first navigated the North Pine River, landed at Oxleys Inlet and climbed a hill in the area now commemorated by the John Oxley Reserve in Murrumba Downs.

During a second visit a year later, Oxley collected samples of the Hoop Pines which were growing prolifically in the area. It is believed that these pine logs were the first items exported from the northern area of New South Wales that was later to become Queensland.

Although there is no record of Oxley naming the Pine River anything other than the Deception River, the former name was in popular usage by the early 1840s.

Pastoral pioneers

North Pine River

Settlement of the Pine Rivers region had to await the closure of the Moreton Bay convict settlement in 1842, although some preliminary surveying of the region had already been carried out in preparation for free settlement.

In the middle of 1843, Francis Griffin, by establishing the Whiteside run on the north bank of the North Pine River, became the first free settler to occupy Pine Rivers land. He was joined shortly by other members of the Griffin family.

In 1844, James Sibley and Joseph King established the Samsonvale run on the south side of the River. This run was purchased by William Joyner and William Mason during the following year.

Nearly the whole of the area now occupied by the Pine Rivers Shire was divided into these two runs; the Samford run in the upper reaches of the South Pine River was not taken up until the mid 1850s.

In 1859, as the era of closer settlement approached, Tom Petrie purchased the lease of ten sections of land from the Griffins to form the Murrumba run.

Closer settlement

During the 1850s, in response to considerable pressure from immigrants who were clamouring for access to land, the New South Wales Government decided to survey and sell blocks of land suitable for more intensive farming. By the mid 1850s, surveyors had reached an area not far outside the present district boundary which became known as the Bald Hills Farms Subdivision. During 1857, the first lots of agricultural land in this area were offered for sale.

In many cases, however, new settlers simply sought out portions of land which had not been claimed as runs and leased land in the hope that they would be able to establish more secure tenure at some stage in the future. James Cash, who settled on the south bank of the South Pine River around 1851, was one such person who became well known in the Pine Rivers area. Eight years later, he became the first freehold landholder in what was to become the Pine Rivers Shire.

Closer settlement of the region commenced in earnest during 1862 with the sale of country farm allotments in that part of the Strathpine/Lawnton area east of Gympie Road and on the north bank of the North Pine River in the area then designated the Redcliffe Agricultural Reserve.

Land selection

In 1868, a major change in settlement commenced following the passing of the Crown Lands Alienation Act. This Act provided for the resumption of at least half of the leased areas of the major runs and the land freed up was then made available for selection. The prime areas of Whiteside and Samsonvale were soon subdivided and occupied and there was renewed interest in some of the districts in what is now the southern part of the region where fertile pockets of land had become available.

Closer settlement and smaller holdings brought about a radical change to the primary industry of the area. Although the viability of the larger grazing areas was dramatically reduced, timber-getting small crop farming and dairying were soon prosperous activities carried on in many parts of the region.

Pine settlements

Fresh Water Creek

Road access to the Pine Rivers region was limited until the discovery of gold at Gympie in 1867. Prior to this time, the first roads in the area crossed the South Pine River at Cashs Crossing and the North Pine River at Gordons Crossing or Youngs Crossing.

In 1868, the opening up of a coastal route to Gympie allowed Cobb and Co. coaches to expand local passenger and mail services. As Tom Petrie's Murrumba homestead was the location for the first change of horses after leaving Brisbane, a mail office and hostelry was established. This was the beginning of what became the North Pine (Petrie) township.

The 1870s saw the establishment of provisional schools in the Pine Rivers area and the commencement of local government. The railway to North Pine was opened in 1888 with stations at Strathpine and Lawnton serving the eastern areas of the Shire. The western areas of the Shire were provided with a railway service to Samford in 1918 and Dayboro in 1920. This line, however, was closed beyond Ferny Grove in 1955.

By the late 1880s, dairying had emerged as the economic mainstay of the region. Although large quantities of locally produced milk and cream were railed to Brisbane and to other places such as the Caboolture and Kingston butter factories, one of the earliest butter factories in Queensland, the Samsonvale Butter Factory, opened at Samson Creek in 1892. In 1903, after the disastrous ‘Federation Drought’, this facility was rebuilt and reopened in Terrors Creek (Dayboro) as the Silverwood Butter Factory.

Significant other early industries were a rum distillery in Strathpine, the Normanby Distillery, which commenced producing rum in 1875, and a cornflour mill established in Lawnton in 1898 as the Lawnton Cornflour and Starch Mills, but later known as the Paisley Cornflour Mill.

World war 2

During World War II, large numbers of troops were stationed in the Pine Rivers Shire for varying lengths of time; it has been estimated that over 50,000 men spent some time in the Shire in training or rest and recreation camps at a time when the civilian population was only about 4,800. As well as Australian troops, considerable numbers of American and other allied troops were also stationed in the area.

One detachment of 15,000 Americans, the 1st Cavalry Division, spent over six months at Camp Strathpine before being posted to the frontline in the Pacific.

The Shire also had three operational airstrips, the most significant of which was constructed in the area now occupied by Spitfire Avenue. Although several American and Australian squadrons occupied these airstrips at different times, they have become closely associated with the activities of the RAF Spitfire Squadrons 548 and 549.

Post-war changes

Petrie APM Mill

After World War II, the Shire briefly resumed its rural character. The supply of electricity to households, which had commenced in the 1930s, had been provided to most areas of the Shire by 1952.

The Australian Paper Manufacturers (APM) Petrie Mill, now known as the Amcor Cartonboard Petrie Mill, commenced manufacturing operations in 1957.

This stimulated the economy of the area and caused a massive surge of population in Petrie which had remained a small farming town with a hotel, two stores and only a small number of houses.

Construction of the mill was accompanied by the damming of Sideling Creek to create Lake Kurwongbah in 1961. The lake provided a reticulated water supply which further encouraged urban development during the 1960s.

PGH Brickworks opened in 1961 using locally obtained supplies of clay. Extractive industry had also been occurring for many years along the floodplains of both the North and South Pine Rivers.

Urban growth

During the 1960s, the rural nature of the district began to change rapidly as sustained residential development commenced.

The changing character of the area was particularly evident along Gympie Road where a ribbon of scattered houses and assorted businesses evolved into the district major business district, and in the Hills District (Ferny Hills, Arana Hills and Everton Hills), where the first suburban lots had been sold in the late 1950s. Around 1960, the first residential subdivision also took place in the Albany Creek area.

By the early 1970s, the district's population had exceeded 25,000 and the main industrial area at Brendale had been established. Further rapid residential development accelerated during the 1970s.

During this period, the North Pine Dam was also built to supply water to the City of Brisbane and the districts of Pine Rivers, Redcliffe and Caboolture. The water body created by the Dam, which was opened in 1976, was named Lake Samsonvale in recognition of the historic property, a substantial part of which is now inundated.

The urban expansion of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s (from a population of only 8,760 at the 1961 Census, climbing to 13,309 in 1966, 26,187 in 1971, 45,192 in 1976 and 62,575 in 1981) dramatically changed the economic character of the Shire; the rural economy diminished in relative importance as the region became a dormitory suburban area for a workforce employed predominantly in Brisbane.

With the expansion of industrial and commercial development at Brendale, Strathpine and Lawnton, however, opportunities for local employment increased and the Shire's economic base became more diversified. Retailing expanded rapidly in the area, culminating in the development of the Westfield Strathpine shopping centre which was opened in 1983.

The population reached 140,000 during late 2004 and a total approaching 200,000 is expected by 2021. This relentless pace of expansion is bringing particular challenges and costs, but it is also leading to an influx of energetic people determined to see the growing Shire retain its unique characteristics as a place where people can live and prosper in a pleasant, family oriented community and retain contact with the natural environment.

Step back in time

In order to discover our origins and learn more about our pioneering past:

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