End of the Trail
We are now making our way along the Cobb & Co Trail towards Ipswich. We will not go all the way, will leave that settlement for a another day sometime down the track.
First stop was about 10 km from Laidley at the small settlement of Grandchester. There is a heritage listed railway station here that is famous for being the terminus of Queensland’s first railway line in 1865. Nearby is the old railway dam built to supply water for the steam trains. The line ran from Ipswich to Grandchester, then known as Bigge’s Camp after an early settler. Cobb & Co coaches would run from Brisbane to Ipswich, then transfer passengers and freight to the train which would chug up the line to Grandchester. There were stops at Walloon and Rosewood. At Grandchester Cobb & Co would take the passengers and freight back and head off for Toowoomba and further west into the Darling Downs. As the line was extended up the range to Toowoomba, becoming the first line in Australia to cross the Great Dividing Range, Cobb & Co left from the new railheads and took the passengers further west.
A little further along we stopped for lunch at Rosewood, the current terminus of the train line for Brisbane/Ipswich electric commuter rail services. We cleaned a pie van out of its last two large sausage rolls. Not much to be said about the sausage rolls, somewhat average. Cobb & Co also used the town as a staging post and there is an original coach on display in a local park. All along the main street there are strategically placed benches bearing the Cobb & Co Trail logo. These appear to be meant to be ‘original’ waiting benches for the coaches. Can not find out whether or not that is the case, maybe some historical licence is being taken. This area is also the location of numerous old coal mines, as well as a large currently operating mine. Dinosaur footprints have been found in the ceilings of some of the old tunnels, you actually look up at the underside of the beast’s footprint. The largest wooden church in the Southern Hemisphere (so it is claimed) is also located here, St Brigid’s RC opened in 1910. It had been fenced off for repair work and we couldn’t get in to have a look see. It has a pressed metal ceiling and numerous murals and stained glass windows.
A little further along is Walloon about 10 km from Ipswich, another old railway town and former stop along the Cobb & Co Trail. The land around the town centre is now being subdivided and the urban sprawl expanding at a great pace. A large shopping centre graces former farm land. A small park is dedicated to a poem by Henry Lawson the “Babies of Walloon”, its words are engraved in a grid of railway sleepers. The poem recalls the drowning in 1891of two young sisters in a pond. The girls were attracted to the pond by its lilies and fell in. Quite a pretty spot opposite the old school house.
So having completed the Cobb & Co Trail, apart from the small section through to Ipswich, we returned to Lake Dyer for our last night in the Lockyer Valley. The weather had closed in and a storm was brewing further west but we took the opportunity to drive up to the lookout in Laidley known as Cunningham’s Crest. This is the spot where explorer Allan Cunningham stood in 1829 and surveyed the land stretching out below and naming it “Laidley Plains”. There is a display of artwork and writings on the staircase leading up to the lookout platform. The display illustrates the indigenous background to the area and the stages of subsequent European settlement.
Next day we left Lake Dyer and headed off home making a slight detour to Bigriggen Park beside the Logan River (more like a creek here), south of Beaudesert near Rathdowney , for a two day camp with some friends from Centenary UC. Along the way we stopped off at the Scenic Rim Brewery at Mt Alford. A great lunch stop looking out over the mountains and farm land on our way to Bigriggen.
The Cobb & Co Trail has been a great way of seeing and learning something about the places near to home. We generally travel a long way to see our country but this trip has shown there is plenty to see and do on our doorstep. We are going to do more of this!
PS We have been home for a few days, well before all this rain started.