DE flag button 50px With thanks to Dr Isolde Neugart, our German visitors can read a translation of this summary page here

In 1844 Ludwig Leichhardt travelled through what is now the Taroom District on his epic expedition of discovery from the Darling Downs to the tip of the Cobourg Peninsula. During his time in this district he named a number of natural features which form part of the many tourist attractions to this area. He also ‘blazed’ (marked) a Coolibah tree that stands in Yaldwyn Street – today the main street of Taroom.

The people of Taroom and its region are fiercely proud of this tree as well as the many natural wonders, such as Expedition National Park, Lake Murphy, the Ruined Castle and the Amphitheatre, named by Leichhardt. He also named the Dawson River and Taroom township stands adjacent to this great river.

 Taroom LLtree 1914 SLQ thumb    Taroom LLtree 2013 VB thumb

Taroom: 1914 - a group of gentlemen stand by the tree 'blazed' by Leichhardt 70 years before. The bloke third from the left, with his arm against the tree, is touching the knot in the bark where the explorer carved his double-L.

(Image courtesy State Library of Qld)

 

Taroom: 2013 - the main commercial hub of Yaldwyn Street is distinguished by the now enormous tree which still bears the explorer's marks. Within a few blocks are the banks of the Dawson River (beyond, in the background) and the proposed Leichhardt Centre (behind the photographer).

(Image courtesy Cr Vaughn Becker, Banana SC)

Project background

In the amalgamation of many Queensland Local Government Areas in the mid-2000s, division 1 of the-then Taroom Shire Council became part of the larger Banana Shire Council, based in Biloela, 200km up the Leichhardt Highway to the northeast. This left under-utilised the substantial brick building which was formerly the Taroom Shire Council Chambers on Yaldwyn Street.

A local progress and promotion group – the Taroom District Development Association (TDDA) – proposed renovating the former chambers as a Centre to honour the achievements of the vanished Prussian explorer. Many in the local and regional community believe that Leichhardt has not been fully and respectfully recognised for his skills and accomplishments, especially along the route from Jimbour to Port Essington.


With Banana Shire Council’s consent, the TDDA embarked on a series of public meetings promoting the Leichhardt Centre. These consultations were extremely well supported by the community. A more recent survey, also very well subscribed, overwhelmingly showed that 92% of respondents supported the project, and as their first preference of the seven projects listed in the survey.

The TDDA received a grant under the Blueprint for the Bush Program to have concept plans developed for the building’s reconfiguration and commissioned architect Brian Hooper of Yeppoon. The plans allow for the building to be completely renovated inside, providing both for the Leichhardt Centre and ongoing use as a local service centre for the Banana Shire Council. 

What’s needed

The Taroom community, indeed the entire Banana Shire, cannot bring this project to fruition without financial assistance to match the widespread popular interest and support. Even successful applications to the federal government’s regional development funding programs would be unlikely to meet the estimated $3million total cost of the project.

Partnerships, particularly those fostering tourism, educational and scientific links in this bicentenary of Leichhardt’s birth ~ and in the coming months of his greatest expedition's key anniversaries ~ are likely to prove fruitful.

It should not be overlooked that the actual building is one part of the project: to fulfil its charter, artefacts, memorabilia, displays and tributes to Ludwig Leichhardt will be needed. Discussions have begun with museums, governments (Australian and German), and various Leichhardt interest groups, to ascertain what is available and what may be obtained or loaned to display.

Taroom and its surrounding district has many links to Leichhardt and would be a most fitting location to house a tribute to one of the most remarkable men to ever travel throughout this great land.

Although he remains ‘out there, somewhere’ it is curious that, while Leichhardt’s name has been given to everything from caravan parks to highways, from rivers to electorates, there is as yet no physical centre in the great state of Queensland to honour his memory and his achievements, and which people from around the state, the country, and the world, can visit.

What better location than one block up the road from the tree Leichhardt blazed, above the banks of the river he named?

BLAZE ~ the project newsletter

Lauched in July 2013, BLAZE will be produced approximately every second month, or as developments require. For the time being, it is a double-sided A4 colour sheet. It can be viewed on-screen by clicking the individual page links below, or you can download each issue as a PDF.

ISSUE 1 (July 2013): click here to see page 1 or page 2, or download the PDF (1.2MB).

ISSUE 2 (September 2013): click here to see page 1 or page 2, or download the PDF (1.2MB).

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