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Get a taste of homestead life and a feeling for Leichhardt's time on the Downs.
D 1 Jondaryan Darling-Downs Squatters-Map SLQ 145822 THUMB

 


  

 

    

 

 

THEN

In early 1844, on his way back to Sydney, Leichhardt got off to a slow start, frequently distracted and diverted – as he was wont to do – by his surroundings. After crossing through Cunningham’s Gap he turned northwest, looking for fossils on the Darling Downs, visiting a range of stations and properties, including Jondaryan.

Leichhardt biographer John Bailey wrote: “Jondaryan in 1844 comprised three slab huts, another of bark and 500 cattle grazing in an unfenced wilderness.”

Leichhardt was to return to Jondaryan later in the year as he began his quest towards Port Essington, and it was at the property where he found an eager ornithologist’s assistane named John Gilbert awaiting hisarrival, and fatefully accepted into the expedition.

Dating from 1859 the magnificent Jondaryan Woolshed stands as a monument to Jondaryan station and the pioneers of the Darling Downs. In its heyday Jondaryan covered 300,000 acres and the Woolshed itself was the jewel in the crown of what was one of the most prestigious sheep stations on the Downs.

The timber slab building was “the finest in the colony” in its time and cost a total of £3,300 by the time it was completed in 1861. At almost 300 feet (91 metres) long, it boasted 52 shearing stands and could process 3,000 sheep at a time. It was still the Darling Downs’ largest shearing shed in 1892.

NOW

The Jondaryan Woolshed is the oldest operating woolshed in Queensland. Today, the Woolshed property is administered by the Toowoomba Regional Council and offers a range of activities, accommodation and function and event opportunities.

School excursions are especially welcome and demonstrations include sheep-shearing and damper (bread) making. The Woolshed is on the Warrego Highway, an easy 20 minute drive from either Dalby or Toowoomba. Open 7 days a week (except Christmas); check the website for more info.

Otherwise, as one website describes it, Jondaryan is a 'blink and you'll miss it' village in the Darling Downs, with a post office, newsagency and a roadhouse service station for all the essential needs of the driving visitor.

Above: This portion of an 1864 map of the Darling Downs, prepared for the planned extension of the railway line from Drayton (Toowoomba) shows many of the properties visited by Leichhardt, including Jondaryan, Cecil Plains, Jimbour and Warra. (State Library of Queensland 145822)

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Above: The Jondaryan Woolshed offers an accessible glimpse into life on a working property, much as Leichhardt may have experienced it in the 19th century. (Tourism Queensland, Murray Waites & Associates)

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Above: Golden sunset, as the sheep are got in at the end of the day at Jondaryan Woolshed, reminds us of Leichhardt’s steely resolve to ‘go west’ to the far side of the continent. (Tourism Queensland)

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