Layers of history uncovered at Cooneana Homestead

Standing on the front porch of Cooneana Homestead it is possible see right over the top of Ipswich to Pine Mountain and Mount Crosby.

If you had stood in the same spot 150 years ago, you would have had the same view but instead of the sound of traffic echoing up the hill, it would have been the teams of bullocks hauling timber.

Conservation and restoration work is being undertaken at Cooneana Homestead at the Cooneana Heritage Centre, New Chum.

Project manager Dorothy Walsh (pictured) can reveal what they have uncovered.

“Once the plywood panelling, that had been placed over the original slab walls, had been removed, we were blown away,” she said.

“What we uncovered underneath had been hidden for almost a century.

“We have turned up newspaper print, hessian and layers of Victorian era wallpapers.

“Some of the newspapers have dated back to 1874. We also found two hidden doors and doorways.”

Queensland Heritage Restorations director Shane Earle said the instillation method demonstrated the tough times the family lived through.

“They have used left over newspaper that spans over several years. It now makes for interesting reading for us in 2018,” he said.

“The wall paper is often several different patches of different wallpaper in the one room, so we think it would have been whatever they could find at the time. Maybe leftovers from other homes in the area.

“We have also installed missing elements of the building. There are ceiling sections that have been remade at saw mills and installed as well as the original window hoods, which were found on the property in storage.”

The house is of a very rare, if not unique design, being built entirely of thick vertical slabs of hardwood. The circular saw marks can still be seen on them. This technique has traditionally been mostly identified with pioneer huts rather than a large above-ground residence.

The project to restore the homestead has been an ongoing work in progress by the Ipswich Historical Society since 2002.

Ipswich residents will get their first glimpse at the restoration on Ipswich Heritage Day on 26 August. The Ipswich Historical Society will celebrate the 150th anniversary of Cooneana Homestead and it will be open to the public.

The land that Cooneana was built on and still stands, was purchased from a sale of Crown Land, Selection Number 18 for a sum of 160 punds in 1868. The exact date of construction is unknown. The first reference to it is in church records as an address for the family in 1884.

The original property was 557 acres, Portion 283, Ipswich district, County of Stanley, Parish of Goodna. The homestead was built with pit sawn iron bark timber taken from trees on the property.

The owner, Samuel P Welsby came to Australia on the ship ‘Fortitude’ in 1849 and was a teacher. He also ran regular religious services in Ipswich.

His daughter Elizabeth, married Christopher Charles Cameron in 1866 and they lived at Cooneana. The eldest of their four children, Pearson, was Ipswich’s mayor in 1917.

This newspaper is from Wednesday July 18, 1877 Brisbane Courier, page 2.

It reads:

Reuter’s Telegrams to Associated Press {by submarine cable.}


London, July 12.
The Russians have occupied Plevna.

Courtesy: Trove

This newspaper is from The Telegraph Saturday 17 June 1876, page 2.

It reads:

The deputation which waited upon the Colonial Treasurer on Thursday last to protest against the interference of the Corporation with the construction of the drain’s between Queen and Adelaide streets, succeeded in placing the merits of the question very plainly before the hon. gentleman. They showed that the Brisbane Drainage Act of 1875 had two main objects – the relief of the low lying properties in Queen-street from danger from floods, and the improvement of the sanitary condition of the city by the enclosure of what was in fact an open sewer, running through the heart of the town; that the first of these objects had been obtained by the construction of the Markerston-street drain, and that no further danger to property from this cause, need now be apprehended, but that this very ‘benefit to property had aggravated the danger to the public health by the diversion of the storm water, which formerly flushed the open drain: in question, unless immediate steps were taken to enclose that “receptacle of standing water,’ as it was well styled by one of the members of the deputation.

Courtesy: Trove

A gallery of pictures taken at Cooneana Homestead during restoration by Ipswich First

Uncover Ipswich History in Ipswich First


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