Exploring near Toowoomba Queensland

May 1829

In May, 1829, Cunningham returned to Queensland, and in a tour of six weeks’ duration carried out further explorations, travelling westward and north-westward of his former tracks. In this journey he fixed the situation of Hay’s Peak [Mount Davidson], a conical, densely wooded mountain in 27°36′ S. and 152°8′ E. (near Toowoomba)[*], and he “traced the principal branch of the Brisbane River as far N. as 26°25′ S., until its channel assumed merely the character of a chain of very shallow stagnant pools.” At this time he reached Lister’s Peak in 26°52′ S. This forms the most northerly point of his discoveries, and he thus, as he himself states (in a letter to Governor Darling dated Parramatta December 12, 1829), then established two important geographical facts:

(1) that the Brisbane River (at one period supposed to [p611] be the outlet of the marshes of the Macquarie) originated on the eastern side of the Dividing Range, its chief sources being in elevated lands bordering the sea-coast, between the parallels of 26° and 27° S.; and

(2) that the Main Range which separates the coast waters from those that flow inland continued to the northward in one unbroken chain. He adds: “My pass, therefore, seems the only opening into the interior.” Explorers who followed Cunningham, however, complained that the facilities of ascent he reported were far from being realized. And “it is certain,” says a modem historian, “that several accesses by which the range can be scaled, and which in later years have been chiefly used, are situated about fifty miles north of Cunningham’s Gap.” 1

[* Hay’s Peak (now Mount Davidson near Toowoomba) was named in honour of R. W. Hay, Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies.]

Many years later, in 1843, the “Battle of One Tree Hill” took place. It was a deadly conflict between the local indigenous people and the colonial settlers. 2

  1. Source: Extract from Ida Lee’s Early Explorers in Australia[]
  2. Find out more about the Battle of One Tree Hill at Mapping Frontier Conflict in South-East Queensland[]