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.” ((Source: Extract from Ida Lee’s Early Explorers in Australia))

[* 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. ((Find out more about the Battle of One Tree Hill at Mapping Frontier Conflict in South-East Queensland))