A Brief History of Logan

The Logan river and region

The Logan region was originally inhabited by Aboriginals from two major language groups; the Yugambeh and the Jaggera. Their first contact with Europeans occurred when the Commandant of the Moreton Bay Penal Settlement, Captain Patrick Logan explored the river in 1826. He described the river as running through the finest tract of land he had seen in this or any other country and he named it the Darling, in honour of the Governor. However the Governor returned the complement by renaming the river the Logan, in recognition of Logan's enthusiasm and efficiency.

Penal settlement

Once the Penal Settlement based in Brisbane was closed in 1841 land was quickly taken up by squatters. Cedar getters were busily extracting the best of the timber from along the Logan and other rivers in the region. The first leases of land in the Logan area were issued from 1849 and immigration was encouraged following the separation from New South Wales in 1859. The declaration of the Logan and Eight Mile Plains Agricultural Reserves in 1862 led to extensive settlement of the area, initially by Irish and English settlers and then German immigrants.

Logan goes commercial

Cotton was the first commercial crop grown in the region. This industry was encouraged during the American Civil War when the cotton mills of England were unable to access the American cotton market. While this crop was marginally successful, between 1866 and 1874, sugar was soon to become the staple industry. Kanaka labour was introduced to work the cotton industry and these natives of the South Pacific Islands continued to be recruited to work the sugar industry. Numerous sugar mills were built along the river, the earliest of which was Fryar and Strachan's on the river at Loganholme, built in July 1869.

The sugar industry peaked in the early 1880s with mills located at every little settlement along the river. However, world prices began to fall by the mid 1880s, and the Queensland Government announced that Kanaka labour was to be phased out, which was a blow to farmers who relied on their cheap labour. The catastrophic flood of 1887 was the final nail in the coffin for many Logan River sugar farmers, with crops destroyed and covered with metres of silt. Some farmers declared themselves bankrupt at this time. Only a handful of mills remained operational and some were later converted to sawmills. Nevertheless a small but viable sugar industry remains today on the south side of the river, centred on the Rocky Point mill.

Dairying, the way to the future

The general downturn in sugar in the late 1880s led the Queensland Government to promote dairying as the way to the future. Travelling dairies toured the state demonstrating the process of cream separating. Following a visit to Beenleigh in March 1889, local farmers began moving into commercial dairying. Small cream depots were established throughout the district and by 1906 a meeting of farmers from the Logan Farming and Industrial Association resolved to establish a co-operative butter factory to service the Logan and Albert region. Shareholders in the venture came from as far away as Springbrook. The Southern Queensland Co-operative Dairy Company butter factory was built in Kingston in 1907 and commenced operations on 13 May. By the end of the financial year it had produced 7 tons of butter, amounting to 69 boxes, 63 of which were declared first quality butter for the export market. The Kingston Butter Factory was pivotal to the economic growth of the district and later supported a nearby piggery, which utilised the surplus buttermilk.

Dairying remained the key industry in the Logan district through the first half of the 20th century. Small crop farming continued on productive soils and was backed up by a poultry industry in the areas of poorer soils, particularly after World War II.

Urban development in Logan

The post war need for housing sparked the next and probably most tumultuous wave of development of the region. Brisbane City introduced a new town plan in 1965, which required the provision of town water, sewerage and kerb and channelling to all new subdivisions. This led developers to purchase land in the northern sectors of Albert and Beaudesert Shires, where regulations were more relaxed. The price of the land in these fringe shires was significantly cheaper than in Brisbane City, and was enthusiastically purchased by young families. Urban development boomed in the Rochedale and Springwood areas from the late 60s and in Browns Plains from the early 70s.

Freeway links Brisbane to Springwood, then onto the Gold Coast

The Queensland Housing Commission also acquired large tracts of land in Kingston and Woodridge to build public housing at this time. A further factor in the growth in Albert Shire was the planned South-East Freeway which was designed to provide easy access between Brisbane and Springwood and on to the Gold Coast. Initial plans forecasted the completion of the freeway to Springwood by 1970. In fact it was not completed until 1985. These new residents soon felt isolated from their seats of local government, which were located in Nerang and Beaudesert, and they lobbied for better local representation.

Logan is declared a city

The Department of Local Government instigated the formation of the new Logan Shire, which included the northern suburbs of both Albert and Beaudesert Shires. At the time there were about 69,000 people living to the north of the Logan River. On 31 May 1978 Local Government Minister Russ Hinze introduced the Local Government (Adjustment of Boundaries) Bill which was officially approved on 8 June 1978. Elections were held with the general local government election in March 1979. The council assumed financial responsibility for the new shire from the 1st July 1979. Logan was declared a city on 1 January 1981 and the administration building in Wembley Road was opened in February 1981. Ongoing extensions to the building were completed in 1984 and 1993.

Reminders of early settlers still remain in this modern day city

Logan is now a bustling modern city looking to the future but there are still many reminders of early settlers. Numerous historic cemeteries are located in Logan at Kingston, Carbrook, Waterford West, Logan Reserve and Slacks Creek. The oldest remaining buildings in the district include the slab hut in the grounds of Mayes Cottage and the Kruger house at Carbrook. The Logan River was an important transport route in the early days, with river boats bringing in provisions and taking out produce. There is little remaining evidence of this river trade because wharves and bridges were continuously washed away in floods. The most accessible sites of cultural heritage significance in Logan are Mayes Cottage, the old Carbrook School, St Marks Church at Slacks Creek and the Kingston Butter Factory.

By Mary Howells

Image: Logan Village Hotel, c1912
Source: John Oxley Library