Bethania

Location

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History

In the 1860s, Pastor Haussmann took up a large 330-acre property on the eastern side of what is now Station Road. A group of German people who had arrived in Brisbane between August 1863 and January 1864 settled there. On 23 February 1864, 22 families came to Logan on the steamer Diamond. Even though the floods caused hardship, a strong agricultural community started to grow. They lived on allotments ranging from five to more than 40 acres.

By September 1866, the Brisbane Courier reported a vibrant little township in Bethania. It had a church, graveyard, schoolhouse, blacksmith shop, brick kiln, joiners and wheelwrights. Locals called the area German Pocket. The first church was a slab building.

Pastor Haussmann sold his Bethania land in 1866, and moved to a sugar plantation on the Albert River. There he established the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Bethesda, with plans to minister to the Aboriginal population.

In 1867, Pastor Hellmuth came to the district. During 1868, German families spread throughout the district establishing settlements at Alberton (Elkana), Eagleby (Philadelphia), Pimpama and Carbrook (Gramzow). The maintained their German religion and culture, and formed friendships with their English and Irish neighbours.

The German settlers learned English from Matthew and Verdon Hinchcliffe. Learning English was necessary for their everyday affairs. In 1871, a school was built in Waterford. The German children attended the German school first, from 8:00 am until 9:30 am, and then attended the English language school at Waterford.

In 1872, a new church made from bricks, timber and shingles was built in Bethania. It remains on site in Church Road and is the oldest Lutheran Church in Queensland. The bricks were made by Andreas Holzheimer. Timber for the pews came from Henry Jordan's sawmill at Tygum. In 1878, a large brick house was built for the new pastor who replaced Pastor Hellmuth, who had moved to Maryborough in 1876.

The Germans families did not use river boats to take their goods to market. Instead they used wagons to save on river freight costs.

Bethania resident Johann Gottleib Schneider set up a simple blacksmith shop. He operated it at night, while clearing and farming his lot on the river at Bethania during the day. In 1864, he constructed the first German wagon for a Brisbane client. In 1880, he bought sugar milling equipment from the Lahey family, who had purchased the mill on Henry Jordan's Estate at Tygum. Schneider built his sugar mill on the south-eastern outskirts of Waterford. It caused major pollution in the district in 1883. Locals complained that skimmings from the mill flowed into the creek during can crushing, and that the smell of the mill made them ill. In later years, the mill was converted to a sawmill. In 1899, a railway track was laid nearby.

The railway to Beenleigh brought wealth to Bethania. The line grew in importance in September 1885, when Bethania became a junction for the line to Logan Village. Station master George Jones was the post master from July 1885.

In the 1887 flood, the railway bridge washed away. It was rebuilt in March 1888, with concrete piers, timber trusses and steel girders. Shields were added to the trusses to streamline the water flow in flood times. In 1894, cobra worm attacked the bridge. With repair, the bridge continued to be used until 1972, when it was replaced with a pre-stressed concrete bridge.

Refreshment rooms were built at Bethania Junction station and, in 1908, a liquor licence was obtained. This meant that stopping at Bethania Junction gave travellers a chance to try various foods and beverages. Proprietor Charlie Goll offered leading brands of ales, wines, tobacco, soft drinks, tea, cakes and sandwiches. Charlie Goll’s refreshment rooms may have been a short-lived operation, because official Bethania Refreshment Rooms were opened by the railway department in 1914. The refreshment rooms also provided work for many young women of the district.

In 1964, a local celebration re-enacted the arrival of the German settlers, and the Queensland Women's Historical Society laid a plaque at Eden's Landing.

Numerous floods on the Logan River washed sand and gravel down the river to Bethania. This meant that Bethania was a suitable location for mining. Logan River Sands Pty Ltd dredged the river near Duck Island between 1985 and 1989, and located a processing plant on the island. A disused barge remains in the river at the southern tip of Duck Island. The mining operation was restricted because the mined resources needed to be removed via Station Road, which is residential and has poor access to Kingston Road. The Albert and former Gold Coast City Councils also limited traffic on the road. A garden supply business eventually took over the sand and gravel mining business.

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