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Browns Plains was used as a place name as early as 1840 by surveyor Robert Dixon.
The area was initially used for grazing cattle which provided meat to the convict settlement of Moreton Bay. From 1863 onwards, the coach route to Casino (New South Wales) passed through Browns Plains.
Land began to be taken up in the area from the mid-1870s. George Stretton established a post office and accommodation house in 1872 and applied for a licence in 1874. The 1876 Bailliere's Gazetteer listed Browns Plains as ‘a postal centre of an extensive agricultural and pastoral district with a population of 30’. The area was described as elevated, broken into hilly ridges of sandstone and carboniferous materials. It was heavily timbered with light and sandy soil. The climate was considered healthy.
A provisional school was established in 1878 with Mrs Catherine Haynes as the first teacher. This school was financed through subscriptions from local residents. A new building was erected by Mans Stjernquist in 1900 at a cost of £110/10. This school closed in 1902 due to low attendance caused by a major drought.
Prominent early settlers included John Orr. He owned the triangular pocket of land between the junction of Middle Road, and the Mount Lindesay Highway. Another prominent resident was George Stretton, who married Emma Webber. Emma’s brother Thomas Webber was later in charge of the Browns Plains Post Office. Other prominent settlers included the Ansells, Sideys, Goostreys, Mayes, Cronks and Johnsons. Most were timber getters or shingle splitters.
By the turn of the century, the population of the area had grown a little. Residents had many different occupations. As well as farmers, the area had a blacksmith, basket maker, carpenter and storekeeper.
In 1913, the school building was relocated to Park Ridge to replace the old school there, which had succumbed to white ants.
Throughout the early 20th century, Browns Plains maintained its agricultural character. Timber getting continued in the district until the 1950s and 1960s. Sand mining created a string of artificial water holes along Scrubby Creek. A post office named Brownsleigh and a store opened in 1956.
By the early 1970s, reticulated water was installed and land developers became interested in the area's potential. The first housing estate in the area was developed by Alfred Grant. It was called Ranchwood Hill and consisted of quarter-acre blocks situated just behind the Browns Plains Hotel. At that time, the area was considered to be too remote and much of the land was sold to New Guinea investors.
The Browns Plains Tavern opened in 1976, a century after the first hotel had opened. New shops were constructed on the corner of Browns Plains Road in 1980, including a new post office. The place name reverted to Browns Plains. It was then further divided into other suburbs such as Regents Park, Hillcrest and Heritage Park.
A library was located adjacent to the Greenbank RSL in 1993, and a major shopping centre, Grand Plaza, opened in 1994. The Logan West Library was built in Grand Plaza Drive in 2003 and the shopping centre was extended in 2006. St Bernadine's Catholic School opened in 1982. Browns Plains State School opened in 1983. Browns Plains State High School opened in 1985. Boronia Heights State School opened in 1990. Regents Park State School opened in 1994. Yugumbir State School opened in 1996. Stretton State College opened north of Browns Plains in 2006.