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Darra

outer south west

Postcode: 4076 | Distance to CBD: 15km

History of Darra


Darra's history has been compiled by local historian, Mary Howell, as a part of the BRISbites community history project.

Aboriginal history

The origins of the name Darra may be found in the Aboriginal name Darra, Derra or Durra meaning thigh, or Dharau meaning stones (others have suggested that the name came from a Scottish Railway Station).

The Yerongpan clan of Oxley Creek, who spoke the Turrbal language, lived in the region prior to white settlement. They reportedly had a ceremonial ground at Chelmer on a floating island in a lagoon, which is now the Sherwood Australian Football ground.

Darra has a large Aboriginal community and children from the nearby Wacol Aboriginal Hostel attend the Darra School.

Urban development

Early subdivisions in the Darra area included all of what we currently refer to as the Hooker Centenary suburbs. The land from Wolston north to the river was subdivided into 54 farms ranging in size from 18 to 54 acres. It was offered for sale as Wolston Estate in 1901. The auction was held in Centennial Hall.

The area of Darra around the railway line was first settled in about 1915. The school opened in 1916 with an enrolment of 26. The Queensland Cement and Lime Company commenced operations at this time. The Queensland Railways Department named the station Darra, which was adopted by the school and post office.

In November 1960, the year after the Centenary of the State of Queensland was celebrated; Hooker Rex announced a major satellite residential development covering 1,295 hectares and a bridge linking the new Darra development with the western suburbs of Brisbane. It was known as the Hooker Centenary development.

While early development revolved around farming, the Darra area is now better known for its industrial development. The Queensland Cement and Lime plant dominated the landscape for many years, although the operation has now relocated to Gladstone. When production was at its peak during the 1960s, the level of cement dust was problematic and in 1971, $1 million worth of anti-pollution equipment was installed and the problem was significantly reduced.

Notable residents

The first land sales in the area in 1852 saw Stephen Simpson acquire the first property in the area - then known as Woogaroo. Simpson's legacy is Wolston House, which is now a National Trust property.

One of the early industrialists was Mr W Brittain who discovered clay deposits in the area, which were suitable for brick and pipe manufacture. He established his brickworks in Harcourt Road in 1889.

The Wacol immigration centre was the first port of call for some European migrants after World War II. Countries of origin included Poland, Yugoslavia, Latvia, Malta, Greece and Italy. Probably the largest group was the Poles who established a community centre opposite the cement works. Together with the brickworks, the cement works was one of the major employers of migrant labour. Today the area also includes migrants from Chile, Fiji, Germany, Lebanon, Netherlands, and Vietnam and over 51% of the population speak languages other than English.

Landmarks

The brickworks and the cement works are two of the major landmarks of the area and were the major source of employment until quite recently. The Brisbane River and the railway have always been important transport links between Darra and Brisbane.

The Wacol Army barracks straddle the boundary with Wacol. Its origins lie in the American Camp Columbia, which was built in 1942. In 1949 the site was acquired by the Department of Immigration and the buildings were used to house migrants from Europe. The camp was then known as the Wacol East Dependent Holding Camp for Displaced Persons. A Serbian chapel built by these post war migrants remains on the site.

Reference: Mary Howell, BRISbites, 2000

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