Place Names of South-East Queensland





Thomas Blacket Stephens was born (5 January, 1819) at Rochedale, some ten kilometres from  Southport, Lancashire, England, and was the Queensland Minister for Lands in 1874 when an area previously known as Nerang Heads was surveyed for the establishment of a town. So many Aboriginal names were used for the area around the Broadwater that it was impossible for the authorities to decide on any one of them for the new town, so the Minister suggest this name, that of an English resort town.

The name of Southport was bestowed on the English resort original by Dr Barton of Hoole at the end of the 18th century when development started to take place.

The small settlement near the mouth of the Nerang River prior to 1874 was mainly involved in timber getting, but with the gazettal of the township Thomas Hanlon built an hotel there. Cobb and Company's coaches used to call until the railway was extended from Beenleigh in the 1880s. It then became a fashionable seaside resort, boosted along by its popularity with the Governor, Sir Anthony Musgrave. 

Spicer's Gap                                                                                              

Henry Alphan, a stockman who worked for the Leslies of Canning Downs on the Darling Downs, found the route for a road over the range so that the Southern Downs could be linked to the Moreton Bay settlement. This route ran through Spicer's Gap. Nearby was Spicer's Peak, named by Alan Cunningham in 1828 after Peter Beauclerk Spicer, the superintendent of convicts at Moreton Bay at the time.  


The word 'spring' was suggested by the many springs, creeks and waterfalls there. It is an area of high average annual rainfall. But the first settlers called it Springwood. They came from the south coast of New South Wales in 1906 and were known as the Springwood Group. They changed the name later when they found that their mail was frequently going to Springwood in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. The Nerangballum people once lived here and their names linger as the names of the parks: Warrie, meaning rushing, and Gwongorella, meaning dancing waters. The most famous of the falls is Purlingbrook at Gwongorella.  

Spring Hill                                                                                                    

In a new settlement, sources of fresh drinking water are vital. Such springs are noteworthy features. So a hill near the convict settlement was called Spring Hill. The springs there fed the stream which has since given its name to Creek Street. So, in time, the name of the hill became the name of a suburb. The Aboriginal name for the srea had been Woomboonygoroo. The first land sales were held in 1856. The higher allotments had excellent views of the town on one side and the mountains on the other, and they were taken up by the well-to-do on which to build their fine houses. The lower parts came to be occupied by 'workers' dwellings.  


The name behind Springwood is that of Colonel Sam Langford. Born in Sydney and given the name of Harold Redvers Langford he enlisted in the Australian Light Horse Regiment in the First World War, but after being wounded at Galipolli took a commission in the British army in which he served until 1925. When he and his Irish wife, Betty (Margaret Elizabeth McBride), came to Australia they lived at Yanco on the Murrumbidgee prior to moving to Queensland where, 1932, he bought land from William Underwood which had previously been called The Wire Paddock because it was the first property in the area to be fenced. He called it Springwood because of the good spring of water there. During the Second World War he raised and led the Torres Strait Island Force sometimes nicknamed the Barefoot Brigade. He and his wife died within three days of each other at the end of 1965.  


Early on, the settlement here was known as Happy Valley, but when the school was established, 1885-6, it was called Stafford. This name had gained credence from the clay pits which dotted the landscape, the aftermath of earlier attempts at quarrying clay in the district. Some English migrants said that it reminded them of the Staffordshire countryside pockmarked with its clay-pits. Stafford in England means a ford beside a staep or landing place.  

Stanley River                                                                                               

This tributary of the Brisbane River was named after Edward Stanley, who became the fourteenth Earl of Derby, and was Secretary of State for the Colonies, 1833-1834, and later Prime Minister of Great Britain. He is reputed to have been an accomplished scholar and an excellent parliamentary speaker.  


When Patrick Leslie left his billy behind he marked the campsite on his map with the words Quart Pot. By the 1850s Quart Pot Creek had become a regular camping spot for teamsters and an embryo township developed there. But the discovery of tin deposits in the area brought rapid growth. A private township of 160 freehold acres surveyed by Mr Greenup for Matthew Henry Marsh of Maryland and Folkstone stations was given the name Stannum, Latin for tin. But the township developed by the government was named Stanthorpe on the suggestion of Mr Gregory, the first Mineral Lands Commissioner for the area. Even as late as the 1890s reference was being made to the 'Twin towns of Stanthorpe and Stannum.'

There is an interesting story told of Bishop Tufnell's visit to the Warwick-Stanthorpe area in 1872 to induct the Rev. Glennie as his successor.  The Bishop is reputed to have said that Quart Pot may be "a charming appellation," but he felt that dignity would be lacking should Quart Pot ever have its own Bishop. Fancy being the Bishop of Quart Pot!  

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