This week I was at a bit of a loss as to what to write about. I didn’t want to do another Oakey article and so I thought I’d do one of those “this day in history” type articles. Well this day in 1881 not much happened in the region according to the Darling Downs Gazette, and so I chose a random listing from the tender list for the Jondaryan Divisional Board.
“TENDERS are invited for the following works:- …No.45, Repairing Dam on Hermitage Reserve, Drayton and Yandilla road…”
So I thought to myself, piece of cake and started looking for information on Hermitage Reserve. My first stop was to find out where it is and so I did a Google map search for Hermitage Reserve and also Drayton and Yandilla Roads, only to turn up… nothing! So I checked the Queensland Place Name List and found the Parish of Hermitage which is nowhere near us. I did find a mention of a State Farm called Hermitage out near Warwick but that’s of no use at all. So where is this place?
My first hint comes from an article that lists a request to the Jondaryan Divisional Board from “A. Reid, State school, Hermitage, applying for permission to plant a row of 12 trees outside the fence in front of the Hermitage State School and residence on the Yandilla Road.” Now because we’re talking about the Jondaryan Divisional Board that has to put the location somewhere in the old boundaries and so I jumped on the Queensland State Archives website, where all the school records are held, and searched for the Hermitage School.
The Hermitage Provisional School (No.397) opened at Yarranlea in 1883. The first Head Teacher was William Williams and the average attendance was 28 pupils. The School changed to a State School in 1901, with a change of name to Yarranlea State School No.397. By 1901 there were 45 pupils in average attendance and the Head Teacher Phillip Robinson was assisted by Pupil Teacher Ida Daniel. Yarranlea State School closed in 1977, together with 10 other schools, due to falling attendance. In 1979 the historic building was moved to the Mount Gravatt College of Advanced Education (later Griffith University) and was used as a museum display school.
Ok so that narrows it down to out Pittsworth/Yarranlea area. The next clue I find is another tender request to excavate and fence the reservoir at the Hermitage Reserve, near Brookstead. So now we can assume that the reserve is on the Brookstead side of Yarranlea. And a reservoir, one would assume, would need to be near a water course of some sort, so that narrows it down a little further.
In October 1901, Henry Kemp applied for a provisional license for a hotel at “The Hermitage” six miles from Pittsworth. After a lot of debate the application was refused due to the close proximity, (approximately 200m), to a school and church. The Act restricts the provision of a hotel licence within half a mile (800m) from a public school. Six miles out puts us approximately 9.5km out of Pittsworth and the Yarranlea crossroad where the School Reserve was is only 10km via the Gore Highway.
And finally I struck pay dirt with a letter to the editor from Mr R.T. Peet, October 1895. It boiled down to a disagreement between R.T. Peel and a Mr J. Scanlan who demanded notice every time Peel passed through the Hermitage Reserve with his sheep. Scanlan had 160 acres joining the Hermitage Reserve and when I dug out the parish maps, who did I find side by side but Peet and Scanlan about 14km out of Pittsworth just passed the Yarranlea turn off.
Well that’s me for the week. After that mammoth effort tracking down a place that never officially existed I don’t think I’ll do a random day in history ever again. See you all next week.