On the drive back from Toowoomba we succumbed to curiosity and wandered off the highway to discover a most surprising site – Woodlands of Marburg. Marburg is a small township of about 500 people, located 60 km west of Brisbane
During the last century, the property has developed a diverse and significant local history with unique characteristics from each period including a hand dug swimming pool, a Grotto (open-aired chapel) and even a small cemetery from its days as a seminary in World War II
In 1870, the land which the property occupies was chosen by Charles Smith, a sawmill operator from Walloon, to relocate his thriving business. By 1890, the Woodlands mansion was completed and became the family home to Thomas, Mary and their 11 children.
Trackson’s Electrical and Lighting Company were commissioned by Thomas to erect a telephone line from the estate into the Marburg township. Woodlands was the first estate of its kind to install electricity in 1885 in the mill, office, stables and mansion. In fact, Woodlands was lit even before Parliament House in Brisbane!
In 1944, Woodlands was sold to the Order of the Divine Word, a missionary order founded in Holland, to be used as a rest home for missionaries evacuated from New Guinea during World War II.
Due to the rising maintenance costs, the Divine Word sold 250 acres of the 500 acre estate – The remaining land was retained in the hope that they would one day be able to return to build a new retreat.
The Ipswich Grammar School purchased Woodlands in 1986. Over the next sixteen years, it played an important role in school life, being used for personal development courses and extension activities. It also operated as a corporate retreat to support the maintenance of the estate’s buildings and grounds.
In September 2002, the Woodlands estate went under the hammer again, this time purchased by a local family, the Coopers, who opened the estate to the public and began restoring it to its original glory.
The mansion and its grounds are rich with history and tales of its owners and visitors, alike which are told through the remarkable architecture and furnishing that have been preserved and restored.
Still owned and operated by the Cooper family, Woodlands of Marburg is now a popular and unique location for romantic get aways, day visits, dining and weddings and corporate incentive and team building events.