Rural wanderings

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

Woodlands of Marburg was built in 1890

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!

Beautiful iron lace adorns the old homestead

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.

even the old sheds are gorgeous!

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.

The view from Woodlands of Marburg

16 thoughts on “Rural wanderings

  1. We were lucky enough to attend a conference here in the early ’90s of a community group to which we once belonged. It was the first and best conference that we attended. Glad you enjoyed your visit to Woodlands and your Margaret St eatery.
    PS It is tough for rats at the moment. Our fridge is adorned with a cartoon of Ratko Mladic caught in a rat trap. It has replaced the headline “Moles at the heart of Government”, which revisited Manning Clark’s (Aust. historian) Australian Communist Party contacts during the ’40s.


    • LOL! Are you contemplating a name change, then? Mighty Mouse perhaps?

      I can never understand our preoccupation with the continuing Manning Clark saga – he appears like such a strange, arrogant man. His version of history would have to be suspect.


      • It’s an argument between the last of the Cold War warriors in our society; i.e. The Right attacks many from the Arts (including historians) because they believe they are from the Left (often true, but what is stopping Rightist historians from writing more?). Manning Clark’s 6 vol A History of Australia was the first work on such a scale. Clark has many errors, he was leftist and certainly a Communist sympathiser, if not card-carrying member. But he also wrote a kind of poetic history which has had a lasting influence on following historians and came at a time of re-emerging sense of national identity. His true affiliations are not as important as the work – it merely affects how we read and judge it. He was of the Left at at time when communist parties across the western world had their highest memberships – coming out of the WW2 alliance with Stalin’s USSR. Should Clark have better? – Yes. But while Science should be used in writing history, history is grouped with the Arts.


    • It is lovely particularly lovely at the moment, after all the flooding rains. Marburg is in the Lockyer Valley, the opposite end of the valley to where many people lost their lives in the January floods. It is a cute little village, with antique shops and not much else! It used to host Saturday night dances when I was a girl!!!!!!!


    • The area from Brisbane to Toowoomba has a lot of links to WWII in that many places were used as hospitals, and many American serviceman had R&R in the area. Then of course there is the German heritage of the area. I started to appreciate my own little neck of the woods once we started travelling around Australia more, and we would get all enthusiastic about something only to find the we had been living right next to something similar all along! It is fun to take unexpected turns.


  2. Don’t you just love these out of the way places? Sometimes the best plans are the ones that aren’t planned. The building is gorgeous. Loved the railings. Thanks for sharing the history, too.


  3. What a fascinating history to a gorgeous place. I love that style of “mansion” – a lot of country pubs look similar though not as grand. I imagine having afternoon tea on the rolling lawns…..


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