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Banana

 Banana (24o29' S. lat., 150o E. Long.) a post office, savings bank, and a telegraph station and district registry office, in the county of Ferguson, electorate of Port Curtis, police district of Banana, on the road from Dalby to Westwood, near the Dawson rover (about 14 miles) 320 miles (374 by telegraph route) N.W. of Brisbane and 110 miles S. of Rockhampton.  Coach runs weekly to and from Westwood railway station (70 miles) fare 30.s. 

Hotels: Criterion and Banana. Trades - butcher, blacksmith and a storekeeper.  The township is situated on a gentle rise, at the foot of which is a large lagoon, fringed by a belt of scrub, adding beauty to the scene and denoting the fertility of the soil.  From this lagoon the water supply is derived.  In 1885 this dried up, and a well was sunk for the use of the townspeople, when an abundant supply of water was struck at a depth of 70 feet.  There is a very fair supply of water in the well at all times but it is inclined to be brackish; but for this, water would have had to be brought from the Dawson.  Generally the district suffers form a deficient water supply in dry times:  Wells have been sunk in various places along the main road by the Divisional Board.  the Divisional Board completed in the latter part of 1890, within sight of Banana, a fine dam, which proved a great success, and is expected to conserve a constant water supply.  Public buildings: Courthouse, lock-up, barracks, schoolhouse (No 5), and post and telegraph office.    The Banana Divisional board meets here and a Lands Office is now established.  the district surrounding Banana is purely pastoral, but the soil is said to be well adapted for agricultural purposes.  At Woolein Creek, and also at Camboon, 24 and 25 miles distant respectively, quartz reefs have been found.  character of the country - black soil plains.

Population 117 (census 1891)

source: Page 536 of the "Towns in Queensland" section of the 1906 Australasian Handbook.


The history of Banana stretches back well over a hundred years - to the middle 1850's over half a century before the establishment of Biloela or Moura, when Queensland was still a part of the colony of New South Wales.  The first settlement in the area was made by the Scottish Leith-Hay brothers, who came originally from the Darling Downs area to settle 30 miles from Banana on a property they called Rannes after their old home, Rannes and Leith Hall in Aberdeenshire.  This was a few months before the Archer brothers moved North from their holding at Eidsvold to settle at Gracemere and pioneer the Rockhampton District.

In Banana's hey-day it boasted two hotels, two butchers, a couple of general stores, a saddlers, a blacksmith (who could even make wedding rings), an ambulance centre, police station, post office, school, market gardens on the shores of the lagoon (in flood time the melons bobbed merrily on the water) and a racing stables.  

The main street in old Banana was Bowen Street, where the present post office, the Methodist Church-Hall, and Stewarts Cafe now stand.  this was before the road from Biloela to Moura cut crosswise through the neatly laid out square allotments.  this road sliced through the old police reserve, where an old bottletree marks the site of the original court house and lock-up, roughly between the post office and the present hall.  the first courthouse and lock-up in Banana was already wearing out in 1870, and by 1888 was "in a very remarkable decayed state" in fact prisoners had to be chained to the posts so they did not escape from the lock-up.  the court house was slightly better, it was used for council meetings until another was built in 1906.

One evening in 1917, the courthouse burnt down - very exciting with bullets exploding in every direction.  It was rebuilt but later moved to Biloela.  Names of early police officers were T. Burke, R. Orme, C.J.King, J. Cross, T.Bates, T. Murphy, J. McCarthy, D. Chilton and J.J. Hanrahan.

The first post office was in a corner of the Police Reserve.  A telegraph station was opened in Banana in the 1860's by John Cramp and his daughter Mrs Marianne Bennett, who came to Biloela from Drayton.  Mrs Bennett and her son Syd later owned Bennetts store and she was also the local midwife.  Some of the early postmasters were R.S. Armit, J.McDonald, G.roebuck, G.Goodsell, H. Vallance and H.W. Harvey.  the original building had a shingle roof (it was re-shingled in 1875) but had fallen into disrepair by 1900, when Newman Bros. built a new post office on the same site (This was later moved to Camboon).

The old cemetery at Banana, though no longer used still stands on a hill behind the town, and is kept in order by members of the Banana Shire Historical Society.  Some of the tombstones are so weathered that they are illegible and a few are broken, but recorded on them are names of most of the pioneer families of Banana.  The teamster Harry Swain and his wife Catherine lie there.  Marianne Bennett and her father, john Cramp, Emma Tanwan, Elizabeth King, Herbert and Isabella Berry, Thomas and Elizabeth Clarke, Grace Homer, members of the Sutherland family, the pioneers of Kianga station, David Martin, Andrew and Catherine Urquhart of "Harcourt" and their grand daughter Catherine are also laid to rest in this cemetery.

source "Banana Past and Present"

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