Nestled in the hinterland of Hervey Bay is the lovely historical
village of Howard. The town has several buildings of historical
significance including a beautifully restored Queenslander offering
guided tours and Devonshire Teas.
Location: Howard is just west of the Burrum River and 27 km north-west of Maryborough.
Howard's small museum tells of the coal mining and farming history of the area and includes war memorabilia.
Howard was named after William Howard who settled in Maryborough in
1857 and carried out local explorations in the Isis scrub country and
the Burrum district. He is credited with the discovery of the Howard
coal field in 1876.
Coal had been mined on the eastern and western sides of the Burrum
River in the 1860s, but river flooding had caused mining to be
abandoned. Howard's discovery on land owned by William Whitley on the
west bank of the river led to the opening of the Whitley Colliery in
1877. A local parliamentarian secured London finance to expand the
colliery and, realising that river transport to Maryborough was too
costly, lobbied for a railway. The railway was opened in 1883, by when
a restructured company brought out a Scottish engineer, William Rankin,
to manage the enterprise.
The Howard township developed near the colliery, with a Primitive
Methodist chapel opening in 1884, the Royal Hotel opening in 1889 and a
Catholic church in 1895. Rankin built his stately Brooklyn House
residence in 1890, which is noted for being the childhood home of
Queensland's Senator Annabelle Rankin (1908-86). Rankin secured a
branch connecting line between the colliery and the main line and the
coal was supplied for sugar mills, Maryborough foundries and for coke
and gas production.
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The coal was mostly of good quality and new seams continued to be
found. Collieries were also developed on the eastern side of the river
at Torbanlea. The Howard power station (1951) continued until 1980, by
when coal production was restricted to Burgowan, north-east of
Torbanlea. When Burgowan closed in 1997 it was the last mine in the
Burrum coal field.