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Somerset trail

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Photo of a place on Somerset trail

Somerset Regional Council takes its name from one of its founding fathers, grazier Henry Plantaginet Somerset. He established Caboonbah homestead in the Mount Stanley area in 1888. His 1879 marriage to Katherine McConnel, of Cressbrook station, linked two important founding families of the district. Katherine’s grandfather, David Cannon McConnel, had taken up Cressbrook in 1841, grazing Hereford cattle. James McConnel (Katherine’s father) continued the Hereford stud operations from the 1870s. From 1890 dairying became as important as meat production.

James McConnel and partner Colin Munro established a condensed milk factory in 1898, and the village of Cressbrook subsequently grew around the factory. When the railway reached the town in 1904, Cressbrook was renamed Tugulawa; honouring (the original name) of McConnel’s 1949 home at Bulimba in Brisbane. The Nestle & Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Company bought out the Cressbrook Company in 1907 and continued the operation until 1930. The factory burnt down in 1951, leaving only a packing shed. It has been recently transformed into the Condensery Art Gallery in Factory Road.

The railway line through the Brisbane Valley was built during the late 19th and early 20th centuries to open up the region for timber getters, and subsequently agriculture. The townships evolved around the railway stations. Esk had been established in 1873 to serve the Eskdale copper mines. While mining was a short-lived industry, the town soon boasted several sawmills. A coach and mail service began between Esk and Nanango and the stonehouse at Moore is a remnant of those coaching days. In 1880, Esk became the headquarters of local government for the region. As the land was cleared, dairying became an important industry. A butter factory was built in 1904 which operated until 1973. Toogoolawah and Esk have a number of beautiful country churches. The rectory in Esk is a popular café.

Somerset Region’s Wivenhoe Dam was built during the early 1970s, for flood mitigation and water provision for Brisbane. More than 30,000ha of grazing land was resumed for the dam and its catchment. The dam is a drawcard for tourists because of the many recreational sites along its 400km long foreshores.


Listing 20 places within this trail.

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last reviewed
1 July 2022
Last updated
28 February 2023