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Learn about the history of our Hotel Radnor and Timbertown

Excerpts from Blackbutt, Bernarkin's Rich History, Burnett Today.

Timber is in the blood

Written by Helen Dickfos
Featured in Burnett Today 12th May 2022

While looking into the history of Blackbutt and Benarkin I came across Bob Olzard and chatted to him about his experiences and what it was like working in the timber industry.

Five generations of Bob’s family have been involved in timber. His grandfather moved from Home Creek in 1920 following the work and lived in a bark hut opposite the Taromeo Mill. He ended up with a family of nine children, seven boys and two girls, most of whom worked in the timber industry as well.

Three of the boys, Les, Ted and Arthur (Bob’s uncles) were keen to make a bit of money after school, so they got together a goat team to cart water from Jesse’s Well at Benarkin up the hill to the settlers in Blackbutt.

Bob started work at Taromeo Mill in 1951 and spent 56 years – timber cutting, mill working, and carting timber.

His grandfather, father, son and grandson were or have been involved with timber at some stage also.

During those 56 years Bob said he saw huge changes occur, “From the late 40s when thinnings contractors used axes and cross cut saws to cut the timber through to the introduction of chainsaws and onto present day automated machine logging. Horses were used to snig the logs out of the forest and bullock teams and wagons transported the logs to the mill where now everything is mechanised and motorised. We’ve gone from everything being done by human and animal effort to having only a handful of actual people doing the work. Automation has taken over.”

Having all those hard working timber workers around in the early days meant there were plenty of men to form football teams and to hold boxing matches. Every weekend there was something going on.

Most of the timber cutters took part in recreational woodchops on Saturday afternoons and were very competitive, some travelling the show circuit.

Because transport was difficult, the ladies of the district all got together at the CWA and Red Cross and the Show Society so community spirit was alive and well.

It was a hard life and nobody made a fortune but those times created strong bonds and a sense of community that is hard to sustain in today’s times.

The timber industry no longer employs hundreds of workers and now young people in the district depend on jobs coming from the growing tourist trade and possibly seasonal employment in the Avocado orchards, so a lot of the younger generation move away from the area for work opportunities.

This has the flow on effect that there are not enough young people to form sporting teams or volunteer for community organisations and take positions on local committees.

Bob said, “This is just one story about one family. There are many more stories out there, many families who have been involved with timber all their lives, not just in this area but everywhere the industry once thrived.”

The first selection

Written by Helen Dickfos
Featured in Burnett Today 12th May 2022

It has been recorded that the first survey from Ipswich through the Brisbane Valley and on to the South Burnett took place in 1842.

Taromeo Station, just south of Benarkin, was the first property to be established in the South Burnett.

It was selected in 1842 by Scottish migrant, Simon Scott who migrated to New South Wales with his older brother Walter in 1839.

Simon worked on properties owned by a friend, James Walker in the upper Castlereagh area where he was overseer from 1839 to 1840.

In 1841, Simon travelled north to the Moreton Bay District, driving several thousand sheep overland. Many of the early Brisbane Valley squatters were dependent upon these fearless drovers for the sheep and cattle to stock their properties and a large proportion of these came from the Castlereagh district. (At this time, the Moreton Bay district was still a part of the colony of New South Wales –Queensland wasn’t proclaimed a separate colony until 6 June 1859.)

Simon’s brother, Walter, was working at Colinton on a property owned by the Balfour family. After delivering the sheep, Simon also accepted employment with the Balfours briefly, before moving onto Taromeo in 1842.

Simon returned to Castlereagh to marry Christina Swanson and their son Walter was born in 1844, and daughter Janet (known as Jessie) was born in 1845. Scott left his family in the south whilst carrying out droving employment in the northern districts.

In 1847, the family of four undertook the gruelling journey north, overlanding another flock of sheep to Colinton. The trip took them 80 days to travel 560 miles.

Simon’s journal entries show they rested for three weeks at the end of their journey. Some nights on their northward trek, they enjoyed the ‘comfort’ of properties along the way, but other nights were spent on creek and river banks, and on the plains.

Right: The former Grand Hotel, now known as Hotel Radnor.

Hotel Radnor (Formely known as Royal Hotel Blackbutt) Circa 1920 (Picture: State Library of Queensland)
Early Blackbutt, looking along Hart Street at the developing township in the 1900’s. Photo: State Library of Queensland (Neg: 84308)

Left: Original Hart Street of Blackbutt, Queensland.

Hotel Radnor

Address: Cnr Hart and Coulson St, Blackbutt QLD 4314

Contact: (07) 4163 0203



Monday:  10:00 AM – 9:00PM
Tuesday:  10:00 AM – 9:00PM
Wednesday:  10:00 AM – 9:00PM
Thursday:  10:00 AM – 9:00PM
Friday:  10:00 AM – LATE
Saturday:  10:00 AM – LATE
Sunday:  10:00 AM – 7:00PM