The Darling Downs is a region of gardens, attractions, farmlands, museums, romance, wineries, grand homes and four separate seasons. Darling Downs offers a very different Queensland holiday. One that can last just a few nights or, even better, weeks of exploring.
Originally the Darling Downs was covered with a wealth of indigenous grasses, this created an ideal verdure for stock eight months of the year. The Darling Downs Aborigines had an annual burning season at the time when the indigenous grasses were ripe and dry. The annual fires gave the local Aborigines of the Darling Downs the name "Goonneeburra" or "Fire Blacks" - "goonnee" being a name for fire and "burra" a generic word for the whole race. This is what the Downs tribes were known as to the coast aboriginals who inhabited the Moreton Bay area. Murri is a wider spread genic word meaning the whole race but in the Kamabroi dialect. The Downs tribes spoke one common dialect, called Waccah and so to all other surrounding tribes were known as the Wacca-burra. The Goonnee-burra were once situated where Warwick stands today.
Allan Cunningham set out to explore the area to the west of Moreton Bay in 1827, crossing to the west of the Great Dividing Range from the Hunter Valley and travelling north. In June 1827, Cunningham climbed to the top of Mount Dumaresque (near what is now Clintonvale close to Maryvale) and after wrote in his diary that this lush area was ideal for settlement. Exploring around Mount Dumaresque, Cunningham found a pass, now known as Cunninghams Gap. Cunningham returned to Moreton Bay in 1828 and with Charles Fraser charted the route through the pass to the Darling Downs. Ludwig Leichhardt in 1844 saw the remains of a camp showing the signs of white men through ridge poles and steel axes.
News of the lush pastures quickly spread resulting in a land grab that authorities in the distant New South Wales colony found difficult to stop. Patrick Leslie was the first person to settle on the Darling Downs in 1840, establishing a sheep property at Canning Downs on the Condamine River in 1846. Other well-established residences on the southern downs include Glengallan Homestead, Talgai Homestead, Pringle Cottage and Rosenthal Homestead.
In 1854 Charles Douglas Eastaughffe settled in the area. Spicers Gap Road opened up the area in the 1850s. Later the expansion of Queensland Rail's train networks and Cobb and Co's stagecoach transport greatly assisted access to the region. Gold was found in the district around this time, however it was agricultural activity that provided for the boom times ahead.
The region is popular with tourists because of its many natural and heritage attractions, including the Goomburra State Forest, Cunninghams Gap, Spicers Gap and the Queen Mary Falls near Killarney in the Main Range National Park. Lake Broadwater is the only natural lake on the tablelands.
The town of Jandowae gained fame after offering vacant blocks of land for just $1. This was done to encourage residents to settle in the small town which had less than 1000 people in 2001.
The Cobb & Co Museum has displays of horse drawn vehicles and material on the history of the Darling Downs. The region has also a small zoo, Darling Downs Zoo near Clifton.
The region has uncovered important megafauna fossil finds. The rich discoveries have lent weight to the theory that humans were not a factor in the extinction of the ancient megafauna species