Regional development around the State
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Maroochy River c.1905
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Noosa Heads c.1920
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Port Douglas c.1927
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After becoming a separate colony in 1859, Queensland experienced rapid development, with many towns outside Brisbane being established. Ipswich and Rockhampton were founded in 1860, while Maryborough and Warwick followed a year later. In 1862, the first telegraph link between Brisbane, Ipswich, Toowoomba and Sydney was completed and an extensive railway construction program commenced.
The growth of Queensland halted temporarily with a severe economic crisis in 1866 but the discovery of gold at Gympie, Cape River and Cloncurry in 1867 enabled it to thrive once again. In the following two decades, other gold discoveries were made, supporting further development of settlements throughout central, western and northern Queensland. Agriculture, especially the sugar industry, also expanded at this time, with farms established over a large area.
At the time of the separation from New South Wales in 1859, the population of Queensland was 23,520. It took less than five years for that figure to double. In 1883, Queensland’s population passed the 250,000 mark and reached half a million by the time of Federation in 1901.
With regional development, urban leisure and new methods of transport in the late 1870s, coastal areas like Sandgate and Redcliffe emerged as destinations for enjoying sea breezes. In the panoramas on display we see these locales, along with places like Coolangatta and Noosa, in the sleepy days before the tourism industry would get into full swing making the Gold and Sunshine Coasts major holiday attractions.
Photographers had been operating in Moreton Bay as early as the 1850s and would capture in still moments of time the evolving stages of urban and rural development. Itinerant and professional photographers were soon attracted to regional centres where there was the population base to support their services.
Not many early photographs survive but, from the 1860s onwards, we see fine examples in the work of photographers such as John Watson, Thomas Mathewson and Albert Lomer who would all turn their hands to the art of panoramic photography.
These expansive photographic views of locations from Townsville, Cairns and Ayr in the north of the State down to Coolangatta in the south show street scenes, towns and landscapes captured at particular moments in the State’s history. They are an important visual archive of Queensland’s regional development affording us wide open vistas into the past.
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