Nanango History

The Fourth Oldest Town
The town of Nanango was surveyed in 1861 and land sales took place the following year. By that stage several other towns had preceded her. Warwick was planned and surveyed in 1848 before being actually settled. Gayndah was surveyed in 1849 and Maryborough had a town plan by 1851.

But Nanango’s claim to be the fourth oldest town in Queensland does not rest on maps and surveys. Nor can it be dated from a pastoral lease. Rather, such a claim derives from the establishment of a commercial enterprise, such as a hotel or store which drew people to the area as did Jacob Goode’s hostelry from July 1848 onwards. In 1848 Brisbane was still the Moreton Bay Penal Settlement, so the only townships coming in ahead of Nanango are Ipswich (Limestone) Drayton and Maryborough.

A Town is Born

Nanango is 1,930 sq kms in size and retains a population of roughly 8,500 people and is approximately 345 metres above sea level.

Nanango was originally inhabited by the Aborigines, who used it primarily as a gateway area to the Bunya Mountains where Pine Nut festivals had been celebrated ever since the Dreamtime.

European settlement of the area began in 1842 when the Scott family opened Taromeo Station on the top of the Blackbutt Range.  They were followed five years later by pastoralists John Borthwick and William Oliver from Ipswich, who took up several very large grazing selections.

The first named commercial establishment was Goode’s Inn, owned by prospector Jacob Goode. It was situated at a waterhole on William Oliver’s Nanango selection.

Nanango means a place where the waters gather in one place, a large lagoon or lake (ref: Tales of a warrior by Brett Green)  Goode’s Inn opened for business in 1848 and the present-day township of Nanango began to grow around it soon afterwards. It was the 4th town in Queensland at that time after Ipswich, Maryborough and Gayndah.

By the start of the 1900s the area was home to several thousand people and Nanango (covering the now established towns of Nanango, Blackbutt/Bernarkin Maidenwell and Bunya Mountains) was proclaimed a shire in 1903 and amalgamated under South Burnett in 2008. By 1905 the primary industries of the region were maize growing, cattle ranching and timber. Hundreds were employed at local sawmills and hundreds more were employed building the Brisbane Valley rail line that connected Yarraman to the state capital.

The First World War decimated the local population and growth levelled out after this to about 4,000 permanent residents. It stayed this way until the late 1970s when Tarong Power Station was established. This led to a doubling of the population to approximately 8,000 by the mid-1980s. Nanango celebrated its sesquicentenary in 1998.

Many changes have occurred that has proved invaluable for visitors and the community: the construction of the Tarong North Power Station, Ringsfield House being established as a historic attraction, the Heritage Community Bank opening, the annual Country Music Muster, Nanango Arts Festival (Nanart) and the annual Community festival (Pioneer Festival – Trading as FunFest) have all become established events.

The construction of the South Burnett Energy Centre and the relocation of the Visitor Information Centre gives visitors an insight into the working of the power Station. The original Engines from the Butter Factory were relocated to the Energy Centre and are “fired up” the first Saturday of each month. (Market Saturday at the Show grounds) Through generous support from Ergon Energy the Centre has been able to obtain many interactive displays. A highlight of the Centre is the bike which lets you produce energy for a ‘reward  “gobstopper”.

Nanango’s Heritage

  1. Burnett Cemetery
    (1862-1876) Every burial ground is a treasure of the past that needs to be protected and preserved. In our vast state, there are hundreds of old cemeteries just like this, and thousands of lonely graves – all landmarks in the development of our country. The main heritage significance of this cemetery rests in its location and its place in the history of Nanango. The site is unique, historic, and worthy of preservation.

  2. The First Hospital Building
    Nanango First Hospital
    In 1898 the first hospital building was completed at a cost of £253. Over the years the fortune of the hospital fluctuated considerable, but remains today as a very important part of the community.

  3. Apex Lookout 
    Apex Club in Nanango functioned from 1981-1997. The ideals of the club based on service to the community benefited many organisations and appeals. From the gazebo Lookout there is a great view of the town and surrounds.

  4. St Anne’s Anglican Church Nanango First Church
    The first minister Rev T Atkin arrived in Nanango on 1st August 1869. The preparations for a church building began in 1874 after Mrs Mary Bright donated land. The first church was built on the corner of Drayton and Burnett Street and was dedicated in 1881 and now serves as the Church Hall. The present church was build in 1908 during the ministry of Rev P S Wigram.

  5. Goode’s Inn Monument
    Located on the oval of the Nanango State Primary School marks the site of the beginning of Nanango Goode’s buildings provided a service to the area as it had an inn, store, holding yard, courtroom, post office, church and police quarters. Goode's Inn Nanango
    The Burnett Inn was demolished in 1911, and parts of the building were sold off for the construction of other buildings.