Explorer found Barolin country

DISCOVERY: Nugent Wade Brown and the Barolin Nature Reserve.
DISCOVERY: Nugent Wade Brown and the Barolin Nature Reserve.

EXPLORER Nugent Wade Brown was the first European to visit what is now the Barolin Nature Reserve - and he even gave it its name.

According to his memoirs, Brown went to school in Sydney, and it was arranged that after he left school he would travel to Gin Gin to gain colonial experience working among stock.

In 1859 he and his brother drove a herd of horses to Degilbo, and from there he rode on to Gin Gin.

He wrote about Gin Gin, which he described as a pastoral property in the Wide Bay and Burnett districts watered by the Burnett and Kolan rivers.

Brown gives an origin of the name Gin Gin, which he ascribed to a misunderstanding of the local indigenous language.

According to him, one of the first settlers, William Forster, asked the indigenous people living there their name for the region, and at the same time waved his hand towards some scrub across the river.

The indigenous people replied "chin chin", which he says in their language meant "a scrub", and the area has been known as Gin Gin ever since.

While he was managing a property in the area Brown acquired an Aboriginal servant, who in 1863 told him of a big flat area near the sea.

Brown decided to explore, and found what he described as "a beautiful volcanic open country running for miles along the coast".

He described the coastal plain between Burnett Heads and Elliott Heads as "crowded with kangaroos, native companions, emus, plain turkeys - the most beautiful place in the world".

Brown later named the plain Borolin, and Aboriginal word meaning "land of the kangaroo", and the area later became a large cattle property known as Barolin Station.

On his second visit to the area Brown tells of how he and his companions walked into the scrub in a bid to reach the summit of the Hummock.

"The scrub was so dense we could barely make headway and ultimately got lost and spent the night there, getting back to our horses at 10am the next day," he said.

According to Bundaberg Regional Council research, in 1879 485 hectares of Pasturage Reserve was removed from Barolin Station and used by members of the public for cattle agistment, long before Bargara existed.

Various parcels of land have been taken from the reserve to become what is now Nielson Park, Mon Repos Conservation Park, Bargara State School and the Qunaba landfill.

In 1893 the north-east corner of the reserve became the site of a telegraph link to the rest of the world when a telegraph was built linking it to New Caledonia.

The link was later extended through Fiji, Samoa, Hawaii and North America.

The Woongarra Tramway was built and ran through the reserve from 1912 to 1948.

The railway carried goods and passengers, and from 1922 carried people for the annual Railway Picnic at Nielson Park.

After more than 120 years of grazing, the Pasturage Reserve has a new name, cattle numbers on it are being reduced and the council is building walking tracks through it.

According to Bundaberg Regional Council more than 120 species of plants are found in the reserve.

The most common are the ti-trees, and other common species include yellow kamala, native elm and scrub ironbark.

Topics:  history

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