FORMED MILLIONS OF YEARS AG0
The Granite Belt owes its name to a very literal belt of igneous granite rock formed about 250 million years ago that runs through the region. Once the site of active underground volcanos, thousands of years and the elements have left a remarkable ancient landscape of hardened molten magma granite outcrops that protrude from the hillside like massive globules or look like crazy marbles dropped from a high.
Stories tell us that the Kambu Wal Aboriginal tribe used the Granite Belt as their sacred summer hunting ground for thousands of years.
In 1827, Cunningham ventured through the pass that now bears his name and discovered our land. Pastoralists arrived in the 1840s, and in 1857 a staging post inn. Known as Quart Pot Creek, the area consisted of four large pastoral runs and prospecting huts until the 1868 Crown Land Act led to a small influx of settlers.
Stanthorpe is the only town on the Downs which owes its birth to minerals, and not agriculture. A mining rush in 1872 gave Stanthorpe its name: stannum is Latin for tin and thorp is English for village. It brought people from many countries, and for a time was the largest alluvial tin mining and mineral field in Queensland.
The fruit and vegetable industry for which the Granite Belt is famous for today, was born through forced economic diversification after tin prices fell. Grapes were also planted with encouragement from the Italian Catholic priest Father Davadi to produce altar wine. With plenty of Italian settlers is became a familiar past time.
The railway reached Stanthorpe in 1881, bringing increased prosperity and population, including German settlers, until the terminus moved to Wallangarra in 1886. The Granite Belt was considered a place for recuperation, the cool dry climate valued as an aid to health especially for those suffering from Tuberculosis.
Following World War I, soldier settlements were established and villages named after the French battlefields sprang up – Pozieres, Messines, Fleurbaix, Amiens, and Passchendaele - the area considered ideal for soldiers suffering from mustard gas exposure.
Stanthorpe’s history and the character of the Granite Belt were determined by events in ancient times, when magma formed the huge and ancient batholiths of granite. This formation of the Granite Belt dictated what minerals would be present, what the soil characteristics would be, and the district's elevation was created.
The history of the Granite Belt can be experienced by following the Heritage Trail and visiting the Stanthorpe and District Historical Museum. Historical landmarks of interest include the Wallangarra Railway Station, the panoramic views of Soldiers’ Memorial that was built to mark the end of the Boer War, and the beauty of Red Bridge. The region also has some impressive historic buildings including El Arish (Place of Rest) built as a summer house for Major Chauvel, the Federation Post Office, to the Masel Residence – one of Queensland’s first examples of International Modern architecture.
HERITAGE & HISTORY TRAIL
For more on the region's history and heritage, view the Southern Downs & Granite Belt Heritage and Historic Building Trails booklet. This is a summarised version of the comprehensive book available from the Warwick Visitor Information Centre.