Six kilometres out of Ayr on the highway north to Townsville, Brandon is another link in the seemingly-endless chain joining together the sugar towns of northern Queensland.
Brandon’s signature is a quaint old church whose picture adorns thousands of travellers’ photographic albums. The Pioneer Sugar Mill and the Sugar Experimental Station are also local focal points.
Brandon is within easy striking distance of the popular Barratta’s Creek fishing spots and the vast Bowling Green National Park.
The major town in the area, Ayr, is joined to its twin, Home Hill, on the other side of the Burdekin River by the famous Silver Link bridge. Completed in 1958, the 1097-metre bridge required a unique design because allowance had to be made for the lack of a solid river bottom.
It is interesting, too, that Home Hill was supposed to have been named in honour of those slain in the Battle of Holme Hill in the Crimean War. The young signwriter commissioned to paint the name on the railway station, however, decided to drop the ‘l’.
It is the kind of sugar-cane town which is easily driven through without so much as a sideways glance. However, at the northern end of town there is a superb wooden Catholic church which is listed on the National Trust. It has been described as: ‘a timber Gothic church with a rectangular nave and a later porch and sanctuary. The exposed stud framework is lined with chamferboard. External chamferboards act as flashing above windows and doors. The nave has timber buttresses, lancet windows and ornamental gabled decoration. This is a fine example of a timber vernacular building.’ Unfortunately the church was blown off its foundations during a cyclone some years ago. The council have moved it to the far end of town and left it to slowly rot. A pity given that it is obviously a building of great historical interest and that the local area lacks buildings of importance.