Located 304 km north-west of Brisbane and 49 km west of Maryborough, Brooweena is a tiny town which owes its existence to a saw mill and a railway station. It is one of those towns which is easy to overlook, especially as the main road now passes by 500 metres from the township.
The area around Brooweena (known as the Shire of Woocoo) was first settled in 1849 during a period when land in the Wide Bay area was subject to a rather frenetic land grab. The two properties which covered the area around the present town were known as Teebar and Gigoomgan. It was the arrival of the railway line which created a settlement at Brooweena. The railway station, which was opened in 1889, was called Teebar but the name was changed the following year to Brooweena which probably means ‘crab’ or ‘crayfish’ in the language of the local Aborigines. As early as 1892 there was a butcher’s shop to supply the railway workers. Shortly afterwards the first residence, appropriately the stationmaster’s cottage, was built. In 1915 the Woocoo shire office was built. However, the most important event, and the one that was to ensure the town’s continuing existence, came in 1924 when Talbot Lahey built the local sawmill.
In spite of these rather humble historical facts the town now boasts an historical museum which is almost as large as the town itself. The Woocoo Historical Society managed to produce a 278 page book (there are considerably more pages in the book than there are people in the town) during 1988 called Pioneers and Progress: A History of Division One, Shire of Woocoo, Queensland. It is an excellent piece of folk history which gives an insight into the development of the area.
Brooweena Historical Museum is open each Sunday from 1.30 p.m. to 4.00 p.m., although the key is obtainable from the post office at other times. Spreading across the road the museum includes a dairy display, a blacksmith’s shop, a post office and plenty of old farm equipment which is displayed on an area which could almost be called a town common.