July 24, 2019
More than 450 people from all over south-east Queensland travelled to Moore on Saturday for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see one of the region’s oldest buildings up close.
The attraction was the Stonehouse, a Heritage-listed former homestead and inn built in several stages between 1874 and 1888 by stonemason Charles Williams and his nephew Frank Williams, who added a store and butcher’s shop to the complex.
The Stonehouse used to service coaches travelling from the Brisbane Valley to the South Burnett.
It was one of four coach stops – the others were at Esk, Cressbrook and Colinton – and traded until the early 1900s when Moore was established and the Brisbane Valley railway line arrived in the area.
The Stonehouse was extensively refurbished around that time, but at some point during the World War I the first house on the property was demolished and the stables collapsed.
More changes came between 1948 and 1960 when the buggy shed, workshop, hayshed, poultry run, slaughterhouse and barn were also demolished.
And in 1967, after a storm removed the front verandah roof on the main building, a section of the house was demolished as well.
During the past 145 years the Stonehouse property has changed hands several times, and new owners Loretta and John Eastwood are now keen to restore what now remains of the complex.
So on Saturday – for the first time in 45 years – they opened it to the general public in conjunction with Brisbane Valley Heritage Trails (BVHT), a community group dedicated to recording and preserving the history of the Brisbane Valley.
Because there is no off-road parking at the Stonehouse, Out There Cycling ran hourly buses from Moore Hall to the Stonehouse and back again from 9:00am on Saturday.
Many visitors were so keen to inspect the historic complex up close that they patiently waited up to 90 minutes to secure a bus seat in a queue that stretched from the hall to the D’Aguilar Highway.
“The most extraordinary thing was that no one complained,” BVHT assistant secretary Kate Dohle said.
“While we knew the Stonehouse would be popular, we had no idea just how important these beautiful old buildings are to the greater population.”
Kate said she heard that one woman who took the tour was holding a framed photograph of a bullock team, and said her mother had been born in the Stonehouse.
“She was moved to tears as she touched the stone and said Saturday’s tour was the first time she’d ever been allowed to see the house,” Kate said.
“What a truly special day for her!”
Since then, Kate said, BVHT’s Facebook page had received had hundreds of likes and positive comments on the day, with many people asking for a future re-run.
Kate said the success of the day was due to many people.
These included Elizabeth DeLacy and Kerry Wyvill who guided visitors around the Stonehouse; the Moore Hall Committee; Craig, Sue, Charlotte and Tahlia from Heartland Heavy Horses who ran carriage rides on the day; entertainer Tony Foran; and Barry Green and Somerset Councillor Cheryl Gaedtke, who acted as coach captains.
She also thanked South Burnett artist Lyn Felsman who donated a painting of the Stonehouse as a raffle prize; and members of the Kilcoy District Historical Society, Toogoolawah History Group, Roy Emerson Museum, Yarraman History Museum and Nanango History Room for supporting the event.
She also paid tribute to Out There Cycling owners Josie and David Sheehan, who donated the proceeds of the day’s bus trips to the Friends of Stonehouse, a subgroup of BVHT, so the funds can be used to assist restoration efforts.
Footnote: The Stonehouse was immortalised in the song “Brisbane Ladies”, which is believed to have been written by Saul Mendelsohn, a Nanango storekeeper who died in 1879. The tune and lyrics of this song have been preserved online
[Photos: Brisbane Valley Heritage Trails]