William Howard – (b. 4 May 1838 – d. 31 Jul 1930)

Brisbane Courier - Railway to Goodnight Scrub - 21 Oct 1910

Brisbane Courier – 21 Oct 1910

William Howard, explorer and pioneer, is credited with the discovery and exploration of the infamous ‘Isis Scrub’ – a part of which the township of Childers now stands, the ‘Woongarra Scrub’ – in the area surrounding Bundaberg, and, coal in the banks of the Burrum River, which is in the vicinity of the township of Howard (named in his honour) in Queensland.

At the ripe old age of 72 (the year of 1910), he initiated the railway line from Goondoon to the Goodnight Scrub . . .


” . . . Wm. Howard,

Arrived in Maryborough January, 1857, when about 19 years of age, since which he has made the Wide Bay and Burnett districts his home.  Describing his experiences he says “In 1863 I first saw the Isis Scrub from a hill called by the blacks ‘Branderie.’  In 1872 I explored it, and reported on its good lands and timber in Maryborough, and shortly after that two blocks of 500 acres each were applied for.”  Mr. Howard may fairly claim the title of pioneer since he was very much mixed up with the rough-and-tumble times of the sixties.  To him is due the discovery of coal, now being worked by an English company, and Mr. Howard, after many vicissitudes in the Isis Scrub, settled down near Gin Gin.  His address is “Sweet Home,” Currigong.  Among pioneering incidents Mr. Howard reports that “he crossed Fraser’s Island from White Cliffs to the sea to find a wreck in 1859, and in the same year marked out Brangan Run, on the outskirts of Bundaberg and Barolin Plains, and inspected the now famed Woongarra Scrub.  In Oct., 1858, Mr. Howard went to the Canoona (Port Curtis) rush in the Coquette, but returned overland in December, when in consequence of heavy floods the party had to swim nearly every creek and river, whilst among jungles lining the banks the blacks were very rowdy.  Later on Mr. Howard, with Mr. Willey, found the first payable seam of coal at Burrum.  Mr. Howard’s brother George, known more intimately by the familiar title of “Cocky.” kept the Stem Packet Hotel, Maryborough, and was associated with T. Hutchins in the attempt to destroy the Corporation fence and gates erected to enclose the main town reserve . . . “

Source:  Excerpt – ‘The History of Maryborough and Wide Bay and Burnett Districts – from the Year 1850 to 1895’ – by George E. Loyau – published 1897 – pp 289-290


” . . . Just outside of town [Bundaberg], between it and the sea, is a remarkable tract of very rich red soil know as the Woongarra Scrub, which is pure basalt, or the decomposed lava once thrown out by an ancient volcano now represented by the Hummock, an eminence of 260 ft. above sea level, looking out on the sea from the centre of the Woongarra Scrub.  The work “Woongarra” was the old blacks’ name for the brigalow tree, one of the acacias.  This volcanic area was originally covered by dense scrub.  Outside the volcanic area was the poor, sandy, clay soil seen along the railway from Maryborough to Bundaberg.  The line of division is clearly defined.  At the mouth of the Burnett, on the beach, are great quarries of black volcanic rocks which were thrown out by the old “Hummock” volcano far back in some remote past of which we know next to nothing.  The days when that “Hummock” was an active volcano are beyond the reach of human imagination.  The Burnett River was known to the old blacks as “Borall-Borall,” and “Birrabarra” the name of the Lower Burnett.  The district was first explored by Forbes, of Upper Doongool, and William Howard, two squatters in search of fresh grazing country.  They took up land in 1856, all the forest country in the neighbourhood of Bundaberg, bordering on the big scrub which they name “Woongarra.” . . . “

Source:  Excerpt – ‘The History of Queensland:  Its People & Industries’ – by Matthew J Fox – published c 1923 – pp 828

View other important information on Founding Pioneers, Governors of Aus . . .

View other important information on Discovering Terra Australis . . .

View other important events in Queenland’s History . . .

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