Grandchester is located 76 kilometres west of Brisbane and 38 kilometres from Ipswich.

Allan Cunningham first explored the area of Grandchester in May 1829. Whilst in the area, Cunningham made camp beside Railway Lagoon and set about searching for the Brisbane River.

Grandchester was originally known as Bigges Camp, named after the pioneer Frederick Bigges. Bigges Camp maintained an ever changing small population until the railway arrived from Ipswich in 1865.

A private enterprise to establish a horse drawn tramway failed and as a result the Government of the time intervened. The Railway Bill was presented to the Queensland Parliament in August 1863. There was much debate about the proposed line over such concerns as the construction cost and route it was to take. Profit was also a factor as the population at the time was small.

Owing to the rugged terrain leading to the Darling Downs, Abram Fitzgibbon, an Irish Engineer with overseas railway construction experience was employed. Fitzgibbon controversially recommended a narrow gauge track in order to reduce the cost of construction. The Queensland Railway was a world first owing to the fact that it was a Government Railway. The first surveys for the line from Ipswich to Bigges Camp - a distance of 21 Miles (35 kilometres) were competed by late 1863.

The successful tender for the construction of the track was a British company, Peto, Brassey and Betts. The majority of materials including the locomotives came from Britain. The equipment was delivered to Ipswich via river steam boats.

Lady Bowen, wife of the first Governor of Queensland turned the first sod for the construction of Queensland’s first railway from Ipswich to Grandchester on the 25th February 1864. In her honour the Avonside loco that hauled the first passenger train was named “Lady Bowen”. This section of line was opened 31st July of 1865. The ceremony was attended by Governor Sir George Bowen, Lady Bowen and other officials and is said to have been conducted at the now Lady Bowen Hill.

On the 1st January 1866 the first Cobb & Co coach in Queensland departed Brisbane for Ipswich. Mail and passengers were then transported by rail to Grandchester. The rest of the trip to Toowoomba was made on another Cobb & Co coach.

Construction continued on the railway line and the Cobb & Co coach service was gradually reduced as the rail line was extended. The line reached Gatton in June 1866, Toowoomba in April 1867 and Dalby in March 1868.

There are two explanations as to how Grandchester received it’s name. The first is that Governor Bowen thought that Bigges Camp sounded more like Big Scamp. Governor Bowen thought that the name should reflect the importance of the new railway. ‘Big’ was changed to ‘Grand’ and the Latin word ‘chester’ was used for ‘camp’.

The second explanation is simply that Grandchester was named after ‘Grandchester’ a small village on the outskirts of Cambridge, England.

In 2005 Grandchester played host to the celebrations marking 140 years of Railway in Queensland. Today the township is home to 500 people.

POINTS OF INTEREST

he railway station was built in 1865 and is the oldest surviving in Queensland.
The station can be accessed via the GrandchesterMount Mort Road on a track beside the rail line.

Grandchester Railway Station Grandchester Railway Station

Grandchester Sawmill

The Grandchester Sawmill is one of the towns main attractions. Please click here for more information on the sawmill which is located in Symes Street.

Grandchester Model Live Steam Association

Located in Ipswich Street, the Grandchester Model Live Steam Association Inc. is a non profit organisation set up for the sole purpose of providing a scenic venue for people interested in model engineering to operate and observe their hobby. Public Running Days are held on the first Sunday of each month. A canteen and public conveniences are available on site. Of course considering the history of Grandchester the setting could not be more perfect. For more information on the club please visit their website by clicking here.

Railway Dam

The railway dam was built across a gully in 1892 for the purpose of supplying water to the steam locomotives for their trip across the Little Liverpool Range. The dam can be accessed by driving/walking North along Long Gully Road then turning left onto Clancy’s Road.

Grandchester State School

Grandchester Railway StationThe school was originally opened in 1878. However it was destroyed by fire in 1916. The school was rebuilt a year later and is located in School Road!


Grandchester Cemetery

Grandchester Railway StationThe oldest grave at the cemetery dates back to 1896. The cemetery is located on Sippels Road.



St Peters Catholic Church

Grandchester Railway StationThe church was designed by Ipswich architect Henry Wyman. It was constructed in 1894 by James Madden and was opened in November 1894 by Archbishop Dunne. It is located in Symes Street.


Bigges Camp Park

If you are looking for a good place for a picnic then look no further than Bigges Camp Park. The park has an electric BBQ, shelter and toilets. The park also has the war memorial and a monument recognising Grandchester as a campsite of explorer Allan Cunningham.

Grandchester Railway Station Grandchester Railway Station