History of the Woolshed at Jondaryan
The History of the Woolshed at Jondaryan
Located 45 kms west of Toowoomba near the village of Jondaryan, The Woolshed at Jondaryan is an historic icon in the region. Built in 1859, the Woolshed is now the centrepiece of the Woolshed at Jondaryan, a major cultural tourist attraction and event venue. In its first 17 years, Jondaryan Station changed hands seven times and it was not until 1858, when William Kent and Edward Weinholt took over its management and eventual ownership in 1863. With complementary personalities and skills, the Kent and Weinholt era was good for Jondaryan, as evidenced by the commencement of construction of the Woolshed at Jondaryan in 1859.
The Woolshed at Jondaryan was designed by James Charles White, then the Manager of Jondaryan Station, who also designed St Anne’s Church, various Station buildings and improvements to the homestead. The timber slab building was “the finest in the colony” in its time and cost a total of £3,300 by the time it was completed in 1861.
At almost 300 feet (91 metres) long, it boasted 52 shearing stands and could process 3,000 sheep at a time. White originally planned a shingle roof for the Woolshed but then heard about a new invention: galvanised iron. The Woolshed had a canvas roof until the hand-rolled, hand-dipped, hand-wrought and hand-corrugated galvanised iron arrived in the colony. Shearing commenced in the shed in 1861 and it was still the Darling Downs’ largest shearing shed in 1892.
The Woolshed hosted the first shearers’ feast in 1861 to celebrate the first shear and to farewell its designer and Station Manager James White. The two-day event featured horse racing, foot races, novelty events and competitions as well as a feast and a ball. It was so successful that White’s replacement made it an annual event and the shearers’ feast became a major social festival for the whole district. Jondaryan Station and its famous Woolshed played an important role in Queensland’s industrial history for many years.
Jondaryan Station’s first woolshed was burnt down in 1849 by striking shearers who were angry that the station owners would not pay for about half the sheep that had been shorn. In 1874, 53 Jondaryan shearers became the first Australian shearers to form a union. The Kent-Weinholt partnership was dissolved in 1894 and ownership of Jondaryan Station was transferred to Jondaryan Estates of Australia Pty Ltd. Jondaryan Station was broken up in 1946 and in 1973 the Rutledge family offered the Woolshed and 12 acres of land around it to the people of the district. The Jondaryan Shire Council assumed ownership and management of the Woolshed at Jondaryan in 2002.