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Allora, QLD

Known as 'The best little town on the Darling Downs'.

Allora, known as the 'Best little town on the Downs', is a genuinely charming and interesting small, rural settlement with a large number of well preserved historic buildings. It is located at the point where the New England Highway crosses Dalrymple Creek.

Location

Allora is located 158 km south-west of Brisbane, 25 km south of Toowoomba and 467 m above sea level.

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Origin of Name

Often the origin of a town's name is pure guesswork. In the case of Allora there is some evidence that there was a word in the local Aboriginal language -  'gnallorah' meaning 'swampy place'. It fits because the Dalrymple Creek can be very swampy.

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Things to See and Do

Allora Museums
Few towns can claim to have two museums but Allora has a rather handsome building (the Old Shire Hall) on the corner of Forde and Warwick Streets which specialises in reading facilities and special displays and a second museum (the original museum) where the town's most important attraction is a replica of the Talgai skull, an Aboriginal cranium estimated to be 9,000 - 10,000 years old. This second museum, previously the town's courthouse and very modestly constructed from timber, was built in 1860. It is open from 1.30 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. on Sundays but can be opened at other times by contacting (07) 4666 3185.

Historic Allora
There is no better way to explore Allora than to walk around the streets pausing at the numerous buildings (there are over 30 sites) which have small, informative plaques outside. Walking around the town is easy. Get your bearings from a large Town Map on the corner of Muir and Herbert Streets and make sure, at the very minimum, that you walk the length of Herbert Street, Drayton Street and Warwick Street. There are so many highlights. This is one of the prettiest and most historically interesting towns in the Darling Downs. Both St David's Anglican Church (1888 and listed on the Queensland heritage register) and St Patrick's Church, an elegant wooden Roman Catholic church (1898), are fine examples of timber country churches. The old Shire Hall, now part of the Allora Museum, is distinctive. Of particular interest are both the Australian Joint Stock Bank and the Queensland National Bank building both of which are constructed in timber and remarkably elegant. Another interesting building is Reppels B&B in Drayton Street which was originally the Reppel's Bakery and Temperance Boarding House, a charming timber building constructed by Henry Reppel in the mid-1880s.

Mary Poppins House at 61 Herbert Street
Travers Goff was appointed manager of the Australian Joint Stock Bank in Herbert Street, Allora and arrived in the town in 1905. In this charming house, now known as the Mary Poppins House, his daughter, Helen Goff, grew up. She later adopted the pseudonym P.L. Travers and wrote eight books about a magical English nanny. It is extraordinary to think that the imagination of a girl in Allora was fired up to create a character so alien to her childhood surroundings.

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History

* Before the arrival of Europeans the area around Allora was inhabited by the Aboriginal Keinjan language group.

* The first European to pass through the district was Allan Cunningham on his 1827 expedition.

* When Cunningham recounted stories of the richness of the Darling Downs he inspired a number of men from Aberdeenshire in Scotland to emigrate. They included former Aberdeenshire resident E.E. (Ernest Elphinstone) Dalrymple who took up the Goomburra run near Allora in July, 1840. He ran cattle in the area only briefly. He died in Brisbane in 1844. The local creek is named after him.

* Grazier Patrick Leslie, another Aberdeenshire man, moved into the area in 1840 with a stud of combined merino and German sheep. He subsequently took over the running of Goomburra.

* By the mid-1840s a small settlement, mainly based around a blacksmith's shop, had been established where Allora now stands. In 1857 the Dalrymple Hotel was built.

* Queensland did not become a self-governing state until 1859 and prior to that Allora became an important centre when the New South Wales government (which still controlled the district) decided that Allora would be the northern outpost of the colony.

* In 1859 the Allora was surveyed. It became a municipality ten years later in July, 1869. It grew in importance as a stopover on the route from Toowoomba to Warwick.

* In 1867 Allora's chances of ever becoming an important centre disappeared when the Toowoomba - Warwick railway bypassed the town. It wasn't until 1897 that the town was connected by a branch line.

* In 1868 the owners of Talgai, the Clark family, built a huge, 150 square metre sandstone house on their 300,000 acre (121,405ha) property. The Australian Heritage Commission has recognized ‘Talgai Homestead’ as a National Treasure.  It is known for its wide shady verandahs, elegant rooms and 50cm thick sandstone walls. It was recently on the market for $7 million with 294 ha and four cottages. It is located on Dalrymple Road and is a private residence.

* By 1903 the town was prosperous with four churches, four hotels, two banks, a court house and police quarters, a town hall, two flour mills and a sawmill.

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Visitor Information

Allora has no visitor information. The closest is Warwick Visitor Information Centre, 49 Albion St (New England Hwy), Warwick, tel: (07) 4661 3122.

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Useful Websites

The University of Queensland website - http://queenslandplaces.com.au/node/21 - provides good information and interesting historic photographs.

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Got something to add?

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6 suggestions
  • A delightful and, yes, charming town. The Blue Cow and its owner Nise – a true gem!

    Bella
  • Beautiful town with with wide, shady streets; many charming and quaint cottages of such individual character. Bought a sandwich and coffee from Amy’s Cafe, and was really warmed by the message on the sandwich bag, which said, “Thank you. Have a nice day.”
    Just love the public park as one enters the town, which has Lombardy Poplars lining a pathway around the park.
    The local school and swimming pool, bring back memories of my own childhood. The town just has a special atmosphere! It is a special place.

    Sharon McIntyre
  • Looks like Google Earth don’t have a street view for this place. No one’s even placed a photo on the location of the Mary Poppins house, so how are tourists to find it easily?

    That’s why Aussie Towns exists. It gives visitors the address and provides a photograph. All you need.

    Colin
  • Of paramount importance, more than people realise, is the fact that the amalgamation of Allora’s own council with Warwick has seen the beginning of a steady and deliberate demise of this amazing, calm and social town by the approval of Grainx, almost in the heart of Allora, as a major overseas distributor of grains. Chemicals are now in water tanks and of course in the air. This month’s end (March, 2017) is the conclusion of public submissions for the Warwick Council to rezone this huge “road to road” block to be rezoned to industrial. This will then allow even higher impact upon unsuspecting residents, many of whom are too old to know the consequences.

    Sandy Manson
  • Went all the way out to Allora to see Mary Poppins house – saw it was only open on Sundays but it was not opened at all. What a waste of our time going. Anyway took a couple of photos of the outside. What a disappointment to say the least …

    I notice on Aussie Towns that I do say “to stand outside the house where P.L. Travers, the author of Mary Poppins, spent her childhood.” I think it is now a private home. I don’t think it is a waste of time. You can still get a feeling for the charming town where P.L. Travers grew up … and that is interesting.

    Lisa
  • Wondering if old street signs are ever for sale. Would be interested in purchasing an old Forde Street sign, if so. Would appreciate any info on this. Thanks!

    Yvonne Zipter