The tobacco industry in Logan West was a brief but significant period for farmers in the early 1900’s, who battled and adapted to rough farming conditions.

Logan West was struck by a severe drought in the early 1900’s, which caused many residents in the area to leave.

The drought sparked a surge in alternative types of farming, with many farmers turning to timber, poultry, small-scale dairy, and tobacco farming.

Mary Howells’ Ridge to Ridges (2006) described Park Ridge as the centre of the tobacco industry during the 1930’s.

In an interview with Park Ridge News, Park Ridge resident Barry Nason, whose mother lived in the area since 1907, said the tobacco industry stretched from Browns Plains to Park Ridge, and possibly reached as far as Chambers Flat.

Most of the tobacco farms were set on a few acres.

“There was one notable farm behind what is now the Greenbank RSL … very close to our family properties,” Barry said.

Growing up during the 1940’s-1950’s, Barry could still see remnants of the tobacco fields and an old drying shed on the property that was damaged by white ants.

Barry said the tall wooden tobacco sheds were specifically designed to create the right conditions for leaf drying.

“Tobacco was stored on racks in the drying shed, and the air flow would pass through the bottom and come out at the top,” he said.

Archive QLD

“Type of log barn Park Ridge, 1933.” Queensland State Archives 4241.

Barry said there would have been different varieties of tobacco grown for cigarettes and pipes, but he didn’t know what kind of tobacco was grown there.

He said the main thing that killed the industry was pests.

“Grasshoppers and other things like that damaged the leaves, too much to be able to sell the leaves,” he said.

“My mum said that the industry never really flourished because of the lack of being able to control the pests.”

There was no commercially grown tobacco when Barry was a kid, but a few plants remained in some of the paddocks several years later.

“A couple of us naughty boys pinched a couple of leaves and dried them out, and tried to make cigarettes out of them,” he said.

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“Tobacco drying” by col.hou is licensed with CC BY 2.0. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Howells (2006) said many farmers stopped tobacco farming because of problems caused by blue mould.

A “Brisbane Courier” excerpt from Thursday 16 June 1932 said tobacco graded by the Henderson Tobacco Grading and Bulking company in Park Ridge produced an aroma “comparable only with Virginia leaf.”

It was graded “Lemon No. 1” by tobacco leaf expert Mr C.J. Tregenna of the NSW government, who said despite the adverse seasonal conditions and blue mould attacks, the tobacco leaves in Park Ridge were “equal to the best Mareeba.”

His opinion was shared with Carreras, Ltd., Melbourne, and the British-Australian Tobacco Co., LTD.

Tobacco was also cheaper to produce in Park Ridge and had a better market situation to the Mareeba lands.

Capture3 Beerburrum

“Tobacco farming at Beerburrum 1933.” Queensland State Archives 4254.

Former Park Ridge resident Dawn Barrie grew up in a home across the road from an old tobacco farm on Rosia Road.

In an interview with Park Ridge News, Dawn said the tobacco industry was in full swing about 10 years before she was born, but she and the other children in the district would spend time at the old farm.

“Tobacco grew on the property all down the side of Rosia Road,” she said.

“There weren’t many kids on the district, only 12 or so in those days.

“We used to go and play in the tobacco kilns in the bush at the back of the property.”

Dawn said that the two cement silos were each about the height of a powerline post, three meters wide, and connected in the shape of a figure-eight.

There were no floors at the bottom of the towers, and about 10 feet below the ground water sat at the bottom.

Park Ridge resident Barry Seeleither, whose family had lived in Park Ridge since the 1890’s, said his grandfather was one of the many tobacco farmers in the district (Howells, 2006.)

The tobacco there was smoked using green timber, and locals took shifts keeping the fire alive on the property for 24 hours a day.

Woodridge resident Jack Heron said tobacco farms had previously stretched from Beaudesert Road to Wembley Road, but the industry “went bust” during the Depression (Howells, 2006).

 

 

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