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Howard and its smaller sibling, Burrum Town, sit astride the upper reaches of the Burrum River some 284km north from Brisbane. Today Howard is a small, quiet, somewhat sleepy little town acting as the Northern access point to the greater Fraser Coast tourist areas centred on Hervey Bay and Fraser Island. The town is within easy reach of two major centres offering comprehensive business and medical facilities, being 15 minutes from Maryborough and 20 from Hervey Bay. For those without a car the Tilt Train stops twice a day thanks to some very vigorous community agitation prior to the introduction of services which originally were planned to bypass Howard.
150 Years Ago.
There appears to be very little information about the river or the surrounding countryside prior to the 1860’s, although it is believed in the late 1850’s pioneers and prospective settlers from Maryborough and surrounding areas regularly pushed north looking for good land and other opportunities, but were generally harassed by the hostile local Aboriginal tribe The Butchulla People, who would no doubt be attempting to protect their traditional hunting areas. There were six clans in the Butchulla Nation and their territory extended through Fraser Island, Double Island Point, Tin Can Bay, Bauple Mountain and north to a point at Burrum Heads.
William Street Howard today.
William Street Howard. Circa 1920
During these forays, large stands of Kauri, Hoop Pine and native Hardwoods were found, while at the same time note was made of the extensive and apparently fertile river flats on the upper reaches of the Burrum River. Recognising the opportunities, two brothers, John and Robert Miller, decided to push north with the intention of establishing a timber mill on the Burrum. It is most likely they went by boat down the Mary River across Hervey Bay and up the Burrum River finally establishing their mill on the South bank of the Burrum River several hundred metres downstream from the present traffic bridge. On the 17april1863 while going to check fishing nets strung across the river, John Miller stumbles across a large outcropping of, what was later confirmed to be, high grade coal, and the rest, as they say, is history. For a more comprehensive history of the establishment and naming of what was to become the town of