A few years ago, our colleague, Joy Najar, donated a couple of press clippings from the Observer Newspaper of 1992 from Toowoomba in Queensland. The Page 4 column of 30th January 1992 carried a small piece from a local historian called Bob Dansie who wanted to know about a place called Zahley. He had come across a reference to it in an advertisement for a sports carnival held in 1905. The event was advertised in the May 1905 issue of the Toowoomba Chronicle and said that the carnival would be followed by a grand ball. The sports program as advertised included “boys race, ,maiden race, quoit match (100 up), 120 yard handicap, tilting the ring, high jump, hop, step and jump, hurdle race, best over the wicket, old buffers race, buckjumping contest, cob and corn guessing competition and greasy pig”.
The page 4 column later that year of 3rd February 1992 gave details on the location of Zahley:
Location of the early settlement of Zahley has been established. It was in the Haden-Goombungee area, and later renamed Kilbirnie. …. As a girl, Mrs Clarice Gersekowski, of Haden attended Kilbirnie School, which was three miles (8.4 km) from her dad’s property. Kilbirnie consisted then of the school and the local hall. Today there is little in the area to remind present generation of what went before. However, Mrs Gersekowski can remember her parents talking about Zahley. The district is 8.5 to 9.5 west of Haden and 9.5 to 11 km north of Goombungee.
Records had it that Kilbirnie School opened as Mt Darry Provisional School in August 1899. It later became a State school, and was renamed Kilbirnie School about 1925. The name change of the area from Zahley to Kilbirnie is thus thought to have occurred around that time.
Toowoomba residents say Zahley is of Lebanese origin. The name was given to the area by a group of pioneering settlers who from a city of the same name west of the Lebanese capital, Beirut. They cleared land in the district for settlement and some went into business in town in the region. It seems there was quite Lebanese community in the district in the early years.
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