Writing for pleasure to showcase the best Australia has on offer.
Published January 3rd 2015
A Patchwork Quilter's Haven at Van Cootens
The small town of Howard in Queensland was named after William Howard who settled in Maryborough in 1857 and who carried out local explorations in the Isis and Burrum Districts. Howard is approximately 27klms north-west of Maryborough and holds significance in history as it was once a coal mining town.
In the 1860s coal was mined on the eastern and western side of the Burrum River; however continual river flooding caused the mining to be abandoned. Later in 1877 William Whitley opened Whitley Colliery on the west bank of the river. With finance from London the colliery expanded and a lobby for a railway was engaged.
A Scottish Engineer by the name of William Rankin was sent to manage the enterprise. He built the stately Brooklyn House as his residence in 1890. Brooklyn House is these days a private home; however is open for tours and Devonshire teas by appointment and on weekends. William Rankin ghostly figure is reported to occasionally visit his ex-residential home.
Coal was supplied from Howard to Maryborough for sugar mills, foundries and gas and coke productions. The Howard power station opened from 1951 to 1980 when at that time coal production being restricted to Burgowan (north-west of Torbanlea). When Burgowan closed in 1997 it was the last mine in the Burrum coal field. In 1920 the population of Howard was slightly over 1000 people and in the 2011 census population was recorded as 1364, so despite the closure of mining and power generation the population has not declined.
Everything under the one roof at Van Cootens Drapery, Howard
Howard is also home to well-known "Van Cootens Drapery", a family owned business established over forty years ago that has stood the test of time with regards to our fluctuating economy and still provides the good old fashioned service that sometimes seems lacking in the bigger stores of today.
Men's, Women's & Children's Clothing at Van Cootens
Packed to the brim with merchandise, which includes Ladies and Men's clothing, shoes, bags, beachwear, hats, haberdashery, threads, buttons, craft sewing kits, yarn, ribbon, materials such as seersucker and patchwork, curtain fabrics, towels, tablecloths, clocks, manchester, giftware, Akubra hats, perfumes and other interesting gadget/trinket items; Van Cootens is one shop that meandering around once is just not enough. I was certainly in awe at the enormous amount and variety of stock this shop sells.
Housing over 6000 bolts of patchwork fabric and accessories, Van Cootens stock everything a patchworker needs from pins to backing fabric and wadding. They do not currently have an online shopping cart; however orders can be taken over the phone and email orders or just to join their mailing list can be obtained online from their webpage. Patchwork fabrics designs include animals, children, contemporary, co-ordinates, music, oriental, Christmas, panels, vintage, food, speciality (Disney, Frozen etc), sports and hobbies and Aboriginal. As the range of patchwork fabrics are extensive, only the latest designs are displayed on their webpage.
Another place to visit whilst in Howard is the Burrum and District Mining Museum, which is open Monday, Thursday & Friday from 9am to 12 Noon and 8am to 12 Noon on Tuesday and Wednesday and on the first Saturday of each month. Entry is $3.00 for Adults and Children are free. (4129 0328).
Before you leave town, pop into Van Cooten's Friendly Grocer who sell papers, magazines, grocery, fruit and vegetables, produce and hardware supplies or have a drink at the bar of The Grand Hotel.
Howard, only 15 minutes north of Maryborough, 25 minutes from Hervey Bay and 20 minutes from the beaches of Toogoom and Burrum Heads is a quaint town with plenty of interests for a visitor on a day out.