Bigges Camp Park is at the eastern end of Grandchester, between Rosewood and Laidley. Grandchester was formally called Bigge’s Camp, named after a pioneer pastoralist, Frederick Bigges.
The area was first viewed by Alan Cunningham in 1829 when he and his party camped beside the Railway Lagoon in search for the source of the Brisbane River.
The surrounding flats and forested slopes had been hunting grounds for the Ugarapol people, holding corroborees on the lagoon parkland until the 1860s.
Bigges Camp was originally named when Frederick Bigges used the same lagoon as a camp on his way to Mt Brisbane Station in 1842.
The area was not settled in, used mainly as a resting place and source of water until 1854 when a mail and passenger service started between Brisbane and Toowoomba. Bigges Camp was on the Cobb & Co route between Ipswich and Gatton.
In 1865, the first stage of the Toowoomba railway line opened, running between Ipswich and Bigges Camp, the terminus becoming Grandchester Railway Station . Permanent settlement followed and at the request of Governor Bowen, and new name was given in 1866.
Grandchester is made of two words. Bigge is old English for Grand and Chester means camp. Bigge’s Camp became Grandchester, a suggestion made to Governor Bowen by his wife on the day the railway opened.
The welcome sign to Grandchester mentions the change of name, “Welcome to Grandchester, formerly Bigge’s Camp”.
Cobb & Co services couldn’t complete for passengers and mail, however, they continued to connect the missing parts of the railway line between Grandchester and Toowoomba, and between Brisbane and Ipswich.
The park has a tribute to the railway with a train carriage axel and wheels on a short section of track. A plaque is on the axle stating the park is a Grandchester Community Moreton Shire Council Bicentennial Project, opened in July 1988.
There is also a memorial in memory of all service personnel from all conflicts, added to the park in 1991.
There are sheltered picnic tables and free BBQ for use, as well as flushing toilets. A small playground provides a slippery dip, swings, a climbing web and other things for children to amuse themselves.
There are a few dirt mounds created in the park as well, creating a small BMX track to give another outlet for children to release some energy.
A couple of water taps complete Bigges Camp Park to be functional as a place to rest and hydrate with some water. Unfortunately, it doesn’t live up to its name and historical purpose, prohibiting camping and motorhomes. Dogs, cattle and horses are also prohibited from using the park.
To get there:
Bigges Camp Park is on the Cobb & Co Tourist Drive . From Rosewood Staging Post, head north on John St and turn left at the roundabout towards Grandchester. Follow Rosewood Laidley Rd for 12.2km and turn into Gordon Rd coming into Grandchester. Bigges Camp Park is 150m on the left.
Coming from Laidley, head south on Patrick St/Vaux St to the end and turn right at Drayton St. Drayton St becomes Rosewood Laidley Rd, follow for 8.2km and cross the railway line at Grandchester. Continue for another 1.3km through Grandchester and turn left into Gordon Rd. Bigges Camp Park is 150m on the left.