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 Defence Reserve (1892) & Orderly Room (1895)

112 Main Street (Telstra Exchange) 


Prior to Federation in 1901, each of Australia's six colonial governments was responsible for the defence of its own colony. In metropolitan and rural areas across Queensland, permanent and part-time army officers and NCOs recruited and trained part-time volunteer militia.

In 1889, Lowood had sufficient numbers of part-time volunteers to form a squadron of 'F' Company, 1st Moreton Regiment (Ipswich), Queensland Defence Force (QDF). 

Brisbane Volunteer Rifle Corps 1889Brisbane Volunteer Rifle Corps 1889

By 1891 Lowood's part-time volunteer recruits had doubled to 56 and were re-formed as the newly created 'K' Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Moreton Regiment, QDF, based in Lowood. 

Volunteers learned military skills, practiced drills, were provided with uniforms and rifles and participated in combined military exercises with units from other regions.

In July 1892 the Qld Government Gazette announced the creation of 'a reserve for Defence Purposes of 31 perches' (783m2) in Lowood.Captain J.F. Flewell-SmithCaptain J.F. Flewell-Smith

This southern portion of the Main Street railway precinct was gazetted for use by 'K' Company, although it had no facilities.

Lowood's first Commanding Officer was a local farmer and part-time officer, Captain John Francis Flewell-Smith (right).

 In 1894 the Government published a tender for the construction of an Orderly Room at the Defence Reserve.

Orderly Rooms were small administrative offices where volunteers could sign-on, receive uniforms, sit tests, prepare for drills, collect rifles and ammunition, and so on.

Lowood's Orderly Room was completed in February 1895. It's likely the timber came from Hancock's sawmill.

Lowood's Orderly Room was built in 1895Lowood's Orderly Room was built in 1895

{Eventually over 50 Orderly Rooms were built across the state. Lowood's is one of only three still standing in SEQ}. 

In 1897 Queensland's mounted infantry units were re-organised as companies of Queensland Mounted Infantry and Lowood joined 'B' Squadron with Gatton and Laidley.

At the outbreak of the Boer War in South Africa in 1899, army contingents were raised by all six Australian colonies in support of Great Britain. From Federation in 1901, this continued under the Commonwealth government.

5th Qld Contingent in South Africa5th Qld Contingent in South Africa

Lowood's J.F. Flewell-Smith was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel and appointed Commanding Officer of the 5th Contingent Queensland Imperial Bushmen (5QIB), comprising 22 officers, 479 other ranks, 450 horses and 51 cyclists. 

His brother Malcolm was already in South Africa with the 2nd Queensland Contingent and a second brother, Norman, followed in April 1901 with the 6th Contingent. All three were local farmers.


 Official World War One enlistment records identify 116 men from Lowood, Fernvale and nearby communities who volunteered for military service in 1914-1918. Some had been members of the part-time militia at Lowood, two had also fought in the Boer War, and many had been pupils at Lowood or Fernvale State Schools.

World War One recruitment posterWorld War One recruitment poster

Volunteers from this district fought at Gallipoli, in France, Belgium and the Middle East. Many were born in the district, while others from elsewhere were living or working locally when they enlisted. Sadly 20 locals did not return.

There are no public memorials in Lowood or Fernvale naming and honouring these previously forgotten World War One volunteers. 

For more details click on 'Tracing Our ANZACs'.

 Since July 2014, Lowood History Group has been in negotiations with Telstra and Somerset Regional Council to rescue and restore this rare colonial-era building to be used for the 

Lowood Local Military History Museum