Nestled beside Dalrymple Creek just off the highway between Toowoomba and Warwick with a population of just over 1200, Allora has famously starred in several movies including the Disney blockbuster movie, Saving Mr Banks which traced the real-life story of how Walt Disney courted author, P.L Travers for screen rights to her Mary Poppins book.
P.L Travers was the pseudonym for Helen Lyndon Goff who famously spent two years growing up in Allora in the old bank building in Herbert Street known locally as the ‘Mary Poppins house’. The house in the film was created in Hollywood from the architectural drawings by Les Struthers (owner).
Allora’s popularity as a filming location has been further confirmed with its streetscape and various locations featuring in Ouroboros – a film directed by Henry Boffin and shown at the Cannes Short Film Festival in 2014, TV series “Harrow” and an episode of “Who Do You Think You Are” who filmed an episode about Kerri Anne Kennerly (nee Wright)’s ancestors who lived in Goomburra and Allora.
Allora’s main street was also once described by a travel writer as ‘one of the three best streetscapes in Australia’.
Allora 150 Year program of free and ticketed events – in locations in and around Allora – includes:
Saturday, 20th July from 9am: Beard/moustache judging, burying of time capsule, Meet the Makers markets (RSL), town crier, official opening (11am), street parade (11.45am), bullock crossing (12.30pm), Shane Webke is announcing winner of inaugural “Greatest Sportsperson”, Allora State School talent quest, Talgai Homestead open house (2 – 4 pm, Adults $10, Children $5), high tea and jazz (Goomburra Hall, $25 per person), penny farthing bikes and vintage cars, wine/cheese/fashions at the Mary Poppins House (SOLD OUT), Showground – “Bangers by the Bonfire” and Allora State School P&C Movie Night (6pm) and Pioneer Dinner (SOLD OUT).
Sunday 21st July from 8.30am: Memorial to fallen soldiers, Poet’s breakfast at RSL (SOLD OUT), church services at St David’s (Anglican), St Patrick’s (Catholic) and St. Andrews (Uniting), Wuppies music, Mary Poppins open house ($7 house tour and morning tea $5), 50 year reunion lunch of the 1969 Allora State School Year 10 Class.
Other ‘must visit’ Allora venues joining in the 150 year celebrations include Sports Museum, Drayton Street Museum, St David’s Hall (Allora Art and Craft Group display), St. David’s Church, St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Rotary Bookfest in St Andrew’s Hall, Photography Club Display and Indigenous display in Senior Citizens Hall, murals at the Allora Showgrounds and 150 year timeline display in Old Shire Chambers.
Allora’s 150 year celebrations have been proudly supported by local businesses including silver sponsors Darwalla, Thompson Longhorn, Commercial and Railway Hotels and Pursehouse Rural. Around 30 other mostly local businesses have also thrown their support and loyalty behind the milestone commemoration with generous financial and in-kind sponsorship.
Entertainment by Gary Fogarty & Rohan Morris (bullocky & blacksmith) has been funded through the Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF) – a partnership between the Queensland Government and Southern Downs Regional Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland.
A 2020 calendar has been produced by Wendy Ardrey & Alana Frizzell and funded by the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR).
FUN FACTS ABOUT ALLORA:
Before the arrival of Europeans, the area around Allora was inhabited by the Aboriginal Githabul tribe. The name is believed to derive from Aboriginal word “Gnarrallah” meaning waterhole or swampy place.
The first European to pass through the district was Allan Cunningham on his 1827 expedition. When Cunningham recounted stories of the richness of the Darling Downs he inspired a number of men from Aberdeenshire in Scotland to emigrate.
They included former Aberdeenshire resident E.E. (Ernest Elphinstone) Dalrymple who took up the Goomburra run near Allora in July, 1840. He ran cattle in the area only briefly. He died in Brisbane in 1844. The local creek is named after him.
Grazier Patrick Leslie, another Aberdeenshire man, moved into the area in 1840 with a stud of combined merino and German sheep. He subsequently took over the running of Goomburra.
Following European settlement, the history of the area is entwined with two famous pastoral homesteads in the vicinity of Allora: Glengallan and Talgai. Both properties ran sheep.
The 1867 Glengallan Homestead was rescued from ruin and today is open Wednesday to Sunday, 10am to 4pm.
In 1859, Allora was surveyed. It became a municipality ten years later in July, 1869. It grew in importance as a stopover on the route from Toowoomba to Warwick.
In 1867: Allora’s chances of ever becoming an important centre disappeared when the Toowoomba – Warwick railway bypassed the town. It wasn’t until 1897 that the town was connected by a branch line.
In 1868: the owners of Talgai, the Clark family, built a huge, 150 square metre sandstone house on their 300,000 acre (121,405ha) property. The Australian Heritage Commission has recognized ‘Talgai Homestead’ as a National Treasure. It is known for its wide shady verandas, elegant rooms and 50cm thick sandstone walls. It is located on Dalrymple Road and is a private residence.
By 1903, the town was prosperous with four churches, four hotels, two banks, a court house and police quarters, a town hall, two flour mills and a sawmill.
Mary Poppins house (61 Herbert Street, Allora): this heritage listed house, built in 1879, was the former home of Mary Poppins author, P.L. Travers (born Helen Lyndon Goff). The house originally housed the Australian Joint Stock Bank, where Travers Goff, Helen’s father once worked. Travers spent around two years living in Allora and it is believed to have shaped some of the story lines and themes that made Mary Poppins so famous.
Famous sports people: Allora is the hometown of renowned Australian sports identities, Australian Diamond Laura Geitz and Olympian Matt Denny and many former athletes.
Sunflowers – from December to February each year, sunflower fields throughout Allora and surrounding areas bloom and are popular ‘photo opportunity’ stopping points for visitors from near and far.