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History of Maryborough
The year 1861 was a turning point in the history of Maryborough. In the same year that the civil war began in America, Maryborough's 659 residents won the right to "seek control of their township and affairs" and Maryborough was declared a municipality.
An Adelaide street hotel was the unlikely venue for the town's first Council meeting held on 26 April, 1861 and presided over by its new Mayor Henry Palmer.
When Palmer and five other prominent citizens held that historic meeting, Maryborough was little more than a small but lively port settlement.
It had no water or sanitation system, little by way of street lighting, dirt tracks for roads and no public parks or bridges.
Over 147 years, the decisions and actions of the Maryborough Council shaped the city's remarkable history, and led to its evolution from a dusty pioneer village to a commercial and industrial centre of the Wide Bay.
A place for the people
One of the earliest legacies of the City Council is Maryborough's magnificent Queens Park, with the honours for its establishment falling to first mayor Henry Palmer.
Just one year after the first Council was formed, the first boatload of free settlers landed at the Port of Maryborough, seeking fame and fortune in the new colony.
In 1865, Palmer lobbied the colonial government to allow a large block of riverfront land near the busy wharves to become a public garden to be used for "fresh air, health and exercise."
In 1871, Council was vested with the garden reserve, and over more than 140 years has overseen its transformation into a superb riverfront oasis covering 5.2 hectares.
Finding a home for Maryborough's civic leaders proved a contentious matter for Council.
In fact bickering over the building of its first town hall was so intense that Government abolished the Council for seven months in 1874, and the hall did not open for public use until two years after it was completed.
It eventually proved so unpopular that within 10 years the Council had sold it off to raise funds to build a new one.
Its replacement - with its imposing six columns and red brick - was officially opened in June 1908.
It was designed by one of the leading architects of the Federation era and to this day remains the city's most prominent and striking landmark - as well as its social and civic heart.
From a town to a city
As the township grew, Council began introducing and continually upgrading the essential services that residents today take for granted.
The construction of a water supply scheme from Teddington began in 1878 and the town's waterworks opened in 1881, with around 40 premises connected to mains water. Other residents paid one penny for six buckets from standpipes in the streets.
The first gas street lamps were lit in 1879, with the first electric street lights installed in 1922 at the same time as power was supplied to homes.
Lobbying for a bridge across the Mary River to link the town with Tinana led to one being built in 1876, only to be swept away in the City's worst flood of 1893. In 1896, it was replaced with the Lamington Bridge, and in 1926 Council built a second bridge over the Mary to link the city with Granville.
In 1905 - Maryborough was declared a city.