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Warwick is the major commercial centre in the Darling Downs.

Located 162 km southwest of Brisbane and 480 m above sea level, Warwick is a thriving and attractive town which can claim to be the first important settlement in inland Queensland.

In 1840, after the lands of the Darling Downs had been opened up. Although the Darling Downs were discovered and explored by Europeans as early as the 1820s (Allan Cunningham passed through the area in 1823) it wasn't until the 1840s that the New South Wales Government (Queensland did not become a separate colony until 1859) relented and allowed squatters and pastoralists to move onto the rich and fertile plains.

In 1842 Governor Gipps declared that 'all settlers and other free persons shall be at liberty to proceed to the Darling Downs in like manner as to any other part of the Colony.

The Warwick area was first settled by the Leslie brothers (Patrick and George) who established the Canning Downs run in 1840 and built a home in 1846. Inevitably the station became an important centre for the region with a blacksmith, a store and accommodation and eating facilities.

In 1847 the New South Wales government gave Patrick Leslie permission to select a site for a town on his Canning Downs station. It was to be known as Canningtown, the local Aborigines knew the area as Gooragooby, but the name Warwick was chosen. The town was duly surveyed in 1849 and land was first sold in 1850. This was to be the site of modern day Warwick and it grew to become a municipality in 1861 and to become a city (the second largest on the Darling Downs) in 1936.

The development of the town was rapid. A store was established in 1848 before the town was even surveyed and by 1862 a state school had been completed. Cobb & Co started running a coach to the township in 1865 and by 1871 the railway from Ipswich had reached the town.

The arrival of the railway resulted in a boom in local industry. For a short time Warwick was the end of the line and this led to the establishment of a brewery (1873), a cooperative flour mill (1874), and a brick works (1874). The town's heritage buildings are impressive. The tasteful use of sandstone and the extensive construction which was undertaken as the town grew in the 1880s and 1890s has left a large number of buildings which are noted for their graciousness and splendour.

Fame came to the town in 1917 when The Little Digger 'Billy' Hughes visited the town to press his case for conscription. The townsfolk, as the majority of Australia, were against conscription and one person demonstrated their opposition by hurling a well aimed egg at the Prime Minister. Hughes demanded that the egg thrower be arrested by the local policeman protested that as no Queensland law had been broken he could not arrest the offender. It is claimed that this incident and the intractibility of the policeman led directly to the establishment of the Commonwealth Police Force. In this same year the elegant Criterion Hotel (its latticework and bar are particularly distinctive) on Palmerin Street was built.

Today the city is somewhat more sedate. In recent times it has promoted itself as the 'Rose and Rodeo City' because of the fame of the Warwick Rodeo which is held each October. Warwick is the headquarters of the Australian Rough Riders Association and it proudly boasts that George Leslie held the first rodeo on Canning Downs back in the 1860s. This is a somewhat dubious claim as feats of horsemanship were common throughout the country and to suggest that Canning Downs was in someways unique is to ignore the contests which were common throughout the colony. October is also the month when the city has its Rose Festival.