Lowood, a rural town of 1000 people, is 40 km west of central Brisbane and 25 km north-west of Ipswich.
When the large pastoral leaseholds were all or partly resumed for closer settlement in the late 1860s and the 1870s, many of the settlers were German families. By the 1880s there were German Baptist, German Apostolic and Bethel Lutheran churches in the localities of Tarampa and Lowood (then known as Upper Tarampa). The Upper Tarampa school was opened in 1881.
In 1884 the Brisbane Valley railway, starting from Ipswich, was begun, and Lowood was a railway terminus for two years. The name of the railway station came about from the prevalence of low growing scrub in the area. The terminus became the location of the new town, named Lowood. It became a busy railhead for the local sawmilling industry. In the 1890s Anglican and Methodist churches were opened, a race club was formed and a school of arts was erected. As timber was cleared the land was turned over to dairying, and a butter factory was opened in 1903. An agricultural and pastoral society was formed in 1907 as the population of the town approached 600 people. The Bank of Queensland erected an eye-catching decorative building (1901) which has been listed on the Queensland heritage register.
The butter factory was converted to a condensed milk factory (1912-31), and the district was sufficiently unified and influential to form Lowood Shire in 1912, but the endeavour defeated their resources: the Shire was discontinued in 1916 and divided between Esk and Rosewood Shires. The town, however, maintained its population, and Pugh's Queensland directory (1925) recorded three hotels, four blacksmiths, two banks, several tradespeople, four storekeepers and a number of other shops. Over half the business names were German. In 1926, after a number of years of picture shows in the local hall, the Jubilee picture theatre was erected.
The condensed milk factory was converted to fresh milk production in 1931 as refrigeration reduced the market for preserved milk. It closed in 1957, the year of a bad drought and the beginning of market competition from European dairying. Until then Lowood had been a market town, a centre of small crop growing in the Brisbane Valley, with active produce merchants shipping freight through a busy rail yard.
There was a small dip in Lowood's population in the 1960s, but not enough to stop the opening of a high school (1983). Proximity to Ipswich and the subdivision of dairy farms for rural/residential living saw population growth recover during the next decades. The railway line was closed in 1993.
Lowood has a local shopping centre, swimming, bowls and golf venues, a sports and recreation centre, a showground and a local growers' packing house.
During 1-12 January 2011 nearly 560 mm (22 inches) of rain fell at Lowood. On 10 January the Lockyer Creek flood arrived at Lowood, joining the already deluged Brisbane River to the east. Much of Lowood was flooded. Some days later a drowned body was found, possibly washed downstream or possibly from Lowood. The three major floods at Lowood have been:
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Lowood's census populations have been:
Ruth Kerr, Confidence and tradition: a history of the Esk Shire, Esk, Council of the Shire of Esk, 1988
Ray Johnson, Lowood: the first 100 years: a salute to the pioneers, Lowood State School Centenary Committee, 1981