Torbanlea is a rural village near the Bruce Highway, 25 km north-west of Maryborough.

Coal was discovered near Torbanlea in the late 1860s, and a shaft was unsuccessfully excavated and abandoned in 1871. In 1882 James Robertson, an experienced mine engineer from Scotland, correctly guessed that payable coal would be found south of the Burrum River coalfield. It is thought that the name Torbanlea was given by Robertson who had worked the Torbane Hill mineral estate in West Scotland. In August 1884 the Torbanlea Colliery Company was floated to reach a profitable deep coal seam. The company built cottages for miners, subdivided land for 80 house lots, and in a few years there were the Cosmopolitan Hotel, a railway station (1883), an evangelical hall, a primary school and 300 people (1887). The Miners Arms Hotel opened in 1889. The Torbanlea Colliery successfully operated until an explosion killed several miners in 1900. The small town was described in 1903 in the Australian handbook (although mining ceased until 1913):

Profitable operations resumed in the 1920s and expanded to the Burgowan coal mines about six km north east of Torbanlea. A tramway connected Burgowan to the Torbanlea rail yard, and the Burgowan colliery ran successfully into the postwar years.

Torbanlea has the Miners Arms Hotel, a general store, a sawmill, the Burrum Mining Museum and a racecourse. There is a large fuel-stop and store on the Bruce Highway. Its primary school has about 390 enrolments in 2013, many from outside Torbanlea. The census populations of Torbanlea have been:

Census Date Population
1911 175
1933 385
1961 378
2006 805
2011 871

Torbanlea State School, 1887-1987, centenary, Torbanlea State School, 1987


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