European settlement of the Leyburn area began in the mid 1800’s. Leyburn was originally named ‘Canal Creek’ in the 1840’s by William Gray Sr. The township was later renamed as Leyburn by Gray’s daughter and son in law, Jane and Henry Kirby.
The town became an important stop along the stock route and became a mail centre in 1852 and hosting the Court of Petty Sessions from 1861. The Post Office was opened in 1861 and the courthouse was constructed in 1867.
During the 1860’s, gold was discovered in nearby Thanes Creek and the town grew to a population larger than Toowoomba’s at that time. By the 1870’s, Leyburn was home to a bustling community and a number of hotels, including the still existing Royal Hotel. The Gold Rush was brief and at its conclusion, the coaches and later the railway bypassed the town and so it reverted back to a small rural village.
World War II
During 1944 and 1945, Leyburn was home to the RAAF 200 Special Duties Liberator Q Squadrons and US Army Z Special Operations Units. Leyburn Airfield was used for pilots completing missions in Timor, Borneo and New Guinea. Leyburn’s involvement in World War II is marked by a number of monuments and historic parts of the village, including Liberator Park and its memorial and the RSL Museum.
1949 Australian Grand Prix
At the conclusion of the war, the Leyburn Airfield was once again thrust into use, this time as the location for the 1949 Australian Grand Prix. The event was 35 laps of the 6.92km circuit which crossed three different privately held farms. To commemorate this event, Leyburn hosts the yearly ‘Leyburn Historic Motor Sprints‘.