Built progressively from 1868 by Samuel Pearson Welsby, a schoolteacher who emigrated from England on the Fortitude with other migrants selected by the Rev. Dr. John Dunmore Lang. His family settled in Ipswich where he started a school, became a lay preacher and took up a selection of over 500 acres to begin raising stock. The timber for the homestead was cut and milled on site and the building remains in its original position.
Unique in its architectural style, having upright slabs forming all the walls - as many pioneer homes did - Cooneana Homestead was raised on stumps when other buildings had the floor at ground level.
It is understood that the rear section of the homestead was built first and that the front was added at a later date. There are eight rooms including the front hallway and a passageway to the back. The uses that each room was put to are unknown, as the only photographs the Society has are of the outside, save for one of a decorative fireplace in one of the back rooms.
Over the years, the Historical Society has replaced the roof, stumps and some of the floorboards that were attacked by white ants. In 2019, through a grant, the Society employed Queensland Heritage Restorations to restore the building to its original condition, as far as possible, in accordance with a Conservation Management Plan commissioned by the Ipswich City Council. The plan was prepared in accordance with the Burra Charter. The removal of plywood paneling in some of the rooms revealed the use of newspaper & wallpaper on the slabs. Amazing developments turned up newspaper print stuck to a wall that dates to 1874. The Victorian era wallpapers which have been covered up for almost a century show bold designs in vivid colours.
Anecdotal family records indicate that the redecorating occurred after Elizabeth Cameron’s death in 1925. It was during this time that the slab walls were covered with plywood panels and the shingle roof replaced with corrugated iron. The descendants of Samuel Welsby lived in the homestead until the early 1970s. The land was gradually sold off. Cooneana Heritage Centre sits on approximately five acres of the original selection.
'Cooneana' is thought to be an Aboriginal word meaning 'home of the ring-tailed possum'.