Campus History

The history of UQ Gatton dates back to 1897, when the Queensland Agricultural College (QAC) opened as a combined agricultural college and experimental farm. This concluded a 20-year debate by farmers and politicians on ways to boost agricultural production in Queensland.

Guests at the opening ceremony and the special luncheon would have marvelled to know the College would metamorphose to a high school, U.S. Army General Hospital, college of advanced education and finally a Campus of The University of Queensland.

The Early Years (1897 - 1923)

From 1897 until 1923, the State Department of Agriculture (renamed the Department of Agriculture and Stock in 1905) administered QAC with the aid of a succession of six principals (including two "acting").

Growth was slow due to events such as World War I and in 1921 closure was being considered. Instead, the Government transferred control to the Department of Public Instruction (now the Department of Education) in 1923 and the institution was reborn as Queensland Agricultural High School and College.

Half a Century of Growth (1923 - 1970)

Its programs were now part of the State's educational system and from 1923 to 1970 the institution maintained momentum, weathering events such as the Great Depression and agricultural problems such as the prickly pear infestation and rabbit plague.

Two events close to home posed major changes.

In 1927 the University of Queensland launched its Agriculture Faculty, ending Gatton's State monopoly on tertiary agricultural education. The institution was, however, already developing interests in scientific education and research.

In 1942 much of the campus was requisitioned (on one day's notice) for the 153rd Station Hospital and later the 105th General Hospital of the U.S. Army. In fewer than three years these hospitals hosted more than 19,000 wounded servicemen plus 3000 Army doctors, nurses and other service personnel.

The sudden requisition caused major disruption and many new buildings were constructed in 1943 to accommodate teaching and research activities. This development continued throughout the War, with the focus on practical farm work and projects of immediate wartime value such as intensive crop and livestock production, and growing opium poppies to make drugs.

The end of the War in 1945 heralded renewed interest in agricultural education. By 1969, when the first women enrolled, student numbers had trebled while international enrolments and course offerings had expanded dramatically.

More land was acquired in 1945, 1948, 1949, 1950 and 1951 but campus development was stalled despite appeals to the Education Department to replace wooden pre-war and Army buildings. Ex-Army huts had to suffice until a fire destroyed oneof them during the August 1963 vacation.

Over the next eight years, a vigorous rebuilding program yielded four new student residences, five new teaching and research facilities, an airstrip and a cadet-training centre.

Most significantly the College became a purely tertiary institution. High school teaching was phased out in 1962 and the name changed back to Queensland Agricultural College, heralding the next phase - self-government.

The Third Phase: Self-Governing CAE (1971 - 1989)

In 1971 QAC became one of Queensland's first colleges of advanced education (CAE) with its own governing council. New courses, a switch from diplomas to degrees, the first postgraduate programs, more emphasis on research, increasing student numbers from Australia and overseas, organisational restructures, and extensive campus improvements marked the passage of this new role.

By 1986 QAC's agricultural focus had expanded to include studies such as tourism, soil and water conservation, wildlife and environmental management, property valuation and food technology. Highlights included two Australian firsts - college training for National Parks and Wildlife staff, and a business degree course in hospitality management.

Reciprocal relationships with business and industry strengthened teaching and research. For example the College won a Bicentennial award for a 1987-89 student project which created the acclaimed Canopy Walk at O'Reilly's in Queensland's Lamington National Park. Other boosts included a new Research Fund, appointment of a co-ordinator of research and the launch of several specialist centres.

QAC's development through the 1980s suited a decade of increasing accountability and sweeping changes for education. It set the scene for the next stage of its history, as the Gatton College campus of the University of Queensland.

QAC Joins the University of Queensland (1990)

In 1990 QAC amalgamated with the University of Queensland, as part of the new, unified national system. This abolished the binary system of universities and CAEs, consolidating the smaller ones with others to give all institutions university status.

QAC's new role was reflected in its new name - the University of Queensland, Gatton College.

A decade later the name changed again to UQ Gatton following another significant milestone in its history - the University Senate's approval of key recommendations in a Report by Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Ted Brown.

The Brown Report launched a forward-looking plan to develop UQ Gatton as an international centre of excellence in teaching, research and extension, with a $13 million funds injection and proposals for new courses and centres and a lift in student numbers.



  • 120th celebrations!


  • School of Veterinary Science celebrates its 80th anniversary.
  • Darbalara Beef Teaching Facility is officially opened.
  • J. K. Murray Library extension commences.


  • The 3.275 megawatt Gatton Solar Research Facility comprising more than 37,000 thin-film photovoltaic panels, mounted on the campus’s 10ha former airstrip is launched by Industry and Science Minister Ian Macfarlane.
  • Opening of the Geothermal Cooling Tower, an innovative new technology designed to reduce water consumption and the cost of generating electricity.
  • Renovations completed on the Plant Industries Building, including upgrades to the Chemistry and Plant Biology laboratories.


  • Work begins on a 3.275 megawatt pilot plant on Campus which will be Queensland’s largest solar power installation.
  • Work begins on a Community Garden Project being run by the UQ Gatton Plant Science Society.


  • Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Dr John McVeigh officially opens the Agricultural Science Laboratory.  


  • School of Veterinary Science received full accreditation from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) for the next seven years which will allow our Vet Science graduates to work as veterinarians in the United States.
  • $7 million was invested into the Gatton Research Dairy making it a join research centre between UQ and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF).


  • Refurbishment of the swimming pool and a new cardio and weights gym is opened - UQ Fitness and Aquatic Centre – The War Memorial Swimming Pool.  


  • UQ celebrates centenary celebrations.
  • The School of Veterinary Science relocated to the Campus. Over a $100 million was spent on new buildings and upgrading facilities. The School of Veterinary Science was a boost for the Campus as it doubled the student population and brought over a 100 staff with the relocation.
  • Opening of the Native Wildlife Teaching and Research Facility to support teaching and research in Australian native wildlife.


  • Opening of the Centre for Advanced Animal Science a joint initiative between UQ and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF). The name changed in 2014 to the Queensland Animal Science Precinct (QASP).


  • $1.5 million expansion of the Equine Unit. The expansion, around the historic stable block Farm Square, includes eight new crushes for reproductive, dental and performance testing, holding yards, teasing lanes, mechanical horse walker and new dressage and show jumping arenas. A new reproduction laboratory allows semen evaluation, embryo transfer and a clean dust-free serving area for semen collection.
  • The Regional Collaborative Learning Centre a $2.8 million innovative teaching and learning facility is built on Campus.


  • Opening of the Environmental Park which was jointly funded by the University and Greening Lockyer. It includes a 10-hectare bushland park, including Lake Galletly. The park will be complete with animal shelters, bird-watching hides and re-vegetated native forest.


  • Name changes to University of Queensland Gatton or UQ Gatton.


  • University of Queensland Senate approves key recommendations in (Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Ted Brown) Brown Report. Plans for future development include $13 million funds injection, new Centre for Rural and Regional Innovation and new professorship in Rangelands Management.


  • Centenary celebrations!


  • QAC amalgamates with the University of Queensland as part of the new unified national system, name changes to the University of Queensland, Gatton College.


  • Agricultural focus expands, research capacity strengthens, domestic and overseas student numbers increase.
  • QAC becomes self-governing as one of Queensland's first Colleges of Advanced Education.


  • First women enrolled.


  • Fire destroys ex-army hut. Eight-year rebuilding program begins.


  • High-school teaching phases out, heralding future role as tertiary institution. The name changed back to Queensland Agricultural College from the 1 January 1962.


  • Three more land acquisitions (243 acres) adjoining the College.


  • 50th anniversary celebrations.


  • QAC purchased two adjoining farms, 296 acres (120ha) between the Campus and Laidley. In 1953 it was named Darbalara Farm after an Australian Illawarra Shorthorn cow that held the world milking record at the time.


  • U.S. Army Hospital leaves the Campus.


  • 85 acres and most of the Campus buildings were requisitioned for a U.S. Army Hospital during World War II.


  • World War II - war effort includes intensive crop and livestock production.


  • University of Queensland's Agriculture Faculty opens, ending Gatton's state monopoly on tertiary agricultural education.


  • Control transferred to Department of Public Instruction (renamed Department of Education 1964) and institution becomes Queensland Agricultural High School and College.


  • Low student numbers leads to the suggestion that QAC should be closed.


  • July 9: Lord Lamington, Governor of Queensland opens Queensland Agricultural College (QAC) as a combined agricultural college and experimental farm and the first 23 students begin a routine which includes three days in class, three days farm work. College administered by State Department of Agriculture (renamed Department of Agriculture and Stock 1905).


  • August 22: Minister for Agriculture A.J.Thynne conducts stump-capping ceremony for the Foundation Building, and, November 11: State Parliment approves funding.