Bethania, a residential suburb with a hobby farm area on the locality once known as German Pocket, is located 25 km south-east of central Brisbane. Once in the Gold Coast City local government area, Bethania was transferred to Logan City in 2008.
In 1861 the Logan Agricultural Reserve was proclaimed. Situated on the north side of the Logan River and west of Slacks Creek, it was cut up into farm allotments. Two years later the Reserve was extended, taking in the area to be known as German Pocket, enclosed on three sides by the Logan River, immediately south of where the river is joined by Slacks Creek. The pocket is accessible by Station Road.
The Queensland Government had appointed a Brisbane merchant, John Heussler, as an immigration agent to organise the immigration and settlement of German settlers. By arrangement with a Hamburg shipping firm, J.C. Godeffroy and Sohn, Heussler arranged the passage of several German families on the Susanne Godeffroy to Brisbane in 1864. They obtained holdings on the Logan Agricultural Reserve extension, occupying strip farms running east of Station Road (formerly German Pocket Road) to the river. Within a few years they had established a Lutheran church, a school, cemetery (1866), blacksmith, wheelwright and other associated services. Nearly 200 people lived on 700 acres, clearing scrub and initially growing maize and sugar, before switching to dairying.
By the 1870s several of the families had expanded to Waterford and Beenleigh. A second church (1872) was built at Bethania, which is still used for worship and is listed on the Queensland heritage register. The choice of the name, Bethania, arose from the German 'Bethanien', the name for the Holy Land town of Bethany, the location of several important events in Christ's life as told in the New Testament Gospels.
In 1885 the South Coast railway was opened as far as Beenleigh, with a branch line to Logan Village (the Beaudesert line) at Bethania. The station was known as Bethania Junction, retaining the name until the early 1940s. In 1887 the Logan River flooded, inundating all of German Pocket. The flood losses caused several families to move out and holdings to be consolidated. The rail line largely escaped damage, however, and milk could be railed to Brisbane or the Kingston dairy factory as dairying developed.
In 1949 the first of several residential subdivisions occurred in Bethania. In 1982 the Camelot Heights estate adjacent to the Lutheran primary school (1976) and Bethania Village shopping centre was put up for sale. The Bethania Waters shopping centre opposite the railway station followed in 1986, along with a State primary school and a community centre (the school, since closed, is marked by Drum Lane, Arton Lane etc). Below the flood line German Pocket remained rural, with no full-time farmers. The Bethania-Beaudesert rail line was decommissioned in May 1996. A heritage tourist steam train operation closed after operating unsuccessfully for several years in the early 2000s, and the line now lies dormant.
Bethania has a community hall and an aquatic centre in Nofke Park on Station Road, seven aged persons villages/facilities (including Palm Lake and a former caravan park).
Bethania's census populations have been:
Ray Holzheimer, The Bethania Germans: a history of the German settlers and their descendants at and around Bethania, Queensland from 1864, Bethania, R Holzheimer, 2004
Margaret Jenner, ed, Bethania, the early years, Bethania, Bethania 125 Committee, 1989
F. Otto Thiele, One hundred years of the Lutheran Church in Queensland, Brisbane, Publication Committee of the Queensland District, United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Australia, 1938