With a history dating back as far as the famed Darling Downs itself (1827), the original Canning Downs homestead was built in 1840, and is the oldest homestead in Queensland. A 'stallion station' from 1842, the property was ultimately purchased by J.H.S. Barnes in 1917, and has remained in the same family's hands until today.
Part of the appeal of Canning Downs to J.H.S Barnes was its long association with thoroughbreds and the reputation of the Darling Downs as top breeding country. From his second crop at Canning Downs, he produced Rivoli who won the 1922 AJC Derby. His son, 'Ceb' Barnes assumed control of the Stud after returning from service in the Air Force from 1942-1945, and was delighted to accept a welcome home present of a free service from Jack Macdougall of neighbouring Lyndhurst Stud to three time champion sire The Buzzard. The mating with the mare Perfect Morn produced Basha Felika who went on to win the 1951 Caulfield Cup, ironically defeating Macdougall's Blue Vest by a neck.
Ceb purchased the 1952 Melbourne Cup winner Dalray to stand at Canning Downs, and from a limited numbers of mares produced Tails from his mare Dolled Up. Tails went on to become Australia's 2nd highest stakes winner (behind Tulloch) and his wins included the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, The Metropolitan and the Doomben Cup.
Ceb worked with his horses at Canning Downs until his death in 1998, aged 96, where he lies buried with Sara (Bine) beneath a rough granite headstone erected in front of the stables in memory of J.H.S. Barnes. Fittingly, in spring the mares and new born foals use it as a rubbing post.
The property is now in the hands of Ceb's son, John (Mytt) Barnes and his partner Joy Mackay. Extensive restorations to the heritage listed Stables were completed in 2002. Like most historic properties, many of the improvements and facilities had become outdated or required extensive repair and no longer fulfilled today's requirements. This necessitated extensive replacement and/or major restoration of buildings, fences, irrigation systems and supporting infrastructure. Several new buildings have been erected including a foaling complex, winter weanling barns and a vet/utility building.