Brisbane European Settlement

All About European Settlement In Brisbane

European Settlement In BrisbaneGuided by ex-convicts who had been living with a group of Aborigines after a shipwreck, Surveyor-General John Oxley found a large river in 1824, suitable for the establishment of a new penal colony.

The red cliffs (Redcliffe) north of the river were the original preferred site. However, this was soon abandoned in favour of a site further up the river that had a more reliable water supply and a position that made convict escape more difficult.

The gaol was established to take the toughest prisoners from the prison in Sydney and was governed by Captain Patrick Logan, a commander with a reputation for cruel treatment towards the convicts.

In 1828 a windmill was built by the convicts. It was first used to grind the colony’s corn supply, but soon after an exterior treadmill was built to power the structure, replacing the power of the infrequent winds. This treadmill was used as a form of punishment and convicts were forced to run to grind the corn.

Mounting pressure on decision makers led to the cessation of the flow of convicts from England, and in 1842 Brisbane and the surrounding areas were opened to free settlers.

Brisbane grew steadily with a colourful mix of shanties, slab huts and grand homes being erected along the river and by 1859, it became the capital of the self-governing colony of 6,000 people. Grand homes built in a growing economy boosted the inflow of migrants, and by 1888 most of the evidence of Queensland’s convict past had been eradicated.

When Queensland became a state of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, it was the fastest growing state in the new nation, with Brisbane as its economic hub, and the river a hive of maritime activity.

The hills and ridges close to the city were developed quickly by wealthier landowners looking for cooling breezes and taking advantage of the views of the city. Much of the swampier land to the north of the city was difficult to cross and for many years was not suitable for development, until the area was drained to construct the Brisbane Airport, leaving the Boondall wetlands as a reminder of the natural landscape of the area.

The amalgamation of 2 city administrations, 10 shires and 6 other authorities resulted in the formation of the Brisbane City Council in 1924.

Just as the Great Depression took hold early in the 1930s, landmark buildings like City Hall, the Masonic Temple and the Story Bridge were built. However, this did little to alleviate the high unemployment and widespread poverty.

Thousands of troops from Australia, Britain and America were stationed in Brisbane during World War II, putting a massive strain on city services. Tensions rose between the visiting and local servicemen, culminating in a famous street fight remembered as the ‘Battle of Brisbane’ in 1942, in which an all-out brawl broke out between Australian and American soldiers.

The threat of attack by the Japanese transformed many parts of the city into military camps and major buildings were used as headquarters by visiting military heads.

After the war, Brisbane flourished with increased work on services and roads to cater for the burgeoning population. The suburbs grew steadily as people were able to afford motor vehicles and relied less on public transport.

Brisbane disappeared under a torrent of water in 1974 as the torrential downpour caused by Cyclone Wanda caused the Brisbane River to break its banks. The flood caused 14,000 homes to be evacuated and all air, road and rail transportation was cut in the city’s heaviest rainfall for more than a hundred years. The flood defined a generation as the entire city was affected with the Brisbane River peaking at 6.7 metres. As homes disappeared under the water, the ‘Robert Miller’, a large oil tanker, broke free of its moorings and became adrift in the river.

The city quickly recovered and went from strength to strength, hosting major world events such as the 1982 Commonwealth Games and the World Expo in 1988, which saw the rejuvenation of the South Bank precinct. The events helped to create a new identity for Brisbane, turning it into a vibrant, thriving city with the world’s eyes increasingly upon it. The construction of new cultural and sporting facilities in recent years has continued to expand the city.