Monday, June 29, 2015

Warriston, Red Hill

(Photo: google.com.au)

Most people who have lived in Brisbane for a reasonable time would have passed by this building - it is quite a landmark near a major intersection at Red Hill. 

A man named David Pringle Milne bought the land that contains the structure in 1866 and 1874, according to the state's heritage listings. I'm not sure when Milne arrived in Brisbane, but going by the name of his boot-making business it would appear that he came from Scotland. Here is an excerpt from the classified advertisements in the Brisbane Courier dated 12 March 1867.  
(Image via trove.nla.gov.au)

In 1870 David Milne ran for local government and became the alderman for the West ward of Brisbane. From the Brisbane Courier dated 8 February 1871:
 (Image via trove.nla.gov.au)

And here is a photograph of the man.
(Photo: BCC-B120-33468)

Adding further to Milne's presumed Scottish beginnings is the name of the structure he built on that land circa 1886 - a wooden building comprised of two semi-detached two-storey residences that he named Warriston, after a suburb of Glasgow. The Milne family lived in one and the other was made available for tenants, who were mainly middle class males.
(Brisbane Courier 25 June 1902 via trove.nla.gov.au)

After David Milne's death in 1897 the dwellings went through a series of changes - at various times it has been a private school; a boarding house; converted to 12 flats; and split into a number of offices. In 2010 there was a serious fire at the premises which were described in the press at the time as "a cheap rental property". The owners were subsequently fined for a number of safety issues.
(Photo: news.com.au)

Despite these travails the place still stands near the Normanby fiveways, and I hope it remains there for a good while yet.

Click here for a Google Map.

tff







Monday, June 22, 2015

Newstead Police Station (former)

Brisbane Courier, 29 February 1924:
New Police Station At Breakfast Creek
Breakfast Creek is to have a new police station on a more central site than the present one. The Home Secretary (Mr. Stopford), in making this announcement to-day, said that the Brisbane City Council was resuming the present station site which adjoined Newstead Park. The idea was that it should he included in the park area. The Home office consequently had to look for another site, and on the previous day, accompanied by the Police Commissioner (Mr. Short) and the Under Secretary (Mr. Gall), he had inspected some land not far from the present station. The department had an option over this land.

Brisbane Courier, 8 March 1926:
BREAKFAST CREEK POLICE STATION.
On and after Wednesday next, March 10, the Breakfast Creek police will be stationed in a house alongside the Booroodabin Bowling Green. The reason for the change is that the Brisbane City Council has resumed the land on which the present station is built alongside the Newstead Park, so that the land could be used in extending the area of the park. The Government bought a house and land formerly belonging to Mr. Thomas Barry, alongside the Booroodabin Bowling Green. The house, which contains nine rooms, stands on stumps 12ft. high. The space beneath the house will be converted into offices, and the rooms and the house will be used for the men stationed there. The site is a particularly good one, for it is handy to the new bridge which is being built at the Five Ways, Albion, over which there will be a great amount of traffic. The site is also a much more central one. Another feature of the change is that instead of paying rent, as it has been doing for several years, the new station will be Government property.

From mypolice.qld.gov.au:
Breakfast Creek Police Station opened on July 5, 1889; closed on September 20, 1904 (when the Hamilton Police Station was opened) and then reopened on September 6, 1905. The initial house rented as the Breakfast Creek Police Station in Newstead Avenue, near Newstead Park. In 1926 when the City Council expanded the park the police had to move to a timber dwelling purchased by the Queensland Police on a block which sat between Roche Avenue and Breakfast Creek Road at 96 Breakfast Creek Road near the Bowling Green.
The station was renamed Newstead Police Station in 1963 and operated as the local police station from 1926 until it closed in 1995. The property was owned by the Queensland Police until 2006.
The original house, built about 1919 for Brisbane tailor, Thomas T. Barry, was one of a number of houses in the area at that time following suburban expansion after World War 1. It is the last remaining dwelling on Breakfast Creek Road, now the main commercial artery between the Valley and Breakfast Creek Bridge. The building, initially used as married quarters for the police, is a typical example of the ‘Queenslander’ timber-framed and elevated dwellings of the period. It was first enclosed underneath with an office in 1939.
The small, timber building at the rear of the property, built pre-1914, was relocated from the old Breakfast Creek Station near Newstead Avenue. It included single-men’s quarters and a police cell.
Although the police have left and the government has sold the building, it still stands on Breakfast Creek Rd, passed by thousands of vehicles daily. Do you recognise it?
(Photo: © 2015 the foto fanatic)

Click here for a Google Map.

tff 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Nundah Fire Station

Here is another of the old suburban fire stations that have been decommissioned and phased out of their original purpose. This one is at Nundah, and it has been absorbed into a new apartment complex - this is an artist's impression of the finished product.
(Photo: http://www.realestate.com.au)

And a recent photograph of the frontage.
(Photo credit: Shiftchange via Wikimedia Commons)

This is the way it was looking prior to renovation.
(Photo: © Queensland Government)

Fires in the Nundah area are now responded to from the fire station at Hendra, pictured below. It is able to house the much larger and more modern appliances used by the fireys today, but it lacks the street appeal of the original Nundah station that was decommissioned in 1999.
(Photo: google.com.au)

The  Nundah Fire Brigade was formed in 1916, originally storing its equipment at the Royal Hotel until a shed and bell tower were erected in Union St in 1917. Then the fire station was built in 1936 to a design by Atkinson & Conrad using a template shared with other stations including those still standing at Wynnum and Coorparoo (both also decommissioned). The two-storey building provided room for equipment on the ground floor and accommodation for the superintendent on the upper floor.

Click here for a Google Map.

tff

Monday, June 8, 2015

Royal Hotel, Nundah

A couple of weeks ago we had a family meal at one of Brisbane's oldest hotels. I'm not a restaurant reviewer, but I have to say that I was very impressed with the venue and the food. I am talking about the recently refurbished Royal Hotel at Nundah, which happens to be on the BCC heritage list.

The suburb now known as Nundah started out as German Station, a place established by  Lutheran missionaries who were among Brisbane's first free settlers. They arrived in 1838 and the mission lasted until 1843. A railway station was opened in 1882 and with that came a new name for the suburb - Nundah, an adaptation of the name that the Indigenous Turrbal people had for a chain of waterholes in the area.

The Royal Hotel was designed by architect GWC Wilson and built on Sandgate Road around 1888. It has remained a Nundah fixture since that time. Here is the earliest photograph of it that I could find - it was taken around 1929.
(Photo: SLQ 1868)

Prior to a makeover last year, the hotel had marketed itself as the Royal English Hotel and it looked like this. Fortunately all of that faux-Tudor cladding is now gone.
Photo: google.com) 2013

And here is its most recent appearance. Now known simply as The Royal, it has embraced the gastro-pub concept with an Italian flair. Judging by the full-to-capacity crowd, the changes have met with instant approval and The Royal has regained its mojo.
(Photo: http://ourhotels.com.au/theroyal/)

Click here for a Google Map.

tff

Monday, June 1, 2015

State butcher shops

"Mum - what does 'expectorating' mean?".

This was a question I asked when, as a child, I accompanied my mother to the local butcher shop. On the wall there was a big sign that said "No Expectorating" - I hadn't a clue. When I found out that it meant "No Spitting" I wondered who would spit on the floor of the butcher shop anyway.

From what I remember of a 1950s butcher shop, it looked a lot like this one, although the photograph was taken at Wondai in 1935.
 (Photo: SLQ 149488)

Large wooden cutting blocks standing on sawdust covered floors. Meat hanging by butcher's hooks from a rail that ran along the back wall. Much of the butchery was done in plain sight of the customers - carcasses sawn or chopped on those blocks, which were then rubbed down with salt to clean them. The sawdust floor caught any escaping blood or scraps and was swept up at the end of each day; fresh sawdust was spread over the floor on the following morning. I would imagine that things were even more primitive around the time of WWI - certainly commercial refrigeration would have only been in its infancy.

Many readers will be surprised to learn that, in the years during and after WWI, Queensland had butcher shops that were owned and operated by the state. The war time Labor government under premier TJ Ryan and treasurer EG Theodore wanted to ensure that Queenslanders were not disadvantaged by capitalist exploitation, so between 1915 and 1929 there were a total of 90 butcher shops that were government controlled. This enabled the government to fix the price of meat. Here is a photograph of one such store, this one at Albion around 1925.
(Photo: SLQ 57672)

And this is a butcher shop that was built in James Street New Farm in 1901 for Baynes Brothers. It was purchased by the state government in 1918 to be run as the New Farm state butchery.
(Photo: petersensqualitymeats.com)

The government's foray into staple products was never really successful. The butcher shops lost money and the government began to close them in 1926. The New Farm state butchery was closed in 1929 and the premises were sold to investors who leased the shop to butcher George Lemke. Ten years later the shop was onsold to Burrows Brothers who renovated the shop and installed a large refrigerated cold room.

Burrows Brothers survived WWII rationing and subsequent price fixing, then sold the business to the Petersen family in 1971. This is the shop, still bearing the Petersen name, pictured in 2009.  Although the Petersens sold to the George family in 2012 the shop remains, possibly the oldest traditional butcher shop in Brisbane.
(Photo: google.com)

Click here for a Google Map.

tff

Friday, May 29, 2015

John Oxley Library Award

This blog has just been honoured as a joint winner of the John Oxley Library Award for 2015. The other joint winner is the fabulous North Queensland History blog, and I am humbled to be mentioned in such august company.

Here is some information about the award:
As Australia’s leading library of Queensland's documentary heritage, the John Oxley Library plays a vital role in the development and communication of Queensland memory.

The John Oxley Library Award recognises an individual who had made an outstanding contribution to the appreciation of Queensland history. The Award is granted annually to promote the value of historical knowledge and its role in shaping Queenslanders' understanding of themselves and each other.

The recipient will receive a $5,000 prize.

The achievement being recognised may relate to any aspect of Queensland's social, political, economic and cultural life; and may take any form, occurring in any context, and extending over any period of time.
2015 John Oxley Library Award recipients
Trevor Newman (joint winner)
Trevor Newman coordinates popular blog Your Brisbane: Past and Present (yourbrisbanepastandpresent.com). Trevor's blog compiles valuable information about Brisbane's buildings, those we consider landmarks, as well as many others. It's a well written blog by a person who grew up in Brisbane. Trevor has been consistently nominated by Queensland Memory staff as a nominee for this award for the past few years.
Trisha Fielding (joint winner)
Trisha Fielding coordinates the equally popular blog North Queensland History (northqueenslandhistory.blogspot.com.au). Trisha also writes a weekly history column for the Townsville Bulletin and is a regular contributor to local ABC Radio. In 2010, Trisha published her first book, Flinders Street Townsville: A pictorial history, which was awarded a high commendation by the National Trust of Queensland and she received an award for writing at the Townsville Arts Awards. Trisha is an active member of local studies groups and works as a Librarian for Townsville City Libraries.
In my acceptance speech at the awards ceremony last night I thanked the staff and volunteers at John Oxley Library and State Library of Queensland for making such valuable archive material accessible. Without their painstaking work digitising photographs, documents and ephemera this blog would not exist.

And my thanks also go to all readers of the blog.

Cheers
tff   

Monday, May 25, 2015

New Farm Fire Brigade

The origin of organised fire-fighting in Brisbane was, naturally enough, as the result of a fire. It occurred in a cabinet maker's workshop near the corner of George and Elizabeth Sts in 1860. This blaze was contained only by the efforts of police and citizens who helped voluntarily. A fledgling fire brigade was formed afterwards, but had difficulty maintaining resources and was soon disbanded. Fortunately, future attempts gained better traction.

The near-city suburb of New Farm created its own voluntary fire brigade in 1889. There was a sawmill down by the river at Moray St that was obviously considered to be a fire risk and that business, James Campbell & Sons, provided some nearby land for the erection of a fire station - it was completed by December of that year at a cost of £50. The original equipment consisted only of two hand-drawn hose reels. The following undated photograph shows the men of the brigade with their rudimentary equipment. 
 (Photo: SQL 97498)

The fire station was situated on the corner of Moray and Langshaw Sts, advantageously close to the industrial section of New Farm. The disadvantage though, was that these businesses were close to the river in a low-lying area. The solution to this issue was the building of a tower with a lookout and bell to provide greater coverage of the suburb.
(Photo: SQL 141596)

And here is a photograph of the former site of the tower as it is today.
 (Photo: google.com.au)

The fire station moved to a much higher and more central spot in Heal St around 1903 and in 1912 the brigade updated its equipment - a quadricycle built by Howards Ltd that was rigged up as a pedal-powered fire engine. It had a box that contained fire fighting equipment, could tow a wheeled hose reel and could transport four firefighters.
(Photograph: "Brisbane on Fire"; K Calthorpe & K Capell)

The quadricycle still exists - it is held at the Queensland Museum.
 (Photo: Courtesy Queensland Museum)

The New Farm Fire Brigade was a voluntary organisation through to 1922 when members started  to receive payment for their service. Ironically the New Farm brigade disbanded in the following year.

The fire brigade is now centralised, so the old methodology of separate brigades in different suburbs is long gone. However the volunteering tradition lives on. Queensland has some 35,000 rural volunteers and a further 6,000 State Emergency Service volunteers.

All our firefighters deserve our respect and our thanks.

Click here for a Google Map.

tff

Monday, May 18, 2015

Toowong library building

In a previous post about iconic Brisbane architect Richard Gailey, I thought out loud that if you wanted an occupation by which you could leave your mark on the world then architecture would be it. When I first started to prepare this post I had exactly the same thought.

Richard Gailey and the equally famous Robin Dods were prominent in their time and more prominent thereafter. Today we are looking at the work of James Birrell, also prolific and who in his major projects was just as prominent. We have previously examined a couple of Birrell creations - the Centenary Pool and the Wickham Terrace car park. Like those two public amenities, today's subject is another building Birrell created for his employer. It is the BCC library building at Toowong.

My early impression of this twelve-sided building was formed by glimpses as I passed by in a train or a car. A teenager at the time, I likened it to an alien space ship of the type frequently seen in the sci-fi serials of Saturday matinees at my local cinema. It was also reminiscent of the Hoover vaccuum cleaner in the movie "Our Man in Havana" that was around at the time. I mean no disrespect to Birrell (who probably couldn't care less about the ravings of an impressionable youth anyway) - I genuinely admired the building because of these unusual comparisons. Here is a sketch of the building followed by a photograph of it under construction. The third image is from about the time the library was opened in April 1961.

(Photo: BCC-B54-15117) 1960
(Photo: BCC-B54-16201) 1961

There was controversy about Birrell's design from the outset. In fact he had to defend his work against the City Librarian who claimed that a normal rectangular shape would provide more shelf space than Birrell's circular interior. Birrell agreed that this was correct, but pointedly reminded people that shelf space was not the only criterion for designing a library - natural lighting and ventilation were also critical. In any case the building went ahead in accordance with his design.

James Birrell graduated from the University of Melbourne in 1951 and was was the chief architect for Brisbane City Council from 1955 to 1961 and during that time was responsible for more than 150 projects - unfortunately many of those have now been lost or redeveloped. After leaving BCC Birrell went on to work at the University of Queensland then James Cook University and in 1964 he completed a biography of the famous architect Walter Burley Griffin. He also worked in Papua New Guinea for a time before moving to private practice. In 2005 Birrell was awarded the prestigious RAIA Gold Medal, Australia's greatest architecture prize.

Subsequently the Toowong library building has been altered in usage and in form. The following is an extract from the state's heritage register:
During the 1960s, following Birrell's' departure from the Council, alterations were made to the library including the replacement of the light troughs and suspended lighting features. The library was threatened for closure in 1982 following the opening of a new municipal library at Indooroopilly in 1981. The Toowong Library did in fact close but local residents' action saw it re-opened in 1983. Alterations were made to the building in 1983 when one of the rooms on the lower floor was acquired for use by the local councillor as a ward office. This room which was originally planned as an auditorium was used by the library as a workroom and to accommodate the councillor was partitioned to form a reception, office and storage space. 
Here is a recent image of the building.
 (Photo: Mary-Rose MacColl)

Click here for a Google Map.

tff

Monday, May 11, 2015

Tudor-styled residence at Rode Rd, Nundah: 1927 to 2015

Plans: Atkinson & Conrad, 1927
(Photo: © Fryer Library; UQ)

Photo: 1930
(Photo: SLQ 155903)

Photo: 2015
(Photo: © 2015 the foto fanatic)


tff

Monday, May 4, 2015

Transcontinental Hotel

The previous Queensland Government wanted to extend the current public transport networks by laying a tunnel under the river that would take both buses and trains, the unusually-christened BaT Tunnel. One of the later announcements concerned the Roma St Transit Centre. The last government thought it should be demolished to allow the tunnel to hook up with Roma St Station - the Roma St Transit Centre has a reputation as being Brisbane's ugliest building. The change in government has suspended the BaT Tunnel, so I suppose that the redevelopment of the Transit Centre is also unlikely to proceed.

Right across the road from the Transit Centre is one of Brisbane's oldest hotels, dating from 1884. It is the heritage listed Transcontinental Hotel on the corner of Roma St and George St. Here is what it looked like in its early days.
(Photo: BCC-B120-24593)

Obviously the hotel was in a prime position for travellers to Brisbane by rail as it is situated directly opposite Roma St station. It was the brainchild of prominent Brisbane identity Peter Murphy. He arrived in Brisbane from Ireland in 1871 and progressed through occupations as diverse as labourer, bullock driver, police constable and grocer before obtaining a spirit dealers' licence in 1879. 

In 1883 he became the licensee of the Burgundy Hotel in George St. He had the highly regarded architect FDG Stanley design the Transcontinental Hotel and opened it in 1884. The Brisbane Courier reported that the Transcontinental Hotel contained 27 bedrooms, seven public rooms, a billiard room and a private bar. It became very popular immediately, having the largest bar trade in the city within a short time. Peter Murphy became a director and then chairman of brewer Perkins Pty Ltd, and he was president of the Queensland United Licenced Victuallers' Association for several terms. He really contributed greatly to the northern end of George St as he also was the financial backer of the McDonnell & East department store that was prominent in Brisbane for many years. Peter Murphy was a member of Queensland's upper house, the Legislative Council, from 1904 through to its abolition in 1922.

Another well-known Brisbane publican, Denis O'Connor (pictured below) took over the lease of the Transcontinental in 1906, and he immediately arranged for GHM Addison to give the interior of the hotel a makeover. When the new bar was opened in October of that year it was described as the most ornate and best equipped hotel in Australia.
(Photo: SLQ 23827)

The Murphy family owned the Transcontinental Hotel through to 1935 when it was sold to the large Queensland brewery group Castlemaine Perkins Pty Ltd. It is now owned by modern hoteliers the Austotel company who refurbished the hotel at the beginning of 2014. This is the way it looks now. 
(Photo: transhotel.net.au)

Click here for a Google Map.

tff

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Looking for grandfather

For a bloke who writes about our past I don't know much about my own family's history. Both of my mother's parents were killed in an accident before she married. Mum couldn't bring herself to discuss them at any length - it was just too painful for her. The only grandparent I knew was my paternal grandmother - we lived with her at Annerley for several years until I was about ten. Unfortunately my mother and my grandmother never really got on and having three little kids running around seemed to get on grandmother's nerves, so we didn't interact much.

I didn't know my paternal grandfather either - he died when I was about a month old. My father, a man notoriously reticent about such information, passed on very little of his family history. About the only detail that I knew about my grandfather was that he served overseas in WWI and had medical issues as a result.

This year's centenary of the Gallipoli campaign prompted me to do a little digging to see if there was anything I could add to this very incomplete story. First stop - the National Archives of Australia web site that provides details of our WWI diggers. This is what I found.

My grandfather enlisted in Brisbane, and his papers were dated 9 September 1915 when he was 39 years and 9 months old. Rather too old for joining the army, I thought. His enlistment papers indicated that his occupation was a "traveller" - new information to me. I assume that it meant commercial traveller rather than tourist. He wouldn't have realised how much travelling he was about to experience.

Next I read that he was married with five children. What was he doing joining the army when he had five kids to support? Perhaps the war was already affecting jobs, perhaps he felt peer pressure to join up - I'll never know now. From the meager family information that I did know, the youngest of his then five children was my aunt who was born on 25 April 1915 - the first day of the Gallipoli campaign and the reason we celebrate Anzac Day. So grandfather went and enlisted when his wife was nursing a child only four and a half months old, in addition to having another four kids - he must have known that he would probably be sent overseas. My father, the youngest in the family, wasn't born until a few years after the war ended, when grandfather was 45 years old. So if grandfather hadn't made it home...

The file shows a typed address "Buccan on the Southport Line" - then that was crossed out and a Broadway St, Red Hill address was handwritten next to it. I did know that my grandmother came from around Logan Village, so perhaps they had lived there for some time. Perhaps she and her children lived there with relatives while her husband was caught up in the war, I don't know.

Next he had to swear the oath, promising to serve the king until the end of the war and for four months thereafter.

His physical details were noted - height 5'7" (about 170 cm) and weight 11st 4lb (approx 72 kg) with a scar on his left knee. He had grey eyes and brown hair; visual acuity 6/9 in each eye. Now I can almost imagine him - I've never even seen a photograph of him, so I picture him as looking like my father who had a very similar build.

Grandfather became part of the 10th reinforcements to 26th Battalion, AIF - largely comprised of Queenslanders. In March 1916 they were sent on their way to Tel el Kabir in Egypt for training. Within a couple of months grandfather was hospitalised, the first of many hospital visits to come. His records note that he was suffering from mumps, a painful complaint for an adult male. This is a photo of the Tel el Kabir camp.
(Photo: http://www.dontforgetthediggers.com.au)

In July 1916 he was transported to Etaples, a training base and hospital town in France. The battalion became part of 2nd Division, and it seems their first major battle came around Pozieres between July and August, after which they were sent to a quieter sector in Belgium having suffered over 650 casualties. 

In September 1916 he was temporarily promoted in the field to corporal as a result of a fellow soldier being listed as missing, and the promotion was ratified in November with the confirmation of that man's death. From these details it is apparent that grandfather was involved in actual fighting involving loss of life. I can't imagine what that would be like.  

He was hospitalised again in November of that year - this time with haemorrhoids. It must have been a serious case because he was repatriated from Etaples to England to be admitted to the war hospital at Beaufort, where he remained for about a month. He was probably safer there as the Germans were fond of bombing Etaples, hospitals and all. Here is a photograph of the remnants of a British Red Cross hospital in Etaples after a bombing raid.
(Photo: © The History Press)

It seems that grandfather then spent most of 1917 attached to the 69th Battalion in England before being marched out to Le Havre in September of that year, rejoining his former battalion as a sergeant after having been promoted in August 1917. The battalion was moved south to the Somme Valley and the 26th participated in two attacks to the east of Flers. These attacks took place in atrociously muddy conditions, were largely unsuccessful and resulted in over 300 casualties. A month later grandfather reported to the field ambulance with scabies whereupon he was transferred to hospital in Camiers, France.

In April 1918 grandfather was taken on strength to No 1 Australian Convalescent Depot in Le Havre. A convalescent depot was a sort of half-way house for soldiers that were no longer hospitalised but were not yet fit to return to their units. He was still there when the 26th Battalion captured the German tank Mephisto near Amiens - it was repatriated to Brisbane where it has been on display at the museum for many years.
(Photo: Jose Luis Castillo ©worldwarone-afv.blogspot.com.es)

It would appear that grandfather was on active duty until December 1918 when he embarked Orantes for return to Australia. During this time he received a promotion to company sergeant-major.

The final note on the file says that on 3 April 1919 he was discharged from the army as medically unfit, suffering from rheumatism. Judging by a Particulars of Service form issued to the Department of Repatriation in 1925 I assume that, almost at the age of 50, grandfather applied for a disability pension.

Service Medals: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
   

So there we have the war service of a WW1 digger - not much glory in these details, no heroics, just the hard physical and mental cost of vicious fighting in deplorable conditions. I'm sure that this story is no different to the stories of thousands of other Australians who were sent overseas to fight in WW1. No wonder so many came home ill or disabled, let alone the enormous number who lost their lives. My grandfather came home to his family, and even though he lived to the age of 73, the war took its toll on his health.

Thank you for your service Granddad. It's sad that we never had the opportunity to get to know each other. 

LEST WE FORGET

tff

Monday, April 20, 2015

On the G

Last week I had the pleasure of riding on the G - the new light rail system on Queensland's Gold Coast. It is quick, quiet, air-conditioned and very comfortable. It seems to be well supported too. I rode with shoppers, tourists, travellers with large suitcases, school children and retirees.

It isn't perfect yet. It needs to link up with the Brisbane rail system and also the Gold Coast airport and when it does it will be as good as anything in the world. It has just been announced that the G will be extended north to meet the Queensland Rail network at Helensvale - this should be relatively straight-forward and inexpensive, and could be in place for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018. The next logical step after that would be to project the G south to Coolangatta, linking with the Gold Coast airport on the way. Because of existing infrastrucure this will be more expensive and will take longer to achieve.
(Photo: ridetheg.com.au)

There are some caveats about the G though. My mate who lives on the Gold Coast pointed out the years of disruption to traffic, noise and general inconvenience incurred in the construction phase. Some businesses were extremely badly affected by the alteration of vehicle and pedestrian routes through the Gold Coast. Also, there is no doubt that there is a huge startup capital cost for infrastructure of this magnitude.

Unfortunately (but predictably) this encounter left me nostalgic for Brisbane trams, even though they haven't been around since April 1969 except at the tramway museum at Ferny Grove.

Over the years there has been various attempts to resurrect trams here. I would hate to think how much has been spent on feasibility studies initiated by the different levels of government. Every time there is a change of government (happens all too frequently these days) the new people ditch all previous studies and institute their own. The latest was the BaT Tunnel that was promoted by the previous LNP state government that would have sent buses and trains through a tunnel under the river - it has now been tossed out by the incoming Labor government who want to come up with their own proposal. Although the BaT Tunnel project didn't include trams, it may have freed up public transport enough to consider them down the track (sorry!).

But I like to dream. Imagine having trams back again.
(Photo: brisbanetramwaymuseum.org)

Naturally they would have to be separated from the rest of the traffic somehow. The original Brisbane trams required cars to stop every time the tram pulled up at a tram stop unless there was a safety zone - a recipe for disaster in today's heavy traffic. But the pay-off would be that many of those motorists might use more convenient public transport.

tff   
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