Friday, April 27, 2012

First settlement memorials, Redcliffe

We have previously mentioned John Oxley in connection with the founding of Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, but surely he is of even greater significance to the citizens of Redcliffe.

It was Red Cliff Point in Moreton Bay that Oxley had recommended to Governor Brisbane as a site for a new convict settlement. His reward was to accompany the first party of convicts to be transported there in 1824 as Surveyor-General.  They came up from Sydney in the brig Amity, and there is a monument to Oxley, the ship and its crew, as well as the convicts that were aboard, on Redcliffe Parade in Redcliffe. This blue stone wall was designed to look like the sails of the Amity, and the plaques that have been included in the wall are engraved with names of those who sailed there in her, from captain to  convicts. There is also acknowledgement of the indigenous inhabitants of the area, the Ningy Ningy clan.
(Photo: © 2012 the foto fanatic)

That settlement only lasted for a year because of problems obtaining fresh water and the outpost's lack of success in growing enough crops to be self-sufficient. It was moved up the Brisbane River to the present site of Brisbane. Decades later, Redcliffe  became a resort town, and it is now a city in its own right. When the settlers and convicts quit Redcliffe in 1825, they left behind their rudimentary accommodation - leading the local aborigines to refer to the area as "humpy bong", meaning empty huts. The name is perpetuated by a local primary school, Humpybong State School. One of my favourite Australians, actor and author William McInnes, grew up in Redcliffe, and account of his days at the school can be found here.
(Photo: © 2012 the foto fanatic)

 Further south along Marine Parade is this obelisk, the John Oxley Memorial, that was erected in 1931-2 and unveiled on 26 December 1932 by the governor Sir Leslie Orme Wilson.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

East Brisbane War Memorial

Brisbane's first memorial to WWI service personnel was erected in Mowbray Park at East Brisbane after funds were raised by public donation. The foundation stone was laid in November 1916 and the memorial was officially unveiled on 11 August 1917 by Lady Goold-Adams, the wife of the governor. Atop the monument is the figure of an Australian Light Horseman, carved by Alfred Batstone. Here are a couple of photographs of it.
(Photo:Copyright DSEWPaC; rt52656)

The monument was moved from its original location in the park to allow for the expansion of the nearby bowls club. It is presently situated quite close to Lytton Rd in a beautiful arbor. The statue stands on a pedestal made from Helidon sandstone affixed with marble plaques containing the names of those from the district who did not return from WWI. It is flanked by two artillery pieces that came from Thursday Island where they had been part of Queensland's defences in the nineteenth century.  
(Photo: © 2012 the foto fanatic)

The border surrounding the monument has been constructed from stone sourced from the demolition of the Brisbane Normal School in 1929. A neat hedge now encloses the monument.

Lest we forget.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Graceville Railway Station

When I first entered the work force after completing high school, I caught the train to and from work in the city each day. That meant that I passed through this railway station twice daily for years, sitting in a "red rattler" along with hundreds of fellow commuters. Passengers sat on long cross benches, touching knees with those opposite. Those that couldn't find a seat stood - thereby making the journey even more uncomfortable. In my school days, these carriages were towed behind steam engines, but they were later (thankfully) replaced by diesel engines. Now Queensland Rail is electrified.

The Graceville Railway Station, situated on the Brisbane - Ipswich line, was first built in 1884 as the former pastoral land in the area was being converted to housing allotments. That station was replaced in 1959 as part of the quadruplication of the line between Brisbane and Ipswich. The new station was designed by Polish-born, German-educated Jan Kral, an architect with Queensland railways.

Fifty years later, the railway station was placed on the Queensland heritage register. Conservation architect and member of the Queensland Heritage Council, Peter Marquis-Kyle explains why:
"It has not been listed because of its longevity – the rail line has gone through Graceville since the mid 1870s – but rather for the modernist 1950s design.
"Graceville Railway Station was part of a new wave of Modernist architecture experimented with throughout Queensland as post-war austerity gave way to economic prosperity.
"The butterfly-roofed platform awnings, terrazzo tiles to the waiting room and ticket hall floors, painted steel balustrade to the stairs leading from the subway, the terrazzo window sills, timber and concrete seating, tiled subway walls: these were all a deliberate departure from the traditional railway station design and was considered an exemplar. Now it’s the most original of its vintage between Corinda and Nundah."

Here are a couple of photographs of the Modernist building.  
(Photo: © 2012 the foto fanatic)

(Photo: DERM; 2009)

More recently, the local member of parliament noted that the railway station had been allocated a budget of $900,000 for renovations that will include lifts, overhead bridges and a park-and-ride. They'd better be careful!

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Redcliffe Jetty

It's easy to forget how important sea travel was in the early days of white settlement. With no roads, explorers used boats to navigate their way to different spots on the coastlines. When settlements sprang up, they needed to provide port facilities to enable food supplies and other necessities to reach them.

Queensland's first settlement was in Moreton Bay at Red Cliff Point in 1824, although it only lasted for about a year before being moved up the river to Brisbane. The area became known as Redcliffe, and was pastoral land for decades after that. In the 1880s, the cool breezes and refreshing water of Moreton Bay encouraged holiday makers and day-trippers from Brisbane who could journey there by coach - a four hour trip. A sea journey from the Brisbane port took just over half that time, and a jetty was built at Redcliffe in 1885 to provide landing facilities for the travellers. In 1889 the jetty was extended to 700 feet. Here are a couple of photographs of the jetty from 1906 - firstly an image taken from the esplanade looking over the jetty, and below that is a picture taken from the jetty looking back at the Redcliffe shore.
 (Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #TR1867-0001-0005)
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #TR1867-0001-0009)

By 1911 the SS Koopa was making regular trips to Bribie Island via Redcliffe, and here she is departing Brisbane for such a journey. That's the dome of the Customs House in the background.
 (Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #142772)

In 1922 a new jetty was built to replace the deteriorating original, and they stood side-by-side for a time until the older one was demolished. In 1930 electric lights were switched on at the jetty, and in 1937 a new brick pavilion was built.

This jetty lasted until, having also deteriorated by its exposure to the elements including Cyclone David, it was replaced with the third iteration in 1999. It has heritage lighting and seating and a stylised railway track to mimic the tracks on the old jetties that enabled carts to transport goods to and from the ships. Here is a recent photograph of the entrance to the jetty, and below that, the jetty itself.

(Photos: © 2012 the foto fanatic)

Click here for a Google Map.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Mowbraytown Presbyterian Church

In our last post we looked at the Ann St Presbyterian Church in Brisbane's CBD. It was split off from Brisbane's first Presbyterian church that had been established by Thomas Mowbray at South Brisbane. Today we have another connection to Mowbray - we are looking at the Mowbraytown Presbyterian Church at East Brisbane, built on land donated to the church by Mowbray's widow Williamina. Here is a photograph of the original church structure.  
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #82639

The church stands on land in East Brisbane that was originally owned by Rev Mowbray who died in 1867. In 1884, Mrs Mowbray sold a large portion of it, including the section on which the church is situated, for development. She must have had second thoughts, because in 1885 she bought back the two allotments on which the church was built and donated them to the Presbyterian church for that purpose. The church was designed by Alex B Wilson, a Presbyterian, and later an elder of this church. The church was completed in November 1885 by builder Thomas Gillies at a cost of £600.

In 1909, the church was extended and the main doors were moved to the front of the building. The church was decommissioned in 1997 and it reopened as the Mowbraytown Photographic Gallery. Here is a picture of the church from 2004.
 (Photo:; Geoffrey Cox)

According to the people at Preserving Mowbraytown, the building is no longer open to the public. I wonder what it is used for now? In any case, it is protected by the state's heritage legislation. Here is a current photograph.

(Photo: © 2012 the foto fanatic)

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ann St Presbyterian Church

Here we have one of the oldest buildings in Brisbane - a church designed by Joshua Jeays and built in 1858. The Ann St Presbyterian Church stands right next door to King George Square and Brisbane City Hall. The first Presbyterian church in Brisbane had been opened by Rev Thomas Mowbray at Grey St South Brisbane in 1851, but it no longer exists. Initially the minister would row across the river to conduct services on the north side, but eventually the church split the congregation and built this church for the northerners.

In December 1871 the church was substantially damaged by a fire, but it was rebuilt the following year. Architect and Presbyterian Alex B Wilson designed some improvements to the church in 1897, and the church was further enlarged in size over several years to 1914.

In 1936, a two-storey extension was designed by DFW Roberts for the purposes of providing a hall and office space for the Presbyterian Church in Queensland. Here is a photograph of the two buildings, date unknown.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #108291)

During an expansionary phases in the sixties, Brisbane City Council wanted to buy the property to add to King George Square, but community pressure saw that threat off.

We haven't been so lucky lately however. The church is heritage listed, but the adjoining hall and offices has been sacrificed for a new steel and glass tower, albeit the church hall and offices will be located there. The little church building is now almost surrounded by these soulless monstrosities. Here is a recent photograph of the front of the church with its symmetrical double-door entry and vertical stained glass windows topped by a rose window.
(Photo: © 2012 the foto fanatic)

The church's web pages say that it can accommodate up to 300 worshippers, so the interior is larger than this view of the building would suggest. The church boasts that Dame Nellie Melba was married here in 1882, not in the church but in the adjoining manse.

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Friday, April 6, 2012

Kitawah, East Brisbane

Another of Brisbane's fine old homes has changed hands. Kitawah, a large timber residence in East Brisbane was sold at auction in the beginning of March for around $2 million. Here is my recent photograph of Kitawah.
(Photo: © 2012 the foto fanatic)

Kitawah was built in 1911 to a design from one of Brisbane's favourite architects, Robin Dods. It was one of Dods' final Brisbane commissions before he moved to Sydney. The house was built for Brisbane lawyer Llewellyn Stephens, the son of prominent politician and newspaper proprietor Thomas Blackett Stephens.

The Stephens family owned Kitawah until 1943, when it was sold to the Parer family who had plantations in Papua New Guinea. It was bought from them by Dr James Hemsley in 1969, and the residence has been in the hands of that family until its recent sale. 

 You can even have a video tour of the house if you click here.
The house is listed on the state heritage register.

Click here for a Google Map.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Centaur Park, Caloundra

(Photo: Australian War Memorial; 302800)

This is a photograph of the Australian Hospital Ship Centaur. Note the big cross and the number 47 on the hull - they are Red Cross markings that indicate to other ships and aircraft that Centaur is a hospital ship and therefore carries only wounded service personnel and medical staff.  In fact, under The Hague convention, a hospital ship should provide aid to wounded personnel of any nationality. Centaur had done just that in 1941 when it rescued survivors of the German ship Kormoran that had been sunk by HMAS Sydney

Regrettably the markings on the hull did not stop a Japanese submarine from firing a torpedo at Centaur just north of Brisbane on 12 May 1943, sinking it and causing the loss of more than 250 lives. Sixty-four survived, being picked up at sea after enduring 35 hours clinging to life rafts or debris. The only one of twelve nursing sisters to survive was Sister Ellen Savage who provided care to many of the survivors even though she herself had been injured. Sister Savage was awarded the George Medal. 

Attacking a hospital ship is deemed to be a war crime under The Hague Convention, but the Japanese never admitted any culpability in the sinking of Centaur, and no-one was ever tried for their part in it. However, the commander of the Japanese submarine that was believed by most researchers to have committed the atrocity was later jailed as a war criminal for his actions in another incident.

For many years after the war people wondered about the final resting place of Centaur. In 1968 the Rotary Club of Caloundra unveiled this monument to AHS Centaur near Kings Beach in an area now known as Centaur Park. It overlooks the approximate direction of where the ship was sunk.
(Photo: © 2012 the foto fanatic)

In December 2009 an experienced team of people led by David Mearns discovered Centaur's remains in deep water about 30 nautical miles east of the southern tip of Moreton Island. It was lying only about one nautical mile from the last co-ordinates that had been communicated by the ship's navigator. The site has been protected by the federal government and will remain undisturbed in remembrance of those who perished, and a memorial plaque has been placed on her deck.

Click here for a Google Map.


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