Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Petrie Family - Tom Petrie


When Andrew Petrie and his family left Scotland in 1831, the youngest child, Tom, was a only a few months old. They arrived in Sydney on October of that year, and in 1837 the family moved north to the Moreton Bay Penal Settlement where Andrew was to be employed as Clerk of Works. Tom grew up in the family home at Petrie Bight, and had the run of the settlement and surrounding area. This unique upbringing gave him particular knowledge of the local flora and fauna, and also of the local indigenous people, the Turrbal. Here is a picture of Tom Petrie in later years.
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(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #12939) 

As a boy Tom was allowed to (and apparently wanted to) mix freely with the Moreton Bay aborigines. He learned to speak their language, learned their bushcraft and participated in their ceremonies. He was frequently engaged as a guide or a companion for expeditions outside of Brisbane Town because of these attributes.

After an unsuccessful stint at gold mining in Victoria he came back to Brisbane, married, and bought a property north of Brisbane that he named Murrumba ("good place" in the local dialect). His aboriginal friends helped to clear the land and erect the early buildings on the property which later gave its name to the suburb Murrumba Downs. Tom Petrie was able to go on expeditions for weeks at a time while leaving his stock and the property in the care of his aboriginal workers, confident that there would be no stealing or damage such as that experienced by other white settlers.

Tom and his wife had nine children and one of his daughters, Constance Campbell Petrie wrote some articles about her father's life that were published in The Queenslander in 1902 and subsequent years. They were then published in book form, and such was the wealth of knowledge and the stories contained in it that it became an often-quoted source on the aborigines and early Queensland history. Titled "Tom Petrie's Reminiscences of Early Queensland", it was the result of hours spent by Constance gradually drawing out Tom's stories and recording them. The book is still available at your local library.

The extent to which Tom was involved in the family construction business is unknown, but was probably slight. However, his importance to the people of Brisbane as a result of his exploration of the area and his close relationship to its indigenous inhabitants can not be overstated. After his death in August 1910, the North Pine area was renamed Petrie and in the following year a memorial was erected in his honour. It still stands in a park next to the North Pine School of Arts. Here is a photograph taken at a ceremony at the memorial a couple of years ago - the women are Mrs Janice Hall, great-granddaughter of Tom Petrie and Maroochy Barambah, representative of Tom's friends the Turrbal people.
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(Photo: Courtesy http://dakibudtcha.com.au)

Click here for a Google Map.

tff



Friday, May 24, 2013

The Petrie Family - John Petrie


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(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #17153)

The eldest of Andrew Petrie's children, John Petrie was groomed from childhood to take over his father's business. John received formal schooling and later was trained in stonemasonry and carpentry. He also accompanied his father on expeditions around the colony - among other achievements Andrew and John were the first white men to climb Mount Beerwah in the Glass House Mountains. However, John's role increased earlier than anticipated by father or son. Andrew Petrie went blind in 1848 when John was 26, and although Andrew still held the reins of the Petrie business, John had to become much more involved.

After his marriage in 1850 John and his wife lived close to the Petrie family house on Queen St. The business continued to prosper in the ensuing years as evidenced in the recent post about Andrew. In 1859 Brisbane was declared a municipality and nine elected men became the first aldermen. John Petrie was one of them and by virtue of having received the most votes he became Brisbane's first mayor. This election occurred only a few weeks prior to the proclamation of Queensland as a separate state, and when Governor Sir George Bowen arrived John was part of the official party that escorted him to Adelaide House (built by the Petries for Dr Hobbs) where the letters patent were read to the people of Brisbane.

The Petrie firm tendered for and won the contracts to build some of Brisbane's most significant houses, such as Kedron Lodge, Oakwal, Eldernell and Toorak House. This meant that they were mixing with some of the most prominent citizens of the time. Not that everything was harmonious - rival contractor Joshua Jeays was also an alderman and was critical of some of the tendering processes that took place for council contracts.

With Andrew Petrie becoming more unable to get around, the result of an old leg injury as well as his blindness, John resigned from the Council in 1868 to focus on the family business. His firm won the contract for the new GPO to be built on the site of the Female Factory where he and the rest of the Petrie family had spent their first months in Brisbane.

Andrew Petrie passed away in February 1872 leading to one of Brisbane's largest funerals to that time. Around the end of that decade, John and his family moved to their new home "Beerwah" on Gregory Terrace in Fortitude Valley. It was a large one storey house that unfortunately no longer exists, but it was situated across the road from the Exhibition Building. In its later years it became a boarding house. Here it is, photographed circa 1930.
(Photo: Photographic collection, Queensland State Archives)

John Petrie seemed to have a very busy life even after his exit from politics. Amongst other appointments he was on the Brisbane Hospital Committee, he was a Justice of the Peace, he was a member of the Brisbane Licensing Board, trustee of Brisbane cemetery, director of several building societies and an active Freemason. Among his last major projects was the construction of the new Customs House, completed in 1890 and situated near the old family home at Petrie Bight.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #97398)

John Petrie died at the age of 70 in 1892, triggering another large Petrie funeral. The Brisbane Courier reported that "he left hardly an enemy in the city". Flags flew at half-mast as a salute to the former mayor, businesses closed in a mark of respect and a long funeral procession made its way to Toowong Cemetery.

The Petrie business continued though. In family tradition John's oldest son Andrew Lang Petrie took over the reins of the business.

Click here for a Google Map.

tff    

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Cribb Island

Recently a reader (Hi Jenny!) suggested a post about the former suburb of Cribb Island. Initially I dismissed the suggestion because I didn't know too much about it, but a couple of things drew me back to it.

Firstly I knew that the BeeGees had lived there at some stage. Secondly, I remembered that not long after I bought my first car I had a couple of dates with a lovely girl who lived there. When I say a couple I mean literally two! The relationship didn't prosper because it was what we used to call "GI". (GI = geographically impossible!) Cribb Island was north-east of Brisbane's CBD and I lived with my parents south-west of the city. The round trip to her place was 100 km, and that was before we went anywhere else. A bit of a shame really, but it didn't seem to cause any great grief - she turned up at the football with one of my team-mates soon afterwards.

In Cribb Island's earliest days aboriginal groups used the area as a food-gathering place. After white settlers arrived it was purchased by JG Cribb in 1863; he sold a portion of it to James Jackson and that part of it became a farming community known as Jackson's Estate, producing bananas, watermelons and pineapples.

Cribb Island was a suburb that was literally on the shores of Moreton Bay. It was not an actual island, although you could be forgiven for thinking that it was. It was bordered by the Bay, Jacksons Creek and Serpentine Creek, making it the ideal spot for fishermen to build their little shacks like the ones in this 1928 picture.
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(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #119341)

During the depression cheap land allowed the relatively small population to increase. The suburb was usually thought of as being in the lower socio-economic band even though it had reasonable facilities for a population that fluctuated between 400 and 900 residents. Many of residents have spoken of the idyllic lifestyle on "Cribby" as children - swimming, fishing and crabbing amongst the regular pastimes.

Cribb Island's location, although handy for fishing, didn't do it any favours. Transport to the area was always problematic because of sand, mud and mangroves and the lack of proper roads. Here's a photograph from around 1929 showing a bogged Model A Ford getting a shove through some sand at Cribb Island.
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(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #156215)

And here is the relevant page from a 1974 Refidex street directory showing the then location of Cribb Island.
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(Photo: skyscrapercity.com)

On the eastern side of Serpentine Creek at Luggage Point lay the sewerage outlet for Brisbane. There were often complaints about effluent and odour from local residents and Brisbane City Council has upgraded the facility over the years since. 

And it was location that was to cause the demise of Cribb Island. In 1971 the federal government decided to expand Brisbane Airport to allow the arrival and departure of international flights, and that to do this they would need to reclaim the entire suburb of Cribb Island - an area of 5 km by 400 metres with a population of 870.

Between 1971 and 1980 the creeks and waterways were diverted and all residents were relocated. Understandably there were protests about the forced resumption of property. The prices paid for the houses were low and many people were unable to afford to then purchase houses in other suburbs. Many were bitter about the process and I don't know that anything similar could happen today. The fact that there were relatively few residents and that it was a lower socio-economic area probably made the government's task easier, although it still took many years and disrupted many lives. But there is still rancour - there are books and even a play about the "Cribbies" who were turned out of their homes to allow an airport to be built.

Click here for a google Map.

tff

Friday, May 17, 2013

Nindooinbah

About 80 km south-west of Brisbane lies the heritage homestead Nindooinbah. There are many stories that intertwine to complete the history of Nindooinbah and I won't have room to tell them all here. But I hope I can provide a potted version that will interest you.

The story begins with Queensland politician AW Compigne who built the original homestead in the 1850s. He was a member of Queensland's Upper House which of course no longer exists. In 1900 the property was leased by William Collins, a grazier. In fact, the Collins family was destined to become grazing aristocracy. The house in those days was a simple L-shape, but William Collins bought the property in 1906 and one of the first things he did was to engage Robin Dods to add extensions to the homestead, converting it to an E-shape. Here are a couple of pictures of Nindooinbah taken in 1908.
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(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #135001)
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(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #135000)

And here is an undated photograph of William Collins with his wife Gwendoline and daughters Beryl and Dorothea at Nindooinbah. William was a grazier and a company director who died after a heart attack in 1909.
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(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #193507)

The property stayed within the Collins family and was passed down to William's granddaughter Margaret de Burgh Persse who was born at Nindooinbah and lived there all her life. The de Burgh Persse family was another prominent farming and political clan of the era and the union with the Collins dynasty must have made them a formidable presence indeed. 

Margaret married the artist Patrick Hockey in 1983, and together they restored the house and beautified its surrounds. The house became famous for parties and it hosted many important guests over the remaining years of their lives. When Margaret died in 2004 the house was inherited by nephew Tim Stevens, a winemaker in Mudgee. He put the property on the market in 2005 and it was bought by Brisbane entrepreneur Euan Murdoch (of Herron Pharmaceuticals fame) and his wife. 

The Murdochs, too, have wanted to further restore and beautify Nindooinbah. Here are some photographs from the web pages that recorded the five-year transition.
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(Photos: www.nindooinbah.com)

Nindooinbah today is a leading cattle breeding business. It is at the forefront of artificial breeding, in particular the Angus Brahman cross known as Ultra Black.

This fabulous place launched Open Gardens Australia last year. I missed it, but if it is on again this year I'm a definite starter!

Click here for a Google Map.

tff 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mount Coot-tha Lookout

Brisbane is a hilly city, and the highest hill is Mount Coot-tha, formerly known as One Tree Hill. It probably is a hill rather than a mountain - hardly an Everest, Mount Coot-tha has been measured at 287 metres. In some places a mountain is not a mountain if it is less than 300 metres in height, but mostly local custom determines the status of a hill or mountain. Mount Coot-tha is part of the Taylor Range which runs along the western edge of Brisbane.

Mount Coot-tha is only about 6 km from the CBD, and is a favoured spot for sightseers to look over the city. Here is a recent daytime photograph taken from the top, looking east towards Moreton Bay and North Stradbroke Island.
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(Photo: © 2013 the foto fanatic)

Apparently the first recorded European ascent of Mount Coot-tha was in 1828, and the energetic climber was none other than the commandant of the penal settlement Captain Patrick Logan. The Turrbal people had obviously climbed the hill prior to this time though - it was one of the best spots for gathering honey, known to them as ku-ta. In a far-sighted move the area was declared a public recreation reserve in 1880, and the former One Tree Hill was officially called Mount Coot-tha, a nod to the indigenous inhabitants of the area.

Since then the place has become the de-facto tourist hot-spot and buses arrive every day to give visitors a look over Brisbane. Brisbane people are also drawn to the kiosk and restaurant that adjoin the lookout. Here are the Duke and Duchess of York near the lookout during their visit to Brisbane in 1927. 
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(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #62463)

Here is a 1966 colour photograph of the lookout and the kiosk.
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(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #204785

And here is the kiosk today.
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(Photo: © 2013 the foto fanatic)

Although I had a subtle dig at Coot-tha being called a mountain, there are advantages in being taller than the surroundings, even if only slightly. When someone wished to buy One Tree Hill in 1865 the request was knocked back because it was needed as a trigonometrical point for surveying purposes. When television started in Brisbane in 1959 the broadcasters selected Mount Coot-tha as the obvious place to erect the transmission towers which are still based there today. Here is a 1966 photograph of the Channel 7 studio and tower. 
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(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #204790)

Mount Coot-tha today is not only the kiosk and the lookout. There are walking tracks from adjoining suburbs such as The Gap and Chapel Hills. Barbecue and picnic areas dot the entire summit, and there is a botanical gardens and a planetarium too.
Click here for a Google Map.

tff 

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Petrie family - Andrew Petrie


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It would be difficult to imagine a family that had a greater impact on the earliest days of Brisbane than the Petries. Patriarch Andrew Petrie (pictured above) trained in Edinburgh as a builder and architect. With his wife Mary and four children, Petrie emigrated to New South Wales in 1831 on Captain James Fraser's ship Stirling Castle (which was to be shipwrecked in 1836, creating the famous Eliza Fraser story) at the suggestion of Dr JD Lang who was promoting the transporting of Scottish craftsmen to the penal colony. After completing a building for Lang, Andrew Petrie worked for the New South Wales government as Clerk of Works for the Royal Engineers.

Petrie was then recommended to become Clerk of Works at the infamous Moreton Bay settlement, a position he accepted. In 1837 the Petries, who now numbered seven following two more births in Sydney (unfortunately the youngest, William, did not survive) were to become the first free family to inhabit Brisbane Town. They made the move north aboard the steamer James Watt, co-incidentally the first steamer to enter Moreton Bay, pictured below.
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(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #35574)

What must they have thought of the primitive settlement? The only suitable accommodation for the large family was the Female Factory that until recently had housed female convicts. Those prisoners had just been banished to Eagle Farm in a move designed to improve the morals of the settlement by separating them from the male convicts and soldiers. Here is a photograph of the Female Factory from about 1850 - Andrew Petrie described it as a "terrible hole". The original Catholic church that became the Cathedral of St Stephen is just behind it.  
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(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #153725) 

Mary Petrie gave birth to the last of Petrie children in the Female Factory, attended by Dr Ballow and his wife. It became a necessity for more suitable accommodation to be found and Andrew began the task of constructing his own house downriver of their temporary residence in a place that quickly became known as Petrie's Bight. Ironically the Female Factory was later demolished by the Petries as a prelude to their construction of the GPO on that site. Here is a photograph of their house that was situated on the corner of Queen St and Wharf St in the area we now call Petrie Bight. 
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(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #64402)

Andrew Petrie was an explorer, as well as an architect and a builder. A bi-centennial monument called The Petrie Tableau is pictured below. It used to stand outside city hall, but was removed to allow alterations to King George Square. I hope it is returned. It depicts Andrew Petrie astride a horse that is held by son John, leaving Brisbane on one of his expeditions. His wife Mary is passing him his drinking water as daughter Isabella looks on. At the front is young son Tom wearing a cap, depicted at the river bank in the company of two aboriginal playmates.  
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(Photo: © 2005 the foto fanatic)

Andrew Petrie's first task on reaching the Moreton Bay settlement was to repair the convict-built windmill sitting on the hill above the settlement. At that time it worked only as a treadmill and was mainly used as a draconian method of punishing misbehaving convicts. Petrie disassembled the whole mechanism, found that it had been incorrectly put together, and then rebuilt it.

When Brisbane was opened to free settlement Andrew Petrie could have returned to Sydney or even to Britain, but he opted instead to remain in Brisbane, understanding that there may be commercial opportunities as the town developed. His three oldest boys - John, Andrew and Walter - worked as unpaid apprentices to their father, with oldest son John being groomed to take over the business in time.

Andrew Petrie went blind in 1848 after one of his exploratory trips in the region, and tragically his son Walter was drowned in Wheat Creek in the same year. Andrew continued to run the construction business, and although he came to depend more and more on John, many major Queensland buildings were erected by them after he lost his sight. Some of them we have seen before in this blog: Adelaide House which became Queensland's first government house and is now The Deanery at St John's Cathedral; Bulimba House; Brisbane Gaol at Green Hills (now Petrie Terrrace), currently a shopping mall known as The Barracks. 

Andrew was still a frequent visitor to the various projects around the town until a couple of years before his death in February 1872.

Reference: "The Petrie Family", Dimity Dornan & Denis Cryle; "Tom Petrie's Reminiscences of Early Queensland", Constance Campbell Petrie.

Click here for a Google Map.

tff

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Rayner's Gourmet Meats, New Farm

On the right side of this little building is my local butcher, Rayners Gourmet Meats. We always refer to it as "going to see Mr Rayner" or "this beautiful beef comes from Mr Rayner", even though there is no Mr Rayner there. The current owner is the ebullient Mike, and the produce from his shop is simply superb. His gourmet sausages are made on the premises and are a local legend, sold to restaurants and hotels across Brisbane. I love his spicy Italian sausages! Drop in one day - you'll be sure to find something you like.
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(Photo: © 2013 the foto fanatic)

The original Mr Rayner was a butcher with a real estate penchant. Sidney Rayner came to Australia from Lancashire in 1909 at the age of 22 and was originally part-owner of a butcher shop at Auchenflower. After WWI he had a shop at New Farm, and he and his family lived at the rear of the building.  A large block of flats now occupies this site.
(Photo: Sam Rayner)

In 1925 he moved further down Brunswick St to a butcher shop that had just been completed. This is the building still in use today, and it is on the Brisbane City Council's heritage register. Here is a photograph of the shop being built.
(Photo: Sam Rayner)
 
In 1928 Sidney bought a block of land across the road from the site of his first New Farm shop and built a substantial brick building on it in 1930. It was one of the early blocks of flats in New Farm, and the Rayner family was to live in the top floor with two flats on the lower floor available for rental.
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(Photo: google.com)

The building was named "Hamel" by Rayner, evidently after the WWI battle at Le Hamel (won by the AIF under Lt Gen Sir John Monash) in which Rayner served as a signaller with the AIF's 43rd Battalion. This building is also on the heritage list at BCC.

Sid Rayner and his wife Gladys had four children: Sam, who served in the AIF during WWII and then became Registrar at UQ; Madge, who served as a coder in the WRANS during WWII; Ken, who also served in WWII (and later died of war injuries), became a butcher and followed on in Sid's shop; and Keith, who became an Anglican priest in 1953 and rose to be Bishop of Adelaide. 

This is a New Farm family we should all be proud of.

Note: I am indebted to the book "Reflections on New Farm" published by New Farm & Districts Historical Society Inc. for most of this information as well as Sam Rayner's photographs. 

Click here for a Google Map.

tff



Friday, May 3, 2013

York's Hollow (Victoria Park), Spring Hill

Situated pretty much in the centre of Brisbane's large metropolitan area is a green space that we know as Victoria Park. It has been the the landscape behind many of Brisbane's famous and infamous incidents.

For centuries before the white man came to Australia the Turrbal people roamed the area around the Brisbane River, and the area we call Victoria Park was one of their important meeting grounds. The Turrbal called it "Barrambbin", meaning "windy place". Various mobs would gather there to share corrobborees or settle disputes. Some of those gatherings that were observed by white men consisted of as many as 700 or 800 participants. Here is a current picture of the Gregory Terrace side of Victoria Park showing the Brisbane City Council's sign that (barely) acknowledges the Indigenous history. The Royal Brisbane Hopsital at Herston can be seen in the distance.
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(Photo: © 2013 the foto fanatic)

When Europeans came to Moreton Bay to set up a penal colony, they felled the trees in Barrambbin for timber and used the water to make bricks to construct their dwellings. The area borders Spring Hill, one of the city's earliest suburbs, and the Indigenous inhabitants were forced out - sometimes in the most brutal way - as white settlers moved in. Nonetheless, the area became known as York's Hollow, named after an Aboriginal elder known by whites as the Duke of York. This man was an acknowledged leader of the local Turrbul mob and some of the European settlers of the time thought that the title was a sarcastic barb at his regal bearing. However Aboriginal spokeswoman Maroochy Barambah has a slightly different story. She claims to be a direct descendant of the Duke of York and says that this name was an anglicised version of his Indigenous name Daki Yakka. One of the Duke of York's daughters and her unborn child were killed in York's Hollow, the result of a police chase of another person that went wrong. Boundary Street in Spring Hill was the "boundary" separating blacks from whites after curfew - to keep them out of Brisbane, the Aborigines were not allowed to venture past this street at night.

From the 1840s onwards York's Hollow gradually became the home of white itinerants who lived in tents in the area. The influx of Dr JD Lang's Scottish migrants, who found out when they arrived that the free land they had been promised did not exist, saw more inhabitants added to the mix. They brought a new name to an adjoining suburb, Fortitude Valley, so named after one of the ships that transported them here. Once again there was trouble with the Aborigines as these new settlers defended their belongings zealously, often with the use of firearms.

The following photograph of York's Hollow is from around 1864 and shows some of the rudimentary accommodation.  
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(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #108131)

After separation from New South Wales York's Hollow had contrasting fortune. Officially named Victoria Park in 1875, a Board of Trustees was establish to ensure its future as the "lungs of the city". Progress, however, made demands on the park. The railway to Sandgate was built through the middle of it to save money. A fair chunk of it was carved off for the Brisbane Exhibition, a rifle range was constructed in one corner, and the hospital, a golf course and some nearby schools also won some of the land for their own purposes. It could have been worse - there was a proposal to build a Government House here but an alternative was found. Similarly, the park was proposed as the site for a new university but thankfully benefactors the Mayne family donated more suitable land at St Lucia for this purpose. Here is a picture of Victoria Park from 1936, looking from the hospital toward Brisbane city. The railway line can be seen bisecting the park, and the building at bottom centre is likely the golf clubhouse that was constructed in 1931.
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(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #68798)

During the depression, public works were undertaken here to provide employment. Gilchrist Avenue was constructed in this manner. Tents dotted the park again during WWII as it was used to accommodate US service personnel.

In the post-war period the park was once again robbed of land. The Centenary Pool complex was constructed in time to celebrate Queensland's centenary. The rest of the park was used in various ways - I played rugby there in the sixties, cricket pitches had good use and the golf course continued to flourish. Cars are parked there during the annual Exhibition. Unfortunately it was seen fit to run the Inner City Bypass through the park at the beginning of the new millennium - it runs parallel to the railway line and now we have traffic snarling its way through the trees too.

Despite the encroachment of modern life, the park is still a restful part of the city. In 1988 the lake area of the park was named York's Hollow.

Click here for a Google Map.

tff  
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