Friday, May 23, 2014

Suspension of blog

Dear blog followers

At Easter I learned that my mother has incurable cancer.

I need to rearrange my schedule. My priorities have obviously changed.

For this reason the blog will be suspended until further notice.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Hampton Court, New Farm

Inflation. It's a term used by economists and politicians, usually to justify their own shortcomings.

I'm neither an economist nor a politician, but today's post is about inflation - well, indirectly anyway.

The photograph you are looking at below is of a block of 6 flats in New Farm - Hampton Court.
(Photo: © 2014 the foto fanatic)

These flats were erected around 1927 for dentist and investor William Danaher. Architects Hall and Prentice, who were in demand after designing Brisbane's City Hall, came up with this attractive building that is described as "Interwar Functionalist and Georgian Revival" in the BCC Heritage List and "Art Deco" by real estate agents.

The Courier-Mail carried this article about the flats in March 1949.


Yes, that's right! £10,000 for the whole block of flats! The block was turned in at auction for failing to reach reserve and the selling agent valued the building at more like £15,000. Here is a photograph of the building from 1989.
(Photo: BCC-DVD5-44)

I must admit that the estimated value of the building 65 years ago was surprising. I got to wondering about today's value, so I asked the Reserve Bank of Australia to help me. (Not really - I just used their on-line inflation calculator.) This is what it told me.

Allowing for inflation, the agent's valuation of the block of flats - £15,000 in 1949 - was now equivalent to $771,428.57. A significant increase.

But don't forget we are talking about the supposed value of all six flats in this attractive, close to the city suburb.

I checked the real estate pages. The last sale I could find in this block was for a top-floor flat that sold for $620,000 in October 2010. One flat. Given that October 2010 is three and a half years ago, it is possible that one flat could now command the same relative price as the whole block did back in 1949.

On that basis, and assuming that the flats on the higher floors would attract higher prices than those lower down, the price of the whole block would be something in excess of $4 million.

Of course, the RBA Inflation Calculator demonstrates how inflation affects a "basket of goods", not real estate.

But it does get me thinking about current real estate prices. Are they over-valued?

Click here for a Google Map.


Monday, May 12, 2014

Grandstand, Bulimba Memorial Park

Amongst the myriad monuments and memorials that sprang up after WWI is the Bulimba Memorial Park on Oxford St at Bulimba. Originally a reserve known as Jamieson Park after an early land-owner of the district, it was opened as the Bulimba Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Park on 1 November 1919, dedicated to the servicemen and women of the suburb who went off to the Great War.

The park has played host to many pastimes over the years since. Football teams of all types, cricket clubs, Girl Guides and Boy Scouts, even senior citizens from the area have all found a home here at various times. I played cricket in the park decades ago, and the verdant surrounds are still an attraction for all today. Here is a photograph of the park from 1949 that shows a cricket match in progress.

(Photo: BCC-B54-617)

The grandstand in the background of the image above was funded locally and constructed around 1923. I have a slight connection to the grandstand as it was built by a local tradesman who happened to be my great-grandfather, Fred Pool. At the nearby Balmoral Cemetery is the headstone to Fred's grave that notes him as the builder of the grandstand. It was commissioned by my second cousin Barry as a tribute to his parents and grandparents. Master carpenter Fred lived nearby in Grosvenor St - he had one of the first motor cars in the area. He also built several houses in the district and from what I understand, he was a very busy man.

Here is a picture of the grandstand taken a few years ago when it looked like it needed some TLC. 
(Photo: © Queensland Government; 2009)

I imagine that the park and the grandstand are now looked after by the Brisbane City Council. Here is a recent photograph of the grandstand looking in much better condition.
(Photo: © 2014 the foto fanatic)

When I visited the park on a recent afternoon there were parents and children enjoying all aspects of the attractive area. Toddlers were playing on swings, there were a couple of scratch soccer games happening, kids were simply running because they can.

I believe old Fred would be very pleased.

Edit: The grandstand popped up on my television recently - it is the backdrop to a state government anti-smoking announcement.

Click here for a Google Map.


Monday, May 5, 2014

Brisbane beginnings: John Oxley's landing spot in Brisbane

Fifty years ago, when I was a teenager (it doesn't hurt if I say it quickly!), I was a Boy Scout. I belonged to a suburban scout troop in the south-western suburbs of Brisbane, and there I learned about knots (the only knot I can remember now is a reef knot!) and camping (my last attempt at camping was driving a camper-van around Europe in the 80s, and that brings back a series of horror stories!).

Anyway, my local scout troop was part of the John Oxley Scout District that was made up of about a half-dozen suburban troops. The District Scoutmaster determined that we should learn a bit about the intrepid explorer for whom the District had been named and one weekend we were all duly transported to the monument that marked John Oxley's initial landing in Brisbane. That monument stands next to the Brisbane River at North Quay, right where the western arterial road, Coronation Drive, strikes the CBD. Thousands drive past it daily and most would not know that it existed, let alone care. This photograph is undated and was taken by Capt Frank Hurley.
(Photo: National Library of Australia; an23207957-v) 

I don't really recall much about the Boy Scout excursion to the monument. I understood about Oxley sailing up the river and marking a spot suitable for a settlement, but I mistakenly thought that he must have been a Boy Scout and that had somehow assisted him in his travels. Be Prepared and all that.

So I have always been aware of the existence of this monument, even though most of Brisbane (apart from the Boy Scouts in the John Oxley District) seemingly wasn't. The monument was erected in 1928 as a result of research done by the founding president of the Queensland Historical Society, Professor FWS Cumbrae-Stewart. This is a current picture of the monument. Improvements to Brisbane's chronic traffic problems have pretty much isolated it from public view.
(Photo: © 2014 the foto fanatic)

Imagine my surprise when I found out that this monument is probably not accurate and that another monument marking the same event exists in another spot nearly two kilometres away. It's a tad embarrassing when you think about it. A city that doesn't really know about its very beginnings and is prepared to fudge fund two attempts at history.

Here I confess to my own ignorance of the second monument, although I have passed it by car, by bicycle and on foot thousands of times. It is upriver from the first, jammed between Coronation Drive and the Brisbane River, and it looks like this.
(Photo: © 2014 the foto fanatic)

This one has the imprimatur of the Australian Institution of Surveyors (Queensland Division) and was erected for the 1988 bi-centenary, but it owes its existence to research done by historian TC Truman. After a thorough perusal of Oxley's field book, Truman concluded that Oxley's actual landing-spot was further upstream than was thought earlier. Truman referenced a "chain of ponds" that he took to be Western Creek, which used to meander through Auchenflower and Milton to the Brisbane River but is now largely extinct save for some underground drains. The newer site passes the pub test too - the original monument stands at the crest of a 10 metre incline from the river, hardly a practical place to disembark. The latter venue would have been a far more accessible area for Oxley to scramble ashore. Truman's theories were published in a series of articles in The Courier-Mail in 1950.

I suppose it doesn't really matter all that much. As I have noted previously there are reminders of Oxley scattered far and wide in this neck of the woods - everything from roads to libraries and hospitals - and rightly so, too. But who would even know that there were two monuments in two separate spots, each proclaiming the same thing? 

I can tell you who - it is author Matthew Condon who cleared the whole matter up in his book Brisbane, available at your local library.


Click here for a Google Map to Monument 1.
Click here for a Google Map to Monument 2.

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