Monday, February 15, 2016

James Trackson and Brisbane's first motor car

Does your daily commute look like this? If it does, I'll bet that you wish you could go back to a time when Brisbane's traffic was a lot lighter.

Would you go this far back? Here is Brisbane's first motor car, photographed in Elizabeth St in 1902.
(Photo: SLQ 257640)

While the city would be empty of cars, the early motorist would have had to contend with unpredictable horses, poor roads and a lack of auto mechanics. From a driver's perspective this early vehicle had wheels that would not be out of place on a bicycle and a tiller for steering. I doubt that it was safe or comfortable.

The car in this photograph was known as a Locomobile and was actually steam-powered. It is being driven by Mr James Trackson and his wife is the passenger. To say that Trackson was an enthusiast would be no exaggeration - he was also the first in Brisbane to own an internal combustion car; and in 1905 he was one of the founders of the RACQ, Queensland's motoring body.

Trackson built his own motor car which was dubbed "The Trackson". It was based on a two-cylinder De Dion-Bouton car imported from France in 1900, powered by a 5 hp petrol engine and had a reported top speed of 25 km/h.

James Trackson came to Australia from Norwich in England and he was a qualified electrical engineer. He was associated with erecting the first phone exchange in Melbourne and at Ballarat, and also helped lay the Melbourne cable tramways. He came to Queensland in 1895, and after erecting the first telephone exchange in Queensland he established an engineering firm, Trackson Bros.

James Trackson lived at Newmarket at a property called Sedgley Grange, photographed below. 
(Photo: SLQ 121716)

The house was demolished in 1991 and the property is now called Sedgley Park, administered by Brisbane City Council. It is the site of the well-known Newmarket Olympic Pool.

Click here for a Google Map. 



  1. I am just back from Brisbane and agree that the traffic was fairly awful. Melbourne is a much bigger city population-wise, but it is easier for me to get around because a] I avoid the two rush hours and b] I know which roads to avoid.

    But we also have an amazing system of trams and trains, so it is preferable to use public transport for trips into the City and back. Since Trackson helped lay the Melbourne cable tramways, perhaps his lasting contribution was an efficient public transport system in Melbourne.

    1. Public transport in Brisbane is marooned in paralysis by analysis. The sorely needed cross-river tunnel presented by the previous state government has been scrapped by the new government and replaced by an expensive "study". Both political parties are culpable here - they automatically deride anything proposed by the other. It is expensive and frustrating.

  2. Brisbane traffic is truly getting scary, but a better solution than whittling down the number of cars is improving the public transport network instead!

  3. This blog is non-commercial in nature because it allows me to use resources and images that are not available to commercial sites.

    For this reason I do not publish comments that include links to commercial sites or those that are overtly commercial in nature. I treat such comments as spam in order to protect the objectives of the blog.


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