segment was partly funded by a Local History Grant issued by the Brisbane City
Council Heritage Unit in 1998.
Bulimba Creek Protection Society and its successor, Belmont & Bulimba Creek Heritage Institute express their appreciation to the BCC for its support of this project.
A History of Bulimba Creek Valley
Compiled by John Ephraim Godfrey
Project Convenor and a founding member of what was originally
The Bulimba Creek Protection Society
Foundation members of BCPS in 1995 included
the former Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon. Kevin Rudd . .
The author is presently Project Convenor of
The Belmont & Bulimba Creek Heritage Research Institute.
Shorter segments of this study were first published in the Brisbane City Council's Bulimba Creek Catchment Management Plan in 1998, and in the later series of B.C.C. booklets " Know Your Creek ".
The study itself is intended to be continuously.expanded, to enable some comparison between past and present cycles and events, with the writer's view that distinct historical cycles can be discerned..
The study stems partly from the author's conviction that the writing of local history, in the manner of operation of natural heritage conservation projects, should focus upon fundamental units of landscape, rather than upon suburbs, cities, states or other units of political or socio-economic convenience.
However this study intends where possible, to stage the record of events in the Bulimba Creek Valley against a wider backdrop of its being a Queensland landscape, an Australian and a global landscape feature.
It's also intended to make economic, social & environmental assessments of the Valley at about every 50 year period, since European occupation.
The study is conducted in the spirit of a community volunteer's crafting a perspective of local history as an overlay over world history, and of their performing the role of being a memory bank for their community as the practice of a higher level of global citizenship.
The author wishes to acknowledge the traditional owners of the Bulimba Creek Valley , and to stress that the Bulimba Creek landscape can only be effectively studied with an effort to embrace the understanding of that landscape originally possessed by its indigenous peoples.
Great value is attributed to any of that understanding with which the author has been imbued by an indigenous identity and one non-indigenous individual. An element of confidentiality applies to material generated in the course of conveying such an understanding, which limits information about Bulimba Creek Valley's indigenous heritage provided here to what has been gathered from other sources.
The author also expresses
his deep appreciation for information and insights given to him by members of
Bulimba Creek Protection Society, Rivermouth Action Group Inc, SCRUB Catchment
Care Group Inc., Belmont Hills Conservation Group, Whites Hill Pine Mtn. Community
Group Inc., Brisbane Region Environment Council Inc., Bulimba Creek Catchment
Coordinating Committee Inc., Friends of Christ Church & Cemetery Tingalpa
Heritage Group Inc., Coorparoo & Districts Heritage Group, Mt. Gravatt Historical
Assn., Cooper's Plains Historical Assn., Belmont & Districts Historical
Society, Friends of South East Qld., and Wildlife Preservation Society of Qld;
as well as one individual prominent in the district's and city's public life
for half a century, the late Dr. Clem Jones AO, and other residents of long standing who have conveyed their
recollections of Bulimba Creek Valley's earlier natural, economic and social
Commentary on the geological, climatic, floral and faunal character of the catchment contributes sharper outlines & themes shaping the economic & social history of Bulimba Creek Valley, as those components gave rise to the cornucopia of resources found by indigenous and non-indigenous peoples.
Indeed the valley's social history is largely an account of the exploitation of its resources. Such exploitation by indigenous peoples had a relatively low impact upon the valley, whereas that of non-indigenous peoples has had a devastatingly high impact, with little thought for the non-renewability of those resources".
Civilization exists by cosmic, solar, geological, climatic & biospheric consent - such consent is subject to withdrawal without notice...." Paraphrased observation by Will Durant, American Historian.
The Bulimba Creek Valley lies upon a geological basement of a Neranleigh - Fernvale Rock Formation [ ancient marine sediments deposited in the Devonian Carboniferous geological phase - in the Palaeozoic Era i.e. ca. 300 - 400 million years ago, when the greater Brisbane region would have lain at depth under the ocean, and any shoreline of the time might have been in the vicinity of what is now Toowoomba on the Great Dividing Range], overlain by successive formations of Brisbane Tuff [ of volcanic origin and deposited during the Mesozoic Era between 235 and 220 million years ago - featuring rhyolitic tuff, ignimbrite, agglomerate, conglomerate, siliceous shale components, Ipswich Coal Measures rock types [ also deposited in the Mesozoic Era/ Triassic period, the Tingalpa Formation, featuring coal, deposited during the Triassic period, & Woogaroo Sub-Group [ a sedimentary layer feturing coal, deposited during the Triassic-Jurassic Period] Moorooka rock layers, and a relatively recent minor volcanic flow [ deposited in the last 30 million years]. This is a microcosm of the wider Brisbane geological picture, which is the most diverse of all Australia's capital cities [Willmott & Stevens ].
The 1976 Beckmann-Hubble Map of Landscapes of Brisbane profiles the Bulimba Creek Valley as featuring a predominance of landscape units of quaternary estuarine flood plain with tidal delta deposits, Quaternary flood plains, river terraces, low coastal plains, narrow valley floors of alluvium interspersed with low hills of sandstones, shales, greywacke, phyllite, rhyolitic tuff and highly weathered basalt in the mid- and upper catchment and high hills of quartzite together with undulating plateau and slopes on Tertiary sediments [deposited between 65 to 2 million years ago] in its upper stretches..
Beneath the terrain, at about 30 to 40 ft.. below the surface at some of the most lowlying parts of the catchment, lies an aquifer which is believed to extend from near Toowoomba on the Dividing Range to Stradbroke Island in Moreton Bay.
Associated dominant soil types are humic & peaty gleys and solonchaks in lower lying areas and red-yellow podzolic soils with gleyed podzolic and lateritic podzolic soils, with lithosols and red clays in higher areas , with the formerly agriculturally rich Sunnybank district characterized by lateritic red earths, shallow black earths, as well as prairie soils and dark acid clays around Runcorn.The fertile soils of Sunnybank, Eight Mile Plains and Rochedale lie on Tertiary basalts.
Elements of the Neranleigh-Fernvale geological stratum include rock types already mentioned, such as quartzite, chert, slate, jasper and greywacke which were the prime raw material of many Aboriginal implements. Such rock types have generated soils which have proved to be highly erodible with the removal of the original vegetation cover by residential development. A profile of this formation is displayed in a cutting on Old Cleveland Rd. at Carina.
Mt. Gravatt, the source of Mimosa Creek, a mid-catchment tributary of Bulimba Creek, is a hill composed almost entirely of Neranleigh-Fernvale quartzite, a rock type created from the re-crystallization of chert. One phase in the construction of Mt Gravatt Lookout Drive formed a cutting which reveals tightly folded bands of the quartzite, hinting at the magnitude of the enormous forces which once raised the rock unit from the ocean depths to the heights of an ancient mountain range sometime between 350 and 250 million years ago.
Together with members of the Mt. Gravatt Historical Association the author has inspected a cave which exists in the lower eastern slopes of the mountain, formed by a "piping" process in deposits of broken quartzite debris set in a silty clay material. There are a couple of "sink-holes" further up the slope above the cave, which fall to upper reaches of the cave now blocked from pedestrian access by subsidence. The accessible portion of the cave is about the size of a large room.
Outcrops of the Brisbane Tuff formation can be found along the Creek at Belmont, in particular, in the upper reaches of the tributary Spring Creek.
Ferrous content in the underlying rock of the Belmont hills is supposed to be associated with a higher than average incidence of lightning strikes on the hills during thunderstorms, and there are several accounts of spectacular strikes over the last 40 years which have tended to induce more power outages than average in the surrounding suburb as a result [Vickerman 1998].
The Tingalpa Formation is an eastern section of a layer, developed from a deposition in freshwater lakes or swamps containing considerable plant fossilization and whch subsequently metamorphized into a pattern of coal measures. This formation was the object of the earliest European efforts in seeking to establish extractive industry in the Catchment. Traces of the coal measures can be seen in a cutting to the left of the GateWay Arterial Road between Wynnum Rd. and Old Cleveland Rd.
Cuttings at Mt. Petrie Road at McKenzie present profiles of Ipswich Sedimentary Basin and Brisbane Tuff formations overlying Neranleigh-Fernvale beds.
Low-grade oil shales are known to exist among other sedimentary rocks at Eight Mile Plains [Willmott & Stevens].
The remnant of a pyroclastic flow from a volcanic eruption probably to the north of what is now Brisbane, can be found on the northern bank of Bulimba Creek at the end of Tones Rd. Mansfield. This formation was most likely deposited during an episode of volcanic activity about 20 to 29 million years ago when South East Queensland was located over a " hotspot " in the earth's mantle. The Tweed Volcano & the Focal Peak Volcano, which gave rise to the Lamington Plateau & other mountainous features on the Qld. border, as well as the vents associated with the Glasshouse Mountains, were active during that period.
The younger rocks of the Moorooka Formation include conglomerates, minor shales and sandstones which were to be quarried extensively for aggregate employed in the construction of roads and buildings after European settlement.
Most of this rock material is the parent of soils with low nutrient values. Reference has already been made to the more fertile soils of the Catchment with their distribution largely limited to Kuraby, Runcorn, Eight Mile Plains, Sunnybank and Belmont. Otherwise the alluvial soils of the Creek's flood-plain enriched by organic matter from decaying vegetation, allowed the early emergence of Qld.'s sugar industry in the lower catchment. Such soils were to permit the development of some of the catchment's iconic agricultural industries. But it was the lateritic red earths arising from Tertiary basalts, which delivered the cornucopia of tropical and temperate fruit grown in the upper catchment at Sunnybank, Eight Mile Plains and Runcorn.
The clays of the alluvial soils in the lower Catchment were prized for their firing qualities in the European manufacture of porcelain while allowing the manufacture of bricks. Both dark-firing plastic clays and light firing, low plasticity shales from among Tertiary sediments were mined for the manufacture of bricks at Rochedale. The sand and gravel of the mid catchment alluvium and quartzite from mid catchment hills were used for road-base.
However some of the mid- and lower catchment soils are characterized by an acid sulphate character which, when disturbed by earthmoving machinery for the operation of extractive industry or the construction of residential or industrial estates, has toxic outcomes for surrounding waterways and their aquatic life forms. This has led to the degradation of Salvin Creek, a tributary at Mt. Gravatt East, with the quarrying of quartzite from one of two sites at Pine Mountain. A good deal of that material was employed in delivering road-base for the widening of the Pacific Highway between Brisbane and the Gold Coast some years ago (Stevens, N. 1973, 1984); (Beckman 1967); (Wallin 1995].
It has been reported that clays in the black earths around Runcorn have been associated with cracking in concrete slabs and other masonry employed in residential construction there and in neighbouring suburbs due to expansion and contraction of those clays with the incidence of periods of rainfall and drought.
FLORA & FAUNA
Before European occupation, Bulimba Creek would have been a clear-running stream flowing among mangrove forest, open/closed eucalypt forest, and elements of vine forest with lowland rainforest.
In spite of heavy clearing for industry & residential development over the last 150 years, Bulimba Creek supports a high level of bio-diversity at city-wide, bio-regional & national level..
The range of flora & fauna of the Bulimba Creek Valley has been shaped by the topography, climate & soils of its landscapes, but also by the fact of Brisbane's and South East Queensland's lying in a bio-geographic region called the MacLeay MacPherson Overlap where the northern [Torresian ] and southern [ Bassian ] climatic zones merge.
As a result Brisbane has more species of plants and animals, with a conspicuous numerical superiority in birdlife species,than any other capital city in Australia, and the Bulimba Creek corridor features a generous microcosm of that diversity.The creek basin still hosts 1018 native flora species and 413 native vertebrate species. The corridor hosts 6 % of all Australia's known flora species, and 19 % of the country's known fauna species.
The Basin still features 10 % remnant vegetation cover, 10 % remnant regrowth & another 20 % greenspace.
Its remaining natural original plant groupings can be divided into 4 categories -
Eucalypt/ Corymbia forests & open woodlands - a sub category of this type may be isolated sections of Heath.
Estuarine and FreshWater Wetlands spp.
The original vegetation communities cladding the valley's landscape have been described as falling into the category of "Auracarian Microphyll Vine Forest". The timber, bark, roots, leaves & fruit from those flora communities were used by the valley's traditional owners as material for indigenous shelter, coverings and implements, as well as supplying food & medicinal staples. The heavier timbers of tallow-wood, ironbark [ "tandur" was the word for this tree in the Turrbal language of local indigenous people ], spotted gum ["yura" in the Turrbal language] and forest red gum among the predominant dry eucalypt scrubs to be found often growing in thin infertile soils parented by Neranleigh-Fernvale rocks on the forested slopes, were sought by Europeans for the construction of their buildings.
The place name " Pine Mountain" at Mt. Gravatt East bears withess to the abundance of hoop pine which once grew in that locality and throughout the valley and the wider Brisbane region. An emergent tree associated with sub-tropical dry rainforest, it could be found in the moister pockets of the local topography and was ruthlessly exploited for its timber from the 1840s onwards.
Large-scale clearing of that original vegetation for European agriculture in the nineteenth century was generally confined to the flats in the catchment where the more arable soils were. Those arable soils have now largely been built upon for housing, or paved for infrastructure. [Petrie 1904]
The encroachment upon arable soils for property development, has occurred while the rapidly increasing population of Brisbane has placed greater pressure upon still productive farmland further away from the city. The imminent construction of the Rochedale Urban Village will effectively eliminate one of two significant sections of actively farmed land in Bulimba Creek Valley , while remnant market gardens at Runcorn are under increasing threat from water shortages as well as impinging residential estates.
Forested areas on the less fertile slopes were less disturbed until recently, when rampant demand for up-market residential land with outlooks has severely encroached upon those slopes at Belmont and MacKenzie. This has periodically generated high levels of sediment in the creek. Clearing for timber, agriculture, residences and subsequent fire outbreaks have introduced noxious species of exotic vegetation which have proliferated to the further detriment of native species, with little [less than 10%] of the original vegetation now remaining.
Both the geology and flora of the Catchment may have contributed to the distinctively 'soft' quality of the water of the creek, which was to be so valued by the proprietors of wool scours, one of the catchment's most significant traditional secondary industries, for the washing of fleece [ " A River of Gold " by Murphy & Morris ].
Geomorphology & Landscape Texture:
The Valley extends over an area of 122 sq. kms, with about 246 kms of waterways taking into account all the Creek's 22 tributaries. The hills bordering the valley rise no higher than 192 m. above sea level, the highest being Mt Gravatt [187 ]& Mt Petrie [ 170 ]
Associated with the creek are 6 wetland systems,@ Runcorn in the upper catchment and @ Minnippi, Nungubbah, Tingalpa, Hemmant, Doboy& Lindum..
It is likely that 6-8000 years B.P., following the conclusion of the last Ice Age and with a subsequent rise in sea level, the Brisbane River discharged into the Pacific Ocean just slightly downstream of what is now Hamilton.
Thus Bulimba Creek would have flowed directly to the ocean previously.
With a slowing of the Brisbane River's flow as an outcome of the rise in sea levels, successive deposition of the river's alluvium developing into the modern river estuary further east, would have then rendered Bulimba Creek as a relatively new tributary of the river.
The landscape of Bulimba Creek's valley is unusual among those of most waterways, in that the terrain begins to rise again, indeed quite steeply, at several points in its lower reaches at Tingalpa & Hemmant, particularly close to the creek's confluence with the Brisbane River; where it might usually be expected that the terrain would be universally flat in the creek's estuarine section.
The mouth of Bulimba Creek was originally at Bridge Point. Aquarium Passage was part of the Brisbane River allowing ships to pass between Gibson Island and the riverbank in the stretch from the town to Moreton Bay prior to the 1893 floods. In the 1950s, as a result of the expansion of the Bulimba Power Station, the mangrove causeway between Gibson Island and the mainland was reclaimed for subsequent construction of the Doughboy River Wall. (Connell Wagner 1982)
Intensive commercial and residential development in the last fifty years has driven construction projects to the very edge of the creek itself. The close proximity of the Harvey Norman building at Carindale to the creek is a case in point.The erection of road and rail bridges (in particular, the Gateway Arterial with its linking infrastructure, as well as the Port Road and Railway) and the marketing of lower cost residential estates have required parts of the creek, its adjacent wetlands and some of its flood plain to be filled, thereby altering former flood regimes.
Prior to the 1950s the valley on either side of the Creek featured many lagoons and waterholes, while there was a myriad of spring-fed tributaries feeding the main waterway. Among the most prominent of these were the Preston Lagoons in the vicinity of Rochedale North near Mt Gravatt-Capalaba Rd. Almost all of the lagoons and waterholes and many of the minor creeks have since been filled in, for the reasons above.
What remains of the lagoons today can be found in the Karawatha Reserve to the south of Compton Rd., the WaterBird Reserve at Sunnybank and in the Minnippi Reserve at Tingalpa, with a smaller example on the western bank of the creek..
While there has been extensive modification of the main channel, Bulimba Creek has probably suffered less substantial interference with its natural flow patterns than many other urban creeks in Brisbane which have often undergone some concrete channelling for part of their length.
Climate : While in the last 45 million years the local climate appears to have continued to grow progressively drier, the big picture of climate and weather of Bulimba Creek Valley in recorded history reflects the influence by the El Nino - La Nina Southern Oscillation phenomenon which characterizes weather patterns in the Pacific Ocean in the Southern Hemisphere.
The contemporary mean average temperature range is between 15.7 to 25.7 ` C while the Creek's Basin receives an average annual rainfall of 990 mm.
Stemming from the operation of that phenomenon, the creek's valley, like much of the rest of the eastern Australian coast, has suffered greatly from drought for most of the first decade of the twenty-first century in what would appear to be a reprise of the Federation Drought of 1897 to 1905. There has been some evidence found from examining old tree rings, of an extremely severe drought having scourged much of Queensland in the eighteenth century.
The first 5 years of each of most decades since weather records were first kept, appear to have been generally drier years, although the 5 largest recorded rainfall events which generated extensive flooding, have occurred in the early years of those particular decades against a backdrop of generally drier conditions .
But the monsoonal weather pattern of the wider region's summers which used to prevail in January to February, has been significantly absent for the last 20 years, although summer humidity has generally remained high. Winters have been unusually warmer than in the more distant past.
South-east Queensland is believed to have been occupied by Aboriginal peoples for at least twenty thousand years. A midden at Stradbroke Island has been assessed as being the earliest indication of indigenous occupation of the region at 20 to 22,000 years B.P [ Neal, Stock 1986 ].
Shortly after European settlement, it was observed by eyewitnesses like Tom Petrie, who arrived with his family in 1837, that the greater Brisbane area was inhabited by clans of the Turrbal people, of whom some lived in or traversed parts of the Bulimba Creek catchment. Prof. Rod Fisher, late of the University of Qld's Applied History Centre, has given weight to the observations of Petrie, over the assertions of later commentators, such as Archibald Meston & Walter Roth, who while having had some background in ethnology, were making their findings about Brisbane aborigines, at least 50 years after European settlement, with all the subsequent displacement of formerly resident indigenous peoples.
The naming of Yugerapal Park at Sunnybank would seem to have been a gesture towards remembering the traditional owners of lands to the south west of the Brisbane area, the Jagera or Yuggera..
The Gnaloongpin clan of the Turrbal is thought to have occupied the northern segmen of the Bulimba creek corridor,, and a clan [that clan's name has been given as Chepara, but the basis for that name has been questioned] of the Yugambir people [ associated with the Logan and Gold Coast hinterland ] is believed to have lived in the area from Holland Park south to the Logan River. Jandai language speaking people were found on the southern shores of Moreton Bay and North Stradbroke Island. The Koobenpil people ranged through an area extending from Lytton to the Redlands. The near south of the Brisbane River hosted people of the "Coorapooroo" or "Koolpurum" [ Tom Petrie's rendition of the indigenous word ] clan. A reference has also been found for a group called the " Buwi-pal " in the south-eastern Brisbane area.
The word " yuggar " apparently meant " no " in the Jagera/Yuggera language, just as "jandai" apparently meant the same thing in the Jandai language.
It is thought that the basic indigenous social unit in S.E Queensland was the clan, which might have numbered about 70 people, and its homeland might have extended for about 10 kilometres.
As commented earlier, it is possible that geographic associations for any indigenous groups mentioned by later ethnologists like Meston & Roth was a post-European, rather than necessarily a traditional cultural distribution. (Petrie 1904, Wallin 1995, Steele 1984, Tindale 1935)
Aboriginal locality names for portions of the catchment include: 'boolimbah' (means 'place of the magpie lark' and refers specifically to Whites' Hill); 'tinggalpa' ( a 'place of Fat ' i.e. it's assumed that the word refers to a place where sources of animal fat, a commodity greatly valued by Australian aborigines, could be found); 'kuwirmandado' ('place of the curlew', referring to the Hemmant area); and 'kaggar-mabul' ('where echidnas live', referring to Mt Gravatt).
'Maurira' and 'Kuraby' are believed to be aboriginal references to the many lagoons adjacent to the creek near its mouth, or to a series of waterholes feeding into the main creek near its headwaters. "Mudherri", a word meaning " sticky ", has been offered as another possible derivation for the locality name "Murarrie ", while an account appearing in an issue of the "Tweed Daily " newspaper between 1945 & 1946 by a local identity, J.J. Byrne, featuring his reminiscences of life in the district from 1869, described an aborigine named "King Wollombin Johnnie" climbing a " murarie " tree to draw honey from a native bees' nest.
"Winnam", now serving as the name of the bayside suburb at the north-eastern perimeter of the catchment, is a word meaning "breadfruit", while either the first part of the word Tingalpa [referring to its being a place of fat ] or the word "tang-gul" referring to a swamp plant used for stupefying fish in water-holes , or ' tinggil ' a word for a headband, could be a source of origin for the place-name "Tingal Rd." in that suburb.
Caution must be observed, however, in attributing aboriginal place names to landmarks, as such indigenous terms may not have been properly interpreted, or may have been given to locations at some distance from the features originally endowed with such descriptions.(Petrie 1904, Steele 1984)
Early European observations suggest that near-coastal indigenous groups were relatively sedentary, which presumably could be attributed to the rich variety of food resources available locally. One source indicates that aboriginal groups in the area would have lived very comfortably requiring relatively little daily effort to tap food and other material resources. Such food resources gave rise to the following observations about the physical assets of members of those groups.
John Oxley reported that aborigines he had seen in the vicinity of the Brisbane River had appeared to be fine athletic individuals often of a stature of at least six feet tall or higher, which meant they would have towered over many of the interloping British military personnel.
In 1837 an early visitor to the Moreton Bay settlement, the Quaker missionary James Backhouse mentioned that local aborigines appeared to be among the most well formed and well nourished of native Australians he'd seen anywhere in the country (Colliver 1974).
Vegetable staples to be found in the creek environs included the root of the Swamp-fern (called 'bungwal', which, in its preparation as a foodstuff, would be bruised against a slab of bloodwood ]and the root of a fresh water rush (called 'yimbun' - a name given to a park on the creek at Sunnybank). Animal staples were fish (mullet ['andakal '], oysters, whelks and mussel ['yugari ']), ' kan-yi' (cobra grubs found in swamp oak saplings regularly exposed to salt water - the cultivation of these possibly represented a simple form of indigenous farming), echidnas, ducks and snakes, which were highly abundant in the Tingalpa swamps. Nets placed across or around creeks, gullies and swamps were employed for the entrapment of kangaroos (murri), wallabies ['bug-wal'], paddymelons [' ku-mang '] and birdlife, such as ducks [ 'ngau-u' ] and parrots [' pillin ']. The eggs of the scrub-turkey [ ' wargun'] were eaten as well.
Indigenous middens containing discarded mollusc shell have been found at Murarrie, at Hemmant near the railway station, as well as at Kuraby, where bunya nut shells were also found in the mud of a creek bank (Steele 1975, Weedon Pears Diary, Wallin 1995, BCC Kuraby Character Study 1996).
Implements used by local aborigines were echidna spines employed in stitching scrub-possum ('kappolla' ) skins with kangaroo sinew, to make coverings for cold nights; mussel shell employed to chop fern root, quartzite and chert flakes employed as stone axes for removal of bark and extraction or dispatch of arboreal game.
Examples of such shell and stone implements have been recorded from an artefact scatter said to have been found at Murarrie somewhere near the southern pylons of the GateWay Bridge, items of which are supposedly held by the Queensland Museum [though on inquiry to the then Curator in 1998 the Museum's catalogue did not appear to include any reference to them ].
However the Museum does hold collections of other midden or artefact material which was found predominantly in what were the former Lindum swamps [ at properties in Talegalla St.], but also at Belmont [ this item is listed as a flaked stone implement ] and at Sunnybank. An artefact scatter was discovered in the Minnippi West site at Cannon Hill in the course of the undertaking of an indigenous cultural heritage study performed during the preparation of plans for the proposed golf course and residential development for the site four years ago [Davies 2004 ].
Tea tree [ "ngudur" ] bark acquired from flood plains was utilised as a waterproof covering material, and often carried about with which to build temporary shelters (Wallin 1995, Petrie 1904).
Known campsites for aborigines in the catchment, lay at the intersection of Bulimba Creek and Beenleigh Rd. at Fruitgrove, between the present Glen Hotel and Bulimba Creek at Eight Mile Plains, and in the Grenfell Street Area at Mt Gravatt. A track passed from the Logan River to Holland Park, along which Aboriginal people would travel in quest of game according to seasonal changes. It was said that aborigines used to frequent the former swampy area behind what is now the Carina Library, while just beyond the western boundary of the Bulimba Catchment, a member of the Greenfield family who were early occupants of "Wandoo", a home built in the 1880s in Princess St., Camp Hill, reported seeing a group of aborigines regularly camped in the 1890s in the vicinity of what became the junction of Dorothy St. and Old Cleveland Rd. overlooking the former water holes of Bridgewater Creek at Bennetts Rd. (BCC 1996, Robertson 1991)
There was a well known campsite on Bulimba Creek at Tingalpa, near what is now the Richmond Bridge on Wynnum Rd.
One source mentioned his having spoken with an early employer of his, George White, the son of Robert White, pioneering selector of Whites Hill, who told of his family's contact with local aborigines who would often spear their cattle. Eventually Robert White made a custom of occasionally slaughtering a beast which would be given to the aboriginal people who then tended to leave the livestock unmolested. The source also mentioned having seen a photograph of Whites Hill aborigines which was displayed in George White's shop at Pembroke Rd., Coorparoo [Interview with Mr. Sam Houselander, patron of Coorparoo & Districts Heritage Group, in 2006]
Ceremonies were known to have been conducted at Mt Gravatt until the 1890s, Eight Mile Plains and even later at Tingalpa. A ceremony at Tingalpa in 1872 was attended by between 200 to 300 aborigines from the Brisbane and wider Moreton districts, being conducted on high ground near what was called the "Richmond bridge". Bora rings are believed to have been located at Murarrie and Gibson Island near the .mouth of the creek, and between the creek and Mt Petrie at Belmont.
A description of the bora ring at Gibson Island was provided after an inspection by a Professor V.V. Ponosov in 1963.
Possible connections between initiation ceremonies in 'Kippa' ('young man') rings and water courses, have been conjectured in recent studies of bora rings. Cultural rites conducted in and around bora rings involved group activities. To support the group, bora rings were positioned in localities which afforded adequate food resources, and the fact that Bulimba Creek evidently met this requirement, provides an economic basis for any associated cultural significance the creek may have had for the aboriginal people.
The diary of Gustave Birch includes an 1870s account of aborigines in the Bayside area leaving to attend ceremonies on Bulimba Creek, in which it appeared some of those people were from northern groups.
Early conflict between aborigines and Europeans was manifested in reported attacks by tribesmen against Europeans resident in the southern catchment and the adjacent Logan catchment, to which members of the pioneering Clauss and Klumpp families fell victim [no formal record has actually been found of the Clauss family episode, while the Klumpp family tragedy occurred well to the south of Brisbane ]
The first record of such conflict is a mention in the Moreton Bay Courier in 1846, of an aboriginal theft of flour from a farm outhouse in the lower catchment, possibly associated with the appearance of an aboriginal identity known as "Milbong Jemmy" [ the first part of the name is an aboriginal word suggesting the individual had lost, or was blind in one eye ] at a farm begging for food.
References have been made to a fighting leadership figure, Molrubin, of the Southern Brisbane people, who was prominent in the district in the 1850s, with a reputation for savage behaviour. It's possible that he was a leader of the "Gnaloongpin" or "Malurbine" clan associated with the southern bank of the Brisbane River close to the river's mouth. he was associated with a partner, " Gulpin". His death at a camp near Doughboy Creek. was reported in 1853 in the Moreton Bay Courier, with the publicity & deference given to his influence & authority among indigeneous people on Brisbane's southside [ Fisher, R. " Bygone Brisbane"]. There were reports of South Brisbane aborigines numbering around 400 during the first 30 years of European settlement at Moreton Bay while the figure suggested for the entire region's population was about 5,000.
In 1853, a battle in which large numbers of aborigines from Bribie Island, Amity Point, Logan and Ningi Ningi group localities participated, was fought at Burnett's Swamp on Norman Creek in the vicinity of what are now Cornwall and Juliette Streets [ Steele 1984 ].
There was a report of a Native Police contingent under Lieutenant Frederick Wheeler laying waste an Aboriginal camp in the Bulimba district in November,1861. Wheeler, who had been reprimanded after magisterial inquests into his detachment's killing of several innocent Aborigines at Fassifern and Flinders Peak, had developed a reputation as a sadistic assailant of the aboriginal people. He notified the Colonial Secretary and Premier, R.G. W. Herbert that, in the instance of the Bulimba episode, the Native Police had " destroyed a blacks' camp at Bulimba and burned their Implements of warfare". He also reported observing two blacks swimming opposite Cairncross's [Captain Cairncross's property at Colmslie on the Brisbane River], his troop's patrolling to the mouth of Tingalpa Creek and assured the Colonial Secretary of his exercizing his discretion in dispersing large assemblages of blacks " with a small effusion of blood ". .[Letter to Colonial Secretary, 2/12/1861,COL/A22, Letter 2974 of 1861, QSA.]
Page 8 of Campbell-Petrie's book mentions that Wheeler's inhumane treatment of indigenous people extended to his later trussing a young aborigine to a verandah and flogging him to death, an offence for which he was to be hanged. However he escaped and disappeared, never to be heard from again.
For all the reports of inter-racial strife during the colonial period, a descendant of the Stanton family at Tingalpa reports that as late as the turn of the century aborigines coexisted quite peacefully with her family on their farm.
There have been other reports of an indigenous identity/identities known variously as "Tommy Minnippi", "Minnippi Rawlings" or "King Minnippi", an aboriginal man/men for whom the Nature Reserve at Tingalpa is supposedly named, who had the reputation of keeping a caring eye on young white children in the district , and who was the companion of another well esteemed indigenous identity " Bilin Bilin" known to live in the area between Brisbane and the Gold Coast . There is a reference to Minnippi Rawlings in a 1931 issue of a Beenleigh newspaper which offered a less complimentary opinion of this individual's character, describing him as an accomplished thief and confidence trickster.
A couple of Aboriginal Identities given the names "King Jacky " and "Queen Mary " were encountered in the Mt. Gravatt area in the late 19th century [Robinson 1991 ].
Another identity known as " King Billy ", who wore a brass breast plate bearing his name, was occasionally seen around Eight Mile Plains by a young daughter of the Evans family, who occupied a 60 acre farm on the corner of what are now Warrigal and Padstow Roads. On a number of occasions Elizabeth Evans witnessed " King Billy " and other aboriginal men carrying spears while walking in front of their womenfolk, in a regular trek to Woolloongabba to collect rations such as blankets and a dark compressed tobacco euphemistically known by white people at the time as " nigger twist " [L. Norup Oral History segment ].
With the continued arrival of more European settlers and its repercussions in subsequent shrinkage of hunting grounds and the introduced evils of foreign disease and alcohol, the numbers of aboriginal people in the catchment continued to decline. With the advent of authoritarian state legislation in the Aboriginal Protection Act of 1897 having the intent of containment of the indigenous population of Queensland, remnants of those people surviving in the catchment were probably rounded up over the next thirty years and removed to reserves at Stradbroke Island, Purga, Deebing Creek and Barambah. (Wallin 1995, JOL Belmont suburb file, Robinson 1991, Porter Stanton Family History)
In 1959 a Dr. P. Winterbotham recorded interviews with an elderly indigenous man named Willie MacKenzie, also known as "Gaiarbau". Willie MacKenzie referred to Doughboy Creek using the word "Balandi".
1823 - 1860:
Non-indigenous settlements have given the creek its contemporary name, drawn from the aboriginal word for another locality. Originally called Moreill Creek in 1839, it was renamed Doughboy Creek the following year (a 'doughboy' is supposed to have been a maize meal and soda dumpling or damper cooked by one of the early European trail-blazers when camped nearby - however there could be a derivation from the aboriginal word "dubee" for mud-crab. American troops in Europe during World War 1 were euphemistically called "Doughboys"].
One southern locality on the creek, either at a broadening of its course to lagoon dimensions, or with lagoons on one side of the creek, or at its junction with a tributary in the Wishart area seems to have been known later as the Broadwater, but at one time in the late 19th century, the entire Bulimba Creek was also known as Broadwater Creek.. The first recorded use of the name 'Bulimba Creek' occurred in 1888 (BCC 1982, Weedon Pears Diary).
European contact with the creek itself was made in early 1823, by the three convict castaways, Pamphiett, Finnegan and Parsons, prior to John Oxley's exploration of the Brisbane River at the end of that year. A record of an interview with one of the men refers to the first southern tributary of the River they encountered, of which it was said that it required a week to find a point shallow enough to ford the creek, as one of the three couldn't swim .
Subsequent contact with the catchment was made in 1829 during the tenure of penal settlement commandant, Capt. Patrick Logan, by the botanist Alan Cunningham who drew a sketch of the first land route from Brisbane to Emu Point at Cleveland. In 1838 Commandant Cotton and Andrew Petrie travelled through the middle and lower catchment, giving the latter's name to the hill at Belmont, where a survey station was established the following year.
In 1839 Government Surveyor Robert Dixon passed through the area, naming Mt Gravatt for Lt. George Gravatt, the penal colony commandant with the responsibility for winding down the penal regime and opening Moreton Bay to free settlement. (Steele 1975).
The bush track Cunningham had blazed to Cleveland was surveyed in 1840 to expedite the transfer of supplies from Dunwich to Brisbane, with the influx of free settlers at the end of the penal period. It was to be known as the Government Road, and subsequently as the Cleveland Point Road. Surveyor James Warner undertook a professional assessment of land in the Belmont district in the early 1840s., and his name appears on a selection at Belmont on the eastern side of the creek as shown in a later land title map.
In 1856, what became known as the New Cleveland Road, also came to pass through the creek basin at Tingalpa. (JOL Camp Hill Suburb File)
In the mid to late 1840s, Torn Petrie, the son of Andrew Petrie, the earlier explorer who gave his name to the hill at Belmont and overseer of public works in Brisbane during the penal period, marked a road from Cleveland to Eight Mile Plains crossing Bulimba Creek at Wishart and Upper Mt Gravatt, which extended the dray road passing from "Cowper's Plains" through Ipswich to the Darling Downs, enabling the pastoralists on the Downs to transport their produce to the coast for shipment. A contemporary memorial to Petrie's effort and the blazing of that road is located beside the creek in Mt. Gravatt - Capalaba Rd. at MacKenzie.
This road intersected at Upper Mt Gravatt with the earlier aboriginal track along which the Logan River identity William Slack began to drive his cattle herds to Stones Corner in the 1850s. Slack's Track as it became known, then became the principal thoroughfare to the Nerang-Southport district, supplanting the previous longer route through Cooper's Plains. After being surveyed in 1864, it was renamed Logan Road.
Access to the Brisbane River and the establishment of the roads mentioned were factors which fostered initial settlement of the catchment at its northern and southern extremities - at Hemmant (named after the Hon. William Hemmant, Colonial Treasurer 1874 - 76 who owned the high-profile home " Eldernell" at Hamilton on the opposite side of the river) and at Eight Mile Plains (its name was derived from the distance between the district and Woolloongabba). (Petrie 1904, Robinson 1991, JOL Hemmant Suburb File)
Land in the catchment was surveyed and sold at Murarrie from 1852, and through the wider catchment in 1856 and 1857. In 1858, land at Murarrie sold for between £1 and £3 per acre. Pre-Separation settlers in the Murarrie district were Thompson, O'Reilly, Franklin, and Williams. (JOL Hemmant Suburb File)
Early economic activity in the northern segment of the creek basin during the 1850s began with timber-getting of cedar and tallow wood, probably originating with the recommendations of Andrew Petrie after his expedition of 1839. One early timber-getter in the Belmont district, who bore the name Forster, is mentioned as a witness in a record of the proceedings of an inquest in 1867 regarding the death of the young son of Belmont's first permanent settler & sugar-mill proprietor, Col. Robert Mackenzie.
The associated land clearing allowed the genesis of agriculture. Maize and bananas were early crops, with banana plantations extending along the Brisbane River to the mouth of the creek.
An attempt was made by John Williams to mine coal from the Ipswich Sedimentary Basin coal measures near the creek's mouth, but because the seams were only a few inches thick & of such inferior quality as not to be capable of generating steam, this undertaking was to prove uneconomic. Williams was Brisbane's first free trader, having built a hotel in South Brisbane after arriving in 1841 as an Emancipist, and he subsequently engaged in several early but unsuccessful business ventures attempting to extract coal further up the river at Oxley, Moggill and Redbank. Williams later established an orchard on land bounded by Lytton & Queensport Rds. at Murrarie, which was to become the resting paddocks of Thos. Borthwick & Sons' Meat Processing plant, where he died in 1872.
But the Blackball Quarry at Queensport did yield grey freestone for the construction by Andrew Petrie [ who had earlier given his name to the hill at Belmont ] and his son, John [ who became first Mayor of Brisbane 9 years later ], of the first substantial home in the area in 1850 - Cressbrook Station selector David McConnell's Bulimba House. (Petrie 1904, JOL Hemmant File, Wallin 1995, McClurg 1975, Dornan & Cryle 1992.)
The commencement of the American Civil War was to generate economic consequences for Bulimba Creek Valley, with markets in sugar and cotton in Britain previously suppplied by the Southern States of the U.S. becoming afflicted by wartime shortages. That was to ensue in an urgent drive to open new agricultural sources in Britain's colonies to produce those crops.
Thus, after the Separation of Queensland from New South Wales in 1859 and the establishment of the first Queensland Parliament, there were extensive land sales in 1861 with the proclamation of the Brisbane Agricultural Reserve in the same year in the southern catchment (a district which then encompassed the modern suburbs of Eight Mile Plains, Kuraby, Runcorn, and Sunnybank) .
With those events and the sale of land at Mt Gravatt in 1865, there commenced a large influx of English, Scottish, Irish and German-born settlers who began to farm extensively the more fertile flats in the catchment. Land holdings in the Hemmant-Murarrie area came to bear the names of Kelly, Porter * and Calile; the middle catchment of Cannon Hill and Belmont was settled by the Weedon, McKie, Burstall, MacKenzie [ Robert MacKenzie was the first recognized settler to build a homestead at Belmont - the very old trees and fencing at the corner of Bridgnorth St. Carindale are remnants of his family's occupation of the site, while the suburb to the south is named for them] Weekes, Sankey, Thorne (Ebenezer Thorne was an agricultural journalist who wrote and published a book " Queen of the Colonies" in 1876 and became an early member of the first local municipality, the Bulimba Divisional Board, while his daughter Kate Carina May Thorne gave her name to the later suburb of Carina), Lees [also a member of the Belmont Board], Cribb and Slaughter [ a member of this family, Edward Slaughter, became Shire Clerk of Bulimba Divisional Board & later the Belmont Board , while a later descendant, Jim Slaughter, was to become Town Clerk of Brisbane] families.
German farmers with names such as Faust and Zahel [ John Alfred Zahel of this family was to be Chairman of the Bulimba Divisional Board by 1891 ] occupied land at Camp Hill and Carina and established viticulture and dairying, while other farmers of that nationality, Carl Salm [this family was to establish later a well known chain of butcher shops in Belmont, Carina and Camp Hill], Jacob Scheuer, a tailor, and Carl Wecker, had landholdings at what is now the suburb of Belmont near to its eastern boundary with Mt. Petrie, and southern boundary with Mansfield. Salm and Scheuer were granted some of the earliest timber licences in 1966 [ Howells 1998 ].
A selector of some substantial land tracts at Carina near what is now the corner of Creek & Meadowlands Rds. was E.W. Tuffnell, who was to become Brisbane's first Anglican Bishop. Land at Belmont in the Meadowlands area was also taken up by George Harris, a well known Brisbane trader dealing in timber, and sometime occupant of Newstead House; while another nearby selection on the creek was acquired by Edward Deshon, later Auditor General in the new Queensland State Government.
The Colmslie locality to the west of the mouth of the creek was occupied in the 1860s by the home of Charles & Elizabeth Coxen, who were to be founders of the Queensland Museum. Charles Coxen was also an early member of the new Queensland Parliament, and together with his wife, was also prominent in the establishment of Christ Church at Tingalpa, which, in a rebuilt form following a cyclone in 1886, still stands today. Charles & Elizabeth Coxen were buried in the foremost gravesite in the grounds of the church's Pioneer Cemetery on Wynnum Rd.
Belmont drew its name from the property of the same name occupying the site of what is now the Carindale Shopping Centre, owned by Carl Friedrich August Bernecker , an early member of the Bulimba Divisional Board at its outset in 1880 and an occasional member in the 1890s [ a photo of Bernecker's homestead " Belmont ", appears in the logo at the base of this website's homepage ].
Land in what is now Mansfield was initially taken up by Thomas Illidge, a boot manufacturer then trading in Queen St, Brisbane Town, while just to the south, land was acquired by the Wishart and Grieve families. W. Costin, a druggist also trading in Queen St., in the Town, bought land on the corner of Padstow [ later named for a town on the northern coast of Cornwall in Britain ] and Logan Rds. while W. Newnham occupied land in the triangle between the later road which was to bear his name, and Logan Rd.
Farms at Mt. Gravatt, Upper Mt Gravatt , Eight Plains and Rochedale were selected by the Clauss [on the Garden City site of Upper Mt. Gravatt ], Toohey [ at Toohey's Mountain, now the site of Griffith University and a large nature reserve], Klumpp, Kessels [Marie-Christine Kessels acquired land on the north-eastern corner of Mains and Kessels Rds where she and her son farmed for many years from 1868], Anger [on Klumpp Rd. - a flacturtia tree which had grown at the front of the property in the Anger Family's time has just recently been removed to allow the construction of a bike-way] , Baker [their home stood on the site of the RACQ complex on Logan Rd - Charles Baker was supposed to have held about 1000 acres at Eight Mile Plains.] Roche, Gillespie, McCullough, Savery and Sarrow families. (BCC Kuraby Study, Robinson 1991, JOL Hemmant and Tingalpa Files, DNR Survey Museum Title Map)
Other immigrants taking up farming land in the Brisbane Agricultural Reserve at Eight Mile Plains over the next 20 years were the Austin, Phipps and Shuttleworth families. After their arrival in Brisbane in September 1866 James and Catherine Shuttleworth acquired Portion 55 of the Reserve, a property of 37 acres, 2 roods, 32 perches. The family had their home close to Bulimba Creek at what became School Road, where they operated an orchard, and raised poultry and dairy cattle. The Shuttleworths' dairy operation sent its produce to the Kingston Butter Factory.[ Grenier 2008 ]
Shuttleworth St. at Kuraby, is likely to have been named for a daughter of the family, Sabina, who was a resident of Kuraby at the time of her death in 1940.
In 1870 Walter Hill, who in his role as Superintendent of the Brisbane's Botanic Garden from 1855, Queensland Colonial Botanist from 1859, and Selector for Agricultural Reserves from 1863 to 1868, had introduced the mango, sugar cane, the poinciana, jacaranda, and guinea grass to Queensland, then selected land for himself at Eight Mile Plains, paying about a Pound per acre for what became 160 acres by 1880. Calling his property "Canonbie Lea " after his birthplace in Scotland, Hill had as much as an acre under grapevines, and grew citrus, mangoes , pawpaws and other tropical fruit along with several types of nut-bearing trees.After his wife and child died, and he himself had been dismissed from his government position, Hill moved to live permanently on his property in 1881, until his death in 1904. [ Smith, 2008 ]
Much of the form and content of Brisbane's City Botanical Garden, transformed by Hill from what were originally 6 acres of swampy marsh, and the Botanical Gardens of several other Queensland provincial cities, are his permanent memorial.
In January 1878 George & Eliza Austin selected over 88 acres in what was Portion 17 of the Eight Mile Plains Reserve on which George Austin was also to farm cattle and fruit [ a descendant of this family, Annette Wilson, was to write an oral history of districts of the lower Bulimba Creek valley in 1996, which provided some source material for early drafts of this study ]. The Austins were to have 14 children, most of whom were enrolled at the Eight Mile Plains School. Two children of the family who died in infancy were buried at the Eight Mile Plains cemetery on Logan Rd. which is now occupied by the RACQ building . The cemetery and its occupants are commemorated by a plaque on the site.
Other members of these families after their deaths were buried at what is now known as "God's Acre ", the Grenier Family Cemetery at Archerfield [ Grenier 2008 ].
We have an account of life on Bulimba Creek in the early 1860s provided by the diaries of Bertha Weedon Pears, a daughter of Thomas Weedon. His brother, Richard Weedon, was also to become a large landholder in the middle catchment, and at his death, was also buried at Tingalpa's Christ Church Cemetery where his grave can be seen today [ a park at Mansfield was named for him ]. Mrs. Ros Packer, wife of the late Kerry Packer, the Sydney media magnate, is a descendant of the Weedon Family.
Among Bertha Weedon's recollections are to be found references to the abundance of snakes on the surrounding land, hardships arising from the flooding of Bulimba Creek in the early 1860s, and to an encounter with an aborigine who'd apparently received some vestiges of a European education.
The farming of sugarcane, encouraged by the new state government, began at Hemmant in 1863-64 by the enterprise of the Gibson family with canes from Louis Hope's farm at Ormiston. Sugar growing spread through Tingalpa and further up the Bulimba Creek sub-catchment at Wynnum. Vineyards and orchards proliferated at Eight Mile Plains and Mt Gravatt in conjunction with dairying. There were attempts by a farmer of the name Winter, to grow cotton and coffee in the Sunnybank district. Grapes were also grown by the Mumford family in the Hemmant area later in the nineteenth century, while vignerons were also to be found @ Eight Mile Plains & Mt Gravatt by the 1890s.. Kanaka indentured labour [ Capt. Robert Towns was the first among those introducing this practice] from the Pacific archipelagoes to the north-east of Australia, was used to work the sugar plantations, and to clear land for farming at Upper Mt Gravatt. At Hemmant the kanakas [ a Pacific Islander word meaning " people " ] were fed purely on sweet potatoes, but they were known to supplement this austere diet with fish they readily caught from Bulimba Creek.
Sugar farming entered a decline after an onslaught of drought and frosts in the mid 1870s and the farmed areas of the catchment began to concentrate on the cultivation of tropical fruits and vegetables. A record of large rates of tree clearing during the decade at Tingalpa to allow for wider agricultural activity has been found, and will be entered in this part of the study later.(JOL Hemmant Suburb File, Robinson 1991)
A primitive early alluvial gold mining venture was put into operation on Bulimba Creek in 1866 [Willmott & Stevens ].
A mail service operating once a week by horseback between Brisbane and Cleveland passed through the middle of the Bulimba Creek Valley from 1861. The first mail contract was granted to Frederick Smith, and the second from 1865 to Edward Clegg. From 1867 to 1870 John Flitcroft of South Brisbane provided the mail service twice a week by coach. Between 1870 and the 1880s the coach service carrying the mail was operated by Thomas Kerr of Fortitude Valley [Howells 1998 ]
The emergence of other early service industries to support the farming enterprises and increasing volumes of traffic along the three principal thoroughfares through the catchment began with the sporadic development of blacksmithing facilities, and the establishment of hotels along those thoroughfares in the early 1860s . One was built by Charles Baker (who was to become a local postmaster) at Eight Mile Plains adjacent to the creek, another began trading shortly afterwards at Tingalpa (this establishment was named the 'Royal Mail') on the then New Cleveland Road. The proprietors of this hotel in 1874 were George and Mercy Waldock, who had been employees of David McConnel at Bulimba. Both of these hotels served as staging stations for Cobb and Co. coach runs.
Schools were opened ; a provisional school at Hemmant in 1864, at Eight Mile Plains in 1869 (on land donated by the publican Charles Baker), at Tingalpa in 1873, and at Mt Gravatt in 1884. Churches were also established in the Hemmant and Tingalpa districts in the 1860s. The Hemmant primary school and the two churches mentioned are amongst the oldest institutions of their kind on the south side of Brisbane. (JOL Hemmant File, BCC 1996, Perrin 1989)
Early secondary Industry in the catchment progressed with the erection of sugar mills in the lower corridor. The first of these was mounted, later with a rum distillery, upon the steam-driven barge 'Walrus', which serviced sugar plantations along an extensive frontage of Bulimba Creek. The first land-based mill was built at Hemmant by the Gibsons at their property 'Clydesdale' in 1869.
Another was assembled at Murarrie by Christopher Porter * who owned a 640 acre property believed to have been called "Mooraree". Erected by 1871, his mill was steam-driven. Porter was also an architect by profession, who was responsible for the design of Kedron Lodge, the home of Judge Alfred Lutwyche, and, after he became the new state Board of Education's architect, for the design of Brisbane's Normal School in Adelaide St -as well as of his own shingled one storey home at Hemmant, a photograph of which is included in the book "Queensland Architects of the Nineteenth Century" by Watson & Mackay. Porter applied himself vigorously to his farming, and in 1867 established the Bulimba-Tingalpa chapter of the East Moreton Farmers' Association, the meetings of which he was known to chair. In 1868 and 1869 he also led deputations to the state government requesting assistance with the operation of irrigation and mills. Dying in 1874, Christopher Porter was also buried in the Pioneer Cemetery at Christ Church at Tingalpa. [Information also provided by Jenny Clark, a Porter descendant, and by the book mentioned.]
Several more sugar mills were established soon afterwards, one by Robert MacKenzie as far south along the creek as the Meadowlands area.
In 1872 Edward Kelk and his family, who had some sympathy with local aborigines as indicated by Kelk's efforts in 1877 to establish them in an enterprise extracting and selling fish oil, called their mill at Lindum " Kinna - wah" after an aboriginal reference to a series of lagoons found near what is now the Hemmant railway station. The word "Kianawah" is a later spelling of that name, and was to become the name for the early local municipality.
In the mid-1870s, the Jubilee History of Queensland announced the operation of ten sugar mills in the district.
Other industries to develop in the next twenty-five years were a tinsmithing works, tanneries, Baynes' wool scours and fellmongeries at Belmont, the Runcorn Bonemill [ Runcorn was named by the Reverend J. McLaren, a local minister, for his birthplace in Cheshire ], and Graziers' Butchering Co. Meatworks at Queensport. It was from Queensport that the first refrigerated meat was exported from Qld. by Qld. Freezing & Food Export Co. in 1881 . Meat processing in this area was continued by Thomas Borthwick & Sons' works from 1907. By 1896 the wool scour at Belmont was capable of processing 60, 000 lbs of wool and 3,000 skins per day, while the wool product was successful in winning first prize for quality at a Qld industry competition [ The Australian Agriculturist 1896 ]..[ The author briefly collected animal hides in 3 ton Thames & Commer trucks from the Borthwicks works in 1969 -70 while employed by W.A. Morgan Meat Transport of Barrack Rd., Cannon Hill. The buildings were filthy and were showing their age quite severely. The working conditions there, and at the nearby Metropolitan Abattoirs at the time can only be described as " Dickensian ".]
The Kelly Brickworks on the banks of the creek at Murarrie supplied bricks, initially for the construction of the fort at Lytton, and much later, for the construction of the swimming pool of the Cannon Hill State School. The Kelly quarry generated firing clays for the manufacture of porcelain; subsequently those firing clays were judged at a Franco - British exhibition of the late 19th century to be among the finest in the world. Early meetings of the Bulimba Divisional Board, the first local government authority in the area, were held at the Kellys' home (JOL Hemmant & Tingalpa Files, BCC 1982, Wilson 1997)
Infrastructure in the Bulimba Creek basin was extended with the construction of the first bridge across the creek near the mouth in 1870, which allowed the establishment of a horse bus service from Lytton to Norman Creek. Railways were built passing through both northern and southern extremities of the catchment between 1886 and 1889, with the extension of the Beenleigh railway through Kuraby and the construction of a railway over the creek at Hemmant for the Cleveland line.
Local government in Bulimba Creek Catchment was instituted after the passage of the Local Government Act in 1878 and the Divisional Boards Act of the following year, with the establishment of the Bulimba Divisional Board in 1880. In the next 20 years there were to be further municipalities created from localities mostly previously encompassed by the Bulimba Board; - Belmont, Kianawah and Yeerongpilly [the original aboriginal word of which this place name was a derivative, meant " rain coming " Petrie 1904]. Later municipalities included Balmoral, Tingalpa and Wynnum [Greenwood & Laverty 1959].
Residential development in the catchment was boosted by the land boom of the 1880s, and was accelerated in the Camp Hill and Cannon Hill areas. Aquarium Passage at the mouth of the creek took its name from the Aquarium and its associated recreational facilities which were built in 1889. This complex was established by Charles Anderson, a Sydney businessman who already operated a similar amenity on Sydney Harbour, and who founded a consortium[ this partnership included Robert Philp, a principal of the North Qld. retailing firm Burns Philp, and later a Premier of Queensland ] to raise capital for, and manage the complex. This company operated 3 steamships from their inner city wharf, to convey patrons to the facility, which was open every day of the week, and on some evenings. The premises eventually comprised a menagerie of lions, tigers, panthers, cheetahs, performing seals, penguins and other imported livestock; sporting facilities such as tennis courts, athletics and lacrosse fields, a restaurant and a roller skating rink, two aquariums illuminated by electric light, and a 1400 seat concert hall built above them. The concert hall featured the colony's first electric organ, hosted daily performances by visiting musicians, local bands, and opera companies. Outside more spectacular features included Professor Fernandez's balloon ascent and parachute descent, the first in the colony of Queeensland. This complex at Queensport could be considered to have been Queensland's first "theme park ".
The switchback railway at the complex was blown into the river by a severe storm in 1892, and suffered further by the great floods of 1893, while being commercially disadvantaged by competition with Andrew Petrie Junior's more centrally located recreational amenity at Breakfast Creek and by the 1890s depression. This ambitious facility finally closed in 1897 [Brisbane 150 Stories 1859 - 2009 Publication BCC ].
In the same year, the Mt Gravatt Recreational Reserve was established, and survives to this day. (Bulimba Electorate Centenary Committee 1959, Robinson 1991)
The 1893 floods also brought a hiatus to any previous climb in property values in the Belmont area and elsewhere in the Bulimba Creek catchment as with other districts on the southside of Brisbane. Demand for such land languished until shortly before World War 1 because of uncertainty about the area's transport prospects during periods of flooding.
Indeed the impaired condition of transport facilities connecting Belmont and Coorparoo during the period 1890 to 1905 was to frequently preoccupy meetings of the Bulimba Divisional Board and later, the Belmont Divisional Board in that time. Regular complaints were made to each of the Boards successively headquartered at a building in Broadway St. Carina, about the dangerous condition of the unlicensed wagonette and driver, operated by a Mr. Winterbottom, which plied that route. In early 1899 the Belmont Divisional Board sent a letter to Winterbottom Bros. complaining of the " bad condition of the Belmont bus, the careless and reckless driving of the vehicle and the gross cruelty practised on the horses". One month later in February another letter was sent to S.& J. Winterbottom regarding the bus's "narrow escape from an accident" at Camp Hill.
By November 1901 the Board was writing to the new proprietor of the bus service, H. Dean, calling his attention to " the great inconvenience and loss of time occasioned by the bus stopping too long at the Belmont Hotel [ !! ] at Old Cleveland Rd., Camp Hill, and " of the necessity for having a light inside the bus when travelling after dusk".
In January 1903 the already marginal character of the bus service must have deteriorated to a terminal stage, as the proprietor notified the Board of its discontinuation. Some idea of another of the hazards faced by travellers on the bus service was conveyed by a proposal before the new Belmont Shire Council 3 months later to investigate how water, possibly from a spring, could be prevented from running across Old Cleveland Rd. in front of the Belmont hotel. The unsatisfactory transport situation was to ensue in the Belmont Shire's laying plans for a railway in the next nine years.
In September, 1890, the members of Bulimba Divisional. Board voted to give their own names to streets in part of a Carina reserve resumed by the State Government for sale of the alienated land - thus giving rise to Zahel, Bernecker, Thorne and Daniells Streets. Another Board member, Robert Mee, who seconded the motion, was to have a street named for him on the northern side of Stanley Rd.
During 1892 the Board instituted an early scourge of native wildlife, when it introduced the payment of a bounty of 2d [ 2 pennies ] for every flying fox killed by ratepayers in Bulimba Division following damage done to young fruit grown locally. This was proposed by Ebenezer Thorne. By April 1896 this bounty had been raised to 3d.
In May 1894 Bulimba Divisional Board passed a by-law that permits for the operation of fellmongeries, tanneries and other noxious trades near Bulimba Creek would only be granted on the same basis as to the Graziers' Butchering Coy. at Belmont; & that effluent from such works be piped, subject to Board approval, to the tidal, salt water section of the lower creek. By 1896, however, 20 ratepayers had petitioned the Board with a protest about the pollution of Bulimba Creek and an associated health-threatening stench caused by the company's woolwashing plant and piggery. Below the piggery's location on Prentice Creek [now known as Phillips Creek] the Board had provided a pump and trough to supply supposedly "clean" water to the travelling public. One Board member by that time was George Baynes, whose family had holdings in that industrial enterprise, and who not surprisingly voted against the proposal of then Board chairman, J. Luckmann, to direct the company to remove the cause of the pollution. [Bulimba & Belmont Divisional Board Proceedings Minute Books 1890 -1903, Belmont Shire Council Proceedings Minute Books 1903 -1925, QSA.]
Relations between Belmont Divisional Board members were conspicuously strained during one or two episodes towards the close of the 19th century, as manifested in some acrimonious exchanges between Ebenezer Thorne and a later Board Chairman, F. Stewart. On one occasion Stewart actually ejected Thorne from the Board meeting, while a few months later he was making disparaging remarks about Thorne's drinking and amorous activities at the German Bridge Hotel [ specific mention was made of Thorne's kissing the girls of the hotel, but stopped short of providing more salacious details ....] at Holland Park.
The depression of the early 1890s, which would have reinforced any malaise in the southside property market, had claimed other victims on the north of the Brisbane River. After completing the costly erection of his grand showpiece "Sans Souci" [ now called "Palma Rosa", it still stands as one of Qld.'s premier heritage buildings at Queens Rd., Hamilton] in 1887, the prominent Brisbane architect Andrea Stombuco, also responsible for the design of Her Majesty's Theatre in the city, St. Joseph's College, the first building of Nudgee College, St. Andrew's Church at South Brisbane, the residences "Rhyndarra" and "Friedenthal" and a host of other significant public buildings in Brisbane, Victoria and New South Wales, was faced with the trauma of potential insolvency. Stombuco and his family moved from another home, " The Briars " at New Farm to Kuraby in the upper Bulimba creek catchment, in 1891. While Stombuco left Brisbane shortly afterwards, just escaping being served at his new address with a writ for non-payment of interest from his creditors, the Qld. Land & Investment Mortgage Co. later in the year; his wife, born Jane Miles, formerly a resident of South Africa, and his son Giovanni, also an architect in an earlier partnership with his father, remained to work their property, "Springvale Farm" in the southern Bulimba Creek valley.
On the strength of his setting a record for cycling from Brisbane to Toowoomba in 15 hours three years before, Giovanni Stombuco had the reputation of being a sportsman, and he and his mother were mentioned in a newspaper as having entertained a group of other cyclists at their farm on the 30th of June, 1891.
Mrs. Stombuco was to become and remain the postmistress at Eight Mile Plains in 1895 until 1907, the year of her husband's death. During that time Giovanni Stombuco was listed in Post Office Directories as being an architect, a farmer, apiarist and mail contractor. His brother George was also a farmer at Kuraby.
On his mother's retirement in 1907 Giovanni Stombuco became postmaster at Eight Mile Plains and held the position till 1930. [ Stombuco Heritage Tour - BHG Paper ]
A descendant of that family, Venetia Stombuco, was known to live at Kuraby in the 1990s..
The Sunnybank district took its name from the property straddling what would later become the South Coast Railway, owned by the Gillespie family who had arrived in Queensland in 1862, and who named their farm for their earlier home in Gloucester, England. The district rapidly established its reputation as a "fruitbowl" for the greater Brisbane area. One property "Magnolia Farm" at Sunnybank, owned by Joshua O'Brien and his family in the 1890s, comprised 20 acres where oranges, mangoes and potatoes were cultivated. The farm's slab timber homestead was still standing in 1982 when it was described in a National Trust Of Qld publication "More Historic Homes of Brisbane ".
Queensland Museum holds about 10 artefacts reflecting early European settlement in the northern Bulimba Creek valley, having had provenance in the Doughboy, Tingalpa, Murrarie, Belmont & Mt. Gravatt localities. Two of these items are door locks supposedly retrieved from the early house named "Mooraree" originally owned by Christopher Porter, & believed to have been built in 1864 on the site of the later Bulimba Power Station A.
Increasingly tough times in Bulimba Creek Valley and the wider Brisbane and South East Queensland region connected with the onset of the depression of the early 1890s, might be considered to have been presaged by a grotesque incident taking place in the northern catchment during this period.
On Thursday, the 7th of April, 1892, William Gode, a railway ganger of Morningside, found a mutilated body lying in long grass in what was known as the "dam paddock " in the vicinity of what are now Murarrie and Creek Roads. The corpse of Rudolf Weissmuller, a 19 year old German immigrant, had suffered massive wounds to the skull from an assault with a blood smeared tomahawk. Part of one ear had been severed from the body. The implement was found nearby, together with scattered possessions of the murdered man.
Patrick Cranley, the Murarrie railway station master at the time, had observed Weissmuller disembarking two days earlier with another young man from a morning train . James Dowd, a school teacher, had noticed the second man carrying a partially wrapped tomahawk on the train. William Gode, who discovered the body, had himself noticed the second man walking on Wynnum Road opposite his home near the Morningside railway station on the Tuesday afternoon.
Upon making his grisly discovery Gode sent two men, James Rose and John Gregory, to Senior Constable Henderson at Hemmant who notified senior police in Brisbane. After information about the crime and a description of the individual suspected of its perpetration, was circulated among police in the South Coast district, Frank Horrocks, a stockman, previously domiciled at a boarding house in Stanley St. South Brisbane, was apprehended at Tallebudgera within a fortnight, and was jailed at Southport.
After being remanded by a magistrate in custody later that month, Horrocks went on trial on the 29th of August. Found guilty of murder he was sentenced to hang. It was thought that he might also have been responsible for the killing of a girl at Sandgate two years before.
In spite of a plea for clemency launched by women of Brisbane and Ipswich, on the 26th September, 1892, Francis Charles Horrocks, at just over seventeen and a half years old, became the youngest white individual ever to be executed in Queensland. An Aborigine called Jago, executed in the 1880s, had been even younger still [Matthews 2001].
1900 - 1945:
In 1900 an outbreak of bubonic plague first experienced in Asia, materialized in Australia, and surfaced in Brisbane at Woolloongabba. A plague hospital was built at Colmslie in that year. The first victim, a J. Dreveson, was transported, along with 22 others, in a special horse drawn bus, to the hospital at Colmslie.
In the next 7 years a total of 464 cases of plague were reported in Brisbane, of which 195 proved to be fatal. The bodies of expired victims were wrapped in a sheet soaked in carbolic, deposited in coffins containing slaked lime, and then buried at Gibson Island, at the mouth of Bulimba Creek [ Brisbane 150 Stories 1859-2009 BCC 2009 ]].
While extension of the railways generated further settlement through the northern and southern extremities of the catchment, the Mt Gravatt district remained relatively less densely populated prior to World War 1. This stemmed from the decline in traffic along Logan Road after the opening of the Beenleigh Railway, and the failure of efforts by the populace to petition for an extension of the tramway from Stones Corner after 1914.
However Muslim and Chinese families continued to arrive in the district from the 1890s onwards, further extending the catchment's ethnic diversity. During this period Abdullah Khan and his English wife came from Afghanistan to settle in Nursery Rd., being joined later by other Islamic settlers, such as the Howsan and Kauss families. Howsan St. in Mt. Gravatt is named for the former family.
The first mosque in Nursery Rd. was inaugurated in 1908. The present mosque was a gift of the Kuwait Government. The Holland Park Islamic community celebrated its centenary with an event held at the mosque on Saturday, the 30th of August, 2008, which was attended by the author as a member of Mt. Gravatt Historical Association.
The district's recreational and cultural prospects were advanced with the establishment of the Mt Gravatt Showgrounds in 1918. (Robinson 1991)
Prior to World War 1, in Chemical Works Rd., now Colmslie Rd., Colmslie, there had been a factory manufacturing sulphuric acid, and then during the war, a facility manufacturing explosives for the war effort stood nearby [ Day, K - "Remembering Cannon Hill".] Long after the factory closed, keith Day, a Cannon Hill resident, recalled seeing piles of sulphur lying around near the factory, and that locals used to collect the sulphur, and mix it in with treacle as some sort of improvised home-made medicinal concoction to treat constipation.
At Cannon Hill, on a rise overlooking Creek Rd, from late in the 19th century, the Hoge family operated a slaughterhouse, which killed and dressed cattle, and ran thousands of poultry livestock.
During World War 1 military manoeuvres were conducted on land adjacent to the Gateway Bridge near the mouth of the creek.
The Belmont Rifle Range was constructed in 1916, and was to become the third largest privately owned rifle range in the southern hemisphere, and a venue of shooting events during the 1982 Commonwealth Games.
After the transport difficulties already mentioned in the area during the previous 22 years, the construction and operation of the Belmont tramway from 1912 until 1925 between Norman Park and the terminus opposite Scrub Road, Belmont, for the sum of 20,000 Australian Pounds, represented a determined, but overly ambitious effort by local government to remedy such deficiencies. This required the passing in State Parliament of the Belmont Tramway Loans Validation Act after the railway construction costs exceeded a specified benchmark. The railway's construction by the Belmont Board was one of a few railways initiated by local government authorities in Queensland in this period.
George Phillips, who had been responsible for the building of a number of railways in Far North Queensland, was the consulting engineer [ a gentleman of some notoriety, Phillips was supposed to have begun consorting with a girl then only 15 years old, then sent her to board with his mother in Sydney before marrying the girl a year or so later]. It's possible that what had been referred to previously as Prentice Creek at Belmont was re-named for him.
Opening on the 25th May 1912 with the introduction of a twice daily passenger & freight service the Belmont Tramway was initially serviced by a Baldwin locomotive when the Railways Dept. of the time found itself without any spare engines. B 13 and B 15 class locomotives were employed according to whether passage was required past the Baynes siding at Belmont. Operating until 16th April 1924 it was first closed at the time Belmont was subsumed within the new Brisbane City Council, reopened in April 1926 and with continued increasing losses after the offering of 6 services a day it was again closed for the last time in October 1926. The rails were lifted in 1935 [ as a teenager the author saw some of the last rails and sleepers long after they'd been removed, lying on the bed of Bulimba Creek beneath the old timber road bridge on Old Cleveland Rd. ].
During the railway's service life it did engender further growth in the Belmont-Carindale district, although it never succeeded in becoming a profitable enterprise for the Belmont Shire Council. The first locomotive used on the tramway from 1912 to 1915 was also acquired by the Shire Council. [ Kerr, 1990 ]
In 1926, a railway siding fom Murarrie to the Bulimba PowerHouse at Hemmant, owned by the City Electric Light Co., was to be the first electrified railway in Brisbane. This line was closed in 1966.
By 1925, just prior to the establishment of the Brisbane City Council, the Bulimba Creek Valley was administered by 5 local government authorities ; the Town of Wynnum, and Balmoral, Belmont, Tingalpa and Yeerongpilly Shires.
Following the conclusion of World War 1 streets such as Lister, Turton and Daw in Sunnybank, Eight Mile Plains and Runcorn, were named for men of that district killed in action during the hostilities of 1914 to 1918..
The Discharged Soldier Settlement Act of 1917 was to provide land for demobilized soldiers returning fom WW1, at Sunnybank & Mt Gravatt - at Mt Gravatt, such farms eventually tended to poultry production, while at Sunnybank, market gardening was favoured. Land at Sunnybank was resumed, and divided into half acre blocks for residential settlement.[ Fisher, R. BHG/Boolarong, 2016 ]
The property owned by Robert White at Whites Hill first selected in the 1870s after he and his family had arrived in Australia on the ship " Indus" [ there is a street at Camp Hill named for that ship ] had become a tourist attraction after he had installed a camera obscura at his home on the summit. Sought after as a venue for weddings and picnics, it was resumed by the new Brisbane City Council in 1929 with compensation of only 10,000 Pounds to White after he had refused another offer of purchase of 22,000 Pounds in 1924 [BHG Papers no. 9 1990].
On 11th May, 1929, upon the defeat of the McCormack state government and the accession to office of the Moore Government, Irene Longman, a former kindergarten teacher, was elected as the new member for Bulimba state electorate, which embraced some of the lower creek catchment, and became the first woman state parliamentarian in Queensland.
After the earlier decline in sugar production, agriculture in the catchment continued to focus upon fruit, vegetable, and poultry farming throughout the first forty years of the twentieth century. By the 1930s a good deal of this kind of produce was grown on small farms in the vicinity of Warrigal, and Padstow Rds at Eight Mile Plains in the flats along the creek by Chinese market gardeners, who were believed to be descendants of Chinese gold prospectors on the Palmer River in FNQ in the 1870s.
However some farmers in the middle and upper catchment who had previously grown pineapples, were detrimentally affected by the glutting of the market for that fruit in the 1930s by the enormous quantities being harvested on soldier settler farms around the Glasshouse Mountains, and were forced to shift into the production of other crops or into other businesses. One of these was John Evans who owned the 60 acre property at the corner of Warrigal and Padstow Rds. and who then acquired an early model Chevrolet truck to become a general carrier for the district's produce, transporting it to destinations such as Roma St. rail and markets in Brisbane
Notwithstanding the onset of economic hardship with the deepening of the Depression during the early part of the 1930s, local farmers Christian Norup. Sherwin, Fitzil , Bob Hair and other citizens of Eight Mile Plains and Runcorn mobilized the resources of the Runcorn Progress Association[ Christian Norup was President of the Association for some years and was later among the leadership of Parents' Associations at Eight Mile Plains and Upper Mt. Gravatt Primary Schools] to build the Runcorn Community Hall in 1933 [ L. Norup Oral History segment 2008 ]. This was to be a venue for many dances over the ensuing years.
Eight Mile Plains and its surrounding district was conspicuous for its ethnic diversity during this period, with resident families being of Danish, German, Italian, Estonian, Chinese, Scottish and Irish extraction, reflecting the great range of nationalities of the immigrants who had rushed to select land in the Brisbane Agricultural Reserve 70 years before.
Many children of these families were delivered in the early part of the century by Mrs. Savery, the district's midwife, who occupied a shop near the corner of Padstow and Logan Rds.
Fruit processing for the manufacture of preserves was undertaken from before World War 1 at the plant owned by the Hargreaves Family at the head of the Manly sub-catchment of Bulimba Creek. This enterprise was later acquired by Edgell's, which ceased its manufacturing very late in the twentieth century, and after being cleared of some magnificent old fruit trees, the site became occupied by a housing estate. There is one tree left on the site from that earlier period.
High quality water for some of the factory's operation was pumped from a well on the factory grounds. The device employed for that purpose was a Gould's single piston pump built by the Gould company of Seneca Falls, New York, USA. and which featured a bore of 4'' and a stroke of 5 ''. At the closure of the Edgell's factory the pump was removed from the site and later restored by Erwin Lettieke. The author saw the restored pump mounted on an early International Harvester engine, which was demonstrated in running order at a Southern Queensland Antique Machinery Exhibition at Pimpama on 26/07/2008.
Meat processing continued to increase in importance, and Thomas Borthwick & Sons began operating from its Queensport site from 1907. In 1913, a bacon factory opened at Murarrie. In 1914 the Swift Australia Co. Ltd [ a subsidiary of a large American meat packing company, with Chicago connections] built the Cannon Hill abattoir, described as one of the largest industrial operations undertaken in Queensland at that time, and which replaced several other southside slaughterhouses. One of these was, as mentioned earlier, the Hoge plant at Creek Road adjacent to Bulimba Creek, which operated until 1931 [ the site of the Hoge property, also known recently as Minnippi West, has become the subject in the last couple of years, of a campaign to preserve the land as native fauna habitat . Further reference is made to this site later in this study] .
The new abattoir was acquired by the Qld. State Government in 1931. At that time the Cannon Hill Saleyards were established to serve the abattoir, and operated until 1991. The fact that droving of livestock along Wynnum, Logan and Creek Roads to the saleyards constituted the principal traffic in this part of the catchment for much of the first half of this century is evidence of the strength of the meat processing industry and allied trades at that time, which were to dominate the industrial character of the catchment for the greater part of European settlement. (Mercer and Trotter 1995, Wilson, A. 1997, Robinson 1991)
Meanwhile, the hide and tallow plants and wool scours at Belmont and Upper Mt Gravatt continued to proliferate so that at the end of World War Two there were seven in existence. During the period between 1910 to 1930, and as the outcome of state government incentives to harvest native wildlife, the scours were also processing huge numbers of koala and possum skins as well.
Exlractive industry in the Valley also continued to expand with quarries at Runcorn being worked by labourers on Depression relief to deliver gravel for local road construction. Sand from a quarry at Wecker and Ham Roads, Mansfield was used for the construction of many Brisbane buildings including the City Hall. Both gravel and sand were extracted directly from Bulimba Creek at Belmont for some years to supply road base. In the 1930s a quarry operated at Scrub Rd., Belmont on the site of what is now the power sub-station, and others were worked in Belmont Rd. at Tingalpa, and at Hemmant near Wynnum rd..
However most quarries within 3 ks of the creek tended to penetrate an underlying aquifer once they exceeded a depth of 30 to 40 ft. and would fill with water, quickly forcing the termination of operations. Examples of this occurrence happened at quarries at Mt.Gravatt East , Cannon Hill and Hemmant. The last of these can still be seen in their flooded condition today, while the quarry at Mt Gravatt East appears from an inspection from Pine Mtn in 2019, to have been mostly drained.
Disturbance by quarrying operations of sedimentary rock formations containing quartzite, e.g. Neranleigh-Fernvale layers almost universal throughout the Bulimba Valley, is known to generate plumes of silica dust, which, if ingested by residents of surrounding suburbs, is known to cause silicosis, a leading agent of lung cancer, as identified by an oncology research unit at Princess Alexandra Hospital, of Woolloongabba, Brisbane [Burmeister 2008 ]. A great deal of blasting used to occur at the former Boral Quarry at Pine Mtn. Rd. Mt. Gravatt East during the 1960s which would have generated such dust plumes and, carried by the south easterly breezes of SEQ's summers, would have been deposited over Mt Gravatt East and Holland Park, and in particular, the Cavendish Rd. State High School with its contemporaneous huge enrolments of teen aged children [ nearing 2000 in some years ], which the author and his family attended as students and staff during that period.
No data is known, at the time of the pursuit of this study, of the incidence of lung cancer among residents of that district in the last 40 years, but data does exist for other districts in the wider metropolitan region where such links have been drawn with such industrial activity by medical personnel in the field of research outlined above.
The author has inspected a well on what used to be an old farm on the higher part of Belmont Rd. which drew water of high quality at a depth of about 90 ft. This well was dug by George Fraser, a Belmont farming identity during the early 1930s.(Murphy and Morris 1991, Roberts 1991, Robinson 1995, Vickerman interviews 1997 - access to site kindly permitted by Hunt family.)
Severe flooding of Bulimba Creek is known to have occurred in 1974, 1931, 1893 and 1862 . During the 1931 flood Bulimba Creek was said to have achieved a breadth of almost a mile wide in one reach of the lower valley. A photograph of a Belmont public transport vehicle stranded on a bridge over Old Cleveland Rd. during that flood, was published together with an extract from this historical study, in a BCC publication "Know Your Creek" which was released by the Brisbane City Council following the launch of the Bulimba Creek Catchment Management Plan in 1998. Reportage of an early 1860s flood of Bulimba Creek has been supplied by the Diaries of Bertha Pears, a daughter of Thomas Weedon who had one of the earliest selections on the creek at Cannon Hill.
Some flash flooding at Mt Gravatt and Mansfield was to claim the lives of a couple of school children at a Wecker Road locality in the late 1940s (Robinson 1991).
In the World War Two period there were Australian Army camps erected at Newnham and Kessels Roads, and adjacent to Meadowlands Rd., while American search light units were stationed at the top of Mt Gravatt and at Creek Road, Murarrie. The precinct at Kessels and Mains Rds. formerly owned by the Kessels family, became the site of one of the American Army's largest wartime equipment dumps in Queensland.
In 1942 as a 15 year old resident of Warrigal Rd, Eight Mile Plains, Mr. Len Norup, whose family owned four 9 acre farming blocks there, saw two Australian Army surveyors near his farm carrying out a study of the locality's prospects for generating an emergency water supply for Brisbane in the event of any Japanese bombing of the Somerset Dam. However no bores were ever subsequently sunk by the Army for that purpose.
Earlier bores had been installed in the Eight Mile Plains district before the war, some as early as the 1920s by Robert Fitzil , and later around 1939 with equipment supplied by Dick Clay and Harry Vietheer. Wells were dug by Len's father Christian, in their case, to a depth of 100 ft. and previously by other local farmers, one of whom, Cecil Sherwin, had been among the first to introduce irrigation in the district. Irrigation made a significant difference as to whether local small crop farming in the district was viable or not . As a teenager Len, his brothers and friends were able to find and catch catfish, eels, a type of perch and shoals of fresh water mullet in nearby reaches of Bulimba Creek [ L. Norup - Oral History segment Aug 2008; of which more content will be entered at the conclusion of this study.]
A book about Moreton Bay's wartime history also mentions the recollection by a serviceman of his manning a 36 inch searchlight located in the swamps behind Hemmant where he said could be heard the howling of cats [ presumably feral ] for most of the night. Gun emplacements were located near Fleming Rd. Hemmant, surviving examples of which were inspected by the author of this study around the year 2000.
During the wartime period, on the 20th February, 1942, a QANTAS De Havilland 86 airliner crashed at Mt. Petrie, with the loss of 9 lives among its crew and passengers. The young First Officer of the crew, Lindsay Marshall, was a second cousin of pioneering Australian aviator, Sir Charles Kingsford Smith.
With his family's farm lying under the eastern flight path for aircraft departing from Archerfield Aerodrome, Len Norup remembers having seen the airliner fly overhead that morning at low level heading to the north. He has spoken of the shock he felt when he heard later in the morning that the plane had crashed only minutes afterwards.
A large American military encampment lay just to the north of the Camp Hill Hotel. This was a Naval Hospital which was visited at one stage during the war by American film actor, Clark Gable who also visited the only shop of the time in what's now Carina Shopping Centre on the corner of Jones Rd. & Old Cleveland Rd. at Carina [ the author has photos of this shop, which may eventually be published in this study].
The hospital's sewerage conduit allowed nearby homes to be sewered just after the war, well before wider installation by the BCC of municipal sewerage infra-structure in Brisbane in the 1960s. (JOL Hemmant and Camp Hill Files, Robinson 1991, personal communication by Monica Greentree nee Conquest, daughter of the owners of the first shop in the Carina Shopping Centre )
Post 1945 - present.
Farming activity in the catchment began to decline after World War II and presaged a wider decline in the Bulimba Creek Valley's traditional economic pursuits over the next thirty years with the closure of the last wool processing plant at Belmont in 1976 [ as mentioned earlier, the author of this study delivered sheep and cattle hides by truck as an employee of W.A. Morgan's Meat Transport Company of Barrack Rd., Cannon Hill, from the Metropolitan Abattoir at Colmslie to the Redbank plant at Belmont, the Edwards plant at Cribb Rd., Belmont and several other plants at Murrarie and Hemmant between 1969 and 1970. He capsized a 3 ton truck in early 1970 while attempting to transfer a large load of sheep hides over uneven unsealed terrain, to a more remote shed at the rear of the Redbank plant . That ground, which lay between what is now Carindale St. and Surbiton St., has recently had high density housing built upon it.]
The author was able to obtain his copy of the History of the Belmont Wool Scours " River of Gold " by Morris and Murphy, from Dave Maxwell, a former Brisbane wool industry employee who had commercial dealings with the Redbank plant over a lengthy period of time.
While the valley's meat industry persevered for decades after the termination of WW 2, in 1946 it underwent one of the most volatile episodes of industrial action in Queensland's history.
In March of that year the dismissal of 4 long serving employees of a Murarrie bacon factory triggered a state-wide lockout by Queensland meat industry employers after strike action by the Queensland members of the Australian Meat Industry Employees Union which lasted for 14 weeks. The campaign eventually generated strike action by other unions in the railways, coal mines and stevedoring sectors; leading to a declaration of a State of Emergency by the new Labor Premier, E." Ned " Hanlon, who imposed severe power restrictions ensuing in Brisbane's being blacked out at night during the period. The State Industrial Court deregistered the AMIEU, and the strike collapsed after union infighting.
The union eventually recovered from that episode, and was to launch another strike in 1970 in which the author, as an employee at the time of the Metropolitan Public Abattoir Board cold stores at Colmslie, was obliged to participate.
The meat processing industry in the lower catchment was to contract quite sharply from the mid-1970s.
The decline of traditional industrial activities accompanied significant changes in the catchment's demographic character.
A shift in that passage of events may have been foreshadowed by an aircraft accident on Bulimba Creek in 1954 which claimed the lives of two members of one of Tingalpa's oldest farming families. The pilot, Stan Porter, who had operated an air charter enterprise using DeHavilland 84 Dragon aircraft from the Stanton-Porter property "Holmwood" adjacent to the creek, had been performing funeral obsequies from his aircraft for a recently deceased member of another old Tingalpa family, the Kellys, who had owned the brick works opposite. The aircraft stalled at low level and crashed into the creek itself. The Porter family's farming pursuits declined sharply from that time.
In the last decade a survivor of that accident, Des Porter, Stan Porter's younger son, undertook the restoration of a sister aircraft to the crashed aeroplane, which was also owned by his father. That aircraft led a flypast over the downed QANTAS airliner memorial event held by Belmont & Districts Historical Society at Carindale in 2005. The author, who was chair of the historical society at the time, was treated to a flight in that aircraft earlier that year.
In another Porter family tragedy, Des Porter and his wife, Kath, lost their lives in the crash of that aircraft in the Sunshine Coast hinterland in 2012.
The Porter farm was acquired by the Brisbane City Council for the Minnippi Reserve. A paddock of the former farm, now called Porter Field, is used for the flights of model aeroplanes associated with the Tingalpa Model Aero Club..
Huge population growth has occurred in the catchment since the 1950s, with an acceleration of growth since the 1980s. In the period before and after World War Two, residential development spurred by local entrepreneurs such as R.G.Oates and George Chester mushroomed in Carina and Mt Gravatt, along with parts of Murarrie and Tingalpa [one of Oates' developments in the 1930s at Coorparoo Heights adjacent to the headwaters of Phillips Creek, a tributary entering Bulimba Creek at Belmont , was designed by Raymond Clare Nowland, a onetime senior architect with Qld.'s State Department of Public Works, who named the estate's streets for constellations of stars, extending a pattern of locality nomenclature which had commenced with the use of the word "Carina" for naming the suburb to the east ].
Streets at Holland Park East in another of Oates' developments were named for himself, and his sons Hector and David [ BHG Papers no. 9 1990].
From 1946 the newly established Queensland Housing Commission, under its obligations associated with the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement of 1945, and the Imported Houses Scheme, built 1,000 houses at Carina. The Italian venture partners were Messrs. Legnami Pascotti of Brescia, Italy. Other large scale housing was also built at Holland Park and Mt. Gravatt. Rents charged for this public housing varied from 5 shillings to 3 pounds 2 shillings per week at a time when the average weekly wage was about 4 pounds 18 shillings. The contract price for the construction of some of these early houses was about 840 pounds. [Brisbane 150 Stories BCC 2009 ]
Population numbers in Mt Gravatt surged from 1170 in 1947 to 12,630 in 1966 (Robinson 1991), with those figures being indicative of similar trends elsewhere in the catchment. Such population surges were fuelled in part by the arrival of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe in the 1950s.
Among other new infra-structure measures implemented to cater for the transport needs of the population influx, was the introduction of a trolley-bus service which operated along Cavendish Rd. at Holland Park on the western rim of the Bulimba Creek catchment from the1950s to 1969.
On 29th March, 1969, following a decision by Brisbane City Council to abolish the tramway system, the Coucil's Transport Dept. opened Carina Bus Depot, after resuming land on the corner of Creek & Meadowlands Rds from Thomas Keenan, who had previously operated a poultry farm there. The opening ceremony was performed by Lord Mayor, Clem Jones.The new depot commenced services on Monday, the 31st March, 1969, with a fleet of 153 buses, the greater proportion of which were Leyland Panther vehicles. BCC's order for 340 Panthers from British Leyland, at a quarter of the company's Panther production worldwide, was the largest order ever placed for the Panther type. Tram services along Old Cleveland Rd to its Carina terminus and Logan Rd to its Mt Gravatt terminus, were withdrawn on the 13th April, 1969. While tram rails every where else in Brisbane were either torn up, or buried under subsequent deposits of bitumen, a span of tram rails at Carina, extending from the old terminus to a point opposite the then home of former Lord Mayor, Clem Jones, were left intact and survive to this day.
In 1994, the Garden City bus depot was established. The busway to Garden City Bus Station was extended in 2001.
Cavendish Rd. State High School, opened in 1952, upon the Bulimba Creek's western boundary, in order to meet local demands for higher education and to accommodate the rising numbers of children being born in the aftermath of World War 2 [ The Baby Boom of 1945 to 1960 ] It was the first state high school to be built in Brisbane after World War 2 and the city's second high school after its namesake at South Brisbane. Enrolments at the new school accelerated enormously over the next 16 years. It was also the first high school in Brisbane to offer intermediate primary grades as well as high school grades, & to offer a range of academic, industrial, commercial and domestic science courses to Junior level. - [ see companion web pages " The Paddock and the Pen " - Cavendish Rd State High School's First 30 Years ]
Prior to the automation of the Wynnum Telephone Exchange in December of 1955, Hargreaves' Pineapple Factory at the head of the Manly West sub-catchment installed in August of that year a C. B. Cord P.M.B.X., the largest capacity telephone switchboard of any commercial premises in the district at the time [Cunneen 2008 ].
While a blend of rural and urban lifestyles lingered on into the 1960s, large tracts of the catchment had become urban districts by the 1970s, with productive farmland overrun by a proliferation of housing estates at MacGregor, Sunnybank and Fruitgrove. Just how productive Bulimba Creek's upper catchment soils were, can be discerned from the fact that as late as the 1950s one third of Queensland's annual crop of figs was grown at Sunnybank .
Mr. Len Norup, whose family farmed 36 acres at Eight Mile Plains from 1917 to 1980 [ for whom Norup Park in Dewberry St. in that suburb is named], has told of growing a crop of 6 acres of potatoes in 1955 which earned his brother Ray and himself the sum of 5,000 Australian Pounds, a record price at the time. They grew strawberries which were very popular with fruit industry buyers in Newcastle, who said on one occasion that their fruit had been the best seen at the Newcastle markets at the time. Norup produce also found markets in Sydney, Port Moresby and Hong Kong. DPI officers called at their property over the years informing them of the high quality of their crops relative to those grown elsewhere in Queensland.
At one point in the 1960s the Norup family intended to experiment with growing tobacco which led to Len's commissioning a DPI test of the quality of the water generated by the farm's well at the time. The test indicated that the water was 98.9% pure. Len and his wife continued to grow strawberrries, potatoes and pumpkins on their farm, some of which they sold from a stall on the roadside in front of their home. [ L. & R. Norup -- Oral History segment Aug/Sept. 2008 ]
A little farming still survives in the form of market garden produce in the upper catchment at Rochedale; and at Warrigal Rd, Eight Mile Plains. Substantial sections of bushland left intact during the earlier agricultural history of the catchment are now being cleared for residential development. (BBC 1997). A surviving farm at Runcorn has been under pressure from the current water shortage as well as from surrounding residential development. Much of all surviving farming land at Rochedale will be eliminated by the imminent development of the "Rochedale Urban Village". Other land presently used for agistment for livestock west of the creek at Cannon Hill could disappear through the construction of a proposed golf course on the site, should the current development application lodged by BMD Developments since conditionally approved by BCC be allowed to proceed.
A paddock on a section of the creek [ once a part of the Savery family farm which was rented to Chinese market gardeners in the 1930s ] near the western end of Malbon St Eight Mile Plains still provides agistment for horses.
Since 1996 the Belmont / Carindale district has been identified as having one of the largest rates of population growth in Brisbane and rapidly rising property valuations in the district have emphatically reflected that growth. Recent preparatory processes in the development of the proposed BCC CityShape Plan have mooted further growth in the district although not without some vocal opposition from members of the district's older communities, members of local natural & built heritage groups and one of the district's elected political representatives.
Associated with earthmoving for the construction of residential estates has been a great deal of infill of lagoons, wetlands or small tributaries either side of Bulimba Creek. The lagoons drew on the same aquifer as Bulimba Creek itself. There used to be a chain of large waterholes along Todman St. at Carina, which were at one time the scene of the Holland Family's early swimming activities. Family member Steve Holland was to win a Silver Medal in a swimming sprint event at the Olympic Games at Montreal in 1976.
A couple of the few remaining vestiges of such lagoons known to exist still, are in the Minnippi area; one being the showpiece refuge for aquatic wildlife in the Reserve itself, and the other, a small body of water close to the western side of the creek in the locality presently used for grazing livestock, and intended to be occupied by the proposed golf course, as well as at Karawatha. The site of a significant former tea-tree wetland nearby at Carina now hosts the Clem Jones Sports Centre. The trees surrounding this site still attract large flocks of rainbow lorikeets at dusk, while the first flush of wet weather stimulates the appearance of frogs in the yards of adjacent residents. While this site had been declared a reserve for recreational purposes by the old Belmont Shire Council, it had been used as a refuse dump for many years prior to the construction of the sports complex from 1957. Other wetland sites similarly filled in, were at Murarrie & Whites Hill [behind the present Woolworths shopping complex in Samuel St.], as mentioned in a later section of this study.
Valued components of the little remaining nineteenth century built environment have been under similar threat. The future of Tingalpa's oldest church lay under a question mark from 1996 till 2001, and the prospects for the retention of sections of the original Hemmant village are still uncertain, in the context of increasing industrial and residential development in their environs. Development applications by Master Butchers for a Hemmant site were an instance of the trend to expanded industrial activity in the suburb whilst a residential estate completed a few years ago by Devine Developments represented a further encroachment on the suburb's previously semi-rural character . A proposed development for the Master Butchers site entailing the infill of part of Bulimba Creek's flood plain at that point, along with the earlier construction of residential estates in low-lying areas beside Wynnum Rd. at Hemmant, risked the exacerbation of flooding upstream in any future major flood event, the next of which was anticipated, according to Brisbane weather timelines, to occur between 2011 and 2015. A major rainfall event in January of 2011 did in fact occur, bringing flooding to other parts of Brisbane, but Bulimba Creek's catchment was less affected.
Such structures as the Hemmant Uniting Church, Tingalpa Anglican Christ Church, the residence 'Dumbarton' at Hemmant [ the home of a later member of the Gibson family which established the first sugar mill in the valley], "Hughesville" at Eight Mile Plains [ the residence of Alfred Hughes and his family], and the Runcorn Community Hall are among the few tangible remnants of the catchment's early European agricultural communities. It's pleasing that four of these buildings have now been refurbished, while "Dumbarton" was relocated to a site adjacent to Hemmant Primary School to make way for the construction of the Port Road [ the author was active in a project of restoring Christ Church at Tingalpa, which was completed in 2007.].
Other built heritage items of value remaining in the valley are the Anning Boer War monument in Hemmant-Tingalpa Rd., Hemmant ; old houses near the Murarrie shops, houses and a shop in Barrack Rd. and the primary school building in Molloy Rd., Cannon Hill; the first building in the Carina State School and the founding principal's residence a few doors away in Creek Rd.; one home in Anzac Rd. Carina; the first building of the Pinelands Primary School ; St Philip's Church at Rochedale, a church building on the corner of Beenleigh and Pinelands Rds. at Sunnybank Hills now used for theatrical performances, and the Anglican church at Logan Rd., Eight Mile Plains.
In 1965, the newly gazetted Brisbane Town Plan declared a municipal intention for the area around the mouth of Bulimba Creek to become an industrial area with capacity for conduct of noxious and hazardous activities. In the intervening forty years, the commercial and industrial profiles of the entire creek catchment have altered considerably from the traditional predominance of meat and meat related processing industries prior to the 1970s.
The last sale at the Cannon Hill Stockyards took place in 1991, and with the passing, or relocation since the 1980s of many of the valley's earlier meat-related industries e.g. the A.J. Bush rendering plant at Murarrie, which used to generate noxious odours detectable for a radius of several kilometres; property in some of the surrounding residential localities such as Cannon Hill has become greatly sought after. Some valuations in the suburb have increased by up to ten times in the last 20 years, although assisted by extensive gentrification and renovation of many of the 70 to 100 year old homes found there [ one small Cannon Hill property owned by successive members of the author's family since 1948, had undergone a rise in value from $44,000 in 1985 to around $400,000 in 2008, and sold in 2020, for $ 701, 000.]
In the 1960s to the 1980s an up-market residential precinct in Buena Vista Avenue at Coorparoo Heights located on the western rim of Bulimba Creek's mid-catchment, hosted the home of Charles Viertel, a cost accountant and later highly successful stock market investor, who became known during that time as Queensland's wealthiest citizen. In the decade following his death, Viertel's charitable foundation became the fourth largest in Australia.
The Bulimba Creek Basin is now dominated along its length by at least 5 vast retailing complexes at Cannon Hill, Carindale, Upper Mt.Gravatt, Sunnybank and Sunnybank Hills There exists a second commercial tier of warehousing, wholesaling outlets and depots for shipping containers in the middle[ at Mansfield ]and lower catchment [ at Hemmant ], together with a surviving matrix of manufacturing in the engineering category at the northern and southern extremities,[ with Harrap Marine,Engineering Applications & Ferra Engineering in the lower catchment & Bradkens in the upper catchment ], food processing near the creek's mouth,. A remnant extractive industry in the middle catchment survived until about 2004, with the last blasting at the BCC's Pine Mtn. Quarry having taken place that year. The road base deposits at the Boral Pine Mtn quarry on the other side of the road, had been exhausted by the late 1980s..
Today, while the BCC site still exists, it operates as an ashphalt re-cycling plant, which creates material for the Council's maintenance of those street surfaces within the metropolitan boundaries, for which it's responsible.
A gigantic warehouse for the storage of cotton, one of the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, is located at Queensport .
A urea plant was built at Gibson Island,. in 1969, initiated by what was then Cosolidated Fertilizers, and curremtly under Incitec Pivot, is still the only one of its type in the world, with its capacity for high pressure settings [ at least 450 atmospheres]. Incitec Pivot's Gibson Island plant manufactures fertilizers, ammonia and CO2 for the carbonation of soft drinks - as of May, 2019 the plant is at risk of being closed, unless it can be supplied with cheaper gas. An associated enterprise nearby, Dyno Nobel , makes explosives and electric initiation systems related to the detonation of explosives in mining applications.Visy Technology's plant, which treats recycled paper, has been operating at Gibson Is. since 1996.
Ferra Engineering at Tingalpa, has manufactured components for a space shuttle , and for airliners built by Boeing of the United States of America, one of the world's largest aerospace manufacturers.. ERM Power & its subsidiary,Tritium, at Murarrie, are among world leaders in the manufacture of charging devices for electric vehicles.
The Queensland State Archives Runcorn complex was built in 1992, & opened in 1993, very close to the headwaters of Bulimba Creek, which rises in bushland adjacent to Compton Rd., Calamvale. Expanded in 2008, the archive buildings now offer 90 linear kilometers of storage for records from over 600 State depts or authorities.
The newer industries have been entering the catchment since the 1970s, after the then Queensland State Government began to determinedly court foreign and interstate commercial interests in order to stimulate the state's economy and to boost its own tax revenues. Just how moribund the Qld economy and the revenue base of its government had become In the 1960s, is indicated by the fact that the State Government had at times been borrowing funds, just to pay its public servants [Information from Sir Leo Hielscher's address at Brisbane's Customs House 07.08.07].
The first significant stage in the commercial transformation of the Bulimba Creek catchment was probably the development of the Carindale estate in the late 70s by the former State Government Insurance Office, and the subsequent construction of the Carindale Shopping Centre. This retail complex has undergone several phases of expansion since, and was further expanded by about 28% in 2011/12..
Today Bulimba Ctreek Valley's economy displays an attenuated shadow of its former enterprises, but is also conspicuous for some emergent industries employing new technology.. While there are no iron ore or coal[ Australia's 2 largest export industries]being mined in the catchment, its economic profile also reflects to some differing extents, a microcosm of Brisbane's, Qld's and Australia's.economies, such as with education, an economic sector which occasionally occupies 4th place among Australian export industries.
Retailing and property development/ real estate agencies are now probably the Valley's most pervasive industries, along with sporting premises.All the Valley's early agrarian pursuits have been largely extinguished, except for the 1 remaining commercial market garden operation at Runcorn.. The faintest remnant of a pastoral/ livestock industry comprises a few paddocks still used for agistment by horses. sheep and poultry at no more than minor domestic hobby farming level. Any timber cutting is long gone, but limited extractive industry survives with quarrying in the middle catchment, and extraction of sand and gravel near the creek's mouth.. However, while the meat and meat processing enterprises of the last half of the 19th & first half of the 20th centuries are no longer what they were, a limited vestige of them lingers on, with a small "kill" at the meat plant at Colmslie which replaced the old metropolitan abattoirs, and with other meat food processing near the creek's mouth at Hemmant, such as Teys' and Meatco plants,Inghams' Chickens and Master Butchers..
The Australian Trade Coast initiative by state and local government and Brisbane industry, evolving on both sides of the estuarine strectch of the Brisbane River, has shaped some of the emergent industrial patterns in the lower and middle catchments.
IMPACTS & MIXED OUTCOMES OF CONTEMPORARY DEVELOPMENT IN THE VALLEY.-
During the construction of the Carindale development and of the church on the corner of Bridgnorth St., the headstone and coffin of the young son [ who had been killed in a horseriding accident ] of Colonel Robert MacKenzie, owner of "Springfield" and Belmont's first settler of substance, was disturbed by earthmoving machinery. While two coffins [ the second was that of a young MacKenzie daughter] from that site were subsequently re-interred in Balmoral cemetery, the headstone has remained at an old Belmont property nearby.
Griffith University was also built at Toohey's Mountain [a watershed for Bulimba Creek and 2 other large Brisbane creeks ] in the mid 1970s. It is possibly the only university in the world to be surrounded by a forest, & was the first Australian university to offer a degree in environmental science. Attached to the university is a research precinct which is rumoured to be developing an analgesic product utilizing an ingredient found in a native plant known to local indigenous peoples.
The aggressive commercial development of the catchment in the last 30 years would have been expected to blight the water quality of Bulimba Creek though it is arguable whether any consequent degradation of the Creek's ecosystems by a proliferation of manufacturing industry has been as substantial as the clearing of bushland and sedimentary contamination stemming from earthmoving activities associated with the development of residential estates in the catchment.
During the last forty years several sewage treatment plants had operated [one was built at Carina as recently as the late1960s -the author was employed very briefly in its construction in 1969] close to the creek, in addition to the operation of a number of refuse dumps. One of the latter ( at Gardner Road) had been operating till the early 1990s.
One such land fill site on the creek at Murarrie became the Murarrie Recreational Reserve which was a venue for some sporting events in the 1982 Commonwealth Games. (BBC 1997). Extensive sports complexes have been built on other landfill sites, such as at Carina, Whites Hill, Mansfield, & Sunnybank.
In 1975 the QE 2 sports stadium at Toohey's Mt, was built on the western ridge dividing Bulimba Catchment [ overlooking its Mimosa Creek tributary ] from Oxley Catchment, prior to holding the Commonwealth Games there in 1982.
An entertaining account of an episode arising from the Games' Opening Ceremony in the stadium, was imparted to the author, by Len Norup, of Warrigal Rd, Eight Mile Plains, during oral history interviews conducted with him in 2008. Mr Norup mentioned that, following the intention for a couple of parachutists to land inside the stadium as a segment of the Ceremony, and with thunderstorm weather patterns prevailing nearby at the time of the drop from the parachutists' aircraft, after they exited from the aircraft, and following the release of their chutes, they were swept into fierce updrafts being generated by the storm cells, and carried to far greater altitudes and laterally, well away from the stadium. When the hapless parachutists were finally able to escape those updrafts, they eventually landed in Warrigal Rd., near the Norups' home. Len & his wife,Shirley went out on the road to assist in bolstering the wellbeing of the 2 severely chilled, weather - stressed aeronauts, with hot drinks and food, while they waited to be collected by ambulance.
Residents of long standing in the Tingalpa area have spoken of recreational swimming in Bulimba Creek up until the 1950s, after which it became too polluted for such pursuits.
In 1986 environmental testing of water samples from parts of the creek subject to inflows of sewage effluent discovered a species of nematode (threadworm) previously unknown in Australia. There had been a sewage farm established close to the creek at Carindale in the late 1960s.The presence of that organism is recognised as a prime indicator of sewage pollution in adjacent waterways.
Residents of Belmont continued to swim in the purer waters of the creek's tributaries in the vicinity, one of which still [unusually for a waterway in such an urbanized environment] hosts a rare species of native fresh water fish [the Ornate Rainbow]. The future of that fish population is under grave threat from rapidly expanding residential development in Spring Creek's purlieus, mitigated only slightly by some buffering of the creek's banks as an outcome of partial buy-backs by BCC of land adjacent to the creek previously earmarked for development. However most of the rainforest vegetation in the upper reaches of Spring Creek, at what had been a particularly pristine locality called " The Grotto ", was cleared early in 2007, making a mockery of the best efforts of local conservation bodies and the BCC to protect the site.
Lower catchment residents have mentioned the ready availability of yabbies, and other crustacean game at Murarrie in the 1940s and 1950s (Arthington 1986, JOL Hemmant and Murarrie Files). Old residents of Murrarie and Belmont have mentioned that it would have been possible for struggling farming families of those districts to have eked out a subsistence living, from harvesting local game as late as the 1940s.
Prior to the Brisbane City Council's extending some protection to Bulimba's Creek's natural corridor in the 1960s, the banks of the entire length of the creek were traversed on foot by the then Lord Mayor, Clem Jones and the executive adviser to the Council, Jim Slaughter[ oral history interview with Clem Jones at his home, in early 2000s ] with the intention of cleaning up the corridor, following the creek's banks having been blighted by many unauthorized refuse dumps.. A good deal of removal of refuse from the creek's surrounding natural areas was subsequently undertaken by BCC and later by conservation groups from the 1990s onwards.
The Clem Jones Sports Centre at Carina underwent construction from 1957, on a site which had been a tea tree swamp and then a refuse dump [ it had been intended by the then Belmont Shire Council in the early twentieth century to serve as a recreation area]. By 2007 the sports complex had enjoyed 50 years of operation, with a large number of sporting groups occupying the grounds. Clem Jones died at the end of that year.
During the late 1960s & early 1970s there was a protracted campaign to preserve the Mt. Gravatt Showgrounds, a community originated recreational facility of about 60 years' standing, from undergoing development for a proposed Myer retailing complex. The development had been approved by the Brisbane City Council administration, led by Clem Jones as Lord Mayor at the time.The campaign was successfully pursued by Mr. Arthur Scurr, a member of the family owning a local hardware firm, and other Mt Gravatt residents, requiring court action which ensued in one of the last Australian legal appeals to be heard by the Privy Council in Britain.. Another appeal to the Privy Council very shortly afterwards, involved yet another proposed development at Upper Mt Gravatt, but that appeal was unsuccessful.
In 1978, there was publicity about the activities of a resident of Eyre St. Mt Gravatt, court reporter, Clarence Howard- Osborne, after he had committed suicide at his home.. Press coverage at the time, the later studies of UQ sociologist & criminologist, Paul Wilson, and the more recent writings of a Courier Mail journalist, Matthew Condon, have described Osborne's extensive activities, as a significant link in what has been thought to be a national & international ring of predators engaged in the sexual abuse of young people.
According to an account generated by an interview with an 89 year old resident of Brisbane's South Eastern suburbs, with BCC anti-pest control measures and further land clearing, there has been much less of a mosquito presence in the vicinity of Bulimba Creek in recent years, whereas the resident said mosquito attacks near the creek during the 1930s could be extremely severe [ Interview with Mr. S. Houselander in 2006.].
In more recent times, the Bulimba Creek Minnippi Reserve incorporating the old Stanton-Porter farm site at Tingalpa, the Runcorn Water Reserve, Karawatha, Toohey's Mountain, Whites Hill & Seven Hills Reserves have been established for recreational and conservation purposes. They shelter large and diverse populations of bird life, which possibly represent the catchment's most valuable fauna asset.This reflects the possibility that Brisbane's environs may supply habitat for more bird species than that of any other capital city in Australia.
Where one long standing resident of Belmont in the first half of the 20th century was reported to have said she rarely saw koalas, sightings of the marsupials are now relatively commonplace in Belmont Hills & the Whites Hill bushland. There have also been reports of dead echidna found at Carindale in the vicinity of Creek Rd.
The declaration of the reserves in the last 20 years may signify a slowing in the rate of further degradation of the creek, and offers some hope for the retention of habitat for endangered species of wildlife such as the squirrel glider colony at Cannon Hill. But there has been evidence of continued overrunning of the Bulimba Creek Valley's natural habitat by non-native fauna species, with recent press coverage of a deer population seen in the adjacent Minnippi Reserve. Populations of foxes & feral cats are well established in the catchment.
Every couple of years the author and another Bulimba Creek activist have led excursions on the creek by canoe for interested members of local natural & social heritage groups, with the intention of conducting recreational observation of fauna & flora in the riparian corridor. During the first of these in 1997 there were no sightings of the crustacean game regularly found in the 1930s, but more than 70 species of birds were observed & nests of Darter birdlife in overhanging branches were noted. Water Dragons are still regularly seen, as well as gaggles of Pacific Black Ducks on the creek, Purple Swamp Hen on the mud of the banks at low tide, a family of Pacific Baza and other large flocks of birds overflying the environs of the Minnippi Reserve. Eastern Whipbirds have been heard in the more heavily forested riparian precincts to the north west of the Minnippi Reserve.
In mid-2009 a Griffith University Ph.D. student researching aquatic wildlife in Brisbane lakes and lagoons reported that the Minnippi Water Reserve still hosted the greatest diversity of species, and largest populations, of fresh water turtles of the 8 or so waterways she had surveyed [ R. Lathoude].
Of concern are severe infestations of the littoral zones of the creek by extensive stands of exotic Broadleafed Pepper Tree & Morning Glory creeper. As of the 27th of May, 2007 the proliferation of Pepper Tree stands in the Meadowlands - Wynnum Rd. section is the worst the author has ever seen in the creek. However the thickets of taro seen in the past in great profusion at the creek's edge appear to have declined somewhat.
The proposed development of a golf links at Cannon Hill on the western bank of Bulimba Creek appears to be one of the greatest threats to the viability of the local squirrel glider [ this animal was identified by local indigenous people with the word "chibur"] colony , and other wildlife presently occupying that bush land. Associated pasture had been used for agistment by horses as recently as 2005, & earlier by cattle , and constituted the last semi-rural land left in Cannon Hill. There were minor patchy remnants of the former farming practices and residences of families who had occupied the land previously. The Brisbane City Council acquired the land from its former proprietors, the Hoge Family in 1967, ostensibly to use it for parks and roads. Later the site was zoned for Sport & Recreation. However a component of the proposed development indicates that some of the land will be occupied by a residential estate, raising questions as to the propriety of BCC's approval of the application for the residential development.
The author was a participant in the campaign to preserve this land from development, and more recently in early 2008, as a litigant pursuing an appeal in the Queensland Planning and Environment Court, against the BCC's approval of the development application.
The creek's valley continues to undergo further extensive clearing of its native vegetation by property development supported by the finance industry, and related commercial activity.
The most recent chapter in any chronicle of pollution of the valley by industrial activity, opened with the detection of a vast 100,000 litre oil leak from the Santos-owned Moonie to Brisbane pipeline adjacent to Bulimba Creek at Carindale in the week of the 13th of August, 2008, requiring the removal of hundreds of truckloads of contaminated soil from the suburb's Recreation Reserve [ S.E. Advertiser 20.08.08 ]. Recalling that the pipeline was laid in 1964, the incident raises questions about the adequacy of monitoring of the condition of the oil pipeline and the neighbouring gas pipeline in the last 25 years.
This historical segment illustrates the evolution of the Bulimba Creek catchment's social context; from its indigenous and early non-indigenous populations' acute economic dependency upon the creek and its catchment's resources; through its more recent role as a conduit of effluent and storm-water runoff, and as host to one of the most rapid rates of population growth in Queensland, to a dawning recognition in the community of the creek's value as an environmental, recreational and educational resource.
Since 1995 and the preparation of the BCC's Bulimba Creek Catchment Management Plan in 1998, the middle catchment has seen one of the highest concentrations in Brisbane of environmental and natural heritage community group endeavours to preserve and rehabilitate catchment bushland and to monitor and improve the creek's water quality .
The success of that work has received considerable recognition at a state and country-wide level with the award of the Thiess Corporation National RiverPrize to the Bulimba Creek Catchment Coordinating Committee in 2005, of which the author was an early member.
However the advancement of the work remains badly underfunded, with inadequate support by state and local government, and largely dependent upon the efforts of community volunteers.
Lobbying for better outcomes for natural and built heritage in the Bulimba Creek Valley by catchment community groups was further extended in September, 2009, Queensland's sesqui-centenary year, with a meeting convened by the author, between Queensland's Minister for Sustainability and Climate Change, Kate Jones, the Attorney General, Cameron Dick, and representatives of both heritage sectors in the catchment. Attendees at the meeting discussed the crisis overwhelming koalas in the Bulimba Creek catchment and neighbouring districts throughout other parts of SEQ, the greater utilization of statutory covenants to protect natural and built heritage assets on privately owned land titles, and state heritage listing of built heritage properties dating from the 1860s, the decade of Queensland's achieving statehood.
After a campaign in 2019, to save 5.4 ha of bushland in the northern corridor of the Brisbane Koala Bushlands, adjacent to the Belmont Rifle Range, from being cleared, Bulimba Creek Catchment Committee office bearers and other local identities, including RiverMouth Action Group and this Institute, after having lodged their objections to the proposed development, have succeeded in May, 2019, in persuading the State Government to refrain from clearing all but .2 of a ha..
With consideration given to weather and climatic timelines and the 30-40 year cycles apparently operating in those weather patterns in the Bulimba Creek Valley locality and surrounding region, it was predicted by the author that the next major flooding event would occur between 2011 & 2015.
That indeed happened in January of 2011.
The next large flooding episode could be expected to be inbetween the early 2040s to mid 2050s.
Such events in the future, are likely to bring about greater inundation of terrain and to inflict much more damage than during previous events such as in 1974 because a great deal of residential development has been permitted by local government on the creek's flood plain in the last 25 years, together with additional filling of the flood plain, while the introduction of impervious surfaces such as bitumen & concrete associated with that development will increase volumes of run-off..
At present rates of land clearing along the Bulimba Creek corridor [among the highest in Queensland] and with less than 10 % left of the original trees and plants which adequately provided the vegetable needs of local indigenous people till late in the 19th Century, it is expected that there will be next to no remnant native vegetation left in the Valley in 25 years time.
Last update 14 October 2020