Paul Budde's History Archives

The building of Brisbane

Henry Miller had laid out the basic structure of the penal settlement. It was still called the Moreton Bay Penal Settlement, however increasingly the name Brisbane Town was also used, reflecting the aim to eventually open it up for free settlers. He observed, or most likely the Surveyor General John Oxley had observed the spurs that run parallel  to the river, with in between spurs that run perpendicular on the river. These spurs were used for the erection of the buildings, in order to keep them above the flood levels.

Within those restrictions he organised the lay out of the settlement in three section: the convict compound, the military compound and the commander’s compound. The early buildings were all slab huts built from local materials.

However, before he could serious start building his settlement Miller was called back to Sydney., as discussed in the previous chapter.

There were ongoing problems with erecting the various buildings because of a lack of skilled labour. Captain Bishop in 1826 mentions that there are just two convicts able of do this work. Prisoners send from Port Macquarie for assistance, also proofed to be a failure. So the best they could do in these early years was building huts of slabs and plaster.

Food-wise the situation was much better, the subtropical climate and the good soil had made it possible by early 1826 to have 85 acres of land under cultivation, enough to secure a basic food supply for a 12-month period.

Upon the arrival of Bishop’s successor Captain Patrick Logan in 1826 these timber buildings were gradually replaced by stone buildings. They were in the typical English Georgian style of the era. They looked very pretty as we can still see in similar surviving buildings in Sydney and Norfolk Island. However, they were totally unsuitable for the subtropical climate in Brisbane, the ceilings were far too low and created an even more oppressive atmosphere, especially in the summer months.


Convict Barracks approx 1830

Based on the compound plan Logan oversaw the construction of all the main buildings.  State Archives of Queensland.                                                                                                                       

The Convict compound

The site selected for the Convict Barracks was on a small 16 meter high spur, walking through Queen Street you can still recognise this at the intersection with Albert Street. The spur run roughly from the current Roma Street to Creek Street. The planning of the early settlement had of course also taken the creek as a water supply into account.

The barracks were constructed under the regime of Captain Logan between 1827 and 1830 to eventually accommodate up to 1000 convicts. This became the largest stone building in the settlement. The barracks were situated with the frontage along present-day Queen Street, on the block surrounded by Albert, Adelaide, George and Queen Streets. The barracks consisted of a multi-storey stone building with a central archway and a large walled yard to the rear. 

The dominant archway of the Prisoners Barracks extended approximately 10 metres through the building from the Queen Street frontage opening into the large walled lumber yard.  In the context of British convict settlement lumberyards were working areas that were provided as a part of serving convict sentences, to facilitate lumber (timber) and product production and to provide convicts with skills training. The yard was the site of Moreton Bay’s first public execution in 1830. Within the archway itself, strategically situated for all incoming and existing convicts to see, was the flogging triangle. Records indicate that in the period between February and October 1828 alone, over 11,000 lashes were inflicted on 200 convicts; this included 128 sentences of 50 or more lashes. The average in New South Wales was 41 lashes per sentence. The death rate was around 10%

Several smaller workshop and store rooms – carpentry, tailoring, shoe and uniforms, blacksmiths, wheelwrights – were situated in the yard on the far side of what would become Adelaide Street.

In the tower gallery a chapel had been constructed.

The barracks were used from 1860 to 1868 as the courthouse and for Queensland’s first Parliament. The barracks were demolished in 1880 with commercial redevelopment of the area in the early to mid-1880s particularly the buildings along Queen Street backing onto Burnett Lane, many of which are still extant (Manwaring Building, Gardams Building, Hardy Brothers Building, Edwards and Chapman Building, Colonial Mutual Chambers, Palings Building, Allan and Stark Building).

Beside the Prisoners’ Barracks, along the Queen Street alignment using the spur towards the river, a row of single-story brick buildings was erected, well before the barracks were completed. The functions of the six apartments of these buildings changed over time including use as the Commissariat Officer’s residence, school room, guard house, Superintendent of Convicts’ residence, goal room, solitary cells, married soldiers’ residences, and a military school.

There was no dedicated school building in the colony. Hence the use of these rooms.  Mrs. Esther Roberts was the settlement’s first schoolteacher, most likely the wife of one of the military staff. In 1826 there were 16 students attending school. In 1829 a soldier, Robert Maginnes was mentioned by the Rev John Vincent as well qualified teacher. At that time there were 32 boys and girls, of which 6 were children of convicts. The Reverend mentioned that the school room was very inadequate and far to small for the hot climate. He also objected to the fact that it was close to the wharf were convicts were working. Indicating that the school now was no longer in one of the apartments in the Convict Compound but in one of the houses in the Commander’s quarter.


The hospitals

Turning the corner into what is now George Street were the hospitals, one for the military and next to it for the prisoners. They were completed in 1827, after much government bungling over plans and approvals They stood on the block bounded by North Quay, Adelaide, George and Ann Streets, with the buildings extending into the current alignment of Adelaide Street.

The first doctor at the hospital was Henry Cowper, he finished his apprenticeship in Sydney Hospital and became the first person to graduate medicine in Australia. He arrived  in Brisbane on 7th of September 1825. However, it would take a year before he could actually practise in the hospital as took that long before the building was completed. Initially he lived in a wing of the hospital.

From the very early beginning of the settlement diseases created havoc, especially typhoid and dysentery were prevalent. The subtropical climate, the lack of hygiene and the lack of clean drinking water were major contributors to this situation.

Principal Medical Officer Bowmans arrived in the settlement in March 1829 and he reported that in January 1829 406 people had been in the hospital of which 11 died. In February the numbers were 368 hospitalised and 22 death. After his arrival that number had dropped to 195 in the hospital and 4 death. It is astonishing to imagine this.

He recommended building a separate surgeon’s residence, to create more space in the hospital. This was done and in 1831 it was  added to the hospital precinct on the North Quay side about 250 meters from the corner of Queen Street and North Quay.  A stable was situated at the back of the building as the doctor was allowed to have a horse to visit Female Factory and Eagle Farm. The hospital suffered a fire in 1835.

No wonder that the hospital had a terrible reputation as so many patients died here. The settlement was ill prepared for the many tropical diseases. The harsh treatment of the convicts , especially the liberal use of the whip, lead to many infections and many of them were deadly (over 200 convicts dies over a 15 year period – a 10% death-rate) .

Dr. David Ballow took over the hospital in 1838 and lived in the surgery cottage till his death in 1850.

On 8 August 1850 the immigrant ship Emigrant arrived in Moreton Bay with typhus on board. The ship was quarantined at Dunwich on Stradbroke Island away from Brisbane. Forty people on the ship died, including the ship’s surgeon Dr George Mitchell. Initially Dr Mallon came from Brisbane to care for the quarantined patients at Dunwich but he too contracted the infection. Dr Ballow took his place and also contracted the disease and dies in 1850

Surgeon's cottage George Street 1865

Surgeon’s cottage (next to military hospital) – George Street 1865


Grave of Dr David Ballow

Grave of Dr David Ballow, Dunwich Stradbroke Island.

There were ongoing complaints about the lack of a proper hospital for the rapidly growing population of Brisbane Town. Finally in 1867 a new hospital was builtin Herston (now Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital). The old hospital was now occupied by the in 1864 established police force. From here they moved to their new premises on the corner of Albert Street and Turbot Street in 1880.

Next to the hospital were the hospital and soldiers gardens and soon after that the area was also used for the cemeteries.



Next to the hospital  were the cemeteries  situated on the (present day) northern approach to the William Jolly Bridge, bounded by Skew Street, Saul Street, Eagle Terrace and Upper Roma Street.

With the many death in the settlement the Reverend John Vincent reported in 1829 that the cemetery was too small and that the ground  was very hard  to dig in. It could take two men 6 to 7 hours to dig a grave.

One for the military one for the convicts and one for the children. Mortally rates were high – especially among children – because of the many tropic diseases and a lack of hygiene as the water supply was often polluted.  Once settlers started to arrive the paddock next these cemeteries were added to bury their dead, the site eventually extended all the way to Skew Street. 

Brisbane’s First Cemetery

The white grave stones at the cemetery. Left of the middle. QUT Digital Archive.          

With a growing township the cemeteries became overcrowded and with residential and business areas building up around it, that situation became untenable. It was in use until 1843 when the North Brisbane Burial Ground opened. This was in use from 1843 to 1875, during which time up to 10,000 people may have been buried there. During that period the cemetery flooded at several occasions. After 1875, the burial ground was closed and new burials were to take place in the newly established Toowong Cemetery.

For a long time the burial site of three children from the military remained a visible remnant of the old cemetery, where Turbot street ends at North Quay. In 1874 they were moved to the Toowong cemetery.

Sawpits, brick kilns and the tank

The sawpits were situated where Herschel Street joins the Riverside Expressway. Logging gangs from South Brisbane floated the cedar and hoop-pine tree trunks across the river to this site. The old Brick Kiln stood where now Makerston road ends on North Quay. It was built in 1826 and was used to fire bricks for various buildings in the settlement. The kiln was later moved next to the tank.

This tank (Tank Street) provided the water for the settlement. Situated roughly where now is the Supreme Court between George and Roma Streets.  It was an open reservoir  and was fed by a creek that run from what is now Roma Street Parklands through the CBD. It flows into the Brisbane River at the site of the current Riverside Center, a water feature represents the creek that flows underneath it.

Dr Bowman reported in 1829 that the water was unfit for use. The water in the ponds is stagnant and becomes putrid. In the dry season this was even worse  and is a main cause of the many sick (see his report above). 

The Military Compound

Going in the other direction starting again at the corner of Queen street and George street. This site had been reserved for government purposes since 1825, being – as instructed by the Governor – 300 yards away from the convict barracks. The first military barracks were constructed in 1825 as two slab huts for the sergeant, corporal and 12 privates, and separate huts for the married couples. They stood on the corner of Queen Street and North Quay, the site of the present Brisbane Square. They would not have been sufficient for the new troops that arrived with Captain Bishop in August 1825.  Some temporarily wings was added to the existing structure. It was not until 1828 that new barracks were build on the other side of Queen Street where now the Treasury Building (Casino) is situated. It could accommodate up to 100 soldiers.  In 1831 the old site became the second lumber yard. In 1848 the barracks were used to house the first immigrants that arrives in 1848 on the barque Artemisia

By the 1860s the barracks had deteriorated to such an extent that they were described in the local press as “wretched and dilapidated hovels… repugnant and harrowing and an abominable shed”. In 1864 the 12th (East Suffolk) Regiment of Foot left the site and the existing buildings were renovated (?) and occupied by the Registrar-General, Treasury and Engineer of Harbours,  In 1874 a single-storey building for the Registrar-General replaced the barracks anticipating a government redevelopment of what had become known as Treasury Square. 

A site on western edge of the ‘Green Hills’  was used to construct the new ‘Green Hills Barracks’  (Petrie Terrace). The new barracks consisted of a guard room, a barracks block and officer’s quarters. The move was a bit of a problem for the township as the soldiers for example were needed in fire fighting. The many timber building were a serious fire hazard especially when there was no fire fighting service set up in the town.

Initially the barracks expanded in subsequent years to include a military hospital and a magazine, however, after the British soldiers went back to Britain the barracks rapidly lost their military function. From 1870 to 1995 it became the police barracks. Once Australia started the build up their own military force the barracks were re-occupied by the army and at that time they received the name Victoria Barracks. It now became the headquarters of the Queensland Defence Force. After Federation in 1901 control of the site went to the newly formed Australian Army.

The Commander’s Compound

On an approx. 12 meters high ridge-line that runs parallel with the river between William and George Street,  a line of buildings – as well as a lumberyard –  were erected.  Walking for example through Stephan’s Lane you can still see where this ridge is. On the eastern side the row of buildings  facing William Street started with the Commander’s Cottage  (replaced in 1862 by the Government Printing Office). It also had a separate kitchen wing and a prisoner’s hut. Water was pumped to a well at the cottage from the reservoir/tank mentioned above.

From here they continued to the military barracks (now Treasury/Casino).  Unlike the convict and military barracks and the hospital the various cottages along this part of William Street seem to have been of a more permanent nature and were not replaced with new building in the immediate years after they were erected.

Coming from the military barracks the first building in the row started where now are the Queens Gardens (corner of William and Elizabeth Streets).  This was the engineer’s weatherboard cottage. It appears to have been both the first house and the first sawn timber building to be erected in Brisbane Town. It has been argued by the historian John Steele that this could have been the cottage that was meant to become the commander’s house as all other early buildings were build out of slabs. The ‘sawn timber’ could indicate that it was prefabricated in Sydney that arrived with Captain Miller in 1825 for erection in Red Cliff.  When the reallocated the convict settlement it was moved to the river site but perhaps this time not used for the Commander.  By 1838 the lumber yard had been moved, and the cottage had been converted into offices.

The Chaplain’s house was constructed in 1828. It was situated halfway between the Commandant’s house and the Engineer’s cottage between William and George Streets (later replaced by Executive Building/Lands Administration Building/Casino). It was singled out in a report from Allan Cunningham that same year as an ‘excellent building’ and in 1829 as a handsome brick house.  Chaplain John Vincent, his large family and his servants were the first occupants. On the first two Sunday after his arrival he conducted a services in front of the Superintendent’s house  (basically in what is now Queen Street). It was attended by some 700 military and convicts. However, this was unsustainable in the Brisbane heat and from then on the service for the convicts were held in their barracks. The military were invited to a service in the hall of the parsonage. Vincent was not happy in the settlements and left already the following year.

In 1830 the parsonage was divided into two dwellings, and occupied by Assistant Surgeons and Commissariat Officers. Indicating perhaps that no new chaplain was send to the settlement.  Missionary Reverend J.Handt was appointed as a part-time chaplain in 1837.

The section of the present park along George Street was part of the chaplain’s garden from at least 1837 – if not earlier – when the Reverend Handt was given permission to use the gardens. It became known as Handt’s Garden. In 1848 the site was acquired by the Church of England. In 1850/51 a new  parsonage was constructed at the corner of William and Elizabeth Streets. Between 1850/54  St John’s Church was erected next to it along William Street.

The Chaplain’s house was constructed in 1828, halfway between the Commandant’s house and the Engineer’s cottage between William and George Streets. Described in 1829 as a handsome brick house, it was later divided into two dwellings, and occupied at various times by the Assistant Surgeon and the Commissariat Officer.

The Commandant Office and House stood next to the original patronage along William Street (demolished c.1861). Materials used for the original building of the Commandant House in Red Cliff were reused for the building in Brisbane. Further along was the  Commandant’s Garden. This had been part of an attempt to establish some principles of behaviour at penal settlements throughout the Colony of New South Wales by the introduction of a Code of Regulations by Governor Ralph Darling which, amongst other things, entitled the Commandant to four acres of garden to be tended by up to three gardeners. In 1864 an Immigration Depot was built at the site, this building was later was occupied by the Department of Primary Industries Building (now known as National Trust House).

Commandants Residence approx 1830

Drawing by Commissariat officer William Looker. Mitchell Library, Sydney. Approx 1832

On the other side of the Commanders Compound near the corner of Elizabeth and Albert Streets the original Commissariat Store was built in 1825. It was constructed as a long, low slab building.  The Superintendent of Agriculture lived in these quarters till 1829 when he moved to Eagle FarmWhen the new Commissariat Store was finished in 1829 the old slab building was from then on used as a barn and slaughterhouse. There was a track running from the barn to the engineer cottage and from here to the wharf. It looks like that it was used later to create Elizabeth Street.

Most subsequent administrative buildings started to emerge in this area what started of as the Commandant’s Quarters. As Miller had foreseen many of these buildings were constructed from stone quarried at Kangaroo Point. This precinct is still recognisable with the situation of Parliament House, Treasury, Printing Office, former St John’s Church and the former State Library. 

Commissariat and Kings Wharf

Opposite the Commander’s House facing the the river is the  ‘new’ Commissariat Store. It replaced the one built in 1825.   The new Commissariat Store was built in 1829 and is the only remaining convict building in this area, situated in what is now William Street. 

The new store was built close to the wharf which made double handling for transport unnecessary. The building acted as the procurement and storage depot for all the settlements’ food, seed, tools, timber, clothing and equipment. There was a permanent military guard on duty.

The only entry point into the penal settlement was via the wharf on the Brisbane River. Initially known as the King’s Wharf, or King’s Jetty (George IV was the king at that time), it was constructed by 1827 when the boat crew’s hut and boat builder’s shed were first occupied. A crane was constructed on the end of the wharf in order to transfer goods from the arriving ships to the shore. The cutter the Regent Bird was the first ship that was stationed here for the use of the settlement. It was used by the army, the convict department as well as the commissariat. It transported supplies to the stores in Dunwich, the pilot station as Amity Point and upriver to Ipswich. There was a boathouse on the shore for the seamen. They preferred free men as sailors rather than convicts as they were worried they would use the ship to get away.

In 1837  after the ascendancy of Queen Victoria the name was changed into the current Queen’s Wharf. The wharf later became the first point of disembarkation of the larger numbers of sponsored immigrants to the free colony from 1848 to 1897. Access to the settlement was through a block of vacant land next to the Commissariat Store, which is now Miller Park.

Commissariat Store

Commissariat Store – built in 1829

Once the colony was opened for free settlement the store was used by the various government departments. Grain was stored on the top floor and once the colony of Queensland started to grow was also exported to other settlements. 


Government Gardens

The Government Gardens were established in 1828 to the southwest of the settlement on the site of the present-day City Botanic Gardens on Alice Street, close to what is now North Quay. Next to  the Commander’s Garden along William Street. The Government Garden was under the charge of the Superintendent of Agriculture and apart from the maize fields there were a wide range of vegetables including cabbage, cauliflower, peas, beans, potatoes, and pumpkins, as well as fruit trees and plants such as banana, pineapple, citrus, and apple. There was a small hut where convicts would strip the maize kernels from the cobs before carrying the sacks to the windmill. There was a small piggery next to the corn  shed.

Dr Bowman in 1829 reported that there finally was every day an abundant supply of vegetables. This would be helpful in eradicating scurvy that had been prevalent in the colony in previous years.

The Gardener’s house, octagonal in shape and consisting of three rooms surrounded by verandahs, was also situated in the gardens. The route of the roadway along the western end of the settlement from the Prisoners’ Barracks to the Government Gardens overlaps with the current Albert Street on the block between Margaret and Alice Streets. The were a few planks that served as a bridge over a small creak that runs into the Brisbane River at the end of Alice Street.

Little Creek outlet Brisbane River

Current Little Creek outlet into Brisbane River

The Gardens were also the home for over 100 years for Harriet, a tortoise reportedly collected by Charles Darwin during his visit to the Galápagos Islands in 1835 and donated to the Gardens in 1860 by John Clements Wickham, former commander of HMS Beagle and later Pro-Government Resident for Moreton Bay. Harriet was in her later life named in honour of Harry Oakman, curator of the Gardens from 1945 to 1962 and the creator of the (now disbanded) zoo at the Gardens. The zoo closed in 1952. Harriet lived out her final years at Australia Zoo until dying in June 2006.

When Brisbane was opened for new settlers, became grazing ground for cows. In 1855 a portion of several acres was declared a Botanic Reserve which were later were turned into the City Botanical Gardens

We now travel outside the confines of the centre of the penal settlement.

The Female Factory

The decision to transport female prisoners to Brisbane was made by NSW Governor Bourke. The female prison (factory) – build in 1829 – was situated on Goal Hill, in all some 138 re-convicted women went through this very cramped prison’ like most other buildings in the settlement it had an outside kitchen. The military leaders were anxious to prevent fire in this hot and dry climate. The building was situated at quite some distance from the rest of the colony in order to protect the women from sexual harassment. This didn’t prevent many of them from offering their services as prostitutes as this was the only way to get some extra food or rum.

The female factory proved  great stories of intrigue and sex, provided by ‘seducers’ representing all layers of the early population.  Quickly a wall was constructed around the building. However, this did not seem to stem the flood of ‘seducers, who were assisted by the warders and the ladies though liberal ‘tipping’. Regardless of the counter measures, intrigue and disregarding the sexual restraints remained rife.

The conditions of the female prison was significant worse than that of the male prison. The women had to pick the loose fibres from the ropes for the use of making a sealing that was driven into the wedge-shaped seams between boards of the settlement’s  ships to stop them from leaking.  They also produced rough woven clothing  for the male convicts.

This site was on the other site of the settlement and was the first section occupied nearest to the creek (Creek Street).  The Female Factory became later the main goal in the settlement of Brisbane Town and later the police court. In 1871, the prison and most of the hill was levelled when the GPO was built, which is now occupying the exact same spot.

Eagle Farm

Captain Logan in 1829, started to develop a new 1000 acre agriculture development, he  had selected 150 prisoners for the clearing of the site and had established a slab hut for their temporary accommodation. Because of its proximity to the Female Prison, some 40 women were also deployed here, strictly separated from both the male prisoners and the soldiers. The bridge of the Wheat Creek was the demarcation line, beyond that soldiers were not allowed. Nevertheless sexual encounters were regularly reported. The Eagle Farm had a relative short life as it was abandoned in 1833 because of a lack of ‘willing’ convicts. Agriculture work was concentrated in the Governor’s Garden.

The tread mill and the wind mill

In 1827  a treadmill was  built on  Green Hills (now Wickham Terrace). While it was constructed to process the wheat and corn crops of the Moreton Bay penal settlement, Captain Logan saw it also as an excellent opportunity for punishment.  Several convicts died while working the treadmill. Punishments included sometimes up to 14 hours on the treadmill. It was dismantled soon after the convict settlement was closed.

The stone windmill was built in 1828 is the oldest surviving building in Brisbane (and Queensland for that matter). The fact that the treadmill was built here in the previous year might indicate that already at that time the building of this stone windmill was planned. The treadmill was linked by a shaft to the milling mechanism in the stone mill. Unfortunately the windmill continually broke down, perhaps because of the use of local timber for the milling mechanism, it simply was not strong enough for the milling process. The mill was also not able to operate at all under calm conditions. In early  1836 the windmill tower was struck by lightning, causing severe damage, including to the treadmill. 

In 1837 an urgent appeal was sent to Sydney for a competent builder to look at the problem. Scotsman Andrew Petrie was sent from Sydney and became the first Superintendent of Works. His Works Quarters was built in 1838. The position of his residence was at the comer of Queen and Wharf Streets. His first task was to repair the mechanism of the windmill which had never worked properly. But as the design was wrong, he was unable to fix that beyond being useful. It only remained in operation till 1845.

From 1855 the tower was reused as a signal station to communicate shipping news between the entrance of the Brisbane River and the town. Substantial renovations were made to it in 1861 including the installation of a time ball to assist in regulating clocks and watches. A signalling mast is still standing next to the mill. From 1862 the mill also for a few years hosted the first museum collection. Later the tower was used as a facility for early radio, telephony and television communications research.

The tower served as one of the stations for the first  trigonometrical survey of the Moreton Bay district in 1839. This was done in preparation of opening up the area for free settlers. A one mile square section was laid out within a grid. This grid has its origin at this windmill.

Moreton Bay Penal Colony -1835

Moreton Bay Penal Colony with the windmill -1835

Andrew Petrie (1798 – 20 February 1872) and his wife and 4 sons became the first free settlers of the new colony.  Petrie stayed and as a builder and architect was responsible for most of the important structures that arose in the new township. They had five more sons and one daughter.

His general duty was the supervision of prisoners engaged in making such necessities as soap and nails, and in building. He also made inspections of government owned sheep and cattle and placed a number of beacons on navigational hazards in the Brisbane River.He was the first white man to climb Mount Beerwah, one of the Glass House Mountains seen by James Cook, and he was also the first to bring back samples of the Bunya pine. 

The Petrie sculpture tableau - King George Sq

The Petrie sculpture tableau – King George Square

The tableau above depicts the departure of Andrew Petrie for an inland expedition from the Moreton Bay Settlement in 1842. Petrie`s wife Mary is handing him a drinking bottle as their daughter Isabella watches. Young Tom Petrie plays on the river bank with two of his Aboriginal friends. His experiences were later recorded and became a classic document of Aboriginal tribal life. John Petrie, who went on to become Brisbane`s first Mayor and a prominent engineer, holds his father`s impatient horse. The event is observed a convict recently freed from his shackles by Petrie.


Apart from the rich history that is left from the convict period, very few buildings have survived. There is the windmill (without the sails) at Wickham Terrace. The Commissariat Store is the only building left from the original compounds. The other buildings looked like the Georgian barracks and structures which can still be seen at Norfolk Island.

But interestingly, the arrangements of the original convict era compounds can still be recognised in the street pattern of the city.  The alignment of North Quay, William Street and Queen Street evolved from the location of the buildings and tracks which ran through the settlement.

The concept of the three different compounds as such can still be recognised. The military and commander’s section is where now Parliament House and the Old Treasury is. The convict barracks turned into shops and this grew into Queen Street Mall and the agriculture area is where Roma Street Parkland and the Botanical Gardens are situated.

Satellite Settlements

Amity Point

On Stradbroke Island was a small settlement most likely already established in 1825 when the convict settlement in Red Cliff was launched. It was established out of necessity as it was impossible to dock ships close to the settlement. It housed the pilot service for guiding boats  through the bay. It was also used for ships to dock and to be load to be transported to smaller barges. For that purposes there were also stored build and guards were positioned here for protection.

in 1827 Captain Henry John Rous, who had the title of Viscount Dunwich, commander of HMS Rainbow, the first British ship of war to enter Moreton Bay, named the island after his father the Earl of Stradbroke.


In 1827 they tried to set up a cotton farm here at a place they called Green Point, however, that proofed to be unsuccessful.  A warehouse was established here in 1828. From that time the cargoes from larger ships destined for Brisbane were discharged here. Governor Darling in that same year suggested that the penal colony should be moved to here but that never eventuated. Darling gave the settlement the name Dunwich named after the Suffolk village of Dunwich near to the Stradbroke Estate, in honour of the family title (Viscount Dunwich) of the Earl of Stradbroke, father of Captain Henry John Rous RN, commander of HMS Rainbow, which carried Governor Darling to Moreton Bay and surveyed the immediate Dunwich area.

It also became the place where pine timber was brought too for ‘export’ to Sydney and beyond.

There were ongoing problems such as rough weather, problems with loading and unloading, attacks from Aboriginals and smuggling still took place (it was thought that if ships would;’t have to go to Brisbane one could stop smuggling). Captain Clunie in 1831 decided to abandon the settlement and only a small  guard stayed to protect the buildings.


Captain Logan liked exploring and in March 1827 he discovered deposits of limestone along the Bremer River. A couple of months later a kiln was built here together with a small  convict settlement known as Limestone Hills.  Initially consisting just of one overseer and five men, after some raids by local Aboriginal a corporal and three privates were added.

From Brisbane Town to Independence

Convict History of Brisbane TOC