Paul Budde's History Archives

The creeks

In 1825 Henry Miller explored the site what would first would become the Moreton Bay Penal Settlement and later Brisbane Town. He also located fresh water at the lagoons in the area now occupied by the Rome Street rail yards. The area here was rather flat and flanked by some low laying hills and the escarpment. Springs from these hills came down to swampy area with a creek running through it.  The swampy area was changed into ponds, which supplied water for the settlement. The area was flanked by some low laying hills and the escarpment. The hills became known as Green Hills and were used to graze sheep for the slaughter. The rest of the settlement was bordered by the river.

Layout of the convict settlement - 1838

Map Queensland State Archives. The long row of buildings indicates the convict barracks. Closest to the river is the Commissariat.  Further along the river are the military barracks and the hospital. On the left towards the bottom the windmill. Further out Goal Hill (female prison). Government House all the way to the right.

The creek became known as Wheat Creek. The name of the creek indicates that the flats next to it was used for agriculture (maize). It joined the Brisbane River in the vicinity of the intersection of Alice Street and Edward Street.  The name Creek Street in the City reminds us of this creek.


Water supply map 1839

Wheat Creek  top blue cross Roma Street source and reservoir,  bottom cross  outlet at Alice Street. Map Queensland State Archives.

The old Wheat Creek or Big Creek runs from Roma Street to the River. It is still traceable thanks to gutter markers. The first marker I could find was in Upper Roma Street (near the backpackers places) from here: Mc Cormack Place (close to the old burial ground), Roma Street (at the top only on the northern side), at the station on both sides of the road, George Street – than under the Supreme Court back into Roma Street, into Albert Street, here it goes under King George Sq, than a sharp turn to the left into Adelaide Street and a similar turn to the right into Creek Street (last two markers that I could find here), from here I know it goes under Riverside Centre and flows into the River.


Wheat Creek Culvert = Adelaide Street - 1861

Culvert under Adelaide Street built in 1861. This short section was preserved as a feature in the King George Square busway station.

Another low laying area known as Frog’s Hollow  bordered what is now the City Botanical Garden, this was another – the main – farming area of the settlement, known as the Government’s Garden. There was also running a creek through this area (Little Creek) and it entered the river at the end of what is now Alice Street. It was here that the first ‘bridge’ was built, several planks across the creek (near the Port Office in Edward Street) provided convicts access from the settlement to the farm.

The convict buildings were all established on the ridges. When the free settlement opened up people started to fill in other areas in the settlement the creeks and the various hollows and ponds became flood hazards.

Wheat Creek - Gutter Markers

Wheat Creek – Gutter Markers

On the escarpment above the ponds of Wheat Creek, a treadmill and a stone windmill were built in 1827, to mill the maize harvest below and in the Government Garden.

Moreton Bay Penal Colony 1830

The windmill on the left – in the context of the settlement – 1835 – The Commissariat Store Museum.

The Convict compound

The building of Brisbane TOC

Convict History of Brisbane TOC