Quick Historical Facts about Brisbane

lake side wide view at brisbane

The Land of the Brisbanites

Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, Australia, is centred in a peninsula along the Brisbane River. Situated in the southeast corner of Queensland, the 3rd largest city in Australia is home to approximately 2.6 million ‘Brisbanites’.  

Brissie / Brissy, a popular nickname coined for the city, boasts rich historical facts interesting to locals and tourists alike.

Brisbane Historical Facts and Timeline

  • In the early 1800s, John Oxley, a British surveyor-general, was the first recorded foreigner to find the Brisbane River. He named the river after Governor Sir Thomas Macdougall Brisbane of New South Wales. The discovery of the Brisbane River changed the landscape in the region, which had been home to the Jagera and the Turrbal Aboriginal people for thousands of years.
  • In 1824, Redcliffe Point established a penal colony. A year later, it moved to a peninsula on the river. It is where Brisbane’s current business district is situated. Over the next twenty years, the penal colony at Brisbane was home to hardcore convicts. However, the number of convicts dwindled over time. Many escaped and either died or assimilated into the aboriginal tribes.
  • In 1859, the province of Queensland was created, with Brisbane as capital. During World War II, Brisbane was one of the key frontlines for Australia. US General Douglas MacArthur based his operations here due to the strategic location on the eastern coast.
  • In 1982, Brisbane hosted the Commonwealth Games. In 1988, it hosted the World Expo. Infrastructure developed from these two events catapulted the city on a global scale. No longer living under the shadow of more popular and larger cities like Melbourne and Sydney, Brisbane now enjoys a boost of confidence as a cosmopolitan city well known for its distinct Queensland architecture.
What notable events happened in Brisbane’s history?

What notable events happened in Brisbane’s history?

1. Battle of Brisbane (November 26 – 27, 1942)

Two nights of rioting between Australians and American servicemen stationed there during World War II. What began as a Thanksgiving Holiday ended up a shooting spree when Australian soldiers defended an American ‘mate’ from American military police. The Battle of Brisbane finally ended when Australian officers aggressively put an end to the chaos after being under pressure from senior commanders.

2. Electric power for the public

Brisbane was the first city to provide electricity to the public. Power supplied by a generator lit up arc lights along Queen Street.

3. Torbreck, Highgate Hill

Designed by two Australian architects from 1958 – 1960, Torbreck Highgate Hill was the first high-rise residential development in Queensland.

4. Macadamia Nut Tree

The first cultivated macadamia nut tree was planted in 1858 by Walter Hill, the first curator of the botanical gardens. It still stands today in Brisbane City Botanic Gardens. According to the National Trust of Australia, the seeds came from bushland near Gympie and helped kick start the plant industry.

5. City Ambulance Transport Brigade

In 1892, the City Ambulance Transport Brigade transported its first patient from a Taringa residence to a private hospital. The civil ambulance service started after Seymour Warrian of the Queensland Defence Force witnessed an accident during the Brisbane Exhibition.

6. Rocket Launch

Queensland Air Mail Society president and founder Alan H. Young aimed to modernise the postal service. He dispatched a rocket filled with empty envelopes from a ship in 1934. It crashed into a pile on the river bank and fell into the water.

7. Mt Coot-tha

Originally known as One Tree Hill, Mt Coot-tha was home to various timber trees. 1,500 acres of land was proclaimed a public park in 1874.

8. Brisbane Zoo

A zoo existed in the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens until 1958. It housed various animals like monkeys, kangaroos, baboons, and foxes. Harriet, a giant Galapagos Islands tortoise, lived out the rest of her days at Australia Zoo, where she died at the estimated age of 176.

Story Bridge

A long steel cantilever bridge in Australia was named after a public servant, John Douglas Story. He strongly advocated for the construction of the bridge. The design was patterned after the Jacques Cartier Bridge in Canada.

Interesting facts about Brisbane

Interesting facts about Brisbane

  1. Brisbane was known as a place shaped like a spike.

For the Turrbal people, the area of Brisbane City ‘Meanjin’ translates to ‘place shaped like a spike’.

  • The Brisbane River was discovered accidentally.

The first foreigners to find the Brisbane River were convicts struck by a storm blown north from Sydney. They attempted to return to Sydney but stumbled upon the Brisbane River.

  • Brisbane Central Business District streets are named after the British Royalty.

The north-east facing streets were named after female royals like Ann, Adelaide, Elizabeth, Queen, Charlotte, Mary, and Margaret. Streets perpendicular to these were named after male royal descendants like William, George, Albert, and Edward.

  • Brisbane was the location where Lamingtons were accidentally created.

Allegedly, the chef working in Brisbane’s Government House accidentally dropped the Governor’s favourite sponge cake into some melted chocolate. It was then dipped in coconut to avoid messy chocolate fingers. The dish remains a national delicacy.

  • Brisbane was the busiest submarine port in the world during World War II.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbour in 1941, the United States forces decided to be close to the location where American soldiers needed to be. Brisbane was that perfect location.

  • Brisbane has a low population density.

Brisbane has only 145 people per square metre.

Pineapple Tours can help you plan your Brisbane trip

Pineapple Tours can help you plan your Brisbane trip

Brisbane is the 10th most liveable city with a free business environment. The pandemic proved to be a defining factor, as the city responded quickly to healthcare needs, protecting Brisbanites from the onslaught of Covid-19. Although the worst may not be over, Brisbane is now open for domestic tourists. Planning to visit Brisbane? Get to experience the lovely sights of the sites of Brissy and more with professional assistance from Pineapple Tours! Call us today on 0466 331 232 or email bookings@pineappletours.com.au for enquiries.