Saturday, 16 July 2011

The opening of Queensland's first railway (This month in Queensland history)

"The formal opening of the "Southern and Westen Railway"...commenced a new era in the history of the colony, and one the advent of which has been looked forward to with much anxiety for some time past." The Brisbane Courier, 1 August 1865.


Official opening of the first section of the Ipswich to Grandchester railway, Ipswich, 1865
State Library of Queensland - Image 150529
On 31 July 1865 Queensland's first railway was officially opened between Ipswich and Bigge's Camp (later called Grandchester). This line was the first narrow gauge (3 feet 3 inches) railway in Australia.


So important was this event that a public holiday was decreed. The construction of this line represented the determination of the colony of Queensland that it could successfully go it alone after its separation from New South Wales in 1859. The line also signalled Queensland's progression to the industrial era. 


Queensland's first railway train passes over Iron Pot Gully, Ipswich district, 1865
State Library of Queensland - Image 88352
Find out more:

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Queensland's shame: The Fitzgerald Inquiry (This month in Queensland history)

The month of July marks the beginning and the end of the Fitzgerald Inquiry, representing a shameful chapter in contemporary Queensland history. The Inquiry revealed endemic police corruption throughout all layers of the force. Allegations of corruption were also leveled at politicians within the Joh Bjelke-Petersen ministry.

On 11 May 1987, ABC's Four Corners program lifted the lid on prostitution and gambling within Brisbane's Fortitude Valley and suggested possible police corruption. Acting Premier Bill Gunn ordered a commission of inquiry to investigate.

On 27 July 1987, the "Commission of Inquiry into Possible Illegal Activities and Associated Police Misconduct" began. The first witness was Police Commissioner Sir Terence Lewis, who would later be convicted of 16 counts of corruption and forgery, serve a prison sentence and be stripped of his knighthood.

After hearing 339 witnesses and producing 21,504 pages of transcripts, Tony Fitzgerald QC submitted his report to the Queensland Parliament on 3 July 1989. The Fitzgerald Inquiry's main legacy was the creation of the Criminal Justice Commission, now known as the Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC).

Find out more:

Tony Fitzgerald handing a copy of the Fitzgerald Report to Premier Mike Ahern, 1989
State Library of Queensland - Image 78930

Sir Terence Lewis, Police Commissioner for Queensland 1978-87
State Library of Queensland - Image 78945


Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Destroyed icons: Cloudland Ballroom

Interior view of Cloudland ballroom, Bowen Hills, ca. 1950
State Library of Queensland - Image 83083

The Cloudland Ballroom is another of Brisbane's beloved buildings that was ruthlessly demolished without consideration given to its importance as a cultural landmark. Built in 1939-40, Lunar Park (later called Cloudland) hosted dances and rock'n'roll bands. Situated on top of a hill, a funicular transported people to and from the venue. The lavish interior featured an art-deco design as well as a sprung dance floor, widely considered to be the best in Australia.


Cloudland closed its doors in 1982. Despite its National Trust listing and vehement calls for the building to be preserved, property developers had the building demolished under cover of darkness on 7 November 1982 by the Deen Brothers.


Further information:

Entrance to the Cloudland Ballroom, Bowen Hills, 1946
State Library of Queensland - Image 61681
Dancing at Cloudland, , ca. 1948
Srare Library of Queensland - Image 193612




Saturday, 2 July 2011

This month in Queensland history: July

South Brisbane Town Hall
State Library of Qld - Image  19890

Edward, Prince of Wales, at
Parliament House, Brisbane in July 1920

State Library of Qld - Image 150382
  • 1940 - Story Bridge in Brisbane is officially opened (6 July)
  • 1942 - Four small air raids by Japanese naval flying boats on Townsville and Mossman (late July).
  • 1960 - Birth of current Queensland Premier Anna Bligh (14 July)
Guests assembled in Ipswich at the opening
of the first railway line from Ipswich to Bigges Camp, 1865
State Library of Queensland - Image - 38875
Brisbane's Story Bridge under construction, 1939
State Library of Queensland - Image 1850


Tram destined for Toowong area, Brisbane, ca. 1905
State Library of Queensland - Image 44042

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

New History Centre opened in Rockhampton

Rockhampton's new History Centre was officially opened to the public this week. Their collection contains photographs, newspapers and old council records. 


Further information:

Monday, 27 June 2011

This month in Queensland history: June

  • 1868 - Thomas Griffin, gold commissioner was hanged at Rockhampton Gaol for murder (1 June)
  • Sir Charles Lilley
    State Library of Qld - image  69369
  • 1879 - Hon. Charles Lilley appointed Chief Justice of Queensland (26 June)
  • 1882 - Robert. Dunne appointed Roman Catholic Bishop of Brisbane (18 June)
  • 1884 - South Brisbane and Killarney branch railways opened (2 June)
  • 1884 - Hon. William Thornton, late Collector of Customs dies (27 June)
  • 1888 - First sod of the Bowen railway turned (14 June)
  • 1890 - Death of Henry Jordan, Member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly (30 June)
  • 1896 - Lord Lamington visits Rockhampton (1 June)
  • 1897 - First electric tram ran from Logan Road to the south end of the Victoria Bridge (21 June)
  • 1898 - Toowoomba School of Arts is burnt down (21 June)
  • 1899 - Dalby Town Hall is burnt down (18 June)
  • 1901 - Diamonds discovered at Marburg (27 June)
  • 1905 - Mice plague in Warwick. Corn crops destroyed (14 June)
  • 1905 - Fire in Woolloongabba - many dwellings destroyed (22 June)
  • 1929 - Cleveland Hotel is badly damaged during a storm (29 June)
  • 1991 - "Minister for Everything" Russ Hinze dies (29 June)
Cleveland Hotel after being damaged by a storm, June 1929
State Library of Queensland - image 8023

William Thornton c.1875
State Library of Queensland - image  APO-027-0001-0021

Destroyed icons: Bellevue Hotel (Brisbane)

Built in 1885-1886, the Bellevue Hotel stood on the corner of George and Alice Streets. Architect F.F. Holmes designed the three storey building which featured two wide verandahs with balustrades of cast iron.  The demolition of this famous Brisbane landmark on 20 April 1979, on the order of then Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen, was widely condemned by the Brisbane public.

Sites of interest on the Bellevue Hotel - 

Bellevue Hotel in Brisbane, 1933
State Library of Queensland - Image 79175