A plague on all your houses – The bubonic plague in Queensland

When people hear the words ‘bubonic plague’, thoughts turn to the deadly pandemic that swept through Asia and Europe killing tens of millions of people during the Middle Ages. However, the infectious disease, spread to humans by rat fleas, came closer to home with multiple epidemics occurring in Queensland in the early part of the […]

Frog’s Hollow

The area between George, Albert and Elizabeth streets in Brisbane is now a bustling part of the CBD, neighboured by the quiet sanctuary of the Botanic Gardens, but in the latter half of the 1800s it was both the red-light district of colonial Brisbane and its Chinatown. Frog’s Hollow, possibly named after its noisy amphibian […]

Graveyard Games – Lang Park Cemetery

Paddington Cemetery was one of the first to be established in Queensland. In its place there now stands a monument of a different kind. The cemetery operated from 1844 as the primary burial ground for Brisbane’s settler residents. Like other early cemeteries, it was divided by religious denomination and included separate sections for non-believers and […]

Birth of Qantas – The flying kangaroo

Hudson Fysh and Paul McGinness met during the First World War while serving with the No. 1 Squadron of the Australian Flying Corps. Returning to Australia after the war, the pair began planning an airline service that would connect Australia to the world. On 16 November 1920, the two pilots, along with wealthy grazier Fergus […]

Rise of the Phoenix Trams

Brisbane awoke on 29 September 1962 to news of a terrible fire that would cause transport chaos in the days ahead and would be the beginning of the demise of the tram in Brisbane. On the night before, one of Brisbane’s fiercest-ever fires blazed inside the Paddington Tram Depot, destroying the building and 67 trams. […]

Knight of the Sky – Sir Charles Kingsford Smith

Remembered as one of the world’s greatest aviators, Charles Kingsford Smith had exceptional accomplishments to his name by the time he turned 25: decorated First World War pilot, military flight instructor, airline owner, barnstormer and one of Australia’s first commercial pilots. Greater achievements were yet to come; the first, a daring and ambitious flight across […]

First Police in Dresses

The Queensland police force employed its first female policewomen on 16 March 1931. The two women, chosen from 60 applicants, were initially appointed for a 12-month probationary period and were stationed at Roma Street, Brisbane. They came from very different backgrounds. Miss Ellen O’Donnell was 35 years old when she was appointed. She lived in […]

When the world comes to town: Expo 88

Australia was approaching its bicentennial celebrations, and after Brisbane’s success hosting the 1982 Commonwealth Games, Brisbane City Council and the Queensland State Government were confident they could win the bid to hold the next World Exhibition. Brisbane won the right to hold the event and Expo 88 was officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II […]

SS Walrus: Rum on the river

The planting and cultivation of sugar cane in Queensland was paramount to a booming industry: the production of rum. In 1869 there was even a floating mill that produced and delivered rum to eager Queenslanders. The Walrus had been an unassuming sailing ship purchased by James Stewart in 1869 with plans to convert it into […]

Lightning and the mutiny

The Colonial Treasurer announced that the Queensland government would buy two gunboats in November 1882, at a cost of £60,000 (around $7.7 million today), to boost its sea-power and protect its vulnerable coastline. Armed with experience, firepower and integrity, the age of Queensland’s powerful maritime defence was about to begin. Or would have begun, if […]