This website has been created to give voice to an unacknowledged location with a history that is significant and largely forgotten – Queen’s Wharf.
While the website could be all about the history, it is not. It is about the connections people have made and continue to make with a particular place, albeit one which today is located beneath Brisbane’s busy and noisy Riverside Expressway.
Queen’s Wharf is a term with many meanings. Traditionally the words describe a place where, in a maritime sense, bonded stores enter and customs and duties are paid. In Brisbane today there is a road which bears the name Queen’s Wharf, but no wharf which bears the name. That structure was demolished in the redevelopment undertaken for the Riverside Expressway in the 1970s. Yet the story of the wharf in its various forms from 1824 onwards, in conjunction with than the activities of people and businesses located in the precinct, is central to the early development of the city and the state.
In the convict era to 1842 the wharf was pivotal to the operation of the Moreton Bay Penal Settlement. For the remainder of the nineteenth century, Queen’s Wharf was where the Brisbane-Ipswich steamers initially docked, where immigrants from overseas stepped ashore and from where official journeys made by the government steamers departed and returned. Business owners, successful and otherwise, built stores and hotels near Queen’s Wharf. A point of entry for immigrants was established. A sawmill flourished until overwhelmed by the river in flood and debt.
Returned mostly to government ownership, the site was dedicated to offices for the advancement of agriculture across Queensland. In the latter part of the twentieth century, with the removal of the offices of the Department of Agriculture (then Primary Industries), that connection too was lost.
What has resulted is a precinct with a range of buildings of historic significance and a sprinkling of more modern designs in a precinct which hints at more. What has been lost through the removal of the old wharves and the sterilised re-sculpturing of the river’s edge is the visual evidence that this place is important. On the cusp of change once again, that loss is what this website seeks to address.