A late nineteenth century portrayal of a group of traditional owners camped at South Brisbane. Queen's Wharf is across the river, in the middle distance. Section of an engraving by JC Armytage, c1874 to c1876.
State Library of Victoria H3530.

Traditional owners

A late nineteenth century portrayal of a group of traditional owners camped at South Brisbane. Queen's Wharf is across the river, in the middle distance. Section of an engraving by JC Armytage, c1874 to c1876. State Library of Victoria H3530.

A late nineteenth century portrayal of a group of traditional owners camped at South Brisbane. Queen’s Wharf is across the river, in the middle distance. Section of an engraving by JC Armytage, c1874 to c1876.
State Library of Victoria H3530.

Other than the occasional encounter with an explorer or the inclusion into Aboriginal society of shipwrecked persons such as the timber-getters Finnegan, Pamphlet and Parsons, prior to the arrival of the convicts arrived in Moreton Bay in 1824 the Aboriginal clans of the region had had little contact with white people

The first convict settlement of Moreton Bay commenced with the arrival of the brig Amity at Redcliffe Peninsula on 13 September 1824. While the surrounding Ningy-Ningy people were driven off this section of their lands, they would claim it back after May 1825 when the convict settlement was moved to the north bank of the Brisbane River, a location occupied by the Turrbal people. The Turrbal were one of a number of clan groups in the 5,000 population of Aboriginal people estimated to be occupying the Moreton Bay district in the 1820s.

According to historian Raymond Evans, the Turrbal people initially kept away from the new settlement being established on the ridge above Queen’s Wharf. Conflict arose over raids on maize crops grown by the convict workers, the first recorded raid taking place in May 1827 when a guard was speared and the raiders fired upon. These raids continued, more or less annually into the 1830s, subsiding as the convicts were withdrawn. In November 1837, when there were just over 300 convicts in the settlement, Commandant Cotton believed that with the Turrbal and other clans a good understanding prevailed through a balance of conciliation and control.

With the withdrawal of the last of the convict inmates and the removal of the 50 mile (80 kilometer) exclusion zone around the penal colony, south-east Queensland was opened to free settlers and Brisbane became an increasingly busy point of entry for white immigrants looking for land. As in the convict period, restrictions kept the Turrbal and members of other clan members beyond the boundary streets after sunset.

Beyond the town’s northern Boundary Street, one of the camps of the Turrbal, known as York’s Hollow, was in a section of the gully that runs between Normanby and Herston. Another camp was located downstream at Breakfast Creek, a good fishing place. This was referred to as Yowoggerra, a word meaning Corroboree Place. Queen’s Wharf was given no special acknowledgement by the Turrbal, other than it being part of the newcomer’s umpie korumba – place of many buildings.

York’s Hollow was the main camp of the Turrubal into the 1850s. This location took its name from a Turrbal leader known as the Duke of York, possibly the Turrubal man Daki Yakka. As more immigrants arrived, the clan was dispersed gradually from their York’s Hollow gully and the fringes of Separation society. Repression of any resistance to unlawful activity was heavy-handed after the arrival of the Native Police in 1852. Introduced diseases led to a steady decline in clan sizes, bringing about a gradual cultural decay.

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A story about Queen's Wharf Basement

What’s in the basement?


Finding inspiration in a tomato

Refurbishment of the B1 level of National Trust House in mid-2013 revealed some unexpected items. Just inside the doorway of one of the rooms, a man’s boot was found beneath the floorboards. Construction of this part of the building occurred in 1899 and it is believed the boot was deliberately placed there at the time.

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The Yacht Lucinda

The Government Yacht Lucinda

The Yacht Lucinda

The Lucinda, with pennants flying, during a cruise on the Brisbane River.

No single vessel had a stronger connection with Queen’s Wharf than the paddle wheel steamer Lucinda. Commissioned by the Queensland Government to a design that would serve the purpose of lighthouse tending, the steel-built Lucinda was equipped with a level of comfort the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin in February 1885 described as ‘a perfect model of a ship in which the desiderate have been strength, beauty and not simply comfort, but absolute luxury’.

The Lucinda was 172.6 feet (53 metres) in length. Her centrally located paddle wheels 12 feet (3.7 metres) in diameter were powered by a 114 nhp (nominal horse power) steam compound oscillating engine. She was an upgrade on the river steamer Kate which had conveyed immigrants from ships too large to cross the bar to the Immigration Depot and delivered stores to government institutions at Peel Island and Dunwich.

The Lucinda made passage to Queensland between January and May 1885, quickly taking up duties which included mail delivery, picnic and annual excursion cruises, and conveyance of the State’s political leaders and visiting dignitaries. It is in this last capacity that the Lucinda transported Sir Samuel Griffith and others to Sydney for the 1891 National Australasian Convention. On an Easter weekend trip to the estuary of the Hawkesbury River, Griffith and others honed a draft constitution into a document that formed the basis of Federation discussions and agreements.

Anchored in the South Brisbane Reach in 1896, the Lucinda rescued people from the sinking ferry Pearl, an event considered the worst Brisbane River disaster of the nineteenth century. The tragedy came about when the Pearl fouled Lucinda’s anchor chain while steering a quicker but less-safe course across the flooded river.

Kennedy Wharf downstream of the Customs House was chosen as the venue for the welcome reception for the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York when they concluded their ‘arrival’ cruise on the Lucinda in May 1901. The royal party had arrived earlier by train and, after a short time at Government House, boarded the Lucinda for a cruise before the welcome, her expansive upper deck providing a suitable viewing platform for the royals. Lucinda could form the backdrop to the pomp of a regal visit but also be the central, special venue for an excursion of school or church group.

In 1921, after nearly 40 years of service and with maintenance costs rising, the Lucinda was laid up. While various fittings were sold and are in private hands or museums, her hull was converted to a coal lighter for the Riverside Coal Transport Company and used to bring coal from Ipswich to Brisbane. This involved passage along the South Brisbane Reach, where she had once anchored so gracefully, to the City Electric Light Company power house in William Street. Sadly, in 1937 the Lucinda was beached to form part of a breakwater at Bishop Island near the mouth of the Brisbane River.

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Hulk Beatrice

Hulk Beatrice

Hulk Beatrice

The hulk Beatrice (circled in red) moored upstream of the Victoria Bridge in 1895 when being used by the Commercial Rowing Club. In the foreground is the steamer Pearl.

The barque Beatrice finished its journeys as a hulk in the river near Queen’s Wharf. In November 1884, following a six-month journey from New York that the Brisbane Courier described as a ‘boisterous passage’, the Beatrice was towed up the Brisbane River and condemned. Built in 1858 at Newcastle-on-Tyne, the oak and teak vessel was moored in the river adjacent to Queen’s Wharf and offered for sale.

The Beatrice had had a chequered career. In 1863, on a voyage transporting coal to Hong Kong, two lives were lost in a failed mutiny. Four seamen involved in the mutiny were convicted and hanged. Following sale to a German firm, many more voyages were undertaken. After being condemned, the Beatrice was purchased initially by shipwrights Campbell and Dunlop. She was sold to the Queensland Government in November 1888 for £800.

One of the retired barque’s first tasks was to act as a flagship for the Anniversary Rowing Regatta on the South Brisbane and Milton reaches of the river in December 1888. By 1891 the Beatrice was being referred to in the newspapers as a ‘health hulk’, a vessel used for quarantine purposes in the event of outbreaks of diseases such as smallpox. Towing the hulk to Peel Island was debated by the Central Board of Health but this did not eventuate.

Along with the considerable other damage which occurred, the flood peaks of February 1893 caused the Beatrice to drift down river. She was re-moored near the Naval Stores at Kangaroo Point. As their boat sheds had been swept away in the flood, the Commercial Rowing Club purchased the Beatrice to serve as both boat shed and headquarters, a function performed until 1896 when, according to one report, ‘the barque, strangely altered from her smart appearance of 1858, settled down quietly on the river bed. Her usefulness was over and she became a danger’. The Beatrice was later broken up for scrap.

The First Ship Inn

The First Ship Inn

The First Ship Inn

The Ship Inn was well located to attract passing trade from arrivals at Queen’s Wharf.

Patrick Mayne purchased the Ship Inn at Queen’s Wharf for £1,100 in 1859. Located on allotment no. 7 and immediately adjacent to the Queen’s Wharf Reserve, the Ship Inn was the last name given to a small hotel located on this site. It proved to be not the best investment for the usually astute Mayne. Within five years of him acquiring it, the Ship Inn had fallen in the river.

The first hotel at Queen’s Wharf, known as the Green Man, was constructed late in 1850 by ferry man turned publican, Henry Chambers. Ownership of the site was in the name of his wife, Jane Chambers, who had purchased allotment no. 7 at auction for £24.7.6. Business may not have been good as the Chambers soon mortgaged the hotel site to Jeremiah Daly, the Sheriff’s Bailiff, who eventually became its owner.

Financial difficulties for the Green Man may have been due to Thomas Dowse, the owner of allotment no. 6 next door in 1852 converting his home into a hotel. Named the Queen’s Head Inn, this second hotel operated under licensee Patrick Maunsell. With not enough business for the two, the Queen’s Head Inn closed its doors in 1855.

Having survived the competition, the Green Man underwent a change of name – to the Lord Raglan Hotel. Its publican James Powers advertised, ‘Wines and spirits of the first quality. Beds and every other accommodation for travellers; good stabling. Corn & Hay’.

By 1856 John Conroy was listed as the licensee of the Lord Raglan. In October 1857 he was embroiled in a court case with Jeremiah Daly the Sheriff’s Bailiff (and his landlord).  Daly was arraigned for having obtained the sum of £5 from James Conroy under false pretences. Jeremiah Daly was found not guilty, but during the trial it was revealed that he had sold the Lord Raglan to Robert Edmond Dix, and Conroy was to be evicted. In November 1857 Conroy advertised the sale of his household goods.

RE Dix had been a publican since 1846 at hotels such as the Sovereign Hotel in Queen Street, the Bush Inn at Cunningham’s Gap and the Steam Packet in South Brisbane. The Lord Raglan became the Ship Inn in 1858. In October the following year ownership changed – from Daly to Patrick Mayne, butcher, businessman and alderman.

Licensees came and went. Daly, now the Sheriff, must have been pleased he was no longer financially involved when, during a flood on 21 March 1864, ‘The foundations of the public house just at the rear of Messrs Orr and Honeyman’s store, known as the Ship Inn, gave way, the whole of the end wall has fallen.’ The then licensee, William Sanders Alley, removed his stock-in-trade and the household furniture but the building was in a very dangerous condition. The next month, ‘all the materials of the late Ship Inn, consisting of bricks, stones, timber etc. etc. as they now lie on the ground,’ were advertised for sale.

Patrick Mayne died the following year. His executors in 1874 sold allotment no. 7 to William Pettigrew, who extended his profitable sawmilling business there. The name Ship Inn was given the following decade to another, entirely unconnected hotel in Stanley Street, South Brisbane. That Ship Inn continues to trade in 2014.

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The Steamer Amy


Orr and Honeyman’s steamer Amy at Yatala ferry on the Albert River, c1872.

In the 1860s the firm of Orr and Honeyman owned a company wharf and warehouses on allotment 5 near Queen’s Wharf. Integral to the early expansion of this commercial venture by Matthew Orr and James Honeyman was the steamer Amy.

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