CityCat  - Brisbane Timeline

CityCat on the Brisbane River

Prior to the arrival of the European

The stories of the indigenous people are recounted formally and informally in any number of ways. There is the Musgrave Park Cultural Centre, 121 Cordelia Street, SOUTH BRISBANE. There are Brisbane suburbs and streams like Enoggera, Geebung and Doomben with names linked to these early communities and Brisbane’s fleet of City Cats have been allocated indigenous names for various locations on, and overlooking, the Brisbane River.

The arrival of the European

The river and bay on which the City of Brisbane is located proved elusive to the early European explorers and James Cook aboard HMS Endeavour [1770] could only speculate that discolouration of the ocean to the east of then-named Cape Morton indicated the presence of a large river system nearby.

Matthew Flinders aboard Norfolk [1799] meandered around the Moreton Bay of today, conferring on its islands numerical titles, careening his cutter on the banks of what he called the Pumicestone River and climbing at least one of the Glasshouse Mountains. For all his skill as an acknowledged navigator, Flinders failed to find the mouth of a large river system.

John Bingle aboard Sally and William Edwardson aboard Snapper followed in Flinder’s footsteps however, they too were unsuccessful in their quest to find a site for a new settlement.

Pamphlett Bridge  - Brisbane Timeline

Pamphlett Bridge, Graceville

In April 1823, timber-getters Thomas Pamphlett, John Finnegan and Richard Parsons stumbled upon the river system that had eluded assorted ‘professional explorers’. These men had previously been caught in a storm and lost at sea during which time another of their party, John Thompson had succumbed.

Towards year’s end, New South Wales’ Surveyor-General John Oxley aboard Mermaid was surveying Moreton Bay as a site for a possible new penal settlement when, over two days – 29/30 November 1823 – he met up with two of the three surviving castaways Pamphlett and Finnegan who told him of a large river system.

On 2 December 1823, John Oxley located and explored the river which was named the Brisbane in honour of Sir Thomas Brisbane, Governor of New South Wales from 1821 to 1825. Brisbane was, by profession, a soldier and also came to be regarded as an astronomer of note during the Victorian period.

A convict settlement

In June 1824, the decision to site a penal settlement at Moreton Bay was announced and, in September, an advance party including John Oxley and Lieut. Henry Miller of the 40th. Regiment established the convict settlement of Moreton Bay at present-day Redcliffe with Miller as Commandant.

In May 1825, the convict settlement was relocated from Redcliffe to the banks of the Brisbane River.

On 30 May 1838, German missionaries became the first free men and women to be permitted within the confines of the convict settlement of Moreton Bay.

First Settlement Wall  - Brisbane Timeline

First Settlement Wall, Redcliffe

Image courtesy Margaret Harding

 - Brisbane Timeline

First Free Settler’s Monument, Nundah

Miller Park  - Brisbane Timeline

Miller Park, William Street, Brisbane

By May 1839, the number of convicts at Moreton Bay was reduced to 94 and Lt. George Gravatt was appointed to take command of the settlement. Gravatt was followed in that position by Lt. Owen Gorman who served from July 1839 to May 1842 by which time Moreton Bay had been opened to free settlement following the Proclamation of 11 February 1842, made by New South Governor Sir George Gipps, declaring the penal settlement closed.

Free Settlement

The period from 1842 until 1859 was a time of free settlement and deliberative actions in pursuit of life as a colony or colonies; independent of New South Wales…


The Duke of York’s Clan continued to camp at York’s Hollow.


The first vehicular ferry linked the north and south sides of the Brisbane River with a service from Queens Wharf to Russell Street.


A plan for Brisbane and surrounding districts was completed by Henry Wade.


The Moreton Bay District Association was formed out of the Pastoral Association of Moreton Bay [25 April].

Newstead House - Brisbane Timeline

Newstead Cottage – Image courtesy of Dixon Galleries, State Library of NSW, Call number: DG SSV4 / 1


Brisbane was proclaimed a ‘port of entry’ [24 June].

Work commenced on the construction of Newstead Cottage; the Newstead House of today.





Brisbane Timeline

Signposts to History, Auchenflower


The Rev. John Dunmore Lang proposed a new colony to be called Cooksland, comprised of farmers and artisans.


The first British immigrant ship Artemisia arrived in Brisbane [13 December].


Immigrant ships chartered by the Rev. John Dunmore Lang’s Cooksland Colonisation Society arrived in Brisbane…the Fortitude [20 January], Chaseley [1 May] and Lima [3 November].

Pugin Chapel - Brisbane Timeline

Pugin Chapel, Brisbane


Constructed from plans attributed to Augustus Pugin, St. Stephens Catholic Chapel in Elizabeth Street was consecrated [12 May].


The Bank of New South Wales moved to the corner of Queen and George Streets, Brisbane [26 March].


Work commenced in October on the construction of Wolston House at present-day Wacol.



Milton House  - Brisbane Timeline

Milton House, Milton


Milton House was built in the Colonial Georgian style for the chemist and farmer Ambrose Eldridge.


St. John’s Anglican Church in William Street was consecrated. Away from Brisbane, there were protests at Gayndah opposing the suggestion of Brisbane as capital of any new colony and Port Curtis was proposed as possible capital of a colony north of Moreton Bay.


Walter Hill was appointed superintendent of Brisbane’s Botanic Reserve.


Tenders were called for the construction of the Moreton Bay lighthouse [1 March].


The Moreton Bay Supreme Court Act of 1857 established the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of New South Wales in the Moreton Bay District.


 - Brisbane Timeline

Adelaide House, Brisbane


The proclamation of the Colony of Queensland from Adelaide House in the presence of Sir George Ferguson Bowen and the Countessa Diamantina di Roma, Lady Bowen and their Suite. [10 December 1859] Adelaide House had been requisitioned as the first of what were to become three Government Houses.





Capital City of Queensland

Wenley House - Brisbane Timeline  - Brisbane Timeline  - Brisbane Timeline
1860’s Wenley House in Market Street, Brisbane is a rare example of a warehouse erected by M.M. Jewell in 1864. The quoin – the keystone of an arch –is replicated several times.     1870’s Queensland’s second Governor Samuel Wensley Blackall died on 2nd January 1871 and becomes the first burial in the Toowong Cemetery.    


The Chinese community constructs its Temple of the Holy Triad at Breakfast Creek 20 January 1886

 - Brisbane Timeline  - Brisbane Timeline  - Brisbane Timeline


The South Brisbane Town Hall is built in the Italianate Classic Revival style and officially opens on 1 July 1892 at a cost of £11,000. The clock tower ‘faces’ are installed in 1904.


A statue of Queen Victoria in present-day Queens Gardens is unveiled on 23 June 1906.


St. Brigid’s Roman Catholic Church at Red Hill opens in August 1914 to a cathedral Gothic style of Robin Dods.

1860’s – Wenley House in Market Street, Brisbane is a rare example of a warehouse erected by M.M. Jewell in 1864. The quoin – the keystone of an arch –is replicated several times.