The Southside of Brisbane 1875

The Brisbane Courier Tuesday 25th May 1875

Whoever would have thought that the mere 994 feet 6 inches (be the same a little more or less) of muddy, brackish water, which separates North from South Brisbane, marked the boundary of two townships so totally dissimilar in all respects ! […] There is the fine old work-a-day bush twang of the stockwhip and bullock yokes, the branding iron and stock- yard, still left about South Brisbane, and which is totally unknown in the finicking North Brisbane, sacred more to pious, wealthy tradesmen, German missionaries and the “Fortitude” immigrants.[…]

And then the gentle ladies too, and the healthy children one meets with in the grassy streets , outside their cottage gates, around the outskirts of  South Brisbane and Kangaroo Point.[…]

We are speaking now rather of the sylvan Shafston, the rural Norman’s Creek, the beauteous River-terrace with its unrivaled trompe d’oeil of the great city; we are writing more now of grassy Woolloongabba, and of the inspiring crest of lofty Highgate Hill. Good old “South side”! Why is it that children are more healthy with you? That there are fewer doctors, and fewer undertakers in your midst?[…]

Gentle reader, let us here assure you that we own no land on the South side ; that we don’t live there ; and don’t go there once in seven years, on an average.[…]

And so, dear old South Brisbane, farewell for the present, and may the days be many and long withal, ere branch banks and shilling ordinaries, free counter-lunches and Board-of-health wagons, railways and cab-stands, and all the other delightful agremens of “civilisation” invade thy quiet precincts and primitive haunts. We would fain have thee remain as thou art, innocent of all “progress”, for it is indeed not everywhere that one can travel 500 miles from home, by simply crossing a lone bridge with a penny toll. – “Specialties”

town reach 1878

Town Reach circa 1878 -‘994 feet 6 inches of muddy, brackish water’ (State Library of Queensland)

The Brisbane River formed not just a physical division, but a cultural one as well. This geographic preference for one side or the other persists today amongst some residents. My own family has lived on the south side for many generations, and we still venture north of the river only when absolutely necessary !

South Brisbane was also a separate local government area from 1888 until its amalgamation into the City of Greater Brisbane in 1925. The South Brisbane Municipal Chambers still stand on Vulture Street and now forms part of Somerville House school.

This page has further reading on the cultural divide.

South Brisbane Municipal Chambers

The South Brisbane Municipal Chambers

sth brisbane 1867

South Brisbane 1867 (State Library of Queensland)

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