The Dornoch Terrace Bridge

The first Dornoch Terrace bridge

Dornoch Terrace, a principal thoroughfare of Highgate Hill, follows the line of a ridge. This can be seen in the photo below from the early 1880’s showing Dornoch Terrace as a rough track.

Dornoch Terrace and Toonarbin circa 1884

The track that was to become Dornoch Terrace with Toonarbin in the background ca. 1884 (State Library of Queensland)

When Boundary Street was extended past Dornoch Terrace to the river, the steepness of the ridge at that point caused difficulties. Representations were made to make this extension passable for foot and vehicular traffic from around 1886, such as the petition mentioned in this article.

Boundary Street 1876 labelled

The arrow points to the climb of Boundary Street over the ridge in this 1876 image. The drop was very steep on the other side heading down to the river. (State Library of Queensland)

The South Brisbane Council decided to excavate a cutting to reduce the incline on Boundary Street and build a bridge on Dornoch Terrace to pass over the cutting. A tender for construction of the bridge was accepted in 1888. A slip road was built parallel to Dornoch Terrace allowing traffic from Boundary Street to access the higher level of the Terrace. This occasionally caused some problems as reported in the 1939 article below.

Courier Mail 1939 road accident Dornoch Terrace

Courier-Mail (Brisbane)  8th May 1939 (TROVE)

This is how a sedan car ended up, with the driver, John Robert Goforth, of Hoogley Street, West End, still at the wheel, after it had skidded on the top level of Dornoch Terrace, West End, and crashed backwards over a 12ft. embankment to the lower level of the terrace yesterday morning.

A new bridge for a new University

In 1926, the Senate of the University of Queensland decided to accept the offer of land at Saint Lucia for its new campus. The planning included a bridge facilitating access from the city to the new site crossing the river from Boundary Street. The idea for a bridge to St Lucia had been suggested before this.

During the 1880s land boom, one estate in Saint Lucia was named after a bridge it was imagined would be built in the near future.

princess bridge estate 1885 slq

The promoters of “Princess Bridge Estate” in St. Lucia imagined a bridge across the river to Boundary Street, West End. (State library of Queensland)

There was some local support for the idea of a bridge including a petition in 1924.

St. Lucia West End bridge Concept 1939

Telegraph, Brisbane. 21st December 1939. TROVE

As described in an article entitled St Lucia: degrees of landscape, orientation of the main University buildings reflect the decision to build a bridge across the river form Boundary Street as they face towards the city and the proposed bridge, rather than towards the source of prevailing breezes to the north-east in the direction of Dutton Park.

Boundary Street West End and the University of Queensland

Looking down Boundary Street towards the river. The Forgan-Smith building of the University of Queensland is visible on the left. (P. Granville)

Construction of University buildings at St Lucia didn’t begin until 1937. The first of these, the Forgan-Smith building, was completed in 1939. Soon after, preparatory work on the cross river bridge began.

The Forgan-Smith building viewed from Highgate Hill, 1950.

The Forgan-Smith building viewed from Highgate Hill, 1950. (BCC archives)

Widening Boundary Street

In advance of construction of the cross river bridge, it was necessary to widen and reduce further the slope of Boundary Street which would lead to the bridge. The clearance under Dornoch Terrace also needed to be increased. Work commenced on this undertaking in 1940. In the photograph below of the resulting construction work, the 1888 bridge can be seen in the background.

boundary street excavation 1940

Boundary Street excavation in 1940.  The 12888 bridge is visible in the background. (State Library of Queensland)

Dornoch Terrace bridge Highgayte Hill

A similar viewpoint today. (P. Granville)

The work caused some inconvenience for pedestrians as reported in the Brisbane Telegraph, on the 27th. April 1940

Pedestrians using the footpath which links Dornoch Terrace to the upper end of Boundary Street West End, must “walk the plank” or, rather, planks, which now span that portion of the cliff which has been considerably damaged by recent blasting in this area. Boundary Street, which will form the main approach to the St. Lucia Bridge, is being lowered 60 feet.

Dornoch Terrace bridge construction walkimng the planks

Plans abandoned

Construction of the bridge across the river was scheduled to start in 1941 but the war intervened. After the war, a continuing shortage of labour and material, especially steel, led to the ongoing deferment of the project. For example the Brisbane Telegraph of the 14th November 1950 reported :

Because of difficulties over supplies of structural steel it was not possible to say when the St. Lucia Bridge was likely to be finished, the Premier, (Mr Hanlon) said in Parliament today.

New bridges

The Eleanor Schonell Bridge  to the University was completed in 2006, from Dutton Park rather than from West End.

Ninety years after the idea was originally discussed, the 2017 University of Queensland Master Plan called for a bridge to West End to be constructed, this time to the vicinity of Orleigh Park. The original Boundary Street location was mentioned as option 2. There was some controversy regarding the proposal.

UQ plan Guyatt Park

Bridge protest signs in Saint Lucia. (P. Granville)

Early in 2019, incoming Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner announced plans for 5 new bridges  across the Brisbane River. One of these is proposed to link Saint Lucia with West End and another Toowong and West End. These are the two routes mentioned in the UQ plan. Both are to be for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport. In 2020, consultation commenced with significant community concern, especially regarding land resumption.

no mega bridge 1 blog

There are concerns regarding land resumption along Boundary Street. (Photo : Paul Granville)

The Dornoch Terrace bridge is  heritage listed.

WOOLLOONGABBA DIVISIONAL BOARD. (1886, April 2). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), p. 6. Retrieved April 17, 2017, from

South Brisbane Council. (1888, December 4). The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 – 1947), p. 3. Retrieved April 17, 2017, from

BRIDGE WANTED. (1924, May 7). Daily Standard (Brisbane, Qld. : 1912 – 1936), p. 4 (SECOND EDITION–3 p.m.). Retrieved April 22, 2017, from

St. Lucia Bridge plans (1950, November 14). Brisbane Telegraph (Qld. : 1948 – 1954), p. 2 (CITY FINAL). Retrieved April 19, 2017, from

© P. Granville 2017

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