Kangaroo Point

Acknowledgment of Country

Kangaroo Point and Districts Historical Society would like to acknowledge the Turrbal people who are the traditional custodians of this land. We would also like to pay respect to their Elders -both past, present and emerging-  as the holders of the memories, the traditions, the culture and the spiritual wellbeing of the Aboriginal peoples.

Kangaroo Point History Overview

Kangaroo Point is one of the earliest areas settled in Brisbane and is generally regarded as Brisbane’s oldest suburb.

Before British settlement Kangaroo Point was  the home for many of the Turrbal people who used the Brisbane River, which they knew as  Mairwar, for food and a means of travel. It was only a small population, maybe 300 people, the whole river population down to the bay was about 2000.

In 1823, explorer Lt. John Oxley who had been sent north from Sydney Town by Governor Brisbane in search of a penal settlement, entered the Brisbane River with the help of two escaped convicts who had been living there with aborigines. He described Kangaroo Point as a “jungle, fringed with mangroves with the higher land open forest, covered with grass”.

Image of a watercolour painting of Moreton Bay Settlement New South Wales in 1835
This panorama landscape depicts the Moreton Bay Settlement in 1835. The viewpoint is from South Brisbane, on the site now occupied by the Queensland Cultural Centre. The Brisbane landscape and buildings of the period are depicted.

Buildings depicted are the Windmill, with a fence in front and the treadmill building to the left; the row of buildings from left to right are the surgeon’s cottage and convict and military hospitals (three low set buildings in a row); the convict barracks, a multi-storey building with a walled yard; the military barracks, a multi-storey building with a low set guard house just visible to the left; the Engineer’s House, used during Bowerman’s time as offices for the commandant and commissariat staff; the kitchen for, and then the Parsonage building, which by 1835 was being used as quarters for commissariat staff; the Commissariat Stores buildings, with an arched wharf with a crane and sentry box to the front, a small boat house to the left of the wharf, and boat builders hut and storeroom to the right of the wharf; and the Commandant’s House, with a small kitchen/convicts’ quarters building to the left.

The building in the far right of the painting, shown behind a row of trees growing on the river bank, was the Government Gardeners house.

During the time of the subsequent convict settlement (1825–41), Kangaroo Point was cleared and used for cultivation of crops mainly maize and wheat to feed the struggling settlement. Subsequently, the area was opened up for free settlement, the first land sales taking place on 13 December 1843. Among the early purchasers was Captain J.C.Wickham, the Police Magistrate.

View of Brisbane from James Warner’s house in Kangaroo Point 1878.

Surveyor James Warner built the first house at Kangaroo Point in 1844.

Kangaroo Point ca. 1898 (SLQ).

Early view of Kangaroo Point ca. 1898.

Kangaroo Point from Bowen Hills ca. 1908

Kangaroo Point’s first school was opened in 1861 by the Church of England. It came under the control of the Board of Education in 1867 and consisted of a boys department and a girls department. A separate Girls and Infants school opened on 2 March 1874. This was replaced by the Kangaroo Point Girls School and the Kangaroo Point Infants School which both opened on 20 January 1890. The Kangaroo Point Boys School, Girls School and Infants School closed on 28 April 1950 and amalgamated to become the Kangaroo Point State School. It was located on the site of the old Southbank Institute of TAFE, on the corner of River Tce and Main St. Kangaroo Point Park is now located here.

View of Kangaroo Point 1874.
     Reproduction from a hand-coloured steel engraving drawn and engraved from a photograph, by prominent English topographical artist James Charles Armytage (1802-97) for “Australia Illustrated” published in London ca.1872.
     Looking from the New Farm end of Bowen Terrace, across Kangaroo Point, the Brisbane River and the Botanic Gardens, to the newly completed Parliament House building (opened in 1868) – suggesting the photograph was taken in Brisbane in 1869-70, and provided to Armytage by Richard Daintree, Agent-General for Queensland in London from 1872. Main Street was the only road in Kangaroo Point, and the sawmill and engineering works had not yet been constructed there.

In 1887, the Yungaba Immigration Centre was built at the bottom of Main Street to replace the existing centre in William Street for more “pleasant surroundings”, where the Treasury Casino is now located. Immigrants were accommodated at no cost for fourteen days and then given a free pass to any part of the colony by rail.

Yungaba Migrant Centre ca.1958 (SLQ).

During the Boer War, World War I and World War II the building was used as a military hospital and demobilisation depot and during the depression (1929-1932) it was used as a dispersal centre for food and clothing. After WWII ended Yungaba was once again used as an immigration depot handling the mass migration of European immigrants. The building is now used for upmarket apartment residences.

Kangaroo Point ca. 1860
Kangaroo Point ca. 1860 (National Library of Australia)