Mowbray Park

Mowbray Park,  East Brisbane
Mowbray Park in 1949 (BCC-B54-468)
Headline of article in The Brisbane Courier, 26 September 1929, p. 20
On these spring days, when flower scents are wrapped in the air and all Nature shows signs of the season, there are no sweeter havens than Brisbane's public parks and gardens. The city is fortunate in the possession of a number of magnificent reserves. Some of them have been transformed into barren places to bowers of botanic beauty; others are still courts of the Spirit of Solitude, with giant trees as the regent's bodyguard and birds and butterflies as her gay courtiers. 

A wealth of glorious parks was part of South Brisbane's dowry to the greater municipality, and this article, following on the descriptions of well-known city parks in recent issues of the "Courier", deals with some of those on the south side of the river.

This is the article’s section on MOWBRAY PARK.

The greatest asset of Mowbray Park, East Brisbane, is its fine river frontage. Its most regular visitors during the warmer months of the year are those who sit on the river bank or on the lawny terraces to enjoy the cool breeze.

A substantial retaining wall was built several years ago, and it is a favourable spot in the summer for those who have leisure to sit and watch the incoming tide dash itself into fringes of liquid lace on the rocks.

Close by is an enclosed swimming pool in the river and in the park are a bowling green, two croquet lawns, and two tennis courts.

Lines of palm trees are set out along the river front, and groups of fine, large native trees give abundant shade. The park has also a fair collection of roses and shrubs. Flower beds have been laid out picturesquely, and these, with the avenues of trees, the verdant lawns, and the effect of the shining river in the background, make Mowbray Park one of the most popular in the city. It is a favourite place for school treats.

A band stand was built about 20 years ago, when the people of East Brisbane interested themselves in raising the necessary funds, and their contributions were met by an equal subsidy from the council. A kiosk is also situated there.

The park contains 121 acres, and was purchased by the municipal authorities in 1903 for £5743.

The Brisbane Courier, 26 September, 1929, p.20

Mowbray Swimming Baths

Swimming  used to be very popular in the enclosed swimming baths at Mowbray Park. The baths (known as floating baths) were opened in late 1919/early 1920 and swimming was segregated for males and females. In 1923 a surf life saving club was formed which still exists as the Burleigh Heads Mowbray Park Life Saving Club. The site is now the home of the Mowbray Park city cat terminal, where some remnants of the baths can still be seen.

Swimmers dive from a jetty into the water while spectators sit on the banks of the river. The view is across the river to New Farm and left along the Humbug Reach of the Brisbane River. ca. 1925.

Members of the Mowbray Park Surf Life Saving Club on the beach at Burleigh Heads, 1934 (SLQ #59938).
East Brisbane (Mowbray Park ) War Memorial
East Brisbane (Mowbray Park)War Memorial ca.1919

In 1916–17, the earliest First World War I Memorial in Brisbane, was erected in Mowbray Park, East Brisbane by local residents. The memorial consisted of an honour roll and statue honouring all soldiers, sailors and nurses who had enlisted for active service from the 8C Training Area (East Brisbane and Kangaroo Point).

A public subscription was raised by the East Brisbane Cadet Committee, and the tender of £187/10/- from W Batstone & Sons, monumental masons of Annerley Road, was accepted in March 1916.

The life-size “digger” statue, representing an Australian Light Horseman with rifle pointing upwards, was carved out of Helidon sandstone by Alfred Batstone.

Foundation stone of East Brisbane War Memorial, laid on 4 November 1918. (Photo: SLQ).

The foundation stone was laid on 4 November 1916 on the hill near Lytton Road, with views of both the Shafston and Humbug reaches of the Brisbane River, and the memorial was unveiled by Lady Goold- Adams, wife of Queensland Governor Hamilton Goold-Adams, on 11 August 1917. It was flanked by two cannons, reputedly part of Thursday Island’s 19th century defences, and was surrounded by a garden in the shape of a red cross.

Additional honour rolls were added during and after the war. A metal railing fence around the memorial had been constructed by 1925, but this was replaced with stone kerbing in 1929, with stone recycled from the old Normal School in Adelaide Street, which was being demolished to make way for Brisbane’s Anzac Square.

On 5 November 2016 East Brisbane NHW in conjunction with the Gabba RSL held a small ceremony at Mowbray Park  to commemorate 100 years since the laying of a foundation stone of Brisbane’s oldest war memorial. The event was attended by the Governor of Queensland Paul De Jersey, Local Members, Politicians, Senior Police, Representatives of the Australian Armed Forces, descendants of the founding family members of that area and local residents.

Speech by the Governor of Queensland at a ceremony on 5 November 2016 to mark the centenary of the Mowbray Park War Memorial.

Mowbray Park including the memorial was entered on the Qld State Heritage Register on 21 October 1992.

(adapted from Qld State Heritage Register and SLQ blog)

Boat Landing Mowbray Park 1964 (BCC).
Boat Landing Mowbray Park 1964 (BCC)
Mowbray Park boat landing 1964. (BCC)