Victoria Bridge

Fire at Mater Hill Lodge, South Brisbane

On 21 December 1983 a deliberately-lit fire at the Mater Hill Lodge boarding house in South Brisbane killed two residents,  a 79-year-old woman and a 65-year-old man.

Mater Hill Lodge ablaze, 1983. (Brisbane Ablaze)

Six years later an ex-soldier was jailed for life after he admitted lighting the fire as part of an insurance claim plot. (The Canberra Times, 30 December 1990).
The photos from “Brisbane Ablaze” show the intensity of the fire and the aftermath.


History of the Victoria Bridge

Here’s an overview of the very interesting history of the Victoria Bridge.

Originally known as the Brisbane Bridge it was the first road crossing over the Brisbane River. The current bridge is the fourth bridge.

The first bridge was a temporary wooden bridge designed to provide a vehicle crossing as well as scaffolding for a future permanent structure. It was opened on 24 June 1865 and was called the Brisbane Bridge. Two years later it partially collapsed into the river due to damage caused by wood worms (the Teredo worm or marine borer).

On 15 June 1874 the first permanent bridge was opened. It was a wooden bridge with iron-lattice girders and operated as a toll bridge until 1877. It was named Victoria Bridge after the British Monarch at the time. This bridge was partially washed away and destroyed during the February 1893 flood.

On 22 June 1897 the second permanent bridge was opened. The roadway was concreted in 1920-21. This bridge was demolished in 1969 as it could no longer meet traffic demands.

A fourth bridge, the third permanent bridge, was built in 1969. It is a concrete bridge with 3 arches and a length of 313 metres and caters for vehicular traffic, pedestrians and cyclists.

The  coral dredge ‘Darra’ near the old Victoria Bridge in 1968.
Coral dredge Darra near the Victoria Bridge 1968. (supplied: Colin G. Powell)

“Photo taken by my late Father Colin George Power when we lived a South Brisbane from 1964 to 1968. The ‘Darra’ was a coral barge which plied the Brisbane River between Moreton Bay and the Darra Cement Works at Darra operated by Queensland Cement and Lime. As far as I am aware the ship is still in running condition today but no longer tasked in the coral dredging role. In the picture too is the old Victoria Bridge and is only a year or so away from being demolished as the new is bridge already under construction. You can see the beginnings of the new bridge and cranes and construction equipment on the city side of the river bank.” (Colin G. Powell /

South Brisbane by Margaret Olley, 1966
‘South Brisbane’ by Margaret Olley. (Queensland Art Gallery)

Photo of an original ink and watercolour on paper donated to the Queensland Art Gallery/ Gallery of Modern Art by the Margaret Olley Trust in 2012.

Victoria Bridge c. 1890s

This beautiful artwork of the third Victoria Bridge (1897-1969) was created by Danish-born Poul. C. Poulsen (1857-1925). It is an albumen photograph on paper mounted on card measuring 14.5 x 20.5 cm. It was gifted to the Queensland Art Gallery, Gallery of Modern Art by Glenn R Cooke, accession No: 2009.120)

City and Victoria Bridge ca. 1899

A beautiful close-up classic of the city and Victoria Bridge simply captioned: ‘Tram and crowd scene in Queen Street near George Street, ca. 1899.

Trams and crowd scene in Queen Street near Victoria Bridge ca. 1899. (Queensland State Archives)

Victoria Bridge and South Brisbane 1924

Aerial view of a stretch of the Brisbane River, showing a large area of South Brisbane, with ships at the wharves on either side. It also shows a view of the old Victoria Bridge, and a section of the northern side of the river along William Street.

Victoria Bridge and South Brisbane 1924. (State Library of Queensland)