Home - Chermside & District History

Chermside - Foundation and Growth


The earliest photo of the hamlet of Downfall Creek was taken in 1902. It was taken as a Hamilton family photo of Janie Hamilton, later Janie Wayper with her pony Silver and her dog. Fortunately for history it also shows much of the hamlet in the background. Downfall Creek was about 33 years old when the photo was taken from the present Burnie Brae Park. (Courtesy Hamilton Family)

This is an attempt to show why the hamlet of Downfall Creek was first settled on the north road out of Brisbane Town between Dead Man's Gully (the present Somerset Creek) and Downfall Creek; the first buildings appeared in about the late 1860s.

Chermside 2007 looking from Burnie Brae Park over Chermside. This is much the same position from which the 1902 photo was taken. The large white building is the Burnie Brae Respite Centre and on the skyline is the Chermside Hospital complex.

Then we will journey through time to see why the un-named settlement grew into the present Chermside; declared a Regional Business Centre in 1996 and a Major Centre in 2005; the mini CBD for the northside of Brisbane.

The Northern Roads

This Google map shows three existing roads travelling north

West: The Old Northern Road which comes from Spring Hill via McDowall to cross the South Pine River at Cash's Crossing near modern Albany Creek. This was the earliest of the northern roads and simply forded the rivers because neither technology nor money was available to do otherwise. The road was not suitable for heavy loads and the bridge at Albany Creek was not built till October 1892 (Teague - Albany Creek etc p.60) It was also known as the Durundur Road as it led to the Archer Brothers cattle station of that name in the Woodford area.

It seems that the old road followed the aboriginal pathway that Tom Petrie walked along with the Aboriginal people on their way to the great triennial intertribal Bunya nuts feast in the Bon-Yi Mountains (Blackall Range) in 1845 .

Middle: The North Road, now Gympie Road, became viable when the first bridge over Breakfast Creek near the present Royal Brisbane Hospital was built possibly as early as 1862 (David Teague - Sunday Mail 1972). Thomas Hamilton in his memoirs mentions crossing it as a child in 1869. It became much more important with the bridging of the South Pine River at Bald Hills in 1865. The road to Gympie was opened in October 1868 and Cobb & Co coaches begun the run on the 12-11-1868. Bridge building technology and money supply had improved somewhat.

Today Gympie Road bifurcates at Carseldine into Old Gympie Road and the Gympie Arterial Road; the former veers to the west and then north while the latter continues north to Gympie and beyond.

East: The new Gateway Motorway which skirts the coast and joins the Gympie Arterial to cross the Pine River at Strathpine and become the Bruce Highway which is part of the Pacific Highway. This road was built in conjunction with the Gateway Bridge over the Brisbane River at Murarrie in Jan 1986. In May 2010 a second bridge was built providing 12 lanes traffic i.e. 6 in either direction. This road only marginally affects Chermside by diverting some of the traffic through the less settled or bushland areas. And the technologies of bridge and road building have changed.

The Huxtable Survey

Exerpt from the 1888 Moreton 20 Chain Map Sheet No. 8b showing the original location of the future Chermside. The east west roads became Ellison, Hamilton and Rode while the north south is Gympie Road. Murphys Road did not appear on Huxtable's original map but was added later to make the short cut to Zillmere an official road.

By November 1864 Edward Huxtable had surveyed the future Chermside area and laid out the grid pattern of east-west and north south-roads which are used today. There were no quarter acre house blocks but paddocks varying in size from 8 to 30 acres with some larger including the 504 acre Murphy's Paddock on Downfall Creek. (1888 Surveyor General's Map) The hamlet of Downfall Creek developed between Dead Man's Gully, where Somerset Creek crosses Gympie Road, and Downfall Creek to the north.

This lithograph would have been printed before 1898 which was the year Andrew Hamilton died. His son Thomas carried on the family business and the land sales.

As the hamlet slowly grew newcomers bought small acreages for houses and workshops. By the late 1890s some land owners began to subdivide their larger blocks into small house lots.

Possibly the earliest landowner to subdivide his land was Andrew Hamilton on the east side of Gympie Road. Teague mentions that Gottlieb Conradi, who owned a store on the west side of Gympie Road also subdivided his land for sale to house builders.

The sales were probably slow as Downfall Creek was a fair distance from Brisbane Town. The land offered by Hamilton was still being sold in the 1930s.

Upgrading Gympie Road and Increasing its Importance

This note is possibly the first confirmation of the gold discovery near the future settlement of Gympie. It appeared in the Brisbane Courier 18-10-1867 on p.2. The gold rush was on and miners streamed into the new diggings. The later reports took up much more space.

In 1865 the first bridge had been built over the South Pine River at Bald Hills and was opened by Governor Bowen. The main road suddenly acquired much more importance and when gold was discovered the importance grew even more.

This cutting from the Brisbane Courier 6-10-1868 p. 2 indicates that the road to Gympie was finished and ready to be trialled by the Cobb & Co coaches

In early 1868 the Queensland Government allocated 2,700 pounds for the construction of a road to Gympie.

Source: Tranter, Deborah: Cited H H Peck, "Victoria in the Fifties: The Origins and Early History of Cobb & Company and Memories of John Murray Peck - One of its Founders", typescript by L H Earp (nee Peck) 1935 00 1-2, Cobb & Co Museum. (p.29)

This advertisement appeared in the Brisbane Courier of the 12-11-1868 p.1. It was the first notice of the inclusion of Gympie on Cobb & Co.'s weekly timetable from Brisbane.

1868 Thursday 12th November the first coach left Brisbane driven by Hiram Barnes and arrived in Gympie on Friday evening 13th November 1868. (p.39 Teague - History of Chermside).
When Andrew Hamilton travelled to Gympie in 1867 to find gold the trip took him two weeks on horseback and in some places the track was almost impossible to find. He was following a trail blazed by others using trees as markers. There was no road to Gympie then but by 1868 "the knights of the long ribbons" were driving the coaches of Cobb & Co on a twice weekly, timetabled run from Brisbane to Gympie;

The second Northern Road from Brisbane Town was operational and provided a more direct route to Gympie and Downfall Creek was on that road.

Why did Chermside originate on its particular site on the Northern Road?

It must be clearly understood that settlement gradually moved out from the early Brisbane Town in a gradual process to the north and this is reflected in the naming of the main road to the north.

The road from Brisbane to Chermside in the very early times was probably just a track marked out but not developed by sealing and bridging. The development of the road in sections was probably marked by the naming of the each section. Brunswick St the earliest part goes to Gregory Terrace, Bowen Bridge Rd was probably named when the bridge was built over Enoggera/Breakfast Creek, Lutwyche Rd when the road was extended to Lutwyche and Kedron Brook. Gympie Rd probably marks the building of the road to Gympie in 1868 after the gold discovery in 1867.

Shopping centres appeared in the 19th Century in the Brisbane CBD - then Lutwyche - then Chermside - then Aspley. These centres catered for the local area in groceries and fresh food but also had specialist shops and workshops which catered for the more expensive goods which were bought less frequently.

Means of transport played a big part in deciding the spacing of the small settlements along the main road just as it does today in the automobile age. In the pre-motor car age people could only travel short distances to do their weekly shopping.

The areas in between were catered for by the widespread 'corner store' which was oriented to the pedestrian traffic for a short distance around the shop and sold day to day items such as groceries and some fresh produce. The perishable items such as bread, meat, ice, rabbits, fish, and green groceries were supplied by horse drawn carts on a door to door basis; fuel such as wood was delivered by the vendor who also might have supplied clothes line props in the pre clothes hoist era.

When the automobile age began people were willing to travel longer distances and many of the earlier shopping centres were closed; the corner store has now all but disappeared.

The hamlet of Downfall Creek was just close enough to Brisbane Town for a sulky, buggy or spring cart to make a trip with produce to sell at the markets and do some shopping in the process if expensive items such as furniture, a sewing machine, jewellery or art works were to be purchased. On the other hand expensive horse drawn vehicles were being manufactured and sold in Downfall Creek; serendipity plays a part in this.

Early Settlement

John Patterson, the first known storekeeper in Downfall Creek. He had been a policeman in the Colony of Victoria and had bought two blocks of land in 1866 but built his store on the side of the main track, later Gympie Road.

John Patterson chose to build his general store on the site of today's Green Motel near the present Banfield Street because he estimated that there would be sufficient people living nearby who would choose to shop at his place rather than travel to Lutwyche for their supplies. When he opened his store in 1868 there was no store in Kedron until King's opened in 1891, possibly because of the proximity to Lutwyche.

Why he settled near Banfield Street rather than Hamilton Road is a mystery; maybe he got the land cheaper, but later shops including Conradi and Fisher tended to be south of Hamilton Road; however Hacker set up on the present Beaurepaires site not far from Patterson's shop .

Patterson's choice of a trading spot was sound as it stood the test of time; under the Early family the business expanded and did not close till the early 1960s. By that time the hugh Drive-In was thriving right beside it.

A Stroke of Serindipity

Andrew Hamilton's Fivemiletown forge and carriage shop with customers waiting outside for attention. The small skillion roof on the left of the forge is the Post Office; Andrew was postmaster after John Patterson.

Then there seemed to be a stroke of serendipity when Andrew Hamilton came to farm in 1868 but found he could do better by following his trade of carpenter, joiner and wheelwright; he employed the first blacksmith in the hamlet and expanded into cart and carriage building. His son Thomas set up the first fuel depot supplying wood and coke to customers in the Kedron and Lutwyche areas. This was the beginning of manufacturing in the local area and grew to dominate in the surrounding district.

Smelly, obnoxious industries such as slaughter yards appeared to supply the butcher shops in the growing north Brisbane area. Tanneries, fellmongering and wool scours followed by settling on the numerous creeks to process the sheep skins and hides from the slaughter yards. Building tradesmen such as carpenters, bricklayers, painters, plumbers, fencing, well sinking contractors came to live and work. Butcher, hairdresser, boot maker and repairer, draper, saw miller, timber cutters, drover, etc., steadily appeared. A semi-independent village was in the process of growing in the small area along the present Gympie Road between Hamilton & Rode Roads. It was to keep on growing steadily attracting more businesses.

In his 1973 book, History of Chermside (p.21), David Teague summed up the local business aspect of the early settlement:

Chermside is in a rather unique position as far as local business is concerned. It not only services its own district but many surrounding suburbs and it has done this for a hundred years. Chermside was the centre for the coach builders and blacksmiths, produce merchants and stores last (19th) century and it continues in a similar modern way today servicing the surrounding areas.

The growth of the village is reflected in the periodical census counts up to about the 1920s. The figures in the graph are the number of people living in the Chermside Statistical Division which included the farming community. Originally the area covered was 15.6km² but in 1975 the boundaries were changed and the area became 3.4km², hence the drop in Chermside's population.

Downfall Creek - Chermside 1902

Map drawn by Stan Eddows from a photograph of Janie Hamilton taken in 1902.

Key to numbers in the above map

Sketch map of the hamlet of Downfall Creek in 1902 by Stan Eddowes was based on the photograph of Janie Hamilton which was taken in front of the Hamilton's home of Burnie Brae overlooking the settlement of Downfall Creek. The section from the photograph is shown in between the diverging dotted lines. The remainder was plotted from local knowledge. The buildings are keyed into a list of the families living in them.

An estimate of the hamlet population can be made for 1902 using the above map, the list of 23 families and an average family size of 6 persons at the time. Thus Downfall Creek may have had about 140 persons in the 649 listed in the Downfall Creek Statistical Area at the 1901 census.

Chronology of Downfall Creek 1864-1902

1864 - Edward Huxtable surveys the area of Downfall Creek and leaves the huge 504 acre block around Downfall Creek for posterity.
23/5/1865 - First Chermside land sales held in Brisbane - no lots sold (DRT 9) first land sale in area - 1865 "Darwin St and Maundrell Tce" Morris family (Raven Street Chronology)
1866-7 Patterson Store on site of Green Motel - taken over by George Early in 1888
1869 - Andrew Hamilton settles in present Burnie Brae Park to farm but turns to making carts, wheelwrighting and blacksmithing.
1873 - The Methodist Church founded in a hut on Aaron Adsett's land - the present Wheller Gardens -
1874 - Chinaman's Creek (now Albany Creek) road opens - link with Old Northern Road.
1877 - New church built corner of Banfield St. - important social as well as religious centre - transported to Cr. Hamilton & Gympie Roads in 1922.
1879 - Postal Receiving Office in Patterson's store (Could be as early as 1868 when Cobb & Co began their service to Gympie.)
1880 - Gottleib Conradi opens the Polsloe Store on the west side of Gympie Road
1884 - Kedron Shire offices and clerk's house built opposite Murphy Road - Services, sanitary, garbage, road work, rates, etc
1890s - Lodge Hall built - became School of Arts in 1909 - very important social, educational, library centre - First butcher Daw & Slack - 1899 George Conradi butcher followed
1891 - Packer & Knox - Fellmonger, Wool Scour, Tanner
C1896 - First definite subdivision for housing blocks in Downfall Creek by Andrew Hamilton - Fivemiletown Estate - Poster - same area in 1926 with 77 blocks and 1928 with 60 blocks
1898 - Vellnagels Blacksmith started on the north east corner of Murphy and Gympie Roads.

1880s 1890s Tanneries, Wool Scours, Slaughter houses/yards proliferate; blacksmiths, general stores.
Water - from wells, tanks and creek; Cooking - wood fired stoves; Lighting - candles, oil lamps; Transport - horse and bullock; Houses - timber with galvanised iron or shingle roof; no medical, dental, hospital, banking, legal services,

1900 - State School opens with 90 pupils
1902 - James Plucknett opens blacksmith shop
1903 - Downfall Creek renamed Chermside

Sales Outlets in 1902 Downfall Creek

Source: Stan Eddowes' C 1970 map of Downfall Creek + QPODs + 1903 Commonwealth Electoral Roll for Queensland + Teague's History of Chermside + Minutes of Kedron Shire Council

In the 47 years since the first land sale in Downfall Creek the hamlet had developed a basic settlement with a population of about 130-40 and at least 37 Sales Outlets. The population of the whole Downfall Creek Statistical Area at the 1901 Census was 649.

General Stores: Sammells, Conradi, Hacker, 3

Drapery: Grantham

Boot maker-Shoe Store- Hansen, Christopher Murr - Parker? 2

Blacksmith: Hamilton, Murr, Vellnagel 3

Carriage Builder: Hamilton (Employed up to 14 men)

Government: Post Office, Shire Office, School, 3

Butcher: Conradi

Hall: Protestant Alliance Friendly Society,

Methodist Church: Worship, Social Centre entertainment

Methodist Church Orchestra: Concerts, Social Club

Tanneries: Packer & Knox, Pills, Gallagher, Maggs, Slaney, Maunsell - possibly more. 6

Slaughter Yards: Conradi, Cocks; Felsman and others 6

Builders: James Hamilton, Ludwig Herman, 2

Wood Depots: Henry Beneke, Tom Hamilton 2
Bone Mill/Fertilizer: Mentioned in Kedron Shire Minutes

Carter-Drayman-Sanitary: At least four 4

Saddler: G C Westphal, (Walsh)

The following men lived in Chermside and may or may not have worked there:

McCallum - Tinsmith
Bateman - Painter
Gardiner - French Polisher
Maloney, Joseph - Barber
Campbell - Fruiterer

1925 Map of Chermside Area

The map shows that there is little settlement along Gympie Road northward from Chermside till Bald Hills where rail and road meet

1925 map of Chermside shows how the village has grown on the west side of Gympie Road and south to towards Kedron which is more developed as it is closer to Brisbane. By this time the tram had reached Lutwyche Cemetery and the housing had followed the cheap transport.

The main EW streets are Hamilton and Rode Roads
The minor streets on East Side - Banfield, Kuran and Kingsmill
The minor streets on West Side - Latham, Sparkes and Wallace

Population of Chermside Statistical Area at the 1921 Census was 1,113 - how many in the hamlet? - Possibly one quarter - 280 persons?

Chronology of Chermside 1903-1925

1904 - Police Station opened and closed in 1917 - Reopened in 1929 - New Station opened 1936
1908 - First telephone Sammell's store - later outside.
1908 - Kedron Shire Cattle Dip opened in Chermside
1909 - First car
1909 - Alonzo Sparkes - Slaughter yard & Butcher (Later 7th Brigade Park)
1911 - Water main laid along Gympie Road
1914 - All Saints, Anglican Church
1921 - Marchants gave 100acres for park
1924 - First automobile service station opened
1925 - Electric light arrives in Chermside
1925 - Electric trams arrive at Lutwyche Cemetery

Town water, electric light and power, automobiles appearing, postal deliveries, Brisbane newspapers, telegrams,

1937 Map of Chermside District

The 1937 map shows more growth mainly on the west side of Gympie Road. A few more short streets are filling in the central area.

On the east side of Gympie Road Latham and Sparkes Streets seem to have many houses while Norman Avenue and Kidson Terrace have appeared and Wallace Street has a few more houses. View, Ethel, Sammells, Davenport, Henry, Farnell, Hilltop and Rainey Streets have appeared.

Population of the Chermside Statistical Area at the 1933 census was 2,319 then village of Chermside may have housed about a quarter of the total - 580 persons?
To the north Aspley as not changed much from the 1925 map

Chronology of Chermside 1926-1945

1928 - Dawn Theatre opens - Silent films- 1930 Talkies
1928 - Town Water to Marchant Park
1930 - R E Stevens Sawmill opened
1931 - Slaughter Yards closed
1933 - Census indicates that Chermside could be classed as a small town, possibly the biggest in the Shire.
1936 - Wheller Gardens opened -
1940 - 6,000 troops camped in Sparkes' Paddock
1941 - Commonwealth resumes Sparkes' Paddock - Japan enters war - scorched earth policy adopted
1942 - US Troops arrive in Brisbane
1943 - Centaur Hospital Ship sunk - Plane crash in Sparkes' Paddock
1945 - Camp closed and was partly used to house homeless people.

Growth was slow during the 1930s partly due to the Great Depression but employment quickly increased when the 1939-1945 World War II broke out and Chermside experienced the huge impact of the Army Camp in Sparkes' Paddock, today's 7th Brigade Park.

This war marked a major turning point in Chermside because it was followed by a major house building boom which changed it from an outlying, almost country town to a suburb of Brisbane.

Two members of the Chermside & District Historical Society who were married just after the war dismayed their relatives and friends by their decision to move to Chermside. "Why are you going way out there?" was the question they were asked; they were still there when Chermside became an inner suburb and a very desirable place in which to live.

1946 Aerial Map of Chermside

Abundant flat land was available in Chermside for house building. Bush tracks became made roads and bush tracks which had been used for decades became gravel roads. And houses sprang up on each side. The large white patch across the northern part of Sparkes' Paddock marks a large part of the army camp and the effect of thousands of boots on the ground.

The 1946 composite aerial photo of Chermside shows the massive Murphy's Paddock enclosed by Ellison, Newman, Hamilton and Gympie Roads. It includes Marchant Park, Sparkes' and Early's Paddocks. Chermside was still clustered around Gympie Road with Kedron to the south. Most of the Chermside area, with the exception of Marchant Park, was vacant land available for development.

1946 Aerial Map of West Chermside

Much more land was available to the west of Chermside and practically all of it was bush or small farms. Suddenly farm land became much more valuable and represented the owner's superannuation.

This 1946 aerial photo shows Chermside on the western side of Gympie Road (off map) stretching past Webster Road into the small farms and bushland which became the future Chermside West, with McDowall to the south west and Bridgman Downs to the north west.

If a person left Chermside before the 1914-18 war and returned after the 1939-45 war he/she would find that the place had not changed much. That was going to change dramatically.

Chronology of Chermside 1946-1958

1946 - Bruce Pie buys land to build clothing factory in Kedron - he eventually employed 800 people
1947 - Telephone exchange in Chermside - Trams arrive in Chermside - the cheap transport enabled many people to build homes in the local area at a time when few people owned automobiles.

Post War building boom. Houses were needed, lots and lots of them and finance was made available by banks and governments. Commonwealth/State Housing Commission built low cost, asbestos cladded houses by the thousand while private builders concentrated on timber and tin houses. Local population rose to dizzy heights and kept on rising.
1949 - 400 houses built
1952 - Burnie Brae house demolished - Green belt planning introduced which froze a lot of land - 88 acres (35.6 Ha) were resumed for hospital and school - the school was never built so it all became hospital land - The Prince Charles Hospital - Holy Spirit Hospital - 3,500 employed at PC - how many at H S? Housing Commission built 800 homes.
1954 - Chermside Chest Hospital - Tuberculosis Hospital - another 665 houses built
1954 - Fire Brigade station opened in Hamilton Road
1955 - Brisbane Cash and Carry opened on corner of Hamilton & Gympie Roads
1956 - William Basnett wins a case in Land Court to be able to subdivide his land which was in the Green Belt; many other landholders were now able to subdivide
1957 - Tom Weedman - The Drive-in Shopping Centre was the first in Australia and Chermside had the 28 acres (11.3 Ha) right in the middle of the town at the tram terminus. Also it was estimated that 100,000 people were or would be living within a three mile (5km) radius of the proposed site. The automobile was becoming more common and people who used to drive into the city to shop where parking was becoming a problem could now come to Chermside. It was so successful that in 1959 Myers from Melbourne bought it and expanded it, and expanded it, and expanded it. Today some 2,500 people work there and some 30,000 shop there daily.

Serindipity Again

Chermside Drive-in 1957
Aerial photo of the Drive-In Shopping Centre taken on opening day 28-5-1957. The large building in the front is Allan & Stark Department Store, to the left rear is the BCC Supermarket and the two long narrow building is the arcade with housing for 25 specialty shops. Hamilton Road is in the foreground, the then newly built Playfield Street on the right, Gympie Road is off to the left and Banfield Street is in the background. The big circle on the parking area is a helicopter pad used on the day. There was parking for 700 cars with room for another 800. (Courtesy of the Myer Archive Library of Victoria)

Chermside was in the right place at the right time; the land was availabe, the cheap transport had arrived, hundreds of married couples wanted new homes, the finance was available, builders, architects, etc were available.

And then Tom Weedman came looking for a site on which to build Australia's first Drive-In Shopping Centre. The best site was Chermside right at the tram terminus, 28acres in Early's Paddock. The incredible story of the Shoppingtown had begun. It was a big gamble that paid off way beyond anybody's expectations.

Allan & Stark Drive-in Shopping Centre 1957 comprised:

One Department Store - Allan & Stark
One Supermarket - Brisbane Cash and Carry
25 Specialty Retail Stores
Unlimited Parking

Today this sounds all very small 'beer' but in 1957 it was stunning, it was unheard of, a shopping centre all under one roof, park your car at the door, if you had a car. For those who didn't own a car then catch a bus to the door or the tram and walk across the road; you could get your purchases delivered.
Including Fulcher's Shoes.

And it was only the beginning; two hospitals had 80acres on which to expand, Wheller Gardens had plenty of room to add Wheller on the Park, etc, etc. And when the land for houses ran out Chermside made more room by putting more floors on top of each other to develop high rise accommodation. When the horizontal expansion finished the vertical expansion started.

1958 Photo of Chermside -

This image was taken from David Teague's 'History of Chermside'. It shows the housing development between Hamilton and Rode Roads into Wavell Heights and the 800 houses in the south of Sparkes' Paddock. The western area of Chermside is still largely undeveloped. The new Drive-In Shopping Centre can be seen at the intersection of Gympie and Hamilton Roads. Further right is Playfield Street fully developed and beside it was the Hamilton Road Reserve which became the Chermside Hub.

Chermside had plenty of space available for development after World War II. (See photos above of 1946 aerial survey)

A whole new suburb, Chermside West, was built along with filling in spaces in the other directions.

Along side of Murphy's was Early's paddock on which the Shoppingtown and Playfield Street were built.

Murphy's Paddock Legacy to Chermside - More Serendipity

Of the original 203ha there is still approximately 113ha of open parkland. The dotted lines in the parks are the bikeways, the heavy dashed line is Kittyhawk Drive. (Major Centre Local Plan 2005)

A very important part of available space was due to the original survey which set aside the huge 203ha (504acre) Murphy's Paddock in the heart of Chermside. (See above Section - The Huxtable Survey)

Murphy's Paddock provided space for some 1,200 houses in the North East and South East corners, the 40ha (100ac) of Marchant Park and the 73ha (180ac)of 7th Brigade Park as well as space for the Library, Kedron-Wavell Services Club and the Aquatic Centre. The blank section above Banfield Street and marked by the letter B was Commonwealth land used by the old PMG and, later Telstra. It also contains the Tax Office and Commonwealth Centre.

In 1963 Brisbane City Council acquired the remaining 71 hectares of Sparkes' Paddock from the Australian Government and renamed it the Hamilton Road Reserve.

This was followed by the building of the Chermside Pool in 1964, the Kedron-Wavell RSL Complex beginning in 1970, the Chermside Library in 1997 and the Chermside Historical Precinct in 2000.

In March 1996, the area was renamed 7th Brigade Park in memory of the men who trained here and fought so courageously at Milne Bay where they inflicted the first ever defeat of the Imperial Japanese Army.

Thousands of young men trained here before moving on to the battle grounds of New Guinea and the Pacific Islands; some 560 of them never returned and twice that number were wounded; they were all traumatised.

The blank section in the corner of Gympie and Hamilton Roads reaching north to Banfield Street and east to Playfield Street was Early's Paddock and not part of Murphy's Paddock. The Westfield Shoppingtown now occupies most of Early's Paddock and most of the old Commonwealth land to Downfall Creek.

Detail of 1958 photo

Chermside Hub Site 1958
Detail from the 1958 aerial view showing the space available for expansion of the Drive-In shopping centre, the bush covered elongated block which became the Chermside Hub and portion of the 1,200 homes already built.

This aerial photo shows the early stage of the Drive-In Shopping Centre, the houses in Playfield Street and the vacant block of the Hamilton Road Reserve.

2012 view of the 1958 detail photo

Chermside Shoppingtown, Highrise, Hub
The Shoppingtown, replacement of houses by high rise accommodation in Playfield Street and the Chermside Library, Kedron-Wavell Social Club, the Aquatic Centre, the synthetic hockey field and two grass hockey fields all floodlit. (Photo courtesy of Google)

Chronology of Chermside 1958-1973

Chermside in 1958 aerial photo shows the close development of the area around Gympie Road and especially to the east in what became Wavell Heights. On the western side of Gympie Road the urban area is bordered by Webster Road beyond which stretch the farmlands and bush.
1958 - BCC Municipal Library replaced the School of Arts
1959 - Ambulance Transport Brigade opened in Banfield St.
1959 - BCC buys the remaining 180 acres of Sparkes' Paddock -1,300 houses had been built on it - renamed Hamilton Road Reserve -

1962-1964 From 1962 to 1964 the Comm. Dept. of Housing acquired 70 acres of Sparkes' Paddock to build 320 homes as War Service Houses. Qld Housing Commission later built 975 homes under its Home Ownership Schemes.
1962 - The new Post Office officially opened by Mr. R.C. O'Brien, M.P. for Petrie. Mr. E C McLean Postmaster - first purpose built P .Office in Chermside.
1963 - Reservoir built on Milne Hill to supply water to thousands of houses
1963 -BCC acquired the remaining 175 acres 71ha of Sparkes' Paddock from the Comm. Gov. which became the Hamilton Road Reserve and later 7th Brigade Park. (C'side Parklands Planning Study - BCC p.24)
1964 - BCC Swimming pool on Hamilton Rd opened in December 1964
1966 - Woolworths opens Australia's largest supermarket in Chermside Drive-In
1968-1971 - Kedron-Wavell Services Club formed, developed and opened
1969 - Last tram to Chermside - private cars and Council buses had replaced the electric tram.

1971-1977 Shopping Survey - David Teague

David Teague in History of Chermside 1973 Edition p.30 notes:

"In 1971 it (the Drive-In Shopping Centre) was joined by the huge K Mart complex on the corner of Webster and Gympie Roads providing the district with unparalleled retail outlets."

"In a survey at the beginning of 1973 over 250 businesses were counted in the Chermside area. There were 25 food shops, 13 hardware and builders shops, 12 service stations, 21 doctors, 8 chemists, 10 clothing stores, 9 banks, 5 major retailers, 7 supermarkets, 6 finance and insurance companies, 10 dentists, 12 motor traders, 7 butchers..... to list a few."

"Chermside continues to be a major trading centre whose growth over the past hundred years has depended upon its ideal situation o part of what is now Highway One."

David continues in his 1977 Edition and commented on page 30 "Today there are over 300 businesses in the Chermside area."

This expansion indicated that Chermside had outgrown its small town air, it was a growing suburban area.

1975 Government Intervention 1 - Change of Boundaries

Population Graph Chermside 1871-2011
The population graph shows the steady growth along with the dramatic post-World War II growth and sudden decline of the Chermside population. The population rise for 2011 seems to indicate the a new rise is imminent with the vertical expansion of accommodation which is currently under way. (Data from Bureau of Statistics)

The huge drop in Chermside's population was finally explained by the discovery of the Rose Garden Boundaries.

In 1975 the boundaries of all Brisbane suburbs were gazetted, i.e. they became official and could only be altered by the State Government. Prior to this there were at least three sets of boundaries, Post Office, Council and Statistical, the last one being used to count the census.

To make the job of the postman easier the new boundaries were, in all but exceptional cases, not drawn down the middle of roads as had been the practice. Instead they were drawn inside the front fence of the houses on one side of the road so that the people living on both sides of the road were in the same suburb. Since many people had rose gardens along their front fences, the name 'rose' was added to the new boundaries.

In 2002 a further change was made when the boundary was shifted from the front fence to the back fence so that the property was also in the same suburb as the front fence. And today we can rest secure knowing that our whole property is in the one suburb, but what about our back fence?

The next step was to find the new boundaries of Chermside, which was easily done by looking at a Refidex map. The more complicated problem was to find where the missing 19,287 Chermsiders had gone. They were, in fact still where they had always been but were now in different suburbs.

On the 29th May 2008 the Australian Bureau of Statistics gave me a map photocopied from the 1971 census maps which showed the boundaries of old Chermside. I had been looking in the wrong direction, towards the west where West Chermside is located and neglecting the east where much of the population of old Chermside still lived.

The pre 1975 area of Chermside was 15.6km² but was reduced to 3.4km² after 1975. The greater part of Chermside was divided up amongst the following suburbs enlarging their area by the accompanying percentages - (My estimates):

Aspley was enlarged by 10%; Geebung 20%; Wavell Heights 66%; Nundah 10%; Wooloowin 3%; Kedron 25%; Stafford Heights 20%; Chermside West 90% leaving the present Chermside with between a quarter and a fifth of its original area. That accounts for the population of Chermside dropping from 26,953 in 1971 to 7,666 in 1976; to just under a quarter of the previous population.

Chermside Boundaries pre 1975

Map of Chermside pre 1975 when the size was 15.6square kms. The new suburbs of Bridgeman Downs and McDowall were not part of old Chermside but lay to the west. To track the boundary just follow the arrow heads. (Courtesy of The Australian Bureau of Statistics.)

The old boundary of Chermside was a complicated one which weaved and ducked around many streets. It was probably drawn up in the 19th Century when settlements were scattered and it simply tried to include as many as possible.

Starting from the intersection of Hamilton and Trouts Roads the boundary went north along Little Cabbage Tree Creek to Albany Creek Road and turned south along Gympie Road.

East into Ellison Road, south into Newman Road, east into Buhot Street to Bilsen Road.

West into Main Avenue, south into Stadcor Street, east into Hamilton Road, south into Bilsen Road to Rode Road.

South west into Edinburgh Castle Road and south into Imbros Street, across Buckland Road to Brook Street and along Kedron Brook to near the end of Nelson Street.

From the Brook to Tenth Avenue, via Kira Street to Eleventh Avenue, to Culgoola Street, to Fortheenth Avenue, to Edinburgh Castle Road and Gympie Road.

North to Kitchener Road, west to Maundrell Terrace, north to Rode Road, west to Trouts Road and north to Hamilton Road.

Chermside Boundaries post 1975

Chermside Boundaries post 1975
This map shows the heart of Chermside which has shed territory on all sides to the surrounding suburbs. (Courtesy of Brisbane City Council)

The current boundaries are much simpler than the old especially on the east with Wavell Heights and the south with Kedron.

The western boundary is Webster Road which joins Gympie Road and moves south to Murphy Road and north east to Navarre Street.

To Delaware Street, east to Newman Road, south to Hamilton Road, west to Pfingst Road, west on Calga Road, around Wavell Heights Primary School, south along Alleena Street to Rode Road and west to Webster Road.

Chermside is now 'landlocked' and future horizontal expansion is very limited so that most new expansion will be vertical. For example the recently announced expansion of 34,000 M

Government Intervention 2 - Chermside Regional Business Centre 1987

In 1987 the Brisbane City Council rezoned the area marked in blue around the Chermside Shopping Centre as the Chermside Regional Business Centre. The white area north of Banfield Street may have been left for Shopping Centre expansion. In 1996 another rezoning took place to allow the Shopping Centre to expand northward over Banfield Street to Downfall Creek. This had been the site of a Telstra training area since the 1940s. (Brisbane City Council Map 1997)

The aim of the Brisbane City Council in rezoning this area was to attract high rise business offices from the Brisbane Central Business District. The area was bounded by Gympie Road on the west, the Downfall Creek on the north, Kittyhawk Drive on the east and Hall, Thomas and Charlotte Streets on the south.

The inner part was for the already existing Shoppingtown and, later in 1996, allowing it a northward extension over Banfield Street to Downfall Creek.

While the aim of the Regional Business Centre was to attract offices and other commercial enterprises to the area, the reality was that it did not work. The only enterprises to build in the area were the Australian Tax Office, rising 9 levels making it the tallest building in Chermside at that time and the Commonwealth Building, both in Banfield Street.

Australian Tax Office & Comm Building

The Australian Tax Office is a very large building and dominates the northern skyline of Chermside. This is the south face as seen from Banfield Street.

The much smaller Commonwealth Building sits on the east side of the Tax Office and rises only four levels above ground but has parking underneath.

Chronology of Chermside 1988-2012

1992 - Kedron-Wavell installs 45 poker machines
1992 - ATO built corner Gympie Rd and Banfield St
1994 - Brisbane 2011 the Livable City of the Future Plan
1995 - Beneke's Bush Restoration
1996 - C'side RBC amended to allow the Centre to expand north of Banfield Street into Commonwealth land occupied by Telstra.
1996 - Aquatic Centre replaces the Olympic Pool (built 1964)
1996 - Kid Space opened in 7th Brigade Park
1996 - Westfield bought the Shopping Centre
1997 - New library built Cr. Kittyhawk Dr. and Hamilton Rd. First Regional Library in Brisbane (Chermside, Wynnum, Indooroopilly, Carina)
2000 - Northside regional Business Centre opened
2000 - Kedron-Wavell hockey fields opened (One synthetic and two grass fields)
2000 - Chermside Veterinary Hospital expanded (Green Cross)
2001 - Holy Spirit Hospital Northside opened beside The Prince Charles Hospital
2004 - Expansion of Library $2m - includes meeting rooms, café, more book shelve room.
2004 - Aldi Supermarket opened (German firm)
2005 - South East Qld. Regional Plan - Chermside designated as a growth hub
2005 - Chermside Major Centre Local Plan - to allow high rise residential and business premises in a much larger area than in 1987 and 1996.
2005 - C'side set to dominate the north Brisbane landscape as the area's growth hub through the South-East Qld Regional Plan - Chermside is recognised as a Primary Activity Centre in the plan.
2005 - First high rise residential in Chermside - Chermside Central 9 levels in Playfield St.
2011 - Another 6 high rise in Playfield St. and 5 more nearby - another one in 2012

Government Intervention 3 - Chermside Major Centre Local Plan 2005

With the failure of the plan to attract businesses to Chermside the same area was again rezoned to allow highrise residential and some commercial development.

Further changes took place in Chermside due to the State Government drawing up the South-East Regional Plan in the early 21st Century.

In 2005 Chermside was designated a growth hub and became a Major Centre with a Local Plan drawn up to allow high rise residential and business premises in a much larger area than the earlier Regional Business Plan of 1987 and 1996. It also included extra zones not covered in the earlier plans. The new plan extended it west over Gympie Road and south to Kitchener Road in Kedron.

High Rise - Playfield Street

Chermside Central No. 46 Playfield Street was the first high rise apartment block built under the new building code.

Chermside Central was built by the Opalyn building firm clearing three weatherboard and tile houses in late 2004. Digging the basement area started in about January 2005 followed by pile driving. The building was finished in December 2005 and people started moving in straight away.

The block has a basement with lockup garage for 60 vehicles and a ground floor for visitor's vehicles; this is an open area for temporary parking. It is at street level and in the northern end there are three living units.

Another six floors rise above all of which are for units of 3, 2 and 1 bedrooms. All up there are 41 units in the building. Allowing an average of 2 persons per unit there will be 82 living in C'side Central replacing about 3 to 15 people in the houses when families lived in them.

Along with the increase in the resident population there will be a dramatic rise in the number of cars being garaged. The previous occupants of the three houses may have had from three to six cars; and Playfield Street is still the same size.

A similar story can be told for the other high rise apartments that have been built since 2005. Apart from the traffic scene there is also the extra water, electricity, food, gargage disposal, sewrage, postal, etc., services to be organised and financed.

An interesting study would be to compare and contrast the living styles of the high rise occupants with those of the earlier house on an individual block style. No doubt the United States inhabitants have already done one or more.

Summary of Playfield Street High Rise

Playfield Street
• No. 46 - Chermside Central 41 units - completed in December 2005
• No. 45 - 45 Degrees 22 units - completed April 2007
• No. 41 - Central Park North 52 units - completed August 2007
• No. 31-37 - Park Lane 65 units - started July 2007 - Finished December 2008
• No. Equinox 60 units - started August 2007 - finished 2009
• No. hq Apartments 58 units - September 2007 - finished 2009
• No. The Edge - started November 2008 completed about 2010 - 74 apartments

Population Trends in Playfield Street 1950w - 2012

Playfield Street Changes - We are constantly monitoring the evolution of Playfield Street and the table below shows the changes in people and cars from the 1950s to 2012.
Note these numbers are based on a full occupancy of all the houses and units in the street except where noted otherwise.

1950s Houses estimated 5 persons per house
2000 Houses estimated 3 persons per house
2005-12 Estimate of 2 persons per unit
Cars estimated on the basis that apartment buildings must provide 1.5 car spaces per unit.

# The number of houses removed includes the houses removed for specific high rise buildings and others removed for other reasons. Eg: Three houses were removed to accommodate the Westfield extension site office; others were removed for future high rise buildings,

In 2011-12 18 houses were counted of which at least 15 may have been occupied as at least one was empty and two were occupied by Battenberg Lawyers. Thus houses may have had 45 occupants with about 30 cars.

## The number of cars can only be calculated for the 1950s, 2005 and 2012. It is possible to estimate the number of cars in the apartment blocks using the parking spaces I find it impossible to make an estimate of the cars with the houses. In addition some of the cars parked on the street, the RSL Car Park or Westfield before the mid-2012 may belong to inhabitants of the high rise or the houses.

Other High Rise

The latest high rise in Chermside is Quadrant Apartments at 420 Hamilton Road near the corner of Hamilton and Gympie Roads.

Quadrant apartments has 9 levels above ground and parking in underground basement. It was opened about June 2012 and replaced Bowman's Used Car lot of 2,144 sq m or 84.7 perches or half an acre which was offered for sale C M 9/7/2004 p. 37

Quadrant has 84 one and two bedroom air conditioned apartments along with a third floor garden, recreational area and 120sq m ground level retail space

Summary of Other High Rise 2005-2012

Other High Rise
• No. 22 - 22 Thomas Street 56 units - completed June 2007 - The Chermside Apartments - serviced units
• No. 392 Hamilton Road - Focus 79 units - expected completion January 2008 - stalled - recommenced November 2008 - finished December 2009
• No. 9 Thomas Street - Quest - started April 2007 - Finished November 2008 - 54 serviced units in Thomas Street apartment block.
• No. 420 Hamilton Road - Quadrant apartments has 9 levels above ground and parking in underground basement. It was opened about June 2012 and replaced Bowman's Used Car lot of 2,144 sq m or 84.7 perches or half an acre which was offered for sale C M 9/7/2004 p. 37 Quadrant has 84 one and two bedroom air conditioned apartments along with a third floor garden, recreational area and 120sq m ground level retail space
• 1-11 Kingsmill Street C1 Apartments - 65 apartments - the site of De Pot Man prior to that a service station finished August 2009.
• Province Chermside - 41 Thomas Street, Chermside Now Selling! (22-7-2012)
Brisbane's latest brand new development of stylish 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments at Province Living Chermside is NOW SELLING!

Statistics of Other High Rise

Completed Apartments:
Units: 338
People: 676
Cars: 511

Proposed Apartments:
75 Kittyhawk Drive
Units: 493
People: 986
Cars: 320?

39-41 Thomas Street "Province"
Cars: 77

Hospital Complex and Other Medical Facilities

Plan of The Prince Charles and Holy Spirit Hospitals (Courtesy of Queensland Health)

The Prince Charles Hospital occupies an area of 90acres or 36 hectares set on a ridge overlooking much of Chermside. It started in the early 1950s as the Brisbane Chest hospital to treat tuberculosid and has gradually grown into a very large General Hospital with a world reputation in Cardiac care. It was joined by Holy Spirit Hospital in 1999 and together they make up a first class health service for the surrounding area.

Aged Care & Retirement Centres

Wheller Gardens and Wheller on the Park (Courtesy of Google Maps)

Wheller Gardens began in 1936 in the small cluster of red roofs in the foreground, the first aged care settlement in Brisbane. It expanded into one of the largest in the buildings across the lower part of the photo. Wheller on the Park began in 2007 as a retirement village under the curve of The Bouvolard. It is continuously expanding.

The upper of the two long white buildings fronting Gympie Road is the Brisbane City Council headquarters for North Brisbane. While the lower is the Chermside Day Hospital and Medical Centre.

Westfields Shoppingtown 'Powerhouse'

Photo of Westfields Chermisde taken 6-8-2006 when the fifth expansion was nearing completion. On 16th June 2012 Westfield announced they were negotiating with the Brisbane City Council to add a further 35,000 square metre extention with room for another 500 cars; the size of the original Drive-In was only a fraction of this extension.

In 55 years the shopping centre of Chermside has grown from:

1957 Allan & Stark Drive-in Shopping Centre comprised:
1Department Store - Allan & Stark
1Supermarket - Brisbane Cash and Carry
25 Specialty Retail Stores
A total of 27 shopping outlets
Floor Space: 6,000 square metres
Employees: Unknown.


2012 Westfield Shoppingtown:

3 Department Stores
4 Discount Department Stores
4 Supermarkets & Liquor
16 Cinemas
1 Bowling Alley
39 stand alone ATMs
432 Specialty Retail Outlets

A Total of 484 shopping outlets
Floor Space: 123,740 square metres
Employees: Between 8-9000 full and part time

Additionally in Gympie Road from Webster to Rode Road there are another 126 shopping outlets

I have ignored other outlets such as the small center in Corrie Street off Hamilton Road.

It would seem that John Patterson was right when he judged the corner of Gympie Road and Banfield street as a good place to build a shop back in C1870!

The Oldest Building in Chermside - August Vellnagel's Forge

The original forge of August Vellnagel was fired up in 1897, shifted to the present site in 1921 and still stands in 2012. This photo was taken 13th April 2006. The shed on the left was the forge and the one in the middle was the workshop. The one on the right was a later building.

When August and Christiana Vellnagel and family moved into Downfall Creek there was endless space available. He had four acres (1.6ha) on which to build his forge and loads of room for farmers to leave carts for repairs or horses to shoe.

There was plenty more room to build a house on the other side of the road and the children could play in the bush, walk down the road to school and the local shops were an even shorter walk while the Church was just up the hill; they could take a buggy ride into the big city for a days shopping.

Sounds idyllic? It was in some ways but August died in 1932 aged 59 after a stomach operation, there were no antibiotics in those days. Fortunately he had strong sons who continued the business.

These vertical slabs of the forge are probably the original hardwood timbers which would have been split and adzed on site. The timber is still sound after 115 years and varies from 300mm to 400mm in width, about 50mm to 70mm in thickness and about 2m in length.

The maul and wedge belonged to Lindsay Staib and were used by his father to split fence posts and rails. The wedge is about 300mm long and about 50mm while the maul is about 300mm by about 100mm in diameter.

Splitting slabs from a log was the alternative to ripping the log with a pit saw. It was cheaper and rougher and it was widely used for wall timbers in houses and workshops.

The maul was made from hardwood and bound either end with iron; the hole was for the handle. It weighed about 4kilograms and it took a very fit strong man to use it all day long. The maul being wood was softer than the iron wedge and did not damage the steel.

The splitter put a line of wedges in a solid log and hammered them until the log split. Sounds simple, it was, but it took a lot of skill to produce good slabs.

The Newest Building in Chermside- The Edge on Playfield Canyon

Morning in Playfield Street Canyon with The Edge of nine floors on the left and the first high rise, Chermside Central of six floors, on the right. The photo was taken from 75 Kittyhawk Drive which is already marked and approved for five towers to hold some 495 units and one rather lower building for commercial uses. A very large digger moved on the site today 24-7-2012 - watch this space for the latest news

The Playfield Street Canyon has not yet fully developed but, given time, the spaces will be filled in with more high rise, just like New York only a shorter version. Some people are delighted and others are horrified, but that's change. There was a similar reaction when the railway trains first appeared.

Living in the high rise buildings brings some advantages such as there is no back or front yard to maintain and mow the lawn. But it also brings its own problems such as where to park when the basement garage is filled up? This photo was taken fairly early on a Sunday morning so the cars had been in the street overnight. And the visitors had not arrived yet!

Industry - Changes 1889-2001

The source for 1889 & 1905 were the Queensland Post Office Directories for the Downfall Creek Area. The 2001 figures came from the Census via the Brisbane City Council.

These statistics show the great changes that have taken place in Downfall Creek-Chermside industries over the last 112 years. The Downfall Creek district was originally a farming area with a manufacturing sector mainly geared to the local farms and the local hamlet of Downfall Creek. It has since developed into the suburban area of Chermside in which industry is dominated by the provision of services with a small but important manufacturing sector.

Just when you think it has all gone, along comes Norm and his Blue Heeler

Norm Steers, the last grazier in Chermside. Like all graziers, Norm has a blue heeler which actually worked as a cattle dog in the middle of Chermside. (Photo courtesy of Robert Isdale 2007.)

While we are looking at the change in the type of industry in Chermside it is salutary to stop and find the exception that proves the rule.

When the Census of 2001 shows that Primary industry is at last extinct in Chermside, down near place where Downfall Creek goes under Gympie Road the last grazier in Chermside, assisted by his blue heeler, is quietly tending his herd of cattle.

Admittedly he had come to the end of the road as his lease was up. Norm had created his own little niche mowing the abundant grass in the time honoured fashion of grazing. The land he used is now under a Tertiary Service Industry, the retirement village of Wheller on the Park.

Now the Statistician may be able to write 0% for Primary industry in Chermside.