Home - Chermside & District History

Chermside & Districts, or "the old Kedron Shire area"

Shire of Kedron


The Society would like to record and archive as much information as possible about the old Kedron Shire area. This area now contains the suburbs, or part of the suburbs, of: Aspley, Bald Hills, Boondall, Bracken Ridge, Bridgeman Downs, Carseldine, Chermside, Chermside West, Everton Park, Fitzgibbon, Geebung, Kedron, McDowall, Stafford, Stafford Heights, Taigum, Wavell Heights and Zillmere.

Kedron Shire
The Kedron Shire was established in the late 19th Century and was one of the local shires surrounding the City of Brisbane. In 1925 these shires were amalgamated with Brisbane to form the Brisbane City Council.

Size of Shire

Kedron Shire Council 1920-1925. This would be the last council since all shires were subsumed into Brisbane City Council in 1925. Aldermen Arthur B Marquis (father of Vivian Heiner) standing first on the left with bow tie, Second from Right Fredrick Freeman (father of Ruth Mockridge), Middle back standing moustache C Willis (Shire Clerk) and possibly Daughter. Taken in the Shire Office Gympie Road, Chermside.

The Shire measured 16 km on the N/S axis and 13km on the E/W axis. Gympie Road forms the N/S axis while the Northern Railway covers a roughly similar route on the East side of the road. The major roads follow a N/S - E/W grid pattern on the fairly flat land of the old shire. The area was 111sq km or 43 sq miles. Kedron Shire was proclaimed a Local Authority on 11/11/1879 and superceded in 1925.

Where are we in the world?


Chermside & Districts is in Australia so a brief look at the sketch map below shows where this island continent is located. Located in the southern oceans, it is far from the great landmasses of the earth. It almost looks as if it broke loose and drifted there leaving a trail of islands behind; in reality it is moving northwards.

Sometimes Australia is referred to as 'the land Noah forgot' because of our very distinctive flora and fauna especially the marsupials. It is also called the land 'down under' and a glance at the world map will show why.

Looking at the map of Australia below one can see the separate states which grew out of the early colonies the British Government formed in the 19th Century. The one containing Chermside is Queensland, a sub-tropical area to which many Australians are heading as they seek the better climate.

Chermside & Districts History
Australia is small compared to the great land masses of the rest of the world. So we had to magnify the image of Australia to be able to show the viewer the location of Brisbane.

Brisbane


The capital of Queensland is Brisbane in the South-East corner of the state and 2,500 kilometres from the northern tip of Queensland. Why so far from the rest of the state? This was the first permanent white settlement in 1824, an open air prison for convicts from England.

The Central Business District of Brisbane is located on the Brisbane River and the main road north is called Bowen Bridge Road till it crosses Breakfast Creek when it becomes Lutwyche Road. It continues on till it passes over Kedron Brook where it becomes Gympie Road and retains this name after it passes through Chermside which is 10 kilometres from Brisbane CBD. This road is the transport life blood of Chermside as there is no rail or river here. But we did have sea scouts at one time.

The new Busway being built from the CBD will reach Chermside in the near future and provide a cheap efficient transport system for people; maybe it will replace some cars?

A Very Brief History of the Chermside Area


Originally known as Downfall Creek, the settlement began possibly in the 1850s when a slab hut or two may have appeared but after the first survey by Edward Huxtable in 1864 small farms began to be established. Soon after the first store was opened by James Patterson and in 1869 the Hamilton family arrived and opened the first blacksmith and vehicle building business. The 1871 census recorded the population, including the farmers, at 103 persons.

The growth was assisted by the discovery of gold in 1867 and extension of the road from Brisbane to Gympie in 1868. With improved river crossings, bridges replacing fords, this road soon replaced the Old Northern Road via Cash's Crossing as the main north road and so Downfall Creek benefited.

Growth was slow; the area remained the rural urban fringe of Brisbane with small farms, small businesses such as blacksmiths, grocery stores, butchers and noxious industries of slaughter yards and tanneries. The area took about 50 years to pass the thousand people mark reaching 1,130 in 1921.

The real increase in size took place with the arrival of cheap transport in the form of trams in 1947, the post-World War II house building boom and the establishment of the first drive-in shopping complex in Australia in 1957. Chermside quickly developed into a suburban landscape with an expanding shopping centre, a rapidly growing medical centre, finance and banking centre, a commercial centre and some of the best and most extensive parklands in Brisbane.

By the 1990s the area was built out and the upward growth began with blocks of units replacing many houses and, in inner Chermside, high rise units going up eight levels in a relentless march along Playfield Street. This change matches the expansion of the drive-in to become the shoppingtown of the 21st Century. The population reached 6,348 in 2006 and is expected to double in the next 20 years.

Chermside & Districts History
The trams arrived in Chermside in 1947 and brought cheap, clean, efficient, all weather public transport to Brisbane. The town turned out to greet them knowing that the long walk to the old terminus at Lutwyche Cemetery to catch a tram was over.

Community


Chermside has a long history of community groups, with one, the Uniting Church Choir and Orchestra tracing its origin to the late 1860s. The early settlement was very independent and if anything had to be done the local people had to do it, or organise to lobby the Kedron Shire Council to do the job. This contrasts with some of the newer suburbs which were built as dormitory and commuter places and relied on the motor car. They tend to travel to other places to join existing groups.

The tradition of do it yourself carried on and today there are more than 100 community groups operating in the area. Some are ephemeral and only last for a few years while others last for generations. Some are very large involving hundreds or even thousands of people such as the Kedron-Wavell Services Club and Bernie Brae Seniors Citizens Centre. At the other end of the scale there are small book clubs which only have a handful of members, who meet regularly for lunch or dinner and discuss books.

The local groups or organisations are found under such headings as:

Church & Associated Groups, School & Associated Groups, Sport, Indigenous, Child Care, Senior Citizen, Respite, Neighbourhood Watch, Probus, Home Help, Service Clubs, Meals on Wheels, Scouts, Girl Guides, Political Parties, Quilters, Disability Help, Book Readers, Library, Musical & Entertainment, Hospitals and Associated Groups, History, Armed Service, Crafts, Lodges, Dog Obedience, Writers, Slimmers, Social, Internet, Environment, Fitness, the list goes on and on.

Chermside & Districts History
In the days when personal transport was by horse or foot or bicycle entertainment was mostly local. Picnics were very popular, either in family groups or larger community groups. The Methodist Church held its 1900 picnic on the Shire Council land where Dixon Homes are now located at the junction of Murphy and Gympie Roads. It was a grand event with everybody all dressed up for the occasion.

Industry


According to the 2006 Census Chermside has no primary industry and its production is divided between Manufacturing with 18% and Services with 80% of output. There are three small manufacturing areas producing a wide variety of goods in wood, metal and plastic.

The dominance of the services sector can be seen in the huge Shoppingtown and the buildings along Gympie Road where a very wide variety of consumer services are offered including shopping, financial, banking, commercial, legal, communications and entertainment. The district also supports a large odd job sector which operates mainly from private homes.

There is a large concentration of manufacturing and services firms in the Geebung, Banyo area along with extensive warehousing facilities.

The Exception that Proves the Rule: In about 2006 there was at least one primary producer still operating in Chermside; on the site of the present Wheller on the Park Retirement Complex. In about 2006 Norm Steers ran a herd of steers (no pun intended) on the lush grassland that was soon to disappear under buildings. Asked what he was going to do when the lease was finished, Norm replied that he might grow bananas as he held the last licence to grow bananas in Chermside.

Chermside & Districts History
Top Taste Cakes at Kedron is one of the largest factories in the district employing several hundred people. It is built on the site of Michael Gallagher's tannery which started in 1887 and closed in 1960. This is an example of the replacement of a large smelly noxious industry with a modern hygenic one. Also Gallagher's was locally owned while Top Taste is part of a multi-national organisation.

People


Like the rest of Australia the population is a mixture of immigrants and indigenous people with the latter being here for thousands of years. While not very prominent in Chermside they have developed a strong community in nearby Zillmere.

The early immigrant group came mainly from the British Isles but with a very significant German group as well. After World War II the immigrants came from a much wider area and Chermside's first nationalisation ceremony was held in the Kindergarten Hall at the Methodist Church in 1956. The 60 candidates were natives of Albania, Czechoslovakia, Netherlands, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Yugoslavia, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Sweden and Stateless.

The newly proclaimed Australians varied in age from 17 to 71 years with occupations of labourer, master mechanic, manufacturing jeweller, home duties, carpenter, welder, student, tailor, accountant, truck driver, architect, glazier, trimmer, bus driver, painter, shop assistant, soldier, nurse, clerk, tramway conductor. They were already trained and skilled in their native countries; Australia benefited enormously from such immigrants.

As the then Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, used to say after he had presented citizenship papers and administered the oath of loyalty to groups of new Australians, "You're all Bloody Australians now", laugh and lead the clapping.

This trend has continued with people coming from an even wider range of countries especially from Asia.

Chermside & Districts History
The farewell to Mr Menerey, Head Teacher at Chermside State School 1925-1934, was held in the Chermside School of Arts. It was a formal affair with the children in front, the parents in the background and the school committee in between. A similar photo taken in 2009 would show a much greater mix of nationalities.

Places


The Westfield Shoppingtown at Chermside began in 1957 with the establishment of the first drive-in shopping centre in Australia. Anticipating the motor car age Allan & Stark took the risk and put their money where their idea was. They faced ruin if the project failed; it didn't, and the shopping revolution began.

Where they went others quickly followed. It was the new way in shopping and the Chermside centre just kept on growing. Starting with 6,000 square metres of rentable space, by 2007 there was 122,000 square metres.

Chermside & Districts History
In 1957 Allan & Stark Ltd came to Chermside and began a revolution in shopping with a drive-in shopping centre.