6 May, 2009 7:10AM AEST
Local History - Bald Hills
These days, Bald Hills is Brisbane's northernmost suburb - a highly urbanised area, divided in half by the busy Bruce Highway. However, 150 years ago, when the area was originally settled, Bald Hills was a quiet rural spot with a scenic undulating landscape.
These days, Bald Hills is Brisbane's northernmost suburb - a highly urbanised area, divided in half by the busy Bruce Highway. However, 150 years ago, when the area was originally settled, Bald Hills was a quiet rural spot with a scenic undulating landscape.And the suburb actually takes its name from the geography of the area. Brian Randall from the State Library of Queensland says, "There did appear to be - as there still are - two grassy hills that stood out from the surrounding bushland in the early days. These were very prominent landmarks, and so that's how the name came about."
European settlement in Bald Hills has a very early history - the area was settled by Europeans as early as the 1850s. According to Brian, "It really all commenced with a group of people who met in the 1840s on a voyage out from England on a ship called the 'Anne Milne'."
Fast friendships were made on this trip. The group of travellers included Thomas Grey, who went on to become a bootmaker with a shop in George St in the 1850s. He made friends with a number of other people on the trip: a man called John Stewart, and brothers Charles and David Duncan, and their friendship lasted when the travellers arrived in Australia, and the Duncans and the Stewarts settled in the Hunter region.
There was actually quite a devastating flood in the Hunter region in 1856 - and that's what prompted these early settlers to leave the area and settle in Brisbane. Says Brian, "If it wasn't for this flood, these people would have never moved north."
By this time, Thomas Grey had set up his bootmaker's shop in George St, and when the Stewarts and the Duncans arrived in Brisbane (and then, later, William Carseldine, who'd also come out on the first ship), the first person they looked up was Thomas. It was Thomas who recommended the area around Bald Hills for them to settle.
These days, it's still reasonably easy to spot the area's history - if you know where to look. "The area around the railway station has lots of historic houses that date back to earliest times. Also the Bald Hills Primary School was actually the fourth school to have opened in Queensland, so it dates back to 1866, so very early, and of course those early settlers were instrumental in encouraging the establishment of the school."
Other landmarks in the history of the area include:
- First South Pine bridge - 1865
- First shop - 1869
- First phone line - 1908
- First mail service, delivered by Cobb & Co - 1872
- Cobb & Co travelled through the area from 1867
- Train services from 1888
- St. Paul's - 1961 - on land that was once part of John Stewart's property
- Bald Hills Historic Cemetery, located in the adjacent suburb of Bracken Ridge, but this was once part of Bald Hill.
- The main highway now effectively splits the suburb, with the "old" Bald Hills to the west of the highway and the "new" Bald Hills to the east. A cattle track developed by John Carseldine from Bald Hills to Kedron Brook was on much the same line as the present Gympie Road.