Old Government House

History of Brisbane

A river curving and curling its way around the landscape makes Brisbane one of the most unique capital cities in Australia. Brisbane came into being long before the state of Queensland was established, when intrepid Surveyor General John Oxley named the river he discovered after the Governor of New South Wales – Thomas Brisbane – in 1823.

Before European settlement in 1824, Aboriginal clans, namely Jagera and Turrbal, lived along the Brisbane River. It is not known how long they resided in this area but it is believed Aboriginal tenure in Australia dates back about 40,000 years.

The first convict jail was built in Redcliffe in 1824 and that was moved to the site of the present-day CBD in 1825. Officials believed the natural bend in the river provided an effective barrier against escape.

Civilian occupation of the area began in 1842, and by the late 1880s Brisbane became the main site for commerce, and the capital-to-be began to develop distinct architectural features and culture.

With an abundance of sunshine and laid-back lifestyle, Brisbane quickly drew people eager to settle in its environs. The city grew steadily over the years and a turning point in its advancement was during World War II when it housed the main allied headquarters in the South Pacific for Australian and American service personnel.

The post-war population boom brought a spurt in industry and Brisbane staked a claim as the third-largest city in Australia.

Despite its rapid progress, Brisbane was often seen as lagging culturally behind Sydney and Melbourne. But two landmark events in the 1980s brought about a major change and accelerated Brisbane towards Australia’s new world city it is today.

The Commonwealth Games came to Brisbane in 1982, and this resulted in a massive injection of new infrastructure and sporting facilities. Then the eyes of the world turned to Brisbane in 1988 and thousands of visitors flocked to Expo 88. The subsequent birth of South Bank on the Expo site has resulted in a thriving cultural hub and Brisbane is more than matching it with its southern counterparts.

Today, Brisbane is an energetic and exciting city jam-packed with cultural experiences, adventurous outdoor activities, entertainment and shopping precincts and a laid-back vibe you won't see anywhere else. Further, its rapidly growing global reputation as a city of opportunity has been affirmed by its selection as the host of the G20 Leaders Summit in November 2014.