14 things you didn't know about Brisbane - Visit Brisbane


14 things you didn't know about Brisbane

Consider yourself a Brisbane advocate? If you knew all of these 14 facts, we can officially call you a true Brisbane hero!
If you have some more fun facts you would like us to share, contact us and we would love to spread the knowledge.

1) Brisbane was known to the early Aboriginal people as Meanjin, which means "place shaped like a spike".

Brisbane City

The Turrbal and the Jagera people were the principal clans, with the Turrbal mainly living north of the Brisbane River and the Jagera to the south.

2) Brisbane's link with the stars

Brisbane is named after a former New South Wales governor who established the city’s original penal settlement in the 1820s. Sir Thomas Brisbane was also a keen astronomer, known for building Australia’s first astronomical observatory in Parramatta and charting the Southern Hemisphere’s stars. The Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium in Toowong is a tribute to his achievements.

3) China Town in Fortitude Valley was part of the movie set in Jackie Chan's movie Jackie Chan's First Strike.

Jackie Chan’s First Strike is a 1996 Hong Kong action film and remains his highest-grossing film in Hong Kong. The movie was shot partially in Brisbane where a scene features a car chase and explosion in Fortitude Valley’s China Town Mall. The mall’s pagoda was destroyed and subsequently rebuilt after the filming.

4) The first lamington was made in 1900 at Old Government House for Lord and Lady Lamington.

French chef Armand Galland accompanied Lord and Lady Lamington to Brisbane in 1900. The lamington was born of necessity – it was Galland’s answer to the perennial problem of unexpected visitors coming up the path. He pulled from the pantry day-old French vanilla sponge cake, chocolate and coconut and whipped up the cake. It proved so popular that Lady Lamington was inundated with requests for the recipe and thus Galland named his treat in honour of his patrons.

5) Queen Street was a barracks between 1827 and 1830 for up to 1000 convicts.

Queen Street Mall

A multi-storey stone convict barracks was constructed on the corner of Queen and Albert Streets. A central archway led from what is now Queen St into a walled yard at the rear of the building. Positioned within this archway was the flogging triangle – a constant reminder to the convicts of the consequences of disobedience. Brisbane City is now home to more than 1000 stores, including the largest range of flagship boutiques in Queensland.

6) Suncorp Stadium was home to the city’s first cemetery

Known for its A-League, Rugby and Rugby League clashes, Suncorp Stadium is actually built on the site of the city’s first cemetery, established in the 1840s. The burial ground was later moved as the city expanded but there is a memorial graveyard and little church that still stand alongside the mighty stadium.

7) The old Spring Hill water reservoir is now an underground opera performance space. 

The Underground Opera Company has refurbished the reservoir where the public can buy tickets to watch live opera. The reservoir was built between 1871 and 1882 and was the city’s main water supply until it was closed in 1962. The Underground Opera Company has cleaned it up, adding steps, ventilation, power, lights and seating but keeping the same industrial and historic feel. How cool is that?!

8) Brisbane was the busiest submarine port in the world during World War II. 

The bombing of Pearl Harbour on December 7, 1941 brought the US into war with Japan in the Pacific. Within hours of the attack, ships heading towards Pearl Harbour were diverted to Brisbane. By December 1943, Brisbane was host to over 75,000 American troops. Brisbane was the closest city to the "action" but was out of range of Japanese bombers, and had a river lined with hundreds of wharves to dock ships ... as well as some excellent ship-building and repairs facilities.

9) Brisbane City Hall is the largest city hall in Australia 

Brisbane City Hall

Upon its completion, Brisbane City Hall was the second-largest construction project in Australia after the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The clock tower of City Hall is 92m high, with an observation platform at 76m. What better way to see this beautiful city?

10) The world's first cultivated Macadamia tree lives in the City Botanic Gardens.

Planted in 1858 by Sir Walter Hill, the first curator of the Botanic Gardens, the seed for the tree came from bushland near Gympie. Would you believe it still grows the nuts every year?

11) North Stradbroke Island and Moreton Island are the second and third-largest sand islands in the world.

Ship wrecks on Moreton Island at Tangalooma

North Stradbroke Island is known for some of the most spectacular scenery found anywhere in Australia. Tip: Go whale watching from Point Lookout, the best land-based whale-watching site in the world. Moreton Island is home to adventure with a diverse range of exciting activities and wildlife experiences to enjoy. Tip: Try hand-feeding wild dolphins, snorkelling the shipwrecks in the pristine waters or toboggan the sand hills of the island.   

12) Brisbane has 283 days of sunshine a year.

Brisbane had 283 days of full sunshine in 2013 and winter days rarely dipped below 20°C. Make the most of city’s beautiful weather by experiencing the abundance of outdoor activities and Brisbane’s proximity to beaches, rainforests and reefs. 

13) The Story Bridge is a twin of the Jacques Cartier Bridge in Montreal, Canada.

People do Story Bridge Climb

The Jacques Cartier Bridge follows the general design concept of the Quebec Bridge. It was, in turn, one of the design influences for the Story Bridge which was completed in 1940. The Story Bridge Adventure Climb offers the best views of the city and an amazing must-do experience for visitors.

14) Sir Charles Kingsford Smith was the first man to fly across the Pacific and land in Brisbane.

Brisbane born, Sir Charles Kingsford Smith left Oakland, California in 1928 bound for Australia. Flying across the Pacific via Hawaii and Fiji, he reached Brisbane in 83 hours and 38 minutes flying time - a remarkable and historic first air crossing of the Pacific. This incredible feat placed Kingsford Smith at the forefront of world flying and was the inspiration for Brisbane’s Kingsford Smith Drive which passes through Hamilton, the suburb of his birth.

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