View of Brisbane. c. 1925. Brisbane City Council. BCC-B120-23552.
View of Brisbane. c. 1925. Brisbane City Council. BCC-B120-23552.

The Mapping Brisbane History website is a very unusual website, one that is very unique for Queensland, and even Australia.

We believe that anyone can discover bigger worlds within smaller units, and in doing so, we find together the freedom to traverse the boundaries.

There are five groups of 11 regions with 66 study areas.

It is open for curious Brisbane residents to have a look, and it is open for all historians and geographers would want to learn about Brisbane’s past in a comprehensive and inclusive approach.

And it is ongoing. We are far from finishing. To date we have 1,060 sites across Brisbane. Many more sites are to come, and we will be periodically revising, correcting and adding to the website.

Interact with the map and the 1060 sites

The Purpose of Mapping Brisbane HistoryCracknell Road, Tarragindi. c. 1925. Brisbane City Council. BCC-B54-35201.
Cracknell Road, Tarragindi. c. 1925. Brisbane City Council. BCC-B54-35201.

The Mapping Brisbane History website is a very unusual website, one that is very unique for Queensland, and even Australia. There are many online mapping sites for history, but very few pay much attention to the research techniques and perspectives of scholarly history and geography. Furthermore, the strength of Mapping Brisbane History website is that has been created from wide community interaction, with local history organisations contributing their knowledge to the project.

The purpose of the website is two-fold. Anyone can have an opportunity to learn about the history of Brisbane in the spatial dimension. The second purpose is a tool for local historians and geographers to study the past in terms of space-time interpretive structures. It allows writers of Brisbane’s history to understand the many different settlements and human geographic units.

The Philosophy of Mapping Brisbane History (MBH)

Gympie Road, Kedron c. 1925. Brisbane City Council. BCC-B54-A1030.
Gympie Road, Kedron c. 1925. Brisbane City Council. BCC-B54-A1030.

"Think global, act local"

It is now an old adage, attributed to the town planner and social activist Patrick Geddes, from his 1915 publication, Cities in Evolution.

In local studies the choice should not be the boundaries of the parish, as in parochialism (“a local shop for local people”), or to be abandoned to ‘Big History’. There has been for too long the losing out to either of the great fallacies: losing all particularities to overgeneralisation, or losing the ‘big picture’ to a forest of fragmented details. Structure is not the villain that is has been made out to be, and not all structures are the same. Examining networks inside the local area can be emancipative. We can discover bigger worlds within smaller units, and we realise that this is the freedom to traverse the boundaries.

The Mapping Brisbane History is a step to act locally, but to think of historical sites in terms of global themes, particularly as social organisation on the local scale and the question of how we – as Brisbane residents – lived together.

The MBH online mapping program is on-track for completion, ready for the re-launch in April 2018.

A Master Copy of multiple MBH Data spreadsheets (the most updated file) is being developed and translated to the website MBH mapping program. The process includes integrating over 800 heritage sites from the Brisbane City Council Heritage Register, as well as over 500 lost sites identified by the Royal Historical of Queensland Society in the two ‘Lost Brisbane’ volumes.

The MBH Team conducted consultative meetings with local history groups across Brisbane. This consultation process produce over 200 local history sites databased.

Furthermore, a map collection database has been produced with 12,312 records of map and aerial photographic references sorted into the LSA with map years indicated and searchable by parish, town and suburb names.

The local study program design had been completed with 39 southside study areas, and 25 northside areas, a total across Brisbane of 64 study areas, and 1,000 plus historical markers and panels are being prepared.

Sunnybank District History Group Annual General Meeting 2017 will be held at 10.00 a.m., Saturday 2 December, at the main meeting room, Sunnybank Hills Library.

At which point all SDHG positions will be vacant. Three vacancies need to be fulfilled

For an organisation to continue it has to have one executive position of leadership (President). The current SDHG President will not re-nominate (see explanation below). If no one nominates and is elected at the Annual General Meeting on Saturday 2 December, the Sunnybank District History Group will go into abeyance.


<iframe src="!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d3536.9204544749864!2d153.0370217150977!3d-27.564979082851075!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x6b9145381ba4f799%3A0xf8595350e9abdf61!2s107+Orange+Grove+Rd%2C+Coopers+Plains+QLD+4108%2C+Australia!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1496795363007" width="600" height="450" frameborder="0" style="border:0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

You are invited to a special Brisbane Southside History Network (BSNH) workshop which will launch a major phase of the Mapping Brisbane History Project, displaying historical sites across Brisbane Southside.

2pm to 5pm Saturday, 26 August 2017 in the Large Meeting Room at Coopers Plains Library, 107 Orange Grove Road, Coopers Plains.

Parking at library rear, via Bosworth and Perginga Streets.

Add event to your Google Calendar | Add event to your iPhone or Apple Computer

The Mapping Brisbane History Project, in its third and final stage to complete the MBH website, is looking to map in one year approximately 2,000+ heritage and lost sites of historical significance and described within 200 words each. The project is funded by the 2016-2017 Brisbane Community History Grants, from the Brisbane City Council’s Brisbane History Grants Program, auspice by the Coopers Plains Local History Group Inc., as a sponsoring member of the Brisbane Southside History Network.

A workshop to report the progress of the mapping project on the Brisbane Southside will be held as the BSHN meeting on Saturday 26 August 2017 at 13:00 at the Coopers Plains Library. All welcomed.

The project has had a short history of a few years. A pilot study was completed, in April 2014, of three local areas: Coopers Plains (Banoon)-Sunnybank, Moorooka-Tarragindi, and Fairfield-Annerley. It was funded to the amount of $6,800, from the 2012 Brisbane City Council Community History Grant. Further funding of $4,070 was provided in 2015 to compose thematic essays from the original research in the project (completed in June 2016).

Trevor McKell - A/Secretary BSHN 07 3892 2975/ 0424 707 347

Funding for 2014:

The Coopers Plains Local History Group Inc., as a sponsoring member of the Brisbane Southside History Network, has been granted $22,000 in one of the 2016-2017 Brisbane Community History Grants, from the Brisbane City Council’s Brisbane History Grants Program.

Mapping Brisbane History Project has a new release of life which will allow its completion in March 2018. Mapping Brisbane History (MBH) is an innovative approach, using historical maps to help explore local history.

A pilot study was completed, in April 2014, of three local areas: Coopers Plains (Banoon)-Sunnybank, Moorooka-Tarragindi, and Fairfield-Annerley. It was funded to the amount of $6,800, from the 2012 Brisbane City Council Community History Grant. Further funding of $4,070 was provided in 2015 to compose thematic essays from the original research in the project (completed in June 2016).  

The funding from the latest grant and the work of three MBH team members over the next twelve months will produce in one year, 1,000+ heritage and lost Brisbane sites marked and described within 200 words each, thus an asset of possibly 200,000 words professionally researched of Brisbane localities in the form of online historical geography.

Although the early project phases involved some consultations with local history groups, these final phases will be more focused on community consultation. The final phases of the MBH project will develop Stages 2-5 on the Brisbane Southside, and newly planned Stages 6-13 (MBNH 1-7) on the Brisbane Northside. Across the five stages of research, we have 39 total study areas that cover the entire Brisbane Southside.  The same process will occur to cover the entire Brisbane Northside.

Local history groups will be contacted and engaged, for the Brisbane Southside between March and August 2017, and for the Brisbane Northside between August 2017 and February 2018. There will be two major workshops of networked local history groups.

The MBH Team is looking for meetings with local history groups, which can take the form of the group’s regular monthly gatherings with a presentation and discussion, or a special group workshop to discuss a selection of local heritage and lost sites.

For more information, please contact Neville here: Contact Us

Introducing the Mapping Brisbane History Project for the 2016 Professional Historians Australia Conference, Melbourne, Australia

Google Maps and Google Earth in 2005 revived a sub-discipline that had been badly neglected in the previous couple of decades, historical geography.

Online historical mapping was generated on a number of different platforms and spurred a plethora of webpages devoted to promoting historical sites.

Unfortunately the methodologies utilized often fail to capture the historical character, the sense of place and the sense of change in society and individual lives, as it appeared on the landscape.

The basic problem is that the local history mapping sites are not aimed at historical themes and narratives.

The well-funded Queensland Historical Atlas is a wonderful collection of images and essays, but there is no actual online mapping program. We are still not getting the comprehensive view that we once recognised as historical geography.

The Mapping Brisbane History Project is a long-term scheme which currently resides in The Mapping Brisbane Southside History (MBSH) Project, under the auspices of the Brisbane Southside History Network (BSHN) and managed by four professional historians. The idea is that we map the Brisbane Southside first and, at any time, other teams can form to map the Brisbane Northside using our methods. The history of Brisbane has traditionally been this divide of the Brisbane River.

There are different elements to the project. These elements coordinate to produce the history.

As is common with Google mapping and History Pin, we are marking sites. The difference is that we include extensive and well-structured descriptions as data fields. This is particularly true for the site’s significance where a description is summarize within 200 words.

The main element of the project is the five stages of research, covering 41 study areas. The approach of the project is not to consider historical sites singularly but as integrated parts of the changing landscape. The idea of boundaries is unpopular and yet the truth is that boundaries are always popularly generated, both as a matter of formation and breaking them down. Boundaries are fluid and people do continually crossover them, but these factors means boundaries exist historically.

Understanding what is occurring over time within distinctive suburban areas means we can understand historical themes much better – the relationship with the indigenous population and the land, culture, education, industry and commerce, transportation, and government.

The last, and the most ambitious, element of the project is to reproduce different sections of the landscape at various points in time, to be able to map its changing features. While the focus here is urbanisation, we are also looking at the way the shifting environment reflects the mutable ways of life.

Griffith University Goldcoast Volunteer Day was a success with many showing interest and discussing various areas of history!

Thank you, all who chatted with us!

Topics included the Mapping Brisbane History Project researched by the Brisbane Southside History Network.
There was also interest in History & Philosophy in Queensland conducted by Dr Neville Buch.

Link to article

On 7 June 1871, Alfred Hughes bought a 48 acre allotment from Maria Kessels1. He continued to buy the adjoining lots until he owned about 150 acres2. This property gave Alfred Hughes space to breed, spell and train his horses that were used in his livery stables in Brisbane. His property also had a plentiful supply of freshwater. He established his Mt Gravatt property as a halfway station between his city stables and an 886 acre property that he owned on the Logan River at Jimboomba. Hughes gained government contracts to supply horses for overseas military purposes. He also bred racehorses for export to India.

Alfred Hughes and his wife, Deborah, lived in a single storey detached cottage in Charlotte Street3 next door to their Livery and Bait stables. They had eight children: Richard Alfred, Frederick, Mary Ann, Deborah (died aged 4 years), Annie (died as a baby), Clifford Emanuel, Ellen and Adelaide4.

In 1887 the Hughes family came to live permanently at their Mt Gravatt property in the original cottage on the site. A new homestead, ‘Cabramatta’5 was built on the property and the foreman’s cottage was already on the property. ‘Cabramatta’ had a detached kitchen and scattered around the property in the area that is now Cremin Street were stables, a buggy shed, a harness room and a feed shed.

Alfred Hughes travelled into the city daily to work. He took his children with him so that his sons were able to attend the Normal School, corner of Edward and Adelaide Streets, and his daughters could attend St Stephens Convent School, in Elizabeth Street.

After Alfred Hughes sold his city livery business in 1889 he worked for the next few years from his Mt Gravatt property. His wife, Deborah died in 1891. An acquaintance of many years, Margaret Hartley and Alfred Hughes married in 1892. They had a son, Peter. From 1892 to 1896, Alfred Hughes returned to live in Brisbane and work at his livery stables in Adelaide Street.

After Alfred Hughes died on 22 April 1903 ‘Cabramatta’ was left to Clifford Emanuel Hughes. Alfred’s second wife, Margaret, and son, Frederick Hughes, were living at ‘Cabramatta’ at this time. Clifford Hughes joined the Australian Army and sailed to England in World War I. There he met Florence Kate Care and they married on 9 July 1919 and later that year they sailed back to Australia. After returning to Mt Gravatt, Clifford and Florence lived in the foreman’s cottage where they raised their three sons: Albert (Alby), George and Lionel. Clifford Hughes, aged 51 years, died in August 1935. Then the ‘Cabramatta’ property was sold to John Leopold McIntyre.

Leo McIntyre laid out the golf course on his land which was officially opened by the then Brisbane Lord Mayor Alderman A.J (Alf) Jones, on 3 April 1937. The original homestead was used as a clubhouse and the homestead, ‘Cabramatta’, was sold and converted into four flats. In 2000, ‘Cabramatta’ was relocated in two sections to Kalbar where it was restored.
The land along Kessels Road from Mains Road down to Mimosa Creek was used during World War II as a military base where vehicles were stored and repaired. After the Pacific Golf Course was re-established along Pine Mountain Road, the original golf course land was surveyed and developed for residential use. In what is locally known as the Strathairlie Square development many of the streets are named after well-known cricket players, tennis players and golfers.

Beryl Roberts
12 June 2015

1 Portion 271, corner of what is now found bordered by Mains and Kessels Roads.
2 Portion 287, 16 acres 2 roods, and Portion 286, 27 acres 2 roods, previously owned by J.
Reedman; Portion 285, 30 acres 2 roods, previously owned by E.G. Grose; and Portion 272
73 acres, previously owned by W.G. Billington.
3 This cottage was demolished in August 1983 to establish the Festival carpark.
4 Adelaide Hughes, the youngest child was born at ‘Cabramatta’ on 13 July 1888.
5 Alfred’s father Richard Hughes had lived in Cabramatta, NSW.

Original Article


A NEW website is helping to uncover Brisbane’s forgotten past.

Mapping Brisbane History uses Google Earth to layer maps from the 19th and 20th centuries with historical facts to create a complete picture of different areas in Brisbane.

Assistant project manager Beryl Roberts said the website was for anyone in the community who wanted a different historical perspective of Brisbane.

“At the moment we have three pilot areas on the website including Sunnybank-Banoon, Moorooka-Tarragindi and Fairfield-Annerley,” she said.

“Once they have selected the area they want to know more about, users can just click on an icon on the map and it will bring up historical facts from different sources.”

An initiative of the Coopers Plains Local History Group Inc, Mapping Brisbane History was developed by Dr Neville Buch, Beryl Roberts, Janice Cooper and spatial scientist Chris Burns.

Mrs Roberts said the team was now looking at expanding the website to include other suburbs.

“We have focused on the southside but there are so many different layers that can be added to the site,” she said.

“The idea now is to find other historical societies or community members who have information about their local areas who want to link in with the site.”

Mapping History Brisbane was officially launched earlier this month. Visit