Education and Cultural Organisations

The earliest schools on the Brisbane Southside were at Bulimba (1866), Coopers Plains (1869), Eight Mile Plains (1869), Mount Gravatt (1874), West End (1875), Belmont (1875), Coorparoo (1876), Dutton Park (1884; known the “Jail School”), Yeronga (1885), Junction Park (1888; known as “Thompson Estate”), Mt Pleasant Provisional School (1890; renamed Dunellan and now Greenslopes), Woolloongabba (18??), Kangaroo Point (18??), and East Brisbane (1899). The Buranda Girls’ and Infants’ School opened in 1918.

Secondary education developed much later, but Brisbane Southside did take the lead. Brisbane State High School was the first state secondary school established in Brisbane, as well as the first academic state high school to be founded in Queensland. Taking the year 1913 as the start, the school developed from the School of Arts in Ann Street, and later from the old Normal School close by. It was relocated to its current campus next to Musgrave Park at South Brisbane in 1925. The next Brisbane-based non-grammar secondary school was State Commercial High School which took another decade to open (1933). The third Brisbane high school also took another decade (1942). It was not until Cavendish Road High School (sixth Brisbane-based) opened in 1951, that the first truly Brisbane suburban state high school was created, and mass secondary education became the expected pathway.

Religious institutions are traditionally the other major cultural institution. This becomes apparent, by the fact, that the number of churches which opened across Brisbane’s southside are too numerous to list here. Most religious institutions established themselves as missions from parent institutions either within Brisbane or elsewhere in the Australasian colonies. Like lodges, music societies, churches have been active in secular community activities, such as school fetes, concerts, and charity fund-raising. Temples, shrines, mosques, and other places of worship, also acted as support centres for recent migrant communities. Australia’s first Russian Orthodox Church was built in Kangaroo Point, St Nicholas Cathedral, in 1929. In the same year, the Greek Orthodox Community of St George was established in South Brisbane. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints established its church at Kangaroo Point in the 1960s. The new Brisbane Australia Temple was dedicated in 2003. Brisbane’s first mosque was built in 1908 at Holland Park. Masjid Al Farooq, the ‘Kuraby Mosque’, which was founded in the early 1990s.

Health is another important factor in our shared modern culture. In 1901 Diamantina Hospital for Chronic Diseases was opened in the southern end of Woolloongabba, close to the Dutton Park railway station. It was built on the site of the original 1883 Diamantina Orphanage. Diamantina Bowen was the wife of the first Governor of Queensland. In 1910 the Mater Misericordiae Hospital opened on a large rise above South Brisbane. The Greenslopes Repatriation Hospital opened in 1942. In 1959, to mark the Centenary of Queensland, a new hospital was built on the Diamantina site, and was opened by and named after HRH Princess Alexandra of the United Kingdom. When there was significant loss of health, cemeteries became a kind of cultural organisation. The South Brisbane cemetery was established in 1866. The Balmoral cemetery opened in the next decade (1874). One important private cemetery on Brisbane Southside is God’s Acre in Archerfield. The cemetery was created when Volney Grenier, aged 16 years, died after a fall from a horse, during a fox hunt in 1859. His parents, Mary and Thomas Grenier buried their son in the new family cemetery on three quarters of an acre of land. Over the years it became a cemetery for local pioneers.

Sports are Australia’s great cultural organisations. Without knowing the great things to come for Australian sport, the Woolloongabba recreation reserve was proclaimed in 1877. The Brisbane Cricket Ground opened in 1896. In contrast in the very different history that was to emerge, Musgrave Park in South Brisbane was officially named as a recreation reserve in 1884. The biggest sporting event on the Brisbane Southside was the XII Commonwealth Games in 1982, which centred on the QEII Stadium in Nathan. It was followed by the biggest cultural event on Brisbane Southside, a few years later – Expo 88. The Queensland Performing Arts Complex (opened in 1985) and the Queensland Cultural Centre (first opened in 1985, with the additions of the State Library in 1988 and GOMA in 2006) at South Bank has given Brisbane’s southside a centre of cultural education.

Brisbane’s southside has had its share of learned women and men. Unfortunately history has tended to record characters on this side of town who, though talented, did not enjoy an impeccable reputation in scholarship, compared to places like Melbourne’s north, or even Brisbane’s north. Brisbane’s southside identity, Dr Thomas Pennington, wrote the first novel set in Brisbane in 1894. An early science fiction, the novel was called The Curse and its Cure. Dr Pennington went on to produce a papaw ointment for medical conditions. Sir Raphael Cilento and Lady Phyllis Cilento lived in Annerley for several decades before moving to the north-side. Although Sir Ray Cilento was a scholar of some standing, and historical researcher –he was three-times the president of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland, his ultra-conservative views on the subjects of colonialisation and the White Australia policy revealed a shadowy side to the local history. Lady Phyllis Cilento’s contribution as an early childhood health expert commends the history much more.

The later period of the local history has seen an attempt to create an association with higher education. Brisbane’s southern suburb of Robertson, located just south of the Nathan Campus of Griffith University, is named after Dr William Nathaniel Robertson, Vice Chancellor of the University of Queensland from 1927 until his death in 1938. However, Robertson was not a local resident. He worked in general practice in Ipswich before becoming an ear, nose and throat specialist. Griffith University, named after another prominent scholar, Sir Samuel Walker Griffith, was established in 1971. The College of Teacher Education was established in 1975 is now part of the Mount Gravatt campus in 1975.

In more recent years the importance of history has become more visible on the Brisbane Southside. The new National Archives Brisbane Office building opened at Cannon Hill in 2004. In July 1968 Queensland State Archives was relocated to a facility in Dutton Park. The new Queensland State Archives complex opened at Runcorn in 1992.

Chardon's Corner Pub. 1894 (John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. 163515)