Pensioner's Camp and Shanty Town

Pensioner's Camp and Shanty Town

Stage Number: MBSH.02.05.23

Group: Southern

Local Study Area: Moorooka-Tarragindi

Epoch: Early 20th Century

Street Address: Near Tarragindi Reservoir, Tarragindi

Latitude & Longitude: -27.52902778,153.03402778

Time Link: 1925

Map Link: 1925

Image Time Point: 1925

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The Great Depression of the 1920s-30s resulted in many families having no money and no shelter. From as early as the mid-1920s some people lived in makeshift shelters on land near the Tarragindi reservoir. This land was owned by Dr James O’Neill Mayne, who allowed them to stay there. It soon became known as the ‘Pensioners camp’, and homes there were described as ‘rude humpies, built of bush timber, and eked out with flattened kerosene tins or other scraps of metal.’ The Brisbane City Council later provided nine sanitary buildings in the area as the population grew. At one point, there were up to 500 huts dotted over the Tarragindi hills and gullies.

After World War II this camp spread to behind the former US Army Staging Camp near Mayfield Road, Moorooka. There was a ‘coloured people’s area’ there, reportedly home to ‘families of mixed aboriginal and Indian races.’ Council attempted to clear out this area in 1950. Dr Mayne had died in 1940 and his Will supposedly allowed the campers to stay as long as they chose. The camps were visited by Lord Mayor Frank Roberts in 1953, and he was ‘amazed at the sub-standard allowed to develop in the metropolitan area’. There were campers in the area as late as 1955, and former huts were still occupied by 180 families.


Brisbane Courier, 25 July 1928; The Telegraph, 19 February 1936; 31 October 1946, 15 October 1948, 26 September 1950, 22 January 1953; Truth, 21 March 1954.

Image Citations

Gentleman’s House at the Old Aged Pensioners’ Camp’, Tarragindi, 1925. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Record number: 45919.

Map References

MLMS. 40 chain AG2 series 1887–1932—Moreton district. 40 chains to 1 inch. Moreton 40 Chain map AG2 series sheet 2 west. AG2