Another month, another house sitting :-) At the beginning of December we moved to Indooroopilly where we looked after two Jack Russels for a month. We were living just across the road from the former silver mines at Finney’s Hill and with this setting, I could explore the area and learn more about beginnings of this western suburb of Brisbane.

The name

The Jagera [1] and Turrbal [2] groups occupied land in the Brisbane and Ipswich areas. The exact boundaries are not known, however, the Turrbal generally occupied the area north of the Brisbane River. Both groups had closely related languages which are classified as belonging to the larger Yaggera language group. I’m going to write more about the Aboriginal history of the Brisbane area.

The origin of the name of the suburb is not clear. There are two versions. First is nyindurupilli, meaning ‘gully of the leeches’ and second yindurupilly meaning ‘gully of running water’.

1933 'MEANING OF INDOOROOPILLY.', The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954), 28 August, p. 25.
1936 'NOMENCLATURE OF QUEENSLAND.—154', The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954), 27 March, p. 12.

Sir, -I can support Mr. A. M’Connel’s statement in the Courier of the 23rd inst., as to the meaning of the place-name. Indooroopilly. It is derived from the words “nyinderu” and “pilla or billa,” the former word meaning “leech,” and the latter meaning “creek or gully.” [3]

INDOOROOPILLY.— A suburb of Brisbane. According to Tom Petrie, the name should be Yindurupilly, meaning “running water.” It was named in 1875, being originally known as St. Lucia. [4]

The first English name given to the area was Witton, from Witton Flats, a popular local picnic spot. The parish of Indooroopilly was officially named in late 1840s. [5]

It is interesting to mention that on the original plans of the Railway Department the Indooroopilly station was named Witton, a name, no doubt, taken from the area known as Witton flats, a popular picnic resort. In those days, Witton flats was owned by the Boyle family, and their home, Witton Manor, is still remembered by the old residents of the district. [6]

Early settlement

Witton Manor

Indooroopilly was first settled by Europeans in 1860 when Mr H. C. Rawnsley purchased land south of Witton Creek. Rawnsley built the first house in the area, Witton Manor, in 1861, on the site of the present Ambrose Treacy College (formerly Nudgee Junior College). In 1873 D. C. M’Connel (owner of Cressbrook Station in Somerset Region) purchased the property intending to settle there. However, they gave the property up three years later. [7] It was later owned by Andrew Bogle who in 1886 established Witton Township and sold land in lots of 5 to 30 acres through auctioneer John W. Todd. By 1891 Witton estate comprised of 25 acres, stables, man’s cottage, a 15-acre grass paddock and a five roomed cottage. [8]

Photograph album of views of "Witton Manor" and the Indooroopilly area, [ca. 1880-ca. 1907] via UQ eSpace
This fertile piece of property was acquired by Mr. Rawnsley many years ago, and was afterwards purchased by Mr. D. C. M’Connel, of Cressbrook, for his town residence. Since coming into the hands of Mr. Andrew Bogle, great improvements have been made during the last few years, with the object of forming a model suburban township. [9]
Plan of the Witton Township Estate parish of Indooroopilly [State Library of Queensland, Record number: 21104834120002061]

Witton Manor was later owned by Herbert Brealey Hemming, who purchased the property Tighnabruaich in 1904. Between 1916 and 1919, he moved Witton Manor to the grounds of Tighnabruaich from its original site further upstream at Indooroopilly and renamed it Witton House. This was positioned in the south-west corner of the grounds, facing the river, where it remained until its demolition in 1967. [10]

McDougall Station

In the early days of the Queensland settlement, much of this area was known as McDougall station. J.F.McDougall purchased the Milton House in 1855 [11] and soon the whole stretch of river from Milton to Moggill, including Taringa, St. Lucia, Long Pocket, Indooroopilly, Brookfield, and Kenmore became McDougall’s station. The only approach to it was by a convict-built road which skirted the river bank for some distance and was called Moggill Road. In later years this same route becomes River Road, and later Coronation Drive. [6] [12]

"L. Bagster & Co. Family Butchers in Station Road, Indooroopilly, Brisbane, ca. 1895" via Trove Negative number: 10572

Louis Stamm

The McDougall Station was later subdivided into farms, one of which belonged to Louis Stamm. He was one of the earliest chairmen of the Indooroopilly Divisional Board, after its separation from Taringa and Toowong. Stamm’s estate covered the present site of the Indooroopilly Railway Station, and practically all the area that comprises the present day suburb[13]

I love when I find some connection with Poland, apparently Mr Stamm was of Polish descent.

Mr. Louis Stamm, a colonist of fifty years’ standing. Mr. Stamm was born in England during a temporary visit of his parents there, was of Polish descent. When about 5 years old young Stamm, then living with his parents at their farm in the province of Posen, saw the great Napoleon on the latter’s retreat from Moscow. (…) At the age of about 45 Mr. Stamm decided to seek new lands, and America seemed the most promising ; but, In London, having been robbed of his little store, his project failed, and the advantages of Queensland being then brought to his notice, he emigrated to this colony in 1852. In the early sixties Indooroopilly attracted his attention, and he bought land freely there. [14]

Indooroopilly bridges

"Bathers under the Indooroopilly Railway Bridge Brisbane Queensland ca. 1930" via Trove Negative number: 4847

The Albert Bridge

Before 1870 there were very few houses built in the area. The district received its first impetus from the opening of the railway which was so important for the colony. [15]

The commencement of the construction of the Brisbane and Ipswich railway is at length an accomplished fact; and, after several years of hard fighting, the metropolis of the colony is to be connected with Ipswich, the Darling Downs, and the south-western portion of the colony by railway communication. The turning of the first sod of this line took place on Jan. 30, and as the first sod of the extension of the Great Northern line was also turned at the same time, the day may be set down as one of importance in connection with the progress of the colony. [16]


"Train crossing the Albert Railway Bridge during the flood at Indooroopilly Queensland 1890" via Trove Negative number: 707

People of the colony couldn’t wait for the opening of the railway from Brisbane to Ipswich.
The first train carrying passengers from Brisbane to Ipswich started at 6.30 a.m. on June 14, 1875. The line was not quite finished. Everything was makeshift, the railway station buildings at Brisbane and several suburban stations being unfinished. The bridge over the Brisbane River at Indooroopilly, which was to supply the missing link, was incomplete, and passengers and goods were conveyed across the river in a punt. [17]

The bridge was not completed and opened for railway traffic till July of the following year.

The Governor, taking in his hand a bottle of champagne, suspended from the top of one of the girders, broke it against the bridge, giving it at the same time the name of the Albert Bridge. He said it gave him great satisfaction to have been present to declare this bridge open. (…) He had named it the Albert Bridge, in honor of his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. [18]
"Indooroopilly Railway Bridge (First) destroyed by flood 1893" via Trove Negative number: 187148

With the establishment of the railway station shops and houses began to spring up in the area. But the great flood of 1893 destroyed the bridge. Two years later the bridge was rebuilt by Henry Charles Stanley who was watching the original bridge collapsing when residing in the Tighnabruaich.

The second bridge was designed by Henry Charles Stanley, Queensland’s Chief Engineer of Railways from 1892 to 1901, and is considered his major work. In designing the bridge as two long spans with one central pier, Stanley sought to avoid the obstruction to flood waters posed by multiple piers, which had been the downfall of the previous Albert Bridge. [15]

 The Walter Taylor Bridge

From the late 1800s, there had been requests to the Government to build a road bridge over the river at Indooroopilly. But serious planning hasn’t commenced until 1924 when Walter Taylor submitted a plan and details of a cross-river traffic bridge, which he proposed should he constructed between Chelmer and Indooroopilly. [19] He suggested building a concrete reinforced structure. He argued that “the cost of painting steel structures is enormous; and wherever practicable, the concrete bridge should be erected, because the maintenance charges are practically nil.”
"Indooroopilly ferry crossing the Brisbane River, 1935" via Trove Negative number: 201395
The residential accommodation provided in each of the towers remains unique in Australia. The apartments in the northern tower were occupied by the tollkeeper and those in the southern tower were occupied by the bridge supervisor. The southern pylon also housed a kiosk and boathouse beneath road level, catering for summer visitors to the then popular Chelmer sands. [20]
"Collecting tolls on the Indooroopilly Traffic Bridge, Brisbane, ca. 1936" via Trove Negative number: 168342

What’s very interesting about this bridge is that it is a rare Florianópolis-type [21] bridge, and the only one of its kind in Australia. It also has rarity value as Australia’s longest span suspension bridge, and is significant for its unusual incorporation of residential accommodation into the bridge structure. [20]

Silver Lead Mine

At the end of 1918 silver-lead was discovered on a property in Isles Road, on Finney Hill. Soon a company was formed to develop the mine, and a lot of money was invested. Howver, they realised that, although there was silver-lead on the field, the cost of getting it out was too high. Operations were suspended by 1929 when the mine was no longer profitable. Finney’s Hill got its name from one of three gentlemen Finney, Jackson, and Isles who owned a large tract of land in that direction as the Goldieslie Estate, in 1912. [22] It was acquired by the University of Queensland in June 1951 for the use of the Dept. of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering. Through its 10 year history the mine produced 227343 ounces of silver and 1796 tons of lead. [13]

"Finney's Hill United Silver Mine at Indooroopilly, Brisbane, 1921" via Trove Negative number: 152987

Interrogation WW2

During World War II Indooroopilly was the location for Australia’s principal interrogation centre. The three interrogation cells at Witton Barracks (on a part of the land of Tighnabruaich) are the only the only surviving examples of purpose-built wartime prison cells built after the commencement of the Pacific War, to accommodate captured enemy military personnel, particularly Japanese POWs. [23] Witton Barracks was requisitioned for use by the joint US and Australian Allied Translation and Interpreter Section (ATIS) in 1942; purchased by the Australian Military Forces in 1945 and then remodelled for use by a unit of the new Australian Regular Army.

Recently the area was purchased by Brisbane City Council with a plan for a community parkland. [24]

Indooroopilly Shoppingtown

In 1960s Westfield had acquired and demolished over 50 houses to secure an adequate site for the drive-in shopping centre. Opening in 1970, Indooroopilly Shoppingtown had a department store, a discount department store and over 250 other shops. According to the BCC brochure, it was declared to be the largest in the southern hemisphere at the time. [25] .

"View of Indooroopilly shopping centre 1970" via Trove

In next post, I’m sharing the heritage sites in Indooroopilly. Some are listed in Brisbane and Queensland Heritage Registers and some are an important part of the development of the suburb.

Further reading:

1. Jagera. Wikipedia 2016. [Source]
2. Turrbal. Wikipedia 2016. [Source]
3. The Courier-Mail . MEANING OF INDOOROOPILLY. The Courier-Mail. Published August 28, 1933. Accessed December 14, 2016.
4. The Courier-Mail . NOMENCLATURE OF QUEENSLAND.—154. The Courier-Mail. Published March 27, 1936. Accessed December 14, 2016.
5. The Sydney Morning Herald . LAND SALE. The Sydney Morning Herald. Published November 20, 1849. Accessed December 14, 2016.
6. Sunday Mail (Brisbane) . DO YOU KNOW YOUR BRISBANE? Beauties of Taringa and Indooroopilly. Sunday Mail (Brisbane). Published May 26, 1929. Accessed December 14, 2016.
7. The Brisbane Courier . CRESSBROOK STATION. The Brisbane Courier. Published September 6, 1930. Accessed December 14, 2016.
8. The Brisbane Courier . Classified Advertising. The Brisbane Courier. Published February 26, 1891. Accessed December 14, 2016.
9. The Brisbane Courier . A NEW SUBURBAN TOWNSHIP. The Brisbane Courier. Published September 24, 1886. Accessed December 14, 2016.
10. QHR 600229 . Queensland Heritage Register: Tighnabruaich 2005. [Source]
11. The Queenslander . BRISBANE’S HISTORIC HOMES. The Queenslander. Published January 8, 1931. Accessed December 14, 2016.
12. The Courier-Mail . A Station HOMESTEAD Celebrates Its CENTENARY. The Courier-Mail. Published March 20, 1954. Accessed December 14, 2016.
13. Indooroopilly history. chapelhill homeip net. [Source]
14. The Brisbane Courier . THE LATE MR. LOUIS STAMM. The Brisbane Courier. Published February 9, 1903. Accessed December 14, 2016.
15. QHR 600232 . Albert Bridge. Queensland Heritage Register: Albert Bridge 1992. [Source]
16. The Queenslander . THE BRISBANE AND IPSWICH RAILWAY. The Queenslander. Published February 1, 1873. Accessed December 14, 2016.
17. The Brisbane Courier . THEN AND NOW. DIAMOND JUBILEE. STORY OF RAILWAY PROGRESS. The Brisbane Courier. Published January 14, 1933. Accessed December 14, 2016.
18. The Brisbane Courier . Opening of the Railway Bridge at Oxley. The Brisbane Courier. Published July 6, 1876. Accessed December 14, 2016.
19. The Telegraph . New Bridges. The Telegraph. Published July 9, 1924. Accessed December 14, 2016.
20. QHR 600181. Queensland Heritage Register: Walter Taylor Bridge 1992. [Source]
21. Hercilio Luz Bridge – Wikipedia. Wikipedia 2009. [Source]
22. The Brisbane Courier . The Suburb of Indooroopilly. . The Brisbane Courier. Published August 15, 1931. Accessed December 14, 2016.
23. “TIGHNABRUAICH.” Australia at war 2000. [Source]
24. Witton Barracks to Brisbane City Council parkland through $5 million deal. Quest Community News 2015. [Source]
25. Eye on Indooroopilly Heritage Trail. Brisbane City Council 2014. [Source]

Written by Maciek

Hi, I am passionate about history. I love discovering new places and learning their story. Wherever I go I find myself curious about stories behind buildings and places I see. At Everywhere History I’m sharing fascinating stories hidden behind buildings and places you’re passing by everyday.