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Our Town - Part One

Friday, October 02, 2009
Queensland. Beautiful one day, perfect the next.
In 1770, Captain James Cook sailed up the coast of what would come to be known as Queensland, exploring a new and fertile land.

He found a bewitching subtropical paradise, ripe for exploration and settlement.

This is the story of Brisbane. Our town.

The old convict barracks, converted into the first Houses of Parliament.
Fifty years after Captain Cook's seminal voyage, Surveyor-General John Oxley arrived to evaluate the Moreton Bay region as a possible penal settlement.

Reports of a river which fed a rich and lush floodplain led Oxley to investigate further. He explored and named it after his boss, the then Governor of New South Wales, Scotsman Sir Thomas Brisbane.

Australia was in those days still a convict's scourge and Brisbane was set to become its supermax prison, housing the roughest and most dangerous from Sydney. The Jagera and Turrbal Aboriginal clans which had prior occupied the area were swept from history as owners.

An early sketch of the barracks.
Moreton Bay served in this capacity for the next fourteen years, until 1839, when transportation of convicts ceased. The prison was shut down permanently in 1842 and free settlers were permitted. Four years later a brazen one thousand eight hundred called Brisbane home.

By 1859 the burgeoning gateway to the north had established enough of an identity, to warrant separate recognition from the crown and Queensland was decreed a self-governing colony, with Brisbane its capital.
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