ORIGINS OF AN HISTORIC NEIGHBOURHOOD 

Bulimba's has a proud history and continues to maintain a strong connection to its historic origins. 

The story starts with the proud Turrbal and Yuggera (Jaggera) people who have lived in this area for around 20,000 years.

The Oxford Street Bulimba Association acknowledge elders past, present and emerging and

pay respect to their land of which this neighbourhood has been built.

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Convicts set sail to cut for timber near Sydney.

The Moreton Bay Convict Settlement was considered a harsh colony and many ships passed Bulimba point (now Vic Lucas Park) carrying convicts upstream to the settlement.  By 1842 the settlement was no longer viable and was opened to free settlement known as Brisbane Town.  The area of Bulimba known for rich soil and timbers quickly grew into a farming district. The heritage listed Bulimba House was built in 1850 for David McConnel and still stands today.

In the 1820's convicts John Thompson, Richard Parsons, Thomas Pamphlett and John Finnegan set sail from Sydney to fetch timber from a nearby island, however after their ship became becalmed they soon found themselves lost at sea. Thompson died and was buried at sea and the remaining three convicts encountered a wild storm blowing them off course and they were shipwrecked in Moreton Bay. This group of castaways were helped to the mainland by the local Aboriginal's where they explored inland following the Brisbane River and likely travelled through Bulimba area.

 

Living as castaways in Moreton Bay, it was only by chance that a passing explorer John Oxley found two of these convicts who informed them of the river they explored and this knowledge would soon result in the founding of the Moreton Bay Convict Settlement.  

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The notorious Moreton Bay Penal Settlement  now present day Brisbane, upstream from present day Bulimba

During land boom of the 1880's, Bulimba's spanned across two sides of the river (present day Teneriffe).

The farming area was opened up for residential allotments and become a thriving community with many of these streets forming the layout of modern day Bulimba, including Oxford Street. Some of the street names reflect some of the family names of early settlers and many of these families still call Bulimba home.

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Flood map of 1893

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The devastation of the 1893 floods upsteam from Bulimba

Most of Brisbane including Bulimba were heavily effected by the great flood in the summer of 1893.  Many farms, shops and houses were devastated. The region recovered and by the turn of the century Oxford Street became the high street of Bulimba as Brisbane grew into a prosperous town.  

In 1904, Robert Jamieson donated four acres, Jamieson Park to the then local Balmoral Shire Council for a town common. This is part of what would become the heritage listed Bulimba Memorial Park,  named in honour of World War One servicemen and women of the area who enlisted. A section was set aside for those who had fallen in the conflict.  The original tree's were  planted in honour of them, and plaques were placed with the trees to commemorate their sacrifice.

At the end of The Great War, volunteers from Bulimba took part in a social housing project constructing several ANZAC cottages to assist widows and servicemen who were under financial hardship.  By the 1920's shops, services, churches, hotel, theatre, schools and even small airfield and a School of Arts had been established in the Bulimba District.

 

The historic Bulimba Ferry Terminal at the end of Oxford Street was officially opened in 1922 the area became a popular place during the inter war period.

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Postcard of Bulimba showing present day Vic Lucas Park

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The Balmoral Hotel now present day Oxford 152 

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Looking west along Oxford Street early 1947 (photo credit J. Bullock)

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Oxford Street now present day Thai Legend

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Cricket being played at Bulimba Memorial Park

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Map of Bulimba showing Oxford Street from the early 1900's

Bulimba played an important part during World War Two. American and Australian troops were stationed in Brisbane which became the centre of the Allied Pacific Campaign. Construction of the largest dry dock in the southern hemisphere and the Bulimba Barracks (Camp A) both of which still stand today are evidence of the districts proud wartime history that played a pivotal role in the victory in the pacific. 

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Bulimba and surrounding area during World War Two (Photo Credit - Military Tanks at Bulimba Terminal by D. Baldwin)

After the war the surrounding suburbs grew with a mix of residential, industrial and commercial and became a proud thriving community. In 1963 Queen Elizabeth passed the Bulimba Point (Vic Lucas Park) on the royal tour in the HMY Britannia (Royal Yacht for the first time) and 1974 Brisbane experienced another significant flood event which flooding several streets.

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Queen Elizabeth passes Vic Lucas Park on the royal tour 1960s

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ANZAC Day along Oxford Street (photo credit Love Family)

Oxford Street a popular ice cream spot (photo credit Campbell Family Photos)

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Throughout the 1970's and 80's Bulimba and the surrounding area became a popular neighbourhood for families and 1990's and 2000's Oxford Street was a popular destination for cinemas, cafe's, restaurants and picnics at Bulimba Memorial Park 

In 2011 the district was affected again by floods, however unlike the events of flood event 1893 and 1974, Bulimba and the surrounding area was much better prepared with the impact on homes and business was much less. 

In 2020, many businesses temporarily closed  due to the Covid-19 pandemic with many reopening and quickly becoming a go to destination by Brisbane locals, known for being a vibrant and unique inner city neighbourhood offering something for everyone. 

 

With diverse mix of shops, bars, entertainment and dining options surrounded by historic architecture, Oxford Street is the heart and soul of this historic neighbourhood.

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Oxford Street Bulimba in the 1990's.

2011 Floors and Present Day (Brisbane Floods photo credit - Neil McGregor)

To discover more about Bulimba's history visit Bulimba Historical Society 

Photos are public domain or used with permission courtesy of the Bulimba District Historical Society, Australian War Memorial, Queensland State Archives, Queensland State Library, Queensland Maritime Museum and Personal Collections.