Some places of interest in Queensland and beyond.

Alligator Creek bridge - an unusual and remarkable bridge

August 2018

Alligator Creek is a tributary of the Fitzroy River about 30 kilometers north of Rockhampton near Yaamba. In 1877 a bridge was built across the creek to improve travel for the growing volume of traffic as pastoralists established runs to the north of Rockhampton. It was a most unusual and innovative structure that has featured briefly in the histories of Australian bridges. Colin O’Connor in Historic Bridges of Australia notes that it was the first known Australian designed long span bridge. Greg Nolan in his thesis The forgotten long span bridges of Australia commented that it was a remarkable timber girder bridge ‘with a complicated system of under-strutting and diagonal metal ties’. Neither O’Connor or Nolan mention a designer or the correct date.

The bridge was opened in April 1877 and was designed by Alexander Jardine, the Engineer of Roads for the Central District (Rockhampton Bulletin 26 May 1877). The bridge was of a Fink truss design. Albert Fink registered the design with the United States Patent Office in 1854. It was one of a number of early patented solutions to the problem of how to build long spans to avoid the expense of building piers.

When a bridge was needed to cross Alligator creek in the mid 1870s, Jardine opted for a bold and daring solution. He rejected the traditional approach of a trestle bridge with piers and instead opted for what would have been considered an innovative solution.

Alligator Creek bridge 1920s

The bridge was in operation for 83 years and was only demolished when it could no longer take the volume and weight of traffic.

Alexander Jardine (1843-1920) features in Don Watson and Judith McKay’s Queensland Architects of the 19th century. Jardine was the son of John and Elizabeth Jardine, early residents of the Rockhampton district. At the age of 21 years, he was a member of an expedition party from Rockhampton to Somerset at Cape York. He later became a surveyor in the Office of the Engineer of Roads for the Northern District. In 1874 he designed, in conjunction with Frederick Byerley, the Engineer in charge, a timber rail bridge over the Dawson River which was the longest timber bridge in the colony. The bridge comprised timber piers with laminated arches of spotted Gum. Jardine later became Chief Engineer of the Harbours and River Department.

In 1881 Alexander Jardine married the well-connected Charlotte Elizabeth Mosman. Her brothers-in-law included Sir Thomas McIlwraith and Sir Arthur Palmer, who both served terms as Premier of Queensland. Her brother, Hugh Mosman, was a member of the Legislative Council. Jardine died in 1920 in London.

Plan of Alligator Creek bridge. Remarkably original drawings survive in the Queensland State Archives.

For a detailed view of the plan click here.


August 2018

Water Mall - Queensland Art Gallery

March 2018

Click to enlarge

On entering the Queensland Art Gallery from either the Melbourne Street entrance of the Stanley Place entrance, the most prominent and striking aspect of the interior is immediately apparent—the Water Mall. The Water Mall extends beyond the gallery space to the Pelican Plaza on the south-east and the Sculpture Courtyard on the north-west. The Water Mall is enhanced by fountains, sculpture and two waterfalls at each end. The waterfalls, comprising crafted granite tiles, were designed by Robert Woodward. Woodward was also responsible for the Dandelion fountains at the north western end. Five cast bronze Pelicans by Queensland sculptors Leonard and Kathleen Shillam are located in the Water Mall on the south-eastern side of the Art Gallery.


Dandilion fountains

The inclusion of a substantial water feature within the art gallery was strongly resisted by gallery staff in the planning process. They were concerned about the potentially increased humidity, but the arhcitect Robin Gibson managed to persuade the gallery staff and design in the internal section of the water mall with minimal flow and disturbance.

The Water Mall is a remarkable achievement and has constantly prompted accolades from visitors since its opening in 1982.


Waterfall on north-west end of Water Mall


Pelican plaza


Southeastern waterfall and pond

Southbank before southbank

February 2018

South Bank is arguable Brisbane’s best known and recognised destinations with more than 5 million visitors annually. A widely held view is that South Bank developed in response to the success of Expo 88. Public pressure demanded that the space on the banks of the Brisbane River should remain public. But the idea of converting the wharves, warehouses and factories on the south bank into open space was not new.

Town Planning Exhibition City Hall 1994, BCC Archives

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In 1944, a Town and Home Planning exhibition was held in the Brisbane City hall, sponsored by the Ministry of Post-War Reconstruction, the Brisbane City Council and the School of Architecture, University of Queensland. One panel was devoted to South Side development with the key theme: “The river front must be developed for the people to use and enjoy”. The drawings depict extended areas of park and residential? buildings.

Town Planning Exhibition 1948, BCC Archives

Click to large

A similar exhibition was held in 1948. Again it included a panel of images and drawings on the redevelopment of the Stanley Street riverfront. It declared that the ‘present wharves will all be demolished and the whole area between Stanley Street and the river opned up as a riverside park. A small square will be formed in front of the South Brisbane Station.

While these ideas did not materialise precisely as planned, the concept of extended open space did - an unusual example of where a good idea did come to fruition.

Embassy Hotel - a very 1920s hotel

February 2018

The Embassy Hotel on the corner Edward and Eilazebeth streets, Brisbane was constructed in 1928-9. It was designed by architect JP Donoghue and is a very 1920s hotel There are three defining characteristics that distinquish this hotel as of the 1920s era and which sets it apart from earlier hotels in Brisbane

The architectural style

The building is in the Commercial Palazzo style which is characterised by base (ground floor), shaft (levels 1-3 and cornice.

Cantilevered awning

In 1922, the Brisbane City Council adopted a policy that all new awnings over footpaths in the principal business streets were to conform to the cantilevered design. (Telegraph 12 Novemver 1922). Consequently, a defning feature of 1920s hotels in the Brisbane CBD was the cantilevered awning. While the cantilevered awning was a distinctive feature of 1920s hotels in the CBD, it also had other consequences for hotel design. Until this time, hotels had awnings supported by posts with verandahs on the upper levels. Verandahs on the upper levels was very typical not only of hotels in the Brisbane CBD but throughout Queensland. No more in Brisbane, at least after 1922.

The lift and high rise

The Embassy Hotel was originally of four storeys ( a fifth was added in the 1950s). he inclusion of a lift in the Embassy Hotel is also a distinctive element of 1920s hotels. risbane CBD. Hotels built prior to World War 1 were generally of one or two storeys. Lift technology was not used extensively in any buildings in Brisbane prior to World War 1. In the 1920s, multi-storey buildings became more common and lifts were an integral part of these buildings. as in the Embassy Hotel.