Place Names of South-East Queensland





First the naming of the hotel, and then the naming of the area. When David Rowntree Somerset opened an hotel in 1866 on land he had acquired eight years earlier he named it after the English seaside resort of Brighton. When Joshua Jeays subdivided the area in 1881 he cashed in on the growing fame of seaside resorts in England by marketing his allotments under the name of Brighton Estate. Earley in the 19th century the name of this English town was still sometimes being written, Brighthelmston.  It was mentioned in the Doomsday Book as Bristlemestune.  


Sir Thomas Brisbane was forty-eight years of age when he arrived to take over the governorship of New South Wales from Governor Lauchlan Macquarie in 1821. He had had a distinguished career in the army having commanded units in the Iberian Peninsula, in America, and in France. He had married at the age of forty-five the daughter of Sir Henry Makdougall of Makerstoun, Scotland. After his return to Britain, he was to incorporate his wife's maiden name officially into his own, becoming Thomas Makdougall Brisbane.

He didn't mind travelling by sea, but he quickly tired of land exploration. The extremely energetic John Dunmore Lang said he lacked energy. While he was himself devout, he tried to be tolerant of all religious traditions. He has been called amiable and impartial, but weak. However his great passion was astronomy. He built observatories in his native Scotland and in Sydney and was highly regarded as an amateur scientist.

He was following Commissioner Bigge's recommendations when he sent John Oxley to select a site for another penal settlement. This was to be a place to which convicts who had been convicted of a second crime could be sent. At 8 am on Tuesday, 2 December, 1823, the Surveyor-General, having been told by Finnegan and Pamphlet of a large river in the vicinity, entered the mouth of the river which was then named after the Governor.  In the following year, Oxley returned to the area, with Lieutenant Henry Miller and a party of 14 soldiers and about 30 convicts to establish a settlement. After setting up a temporary settlement at Redcliffe, he explored the Brisbane River further, recommending several sites as suitable for the permanent settlement. Later in the year Governor Brisbane came to look for himself, and they decided on a spot near Breakfast Creek. When, however, the move was actually made between March and July, 1825, the site chosen was where William Street in the city is now.

In his instructions to Lieutenant Miller, Sir Thomas showed himself to be an administrator with an eye for detail. He ordered Miller himself to conduct Divine Service for the convicts each Sunday morning. He prohibited overseers from striking or pushing convicts. He believed that solitary confinement on a bread and water diet was more effective than corporal punishment. However the commandant was authorized to sentence an offender to no more that fifty lashes. 'You will take an early opportunity of establishing a friendly intercourse with the neighbouring blacks, but you will not admit them to an imprudent familiarity,' he wrote. He justified European occupation of Aboriginal land by arguing that civilization brought with it many comforts to the local inhabitants.

Miller complained that he was not given enough convict labour to enable him to do all that was expected of him in establishing the new settlement, but the Governor was not pleased with the progress being made and withdrew him from the post after about twelve months.

At the same time Thomas Brisbane had his own troubles. He had made enemies among the leading citizens of New South Wales and through their efforts was recalled after four years in the colony.

The name first used for the township on the Brisbane River was that suggested by Chief Justice Forbes, Edenglassie, but in 1834 the name of Brisbane became official. The Aboriginal people who lived on the south side of the river called the area where the Botanical Gardens were established, Meeanjin, meaning the tulipwood, a tree which grew well in the area before white settlement, but in the 19th century Brisbane came to be known to all the Moreton Bay Aboriginal people as Maginuchin. 


When a new township was subdivided in 1934 south of Surfers Paradise it was given the descriptive name of Broadbeach.


Broadwater in the Stanthorpe district gained its name from a large water hole there. The original watercourse had been changed by tin mining. 


Lucinda Logan, the daughter of Thomas Logan, suggested the name which was agreed to by a meeting of local residents in 1868. It seemed appropriate for an area drained by streams, but it may have been suggested by Brookfield in the Hunter Valley District of New South Wales near which her family had lived before coming to Gold Creek. It was adopted as the school name in 1871. Lucy Logan became Mrs J. S. Brimblecombe after her marriage. It may have been a coincidence, but the fact that the early settler who has been called The Father of Brookfield, Thomas Isaac Jones, had been born in Brookfield Cottage, Portsmouth, England, may also have helped in the making of the decision. 


This railway station on the Gayndah line was given an Aboriginal word for a crab.  

Browns Plains

Like many areas, Browns Plains was first logged for timber and then settled by farmers. Being on the Cobb and Co. route from Brisbane to Casino in Northern NSW helped put it on the map.

Previous page                                                Next page                   

Place Names of South East Queensland home page