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Genesis of a Capital: Conrad Martens' Brisbane in 1851 — An Overview

  • Janet Hogan


As the schooner Toroa carried its only passenger, Conrad Martens, up the Brisbane River on 7 November 1851, he would have seen many places subsequently depicted in his art works, including the then recently erected large residences Newstead and Bulimba (both extant). Approaching the main settlement further upstream, the ship passed New Farm and North Brisbane on the right, and Bulimba and Kangaroo Point on the left, before finally berthing at South Brisbane. The most prominent landmark in Brisbane was a derelict windmill (extant) on a hill at North Brisbane overlooking the settlement. Martens' illustrations show us, through the artist's eye, Brisbane's appearance in late 1851. This, combined with other documentary evidence, enables us to paint our own mental picture of Brisbane at the time.



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1 Many of Martens’ original works are held in public art galleries and libraries in Australia and in private collections. For ready reference, see Steele, J.G., Conrad Martens in Queensland: The Frontier Travels of a Colonial Artist (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1978.)

2 See Johnston, W. Ross, Brisbane: The First Thirty Years (Bowen Hills: Boolarong, 1988), 38.

3 See Hogan, Janet, The Windmill of Brisbane Town: A Study of the Social and Structural History of the Windmill Building, Wickham Terrace, Brisbane (Brisbane: The National Trust of Queensland, 1978); Hogan, Janet, ‘Brisbane's Historic Windmill’ in Brisbane: Mining, Building, Story Bridge, The Windmill, Brisbane History Group Papers 10 (1991): 151–68; and Janet Hogan, Living History of Brisbane (Brisbane: Boolarong, 1982.)

4 Fitzgerald, Ross, From the Dreaming to 1915: A History of Queensland (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1975), 81.

5 See Hogan, , The Windmill of Brisbane Town; Hogan, ‘Brisbane's Historic Windmill’ and Hogan, Living History of Brisbane.

6 Johnston, , Brisbane, 62; Mamie O'Keeffe, A Brief Account of the Moreton Bay Penal Settlement 1824–1839 (Brisbane: Oxley Memorial Library of Queensland, 1974), 9.

7 New South Wales Government Gazette, 11 Feb. 1842: 249.

8 Sir George Gipps, letter to Lord Stanley, 11 Feb. 1842, HRA 1, 22: 35.

9 Johnston, Brisbane, 76, 106–7.

10 Sweatman, J.K., ‘Journal of a Surveying Voyage to the North East Coast of Australia and Torres Strait in Her Majesty's Schooner “Bramble” 1824–1847’, ML MSS FM 424860: 134–6.

11 Illustrated London News 12 Aug. 1848, cited in Hogan, Living History, 24–5; Johnston, Brisbane, 161.

12 Johnston, , Brisbane, 63–4.

13 MacKenzie-Smith, John, Moreton Bay Scots 1841–58 (Virginia, Qld: Church Archivists’ Press, 2000), 140.

14 Grey, Henry, The Colonial Policy of Lord John Russell's Administration, vol. 2 (London: Richard Bentley, 1853), 51–2.

15 See Hogan, , The Windmill of Brisbane Town and ‘Brisbane's Historic Windmill’.

16 For the technique of constructing a bark hut, see Thorpe, Bill, Colonial Queensland: Perspectives on a Frontier Society (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1996), 71–2.

17 For further information on Newstead and Bulimba, see Hogan, Janet, Historic Homes of Brisbane: A Selection (Brisbane: National Trust of Queensland, 1979.)

18 Johnston, Brisbane, 184–6.

Genesis of a Capital: Conrad Martens' Brisbane in 1851 — An Overview

  • Janet Hogan


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