Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, is in the south-east of the state. In the nineteenth century it developed as a river port 100 km from the New South Wales border. In 1925 Brisbane became the only Australian capital city to have metropolitan local government status conferred on it by an act of parliament. Situated on the Brisbane River, the city centre is on the north side of the river and 15 km in a straight line from the river mouth on Moreton Bay. The city centre, Brisbane Central, is described in a separate entry.

FIRST EUROPEAN SETTLEMENT

Moreton Bay, then part of the colony of New South Wales, was briefly explored by Matthew Flinders in 1802. John Oxley arrived there in 1823 and recommended the location for a penal establishment. Returning in 1824 with 30 convicted felons and a detachment of guards, he settled alongside the bay at Redcliffe.

During his 1823 exploration Oxley had found and named the Brisbane River after the New South Wales Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane. In November 1824 Brisbane visited the penal settlement and approved its name, Edenglassie. Redcliffe proved to be unsatisfactory and in February 1825 Governor Brisbane approved the transfer of the settlement to a place on the Brisbane River. Oxley had originally recommended Breakfast Creek, and in May 1825 settlement was relocated to a few kilometres west of Breakfast Creek. Although the reasons for this choice are uncertain, the location was fertile, with water on three sides, and waterholes to the north (Victoria Park). It was slightly more elevated than Breakfast Creek, though not high enough to protect it from the 1893 floods.

The Brisbane River facilitated exploration. Coal and lime were soon noticed upstream at Ipswich, and a limeburners' settlement was established (1826) to supply material to mortar the stone buildings needed for the convict settlement. Surviving examples of the convict building program include the windmill (1829) in Wickham Terrace and the Commissariat store (1829) in William Street. A stores facility was also established at Dunwich and a pilot station was placed at Amity Point, Stradbroke Island, in 1827. The dispersed nature of the settlement's facilities was a foretaste of competing interests which would look to places other than Brisbane for government and commence.

For nearly ten years Brisbane was governed by penal routine. In 1836 a bridge was built across Breakfast Creek and the next year female prisoners were moved to an agricultural establishment at Eagle Farm. In 1838 German missionaries settled at Zion Hill, Nundah, to minister to the Aborigines. Cleveland, meanwhile, was emerging as an alternative port to Brisbane, and Ipswich was of some importance to pastoralists as they flooded into the Darling Downs. The convict establishment was withdrawn in 1839 and surveyor Robert Dixon laid out a grid of streets for the town of Brisbane, mostly only one chain (about 20 metres) wide. Governor Gipps did not foresee Brisbane as a future city, and considered one chain was enough. His most useful contribution was a decision, after floundering through the Cleveland mudflats, to make Brisbane the port for Moreton Bay.

FIRST SUBURBS

The town plan allowed the subdivision of allotments to the river's edge, depriving Brisbane of public reservations along the shoreline. Surveyors busied themselves with more subdivisions – the New South Wales government wanted the money, and speculators obliged – and by 1843 land sales had occurred in North Brisbane, South Brisbane and Kangaroo Point. A ferry linked the opposite sides of the river from 1842. The Hunter River Steam Navigation Company built a river wharf and stores (1845).

In 1846 the Moreton Bay Courier began publication for the 950 inhabitants and Brisbane was declared a port of entry. South Brisbane had more buildings than North Brisbane (83 to 75), but half of North Brisbane's were stone while all but one on the other side were timber. The Moreton Bay Courier regularly reported on relations with the Aboriginal population. Local Aboriginals were reported to be 'pretty honest', but further afield the Bribie and Ningy Ningy clans ran what Ross Johnson has termed 'a fairly successful campaign of guerilla warfare against the European occupiers'.

An Ipswich-Cleveland axis, supported by pastoralists, wanted Ipswich as the seat of government and Cleveland as a port. They pressed their case until well into the 1850s, when the loss of ships and cargo at Cleveland put that port out of contention, and the Bremer River at Ipswich proved to be unsuitable for navigation. In any event, Captain Wickham, Brisbane's Government Resident during 1853-59, naturally favoured his town, and so did the government authorities.

The arrival of the Fortitude immigrants in 1849 boosted the town's population, and in 1850 the Bank of New South Wales opened a branch. A customs house was built at the end of Queen Street. Farm communities began at Bulimba (Bulimba House was built in 1849), Bald Hills, Coorparoo, Enoggera, Milton, Nundah (the mission had been abandoned in 1849), Sherwood, Stafford and Toowong. In 1853 cotton was successfully grown at Moggill. All of the land at Kangaroo Point was subdivided and sold by 1854, and two years later urban allotments were sold in Spring Hill along Wickham Terrace and Leichhardt Street. Of public buildings, new churches stood out: Wesleyan in Albert Street, Catholic in Elizabeth, Presbyterian in Ann; and the St John's Church of England was consecrated on a site now in Queens Park. In 1859 the town of Brisbane was proclaimed as a municipality, taking in South Brisbane (until 1888), Kangaroo Point and North Brisbane as far as Fortitude Valley and New Farm.

The population of Brisbane in 1851 was 2097, tripling to 6051 ten years later. During 1861-64 it doubled to 12,551. This put pressure on the rudimentary sources of water supply which were a dammed waterhole between George and Roma Streets or water carted from Breakfast Creek and swamps in Woolloongabba. Yorks Hollow's waterholes were ignored. After debating the merits of the Breakfast Creek/Enoggera Creek catchment and a less ambitious tapping of the Ithaca Creek, the colonial Parliament chose Enoggera, and a supply scheme was turned on in 1866. In 1871 a service reservoir, enclosed in a roofed brick surround, was built in Wickham Terrace next to the windmill.

The 1864 census recorded 2456 buildings in Brisbane, of which 16% were of brick or stone. Fires in 1863 and 1864 destroyed many commercial buildings and rebuilding resulted in 22% of a total of 3634 structures being brick or stone. The town's appearance was improved, and shopping centres emerged at Fortitude Valley, Spring Hill and South Brisbane. In 1865 the first Victoria Bridge was built, but it lasted just two years, when a span collapsed. A stronger structure was opened in 1874, surviving until the Brisbane River floods in 1893.

Gold was discovered at Gympie in 1867. This did not lead to a surge in Brisbane's population as many hopefuls decamped to the diggings. However, the new found wealth financed several fine buildings. Among surviving examples are All Saints Church of England, Wickham Terrace (1869), St Stephens Catholic cathedral (1863-74), the GPO in Queen Street (1871), the Government printing office in William Street (1874), the old State Library in William Street (1879) and the Harbours and Marine building in Edward Street (1880).

LOCAL COUNCILS

In 1879 the Queensland Parliament enacted legislation for local government outside central Brisbane. The result was the creation of fragmented metropolitan government, beginning with eight divisions:

NamePopulation
Bulimba
(including Coorparoo
to Wynnum)
2007
Tingalpa1490
Woolloongabba
(including South Brisbane
and Kangaroo Point)
8314
Yeerongpilly
(Fairfield and Annerley,
south of Cornwall St)
3438
Toowong1789
Ithaca
(Paddington, Red Hill,
Kelvin Grove)
3389
Booroodabin
(Bowen Hills, Newstead
and part of Fortitude Valley)
3462
Nundah
(north of Kedron Brook,
Toombul, Hamilton)
4270

Windsor was separated from Ithaca in 1887, Toombul was separated from Nundah in 1883 and Hamilton separated from it in 1890, and numerous other changes increased the number of metropolitan authorities to 21 by 1891. Brisbane's south ward was severed and united with the Woolloongabba division, forming South Brisbane borough, in 1888. Brisbane town council had control of two and a quarter square miles, and most of the other councils supervised areas twice as large or more. In 1902 a small step was taken toward amalgamation by uniting Booroodabin with Brisbane.

TRAMS AND TRAINS

Until 1885 Brisbane was a 'walking city'. There was a train from the city to Ipswich in 1875, but this was mainly an appendage to the Darling Downs freight service into Ipswich. A line to Sandgate through Fortitude Valley was primarily a Sandgate service, as the seaside village had been started early by speculators as a watering place for town dwellers. A horse tram service began in 1885, running from North Quay to Exhibition and Breakfast Creek Road. Within the next four years the service was extended to New Farm, the Bulimba Ferry (Teneriffe), West End and Woolloongabba. The beginning of an urban railway network was laid down, to Cleveland (1889) and from Corinda to Stanley Street, via Dutton Park (1884). A train journey into South Brisbane from Dutton Park was started in 1891. Between 1881 and 1891 metropolitan Brisbane's population grew from 37,000 to 100,000.

The horse-drawn trams were replaced with an electric system in 1897, running from Logan Road to Victoria Bridge. By 1904 there were electric services to Red Hill, Ascot, Kelvin Grove, Clayfield, East Brisbane, Newmarket and Toowong. Affluent residents of New Farm and the gentlemen's villas along Milton Road, and workers at West End could now catch a tram into town. The concept of greater Brisbane was gaining currency. The metropolitan area had a population of nearly 120,000 in 1901, compared with nearly 29,000 in the Brisbane municipality and 25,500 in South Brisbane.

FLOODS

The Brisbane River was prone to serious flooding. Significant floods had occurred in the 1840s and the late 1880s, but in February 1893 there were three flood events, one of them 4.5 metres higher than the previous record. Boats were left aground in the botanical gardens and the Eagle Farm flats. The Indooroopilly bridge was washed away. Major points of inundation included Milton, back up Breakfast Creek spreading to Bowen Hills, two-thirds of the city centre, South Brisbane, back up Norman Creek to Stones Corner and Coorparoo, from Oxley Creek across to Rocklea and upstream to Acacia Ridge. (The flood is mapped in the annual report of the Irrigation and Water Supply Commission, 1927-28). Later floods are discussed below.

LOW-DENSITY SPREAD

Brisbane largely escaped overcrowding and meagre house allotments. Concerned about small allotments in Petrie Terrace, Paddington and Woolloongabba, the government legislated in 1885 for minimum allotments of 16 perches, say 10 metres by 40 metres. They were far larger than the three metre frontages to be found in inner metropolitan Sydney and Melbourne. Population densities reflected the difference: the 1921 census recorded densities of 12-13 people per acre in South Brisbane and Brisbane; in Sydney, Glebe had 44, Newtown 64 and Paddington 65; and in Melbourne, Fitzroy had 38 and Richmond 30. In Brisbane everybody could have a 'Queenslander', an elegant cottage on stilts with wide verandahs and ornate timberwork, well-suited to the often oppressive summers.

Between 1891 and 1921 metropolitan Brisbane's population doubled to 210,000. The inner western suburbs had tram services to Newmarket (1903), Toowong (1904), Red Hill (1905) and Ashgrove (1924). Southwards, tramlines were opened to Dutton Park (1908) and Annerley (1915). Northwards, a line along Lutwyche Road through Windsor to Kedron Park (1914) augmented the Sandgate railway line. Eastwards, the lines were extended to Greenslopes and Coorparoo (1914-15).

The river had nearly continuous wharves from Victoria Bridge to Kangaroo Point (except the botanic gardens and government house shoreline), and opposite government house the railway wharves were a terminus for the South Brisbane railway line. The line intersected three tramlines at Five Ways (Ipswich Road, Stanley Street). Downstream from Kangaroo Point there were the sugar refinery wharf (New Farm), wharves near Breakfast Creek and the gas works.

AMALGAMATION OF COUNCILS

The management of wharves and bridges could not be left to the fragmented system of metropolitan local government, and neither could water supply nor urban public transport. The Ryan Labour Government (1916) determined on local government reform and amalgamation, which came in 1925. The units which were amalgamated were considerably more fragmented than was case in 1880, and with changed names. They are summarised in the following table, based on the 1921 census data:

 Area
(sq km)
PopulationPersons
(per sq km)
CitiesBrisbane14.2542,6292990
 South Brisbane11.6637,1513190
TownsHamilton
(incl. Clayfield, Hendra)
7.7788731140
 Ithaca
incl. Ashgrove, Kelvin Grove,
Paddington)
12.3120,9051700
 Toowong11.669987860
 Sandgate15.5418,2501760
 Windsor
(incl. Grange, Lutwyche, Wooloowin)
36.288355230
ShiresBalmoral
(Bulimba-Cannon Hill)
41.469029220
 Belmont70.00136420
 Coorparoo
(incl. Greenslopes)
10.366635640
 Enoggera98.46398640
 Kedron
(incl. Stafford, Zillmere)
111.42584252
 Moggill
(incl. Kenmore, Brookfield)
142.5110988
 Sherwood
(incl. Chelmer to Darra)
51.826612130
 Stephens
(incl. Annerley, Yeronga,
Greenslopes)
23.3211,499490
 Taringa15.555046320
 Tingalpa (part)n/an/an/a
 Toombul
(incl. Nundah, Nudgee)
72.5513,566190
 Yeerongpilly (part),
Rocklea, Southwards
n/an/an/a

The new metropolis-wide city of Brisbane occupied 972 sq km, a large enough area in which to vest control of water, sewerage, tramways, electricity and fire brigades. William Jolly, the former mayor of the by now subsumed Windsor, was elected Lord Mayor, coming to office at a time of relative prosperity. Among other things, the Council set in train cross-river bridge building: the Grey Street/William Jolly bridge west of Victoria Bridge was opened in 1932 and the Story Bridge at Kangaroo Point in 1940. John Story, after whom the bridge was named, though not a member of Council, served on boards that constructed the new campus for the University of Queensland at St Lucia (commenced in 1937) and the Somerset dam, which helped reduce flooding (1943). The university made copious use of Helidon's beautiful sandstone, a feature shared with the council's City Hall and Anzac Square, both completed in 1930.

Public transport was basically radial, with a substantial trunk running through Fortitude Valley. Brunswick and Wickham Streets in 'the Valley' were home to three department stores: McWhirters at the corner was the prime example. By 1941 the tramway system had reached Rainworth, Grange, Stafford, Kalinga, Balmoral, Holland Park and the Salisbury ammunition works.

WAR AND POSTWAR

The outbreak of the Pacific War transformed Brisbane to a garrison city during 1942-43. The combined effect of petrol rationing and American and Australian services personnel saw tram patronage surge to 34.75 million passenger journeys in 1941-42; the previous highest figure had been 24.09 million in 1928. Eagle Farm, Victoria Park, Nudgee and Woolloongabba were vast encampments, while South Brisbane provided them with entertainment. Archerfield aerodrome housed American B26 bombers. Evans Deakin shipyards were kept busy at Kangaroo Point and a large graving dock was built downstream, north of Morningside.

The coming of peace ushered in a minor eclipse of the Queenslander house design as shortages dictated a more austere form of building. A few new suburbs emerged: Wavell Heights (named after General Wavell), Belmont and Mt Gravatt. The last two places had tram extensions (1948-51), appropriate while car ownership remained low. The postwar housing shortage was addressed by the State Housing Commission (Stafford, Seven Hills) and the War Services Homes Commission (Wavell Heights, Indooroopilly). Except for Indooroopilly, the new estates were some way from train stations and tram lines, and car-dependent suburbs would soon emerge. The Commission's Inala town development incorporated up-to-date design, but lacked access to good public transport.

Brisbane's first drive-in picture theatre opened in 1955 at Capalaba, and the first drive-in shopping centre opened at the Gympie Road tram terminus in Chermside in 1957.

Between 1947 and 1961, the metropolitan population increased from 413,300 to 621,550, the latter figure including Redcliffe and part of Pine Rivers shire. As the city expanded outward along its over-stretched road system, it also faced an increasingly embarrassing shortage of sewerage. Eighty percent of Brisbane was unsewered in 1961, and over half of Brisbane's roads had carriageways less than eight metres wide.

TRANSPORT AND SEWERAGE

The sewerage problem was tackled by making property developers financially responsible for sewering their allotments, together with a vigorous program of works championed by the Lord Mayor, Clem Jones. The chosen solution to the transport problem was arterial roads, more bridges over the river and the replacement of trams with buses. The last tram ran in 1969. Centenary Bridge (1969) opened up land at Jindalee and Jamboree Heights to residential development, just as the Indooroopilly railway bridge (1876) had opened up Chelmer and Sherwood in the 1920s.

William Jolly Bridge1932
Indooroopilly Bridge1936 (tolled until 1965)
Story Bridge1940 (tolled until 1947)
Centenary Bridge1960 (expanded 1980s)
Melbourne Street Bridge1969 (replaced Victoria Bridge 1874-93, 1897-1969)
Captain Cook Bridge1972

Gateway Bridge

(Sir Leo Hielscher Bridges)

1985 (tolled since opening)
Goodwill Bridge2001 (pedestrian and cycle)
Eleanor Schonell Bridge2007 (bus, cycle and pedestrian)

Gateway Bridge duplication

(Sir Leo Hielscher Bridges)

2010 (toll)
Kurilpa Bridge2009 (pedestrian and cycle)
Go Between Bridge2010 (toll)

The Clem 7 tunnel, named after Brisbane's longest serving Lord Mayor, Clem Jones, takes vehicles from Woolloongabba (entrances from Ipswich Road and the Pacific Motorway) and Kangaroo Point (entrance from Shafston Avenue) to Bowen Hills, connecting to Lutwyche Road and the inner city bypass. Built between September 2006 and March 2010, the tunnel is owned by a private consortium. At a cost of over three billion dollars, Brisbane City Council ratepayers have contributed over $500 million to date. The opening tolls are $4.28 for cars, $6.42 for light commercial and $11.34 for heavy commercial. The tunnel route, directly under the Story Bridge, enables drivers to avoid heavy congestion points, especially in the Gabba and the Valley. But as the Story Bridge remains untolled, there is continuing speculation about whether the tunnel will meet its revenue projections.

NEW REPLACES OLD

High-rise buildings, and other signs of modernity came to Brisbane in the 1960s. The 22-storey Torbreck apartment building at Highgate Hill was the most spectacular example (1962). A Strata Titles Act, introduced in 1965, made it easier to raise an owner-occupier or investor mortgage for apartments. 'Six packs', two floors of apartments with ground level parking underneath, spread throughout the inner suburbs before town planning regulations protected the old 'Queenslanders'. Old railway technology moved out of the inner city with the closure of the Woolloongabba rail yards (1969). The Chermside shopping centre (1957) was another early augury: between 1967 and 1979 four more large regional shopping centres were opened at Toombul (1967), Indooroopilly (1970), Upper Mount Gravatt (1970) and Carindale (1979). An outer suburban centre at Capalaba was opened in 1981.

Old wharves and airfields were abandoned or put to new uses. Fishermans Islands at the mouth of the Brisbane River were made the site of major grain and bulk goods shipping, and linked by railway to the city in 1980. Abandoned wharves in South Brisbane were later converted to gardens and river promenades. The airport was moved seawards, reclaiming low-lying land.

Railway electrification had been delayed until the 1970s. Electric trains were subsequently extended for commuter travel to Beenleigh (1982), and Caboolture and Nambour (1986, 1988). The Cleveland line was reopened in 1987.

Travelling out of the city by road to the southern suburbs became acutely congested by the 1970s. The solution given by the traffic engineer, Wilbur Smith, was to construct a riverside expressway with direct access to streets in the city centre. The route took the expressway across the river, over the former Woolloongabba railway yards and on to the South Eastern Freeway to Springwood (1985), beyond Upper Mount Gravatt, and to Logan city. In 1978 the railways were turned into a truly suburban network when the South Brisbane and Roma Street stations were linked by the Merivale Bridge over the Brisbane River.

Brisbane's postwar sprawl drained the city centre of some of its activity. City shopping was revived by the Queen Street Mall (1982) which is the dominant retail and meet and greet site in the central city. The mall in Fortitude Valley did not recover the Valley's past retail greatness (see entry on Fortitude Valley). Department stores met with strong competition from free-standing drive-in centres, which offered the range and choice once monopolised by TC Beirne and McWhirter's.

The World Expo at Brisbane in 1988 marked a significant turning point in Brisbane's history. But there were earlier postwar milestones as well, such as completion of metropolitan sewering, the new botanic gardens at Mount Coot-tha, the Commonwealth Games (1982), Griffith University at Nathan/Mount Gravatt (1975), and the King George V square in front of the city hall. The Bjelke-Petersen government's overnight demolition of the Bellevue Hotel in 1979 and the Cloudland dance hall in 1982 alerted many Brisbane residents to the loss of the city's heritage.

When the Roma Street markets were closed in 1964 and moved to Rocklea, the land was not put up for sale but reserved for public gardens. The Roma Street Transit Centre opened in 1991 to cater for intra- and interstate bus lines, and was connected to Roma Street train station. The Roma Street Parklands finally opened in 2001, but were severely damaged by violent storms in late 2008. Over 70 trees were destroyed, including six weeping figs which had been part of the original planting in the old Albert Park area of the parklands more than 90 years earlier.

When compared with Adelaide and Melbourne, Brisbane lacks parks and reserves near its centre. It also lacks tree-lined boulevards, owing perhaps to Governor Gipps' original narrow thoroughfares. The one grand boulevard, the river, was shackled to industry until the 1970s, but the recovery of the shorelines and their conversion to parks and pathways gave it 'kerbing' and 'nature strips'. The commencement of City Cat ferries (1996) offered residents of riverside suburbs a new and relaxing form of commuting. A water-based recreational space of a different kind was proclaimed in 1993 with the Moreton Bay marine park. Moreton Island, while supervised by the National Parks service, remains under Brisbane City Council administration.

FLOODS

After the devastating floods of 1893, the river continued to experience occasional flooding. The Somerset Dam on the tributary Stanley River provided some flood mitigation after 1956, but it was not enough to stem the effects of cyclone Wanda dumping torrential rainfall on the catchment area in January 1974. Oxley Creek, flowing through a flat catchment area, experienced higher levels of flooding than in 1893. The flood-affected areas around Breakfast Creek, Norman Creek, Milton, South Brisbane, Yeronga and Cubberla Creek were much the same in both years. The botanic gardens were also inundated on both occasions. The 1974 event hastened the construction of the Wivenhoe Dam (1985) on the Brisbane River. About three times the capacity of the Somerset, it is positioned to impound floodwaters from all the Brisbane River's tributaries upstream of Esk, as well as overflow from the Somerset.

The 1893 and 1974 flood contours were well mapped and new suburbs reserved flood-prone land as open space. There seemed to be an allowance for Wivenhoe mitigation as subdividers positioned house allotments beside the open spaces. Redevelopers included more optimistic allowances with riverside apartments.

The Spring rains in 2010 broke records, saturating the landscape and filling dams after Queensland’s prolonged drought in 2001-08. The Brisbane River catchment received heavy rainfall in January 2011, flash-flooding watercourses below Wivenhoe and defeating Wivenhoe’s mitigation capacity. In many places the 1974 flood was repeated in January 2011, spectacularly so around the Oxley flood plain (Rocklea, Tennyson) and the old watercourses through Auchenflower and Milton. Further downstream, South Bank, West End and New Farm experienced costly river-edge damage.

CHANGING METROPOLITAN SHAPE

When in 1925 Greater Brisbane was created out of two cities, a few towns, and the 12 mostly rural shires that constituted three quarters of its area, the population was about 210,000. In 1947 greater Brisbane had the same perimeter but its core had bulged to over 410,000. The newer northern suburbs included Nundah and Chermside, while urban tentacles reached south to Holland Park and Moorooka. Twenty years later a southwest arm reached to Ipswich and satellites were taking shape at Petrie-Lawnton, Woodridge and Beenleigh. Redcliffe and Redland were included in the Brisbane statistical division.

Greater Brisbane in 2001 was shaped like a plant, with railway lines spreading out to Ipswich, Boronia Heights, Beenleigh and Wynnum/Cleveland. To the north stems went to Albany Creek, Petrie/Caboolture, Redcliffe and Sandgate. In most instances they followed railway and motorway corridors, an exception being Albany Creek. Redcliffe, Greater Brisbane's first European settlement, was also an exception. A future railway was mooted to Kippa Ring, an outer Redcliffe suburb.

In 1961 the railway from Nerang to Cooloongatta and Tweed Heads was closed: road traffic was taking over and the farm freight was decreasing. Thirty years later inland Gold Coast's suburbia was promised a completely new line from Beenleigh, via Helensvale to Robina. The line opened in 1997, running back through Brisbane Central to the airport. By then Greater Brisbane stretched south along the Pacific Highway and the new railway, and north along the Glass House Mountains Road and Bruce Highway to Maroochydore and Noosa. Greater Brisbane stretched for 200 kilometres. As it grew, metropolitan Brisbane changed its orientation. Until the mid-twentieth century it was predominantly on an east-west axis, a product of the days when Ipswich serviced the Darling Downs and provided much of south Queensland's coal, and Redland, Redcliffe and Sandgate were the coastal watering places and a metropolitan 'salad bowl'. The coastal north was unproductive wallum country and the south coast a destination for affluent tourists. A desire for beach-front living, accessed by private cars and, on the north coast, a road financed by the private sector, began the postwar north-south axis. The application of sandmining technology to shift oozing sand on to hillocks of subdividable land clinched the matter.

Metropolitan Brisbane's employment profile also altered in distinctive ways in the last half of the twentieth century. Census data for 1954 and 2001 for employment sectors which can be reasonably compared are:

Employment SectorPercentage of
total employment
19542001
Primary production2.31.0
Manufacturing27.812.2
Building and construction9.66.7
Transport and storage8.15.1
Commerce
(wholesale, retail distribution)
19.720.6
Finance, property3.611.9
Government, education, health
and community services
16.323.0

The census populations of Greater Brisbane and Brisbane city municipality (1933-2011) have been:

Census DateGreater BrisbaneBrisbane City
post-1925
1891101,554n/a
1901119,428n/a
1911139,480n/a
1921209,946n/a
1933299,748299,748
1947402,030402,030
1954502,320502,320
1961621,550593,668
1966718,822656,720
1971867,784700,620
1976957,754696,740
19811,028,527689,378
19861,179,000705,755
19911,334,017751,115
19961,488,883806,746
200111,627,535888,449
200621,763,131956,129
201121,977,3151,041,839

The "200 km city" had census counts of:

 200120062011
Greater Brisbane1,627,5351,763,1311,977,315
Gold Coast
(parts not in Greater Brisbane)
396,588482,325507,642
Sunshine Coast
(Caloundra to Noosa)
192,397276,265306,909
Total2,216,5202,521,7212,791,866

1 Comprising the municipalities of Brisbane, Logan, Pine Rivers, Redcliffe and Redland and urban parts of Beaudesert, Caboolture, Gold Coast and Ipswich.

2 Greater Brisbane enlarged by including all Ipswich and Caboolture Shire hinterland.

Census figures for Brisbane before the amalgamation in 1925 can be found in the entry on Brisbane Central.

Further Reading: 

John R. Cole, Shaping a city: Greater Brisbane 1925-1985, 1984

Gordon Greenwood, ed, Brisbane 1859-1959, 1959

Janet Hogan, Living History of Brisbane, 1982

W. Ross Johnston, Brisbane: the first 30 years, 1988

J.G. Steele, The Brisbane River, 1976,1984

Peter Spearritt, 'The 200 km city: Brisbane, the Gold Coast, and Sunshine Coast', Australian Economic History Review, vol. 49, no. 1, March 2009

clem7.com.au

Cultural & heritage places of Greater Brisbane, Brisbane, Brisbane's Living Heritage Network, 2011