Fig Tree Pocket, a residential suburb on the Brisbane River, is nine km south-west of central Brisbane. Bounded on three sides by the river, thus creating a land pocket, the name came about from a giant fig tree around which a reserve was created in 1866.
The distance to Fig Tree Pocket by river is two and a half times the straight-line distance from the city, and by road via the Centenary Highway it is about 14 km. Consequently the district was rural until the late postwar years, and was best known for the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary (1927).
Otherwise, Fig Tree Pocket was a village with a school (1871) and post office (1878). Its isolation made it suitable for a radio transmission station, kept operational until 2000 when built-up areas and electrical interference caused its closure.
Apart from the sanctuary, right at the end of the Pocket the Mandalay sports and picnic ground (1937) was a society rendezvous. Established by Hayles Boat Services, it had a jetty, dance hall and decorative pagodas. It was subdivided by Alfred Grant for housing in the 1960s-70s.
Location, exclusiveness and market preference for large allotments created a suburb with amply proportioned dwellings and generous curtilages. Jesmond Road best sums up the residential landscape, with prestige riverfront properties. In 2003 a riverfront house sold for $8.2 million, a record for metropolitan Brisbane.
Brisbane City Council's local area plan (2001) proposed allotments as small as 450 sq m. Ninety percent of the residents opposed the permitted minimum, the general preference being 1000 sq m. Nevertheless, the plan allows only 35% of the suburb open to development, and predicted a population of 4500 to 5000 by 2016.
In 1996 Fig Tree Pocket had the highest resident weekly income of any Brisbane suburb. In 2001 it was in sixth position, coming after Newstead, Hamilton, Paddington, inner Fortitude Valley and Pullenvale. Its altered status testified to the late twentieth century appeal of inner urban living, an aspect that the Pocket's residents were keen to resist. Their Montessori primary school was enlarged with a secondary department in 2004.
In January 2011 the Brisbane River flooded the east side of Fig Tree Pocket (Mandalay and Donatello Streets), and most of the open spaces and parks.
Fig Tree Pocket's census populations have been:
Mandalay Progress Association, In search of a remarkable fig tree, Fig Tree Pocket, Mandalay Progress Association, 1998