Woolloongabba History

History of Brisbane's Woolloongabba

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Gabba cricket ground

Woolloongabba's history has been compiled as a part of the BRISbites community history project.

Aboriginal history

Two groups, the Jagera and the Turrbal, inhabited the Brisbane area. The main Aboriginal camp in the area was at Woolloongabba. During certain seasons and for some ceremonies, the area could become the gathering place for hundreds of people.

Opinions vary as to the Aboriginal meaning of the place. It was either 'whirling waters', a combination of the words ' woolloon' and 'capemm', or 'woolloon', meaning fight talk and 'gabba', a place. It is now known as Woolloongabba or simply The Gabba.

Urban development

The first settler was Charles Eastwood. He built a cottage in 1855/56 at One Mile Swamp, later known as Woolloongabba. The sale of 32 perch blocks followed in 1864.

Woolloongabba became important as a transport corridor because of its road, rail and tram links. The Woolloongabba Railway Depot was constructed in 1884 on the corner of Mains Road and Stanley Street.

Public services were provided with the amalgamation of South Brisbane and Woolloongabba to form the first City of South Brisbane Council in 1888. The first post office opened in the Gabba in 1889.

In 1967 the railway depot at Woolloongabba closed and the following year resumptions proceeded to make way for the construction of the South East Freeway through Woolloongabba.

Notable residents

Sister Mary McKillop arrived in Brisbane in 1869 with four other Sisters of Saint Joseph. They initially stayed at All Hallows and then rented a house in Tribune Street, Woolloongabba. The Sisters worked in the first St Joseph's school at One Mile Swamp (Woolloongabba) until it was moved further up the hill to Kangaroo Point. After some months, the house in Tribune Street proved too small for their community and they moved to Montague Street, Gibbon Street, Woolloongabba and then to River Terrace in Kangaroo Point.

The names of many early settlers are represented by street names. J. Reid and J. Gibbon purchased land running off Stanley Street in 1861 and their names have been given to streets in the vicinity.


There are many landmarks in Woolloongabba. The most famous is the cricket ground. The first cricket game was played at the Gabba in 1897 when a combined New South Wales and Queensland team played A. E. Stoddart's Eleven from England. The cricket ground was also a venue for cycling and later greyhound racing and trotting.

The heritage-listed Princess Theatre in Annerley Road was built in 1888. Over the years it has screened silent movies, hosted live entertainment, and been used as a factory. Today it remains a home of live theatre.

Reference: BRISbites, 2000

More Woolloongabba information

REIQ Profile

Take a look at REIQ's real estate profile. You can find suburb statistics, get a feel for its "character" and check out the median house prices and rents.

Pocket Neighbourhood Guide

Your neighbourhood at a glance. Discover the secrets of the local area... as well as what makes it special.
Community links

Here's where to find important community services in this part of Brisbane.

Real Estate values for Woolloongabba
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Median house price for September 2010 supplied by The Real Estate Institute of Qld
Rental price for September 2010 supplied by Residential Tenancies Authority

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