The history of the Coronation Drive Office Park - Part 5
Boundary Creek and Bennett’s Bridge
By Angus Veitch
Boundary Creek is the dominant feature on the early maps of the Coronation Drive Office Park (CDOP) site, and it would have been well known to early Brisbanites because it presented the first substantial crossing for vehicles and pedestrians heading out of town along the River Road. Not surprisingly, there was more written in the papers about the bridge across Boundary Creek than about the creek itself. The earliest reference that I could find was in 1861 when the Municipal Council called for the dilapidated bridge to be rebuilt. The construction job took almost a year, as temporary works were repeatedly washed away when rain turned the creek into a torrent. A few months after it was done, a landslip caused some of the road to fall into the river.
The bridge at that stage was most commonly called the Milton Bridge, and occasionally Boundary Bridge or Boundary Creek Bridge. In 1882 the name ‘Milton Bridge’ was formalised.(1) However, after E.J. Bennett had settled into the locality in the 1860s, the structure was just as often known as Bennett’s Bridge.
Boundary Creek was never going to survive for very long, being on a site so close to town and surrounded by an increasing variety of land uses. By the 1870s the creek was heavily polluted, both by activities on the CDOP site as well as those upstream. Some of the pressures on the creek were described in the report of a meeting of the Milton District Board of Health in June 1878:
when the question of the nuisance arising from the creek flowing through the old cemetery was again considered. […] Complaints were also read as to the nuisance arising from drainage from the distillery; a peremptory notice was ordered to be given to the owners to discontinue the discharge of refuse liquid into the creek. A letter was received from the Queensland Ice Company, claiming the right of the water from the drainage as it now is.(2)
E.J. Bennett, who lived near the bridge at the end of the creek, would have seen and smelt the cumulative effect of all of the abuses committed upstream. In 1885 he wrote letters to the Toowong Shire Council complaining about the foul state of the creek and about the dams that had been created by the ice company (see right).(3) Meanwhile, the old Cemetery Swamp just upstream of the CDOP site was being called ‘a hotbed of disease’, as ‘[a]ll the drainage from Petrie Terrace was being emptied into the swamp from which there was no outlet’.(4)
A scheme to drain the creek and swamp was finally devised in 1885. The first stage, built in 1886 at a cost of £2,518, was an 8ft-wide brickwork culvert between the railway and the river. The drain followed a much straighter path than the circuitous creek, and met the river some distance upstream from the Milton Bridge. The second stage of the drainage scheme, completed in 1887, was an open concrete drain from Milton Road to Caxton Street.(5)
The mouth of the creek under the Milton Bridge was now just a gully that had to be filled up. To speed up this process, the Toowong Shire Council posted an open invitation for dry rubbish to be dumped into the gully.(6) The filling-up was nearly completed in June 1887,(7) but for some time the channel of the creek upstream of the bridge must have remained open. The Brisbane Ice Company was seeking permission in June 1887 to ‘clean out the old creek at Milton Bridge’,(8) and were later granted permission to close the pipe drain connecting the creek to the river.(9) Most likely, the ice company was using the old creek as a storage dam.
Even after Boundary Creek had been pushed underground and out of sight, this waterway continued to make its presence felt, haunting infrastructure projects on the site for decades. In 1886 the embankment of the newly duplicated railway line, which had been built on top of the buried creek, collapsed in spectacular fashion (see Part 4, Roads and railways). In March 1889, the filling at the mouth of the old creek subsided, leaving the roadway in a dangerous condition and requiring a substantial wall to hold the riverbank in place.(10) The same stretch of road subsided again forty-one years later. This time, the filling-in was not left to chance. A fleet of 31 trucks and a barge were employed to fill the cavity with stones from three of the council’s quarries. The newspaper report, which was accompanied by a large pictorial spread, made special mention of the old buried creek, citing it as the probable cause of the landslide.
- The Brisbane Courier, 6 July 1882.
- The Brisbane Courier, 14 June 1878.
- The Brisbane Courier, 6 August 1885.
- The Brisbane Courier, 18 December 1885.
- The Brisbane Courier, 1 July 1887.
- The Brisbane Courier, 11 December 1886.
- The Brisbane Courier, 24 June 1887.
- The Brisbane Courier, 8 July 1887.
- The Brisbane Courier, 20 March 1889.