Ashgrove Historical Society Inc. logo and name png

  • ArtS1 Grove Estate Plan 1888

    Advertisement for auction sale of lots in Grove Estate, on Saturday 4th February 1888.
    AHS archive no - AHS146

  • ArtS2 Grove Estate map c. 1900

    Grove Estate plan, c.1900. 

  • ArtS3 Ashgrove scouts 1909

    Ashgrove scouts, 1909
    AHS archive no: - 915

  • ArtS3 Seils Dairy Delivery Van 1930s

    Seils Dairy Milk Delivery Van, 1930s, a 1926 Willy’s Whippet,  owned by Seils' Dairy, Toomba Avenue, Ashgrove.  Milk was carried in the Dicky seat. 
    Source:  Neil & Jeanette Seils.

  • ArtS4 Waterworks Road, 1924

    Section of Waterworks Road showing the rough condition of the roadway.  1924.
    John Oxley Library digital image #201390

  • ArtS5 Old St Finbarrs Church Hall 1926

    Old St Finbarrs Church Hall,  Scan, 1926
    AHS Archive No: AHS523

  • ArtS6 Padmore Butcher Ashgrove Crescent c.1946

    WA Padmore, Quality Butcher, Ashgrove Crescent, c. 1946. 
    Source:  Desley Drevins.
    AHS Archive No: 559

  • ArtS7 Tram at Ashgrove West terminus, 1951

    Toast-rack tram No. 65 at the Ashgrove West tram terminus, in front of the Ashgrove West Uniting Church. 1969.

  • ArtS8 Grantuly Ashgrove

    Grantuly, the home of John Killough Stewart, son of Alexander Stewart of Glenlyon House.

Green Corner, Jubilee Terrace Ashgrove

Talk Given To The Ashgrove Historical Society On Saturday 6 February 2016.

Presented By Rose Feely



Green Corner – we worked with Communify to rebuild some of the infrastructure.  It has been a community garden for 20 years and Communify has always been involved under the name of the Red Hill – Paddington Community Centre originally and then they changed it to Communify.  It has gone through different phases of productivity and there have been times when it has been completely left to the elements, but it was quite a thriving  little hub of activity back in the 1990s and in the early 2000s again.  So we found it abandoned about 2 years ago and the team pulled out all the head-high grass and we slowly started to rebuild some garden beds and put in some seasonal gardening practices.  People from the community come and go, eat and pick etc.  So we have got compost bays, built in the early 2000s by the team and we still use those, so there are some really valuable structures that we are lucky to have there.  There are some fruit trees down the back yard and other native fruiting trees, and some quite unusual trees – we are lucky to have those as well.  There is a Bunya tree in the top corner and a big fig down the back yard so people don’t usually see it.  Down further beyond this is a forest and at the centre is a huge fig tree. When they first got the grant to redevelop the land, they built a lot of pathways and pavilions down there but it has all rotted away and it is too big a job for our little team to try and regenerate that space.  We are just working in the top half.  That is what it is currently but you might know it better from when it was a police station and even before that.

So I just wanted to look at the rock formations on which Brisbane sits, because those rocks dictated how the first settlers used the land in Ashgrove and in turn how it effects how we still use the land here too.  This area of land where Green Corner sits is known as Brisbane schist and the rock is very unforgiving and is called low quality metamorphic rock and everything slides off it.  There is not much nutrient value in it and so the settlers came to Ashgrove and then the pushed through to The Gap where the flatter land allowed them to have sheep grazing and pasture use.  That extended Waterworks Road and we had a tram stop developed on Waterworks Road outside the Green Corner, where the Police Station was originally. 

We have to consider the rock we are on today because the nutrient application, or what’s available to the plants, is sucked away every rain fall so we have to consider it for fertilising programs and what we can plant there.  Trees will develop differently when there is such a hard ground beneath them.  I know working at Roma Street is the same, so any time they built a garden bed they had to cut out huge slabs of rock and every time it rains, mulch cascades onto the pathways and there is nothing they can do about it. 

I have two quotes you can have a look at.  Bruce Ham is a geologist who volunteers with the Brisbane Organic Group and he talks about how the nutrient level is effected by the rock.  The other is a quote from the history of Ashgrove about when settlers first came and it was scrub land at Ashgrove so when they first came across it, it was not very favourable condition for people to live or work.  I thought it was important to know what it looked like in its natural state and then of course there was the development that came through and then the Glen Lyon Estate.  Green Corner was sold in 1868, having been Crown land and sold off in parts.  There is also the image of block 643 which is where Green Corner and it was sold to J Corcoran on 24/4/1868 for £20/10/0, (approx. $2500.00 in today’s money).  I have an image of Jubilee Tce and Waterworks Rd and that is quite a deforested state and would have been for sheep raising. 

I found that the Police Station was built in 1910.  There was a constable in the house and either side of the corner were 2 houses that are still there and that is where the policeman lived.  There is some controversy as to what happened to the police station. The Bunya Pine is the only reoccurring feature in all the images.  The Bunya Pines can live for 350 years and they have their own rich history and indigenous use and festivals.  Then there was the infamous Max Sica,  who went on a lawless rampage in 1992 and burnt down part of a school, part of a shopping centre and also the Police Station.  The only reason is that modern day technology let them match a  key found in the ash and rubble and matched it to a car which led them to Max Sica.  He and other mates also stole vests and all of the parking fines, so they figured it was kids because they didn’t take anything too valuable.  All the jackets were found in the creek but all the council fines had gone missing.

So the Police Station was shut down and it was the Red Hill – Paddington centre and the Unicare Disabled Services that saw the opportunity for this block of land to be turned into something a little more community oriented.  Brisbane City Council zoned the site Zone 6 which meant low infrastructure community based development.  It was then possible to get some funding and use it as a disabled site, on the Jubilee Tce side and Communify, on the Waterworks Rd side.  These 2 organisation together with the Van Tenterin family, who were familiar with gardening practices, turned it into a green space where people could go and relax and learn about the ecosystems.  They were granted $136,000 by the Brisbane City Council to rebuild it and a lot of their sturdy infrastructure is still there.  There was a trench through the middle of the block and it is wheelchair friendly.  It shows sustainable practice and is about being an urban farm demonstration site of how to garden sustainably in the city centre. 

The team included work-for-the-dole people, who helped to put it together, and a few paid employees.  And this is where the Melaleuca border came from.  In this picture, in 1995,  they are only thumb-sized but they can grow to 20 - 30metres high.  It was called a nature strip shelter belt and was used to screen the noise from the main road and get the wildlife back onto the site.  There was also a pavilion but there is no trace if it now and the area was very open.  

The team did a lot of successful work and they got another grant in 1999 to re-do the playground. The group did not now have the money to do the repairs and it was deemed unsafe and it was demolished. 

Let us look at who was running it at different times.  There was the original farm and then there was downturn and not much action. In 1998 Lindy McKee took over as a paid employee of Communify. She ran  work-for-the-dole program and had between 6 and 20 people helping her.  There were solar panels, a 10,000 litre tank, a food forest and compost bays. There were fruit trees which we could not identify until they fruited.  There were 30 chickens there and they sold the eggs and sold seeds.

The most productive stage was with Paula who had chicken domes which were moved around.  There was some issue with vandalism and a dome was crushed and a chicken died.  But  it is a public space and open to the public so things like this can happen.  We welcome everyone but not everyone respects it in the same way as we do.

Some good work was done by Aaron who was a hydroponics fanatic so there is a lot of unknown irrigation and many ponds which are now weed pits and abandoned.  But he had a really thorough, productive aquaponics system set up and was breeding fish.  The old tool shed was lined with fish tanks.  So all that is left now is the piping and some native raspberries which he planted. 

Then came Sally Lewis who didn’t want any funding and wanted an organic approach to her organisation.  She would just turn up and if anyone else came, they would garden together. 

Then there is Sharron who is the current co-ordinator and it was fortunate that we were all able to apply for a few grants through Communify. 

We are able to get clues of what the activity was, based on what trees are still there.  There were the Police Station days and I have been told what was planted then.  Rod MacIver has some fond memories of the policeman’s wife having beautiful annual.  There was also a mulberry tree in one photo which is not there now.  There are still some canna lilies there and a crepe myrtle tree.  There are also some native trees – a big silky oak planted in 1995 and the grevilleas in the street border.  There were bananas which have since been replanted.  There is no more space to plant trees so we would need a management plan.  There is an olive tree which is not very productive and could be replaced with something more suitable.

I did a survey of the trees that were planted and an expert from Greening Australia identified all the food forest trees – native tamarinds, a brown pine, a huge native fig.  We try to use local native plants and I found a list at the Botanic Gardens, looking at what was in the scrub land at Ashgrove before it was deforested. 

The bunya pine is interesting.  It fruits prolifically every 3 years and the local aboriginal families were allocated a certain number of trees.  There was a bunya gathering some years ago and the elders had a ceremony around the bunya tree in the garden. 

There are some beautiful mosaic tiles in the garden which were made by Scot, a mosaic artist, at a workshop at the Green Fair in Woolcock Park in 1994 and 1998. 

In the past, the garden has been rather informal.  We now have more tidy spaces, with rectangular garden beds which are easy to manage in terms of weeding, harvesting, planting and just low enough to comfortably reach from either side of the bed.  We would like to find the momentum to keep going down to the back and keep tidying and it is hard to keep on top of it.  We compost all our weeds and burn the seeds under plastic so they don’t germinate.  Most weeds can be turned back into fertiliser (but not nut grass!). 

The garden is open to everyone and it is fun to drop by and pick your own food.  We try to implement more farming practices and have block plantings and companion plants.  You are welcome to join us  - we meet every second Sunday morning at about 9am.

We also have 2 bee hives, installed by Bee Haven, and we harvested those about 2 months ago.  They are the more productive European honey bees and are very beneficial for pollination.


The garden does not have an agreement for the use of the land.  There has been talk since the 1990s of putting an overpass across Waterworks Rd and we could get kicked out.  But Council owns Waterworks Rd and State owns Jubilee Tce and they can’t agree on the design!  So we have it in the meantime.