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19 responses to “Forgotten Brisbane and fading Valley”

  1. philiptravers

    No one has tackled this subject yet..unbelievable!.This week on the Lismore ABC Byron Bays community centre was discussed and how it ended up owing $millions,because they kept a historical facade. A lesson that needs to be learnt about whose actions really represent an intelligent need going into the future..I like old buildings ,but if their upkeep is going to destroy by cost their reason for saving them that is hopeless.Better try to remove them ,or allow developers the right to feel friendly towards them too,by insuring they have soft low cost usage that reflects a kindly community of commercial interests intent.I love the Queenslander verandah stuff,it would be an aspiration to own one.Community interests rightfully will resist the domination of the streetscape by the competing in design… new developments,it may be a question of aesthetic taste to first insist that design fits in well with the thematics of what already exists as it replaces it.Get togethers about and with the buildings as are needs to ascertain if there is both a willingness and necessity to save the old buildings in some way.

  2. Danny

    “A homeowner refusing to sell will either eventually leave after commercial development boxes the house in on either side, or the developers just wait out the lifespan of the elderly owners.”

    Next time you’re in west end, walk up mollison st from where the roundabout used to be at the West End Markets (old Tristram’s soft drink factory). Absoe’s ( (was old pauls milk factory) on left hand side, and apartments on other except…

    when they re-developed the markets and the apartments, but one old guy refused to sell his house, and it’, and he, is still there, conspicuously, defiantly, in a pocket within the multistorey monolith.

    He took them up on their offer of a free new coat of paint to match their build but.

  3. Lefty E

    Know the house, Danny. That dude was offered big $, but wouldnt pull up stumps.

    Great post Mark!

  4. aml

    I haven’t set foot in the Valley for three or four years, and for years before that my forays were confined to trips to Chinese supermarkets for supplies. But the Valley is most significant to me because I saw part of the ‘old Queensland’ I had been born into entering its death throes on a day in 1986 when I wandered down from my work in Barry Parade in my lunch break to see that ‘Bubble’s Bath House’ had closed down.

    I lived in West End at the time renting a worker’s cottage (whatever happened to them? Did they all grow up and turn into Queenslanders?) Two year later, after Expo, my rent would go up over 50% and I moved. By the look of the place now, so did just about everyone else who lived there at the time.

  5. Kim

    the developers just wait out the lifespan of the elderly owners

    As in Mollison St, probably. Then they’ll turn it into some kitsch retail/food outlet and pay his heirs a bucketful.

    Groovy post, Mark.

    The Valley certainly ain’t what it used to be. Not just in the frequently mentioned marginalisation of the grungey, the disturbing, the Indigenous, the dole recipient, the queer, the transgressive in favour of booze driven bacchanals (not that…) and excessively expensive shopping but also in the sense that as you say it’s a bit of a ghost town during the day outside the main drags while all the individualised little working folks disappear elsewhere – just like Teneriffe in that way.

    The bit you’re talking about will end up like Commercial Road. You can see it coming. It just needs one James St SUV/lervely cocktails dahling! enclave to set it all aflame.

  6. Mark

    Thanks, folks.

  7. Mark

    in favour of booze driven bacchanals (not that…)

    While that’s true, there’s also a sense in which there’s a sort of sedimentation at work where different layers co-exist and build on each other, and old ones come bubbling up again, or try to. One of the good things about the Valley traditionally has been that it’s a site for a large number of reasonably discrete groups to mix and mingle, but at the same time keep some of their internal dissents internal – so while there’s always an undertone of violence, it’s typically in group. There are conspicuous exceptions such as queer bashers, and now some other forms of perhaps more random violence which may express some class dimensions.

    Anyway, I wanted to talk about different aspects of the Vall, but then it’s all intertwined!

  8. steve

    Intertwined with the Mollison Steet story is the one of the Doctor who lived on the corner of Vulture and Main Street at the Gabba who lived in his house withstanding Supreme Court challenges and objects being dropped through his roof while the Telstra building was being constructed.

    Seems that it has all changed now as the place has been demolished.

  9. steve

    The point is that the Telstra building is a weird L shape around the doctor’s former house.

    I do think you were onto something last week with the cultural influence of the Americans in Brisbane, Mark. Some of Brisbane open space has been kept that way because of the historical significance of former US camps around the city. As that influence wanes then developers find less resistance to grabbing land for other purposes.

    The wooded hills were considered rubbish by early settlers according to a Brisbane City Council Pamphlett, ‘Chermside Hills Reserves Track Map’ under the heading ‘History and Environmental Significance’. The former wooded hills not locked away from developers are now some of the most expensive pieces of real estate in Brisbane.

  10. Angharad

    Thanks for the retrospective Mark.

    There’s a sad story in here of “we told you so” dating back to the project that kicked off the whole Valley, New Farm development. When Building Better Cities (a Keating / Howe project with State govt and BCC) began in the early 90s, earnest planners consulted with residents – but the people who turned up were the property owners wanting increased values. Shelter, Tenants’ Union and NF Neighbourhood Centre and others argued for other voices to be heard, but to not much avail. A few token efforts but no real consideration.

    A few years later I read a books that explained it all (and made a big impact on me). The downside of an explanation that has its drivers in the movement of capital and societal changes is that it’s hard to fight.

    Indeed, as I’m now living in Erskineville in Sydney’s inner west, I’m acutely aware that I as much a part of the problem as I am a victim of it.

    btw Mark – Cafe One, the cafe for people who are homeless is still there.

  11. Mark

    I was pretty sure it’d gone, Angaharad – will have a squizzy to check when I’m down there tomorrow.

  12. Hal9000

    I’ve always thought the premises made famous by the Fitzgerald inquiry need to be preserved, and in this context I noted the other day that Bubbles Bath House is still in fine condition just north of the Brunswick/Water intersection, although no longer catering for the carnal needs of the police force. Fantasy Photographics was still there under the Storey Bridge too, now apparently an upmarket residence.

    Warren Armstrong keeps bobbing up – you obviously can’t keep a good flesh purveyor down – but does he still operate his, erm, operation up on St Pauls/Boundary do you know Mark?

  13. Craig Mc

    the developers just wait out the lifespan of the elderly owners

    Unless they’re the owner of the Wheelers Hill Hotel.

  14. ansteybranchopolous

    very sad – old Coburg High School facade is but a day away from complete demolishment – once public land now a tool for profit, I share your concerns http://peter.nook.com.au/

  15. pablo

    Just to get this post a little less parochial I recall as a young news roundsman doing the local council beat in Sydney City circa mid 1970’s a councillor vote to employ an archivist. The job was specifically to take photos of city architecture before it disappeared. This followed the developers boom of the late 1960’s when a lot of fine colonial/victorian stuff went under the bulldozer and union led Green bans were one belated response to concerns across several Sydney local government areas.
    By Brisbane standards the Sydney Council area was tiny, the councillors invariably pro development so that actually hiring someone to record history was all a bit novel but it does suggest a universal nostalgia for what’s gone.
    Makes you wonder if there aint someone in city hall being paid to try and do what you’re attempting Mark. Imagine the job description!

  16. Tyro Rex

    aml … I live in a “worker’s cottage” … in Auchenflower. All around of course it’s very gentrified, and tastefully renovated, but still a worker’s cottage. One old one two doors up, completely untouched since at least the 1970s is for sale …

    Why can’t Brisbane follow the relatively successful Melbourne model and not the completely soulless Sydney one? In Sydney they are having an angst ridden debate, ten or twenty years too late about the cultural fabric of the city. Meanwhile it seems to me that Melbourne has at least managed to some degree to strike a balance. I thought the Brisbane City Council had some sensitivity in this regard?

    Mark I am in the same ALP branch as many of David Hinchcliffe’s staffers, do you want me to pass your details on and arrange you a meeting or something? I am sure David will welcome policy inputs.

  17. Mark

    but does he still operate his, erm, operation up on St Pauls/Boundary do you know Mark?

    No, Hal9000, his last gasp was the topless car wash which made news all round the google world…

    Makes you wonder if there aint someone in city hall being paid to try and do what you’re attempting Mark. Imagine the job description!

    Dunno about the job description, Pablo, but there is a similar project organised by the Brisbane City Council:



    Mark I am in the same ALP branch as many of David Hinchcliffe’s staffers, do you want me to pass your details on and arrange you a meeting or something? I am sure David will welcome policy inputs.

    That’d be great, Tyro. I was going to email David a copy of this post tomorrow, but you never know what would happen to just an emailed post when a busy staffer receives it with no context! As I said in part of the post, there are elements within the Council who are sensitive to these issues, and Hinchliffe is to be commended for the work he’s done, but other parts which are fairly in thrall to the development at all costs mentality. Let’s not forget we have a split Council with a Liberal Mayor and a Labor Council majority (though it’s a tad more complex than that… but anyway!)

    Meanwhile, over at West End:

    <img src="http://larvatusprodeo.net/wp-content/uploads/2007/09/westend.jpg&quot;

  18. Danny

    Ah, Stefan’s needle, now that’s what I call irreplaceable heritage.

  19. Mark

    Poor bloke couldn’t even afford to keep it fire safe!