Last-Ditch Effort to Save Cairncross Graving Dock in Morningside Fails, Heritage Council Rejects Protection Bid

Last-Ditch Effort to Save Cairncross Graving Dock Fails, Qld Heritage Council Rejects Protection Bid

Efforts to save the Cairncross Graving Dock in Morningside, a significant relic from World War II, have failed as the Queensland Heritage Council rejects a request for its inclusion in the Queensland Heritage Register.



The decision dealt a blow to preservation hopes and gave the developer-owner, Lendlease, an opportunity to sell the site just five days later.


Back in March 2023, Brisbane City Council granted approval to Lendlease’s proposal to fill the dock, but with a condition attached. The condition stated that the approval was contingent upon the inclusion of the dock in the Queensland Heritage Register.

Last-Ditch Effort to Save Cairncross Graving Dock Fails, Qld Heritage Council Rejects Protection Bid
Photo Credit:  See page for author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A spokesperson for the Queensland Heritage Council stated that the decision was made after a thorough evaluation of the application, submissions from concerned parties, and expert engineering reports. 

They highlighted the removal of significant original structures and associated infrastructure over time, as well as the compromised physical condition and structural integrity of the remaining infrastructure, making the preservation of cultural heritage significance unfeasible.


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However, local campaigner Francis Price, a member of the Bulimba District Historical Society, strongly disagreed. He believed that the dock held significant heritage value, representing a time of threat to Queensland and showcasing exceptional engineering recognized worldwide.

Last-Ditch Effort to Save Cairncross Graving Dock Fails, Qld Heritage Council Rejects Protection Bid
Photo Credit: See page for author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Interestingly, the council’s decision notice revealed that they couldn’t assess the dock’s condition when it was flooded because its gates had been open since 2017. The council admitted that the grandeur of the dock couldn’t be fully appreciated when it was underwater. 

In a recent real estate listing, the dock’s remarkable features were showcased, catching the attention of potential investors. Its advantageous attributes, such as water access, marine infrastructure, and prime position in Queensland’s highly desirable industrial markets known as the Australia TradeCoast, made it an appealing opportunity.



This turn of events disappointed preservation advocates who saw the potential sale as a cynical move.

The site was reportedly bought by Lendlease subsidiary Bulimba East Development in 2016 for a staggering $39.5 million.

Published 8-July-2023