Morningside Quarry: A Historical Chronicle of Tragedy and Transformation

Morningside Quarry

The Morningside quarry, once a pivotal site for bluestone extraction in the aftermath of World War I, has a history steeped in utility and tragedy.

This site, now transformed into Keralgerie Park, played a significant role in shaping the local infrastructure and community of Brisbane’s growing suburbs.

Photo Credit: Trove

Initially, the quarry was integral in providing the much-needed bluestone for road construction, which was crucial for the expanding suburbs during the early 20th century. However, the quarry’s operations were fraught with danger. In 1933, Victor Kelsey tragically lost his life after a fall, and in 1936, C. Callaghan perished in an explosion. These incidents underscored the perilous nature of the quarry’s working conditions.

Photo Credit: Trove

By the 1940s, the quarry had ceased its industrial use and had transformed into a community swimming spot. The quarry’s waters, reaching depths of 5 to 20 metres, became popular for swimming and diving, even hosting the 1948 Australian diving championships. However, the allure of the deep waters came with a dark side. The locals ominously dubbed it ‘The Devil’s Pool,’ a name that proved prophetic.

Photo Credit: Trove

The tragic deaths of several individuals marred the quarry’s reputation. In 1952, Edith Zeiner, aged 38, drowned in the quarry. The following year, two youths, William McKinnon and Victor Miller, also met their untimely deaths in the same waters. 

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Photo Credit: Trove

These repeated tragedies prompted the Brisbane City Council to take decisive action. The council erected fences around the pool and imposed a swimming ban. Subsequent testing revealed traces of typhoid in the water, leading to the decision to drain and fill the quarry.

Today, the once-dangerous site of the Morningside quarry has been transformed into Keralgerie Park, a serene community space that belies its tumultuous past. The park serves as a sombre reminder of the region’s history, which has seen both the highs of neighbourhood gatherings and the lows of tragic losses. This transformation highlights the resilience and evolution of Morningside, from a vital industrial site to a place of recreation and remembrance.

Published Date 02-July-2024