A Look Back at the History of the Queensport Aquarium in Hemmant

Did you know that during its heyday in the late 19th century, the Queensport Aquarium in Hemmant was well known for having electric lighting, the finest collection of marine creatures, reptiles, birds and other animals, and a near-disastrous but ultimately successful hot-air balloon exhibition ride?

The Queensport Aquarium holds a significant place in Brisbane’s history. Dating back to the late 19th century, the first amusement park located in Hemmant was originally established to transport visitors to a world of maritime adventure and discovery. 

The park, which opened in August 1889, featured various attractions, including a seafront promenade, marine exhibits, and live performances, all of which brought the ambience of the Victorian era. The Queensport Aquarium, which closed in 1901, boasted the finest collection of marine creatures, reptiles, birds and other animals. 

Queensport Aquarium
Photo Credit: National Library of Australia

But the Queensland Aquarium offered more than just animal exhibits. The grand concert hall hosted shows during the weekends, featuring an organ that delighted guests. The Aquarium Band serenaded by the best singers in Brisbane, added to the entertainment. The park’s popularity led to the subdivision and sale of land nearby, known as “The Queensport Aquarium Estate.”

Queensport Aquarium Estate Hemmant
Photo Credit: State Library of Queensland

Visitors to the Aquarium arrived by steamer from the city centre, enjoying a package deal that included the return fare on ships like the Natone, the Woolwich, or the Alice. Moonlit excursions to dances in the concert hall became popular activities.

The Queensland Aquarium boasted modern conveniences, including electric light, which was connected in September 1889. During the day, the park offered various activities. Sports days celebrated the New Year, whilst picnics took place on Foundation Day, which was on January 26. 

In May 1891, an extraordinary sight delighted the crowd—a hot air balloon. Professor Fernandez, an experienced aeronaut, made his first balloon ascent in the colony. Though the balloon initially deflated and seemed in danger of sinking into the river, it rose again and landed safely, thrilling the onlookers.

Despite a significant flood in 1890 that affected the wharf in the city, the Queensport Aquarium remained relatively unaffected. However, a more devastating flood occurred on February 5 and 6, 1893, which caused severe damage. 

Queensport Aquarium Flood
Photo Credit: State Library of Queensland

The flood tore down fences, leading to the escape of many animals, and ruined the meticulously landscaped gardens. Following this incident, J.D. Campbell and the Aquarium Company advertised the sale of the steamers. Although the picnics and parties were still well-attended, the once vibrant theme park gradually faded from the tourism spotlight at the close of the century. 

Today, the land where the aquarium used to be now partly encompasses the Queensland Rocks Park in Murarrie, near the Gateway Bridge.

Published 23-May-2023

Huge Night of Music in Hemmant

The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Eagles, Jimmy Barnes, Elton John, David Bowie, The Angels, Bryan Adams, Billy Idol, The Screaming Jets, The Searchers, Joe Cocker, Noiseworks, Creedence Clearwater Revival…these are just a sample of the artists that Double Vision will be covering at the qp Tavern in Hemmant on Saturday, 27 May 2023.

Did you know The Beatles got their name from Buddy Holy and The Crickets? John Lennon altered the spelling of “Beetles” to “Beatles.”

Did you know Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were classmates at Wentworth Primary School in Dartford, Kent?

Did you know that The Kinks song “Lola” was banned from TV because it had the line “tastes just like coca cola” back when advertising was banned from free to air?

Did you know Joe Cocker didn’t sing in his first band, The Cavaliers? He played drums and harmonica.

Did you know Reg Dwight renamed himself Elton John when he was 25 because his first band had two guys called Elton and John in it?
Before that, he was a solo act called Reggie, playing a pub gig every weekend at the Northwood Hills Hotel in Watford, on the northside of London.

Did you know that The Eagles’ monster hit “Hotel California” was originally called “Mexican Reggae”?

Catch Double Vision at the qp Tavern in Hemmant, bringing back the hits of bygone years.

27 May 2023
FREE Entry