I’ve expressed previously my enthusiasm for old maps. The older they are, the more they tend to reveal about the original landscape.
Until recently, the oldest map that I had found of the Milton area dated back to 1859. That map (‘Plan of Portions 203 to 257 in the Environs of Brisbane, Parish of Enoggera, County of Stanley, New South Wales) covers the area between Boundary Creek (which flowed between Cribb Street and Boomerang Street) and Toowong Creek. It depicts several features I had not seen on other maps, such as Red Jacket Swamp spilling over into Frew Park (later maps just show it covering Gregory Park) and a large lagoon between Cribb Street and Park Road.
But now I have an even older one, courtesy of Magnus, who writes the blog ‘A House in Auchenflower‘. Magnus went digging in the Queensland Museum of Lands, Mapping and Surveying and struck gold in the form of the map you see below.
Surveyor James Warner’s plan of the Milton area in 1850, held by the Queensland Museum of Lands, Mapping and Surveying (B1234 14).
This map looks old enough to have fallen off a pirate ship. The various annotations on it show that it has been used and re-used for various purposes, and at different times, but the original drawing appears to date from 1850, when the assistant surveyor-general, James Warner, surveyed the area. Warner’s description of the map appears at the bottom-right corner: Continue reading
Since starting this project, one thing I’ve been constantly looking out for is old maps. Unless there are some unpublished photos or drawings floating around (and I sincerely hope that there are), maps are the only visual record we have of the old Western Creek.
Looking at maps of Brisbane from the late 1800s and early 1900s, you can see the residential lots dissolve into singular paddocks, and the road networks dwindle to just a few major arteries. In the spaces that are left, you can often find details of the underlying landscape. The oldest maps sometimes depict slopes and ridges, some of which have since been reshaped or cut down. And in between the hills you will typically see an abundance of water features — not only rivers and creeks, but also swamps and ponds — that have long since been built over.
In the essay about the history of Gregory Park, I showed how the transition from Red Jacket Swamp to Gregory Park was depicted on maps from 1906, 1896 and 1884:
Present-day Gregory Park depicted in 1884.
Present-day Gregory Park depicted in 1895
Gregory Park depicted in 1906.
Plan of Portions 203 to 257 in the Environs of Brisbane, 1859. (Queensland State Archives Item ID620656)