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Musgrave Park Heritage Register

Musgrave Park (incl former South Brisbane Bowls Clubhouse) 

SUMMARY
Gazetted in 1865, Musgrave Park is one of the oldest public parks in Brisbane. By the turn of the twentieth century, it was host to numerous recreational pursuits including cricket, croquet, bowls, football and strolling. It also featured a bandstand used for regular concerts. The South Brisbane Bowls Club was established in 1901 with the club building in the park continually extended as the club expanded. In the years following World War Two the South Brisbane district became more multicultural and ‘New Australians’ and previously displaced Aboriginal Australians used Musgrave Park for cultural gatherings. The Bowls Club ceased operating in 1987 and its clubhouse became the Jagera Community Art Centre. Croquet continues to be played in the park which is used by numerous groups for recreational, political and cultural events.

HISTORY
According to traditional history the indigenous peoples of the region used this area as a neutral gathering space – a place of reconciliation and talking. With the closure of the Moreton Bay Penal Colony land on both sides of the river was surveyed and sold with little consideration for the indigenous inhabitants or public open space.

When Queensland became a separate colony in 1859, more thought was given to planning for the future and a large parcel of land in South Brisbane was set aside for public recreation. In 1865 the colonial government declared a smaller area of this land as the South Brisbane Recreation Reserve -which was named after the Governor of Queensland, Sir Anthony Musgrave K.C.M.G. in 1884. In the late nineteenth century the reserve remained vacant land and the subject of disputes over ownership and responsibility. Reduced by excisions for other purposes, the reserve stabilised to an area of approximately 9.3 hectares bounded by Russell, Cordelia, Vulture and Edmondstone Streets. State legislation passed in 1897 to protect the Aboriginal population resulted in their forced removal to reserves distant from the now bustling townships of Brisbane and South Brisbane.

Coinciding with the growing prosperity of South Brisbane the park became the venue for formal recreational and horticultural pursuits. Organised sports in the reserve included tennis, croquet, bowls and football. A bandstand was erected in 1901. The park developed more formal plantings over time with rock gardens and avenues of trees laid out to resemble the St Andrews Cross. Although the bandstand has now been removed, the building developed by the South Brisbane Bowls Club remains.

The Bowls Club was formed in 1901 to cater for the local interest in the sport. Prominent local gentlemen, including A.J. Thynne, M.L.C., Presbyterian Minister Rev. D.F. Mitchell and Phillip Nott, local alderman and former mayor of South Brisbane, became trustees of the club and were given a 21-year lease over about half a hectare of Musgrave Park. Work commenced on preparing the greens and the club was officially opened on 20 December 1902. By 1905 a small clubhouse had been erected. A new bowls house to the right of the original building was constructed in 1907 with further improvements added in 1917. As the club expanded, more land was added to the lease and South Brisbane City Council became one of the club’s trustees.

In 1927 the three separate buildings of the club were linked and by 1939 a comprehensive scheme combined the buildings under the one roof with a central hall and new kitchen added. Although the Club continued to prosper for much of the twentieth century, changing demographics in the local area and changed recreational pursuits in the 1980s saw activity at the club decline. In 1987 the lease was relinquished and the clubhouse vacated.

During this time both the park and the local society had radically changed. From a predominantly northern European community in the first half of the twentieth century, the postwar era saw new Mediterranean immigrants settle in South Brisbane. Legislative changes allowed indigenous Australians to reconnect with their communities. During the 1960s part of the park was resumed for the expansion of Brisbane State High School and the establishment of a football field parallel to Edmondstone Street disrupted avenues associated with the St Andrews Cross. In 1967 the Musgrave Park Pool was opened by the Brisbane City Council and operates on a separate lot in the park.

Since the 1970s the park has been regularly used for many organised events. These range from small interest group gatherings to large city-wide community festivals. The annual Paniyiri Festival of the Greek community, which had modest beginnings in the 1970s is one such event. Musgrave Park has also been the venue for robust protests by both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians. The Commonwealth Games in 1982 and the Bicentenary of the landing of the First Fleet in 1988 triggered an outpouring of dissent over the treatment of indigenous people. The threat to the park posed by the nearby Expo ’88 site and perceived gentrification of the local area triggered further public protests.

In response to submissions in 1988 the Brisbane City Council established the Jagera Community Arts Resource Centre in the former South Brisbane Bowls Club facilities and held the combined former bowling greens and tennis court land in trust for Aboriginal purposes. The former Richard Randall Art Studio was relocated from nearby (although this has recently been moved to Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens). Since the 1990s the park has hosted Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Observance Day, Labour Day and International Women’s Day events; Australia Day celebrations, market festivals and Fiestas, a marathon and Classic Motor Show. The National Union of Students, Lesbian and Gay groups, Reclaim the Night and the Jabiluka Action Group; Blessing the Animals Ceremony and a Seventh Day Adventist picnic have also gathered at the park. Musgrave Park remains a popular venue for formal and informal recreation and community gatherings.

STATEMENTS OF SIGNIFICANCE
This is a place of local heritage significance and meets one or more of the criteria for entry in the Heritage Register of the Brisbane City Plan 2000. It is significant for the following reasons.

a) It is important in demonstrating the evolution and pattern of the City’s or local area’s history as Musgrave Park is one of the earliest public parks gazetted in Brisbane and is evidence of the recreational use of public parks from the early twentieth century.

a) It is important in demonstrating the evolution and pattern of the City’s or local area’s history as Musgrave Park has long been a venue for Aboriginal gatherings, protests and cultural pursuits.

b) It demonstrates rare, uncommon or endangered aspects of the City’s or local area’s cultural heritage as the South Brisbane Bowls Club is one of the few surviving reminders of the role that Musgrave Park served as an important centre for leisure activities among the residents of South Brisbane around the turn of the century.

e) It is important because of its aesthetic significance as Musgrave Park is a green open space and mature park landscape located within a densely developed inner-Brisbane suburb.

g) It has a strong or special association with the life or work of a particular community or cultural group for social, cultural or spiritual reasons as Musgrave Park has been a place of cultural pursuits and organized and informal recreation since the late nineteenth century.

g) It has a strong or special association with the life or work of a particular community or cultural group for social, cultural or spiritual reasons as Musgrave Park has been a place of longstanding importance to the social, cultural and spiritual life of Aboriginal people from Brisbane and elsewhere.

g) It has a strong or special association with the life or work of a particular community or cultural group for social, cultural or spiritual reasons as Musgrave Park is a place valued by the Greek community as a venue for its major annual festival (Panyiri) and for its proximity to the Greek Orthodox Church and Community Centre.

g) It has a strong or special association with the life or work of a particular community or cultural group for social, cultural or spiritual reasons as the former bowls club building had a continuous association over more than 80 years with the South Brisbane Bowls Club.

g) It has a strong or special association with the life or work of a particular community or cultural group for social, cultural or spiritual reasons as the Croquet Club has had a long and continuing association with Musgrave Park since the late nineteenth century.

References:

  1. F.J. Brewer, R. Dunn, Municipal History of South Brisbane, Brisbane, H. Pole & Co Ltd, 1925.
  2. Brisbane City Council. Creative Communities, BCC Community Arts Publication, 1989.
  3. Brisbane City Council. Musgrave Park. Draft Management Plan. BCC City Design, Feb 2001.
  4. R. Kerkhove, “West End to Woolloongabba: The Early and Aboriginal History of a District”, unpublished paper, F.A.I.R.A., 1985.
  5. A.E. Lavis, W.G. West, Fifty Years of Bowling at South Brisbane: Jubilee 1901-1951, South Brisbane, South Brisbane Bowling Club, 1951.
  6. R. Lawson, Brisbane in the 1890s: A Study of an Australian Urban Society, St. Lucia, University of Queensland Press, 1973.
  7. The Brisbane Courier 25 October 1884, p.3. http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/3435454?searchTerm=”Musgrave Park”&searchLimits=exactPhrase=Musgrave+Park|||anyWords|||notWords|||ltextSearchScope=*ignore*%7C*ignore*|||fromdd|||frommm|||fromyyyy=1850|||tod d|||tomm|||toyyyy=1885|||l-title=16|||lword=*ignore*%7C*ignore*|||sortby=dateAsc Accessed 14/2/13

    Date of Citation: South Brisbane Bowls Club: South Brisbane Heritage and

    Character Study, December 1991; Musgrave Park: City Assets Study 2001; Combined and re-written Feb 2013 (CB)

    Author of Citation: Brisbane City Council City Architecture & Heritage Team

    COPYRIGHT BRISBANE CITY COUNCIL CITY ARCHITECTURE AND HERITAGE TEAM

    Note: This citation has been prepared on the basis of evidence available at the time including an external examination of the building. The statement of significance is a summary of the most culturally important aspects of the property based on the available evidence, and may be reassessed if further information becomes available. The purpose of this citation is to provide an informed evaluation for heritage registration and information. This does not negate the necessity for a thorough conservation study by a qualified practitioner, before any action is taken which may affect its cultural significance.

2 responses to “Musgrave Park Heritage Register

  1. 'aboriginal purpose'

    Musgrave Park. It is notified that the ‘reserve for recreation’ at South Brisbane is in future to be called “Musgrave Park.”The Courier Saturday 25 Oct 1884 OFFICIAL NOTIFICATION from Government gazette.

    For what they are worth these are my views on Musgrave park heritage.

    It is not for any individual or any group to decide what ‘an aboriginal purpose’ is, whether those persons be aboriginal or not.

    A traditional owner told me, ‘aboriginal purpose’ should be defined broadly. I agree with that.

    Musgrave Park and its environs were settled by Europeans in the 1830s.

    Millennia before that, these lands were settled by aboriginal people.

    When whitefellas came, prior possession meant that these lands were aboriginal and served aboriginal purposes as they still do today.
    In reality, I do not think anyone can own land because land is there for a long time and we are here for such a short time.

    All human beings are settlers, except those who evolved into homo sapiens in the Rift Valley of Eastern Africa. These were the original humans. From there, people spread to all corners of the earth including the continent that became Australia. We are all settlers. We were exploited by colonialism and now by imperialism. We need to recognise how as settlers we exploited others. It is not a thing of guilt, it is an economic reality.

    The current administrations at City Hall and Parliament house are seriously in conflict with this history and that written by their own administration. They persist in blinding themselves to aboriginal heritage in Musgrave Park both prior to colonisation and since. Sending in culturally blind Rapid Response teams and police flies in the face of their own version of history (sic).

    By way of evidence for this claim, I refer to extracts from the Brisbane City Plan Heritage register which currently states the following:

    “According to traditional history the indigenous peoples of the region used this area (Musgrave Park and lands nearby ) as a neutral gathering space – a place of reconciliation and talking. With the closure of the Moreton Bay Penal Colony land on both sides of the river was surveyed and sold with little consideration for the indigenous inhabitants or public open space …**

    “From a predominantly northern European community in the first half of the twentieth century, the postwar era saw new Mediterranean immigrants settle in South Brisbane.*

    “Legislative changes allowed indigenous Australians to reconnect with their communities. During the 1960s part of the park was resumed for the expansion of Brisbane State High School and the establishment of a football field parallel to Edmondstone Street disrupted avenues associated with the St Andrews Cross. *

    “Since the 1970s the park has been regularly used for many organised events. These range from small interest group gatherings to large city-wide community festivals.*

    “The annual Paniyiri Festival of the Greek community, which had modest beginnings in the 1970s is one such event. Musgrave Park has also been the venue for robust protests by both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians. The Commonwealth Games in 1982 and the Bicentenary of the landing of the First Fleet in 1988 triggered an outpouring of dissent over the treatment of indigenous people. The threat to the park posed by the nearby Expo ’88 site and perceived gentrification of the local area triggered further public protests.**

    “In response to submissions in 1988 the Brisbane City Council established the Jagera Community Arts Resource Centre in the former South Brisbane Bowls Club facilities and held the combined former bowling greens and tennis court land in trust for Aboriginal purposes.”*

    The re-lighting of the sacred fire each Wednesday is a visual reminder to all that witness it that aboriginal ceremony persists, despite fines, arrests and harassment by the dominant society. It does more than it gives meaning to words which by themselves are meaningless.

    Ian Curr
    18 March 2013

    References
    *City Plan Heritage Register – Musgrave Park – 121 Cordelia St – South Brisbane – CPHR Citation was written by Brisbane City Council City Architecture & Heritage Team, South Brisbane Bowls Club: South Brisbane Heritage and Character Study, December 1991; Musgrave Park: City Assets Study 2001; Combined and re-written Feb 2013 (CB)
    **R. Kerkhove, “West End to Woolloongabba: The Early and Aboriginal History of a District”, unpublished paper, F.A.I.R.A., 1985.

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  2. No to cultural genocide

    Like

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