A Suburban Oasis: Sunnybank's Oasis Swimming Pool & Gardens

For decades there was an Oasis, a much-loved complex of pools and tropical gardens located right in the middle of suburban Sunnybank in Brisbane! The Oasis Swimming Pool and Gardens was eight acres of lawns, tropical gardens, three swimming pools, a children's wading pool, playground, miniature zoo of native birds and animals, a tearoom, dance floor and reception centre that was used for many local weddings and events. The tropical gardens themselves attracted national and international attention. 

The Oasis was created by Mrs Mabel Pottinger and her two sons, Norman and Lewis who turned their former flower, fruit, vegetable and poultry farm into the attraction. It all started in 1937 when the family built a tennis court amongst their well kept lawns and gardens. The family then added a swimming pool, digging it themselves by hand, drilling two bores and a well to draw water. The Pottinger's opened their facilities to the public in 1938 as the Oasis Tourist Gardens. The Oasis really started to take off in 1942 when during the Second World War thousands of American military personnel stationed in Brisbane used the Oasis as a rest and recreation venue. Over the years Norman and Lewis continued to add pools and new attractions to the property to increase patronage. The Oasis remained a popular Brisbane attraction for 51 years until in 1989 the owners sold the property to developers to build a housing estate. By 1989 attendance numbers had slumped with the increase ownership of backyard swimming pools and automobiles, meaning people could now easily drive to the beaches of the Sunshine and Gold Coasts. 

To document this historic Queensland attraction, the John Oxley Library has collected photographs, postcards and manuscripts relating to the Oasis Swimming Pool and Gardens. An example of this material is below. If you have any of your own material relating to the Oasis, please consider donating these to the John Oxley Library collection by emailing qldmemory@slq.qld.gov.au.

Oasis complex in Sunnybank, Brisbane. Part of the Sands Card series of postcards. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Negative number: 194765

Oasis swimming pool, Sunnybank, Brisbane, 1964. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Negative number: 97303

Two women posing in bikinis at a swimming pool. 31557, W A Jones & Co photographs, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image number: 31557-0001-0414

Swimmers at the Oasis Swimming Pool in Station Road, Sunnybank, Brisbane. 32027, Rosemary Spenceley's colour slides of Brisbane and Southeast Queensland. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image number 32027-0001-0009

Man diving into the swimming pool at the Oasis in Sunnybank, 7032 Kahlert collection of colour slides. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image number 7032-0001-0084

People relaxing by the swimming pool at the Oasis Gardens in Sunnybank. 7032 Kahlert collection of colour slides, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image number 7032-0001-0085

Aerial view of houses with backyard swimming pools, Brisbane 1955-1965. (Area believed to be Oasis Swimming Pool and Gardens). 28413 Rob Tonge's Slides. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image number 28413-0001-0005

Oasis Gardens photographs. 31510 Peter Fischmann Oasis Gardens photographs. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image numbers 0001-0003 (left) and 0001-0001 (right)

Oasis Gardens photographs. 31510 Peter Fischmann Oasis Gardens photograph. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image number 31510-0001-0004

Oasis Gardens photographs. 31510 Peter Fischmann Oasis Gardens photographs. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image number 31510-0001-0008

Oasis Gardens photographs. 31510 Peter Fischmann Oasis Gardens photographs. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image number 31510-0001-0009,

31886/14 Don Finlay motion picture collection, Wood chop competition. See 10.24 for film footage of the Oasis Swimming Pool and Gardens. (State Library of Queensland collection)

27396/18 Trevor Cottee Collection 1928-1969, Film 17: 'Family reel 5'. See 5:27 for film footage of the Oasis Swimming Pool and Gardens. (State Library of Queensland collection)

32165 Edgar Tolmie motion pictures, 1945-1970, Film 10. See 4:16 for film footage of the Oasis Swimming Pool and Gardens and the mini-zoo. (State Library of Queensland collection)

View the collection...

Many people have nostalgic memories of the Oasis, be it taking a cool dip on those sweltering summer afternoons, meeting friends at the kiosk or attending events in the reception venue surrounded by the world class tropical garden. Please comment below and share your memories.

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Wonderful memories. Nothing matches this today.
Southbank is great but The Oasis and the Acacias were the best.
Why did they close?

Hi, the owners of the Oasis sold the property to developers in 1989, attendance numbers had slumped with the increase ownership of backyard swimming pools and automobiles, meaning people could now easily drive to the beaches of the Sunshine and Gold Coasts.

brings back wonderful memories of swimming there as a pupil of Salisbury State Hight School.

Great article bringing back years of happy memories as a child and teenager (circa 1955 - 1965) when our family went to the Oasis many Sunday mornings. Many thanks.

Thank youuuu.....for the most fab memories....and, yes, its still raining here in London UK!

The lush tropical foliage and many hidey holes in the cool and verdant Oasis made it a magical attraction for young teenagers in the mid 1970s. I spent many excited days playing hide and seek in the gardens and pools with our combined family. It's been a pleasure to find so many others treasure their Oasis memories, running wild in that wet Sunnybank jungle.

Even though the Oasis no longer exists ‘physically’, it still and always will retain a very special place in my heart ❤️ as part of my young adult hood growing up in beautiful tropical Brisbane. ☀️💦🏊🏻‍♂️🌴🦜

Love this!

My brother drowned here in January 1988. I used to have fond memories of this place until that day. I am sorry but for me it’s a memory I wish to not keep no matter how lovely the gardens were

I have vivid memories of visiting Oasis from mid 1960's to mid 1980's and have some photos and videos if you are interested.

Hi Paulett, we would love to see your photos and assess if they would be suitable for the John Oxley Library collection. Could you please email us at qldmemory@slq.qld.gov.au, let us know your contact details and some info about the photos and one of our Librarians will be in touch!

Yes. there were so many memories there, I use to go with my parents when I was 5...THEN I TOO MY KIDS THERE AS I GREW UP.. I CAN remember the crocodile in the cage there and all the beautiful gardens..THE WATER WAS always cold as he was fed by underground springs..I can remember also training there in the winter time for the QLD titles THERE WERE NO HEATED BATHS IN Brisbane.. and I use to get out like a frozen chook..it was freezing.. thanks for the wonderful old memories..

Such great memories going there as a child and young adult with friends, meeting friends there...
This place was definitely world class and needs to be replicated to the closest practical detail- South Bank is not even in the same league as The Oasis Gardens were- it put Brisbane on the map. Sad that it was sold to developers...
Thanks for the memories 👍