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John Oxley Library


By JOL Admin | 14 October 2008

Parts of Coronation Drive at Toowong will feature in a forthcoming segment on Channel Seven's Great South East program and it is opportune to look at the history of this well known Brisbane suburb. 

The suburb's name is said to have originated from Aboriginal language sources, as follows:

  • a sound imitating bird calls, including the Flinders Cuckoo and the Rain Bird.
  • relevant Aboriginal words or phrases for rich and fertile, a place of plenty and a bend in the river.
  • John Oxley who is believed to have stopped for water at Middle Creek.
  • J. Mc Dougall, an absentee landlord who acquired land in the area between the present day Milton and Moggill. The subdivision of part of this land marked the beginnings of Toowong as we know it today.
  • W. Cribb.
  • J.B. Fewings.
  • R.L. Drew (August 1862).  R.L. Drew subdivided his land and called the collection of land subdivisions, Toowong.

Royal Exchange Hotel, ca. 1908.  Image No: 10577

Mt. Coot-tha

Mt. Coot-tha is another prominent and well known feature of the area, with some relevant milestones as follows:

  • The Reverend M. Bell applied for land at “One Tree Hill” (1865).
  • The area was gazetted as a public park/reserve (1880).
  • In 1883 the name changed to Mt. Coot-tha (said to be an Aboriginal word for honey).


Sydney House was built by Thomas Finney.  This was a two storey mansion with ornate features including wrought iron balustrading and stained glass windows.  The residence was later demolished to make way for the construction of the ABC studios, that formerly occupied the site.

Sydney House, ca. 1931.  Image No: 16482

Church Street, Toowong (subsequently changed to Jephson Street) - a number of early churches were constructed in this one street – Church of England (1875); Primitive Methodist (1876); Wesleyan (1879); and Baptist (1881).


Some important dates in Toowong's history and development include:

  • 1860 – planning begins for a new Brisbane cemetery.
  • 1870 – The first church (Anglican) is established.
  • 1871 – Toowong is chosen as the site for a new Brisbane cemetery.
  • 1874 – Railway and tram services are established.

Toowong tram, ca. 1905 Image No: 44042

  • 1875 – The new Toowong cemetery is officially opened.
  • 1875 – First Indooroopilly Bridge is constructed.
  • 1870s – housing estates Kensington and Sylvan Grove are developed.
  • 1880 – Toowong Shire Council is established.
  • 1887 – Presbyterian Church is opened.
  • 1903 – First meeting of the Toowong Bowls Club.
  • 1931 – Brisbane Boys College opens.

more photographs of Toowong


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