The University of Queensland - 100 years old in 2010

The University of Queensland was established by an act of the Queensland Parliament on 10th December 1909 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Queensland's separation from New South Wales.

On 16th April 1910, the first Senate of the University was officially gazetted with this date being celebrated by the University as its foundation date.  The first classes took place in 1911 with 83 students attending lectures in Government House, George Street, Brisbane. The building, now known as Old Government House, is situated in the grounds of Queensland University of Technology.

University of Queensland, George Street, ca. 1930. Image number 62607.

Progress was slow during the First World War but afterwards, research and teaching expanded as demand for higher education increased. The University soon outgrew the buildings in George Street, and the search for a larger campus began.

A site at Victoria Park was secured by statute in 1922 as a possible permanent home for the University. later, between 1927 and 1929, Dr James O’Neil Mayne and his sister Miss Mary Emelia Mayne, provided funds to the Brisbane City Council to assist in the acquisition of land at St Lucia for the University's permanent home.

Doctor James O’Neill Mayne, 1861 - 1939. Image number 108322.

Named after the sugar-producing island of St Lucia in the West Indies, the area originally was used to farm sugar and other crops. Lack of finance slowed the development of the site and the University leased the land to the State Government for use as a Farm School until construction could begin in March 1938.

Ground improvement work underway at the University of Queensland site, St. Lucia, Brisbane, 1937. Image number 111903.

The first building, later named the Forgan Smith Building after the Premier of the day, was completed in 1939. The building was used for military purposes during the Second World War, being initially used as the advanced headquarters for the Allied Land Forces in the South West Pacific. The University's move from George Street to St Lucia was undertaken from 1946.


In 1990, the University merged with Queensland Agricultural College.  The University of Queensland further expanded in the 1990's with the establishment of its Ipswich campus.

Images of the University of Queensland from the John Oxley Library photographic collection are available via the State Library's One search catalogue.


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Hello,I really like the UQ photo with the Panorama Hotel in the foregrounds. Are you able to send me a higher resolution photo to use on our social media? I'll ensure that the State Library is credited.

Hi WendyThanks for your question. I'll contact you directly via email.Myles Sinnamon