20 Trivia, Fun Facts & Vintage Pics of Brisbane

Brisbane is a fantastic, blooming city that draws people from all over to take in her gorgeous sights. But Brisbane has changed dramatically throughout its history and holds tons of fascinating secrets that you might not be aware of.

Freely settled officially starting in 1842, Brisbane became the capital of the colony of Queensland and the centre for commerce by the 1880s. Since then, it blossomed into the largest city in Australia by landmass with the 3rd biggest population.

Check out the following trivia, fun facts, and vintage photos of Brisbane!

Elizabeth Street, Brisbane, 1939
Elizabeth Street, Brisbane, QLD, 1939

1. Brisbane's Nickname

Australians love their slang, and especially their abbreviations. Locals have therefore dubbed their beloved city "Brissie" or sometimes "Brizzie."

Many shops and products have even taken it on in stride, naming their locales after the nickname. Brisbane has also been lovingly called "Brisvegas."

2. Brisbane's First Lamington

Yummy Lamingtons!

Yep, that's right! The famous Aussie dessert that every Australian grows up knowing was first created in Brisbane. The food was named after either Lord Lamington (who served as governor of Queensland at the time) or his wife, Lady Lamington.

Supposedly, their French chef, Armand Galland, invented the dessert on a whim by cutting up pieces of sponge cake, dipping them in chocolate, and then covering them in coconut.

3. The Davis Cup in 1958

The Davis Cup, known worldwide as an international event in men's tennis, was played in Brisbane in 1958. It was the 47th edition of the cup, and the United States was up against Australia.

Sadly for Australia, the US took the title. Still, it was remembered as a fierce battle.

Davis Cup
Queensland Newspapers Pty Ltd. “1958 Davis Cup Brisbane.”

4. Brisbane's Aboriginal Beginning

Before Brisbane was colonized by England, it was occupied by the Yugara and Turrbal aboriginal tribes. They called it "Meanjin" which means "place shaped like a spike."

Blacksmith Shop On Oxley Road, Oxley, Brisbane, Ca.1888
Blacksmith shop on Oxley Road, Oxley, Brisbane, QLD, ca. 1888

5. Queen Street Convict Barracks

Although Queen Street is now known as a centre for great shopping, it wasn't always such a cheery place. From 1827 to 1830, a convict barracks was located on the corner of Queen and Albert Streets. There was even a flogging triangle in the courtyard used to punish disobedience.

James Hunter's Boot Manufacturing Shop, Queen Street, Brisbane, 1889
James Hunter's boot manufacturing shop, Queen Street, Brisbane, QLD, 1889

6. Central Railway Station of 1926

The scene surrounding the Central Railway Station on Ann Street certainly looked much different back in 1926.

Marlborough Flats In New Farm, Brisbane, Ca. 1904
Marlborough Flats in New Farm, Brisbane, ca. 1904

7. WWII's Busiest Submarine Port

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan, the US entered the Second World War and began diverting ships to Brisbane on their way to Pearl Harbor. Brisbane eventually hosted 75,000 American troops.

8. Brisbane is Sun City

Did you know that Brisbane has an average of 283 days of sun per year? That's a whole lot of time to soak up the fun and activities in the great weather.

9. Bridge Construction, Bowen Terrace

The Story Bridge was opened in July of 1940 and was 2,549 feet long.This photo from 1934 shows the beginning of the construction of the bridge.

Bowen Terrace Brisbane
Baseline measurement in Bowen Terrace Brisbane 19 June 1934

10. The Story Bridge Twin

The famous landmark of Brisbane, the Story Bridge, actually has a twin in Montreal, Canada. It's called the Jacques Cartier Bridge. It was built first and influenced the design of its Brisbane counterpart.

Queensland State Archives 49 King George Square And Brisbane City Hall Adelaide Street Brisbane, 1930
Brisbane City Hall, 1930

11. Largest City Hall

Brisbane City Hall is the largest one in the entire country.

This is mostly due to the clock tower, which reaches a height of 92 metres.

12. The Underground Opera Company

This opera company has converted the Spring Hill Reservoirs into a concert venue.

The heritage-listed reservoirs were formerly used as underground water storage, but are now host to renowned opera singers from all over the world.

13. Home to Record flying

Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, who was born in Brisbane, was the first man to fly over the Pacific ocean from the US to Australia. He left from California and landed in Brisbane, spending a record 83 hours and 38 minutes in the air in 1928.

Food Shop At Eagle Farm, Brisbane, 1944
Food shop at Eagle Farm, Brisbane, 1944

14. Macadamia Roots

The first cultivated Macadamia tree in the world resides in the City Botanical Garden of Brisbane. It was planted in 1858 and has been thriving ever since.

15. Undeveloped Land at Northgate Hill

This photo shows how much Brisbane has changed; the Northgate Hill area is now highly developed, whereas here it looks barren.

Nundah, Brisbane
View towards Nundah, Brisbane, 1921

16. World's Best Downtown

In 2003, Downtown Brisbane was gifted with the title of the world's best by the International Downtown Association. If you've never been, you better jump to it!

Timber Cottage For Sale At Boggo Road Junction, Dutton Park, Brisbane, 1910
Timber cottage for sale, Dutton Park, 1910

17. Ekka-amazing

Brisbane is home to Ekka, Queensland's annual agricultural show.

It draws a whopping 400,000 visitors each year and takes place in August.

18. Largest Koala Sanctuary

The Lone Pine Sanctuary is located in Fig Tree Pocket, and it's both the largest koala sanctuary in the world as well as the oldest.

19. The Visit of Princess Alexandra

Princess Alexandra
Princess Alexandra at the Royal National Show, 1959

In 1959, Queensland had its 100th anniversary of the founding of the colony.

Princess Alexandra came to visit Brisbane on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II.

She happened to be a very popular member of the royal family at the time.

20. How Many Bridges?

Did you know that Brisbane River has 15 bridges that cross it? Some are more popular than others, and of course, Story Bridge is the most famed of all.

Second Permanent Victoria Bridge, Brisbane, 1926
Cars, trams & horse-drawn carriages travelling on the second permanent Victoria Bridge, Brisbane, 1926
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