As a penal colony, Brisbane did not permit the erection of private settlements nearby for many years. As the inflow of new convicts steadily declined, the population dropped. From the early 1830s the British government questioned the suitability of Brisbane as a penal colony. Allan Cunningham's discovery of a route to the fertile Darling Downs in 1828, the commercial pressure to develop a pastoral industry, and increasing reliance on Australian wool, as well as the expense of transporting goods from Sydney, were the major factors contributing to the opening of the region to free settlement. In 1838, the area was opened up for free settlers, as distinct from convicts.

An early group of Lutheran missionaries from Germany were granted land in what is now the north side suburb of Nundah. In 1839 the first three surveyors, Dixon, Stapylton and Warner arrived in Moreton Bay to prepare the land for greater numbers of European settlers by compiling a trigonometrical survey. From the 1840s, settlers took advantage of the abundance of timber in local forests. Once cleared, land was quickly utilized for grazing and other farming activities. The convict colony eventually closed.

The free settlers did not recognise local aboriginal ownership and were not required to provide compensation to the Turrbul aboriginals. Some serious affrays and conflicts ensued—most notably resistance activities of Yilbung, Dundalli, Ommuli, and others. Yilbung, in particular, sought to extract regular rents from the white population on which to sustain his people, whose resources had been heavily depleted by the settlers. By 1869, many of the Turrbul had died from gunshot or disease, but the Moreton Bay Courier makes frequent mention of local indigenous people who were working and living in the district. In fact, between the 1840s and 1860s, the settlement relied increasingly on goods obtained by trade with aboriginals—firewood, fish, crab, shellfish—and services they provided such as water-carrying, tree-cutting, fencing, ring-barking, stock work and ferrying. Some Turrbul escaped the region with the help of Thomas Petrie, who gave his name to the suburb of Petrie in the Moreton Bay region north of Brisbane.

Development In The Early Years Of The Colony Of Queensland

On 6 September 1859, the Municipality of Brisbane was proclaimed. The next month, polling for the first council was conducted. John Petrie was elected the first mayor of Brisbane. Queensland was formally established as a self-governing colony of Great Britain, separate from New South Wales, in 1859. Originally the neighbouring city of Ipswich was intended to be the capital of Queensland, but it proved to be too far inland to allow access by large ships, so Brisbane was chosen instead. But it was not until 1902 that Brisbane was officially designated a city.

The 1893 Black February floods caused severe flooding in the region and devastated the city. Raging flood waters destroyed the first of several versions of the Victoria Bridge. Even though gold was discovered north of Brisbane, around Maryborough and Gympie, most of the proceeds went south to Sydney and Melbourne. The city remained an underdeveloped regional outpost, with comparatively little of the classical Victorian architecture that characterized southern cities.

A demonstration of electric lighting of lamp posts along Queen Street in 1882 was the first recorded use of electricity for public purposes in the world. The first railway in Brisbane was built in 1879, when the line from the western interior was extended from Ipswich to Roma Street Station. First horse-drawn, then electric trams operated in Brisbane from 1885 until 1969.

In 1887, the Yungaba Immigration Centre was established at Kangaroo Point. The two-story brick building is listed on the Queensland Heritage Register. Tramway employees stood down for wearing union badges on 18 January 1912 sparked Australia's first General strike, the 1912 Brisbane General Strike which lasted for five weeks. The first ceremony to honour the fallen soldiers at Gallipoli was held at St John's Cathedral on 10 June 1915. The tradition would later grow into the popular Anzac Day ceremony.

In an effort to prevent overcrowding and control urban development, the Parliament of Queensland passed the Undue Subdivision of Land Prevention Act 1885, preventing congestion in Queensland cities relative to others in Australia. This legislation, in addition to the construction of efficient public transport in the form of steam trains and electric trams, encouraged urban sprawl. Although the initial tram routes reached out into established suburbs such as West End, Fortitude Valley, New Farm, and Newstead, later extensions and new routes encouraged housing developments in new suburbs, such as the western side of Toowong, Paddington, Ashgrove, Kelvin Grove and Coorparoo.

This pattern of development continued through to the 1950s, with later extensions encouraging new developments around Stafford, Camp Hill, Chermside, Enoggera and Mount Gravatt. Generally, these new train lines linked established communities, although the Mitchelton line (later extended to Dayboro) and before being cut back to Ferny Grove) did encourage suburban development out as far as Keperra.

Subsequently, as private motor cars became affordable, land between tram and train routes was developed for settlement, resulting in the construction of Ekibin, Tarragindi, Everton Park, Stafford Heights, and Wavell Heights.


Amalgamation of local government areas

In 1924, the City of Brisbane Act was passed by the Queensland Parliament, consolidating the City of Brisbane and the City of South Brisbane; the Towns of Hamilton, Ithaca, Sandgate, Toowong, Windsor, and Wynnum; and the Shires of Balmoral, Belmont, Coorparoo, Enoggera, Kedron, Moggill, Sherwood, Stephens, Taringa, Tingalpa, Toombul, and Yeerongpilly to form the current City of Greater Brisbane, now known simply as the City of Brisbane, in 1925.

To accommodate the new, enlarged city council, the current Brisbane City Hall was opened in 1930. Many former shire and town halls were then remodelled into public libraries, becoming the nucleus of Greater Brisbane's branch system. During the Great Depression, a number of major projects were undertaken to provide work for the unemployed, including the construction of the William Jolly Bridge and the Wynnum Wading Pool.