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Postcode: 4106  |  Distance to CBD: 9 km

Welcome to Rocklea
Most people associate Rocklea with the markets which is not at all surprising as Brisbane Markets, our famous fruit and vegetable markets have been at Rocklea since 1964. There are two public markets held there on weekends - the Saturday Fresh Market for fresh food and vegetables and the Sunday Discovery Market for secondhand bargains. Rocklea is a mainly industrial suburb with some residential areas and its own school, the Rocklea State School which opened in 1885.

Rocklea is roughly 9km from Brisbane’s CBD. Over 39% of households in the area are couples without children, 39% are couples with children and 17% are single parent households. 92% of the dwellings in this area are stand-alone houses, with units accounting for a further 5%. The houses are mainly older-style, timber and tin structures.

Moorooka Central, Oxley Shopping Centre and Corinda Shopping Centre make it easy to find just what you’re after without leaving the area.

Locals Comments
Leanne says: The name says it all: it is a strong sounding name and gives it a strong but gentle feel about the district.


9 km south of the Brisbane CBD.

Rocklea Markets, rail station

Most of the suburb of Rocklea is comprised of the famous Brisbane Markets - the fruit and vegetable wholesale outlet for the whole of Brisbane. Across the road from this site is the Department of Primary Industries' Animal Research Farm. Further along are extensive warehouse facilities and light industrial areas. The residential aspect of the suburb is confined to small pockets and consists of older-style houses from the 1950s and 1960s. Residents can take advantage of the proximity to neighbouring suburbs of Sherwood, Moorooka and Salisbury for retail facilities. The suburb has not seen a great deal of residential development largely because of the demarcation of commercial and industrial sites - the historical median house price reflects this lack of housing development but the suburb has seen recent strong growth as a result of investor interest in lower priced property.


Aboriginal history
The Jagara Tribe occupied the area south of the Brisbane River, before the arrival of white men in 1823. The Aborigines in this area were probably originally of the Yerongpan clan, who lived along Oxley Creek. The flat country of Rocklea was covered in vine scrub and Aborigines lived and hunted along Oxley Creek. The creeks abounded in fish, and wild duck lived on the lagoon near the railway station. Rocky Water Holes Creek connected a series of lagoons that provided edible lilies as well as fish and molluscs.

In 1823, three lost cedar cutters, Pamphlett, Finnegan and Parsons, passed through Yeronga to Oxley Creek, where they found two canoes, which were placed there to enable people to cross the river.
A large fig tree marked the site of a corroboree ring, which was located on the Rice property at Newman Street. The Aborigines continued in the area for a while after white settlement. In the 1860s, David Lahey was scared of them, but he was never harmed as he made his way past their camp. They lived near the settlers and exchanged spears for flour until the land was cleared and they moved away.

Urban development

In the 1850s Rocky Water Holes, as Rocklea was known, was a campsite for bullock teams and their drivers. It then became a stop for the coach route between Brisbane and Ipswich or Beaudesert. Timber getters came in the 1850s to cut trees for the expanding township of Brisbane. Most of the land in Rocklea was sold by the early 1860s, some for as little as $2 per acre. Initially arrowroot and cotton were grown, but the end of the US Civil War reduced demand for the latter. The pioneers then turned to growing sugar cane until a series of severe winters destroyed the industry around Brisbane.

Ballieres Queensland Gazetteer of 1876, described it thus: Rocky Waterholes (Co. Stanley) is a small postal village on the Rocky Waterholes Creek and the Stable Swamp Creek, bearing E to W., and both liable to floods. In the neighbourhood are Grime's sugar and saw mills and Dr. Waugh's sugar mill. The district is agricultural, cotton and sugar-cane, maize, oats and other vegetable products being raised in considerable quantities. The nearest township is Ipswich, and there is a good main road from Brisbane to that place passing through Rocky Waterholes. With Brisbane there is no regular communication except by horse or dray to Ipswich or Goodna, and thence by train. The hotels are the Crown and the Rocky Waterholes. The population numbers about 100 persons in and about the village. There is one place of worship belonging to the Primitive Methodists. The Rocky Waterholes racecourse is near the village.

In 1884, the rail line to Loganlea went through and a shorter name was required for a station so Rocklea was chosen. The town of Rocklea then began to develop around the Crown (Highway) and Kelly (Rocklea) Hotels and the blacksmith and store. The floods of 1887, 1893 and 1907 submerged much of the suburb and many farmers left the area.

In 1917 the Rocklea Agricultural and Industrial Association formed. A large munitions plant was built during the Second World War and this spurred the industrialisation of the area and the improvement in transport. In the 1960s, Thiess were contracted to elevate Ipswich Road and this resulted in the removal of the eastern half of Rocklea. This development was a serious blow to the character and community of Rocklea.

Notable residents
Mary Hannay Foott was born in Scotlnd in 1846 and migrated to Australia with her family when she was seven. She was one of the first students at the Melbourne National Gallery School before marrying Thomas Wade Foott and moving to Western Queensland.

After the death of her husband in 1884, she and her two sons moved to Toowoomba and then Rocklea. She published her first book of poetry, Where the Pelican Builds and other poems, and worked as a journalist and editor for the Queenslander and Brisbane Courier. She moved to Bundaberg in 1907, but continued writing until her death in 1918.

Amos Radcliffe emigrated from England to the Victorian goldfields. In 1861 he moved to Queensland with his wife Sarah and three children. He bought land on both sides of Oxley Creek. He was one of the first to grow sugar in the area, and he built the first sugar mill. After the failure of sugar in the area he grew arrowroot, maize and potatoes. He built a large house, on what was later the Department of Primary Industries land. He lived there until his death in 1909.

William Coote was a significant figure in the development of Queensland. He was born in 1832, and in 1852 he migrated to Tasmania, where he spent twelve months in jail for bankruptcy. He was qualified as both an architect and an engineer and as such was responsible for designing the old Brisbane Town Hall, amongst much controversy. He was an entrepreneur in the field of sericulture and the failed Brisbane Tramway Company and in 1863 he made an unsuccessful bid to enter politics. However, he is best known as an author, journalist and editor. He was the editor of the Brisbane Courier and the Observer newspapers and author of History of the Colony of Queensland (1882) and numerous smaller works. He was active politically, being a devoted Utilitarian and part of the Northern Separationist movement. Premier Herbert referred to his colonial career as iscreditable notoriety. Salisbury was named after his house and sericulture establishment in the area of the Rocklea Showgrounds. He settled there around 1868 and planted around 5000 mulberries to feed his silkworms. These did very well and in 1874 he was given a Government grant to further develop the industry. However, shortly afterward a stock of diseased silkworms from Italy eradicated his entire crop. After he lost his job as an editor he moved to Townsville where he lived till his death in 1898.

Rocklea State School began in 1884, when a Building Committee was formed after a meeting at the Yeerongpilly Divisional Board office. 12 acres in ten allotments from the Ravenswood Estate were proposed as a site for 12. A representative from the Department of Public Instruction suggested more was needed, so twelve lots were purchased.

John Byers of Ipswich constructed the first school buildings for 79. In September 1885, John Gordon Stewart opened the school with an enrolment of forty children. By the end of the year, the enrolment had risen to 71. Enrolments gradually rose over the years. In 1928, they peaked at around 260, but then rapidly feel when Moorooka School and St Brendans both opened. During the Second World War, the United States Army took over the school, before moving to the showgrounds.

The Rocklea show was a major event in the lives of people in the district. It was held in September and people from many adjoining areas would come to look at the exhibits, and eat fairy floss and go on the rides. In 1917 the Rocklea Agricultural and Industrial Association was formed and in 1929 they bought 15 acres on Ipswich Road, which became the showgrounds and trotting track
Rocklea Markets opened for trading in 1964. For eighty years the Municipal Markets had been held in Roma Street, but over the years it had expanded into Turbot Street and it was now too big to be held in the city. The site at Rocklea was chosen to be close to both rail and road transport. It includes facilities for ripening and storage as well as for the markets themselves.

Reference: BRISbites, 2000



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