The transformation of Kelvin Grove into a modern university-based urban village, continues to evolve.

The centre piece is QUT’s new $80 million Creative Industries Precinct Stage 2.

It’s an impressive building designed to cater for drama, arts and music.

It’s due to be commissioned next year.

But few people know about Kelvin Grove’s long history, which dates back to before white settlement.

Nick Kelly reports.


These rolling hills packed with dense scrub, now a model of education.

The road to this point has been long, over two centuries of exploration and development, but the real story of the area begins long before that.

Uncle Sam Watson, Brisbane Elder: “Brisbane, pre-white contact was a place of great cultural importance, great corroborees, there’s used to massive fires, great feasts, dances, story tellings.”

This was an attractive place for settlers, it was close to Brisbane, but also had fresh water and a plentiful supply of timber.

Prof Helen Klaebe, QUT Historian: “This whole area was great, there was actually a billabong where Mccaskey Park is just up the hill where the original creative industries building was and that park was a great water source.”

A fertile source of food for the natives and a popular gathering place for corroborees, this area around Victoria Park was known as York’s Hollow. The name is a reference to the Turrbal clan leader who the local settler refereed to as the Duke of York because he was always surrounded by muscular tribesman.

Initially the settlers and natives got along, but eventually the relationship degraded.

Towards the end of the 19th century, the indigenous population were driven out of York’s Hollow, concerns about displaced Aborigines invading the city spurred a restriction on their movement.

Boundary Street for instance marked one of the borders which Aboriginal people couldn’t cross after 4pm.

Sam Watson, Brisbane Elder: “The mounted police would ride down Boundary St using their massive bull whips to drive the blacks out of the white settlement and into places like Musgrave Park, and that’s why to this day Aboriginal people still refer to police as bullimen.”

Once a place where people gathered for song and dance, it’s a fitting transformation into this bustling creative hub.

Nick Kelly, QUT News.