12+ Facts About Brisbane You (Probably) Didn’t Know

A compilation of interesting and historical facts about Brisbane, many of which you might not know...

Whether you’ve just arrived in the Queensland capital or you’re a local looking to show off your knowledge, there’s never a bad time to learn some facts about Brisbane.

Although it’s Australia’s third-largest city (behind Melbourne and Sydney), Brisbane is a rapidly-growing fan favourite for tourists and Aussies alike. 

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From Brisbane history facts to interesting facts about Brisbane you might not know, we’ve collected some of the lesser-known pieces of trivia from books, around the internet and even some podcasts to bring you some fascinating trivia about our favourite city in Queensland.

Ready to wise up? Read on to find out what we uncovered...

PSST: Interested in finding out more about Brisbane’s history and hidden gems? Take on one of our self-guided treasure and scavenger hunts for plenty of surprises and the chance to top the leaderboard!

Brisbane History Facts

Some facts about Brisbane’s history that will get you thinking about the city’s storied past…

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Brisbane’s First Name was “Meanjin” and Its Second Was “Edenglassie”

For many thousands of years, The Turrbal people, one of the two principal local First Nations groups alongside the Jagera people, knew the area as “Meanjin”.
"Meanjin," translates to 'place shaped like a spike,' referring to the distinctive 'spike' of land formed by a bend in the Brisbane River, where the Brisbane central business district (CBD) now stands.

Meanjin is still the traditional name used for Brisbane.

After colonisation, was named “Edenglassie” the name of Sir Frances Forbes’ (the-then Chief Justice of NSW) estate in Scotland.

In 1834, the “settlement” was declared a town and renamed Brisbane after the-then Governor of NSW, Thomas Brisbane.

The Re-Settlement of Brisbane Involved a Flat-Pack House

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In 1824, after unsuccessfully trying to grow maize in Redcliffe, Moreton Bay, Governor Brisbane ordered that the original settlement had to be moved up the river to present-day Brisbane.

This meant carefully dismantling the rudimentary buildings that had been put up in Redcliffe and ordering a prefab cottage kit from Sydney for the commandant’s official residence. By July 1825, everything had been rebuilt 43 km away where Brisbane now stands.

Queensland’s First Parliament Meeting Happened in the Old Convict Barracks

Penal rule in Brisbane ended in 1842, meaning for the first time, free settlers could arrive in Brisbane legally (although many had already arrived before the declaration). 

On 22 May 1860, the Queensland Parliament had its first meeting in the largest building in Brisbane - the old convict barracks on Queen Street which had been converted since emancipation. 

Brisbane’s First Electric Street Lamps were Lit in 1882

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Which means that Australia’s first recorded use of electricity for the public happened right here in Brisbane! 

An edition of the Sydney Morning Herald, published 7 November 1882, announced the news like this:

“A company is being formed in Brisbane for the introduction of the electric light. Sir Julius Vogel is sending up a 10-lamp plant equal to 20,000 candles, and also an electric engineer, for the purpose of publicly displaying the electric light”. 

(If you’re wondering who Sir Julius Vogel was, he was the 8th Prime Minister of New Zealand, who was also coincidentally the first New Zealander to write a Science Fiction novel.)

The “Boundary” Roads and Streets Found in Brisbane Are Reminders of Oppressive Colonial History

In the mid 1800s, “Boundary” roads and streets were used to segregate Aboriginal peoples and white settlers. 

First Nations people were forced to be outside the city limits by 4pm, Monday to Saturday - and were not permitted entry at all on Sundays. 

The First Cricket Match Played at The Gabba Was Played in 1896

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It was a match between “Parliament” and “The Press”, and was played on 19 December. 

Although it’s now known for being the home of cricket and Aussie Rules, for a brief stint in 1928, greyhound racing meetings were held there too. 

Interesting Facts About Brisbane

Some interesting facts about Brisbane that make you proud to be a Brisbanite!

Brisbane is One of The World’s Sunniest Cities

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At an average of 283 sunny days a year, Brisbane cops a lot of heat for being one of the sunniest cities in the world (mostly out of jealousy!).

With the average temp all year round sitting between 21° and 30° celsius, it’s no wonder that Brisbanites are known for loving the outdoors!

It’s Home to a Heritage-Listed Dunny

In a twist that could only happen in Brissie, the Nundah Air Raid Shelter is probably the most historically significant toilet in the city. 

Designed by Frank Gibson Costello and erected circa 1942 by the Brisbane City Council, this former air raid shelter turned public toilet has made it to the Queensland Heritage Register. 

There are 15 Bridges to Cross Brisbane River With

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Brisbane’s famous Story Bridge was named after a public servant, John Douglas Story, and an average of 97,000 vehicles cross it every day.

It’s a Popular Destination for Filming Movies In 

With the help of CGI and SFX, it’s hard to distinguish Brissy from popular movie sets. But next time you watch The Railway Man (2013), Jackie Chan’s First Strike (1996), or Thor (Ragnarok) (2017) - just remember that’s Brisbane you can see in the background!

Brisbane is Actually Pretty Massive

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Chances are, you already know this if you’re a Brisbanite. But you might not know just how big it really is. 

According to Brisbane City Council, Brisbane covers 1342.7 km2 across 190 mainland suburbs,as well as additional islands and localities in Moreton Bay. And that’s plenty to be getting on with, for now! 

In Brisbane, You Order a “Tally” Not a “Long Neck” (At Least Some Do)

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There’s nothing that lights a fire quite like disputes about regional slang, and this one is a sure fire way to get people riled up.

For some Queenslanders, there’s no such thing as a “long neck” of beer (a commonly used phrase in NSW and Vic). Instead, beers of 750ml are referred to as “tally”’s by many Brisbanites - and if you’re wondering, it’s pronounced “tall” (like the height) “ee”. 

Note: Spelling may differ. Some write “tallie” whereas others use “tally”. 

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