Even the name suggests Britain, not just for the London address of Queen’s Gardens, but the whole royal connection.
Not surprisingly it was named after a queen, Queen Victoria, who reigns from high on a plinth at the head of the gardens in front of the gracious old Lands Administration building, built 1901-1906, which is now the Conrad Hotel attached to the Treasury Casino on the other side of the square.
It was, after all, Queen Victoria who put the “Queen” into “Queensland” and this is the only monument of her in Brisbane.
The bronze statue is based on an original in Portsmouth, southern England, by renowned British sculptor Thomas Brock (he also created the Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens and the distinctive white and gold monument in front of Buckingham Palace).
It was unveiled in 1906, only five years after the long-reigning sovereign’s death and the federation of Australia as a united nation, although the gardens, which are now heritage-listed, were not established around it until 1963 when the site was cleared of remnant buildings.
That was a time when not a lot of consideration was given to the history that was being put under the bulldozer and demolition ball!
In the first days of the penal colony the site had a cottage, lumber yard, engineer’s store and workshops.
The gardens though are in an historic part of Brisbane, taking up a city block bound by George, Elizabeth and William Streets, with the old State Library on one side, the original treasury building on another and the old commissariat stores just down the street.
The park has two strips of footpath, some lined with palms, coming in diagonally from the corners to meet at the queen.
On the river corner of the gardens is a statue of T.J. Ryan who was Queensland Premier from 1915-19.
There’s a Royal Australian Air Force memorial on another corner and on a third, a German World War I field gun, a “trophy of British Valour”.
It was presented to the Queensland by Lord Kitchener on behalf of King George V in August 1917.