A LITTLE bit of Canada’s icy north sits in Victoria Park between Gregory Terrace and Herston Road.
It’s an arrangement of stones called an Inukshuk and was a gift from the people of the Northwest Territories for Australia’s 200th birthday in 1988.
Take a walk through the park from near the Centenary Pool and head towards the Royal Brisbane Hospital in the distance.
A broad walkway goes over six lanes of busy inner city bypass traffic and the railway lane, all of which are well concealed by gardens and bingo, there it is!
The attached sign tells its story:
“On the occasion of Expo 88, Brisbane, Queensland, the people of the Northwest Territories, Canada, offer their congratulations to the Commonwealth of Australia on its 200th anniversary of nationhood. This stone cairn Inukshuk is a symbol of our two countries. High in the Canadian Arctic, Inuit built stone Inukshuks in the shape of humans to direct herds of migrating Caribou to hunters and to act as landmarks for travelers. April 1988”
It’s all very hard to imagine under a clear blue and sunny sky on a stinking hot Brisbane day.
After Expo 88, the Inukshuk was moved to the entrance of the State Library and then to its current location in 2005.
I also like the story of Victoria Park which was set aside in 1875 to be the “lungs of the city” an eloquent description for the times which translates to today’s “green heart”.
Not quite sure how or when it all became an anatomy class.
In any event, at the time it was a huge tract of land. It has since gradually been eaten away by lots of other good causes.
First to go was a slice through the middle for the railway line to Sandgate, unavoidable, they said, because it was far and away the cheapest route. Ah, how good intentions can go astray.
As most northern and northeastern trains now seem to go through Central and Brunswick Street, I quizzed an important-looking Queensland Rail worker at Roma St about the line’s purpose.
He advised that it is now used only for goods trains and the long-haul routes such as the tilt train and the Spirit of the Outback.
And yes, that is a train wash you can see if you peek over the top of the wall.
This black vein through the green heart and lungs was increased at the turn of the new millennium when an adjacent slice was carved off for six lanes of inner city bypass traffic.
Another goodly portion of park disappeared in 1876, when it became the RNA Show (Ekka) grounds.
Some more was removed for the Royal Brisbane Hospital, schools and a rifle range and, much later, the Centenary Pool complex built to celebrate Queensland’s 100th birthday in 1959.
In 1922, golfers wanted a nine-hole course and had their eye on Victoria Park. By the time their proposal was finally accepted four years later, they ended up with a much greater slab than nine holes.
It was their good luck because a section of the park that had been reserved for a university in 1906, was no longer needed after the Mayne family donated the current site at St Lucia.
The course and new clubhouse opened in 1931 and it’s still regarded as one of the best courses in the land.
Victoria Park has also looked like tent city on a few occasions. There have been early migrants, homeless during the depression and US soldiers during World War II.
These days, despite its whittled down size, it is still a pleasant place to walk, enjoy the views and visit the lagoons of Yorks Hollow.
And it’s all quite handy as the lungs/heart are within arm’s length of the CBD.