Sunnybank Sign

The Lifted Veil of Sunnybank

“When I was sixteen I was sent to Geneva to complete my course of education; and the change was a very happy one to me, for the first sight of the Alps, with the setting sun on them, as we descended the Jura, seemed to me like an entrance into heaven; and the three years of my life there were spent in a perpetual sense of exaltation, as if from a draught of delicious wine, at the presence of Nature in all her awful loveliness. You will think, perhaps, that I must have been a poet, from this early sensibility to Nature. But my lot was not so happy as that. A poet pours forth his song and believes in the listening ear and answering soul, to which his song will be floated sooner or later. But the poet’s sensibility without his voice — the poet’s sensibility that finds no vent but in silent tears on the Sunnybank, when the noonday light sparkles on the water, or in an inward shudder at the sound of harsh human tones, the sight of a cold human eye—this dumb passion brings with it a fatal solitude of soul in the society of one’s fellow-men.”


Adapted from ‘The Lifted Veil’ in George Eliot. Essays, miscellanies, and poems, Boston: Aldine Books Publishing Co., 1883, p. 432. The word ‘Sunnybank’ substituted from ‘sunny bank’


I too when 16 years of age, in the course of education, gazed on the mountains, much smaller than the Alps, and I descended to my ‘Jura’. It is as the poetic narrator described it.  I say…


The poet’s sensibility that finds no vent but in silent tears in Sunnybank, when the noonday light sparkles on the water, or in an inward shudder at the sound of harsh human tones, the sight of a cold human eye—this dumb passion brings with it a fatal solitude of soul in the society of one’s fellow-men.


Image Source: Orderinchaos, ‘Sign at the entrance to Sunnybank on Mains Road, near Beenleigh Road, Sunnybank, Queensland,’ 10 August 2018.

2016 Meetings – Sunnybank District History Group

Report from the February 2016 Meeting of the Sunnybank District History Group

It was decided by the group that, in the absence of a full executive for the Sunnybank District History Group, with a new Secretary and a new Treasurer to be elected, the program will run as a possible mixture of

  • Topic Speakers and Discussions
  • Show and Tell and Discussions
  • Working Group Sessions
  • Reading Group Discussions

rather than the conventional business meeting format. Business meeting are good for making decisions but tend to be very poor in producing actual outcomes, and this is particularly true when there are fewer members to perform the activities.

Hence, the program for the first half of 2016 will evolve around members’ own history projects. Our program for the first half of the year is as follows:

5th March – Janeth’s presentation on the history of the Kuraby Mosque/Masjid;

2nd April – Beitscke’s presentation on the Stories of Calamvale;

7th May – Celine will discuss the work of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church History Project;

4th June – Neville will demonstrate the historical mapping of Sunnybank District on the Mapping Brisbane History Website;

2nd July – a consideration of history of the Early Ethnic Chinese Community in the Sunnybank District, details to be advised.

Report from the March 2016 Meeting of the Sunnybank District History Group

Janeth spoke on the history of the Kuraby Mosque/Masjid. Originally founded in the early 1990s by the southern African community of that area, the mosque adapted a former Uniting church to suit the requirements of Muslim worship. The original mosque building was burnt down in an arson attack on September 21, 2001, just ten days after the terrorist attacks on New York City; thereby Kuraby became the first mosque anywhere in the world to be damaged or destroyed as a direct response to the attacks of September 11. The new (current) building was the outcome of a collaborative process between members of the Kuraby Islamic Trust and a Yugoslavian Muslim architect. The architectural aesthetic of the mosque is modelled on the prevalent suburban vernacular of South-East Queensland, with its sheltered verandah space, corrugated iron roof, and blockwork construction. It combines international features with indigenous elements of design. The Kuraby Mosque/Masjid community is example of Australian Muslims living their mainstream faith and religion, as members of the wider civil society, and as productive and compassionate citizens of Australia.

2016-03-05 Kuraby Mosque

Report from the April 2016 Meeting of the Sunnybank District History Group

Beitscke spoke on her property history in the former Calamvale area, on Calam Road, now southern Sunnybank Hills. Topics covered were flooding, the introduction of modern drainage and curbing, the bus service, and the introduction and maintenance of power and garbage collection. Neville summarized the history of other parts of the old Calamvale area, with reference to the Parkinson Ward Oral History and residents living in the Beaudesert Road corridor, early land holdings in the nineteenth century and the Calam­Compton families in the early twentieth century, and the first industries – the Browns Plains Timber Reserve and the pastoral run in Sheep Station Gully area. A sizable group attended the presentation, including several former residents of Calamvale, and a few more recent residents. Discussions included memories of Calamvale in the 1960s, 70s, and 1980s.

2016-04-02 Calamvale - Looking Backwards

Report from the May 2016 Meeting of the Sunnybank District History Group

The May 2016 Meeting of the Sunnybank District History Group was the third largest gathering for the organisation, after ‘The Oasis’ and ‘Commonwealth Games’ history events. There were five members and 34 visitors. Celine presented a wide-ranging view on the history of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church. It generated much discussion and sharing of stories from members of the parish community who attended. Celine leads an oral history project within the community, and the challenge was apparent in the work ahead to pull-together those many interesting stories and antidotes into a history; that is, a structured and detailed narrative which can do justice to the diverse memories and experiences of the past. Celine’s presentation provided a good beginning to that process with the willing assistance of the members of the Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church community.

2016-05-07 OLOL History Presentation for SDHG

Report from the June 2016 Meeting of the Sunnybank District History Group

The numbers for the June 2016 Meeting of the Sunnybank District History Group was down after a major effort last month. However, it was a very rain drenched day. After a late start, Neville introduced the work of the Mapping Brisbane History Project by showing the different stages of research. He talked about the two aims of the mapping: to mark sites, and the more ambitious aim to recreate historical landscapes. Neville explained the difference between heritage sites and other historical sites which are lost and forgotten. He gave a tour through Google Earth images of heritage sites in the Sunnybank District, and then showed the Mapping Brisbane History website. The technology held, and a successful tour through the Banoon-Sunnybank area was conducted on the interactive website map, revealing the different features of the information panel.

2016-06-04 Mapping Sunnybank History

Report from the July 2016 Meeting of the Sunnybank District History Group

Using the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data for the community profiles of postcodes of 4109, plus 4108, 4110, 4111, 4112, 4113, 4115, 4116, Neville described the historical mix of ethnic groupings in the Sunnybank District, as well as for the surrounding suburbs; the old areas of Coopers Plains District, the northern areas of the old Browns Plains District, and the eastern areas of the Eight Mile Plains District.

Neville gave serious caution to the erroneous alignment told on the issues of ethnicity and citizenship. Waves of migration into local communities has always caused constellation. There have also been, culturally, very shallow assumptions about the formation of national identity, feed by the disposition to fear ‘foreigners’. The rural communities in the outer areas of Brisbane in the era from the 1880s to the end of World War I were alarmed at large numbers of Irish migrants were arriving in Queensland, and resented the competition from Chinese market gardeners for the local produce industry. There were also questions about the Queensland government’s migration program in Scandinavian countries; Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. The period between the world wars was a time of isolationism. British migration was encouraged with a belief that Queensland would remain an agrarian society modelled on the fair meadows in the English homeland. The massive refugee program in the wake of the Second World War and the early decades of the Cold War changed all of that. And for those committed to a civil, equitable, and just society, based on the ancient idea of the cosmopolitan, it had been a change for the good. In the 1960s the White Australia Policy collapsed, and we also had a renaissance in Australian nationalism which challenged the presumption of assimilation to a British ethos.

In 2011 five million Australians were born overseas, roughly a quarter of the Australian population of 22.34 million. The largest single migrant group in the Sunnybank area are those who came from the People’s Republic of China (6.5 %). Quite surprising, though, given anxiety from some sections of Australian society, is that migrants from the United Kingdom remain one of the largest groups in the local region. In fact UK migrants, as a proportion of the local population of the Algester-Parkinson area, roughly equal the proportion of Chinese migrants in the Sunnybank area. Migration patterns in the local areas are not static, and numbers can be in decline or stabilising among ‘ethnic’ clusters for various local areas. The result of this diverse and varying groupings of those from many different countries is that we have created a modern cosmopolitan society, one where can learn to live together in peace with liberty and prosperity.

2016-07-02 Script for Ethnic Groupings in Sunnybank

2016-07-02 Script for Migrant Stories in Sunnybank

Report from the August 2016 Meeting of the Sunnybank District History Group

Report on the PowerPoint presentation, "The Ethnic Chinese Community in Sunnybank" by Celine Goh, Librarian on Saturday 6 August 2016

2016-08-06 Chinese Ethnic Community in Sunnybank

The interactive PowerPoint presentation by Celine Goh on "The Ethnic Chinese Community in Sunnybank" drew an enthusiastic crowd of 80 people on Saturday 6 August 2016. This is one of the highest attendances at the regular meetings of the Sunnybank District Historical Group (SDHG).

In an overview of the migration patterns, Celine highlighted the fact that migrants from the UK, Europe and New Zealand have continued to top Australia's intake of migrants in the 2011 census. Furthermore, the length of residence by these migrants was far longer than the recent migrants who came from Asia. She emphasized that, based on the official historical data of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there is no fear that Australia has been or will be "swamped by Asians".

Through her illustrative slides, Celine informed the audience of the reasons that attracted an influx of Chinese into the suburb of Sunnybank and its vicinity in the 1980s. In contrast to the Chinese market gardeners who migrated to Sunnybank in the nineteenth century, the more recent ethnic Chinese migrants from mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and South-East Asia were more business entrepreneurs, highly educated professionals or university students.

Two other speakers shared their experiences as migrants to Australia and eventually to Sunnybank in the 1970s and 1980s. They are Ken Cheung (OAM), President of the Cathay Club and Mayer Hou, President of the Taiwan Women's League (2014-2016). Both have formed viable organizations to assist new migrants to settle into the Australian society.

Ken enlightened the audience on the history of Papua New Guinea when it was colonized by the Germans and occupied by the Japanese during World War II. His family endured extreme hardships of war and in 1945, they escaped to Australia on board a submarine. They settled in the south-side of Brisbane. Through the Cathay Club, he and the Papua New Guinean migrants have helped those who have escaped political upheavals in Vietnam, Hong Kong and China to settle smoothly in Australia.

Mayer migrated to Australia due to a desire for more open spaces, a healthier environment and to embark on a new adventure in a new country. Even though she has successfully mastered the English language and has found a career as a human resource lecturer, she still has pertinent questions about living in Australia. This reflects the overall dilemma of many Taiwanese migrants as they are torn between their filial duties of looking after their aged parents in Taiwan and living close to their children who have integrated well into Australian society.

In conclusion, Celine looked at the future of Sunnybank and posed the question whether it would become the Chinatown of Brisbane, displacing the increasingly touristy 'old' Chinatown in Fortitude Valley. The proposed $40 million upgrading of Market Square should lead Sunnybank to be a vibrant community and a commercial powerhouse in the Southside of Brisbane.

Report from the September 2016 Meeting of the Sunnybank District History Group

Report on the PowerPoint presentation on the history of the South Coast Line and Sunnybank Railway Station by Greg Hallam, Queensland Railways historian, on Saturday 3 September 2016.

Greg delivered a fantastic historical presentation which placed the development of the original South Coast line, along with its re-birth in the modern Gold Coast-Airport system, in the context of Queensland Railways. It provided a deeper appreciation of the role of Sunnybank Railway Station in 131 years. The gathering was pleasingly and sufficiently attended with a dozen members and interested railway history enthusiasts.

Report from the October 2016 Meeting of the Sunnybank District History Group

Report on the PowerPoint presentation on the history of Runcorn by Dr Neville Buch on Saturday 1 October 2016. Neville described the history of Runcorn in several ‘sketches’, brief outlines of what we know of Runcorn’s past from research into newspaper reports and the mapping project. A draft research paper based on the first half of the ‘Runcorn Sketches’ presentation has been emailed out. It is available on request.

2016-10-01 Industry, Society, Politics, and Ideology in Runcorn


Report from the March 2017 Meeting of the Sunnybank District History Group

Last month, Dr Hilda Maclean, MPHA (Qld), spoke on “Particularly suited to market gardening”: An Agricultural History of the Sunnybank District”. The presentation, with photographs of farming land and aerial shots of the landscape, increased our knowledge of farm production in the district, well as providing some information about the Chinese market gardeners in Sunnybank.  In particular, we know a little bit more about Jock Hing. We hope to provide a research paper from the presentation for our website in the near future.

2017-02-04 Particularly Suited to Market Gardens

Report from the April 2017 Meeting of the Sunnybank District History Group

Last month, the group discussed on the future of the Sunnybank District History Group. We gained a few more members and a Secretary and Treasurer were finally elected for the SDHG after these positions were vacant for over a year. More information will be available in next month newsletter.


Minutes of the Sunnybank District Historical Group, 4 March 2017 Sunnybank Hills Library- Main Meeting Room.

Minutes of the Sunnybank District Historical Group, 1 April 2017 Sunnybank Hills Library- Main Meeting Room.


Other Documents:

2016 SDHG AGM Minutes

SDHG Historical Images Presentations