The first Dornoch Terrace bridge

Dornoch Terrace, a principal thoroughfare of Highgate Hill, follows the line of a ridge. This can be seen in the photo below from the early 1880’s showing Dornoch Terrace as a rough track.

Dornoch Terrace and Toonarbin circa 1884

The track that was to become Dornoch Terrace with Toonarbin in the background ca. 1884 (State Library of Queensland)

When Boundary Street was extended past Dornoch Terrace to the river, the steepness of the ridge at that point caused difficulties. Representations were made to make this extension passable for foot and vehicular traffic from around 1886, such as the petition mentioned in this article.

It was decided to excavate a cutting to reduce the incline on Boundary Street and build a bridge on Dornoch Terrace to pass over the cutting. A tender for construction of the bridge was accepted in 1888. A slip road was built parallel to Dornoch Terrace allowing traffic from Boundary Street to access the higher level of the Terrace. This occasionally caused some problems as reported in the 1939 article below.

Courier-Mail (Brisbane) 8th May 1939 (TROVE)

This is how a sedan car ended up, with the driver, John Robert Goforth, of Hoogley Street, West End, still at the wheel, after it had skidded on the top level of Dornoch Terrace, West End, and crashed backwards over a 12ft. embankment to the lower level of the terrace yesterday morning.

A new bridge for a new University

In 1926, the Senate of the University of Queensland decided to accept the offer of land at St Lucia for its new campus. It was decided to build a bridge facilitating access from the city to the new site crossing the river from Boundary Street. The idea for a bridge to St Lucia had been suggested before this. This article, for example, dates from 1924.

St. Lucia West End bridge Concept 1939 Telegraph, Brisbane. 21st December 1939. TROVE

As described in an article entitled St Lucia: degrees of landscape, orientation of the main University buildings reflect this decision as they face towards the city and the proposed bridge rather than towards the source of prevailing breezes to the north-east in the direction of Dutton Park.

Looking down Boundary Street towards the river. The Forgan-Smith building of the University of Queensland is visible on the left.

Construction of University buildings at St Lucia didn’t begin until 1937. The first of these, the Forgan-Smith building, was completed in 1939. Soon after, preparatory work on the cross river bridge began.

The Forgan-Smith building viewed from Highgate Hill, 1950. (BCC archives)

Widening Boundary Street

In advance of construction of the cross river bridge, it was necessary to widen and reduce further the slope of Boundary Street which would lead to the bridge. The clearance under Dornoch Terrace also needed to be increased.

Work commenced on this undertaking in 1940. In the photograph below of the resulting construction work, the 1888 bridge can be seen in the background.

Boundary Street excavation in 1940. State Library of Queensland


A similar viewpoint today.

 The work caused some inconvenience for pedestrians as reported in the Brisbane Telegraph, on the 27th. April 1940

Pedestrians using the footpath which links Dornoch Terrace to the upper end of Boundary Street West End, must “walk the plank” or, rather, planks, which now span that portion of the cliff which has been considerably damaged by recent blasting in this area. Boundary Street, which will form the main approach to the St. Lucia Bridge, is being lowered 60 feet.

Dornoch Terrace bridge construction walking the planks

Plans abandoned

Construction of the bridge across the river was scheduled to start in 1941 but the war intervened. After the war, a continuing shortage of labour and material, especially steel, led to the ongoing deferment of the project.

For example the Brisbane Telegraph of the 14th November 1950 reported :

Because of difficulties over supplies of structural steel it was not possible to say when the St. Lucia Bridge was likely to be finished, the Premier, (Mr Hanlon) said in Parliament today.

New bridges

The Eleanor Schonell Bridge to the University was completed in 2006, from Dutton Park rather than from West End.

Ninety years after the idea was originally discussed, the 2017 University of Queensland Master Plan called for a bridge to West End to be constructed, this time to the vicinity of Orleigh Park. The original Boundary Street location was mentioned as option 2. There was some controversy regarding the proposal.

Bridge protest signs in Saint Lucia.

Early in 2019, incoming Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner announced plans for five new bridges across the Brisbane River. One of these is proposed to link Saint Lucia with West End and another Toowong and West End. These are the two routes mentioned in the UQ plan. Both are to be for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport.

The Dornoch Terrace bridge is heritage listed.


WOOLLOONGABBA DIVISIONAL BOARD. (1886, April 2). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), p. 6. Retrieved April 17, 2017, from

South Brisbane Council. (1888, December 4). The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 – 1947), p. 3. Retrieved April 17, 2017, from

BRIDGE WANTED. (1924, May 7). Daily Standard (Brisbane, Qld. : 1912 – 1936), p. 4 (SECOND EDITION–3 p.m.). Retrieved April 22, 2017, from

St. Lucia Bridge plans (1950, November 14). Brisbane Telegraph (Qld. : 1948 – 1954), p. 2 (CITY FINAL). Retrieved April 19, 2017, from


Paul Granville is a retired engineer and local historian with a passion for Highgate Hill where he has lived for 34 years.

Over the past three years, Paul has collated details of historical events of interest to him through the lens of newspaper articles retrieved from the National Library of Australia’s Trove site. He says that newspapers provide an excellent source of local history because they once played a much wider role in society than they do today, combining to some extent the roles of television, newspapers, social media, email and even the telephone.

Paul posts extracts on Highgate Hill covering the period from 1850s through to the 1950s. Stories cover such things as the story of long range weather forecaster, Inigo Jones, community activists, histories of Toonarbin and Torbreck, local businesses, local bigamists and conmen.

His research has led him to some fascinating and unexpected finds. One such example is the story of the Reverend Douglas Price, who was once rector of All Saints on Wickham Terrace but was forced to resign as an Anglican priest in Brisbane because of his unconventional theology. Price later established a Progressive Christianity or Modernist Group with followers, among them residents in Highgate Hill, described as, “Christians and Theosophists, Spiritualists and Rationalists, Sceptics, Agnostics and queer sorts of Dogmatists, and cranks of all sorts”.  Price also published books, and his novel, ‘This Earthly Purgatory’ was compared favourably with Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. In his later years Price lived in the home he built in Rosecliffe Street, Highgate Hill which he called “Puck’s Palace”. It was there that he committed suicide in 1906.

You can see this and more of Paul’s posts here, and The Westender hopes to publish more of Paul’s posts in future.

Feature Image by Jan Bowman