After living in Brisbane for sixteen plus years and thinking I was 'Miss Know-it-All' with regards to this stunning river city, I was totally astounded when I discovered the very impressive Captain Burke Park in Kangaroo Point, tucked away neatly underneath the Story Bridge. Who knew! And to enhance the attraction of this gorgeous park, it has a wonderfully romantic story to go with it.
Captain Burke Park is tucked away neatly underneath the Story Bridge
The Captain Burke Park was named in 1978 in honour of seaman, John Burke. The story goes that John Burke landed in Brisbane in August 1862, on an old sailing ship, the Erin-go-bragh, bringing Irish immigrants to Queensland. This young sailor had fallen in love with Alice Swords, one of the immigrants on the ship and not wanting to leave her alone in a strange country, promptly jumped ship. It's said that Burke arrived with a personal fortune of sixpence, which he claimed, in the best traditions of the sea, he spent on rum.
Fabulous family activities abound at Captain Burke Park
The Queensland authorities were enthusiastic about new settlers and had no qualms about rounding up deserting sailors and putting them to good use. Burke's skills as an experienced seaman soon gained him employment back on the water.
Burke obtained a berth on the Honeyman and Sons steamer, Louisa, and being an ambitious man, studied for, and obtained his Master's Certificate.
By 1887 the love-struck sailor had started the John Burke shipping line, a company recognised for more than one hundred years, for its trade up and down the Queensland coast. John Burke died in 1918, having built up his company from a single vessel to a small coastal fleet.
At the eastern end of Holman Street, at the edge of the park facing the Brisbane River, visitors to the Captain Burke Park will discover a touching bronze sculpture by Phillip Piperides, that has been named Mother and Son seeking freedom. This symbolic memorial is a dedication to honour the many thousands of boat people, who lost their lives tragically at sea, whilst fleeing Vietnam during the post-Vietnam war years of 1975 to 1995.
An acknowledgment and tribute to the struggles of the Vietnamese 'boat people'
The term 'boat people' was first used in the 1970s when large numbers of boats carrying refugees looking for asylum from the aftermath of the Vietnam War, started arriving in Australia. More than half of the Vietnamese population was displaced during these years, with more than two million seeking to escape South Vietnam to escape Communist rule. Most of these refugees fled to neighbouring Asian countries but some took to boats to come to Australia.
The 'Mother and Son' memorial is a way of acknowledging and paying tribute to the struggles of the Vietnamese boat people and the problems they faced, which included hunger, storms, pirates, getting lost and capsizing on their journeys. Visitors are invited to stop and reflect on this very important part of Australian-Vietnamese history.
Stretch of low tide sandy beach is ideal for walking and tossing a ball
If you're visiting Brisbane or even a local yearning for a tranquil, lush green space within five minutes walk of the city centre, the Captain Burke Park with its panoramic cityscape in Kangaroo Point, is definitely the location to bookmark.