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Published August 5th 2019
View a historic Brisbane landmark
Cruising along the Brisbane River on a Citycat or private vessel is a great way to see the city and take in some of its oldest landmarks. One of these is the heritage-listed Hawthorne Ferry terminal which, despite dating back to the early 1900s, continues to welcome commuters on their water journey through the river city. I visited one of Brisbane's favourite ferry stops, which offers more than meets the eye.
History of the Hawthorne Ferry Terminal The Hawthorne ferry stop is located in the affluent riverside and its name originates from Hawthorne bushes that were planted in the area between the 1850s and 1860s by settler Mr William Baynes.
The ferry building which we see today was erected by the Brisbane City Council in 1925 after the Balmoral Shire Council had a design prepared for a ferry terminal at Scott Street.
The style of this eye-catching, local landmark is characterised by an open timber-framed structure set on stumps and clad with weatherboards. The intersecting gables of the terracotta-tiled roof is topped with a low tower. The gable ends have decorative timberwork and paired brackets.
Wooden park benches are set inside the terminal, providing a comfortable resting spot to wait for your water ride or simply just take in the wonderful views.
Paying homage to the 1974 Brisbane floods While it is set on a scenic and enviable riverside real estate, it was not immune from the rising floodwaters of major flood events like those in 2011 and 1974. When inside the building, be sure to look out for a handwritten etching on one of the posts which shows the water levels in the terminal during the infamous 1974 floods in Brisbane.
The devastating floods tragically resulted in 16 fatalities, 300 people injured, 8000 homes destroyed and an estimated A$980 million in damages.
As well as appreciating the ornate craftsmen style architecture, finding the flood marking was probably my favourite part about the terminal. I felt like I had uncovered a hidden secret left by perhaps a local resident of ferry Master 45 years earlier. What a great way to remember and localise a momentous event in the city's past.
While the duck egg blue and pale lemon painted Hawthorne Ferry station has undergone a recent modernisation upgrade, with a new and modern addition for passengers to board the vessels, the original building has been retained and marks the merging where the old and the new happily co-exist.
S. W. B Hardcastle Park Hardcastle Park (which was informally called Hawthorne Ferry Park) adjoins the Ferry station and provides added green space when stepping off a water vessel and onto dry land. A memorial stone and metal arch at the entrance and park were named in memory S.W.B. Hardcastle, a former Hawthorne resident, councillor and headteacher of the Valley State School on the opposite end of the river.
A drinking fountain was unveiled in the park in his memory by the Hawthorne Progress Association on the 15th June 1929.
On 17 June 1929, Brisbane's Telegraph newspaper reported that: "Mr Hardcastle was a resident of the district for 21 years and as a member of the old Balmoral Shire Council. He worked untiringly for the improvement of the locality. It was mainly through his efforts that the present Hawthorne Park site had been reserved and the Hawthorne State school erected. He was impervious to disappointment.
Nothing daunted him. He never grumbled although the rebuffs he received in his efforts to advance this district would have crushed the spirit of a lesser man. "
Today the park features fun, shaded play equipment for younger visitors, with climbing nets, slippery slides and rockers as well as barbeques, and a short walking path along the river.
Backdrop of the Teneriffe Woolstores
The Teneriffe woolstores can be easily seen on the opposite side of the river which tells another tale to Brisbane's river history when it was once an important wool trading hub and the location of Australia's largest submarine base during World War II.
The ferry stop and park are located at Lindsay St, Hawthorne. Hawthorne is 3 kms from the CBD.
So, make your river travel all that more interesting and pay attention to the Hawthorne Ferry Terminal. We can all be pleased that despite the magnitude of weather events like floods and impending modernisation, the ferry and Hardcastle Park have both survived so we can all enjoy them today in their original form.