The Day We Went to Sandgate (Part 1)

(Ray Robinson, Taigum)

Ray Robinson has been a resident of the Sandgate area for 72 of his 75 years.  A retired hairdresser, his fascination for the district and its people is mirrored in his thorough knowledge of its history.  His photographic collection would do justice to any museum.  Here, perhaps as he did in his hairdressing days, Ray shuffles his photos and revisits in memory at least…


Sandgate in the early days was quite a well-to-do place.  It had better sand than Wynnum, and was a favourite picnic spot for Brisbane’s society where a lot of wealthy people retired.  Governors added their Vice Regal endorsement by holidaying here. In the time before Brisbane had its own city hall, the Town Hall at Sandgate was a mecca for opera and classical music presentations. Brisbane’s music lovers would travel here by train.  This imposed a 10 o’clock curfew on musical presentations so that the audience could catch the last train back to town at 10.20 pm.

Shorncliffe was then the busy part of Sandgate.  The shops in Sandgate Central were very quiet and had dwellings behind them so that wives could look after shop while husbands worked elsewhere.

To cater for Brisbane’s picnickers, special trains ran at the weekends and on public holidays.  On Sundays between 4 pm and 6.30 pm, there would be 5 or 6 extra trains scheduled to return the day-trippers to Brisbane.  Indeed, large organisations such as the Railway Institute and the Ipswich Coalminers would hire special trains for their Annual Picnics on the Shorncliffe foreshore. After disembarking at the Shorncliffe railway station, the picnickers would crowd off over the hill, past the clifftop boarding houses, and down onto the esplanade at Moora Park.  There was no fresh water available there so supplies had to be obtained from a local shop (now St. Pats) en route.  Each family had previously brought with them their empty 7 lb treacle tin which the shopkeeper would fill with fresh water for a fee of 3d or 6d.

Holidaymakers at Sandgate ca. 1920-1930 (photo State Library of Qyeensland)


            The kiosk was situated on the hill up from the pier at Moora Park, and there were Tea Rooms there and an open part where you could purchase ice creams for 3d each.  The kiosk was demolished in the late 1970s.  Below the kiosk was a dance floor built by the Sandgate Swimming Club in the late 20s into the early 1930s.  Dances were held every holiday time. They ran all day and the music was supplied by 78″ records.  For a fee of 3d. each, couples could dance to the music played from each side of one record (or from 5 records for 1/-).  Each side played for about a minute and a half.


            Access to the pier cost 1d. and a fence was built to stop people getting onto the pier at low water. This fence was later demolished to make way for the shark-proof enclosure which was erected during the Depression Years (early 1930s).

            During holiday periods, there was a chair-o-plane, and a tent which the Ambulance always had.  The carnival atmosphere was also enhanced by a variety of side show tents.  There was also a boatshed on the foreshore where a gent hired out flat bottomed wooden boats.

The Kiosk at Moora Park, Sandgate

Ray Robinson

January 1995

Extract from Moreton Bay People – The Complete Collection’.

5 thoughts on “The Day We Went to Sandgate (Part 1)

  1. My Dad was prominent in the Qld Railway Institute (do you know where their archived records might be kept?) and he’d take to to Shorncliffe most Sundays in the late 40s/early 50s where we’d swim and later shower and change in the men’s pavilion on the pier, taking care not to stand on a cigarette butt; I did that once and was traumatised for life with a phobia for wet cigarette butts. The pier has machines, where for a penny you looked into a spy hole, turned a handle on the side and watched black and white ‘films’ as the images were rotated giving the appearance of movement. I always hated the walk back to the railway station as that meant the weekend was over and the terror of school loomed large for Monday morning. I say terror as Sister Mary Nunciatta ruled over us in the prep years at Wooloowin Convent and later the Christian Brothers followed suit at Gregory Terrace. I’ve published a paper on that Convent and it’s role in forced adoptions, having witnessed many hapless pregnant girls being herded along the enclosed walkway between their Convent prison to the laundry where they would toil for perhaps a bag of lollies of a Friday evening for good behaviour. As the days drew near for their confinement at Royal Women’s Hospital they were allowed to rest for the day, forlornly looking out over the adjacent school yard and Church, almost certainly envying us kids’ freedom to play, learn and go home to our families in the afternoon. Frank Moloney

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Vivid memories, Frank. So beautifully expressed.
      I would imagine the Qld Railway Institute’s records would have been sent to the Queensland State Archives. Otherwise try the Ipswich Railway Museum.


  2. HI Peter, Did you know that the Hall family lived in Sandgate and my grandfather Thomas Ramsay Hall designed a home for the family opposite the Moora Park as my Great Grandmother owned a boarding House next door to the new home which had a tennis court. The family did own the jetty which is still there at the bottom of the hill. Cheers, Robin. (Cousin)


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