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’.