Centenary Estates: Private Development and Brisbane’s Post-War Expansion West

Wilson, Andrew

Ngā Pūtahitanga / Crossings: A Joint Conference of SAHANZ and the Australasian UHPH Group

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The Centenary Estates project was announced in 1959 to mark the 100th anniversary of the proclamation of the State of Queensland. It was an early private sector development; a master-planned community adjacent to the Brisbane River (Maiwar) situated between Brisbane (Meeanjin) and Ipswich (Tulmur). An industrial garden city proposal, the Industrial Garden City Darra had been developed for the same site in 1916, but never realised.

The development was overseen by the LJ Hooker Investment Corporation. Also known as the Centenary Project, it organised residential, commercial and industrial areas on 3500 acres of land, allocated to six “self-sufficient” suburbs with 9 kilometres of river frontage and two adjacent industrial estates. A total of 10,261 residential lots were surveyed, anticipating 35,000 residents, with 20% of the land set aside for commercial and industrial purposes. It included the promise of an Olympic-size swimming pool, golf course and a new bridge across the river with supporting infrastructure financed by the developers, as part of a new Centenary Highway connection from the city to Ipswich through the western suburbs.

The paper will give an account of the prior history of the site including the proposed Industrial Garden City at Darra, and situate Centenary Estates within Brisbane’s post-war expansion west, the shift from public to private development, new methods of promotion, lifestyle aspirations, the transfer of knowledge between government, corporations, planners, builders and architects, and a cautionary tale for the consequences of building on flood-prone farmland adjacent to the river.