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BRISBANE WINDMILL OBSERVATORY & Q’LAND STAMP ILLUSTRATIONS

The pictorial postcard has the green ½d QV and the orange QV ‘Four Corners’ 1d stamps of Queensland, canceled by an indistinct postmark in the late 1890s-early 1900s and it is addressed to a person living in Denver, Colorado U.S.A. (Figure 1).

The reverse shows an illustration of a series of Queen Victoria Queensland stamps, ranging from the green ½d and orange 1d which were used as postage on this postcard, and it continues up to the high values of the five and ten shillings to the top value of One Pound. In the centre of the card there is a distant photo of the ‘Observatory, Wickham Terrace, Brisbane’ (Figure 2).

 

Not only is the windmill tower the oldest remaining convict building in Queensland, it is the oldest windmill tower extant in Australia. The Wickham Terrace windmill tower is of national significance. In its fabric the building reflects various phases and achievements in the history of Brisbane, for the old windmill has been an important landmark since its construction. The windmill tower is a visual record of the historical evolution of Brisbane. It first played a vital role in the existence of the Moreton Bay penal settlement by providing flour grinding for survival, and later as a steamer signal station, fire-spotting observation tower and a site for pioneering communications' experiments.

The old windmill is one of only two remaining Brisbane convict-built structures, for the old Commissariat Store also played a pivotal role in the convict era; however, it was the windmill and treadmill which were used for convict punishment. As the oldest industrial building extant in Queensland and the oldest windmill tower in Australia, it also exemplifies an industrial process no longer used. From the 1860s to 1920s Brisbanites also depended on the windmill for notification of shipping arrivals and the correct time. Thus the windmill played an important and unique role in the everyday life of the community. The windmill site has a potential to reveal sub-surface archaeological evidence, and an exploratory dig was conducted in 1989-90.

Brisbane's windmill tower is older and more significant than any other windmill still standing in Australia. There are windmill tower ruins to be found in most Australian States but the few extant ones were built after 1830, by non-convicts for free enterprise. The finest remaining examples of tower mills are the 1837 Callington Mill in Tasmania built by John Vincent, the 1835 mill in South Perth, Western Australia and the South Australian mill at Mt Barker. None of Sydney's nineteen windmill towers have survived. Since the 1850s the windmill has been regarded as a significant Brisbane landmark on an important green hilltop overlooking the central city and a focus of community identity. Though most of Queensland's convict built structures have been demolished, the windmill remains as a evocative reminder of the convict past.

The windmill, converted to a signal station, was an innovative and important means of communication, while later it was associated with pioneering work in electronic communications.
 

The former windmill is a rendered stone and brick tower, circular in shape, tapering towards the top, with a lookout platform which has an iron railing and hexagonal cabin. The timber collar for the cap employed local timber. On top of the cabin sits a copper time ball and its mast. Internal hexagonal stairs wind continuously around a single central pole from the ground floor to the observation deck. There are five floors; all but the ground floor are of wooden construction, as are the stairs. The three casement windows are not in line one above the other, as a structurally sound arrangement. The tiny windows that currently provide illumination for the top floor are another unique aspect.

The windmill has been photographed from every angle imaginable, and the lookout platform has been extensively used to photograph panoramic views of Brisbane. Two close-up views of the windmill are seen in Figures 3 & 4.

 

 

This information was derived from the Australian Heritage Places Inventory website.

 
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