Exploring Irish Heritage: Toowong Cemetery Tour for St Patrick’s Day

In preparation for St Patrick’s Day festivities, the Queensland Irish Association has joined hands with Friends of Toowong Cemetery to present an enriching Irish History Tour. 

Read: Stalled Development at Toowong Site Sparks Community Debate

Scheduled for Sunday, 10 March 2024 10:00 a.m., the guided tour promises an insightful walk through the final resting places of notable Irish figures, including founding members of the Queensland Irish Association. 

Participants can anticipate captivating narratives during the two-hour exploration. Attendees are advised to wear comfortable, enclosed shoes and attire suitable for the weather. The meeting point is set at the flagpole located at the Frederick Street/main entrance to the cemetery. Parking is available within the cemetery premises, with convenient bus stops nearby. 

Donations in cash are welcomed on the day to support the preservation efforts of Friends of Toowong Cemetery.

St Patrick’s Day Parade Participation

As the countdown to St Patrick’s Day begins, preparations are also underway for the annual St Patrick’s Day Parade, slated for Saturday, 16 March 2024 10:30 am. 

The Queensland Irish Association extends an open invitation to all enthusiasts willing to partake in the parade and represent the Association. Participants will be honoured to march behind the QIA float, carrying none other than Saint Patrick himself.

Photo Credit: Queensland Irish Association

Those interested can simply assemble at the City Botanical Gardens on Alice Street gates from 10:00 a.m. onwards on the event day.

Grand St Patrick’s Eve Dinner at Brisbane City Hall

Mark your calendars for the most anticipated St Patrick’s Day celebration event – the St Patrick’s Eve Dinner hosted by the Queensland Irish Association at the grand Main Auditorium of the Brisbane City Hall. Members are encouraged to secure their spots early for the event, which promises an unforgettable evening filled with merriment and tradition. 

Priced at $160 per person, the dinner includes a generous five-hour drinks package featuring beer, Guinness, red and white wines, and soft drinks, served from 6 pm to 11 pm.

Guests will also indulge in a delectable three-course dinner, courtesy of Epicure at Brisbane City Hall, accompanied by lively entertainment provided by the QIA Dancers and the Queensland Irish Association Pipe Band. 

The event will feature a toast to Australia Our Nation proposed by Father Frank Brennan SJ AO, alongside esteemed Irish and Australian guests. The evening will culminate in a heartwarming community sing-along of Irish favourites. 

For booking enquiries, email stpatricksevedinner@hotmail.com 

About the Queensland Irish Association

The Queensland Irish Association (QIA) traces its roots to March 23rd, 1898, emerging from the collective resignation of Irish volunteers in response to government interference. Led by former commandant Major PJ Stephens, ex-members joined forces with the Hibernian Australasian Catholic Benefit Society to establish the association, embodying the principles of its predecessors.

Despite facing financial challenges and declining membership during wars and economic downturns, the QIA remains Queensland’s longest continuously operating national association. Non-sectarian and non-political from its inception, the QIA aims to unite Irish individuals and their descendants, fostering national freedom and community.

Over its century-long existence, membership has evolved to include women and has expanded to encompass various cultural activities such as a library, pipe band, dancers, singers, and theatre groups. The association hosts annual dinners and events, attracting prominent figures including Irish presidents and ambassadors.

Today, the QIA continues to be a beacon of Irish culture and heritage, guided by the vision of its founding fathers and embraced by Irish Australians who uphold its traditions. Stay connected to the QIA to celebrate Irish identity and heritage.

Make your Date with the UFC 298 and Alexander Volkanovski in Toowong

The latest blood-fest that is UFC 298 gets underway this Sunday, the 18th of February, with Aussie Alexander Volkanovski defending his Featherweight Title against the unbeaten Ilia Topuria from Germany, at the Honda Center in California, to be beamed live into the RE Hotel in Toowong from 1:00 p.m. Brisbane time.

Volkanovski was the first Aussie to win a UFC championship and has had 5 successful title defences.

Volkanovski likes to go long. His average fight time is 17 minutes, 40 seconds, which is the longest average in the Featherweight Division. His 57.1% “significant strike accuracy” is third on the all time list in the Division.

However, Topuria’s 67.4% “significant strike defense” is third on the all time list in the division and his record of 0.81 knockdowns for every 15 minutes of fighting ranks sixth of all time in the division, with his 1.62 submissions per 15 minutes ranking seventh on the all-time list in the Division.

This fight could be one for the ages.

The UFC 298 main card also features another Aussie, former UFC Middleweight Champion, Robert Whittaker who fights Paulo Costa from Brazil in the Middleweight Division. Whittaker is knocking on the door of another title challenge in his current ranking at #3, Costa is ranked #6.

UFC 298

Whittaker has landed 7 knockdowns in his fight history but “The Eraser” will be in his grill early in his return to the Octagon after a two-year absence. In his last fight in 2021, he turned up 25 pounds over the middleweight limit.

This fight was supposed to take place last February 12, but a contract dispute means it will happen instead this Sunday, shown live on the big screen at the RE Hotel from 1:00 p.m. Toowong time.

Stalled Development at Toowong Site Sparks Community Debate

A once-promising redevelopment project in Toowong has become the centre of community and council discussions following years of inaction and controversy. 

The site at 23 High St, once the home of a Woolworths store and was earmarked for transformation into a vibrant hub with various amenities, remains undeveloped, causing widespread discontent among residents.

Originally slated to feature a mix of retail, office spaces, and green areas, the project, dubbed the Aviary, has been marred by delays and cancellations. 

Concerns have been raised about the Brisbane City Council’s decisions regarding the development, including the waiver of green space requirements and alleged breaches of development application (DA) conditions.

A History of Disappointment

“We’ve been waiting to see whether the new owners lodge a DA, but we just learned they’re apparently asking Council for a licence to keep stalling – and have potentially been breaching their DA conditions for years,” Greens MP Michael Berkman said

“It turns out that a very minor condition that Council imposed on the developers, to cover the site with grass within 3 months of demolition, was too much for them to comply with. They’ve now lodged a change application that effectively allows them to ignore this requirement and keep the site as they see fit indefinitely.

“Council already ditched the plans for a park at this site from their long-term infrastructure plan, waived the requirement for the developer to deliver greenspace nearby, and have apparently let the owners sit in breach for years.”

Response and Engagement

In response to the growing frustration, a local council member emphasised the city’s commitment to dialogues with the new site owners, who acquired the property three months ago. 

“The new owner has only recently taken over the property 3 months ago and was not responsible for what occurred on site before this,” Cr Penny Wolff responded.

“Council has outlined their concerns regarding their non-compliance with the conditions of their approval in terms of the site condition and fencing.

“In late December 2023, the new owner made an application to Council to change that condition of their approval and that is currently being assessed by Council.

“The new owner wants to genuinely engage and shares the need to make the site look even better and useful while design/development plans are being completed.” 

Residents may check DA A006427990 for the details.  

23 High St Toowong
Photo Credit: DA A006427990

Future Visions

Meanwhile, the debate has also attracted attention from urban planning experts and residents, who have expressed mixed feelings about the development’s direction.

DA A006427990
Photo Credit: DA A006427990

Some applaud the vision for revitalising Toowong but criticise the plan’s emphasis on parking facilities over more sustainable transportation options. Others, including local businesses, argue that the development could provide much-needed retail and public spaces, potentially boosting the local economy and community life.

As discussions continue, the future of the Toowong site hangs in the balance, with calls for a development approach that aligns with community values, environmental considerations, and the suburb’s overall needs. The council’s next steps and the developer’s plans remain keenly anticipated by those invested in the suburb’s development trajectory.

Published 2-Feb-2024

Monarch Residences in Toowong: Completion of Earthworks on Coronation Drive

Earthworks at Monarch Residences, a 1.2-hectare project along Coronation Drive in Toowong that has been called Brisbane’s best-performing project in the latest Urbis report, are now finished, pushing the project one step closer to completion.

With $300 million locked in sales, the project will ultimately comprise 224 apartments and penthouse residences spread across two imposing towers. The development includes a suite of facilities including a riverside pool, gym, sauna, and an expansive rooftop terrace.

Monarch Residences
Photo Credit: Monarch Residences

Recent developments have seen the successful completion of earthworks at Monarch Residences, reaching the basement level. This paved the way for both towers, named River 1 and River 2, to rise from the ground in the first half of 2024. The simultaneous construction of these towers is expected to culminate in the entire project’s completion by the end of 2025.

Photo Credit: Monarch Residences
Photo Credit: Monarch Residences

Don O’Rorke, Chairman, and CEO of Consolidated Properties Group, attributes the project’s swift progress to strong buyer demand for larger riverfront apartments and the unwavering capability of Hutchinson Builders. Past the holiday season and the New Year, sales have surged, particularly for River 2, where fewer than 10 residences remain available for purchase.

Scott Hutchinson, Chairman of Hutchinson Builders, reports that the construction site continues to be very active. This number is expected to double during peak construction phases. 

Published 3-Jan-2023

Toowong Tops BikeSpot’s Unsafe Cycling Spots

Did you know that Sylvan Rd in Toowong, with its lack of safe bicycle lanes, stands out in BikeSpot‘s list of unsafe cycling spots for Brisbane?

Toowong Tops BikeSpot's Unsafe Cycling Spots
Toowong tops BikeSpot’s Unsafe Cycling Spots
Photo Credit: BikeSpot

The intersections along the Western Freeway Bikeway in Toowong, including Dean St and Miskin St, have drawn significant concern for safety deficiencies according to BikeSpot’s data for unsafe spots for cycling.

Thousands of locals have spoken up through the app, flagging areas where cyclists face alarming risks.

For many, the data isn’t just a collection of opinions—it’s a call to action. Dan Kneipp, from the Amy Gillett Foundation, highlights flawed road design as a core issue impacting cyclists and drivers alike.

The urgency to address these risks couldn’t be clearer, app users say, especially with Brisbane set to host major events like the Olympics.

The BikeSpot app data presents the opportunity to urge local authorities to prioritise safer biking routes and ensure that roads cater to everyone’s safety.

Published 21-December-2023

Toowong Heroes Remembered: Unveiling Commemorative Plaques for Veterans

Researchers at the Australian Remembrance Army, with the support of the ‘Unmarked WW1 Graves Program’ of the Department of Veterans Affairs, have completed a massive undertaking, as hundreds of veterans who were laid to rest in unmarked graves have now been identified and commemorated with plaques at Lutwyche Cemetery.

Cate Walker and Katrina Trevethan from the Australian Remembrance Army conducted hours of painstaking research to identify and determine each individual serviceman’s origins, their service background, and military accomplishments.

The Toowong RSL Sub Branch lauded and expressed support and commitment for the initiative in an official unveiling ceremony held at the cemetery in September.

Honouring the Unsung Heroes

Australian Remembrance Army researchers and RSL officers
Kenmore-Moggill RSL Sub Branch member Chris Moon, Australian Remembrance Army researchers Cate Walker and Katrina Trevethan
with Toowong RSL Sub Branch President Peter Gow (Photo credit: rslqld.org)

Toowong RSL Sub Branch President, Peter Gow, expressed the passion behind this project, emphasising the significance of recognising veterans who selflessly served Australia.

“This project symbolises our commitment to encouraging commemoration and honouring the service and sacrifice of those who fought for the freedom that we enjoy today,” he said. 

Gow further emphasised the importance of the commemorative plaques, which now allow the service history of these veterans to be seen by generations to come.

Uncovering Remarkable Stories

The unveiling ceremony at Lutwyche Cemetery was a profound occasion that shed light on the extraordinary stories behind these veterans.

In this cohort, 203 veterans were born in Australia, while 98 hailed from various countries around the world. 

Two veterans were awarded a Military Medal, one received the distinguished Military Cross, and another was bestowed with a Meritorious Service Medal.

Remembering the Sacrifice

As Remembrance Day approaches, it’s vital to commemorate the sacrifices made by veterans. The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month marks the moment when the guns fell silent on the Western Front after World War I, signifying the end of bloodshed. This day has been adopted globally to honour those who served and sacrificed in all wars and conflicts.

The legacy of veterans can be kept alive by participating in Remembrance Day services, taking a moment of reflection in silence, wearing a poppy, or supporting the veteran community. It’s a time for the city and the nation to come together in remembrance.

Attend a service, wear a poppy, or observe a minute’s silence at 11am, and help keep the legacy of our service people alive. Lest we forget.

RSL Queensland

Budget Cuts Force Pause on Toowong to West End Green Bridge and Victoria Bridge Project

BCC will undergo a series of cost-cutting measures to address a forecast budget blowout of approximately $400 million, impacting the already delayed Toowong to West End Green Bridge, which will be paused indefinitely.

Also affected by the cut is the shading of Victoria Bridge, part of the Brisbane Metro project, a stage that’s estimated at $5 million. This significant spending reduction, equating to a 10 per cent reduction in Council expenditure, comes just three months after the 2023-2024 budget was unveiled in June this year.  

Rising Costs Prompt Immediate Spending Cuts

The decision to reduce the budget by $400 million aims to tackle soaring construction costs, labour, materials, goods, and services, which have put pressure on Council’s financial resources. This move seeks to keep future rate increases in check and maintain affordability for residents as the city heads into an election year.

Brisbane City Council will implement a range of austerity measures to achieve these savings. For instance, the public art component of the Brisbane Metro project will be delayed. Advertising, travel, consultants, and councillor ward budgets will also be reduced. 

However, Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner assured that there would be no forced layoffs among permanent Council employees, although contractors may face uncertainty.

Green Bridge

Citywide Impact and Concerns

The budget cut will have far-reaching consequences, potentially jeopardising various projects or increasing their costs. The specifics of how these cuts will affect services and projects, including roads and footpaths, have not been disclosed, leading to concerns among opposition parties and residents. 

Opposition leader Jared Cassidy criticised the lack of transparency in revealing which projects would be impacted, emphasizing that residents should not have to wait for months to discover how their local services might be affected.

Mr Schrinner defended the budget cut as a necessary corrective action to avoid future rate rises, highlighting the increasing costs faced by the council. He cited rising expenses in areas such as fuel, electricity, bitumen, and construction as key reasons behind the decision. Mr Schrinner maintained that essential services like waste collection, buses, and ferries would remain unaffected.

“Households right across the city are tightening their belts and it’s only fair governments do too,” Mr Schrinner said

“Today I’m announcing a Council-wide 10% savings drive amid the global inflation and cost-of-living crisis.

“What we’re doing will put downward pressure on future rates compared to the uncontrolled spending we see at other levels of government that will only lead to pain for households.

“This is the kind of responsible decision-making Brisbane residents expect so we can maintain the lowest rates in South East Queensland.”

Future Implications and Challenges

The revised budget is expected to be released by the end of November, just a few months before Brisbane ratepayers go to the polls in March 2024.

Global inflation has played a substantial role in driving up construction costs, causing budget revisions and project delays. Fiona Cunningham, chair for finance in Brisbane civic cabinet, explained that continuing to spend without addressing these rising costs would result in future rate hikes for residents, an outcome the Council is determined to avoid.

“While some proposed projects may be paused, the majority will be delivered on time however council officers will be working hard over coming months to descope and remove unnecessary costs,” Ms Cunningham said.  

Published 18-Oct-2023

Films Made by Brisbane Boys’ College Students Selected as AIFF Semi-finalists

Congratulations to the young film makers of Brisbane Boys’ College (BBC) as six films created by these students have been selected as semi-finalists in the Australia Independent Film Festival 2023.

The following films by BBC students which were made with the support of the BBC Film & Television program and the BBC Film Crew made it as Semi-Finalists in the Australia Independent Film Festival.  

• Rags to Riches by Charlie Flaherty (Year 11)
• Final Justice by Alexander Baird (Year 11)
• Silly Milly by Alex York -Tall (Year 11)
• Home Sweet Home by Jonathan LeGrand (Year 11)
• Tempt by Wade Stokes (Year 11)
• The Last Survivor by the BBC Film Crew

Since its inception in 2017, the Australia Independent Film Festival has steadily grown in prominence, positioning itself as Australia’s premier short film and screenplay festival. Dubbed “the filmmaker’s festival,” AIFF has been making waves in the domestic and international festival circuit.

This year, the AIFF festival offers a diverse range of award categories, recognizing excellence in various aspects of filmmaking. These include Award Categories – Main: Best International Short Film, Best Australian Short Film, Best Queensland Short Film, Best Documentary, Best Animation, Best Experimental (including music), Best Student Film, the People’s Choice Award, and Best Short Screenplay.

The Award Categories for the SEQ High School Competition include Best Short Film, Best Film Poster, Best Screenplay, Best Short Film -RUNNER-UP, and People’s Choice. These entries, however, do not qualify for consideration or inclusion in the main award categories and or screening sessions. There will be an exclusive awards ceremony to be held immediately following the SEQ screening session.

Finalists, selected from the semi-finalist pool, receive recognition in the form of a finalist laurel, an official selection laurel, and a digital certificate.

Winners in each category will earn a special winner’s laurel, an original print-quality digital certificate, and a high-quality award. Additional prizes will be announced once they are confirmed.

The Independent Film Festival 2023 will take place this October at Metro Arts West Village, Brisbane City.

Published 11-October-2023

Toowong Village Named State’s Top Retail Property After Major Makeover

Toowong Village has been named Retail Property of the Year at the 2023 Queensland Retail Property Awards, recognising the shopping centre’s innovative repositioning and marketing efforts following a major redevelopment.

Read: Toowong Village Revamps Its Retail Line Up

The property, owned by YFG Shopping Centres and managed by Retail First, underwent significant renovations over the past year to revitalise the complex. The project added new dining and entertainment options to create a lively restaurant precinct. 

In 2022, they welcomed Woolworths, TK Maxx, two international supermarkets, and a mix of specialty retailers. 

Photo credit: toowongvillage.com.au

According to the Property Council of Australia, which hosts the awards, Toowong Village stood out for transforming a ‘land-locked vertical asset’ through creative thinking.

“Toowong Village has been a strong performer across all Awards they entered this year, but it was their work in repositioning a land locked vertical asset through innovative development thinking and a corresponding marketing campaign that drove visitation, sales, and positive feedback that saw them take out the top prize,” the Property Council of Australia has stated.

One highlight of their marketing campaign was the Heart Gallery, a two-month exhibition from March to May 2023 showcasing works by local artists. The free event supported the community and arts whilst drawing customers to the reimagined property.

Retail First’s ‘The Heart Gallery’ campaign also won the Community Award at this year’s Retail Property Awards for Queensland.

Retail Property
Photo credit: Retail First Pty Ltd/LinkedIn

Property Council of Australia said the campaign was a unique drawcard, driving traffic and sales whilst fostering connections with community and charities and shone a light on local talent.

About Toowong Village

The site where Toowong Village now stands has a long history intertwined with the development of Brisbane’s inner west. In the early 20th century, the land housed Patterson’s Sawmill, which relied on the adjacent railway to transport timber and products.

Toowong Sawmill about 1916-17, sawing Queensland hoop pine logs from Brookfield-Enoggera area. This mill was burnt down in 1918 (Photo credit: John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland)

After the sawmill closed down, the prime location beside the Toowong train station was ripe for redevelopment. In 1986, the Toowong Village shopping centre and office tower opened on the former sawmill property.

Spanning over 40,000 sqm, Toowong Village transformed the old industrial site into a major retail and commercial hub. 

Retail Property
Photo credit: Suzanna Wong/Google Maps

In 2015, Toowong Village underwent a major $50 million redevelopment to modernise the dated complex. 

The $50 million modernisation of Toowong Village dramatically updated the shopping experience. Interiors were revamped with a simplified mall layout to improve navigation. The parking system was overhauled to make entering and exiting more efficient.

Read: Check Out These Brilliantly Painted Fiberglass Hearts at The Heart Gallery Exhibition In Toowong

The tired food court was refurbished with fresh dining options. An alfresco restaurant precinct was added along the front side of the complex on High Street. This new area allows patrons to enjoy dining outdoors along the bustling Sherwood Road.

Published 11-October-2023

Brisbane Boys’ College Students Hit High Note With National Pipe Band Win

Did you know that the BBC Number 3 Band clinched first place for Brisbane Boys’ College Toowong at the Australian Juvenile Pipe Band Championships in Warwick?

Read: BBC Rowing Team Aims for Another Historic Henley Royal Regatta Win

Composed primarily of Junior School and Year 7 students, the band beat out stiff competition to take home the top prize in their division.

Brisbane Boys College has three pipe bands, along with a learner program, with a history of service to the school and community that dates back to 1940. The bands cater to various levels of pipers or drummers, from beginner to advanced.

Photo credit: Brisbane Boys’ College (BBC)/Facebook

All together, the BBC Pipe Band has had numerous local and international achievements, including at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and the World Pipe Band Championships. The Band also participates in biennial competition tours to Scotland.

In a post on BBC’s social media page, the school expressed delight at the Number 3 Band’s extraordinary accomplishment, congratulating the talented group of young musicians for the dedication and teamwork that led to this championship title. The school also won the championship title in the Development category.

About the The Australian Juvenile Pipe Band Championships

Photo credit: Pipe Bands Australia/Facebook

The Australian Juvenile Pipe Band Championships brings together top young performers from around the country to compete in one of the most prestigious competitions for budding pipers and drummers.

The inaugural Australian Juvenile Pipe Band Championships and Australian Solo Championships took place at SCOTS PGC College in Warwick from September 29-30, marking the first time these prestigious competitions for young pipers and drummers have been held.

The event commenced with focused development opportunities such as workshops and recitals for developing youth Pipe Band organisations.

In the Juvenile A division, BBC came in second place behind Scotch College Melbourne who finished first. 

Read: Stuartholme School To Represent Australia In First Rugby Heritage Cup In France

The students from the Brisbane Boys’ College also placed first in the Marches competition ahead of Knox Grammar and the SCOTS PGC Warwick Development band who came in third and fourth place respectively.

Published 5-October-2023