Toowong Creek: The Last Jewel of Crescent Reach

Have you ever heard about the Crescent Reach? It’s fascinating that Brisbane was once graced by the presence of four remarkable creeks: Western Creek, Boundary Creek, Langsville Creek, and Toowong Creek. 

Read: Reviving History: Monarch Residences to Bring New Life to Middenbury House with 224 Luxurious Apartments

However, as time passed by, only one of these watercourses, Toowong Creek, managed to endure the test of time, standing as a reminder of Crescent Reach’s former glory.

In 1824, explorer John Oxley’s expedition arrived at a location he referred to as the ‘Crescent Reach’, which corresponds to what we now know as the Milton reach. 

Crescent Reach
The bridge in the photograph according to McKellars Official Map of Brisbane and Suburbs Maps (1895) is Langsville Bridge. The bridge crosses Langsville Creek, also known as Saltwater Creek (Photo credit: Brisbane John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland)

It stretches from the point where Toowong Creek meets the river to North Quay. Oxley’s purpose in reaching this area was to locate a source of freshwater, where he planned to set up camp for the night.

Toowong Creek is at the base of Crescent Reach, followed by Langsville Creek, Western Creek, and ultimately Boundary Creek, which once served as the western boundary of Brisbane Town.

Crescent Reach
Photo credit: 

The existence of Crescent Reach is not merely a tale told through faded maps, but a testament to the captivating mysteries of Brisbane’s past. 

Close inspection of these aged cartographic relics, including a precious artefact from 1884, reveals the intricate pathways of these waterways. However, the precision of the boundaries is undeniably constrained by the data available at the time. 

A mere glance reveals that Boundary Creek, in all its charm, claims the title of the smallest watercourse. On the other hand, Toowong Creek emerged as one of the biggest ones. 

Fishing from the northern bank of the Brisbane River at Toowong, along Milton Reach, Brisbane, 1948 (Photo credit: Brisbane John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland)

Remarkably, all four catchments proudly shared their uppermost boundaries with Ithaca Creek, a testament to the interconnectedness of these natural wonders. 

Originating from the slopes of Mount Coot-tha, Ithaca Creek gracefully meanders through the neighbourhoods of Bardon, Ashgrove, and Red Hill, ultimately converging with its esteemed source, the Enoggera Creek.

Read: Toowong To West End Green Bridge To Utilise Portion Of Former ABC Site

Currently, only Toowong Creek has survived within the Crescent Reach. Originating from the eastern side of Mt Coot-tha, Toowong Creek encompasses an area spanning 3.9 square kilometres. It meanders through the Botanic Gardens and the suburb of Toowong before eventually merging with the Brisbane River near Perrin Park.

Published 13-May-2023

QASMT Expansion Works in Toowong Raises Environmental Concerns

Queensland Academy for Science, Mathematics and Technology – The ongoing QASMT expansion works are currently raising ecological issues for Toowong Creek.

The QASMT expansion is part of the government’s Building Future Schools Fund which aims to deliver new and innovative education infrastructure solutions for growing communities.

For QASMT in Toowong, the expansion’s main goal is to enable the school to accommodate up to 1,200 students by 2021.

QASMT Expansion

QASMT’s proposed new northern learning centre. Photo credit:

The expansion involves two stages. Stage 1 will be complete by the start of the 2019 school year to accommodate Year 7 students. This stage primarily involves the refurbishment of existing school infrastructure.

QASMT’s proposed new eastern STEM hub. Photo credit:

On the other hand, QASMT targets the completion of Stage 2 at the start of the 2020 school year to provide accommodation for Years 8 and 9 students. The final stage includes a new northern learning centre and a new eastern STEM hub.

Community Consultation

QASMT expansion’s site plan. Photo credit:

Following the Department of Education’s community consultation for the said expansion, they have considered the feedback from the community and incorporated them into the updated expansion plans.

Changes to the expansions include the following:

  • Reduction in the number of additional carparks on-site – additional carparks will be added under the Northern Learning Centre.
  • Removal of a proposed formal carpark accessed via Miskin Street.
  • New kiss and ride facility on Bywong Street to improve traffic flow and access to on-street parking.
  • The location of the Northern Learning Centre has been adjusted to move it further from Toowong Creek.
  • The Eastern STEM Building has been reduced in height to be the same height as the existing buildings.

Environmental Impact

Toowong Habitat Protection Group is one of the major opponents of the expansion. This is mainly due to the ecological impact of the development of new buildings on Toowong Creek.

The group has identified several issues of concern including the development’s effects on the surrounding vegetation and animals as well as the area’s traffic conditions.

Clearing of Multiple Trees

Trees marked for removal. Photo credit: Toowong Habitat Protection Group/Facebook

Furthermore, the habitat protection group says that the development will require clearing of 59 trees. Unfortunately, one of the trees that are subject for removal is approximately more than 300 years old.

Clearing of these trees will certainly affect multiple animal species in the area. Currently, the Toowong Creek, as well as its buffer zone, is a sensitive and significant ecological area. In fact, around seven threatened wildlife species including Tusked Frog, Powerful Owl, and Grey Headed Flying Fox inhabit the proposed building location.

The ring tailed possum is one of the endangered species that is at risk due to habitat clearing. Photo credit: Toowong Habitat Protection Group/Facebook

Loss of habitat is not the only issue that can affect these animals as noise and dust pollution during construction can also significantly affect wildlife behaviour. The group has also cited that “scientific publications/literature shows construction noise depletes frog numbers, reduces reproductive physiology, and induces the likelihood of epidemiologic disease”.

Whilst the group is supportive of the government’s investment in education, their efforts focus on minimising the impact of the new buildings on community and natural assets.

Should you be interested in joining the group’s effort in saving Toowong Creek, you may visit their page to learn more about what you can do to help.

Read more about QASMT Expansion.

How Toowong Got Its Name

Whilst other Brisbane suburbs have been named after a distinct landmark, Toowong derived its name from its local birdlife.

The name Toowong is believed to have originated from the call of a migratory bird, the Eastern Koel, which nests in the area between September and April. The bird was known for its call which was thought to mark the arrival of rain.

Credit: Tim Siggs/YouTube

The Koel has a unique survival tactic. It lays its eggs in the nests of other species and lets them raise their young before returning to Papua New Guinea and other South-East Asian countries for winter.

Eastern Koel Eudynamys orientalis Cuculidae Photo credit:

The State Library of Queensland has confirmed the link between the naming of Toowong to the call of the migratory bird. However, the Toowong and District Historical Society Inc. has a different story behind the naming of the suburb.

White-throated Nightjar Eurostopodus mystacalis Photo credit: Aviceda/Wikimedia Commons

According to the District Historical Society, the suburb was named after the native bird known as the white-throated nightjar. The Aborigines referred to this bird as the “tu-wong” —  an onomatopoeic word which copies the sound of the bird’s call. Since the native bird nested in several eucalyptus trees along the river bank on the bend of the Brisbane River below the Indooroopilly Bridge, the Aborigines named the locality Tu-wong.

Bird researcher Ian Venables said that other early records say that Toowong was named after the Koel. The confusion would explain why a newcomer to Toowong, John O’Neil Brenan (who arrived in 1872), came to understand the origin of the word as the Koel’s call. To this day, the confusion as to where the name of Toowong really came from, remains.

Toowong Creek Photo credit: Kgbo/Wikimedia Commons

Survey maps from as early as 1849 show that Toowong Creek was the first to use the name. The word was later adopted as a locality name when local landowner Richard Langlar Drew advertised land along Toowong Creek for sale as “The Village of Toowong”.

The name became more widely used when Toowong was given to the area’s newly-opened local railway station. The district’s inhabitants later identified with the name of “Toowong”, and its inhabitants adopted the name for the locality after the railway station’s name.

Today, Toowong is a popular suburb, home to more than 10,800 people.