What Is The Old Windmill, Brisbane
The Old Windmill in Brisbane is the oldest surviving building in all of Queensland and the oldest windmill in existence in all of Australia.
Built in the late 1820’s during colonial times by convicts, the windmills purpose was for grinding wheat and maize crops in order to help the Moreton Bay penal settlement become more self-sufficient.
Captain Patrick Logan, the commandant of the settlement foresaw the need for the old windmill’s construction following the cultivation of wheat and maize crops within approximately 200 hectares of cleared bushland.
Logan oversaw the construction of the windmill utilizing the trade skills of the Moreton Bay convicts to create two sets of millstones – one driven by the sails of the windmill and the other driven by a man powered treadmill.
Unfortunately the milling machinery was crudely constructed and was in continuous need of repair. To make matters worse, the wind speed on the hill rarely reached the strength necessary to drive the sails.
Consequently the man powered treadmill became the main source of power, thus transforming the windmill into a symbol of dismay for the convicts who were forced to tortuously operate the treadmill for hours on end.
The treadmill ceased operation and was eventually dismantled in 1842 as convict numbers dwindled and the settlement was officially closed in February 1842, though it ran again for a brief period in 1845.
In May 1840 following the murder of Granville Stapylton and his assistant William Tuck who were members of a surveying party near Mount Lindesay, two Aboriginal men were convicted and hanged from a beam in the upper window of the windmill. As a result of this, paranormal groups in Brisbane consider the site to be haunted, often reporting sightings of a “light in the window”.
In 1861 a formal use was found for the old windmill when it was converted into an observatory and signal station to let the public know about ships entering the Brisbane River.
A time ball was also added to the roof of the windmill which was dropped each day at 1:00PM so that people could set their watches and clocks accurately, though it was decommissioned in 1866 and replaced with a cannon that was fired from the site each day to signal the time until 1894.
In 1922, Brisbane City Council was entrusted with the old windmill. They leased it out for radio and television research and in 1934 the first experimental television broadcast in Queensland was transmitted from the old windmill.
The old windmill has been restored periodically in recent years and now serves as a reminder of the difficulties encountered during the early convict settlement periods.
It is currently not open to the public, however you can still visit the site and walk around the outside and base of the windmill. Its difficult to tell from the outside, however there are actually five floors, with a winding staircase leading up to the observation deck.
How Do I Get To The Old Windmill, Brisbane?
The Old Windmill is located in Springhill, just off Wickham Terrace – check out the map below for more info: