Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Postcards From Brisbane - The Old Windmill

The old Windmill is only a few minutes walk from where I work in the city. It is located in Wickham Park just off Wickham Terrace in Spring Hill. I decided to visit it and take some photos. All images can be clicked on for a larger image.

The Windmill - November 1924 (Photo courtesy of the State Library of Queensland)

The old Windmill is actually the oldest surviving building in Queensland. It was built by convicts in 1828 to grind flour and maize meal as food for the Moreton Bay Penal Settlement.

A stone and brick building, it originally had wind-powered sails and contained two pair of mill stones - one pair connected to the Windmill sails, the other to a treadmill outside. The treadmill was used when the Windmill was under repair, in calm weather, or as a means of punishment for convicts. It was demolished after the area was opened up to free settlement in 1842.

In 1841 men, women, children and local Aboriginal tribes were pressed into witnessing the hanging of two Aborigines, Merridio and Neugavil, at the windmill. The Aborigines were hanged for allegedly murdering two white men and the hanging was meant to be a deterrent to Aborigines. Apparently the pair were hanged from a window above the perimeter platform and according to historian, Barbara Taylor, talk was that the wrong men were executed. I know of one Brisbane-based Ghost Tour company that claims the Terrible Tower (the Windmill) is the the oldest haunted structure in the state.

The Windmill fell into disuse, and was converted to a signal station in 1861. In 1862 it became the first home of the Queensland Museum. A flagstaff was erected in 1865 for flying shipping signals received by telegraph from Fort Lytton. The Windmill was also used as a fire look-out, and for pioneer radio and television broadcasting experiments in the 1920’s – 1940’s. The Windmill is now used as a weather observatory.

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