Bald Hills is Brisbane’s northern outpost.

It is Turrbal country, traditionally known as ‘Wyampa’ according to a 1933 Courier-Mail report, until Scottish settlers with surnames like Stewart and Duncan came along in 1857.

John Stewart and the Duncan brothers had been farming in the Hunter Valley when it flooded badly.

So they listened to Stewarts’s brother-in-law, high-end Brisbane bootmaker Thomas Gray, who had just bought the first block offered for sale at Bald Hills and recommended they do likewise.

Stewart’s son wrote:`In 1857 father removed to Moreton Bay, a locality with a very unsavoury reputation, and settled at a place called Bald Hills.’

That ‘unsavoury reputation’ came from frequent clashes with local Indigenous people who, not unreasonably, objected to being run off their fertile land as it was cleared for farming.

James Douglas, the 14th Earl of Morton who sent James Cook on his famous voyage almost a century earlier, would have been spinning in his grave.

His instructions to the lieutenant included that ‘shedding the blood of those people is a crime of the highest nature’.

‘They are the natural, and in the strictest sense of the word, the legal possessors of the regions they inhabit,’ the enlightened Lord Morton wrote.

‘No European nation has a right to occupy any part of their country, or settle among them without their voluntary consent.’

James Douglas, 14th Earl of Morton (Source: Australian Colonial Dance)

By the time settlers arrived at Bald Hills, Lord Morton’s high ideals were a mere memory.

He lives on only through Moreton Bay, which Cook named for him– but even that small honour was robbed by a spelling error in the published account of the Endeavour voyage.

According to The Courier, the original Stewart and Duncan houses had ‘apertures for directing fire against the blacks’.

Early farmers were ‘protected’ by a contingent of Native Police stationed at nearby Sandgate under the command of the notoriously bloodthirsty Lt Frederick Wheeler.

He was eventually forced to flee Australia when his numerous rampages against Indigenous people became too much for ‘civilised’ society.

Like Jindalee, large-scale urban development began in Bald Hills in 1959.

Bald Hills State School – 1959 (Source: State Library of QLD)

When it started to get out of hand, in 1993 the Jim Soorley-led Brisbane City Council used the Bushland Acquisition Fund to buy land slated for a canal development.

That land today is better known as the magnificent Tinchi Tamba Wetlands.

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