Whites Hill is a hill and public reserve situated in Holland Park in Brisbane's South East. The reserve covers an area of 160 hectares (400 acres) bound by the surrounding suburbs of Camp Hill, Coorparoo, Carina Heights and Mount Gravatt East. The site is popular with locals, with the reserve offering many sporting and recreational facilities. White Hill lies within the catchment area of Bulimba Creek.
The indigenous name for the area was Boolimba meaning place of magpie larks.
Whites Hill is named after Robert (Bob) White, who, in 1873, acquired 21.5 hectares (53 acres) of land surrounding the 120 metres (390 ft) elevation now known as Whites Hill. Halfway up the hill facing Coorparoo, the White family built their family home. In 1886, White installed a powerful telescope, which he allowed others to use.
Later White built a road to the top of the summit and built a house with huge verandahs to take advantage of the spectacular views of Brisbane city. Soon, the house was opened to the public with tea and meals available. Alcohol was also available, albeit illegally and White was prosecuted in 1890 for "sly grog-selling". The grandeur of this house proved popular with the locals and was frequently used for group outings, such as church groups, sporting groups, and scientific conventions.
Alcohol was not the only dispute that White had with the authorities. He had a long-running dispute in relation to the availability and condition of access roads to his property, a matter made more complicated by being within the jurisdictions of two local government authorities, Shire of Coorparoo and Bulimba Division which had to reach an agreement on the work and the division of the expenses.
Later, a camera obscura was constructed. It projected the Brisbane skyline onto a horizontal, circular, slightly concave table about 3 metres (9.8 ft) in diameter. This, as well as the installation of a music machine, made the house ideal for functions, with many weddings and parties taking place.
Brisbane City Council sought to acquire the land for development in 1924, offering Bob White ₤22000 for its sale. He declined and lived out his days on the property. Upon his death in January 1927, the land was sold to the council for less than half the original offer. With clear views of the Greater Brisbane Area from its peak, Whites Hill became an ideal observation post during the Second World War and the army used the hill for training. The house remained on the land until 1964, where it was torn down after repeated acts of vandalism forced the council to condemn the residence.
Soon after, the land was developed into a reserve. An area of land was set aside for a public park, which includes a playground area, barbecue and toilet facilities and a sizeable area of parkland. Further development from the 1980s to present day has seen sporting clubs for cricket, soccer and touch football become established within the reserve. Kilometres of walking track also snake through the reserve, most notably to a reconstructed lookout on Whites Hill that provides excellent views of the Brisbane CBD and the lookout on Sankey's Mountain that looks out towards the coast.
The reserve was also the site of the Whites Hill Landfill and Recycling Facility, which closed in 1994 in favour of a larger facility in the Brisbane suburb of Chandler. Portions of the reserve near Pine Mountain have also been used as a quarry. Through community action however, much of that land has been rehabilitated. A whites family reunion is held every five years.
Whites Hill Reserve is characterised by a topographical ridge that extends from Pine Mountain through to Whites Hill (the highest elevation on the reserve at 120m). The reserve plays host to a range of local wildlife with a 1981 survey finding 58 species of bird, 1 of mammals and 4 species of reptiles. Today, there is also known to be a scattered koala population throughout the reserve. There are also echidnas, elf skinks and swamp wallabies.
The reserve's vegetation consists of tallowwood, Grey Gum, Brush Box, Queensland Blue Gum and White Mahogany with small instances of Rainforest. The reserve is prone to potentially catastrophic bushfires during the summer months; given many residences (some in the multi-million range) border the dry bushland. The Brisbane City Council actively practices anti-bushfire methods, such as sacrificial back burning. This involves burning selected sections of bushland to inhibit the spread of potentially damaging fires in the event of an emergency. The reserve is also dotted with a number of fire trails.
Whites Hill Reserve currently has a number of sporting and recreation facilities. For this reason, it is home to a number of sporting clubs. The Holland Park Hawks own two full size soccer pitches on site as well as a club house. In addition, there are two cricket pitches and six touch football fields. The reserve also features a number of barbecue areas and playgrounds, as well as several hundred square metres of cleared bushland.
- "Whites Hill Reserve playground upgrade". Brisbane City Council. Archived from the original on 11 April 2014. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
- Roberts, Beryl (2013), Naming Brisbane : origins of Brisbane's suburb & locality names, Sunnybank, Queensland: Beryl Roberts, ISBN 978-0-9872315-2-9
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- "LOCAL GOVERNMENT.". The Brisbane Courier. National Library of Australia. 9 June 1894. p. 6. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
- "Family Notices.". Sunday Mail. Brisbane: National Library of Australia. 23 January 1927. p. 8. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
- "Peaks to Points Festival celebrates nature's attractions". The Courier Mail. 2008-07-25. Retrieved 2009-08-17.[dead link]
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