Discussion: The pre-history of Freedom Wall

  • Started: 3 years ago on Tue 13th Nov 2018

Public discussion This is a public discussion in Freedom Wall.

Adrian Woodcraft started this discussion 3 years ago.

The pre-history of Freedom Wall

When I was a kid, back about 1955 (yes, Australia really was inhabited that far back!) travelling outbound along Lutwyche Road in the tram, just after we passed the intersection with Newmarket Road (which did not have traffic lights at that time) there was a strange, enormous hole in the ground where Freedom Furniture now stands. The hole occupied the whole of the area now covered by the shopping centre. It's sides were rough-hewn vertical stone. I have no idea how deep it was but to a small kid it looked very deep - maybe 20 feet, maybe 40 feet. The hole was surrounded by a six foot high rusty chainwire fence supported by 4 inch X 4 inch brown painted wooden posts. (Yes, feet and inches... we hadn't been invaded by metric measurements that far back, either.)

Inside the hole were two ENORMOUS round steel tanks with slightly domed tops. The tops of the tanks were roughly at ground level. The tanks were painted a rusty red-brown colour. One day it occurred to me to ask my father what they were for. He told me that during the 2nd World War they were used to store petrol, probably for military use. They had been put into a hole in the ground to protect them from bombing raids. During the war they had tennis courts painted on top of them to disguise them from the Japanese bomber pilots (who never came). Tennis courts painted on top of them will give you some idea of how big they were.

Then one day, as I was passing in the tram, I noticed that the tanks weren't there any more. Hmmm... Next time I passed, there was a fleet of trucks filling the hole with solid fill from somewhere. Curiously, they didn't just back up to the edge of the hole and tip their load in; they drove down a ramp into the hole and tipped when they got to the bottom. The hole being very big, this process took a long time. I later discovered that rams foot rollers were also active in the process, compacting the fill as the trucks delivered it. I suppose there was a grader or a D6 bulldozer also being kept busy down there in the hole, but I never actually saw it.

Eventually a fairly thick layer of well compressed decomposed granite was laid down and then a concrete slab was poured over the top of it all.

I can't remember when the present shopping centre was built, but I was away for most of 1968 to 1972. I do know that when I came back to Australia the shopping centre was there, more-or-less as it is today.

Mark Gamble replied 3 years ago.

Interesting history Adrian.

I have no recollection of this hole at all. Perhaps it's a hole in my memory (groan).

Growing up in Nundah, we would mostly take Sandgate Rd. into town. Similarly, i have no recollection of the cliff at Lutwytch either.

The fact that they excavated it is impressive - it's the same "rock" (tuff) as KP. Probably ordered by McArthur?

The wall behind Freedom Furniture was in use as a bouldering wall until recently.

Adrian Woodcraft replied 3 years ago.

Until recently? and then what happened?

It's a funny thing about Brisbane tuff... a soft, easily eroded rock on the surface. Much of the cross-river tunnel was bored through Brisbane tuff and forward estimates of drilling time were based on what the engineers or geologists thought they knew about this "soft" rock. But, when they got down to 30 metres below the surface, they found a very different story! down there it is HARD rock.. and drilling times blew out to three times as long as the original estimates.

The tragedy of that short-sighted, visionless, government-shortcut,economics-based project was that thousands of cubic metres of hard, beautiful rock, striated in colours of cream, pink, lavender and chocolate brown, were reduced to rubble and used as fill for a new runway at Brisbane airport. It could have been used to build some of the most beautiful buildings in the world, with a uniquely Brisbane characteristic.

With more tunnels planned for the future, will they get it right next time? Unfortunately, that's not likely... unless enough people start demanding a better use of this scarce and hard-to-come-by beautiful resource.

Mark Gamble replied 3 years ago.

What happened re the bouldering wall behind Freedom Furniture?

A nasty thing called "progress". It's called a "gym".

Well, that and the development of several other outdoor bouldering areas around Brissy.

Adrian Woodcraft replied 3 years ago.

Okay, so it wasn't closed down, just superceded by better options?

replied 3 years ago.

About ten years ago, before the shotcrete and the rubbish, it wasn't so bad to run traverses on that wall. The fence at the top even took a top rope. The 'stabilisation' ruined a lot of it. I grew up in Newmarket and stopped by periodically, but never found who put in the bolts. I suspect they were pre- shops. Very interesting about the tanks Adrian!

Mark Gamble replied 3 years ago.

Hey Matt,

I suspect you may be mixing cliffs?

Adrian was talking about the cliff + area where Freedom Furniture (+ other shops) is on the corner of Newmarket Rd. & Lutwytch Rd.

The cliff is behind Freedom Furniture & is perhaps 8-10m high?

About 1km further North on Lutwytch Rd., there are the shorter, but much higher cliffs opposite Albion Rd.

These were recently shot-creted & stabilised by Council.

replied 3 years ago.

I was talking about freedom wall. The Windsor quarry suffered a big collapse a few years ago after a storm, and was stabilised with pins, mesh and shotcrete. Windsor quarry wasn't ever climbable I don't think

replied 3 years ago. My FB photo from the collapse

Mark Gamble replied 3 years ago.

Hey Matt,

Thx, yeah i remember that rockfall. It was pretty dramatic.

To the best of my knowledge, that cliff was never stabilised. But i imagine that hasn't stopped some intrepid climber (s) from scaling these walls?


replied 3 years ago.

Well if anyone tried, may they rest in peace

Adrian Woodcraft replied 3 years ago.

A good photo, Matt.

Imagine how you would feel if you lived in the house at the top of the quarry! It's no wonder the council went to the extent they did to ensure no further collapse. I'm not sure about this but I think that property has a swimming pool up there somewhere. Forty tonnes of water added to the next collapse would be quite a sight to behold.

Paul Mc replied 6 weeks ago.

In the 80's it was a hole in the ground with Brisbane car sound in the northern end facing Lutwyche rd. every man and his dog was going there whilst Kangaroo Point was closed for expo 88. Some people were practicing placing bolts at some stage. I dont know who did FAs but there was a climb called "hello Im a letterbox". there is a bunch of little Tuff cliffs with routes around including Love Street

replied 6 weeks ago.

Thank Paul! Great info. I'm surprised there isn't more knowledge about this place if that's what it was like. Very nice to have this little crag memorialised as it fades into shotcrete and obscurity

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