The Trevarthen Story in Wooloowin

The one place in Wooloowin that did have an industrial site was at the corner of Blake and Hunter Street. A & J Joinery operated for over 50 years. Our grandfather, after he retired as the Station Master of Wooloowin Station worked there as he lived only across the street and did not settle into retirement well. He worked there sweeping floors until it closed in 1962.
My father, Ted was working at the Albion Day and Night Pharmacy purchased the land with his employer.

When dad met my mother at a dance at Cloudland, they went on to marry. With wanting to stay close to their families, dad used the money from the sale of the land to purchase their first home next door at 36 Lisson Grove.
After having two children and needing a larger family home, they then purchased Mornington House which is now the hub of Aabon. They kept their first home and redeveloped it and today it is part of Aabon and is called Macquarie. My mother loved Australian history and named it after the explorer. In the following years they purchased the properties around Mornington House. After they both retired from paid employment and travelled for several years, they decided to redevelop all of the properties into what is now known as Aabon Apartments and Motel.

It is very unusual for families to stay in the one place, and even more so that they have created a business that now spans three generations. We hope that you enjoy Aabon and Wooloowin as much as our family has for so many years. If you are wanting to know more about Aabon and Wooloowin, please view our blog on our Facebook page or on our website


Where Aabon Apartments and Motel stands today in Wooloowin was called Maida Hill originally. Records show that in 1889 that it had been decided to change the name to Wooloowin as there was already a Maida Hill around the Dalby area in the Darling Downs region west of Brisbane.

The word Wooloowin is still disputed. It could be from the word for pigeon Kuluwin, or wului meaning smoke, or wooli meaning fish. According to Aboriginal people of the Clarence River District of NSW, Wooloowin was the word used for all kinds of fish.

Before European settlement, Wooloowin was frequented by the Toorbul people as it was rich in food sources and there was a chain of water holes. The Jagera people could not cross over Kedron Brook without the permission of the Gubbi Gubbi people of Bribie.

Lisson Grove, is located on the eastern side of the railway line was in the Maida Hill Estate. Maida Hill in London is a privileged area close to Regent’s Park. Lisson Grove in London leading up to the top of that hill and therefore due to the topography when looking up to Clayfield, Lisson Grove was used here too.

Wooloowin had very little industrial businesses (there were many in Albion), and it was said that on the high side of the railway line it was considered more uppercrust than the lower, while above Bonney Avenue at the top end of Lisson Grove was even more uppercrust. It was said that was where the silvertails lived.

A really interesting walk to take in the morning is to walk up to the top of Lisson Grove, cross over into Batman Street continue to the end, turn right and walk down Christian Street to Sandgate Road, turn right again and walk to the traffic lights at the corner of Sandgate Road and Bonney Avenue and return to Lisson Grove. In taking this 45-minute walk, you will see all of the many styles of houses popular in Brisbane from the very beginning of free settlement to new constructions today.


How things have changed. When I came to live in Lisson Grove as a young bride, the area was very different. In 1965, the shabbiness of the forties and the fifties was still much in evidence. There were still many houses needing a touch-up paint-wise. Old tanks stood on rickety stands behind dwellings behind that still had protruding stove recesses and many still had the old “thunderbox” in the backyard now used as a tool shed, or a wood store. The closer you went to the railway line, the dirtier the houses became because the coal dust settled an everything. It was undesirable to live on a street next to the railway as coal dirt from the stream trains soon blanketed the house in grime.


We live in a sprawling Queensland house at 36 Lisson Grove – far too big for 2 people. We were 2 doors across from my husbands (Ted) parents in Hunter Street and 2 blocks from my parents in Cromwell Street.

Two things I remember about early married life – Galloping to catch the train to work & Wooloowin train was a quaint little station with a cast iron bench set that resembled tree branches holding them together. We awaited suburban trains with wooden carriages that had bench seats side to side with doors that opened to each pair of benches was to take a large handkerchief to sit on, as there was always a film of coal dust and cinders to contend with. Then away the train would puff. Today, people now actually pay to take a nostalgic ride on one of these steam trains. Then we regarded the filth as a necessary adjunct to training travel. There was no air conditioning and conditions in summer were almost unbearably hot and humid.

The other aspect of this introduction to married bliss was the housework. Every week the white painted kitchen cupboards had to be scrubbed down – because of the fallout from the trains – even though we were a block removed from them. The tilux surrounds to the both had also to be scrubbed and the bath and hand basin cleaned thoroughly. Washing clothes was also a drama. The laundry was like in most houses, inconveniently located under the kitchen downstairs very cold and windy in winter. The “piece de resistance” was the modern gas copper boiler replacing the wood copper boiler. Sheets towels, linen had to be boiled before bluing and rinsing. Shirts and cotton dresses tablecloths, doyleys all were routinely starched with silver star starch before hanging them out on the lines stretched between two posts with a cross beam, so they looked like giant T’s. After pegging, the line was propped up with a wooden clothes prop to catch the breeze. After drying, the wash was sorted folded and prepared for ironing, all the starched items had to be pressed. There was no such thing as steam irons. By contrast, the ironing was damped down and press with a dry iron created the steam.

wooloowinThe main difference between then and now was the closeness and atmosphere of the suburb then compared with what exists today. You knew who everyone was, those who were outsiders. People knew how you fitted in – somewhat like a small country town. Now it is much more impersonal with many transients passing through. Many today like in home units or apartments, stay only a few years and don’t make lasting relationships with others in the area nor have they made a commitment to the area.
I was reminded of this when talking to a scrap metal merchant collecting from the council clean-up the other day. He had long-ago lived-in Balmain Street and asked if I remembered several persons in Wooloowin Avenue. I certainly did and was able to reminisce about the little shop at the bottom Balmain Street run once by Mrs. Murphy – a well know identity of the area as shopkeeper and station mistress. For streets around I still, tend to name the houses according to who occupied them back in the sixties – people who had lived there for decades.
We later moved into 45 Lisson Grove the Lord House and up further on Lisson Grove lived the Mc Ananey ladies – who were really very old when we

Holy Cross

lived there – down from them lived the Wgllie’s who had a big plumbing business in Albion and Wilson’s who had a journey works behind 36 Lisson Grove. A large picture of it is on the Dickson Street side of the railway in the older folks’ minds as it burnt down just before Ted and I married.

From being the youngest couple of the area, we are now about one of the oldest – So when we visit Aabon where we spent the majority of our married lives, we notice changes that have occurred and remember what used to be. It still has a charm of its own, but it is different – more cosmopolitan, tolerant and in many ways more interesting – interesting people, an eclectic mix of building styles and more street trees than ever before and a cleaner more efficient railway.

Discovering Brisbane Part 2

In my previous blog, I told you about my summer holidays with my family, staying at Aabon. I shared some great Brisbane landmarks to visit, and I let you in on some amazing eateries all within walking distance of the apartments.
Today’s blog features our day trip adventures, which rekindled a lot of fond childhood memories for me.

On our day trips out of the city, we did not go too far. I had heard that Redcliffe, a breezy half hour drive from Aabon apartments had undergone a lot of changes, so we decided to go for an explore. I had always thought that the Radcliffe Peninsula was a sleepy seaside town next to Brisbane. How wrong was I? It is a great mix of old and new, with fantastic bike and walking pathways boasting lots to see along the way. We spent the afternoon strolling around the Esplanade shops, and stopped in at the iconic Bee Gee’s Way. This unique walkway pays tribute to the world famous trio, and features statues and a multimedia representation of their career highlights. There’s rare interviews and footage that can be enjoyed by everyone, for free!
Possibly to avoid hearing me belt out any more Bee Gees hits at the top of my voice, my eldest son and brave nephew booked themselves in for a skydiving experience with Skydive Brisbane.
The less enthusiastic members of our group waited for them next door at the Ambassador of Redcliffe. It was a pleasure to be able to sit and chat for a couple of hours and watch the world go by while waiting for the intrepid adventurers. The Ambassador is a classic Australian hotel, and boasts some lovely seaside views, all to be enjoyed from the safety of firm ground! The scenery may not have compared to the views experienced by my skydiving family members, who said they would try and spot Aabon apartments from the air!

A place that I have great childhood memories of, and one that I wanted to share with my family, is Bribie Island. It’s a bit over an hour’s drive from Aabon, so perfect for a day away from the bustle of the city. We divided our day between both sides of the island, but first stopped in at the Bongaree Museum and learned quite a few things about the history of the island.
Back in the day, my family had an old fisherman’s shack in Bongaree and I just had to drive past. It was like time had stood still, nothing had changed. Memories of many adventures instantaneously flooded back. The kids and I rented surf skis and paddleboards and had lots of fun. It was much less challenging that I thought it would be, though my muscles were a bit sore that night!

We also went to the markets and had ice cream and coffee at Scoopy’s. I couldn’t believe it was still there, and still as good as I remembered.
When we ventured to the surf side of the island, we hit the beach. The waves were not huge but enough that we could happily body surf. I was very happy to bask in the rays and keep going in for dips, whilst the rest of crew stayed in the water the whole time.
Bribie Island has a great family feeling and we look forward to going back.

Eventually, all good things had to come to an end, and after two weeks of having a ‘day trip’ vacation the family went home to Ingham, and my nephew returned to England.

Well, it seems that I’ve reminisced enough for one blog post. Hopefully it has provided you with some destinations to visit when you’re next staying at Aabon Apartments.

Discovering Brisbane Part 1

`Rediscovering my own backyard: Our family’s Aabon Summer.

Moving out of home is often a big step in our lives, a time filled with learning new skills, exploring new areas and finding your feet in the world.
But what would happen if, as an adult, you found yourself moving back into your childhood home, back to your old stomping grounds, where everything was familiar, but slightly different as well?

This is exactly what happened to Helen, Aabon’s Manager, who took over the day to day running of the apartments and motel due to her parent’s ill health. In this month’s blog, Helen talks about returning to her childhood home after 30 years, and shares some great things to do, see and eat while staying at Aabon.

Due to the busy nature of my job as manager here, it’s not often that we get a lot of time to devote to sight-seeing and discovery in my old backyard. For the first time in a year, I finally got to have this experience.  This past Summer, my husband came down from the north and my nephew from even further away – England, and stayed over the Christmas break.

Having family staying with us was a great excuse to visit a wealth of amazing places, in Brisbane and beyond, and I have to say, ‘Wow!’ I was so privileged to be able to share it with my family, and now with you.


We decided to show our nephew the local sights in Brisbane first.
His highlights were City Hall, where we did a tour of the great museum, and Southbank Parklands, a fantastic riverside location filled with beautifully maintained leisure spaces, fantastic eateries, and even a giant ferris wheel so you can take in all the city sights.
He also enjoyed the Queensland Art Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), which have a wide range of exhibits running year round. GOMA is a short walk from Southbank, so you can really make a full day of it!
Parking costs are reasonable if you book online before your day out, or you can easily catch a train from Wooloowin Station.

Showing off our city made me proud. It is very pedestrian and cyclist friendly, and has a strong public transport system.
Our city is historically and culturally diverse.
A visit to the West End, Fortitude Valley or New Farm gives you just a taste of how Brisbane celebrates its differences, while at the same time bringing communities together through markets, festivals and other niche celebrations.

Summer in Australia is notoriously hot, and Brisbane is no exception.  After a big day exploring, it was back to Aabon for some time in the pool, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I had more than a few relaxing hours in the spa!


When you’re on holidays, the very last thing you want to do is cook! It’s a time to discover new culinary delights, and all the better if they’re not too far from your accommodation!
In Wooloowin, where Aabon is located, we are very close to lots of great restaurants.
Possibly our favourite local is the Albion Hotel, a cool 10 minute walk from the apartments.
We shared many laughs here during our holiday, and would recommend it to anyone who asked.
I’ll let you in on a little secret here. If you’ve got a hankering for some authentic American BBQ delights, head to Hudson Corner BBQ & Alehouse. Again, a 10 minute walk from Aabon, it’s worth skipping lunch and working up a real hunger! I do believe, and this is a big call, that their Brisket and Blue Burger is the best I have ever had.  We went back the next night to have it again.

During our holiday, we also enjoyed meals from Sitar Indian Restaurant, Fiamme Trattoria and Thaiways. My husband and I also snuck away for a couple of cheeky breakfast dates at Chill Café and Little Corner Café that are just a short walk from Aabon as well.
I think my next local thing to explore will be the gym, to work off all of the delicious holiday indulgences!

Stay tuned for my next blog post, where I share our day trip stories from a little further afield!








The Sandgate Road and Railway Line

One hundred and fifty years ago the only road to the Village of Sandgate at the mouth of Cabbage Tree Creek was via German Station (now Nunda) and Bald Hills. A circuitous journey of 14 miles (about 20 KM), and this was by coach – including Cobb and Co Coaches at the cost of 5 shillings return fare. The return fare from the city took 9 1/2 hours.

The old Sandgate Road ran along what is now know as Bonney Ave, down Jackson St at Eagle Junction to Kalinga Park, fording the creek at Bage St and continuing along the present route of Sandgate Rd. Because of flooding problems of the very steep ascent and decent at Bage St, it was decided in the 1870s to reroute the Sandgate Rd through Clayfield on higher less flood prone land. The road was never meant to become a main access road to the Bruce Highway and Redcliffe or to the present airport. Hence, there are often problems with traffic congestion and slow progress in peak times through this winding, looping section of the Sandgate Road.

The Sandgate Railway Line was proposed in 1879s, the route chosen costing £66,102.00. The line was completed in April 1882, ending at Curlew Street, Sandgate. In 1881, the site of the Sandgate Station moved back to its present location, near Sandgate Village. Eight trains began service in May 1882, and provided 8 daily services – a vast improvement on one service a day by coach. Notable engineering feats achieved were cuttings through from Albion to Wooloowin and at Nundah, and bridges built over Breakfast Creek at Albion. Cabbage Tree Creek at Boondall Nth, in its heyday, the Sandgate trains carried thousands of day trippers each weekend to Sandgate to enjoy a seaside outing or go sailing on Morton Bay. This was when Sandgate was the closest seaside town to Brisbane, and before the Gold Coast became popular in the 1950s. Sandgate still attracts weekend visitors to enjoy picnicking, sailboarding, promenading along the foreshore, concerts in the parks or the old town hall, and swimming in a magnificent water park on Flinders Parade.


When the Sandgate Line opened, there were 3 stations adjacent: Hudson Road, Dickson St and Eagle Junction – Lutwyche Station Thorold town Station and Eagle Junction Lutwyche Station was at the end of Chalk St opposite Lisson Grove.
Thorold Station was opposite Thorold St (off Dickson St) and Eagle Junction in its present location. In 1888, a poll of passenger numbers revealed Thorold Town only attracted 2% so this station was closed and by 1890, Lutwyche Station was moved 300 yards north to its present location and renamed Wooloowin.


The name Wooloowin is though to derive from a local aboriginal dialect for “pigeon “or “running water” or “fish” “Kalinga” was named by early German missionaries after a stream in the Middle East. Wooloowin has always been a sprawling suburban area encompassing 1.1 KM in radius and the local area of Kalinga, the home of Judge Lutioyche, first Judge of the Supreme Court in QLD.
The main subdivisions of rural holdings (pineapple, bananas and mango farms) occurred in the 1880s as public transport became much improved – particularly the extension of the Northern Railway to Wooloowin in 1882. Development of tramways in the 1890 also caused further settlement, and schools inevitably followed with the first High School – Kedron High School established in 1956.

In 1885, an Act of Parliament set a minimum size block in Brisbane at 16 perches (405 sqm) and roads and lanes were also given minimum dimensions. This explains the very different look that Brisbane has to some of the State Capitals in southern Australia. Detached houses and large blocks reduced the hazards if fire and diseases by overcrowding, especially when wood was favoured as the main building material in the late 19th century. This has given Wooloowin its suburb and character, which can be seen in the remaining colonial and federation style houses. Since the 1970s, increasing numbers of flats and home units have also been built, thus catering for about 6000 population of diverse age and background, who enjoy the convenience of Wooloowin’s location, proximity to the city and to local sporting, shopping, educational, hospital and social facilities.

Mornington House here at 45 Lisson Grove was built as a “town house” in 1888, and was used by a number of the Upper House, a Mr Frederick Lord as a town residence whilst attending parliament in the 1890s. Its style is colonial, incorporating wide verandas, with iron lace railings, large sash windows and high stumps to facilitate ventilation. The verandas originally surrounded all 4 sides of the house, but for the kitchen area, and stables were along the back fence.


Lisson Grove was named after London’s Lisson Grove near Paddington. It is a relatively short street running from Bonney Avenue (the old Sandgate Road) and the railway line. It marked the boundary of the Maida Hill Estate which was established when the Joe A Adsett property was cut up in the 1880’s. It comprised an area bounded by Bonney Avenue, Stopford Street, the railway, and Lisson Grove. At one stage the name Wooloowin was the preferred option and Naida Hill disappeared.

This area, and in particular, Lisson Grove, has seen much change – in particular from the 1960’s onwards, roads were sealed from kerb to kerb instead of having a dirt strip either side of bitumen down the middle, the area became sewers rendering outdoor thunderbox toilets redundant, and two modern developments had a profound effect. These were the first flats that appeared on the corner of Miles Street and Lisson Grove, and Toombul Shopping Centre and Lutwyche Shopping Village signalled the demise of suburban shopping centres.
In Lisson Grove, three shops disappeared on the corner of Hudson Road, and the little shopping centre over the rail line in Dickson Street has all but disappeared. Gone were the grocery shop hairdresser, chemist, butcher and post office which could not compete with the newer shopping centres.

At the top of Lisson Grove was the old Ingarfield Hosiptal where many older residents were born, and it was replaced like many other residences by brick flats and units. Where once, residents knew one another, the area is now very multicultural, as residents appreciate the area for its closeness to the train and many other facilities. When the steam trains disappeared, the suburb became even more attractive to commuters.

The Aabon Apartments and Motel came about in the 1990s mainly as a response to Expo 88 which showed the family the direction of things to come. With good transport links, was well placed to cater for families on holidays looking for reasonably priced accommodation. When the little corner shop was rebuilt as the Lisson Grove Village in 1994, it created an ideal situation for a tourist venture. As well it ensured that at least one on the original colonial dwellings would survive, less than 50% of the original houses in Lisson Grove still survive and as the older residents move away, fewer will remember Lisson Grove as it was.

Where once the Maida Hill Estate was the domain of reasonably well-off residents, one thing has remained constant, that is the diversity of cultural backgrounds has continued over the years, because of the excellent location of this area.


Wooloowin has always been a sprawling suburban area encompassing 1.1km in radius and the local area of Kalinga, the home of Judge Lutwyche, first judge of the Supreme Court in QLD.

The name “Wooloowin” is thought to be derived from a local aboriginal dialect for “pigeon”, “running water” or “fish”. “Kalinga” was named by early German missionaries after a stream in the middle east.

The main subdivision of rural holdings (pineapple, banana, and mango farms) occured in the 1880s as public transport became much improved – particularly the extension of the northern railway to Wooloowin in 1882. Development of tramways in the 1890 also caused further settlement and schools inevitably followed with the first High School – Kedron H. School established in 1956.

In 1885, an act of Parliament set a minimum size block in Brisbane at 16 perches (405m^2), and roads & lanes were also given minimum dimensions. This explains the very different look that Brisbane has to some of the State Capitals in Southern Australia. Detached houses & large blocks reduced the hazard of fire & diseases caused by overcrowding, especially when wood was used as the main building material in the late 19th century.

This has given Wooloowin its character, which can be seen in the remaining colonial & federation style houses. Since the 1970s increasing numbers of flats and home units have also been built, catering for about 6000 people of diverse age and background, who enjoy the convenience of Wooloowin’s location, proximity to the city and to local sporting, shopping, educational, hospital and social facilities.

Mornington House here at 45 Lisson Grove was built as a “town house” in 1888, and was used by a member of the Upper House, a Mr Frederick Lord as a town residence, whilst attending parliament in the 1890s. The style is colonial, incorporating wide verandahs with iron lace railings, large sash windows and high stumps to facilitate ventilation. The verandahs originally surrounded all four sides of the house, but for the kitchen area, and stables were along the back fence.