Did You Know? Early European Settlers Established the Gap as a Major Food Producer

Did you know that The Gap was a farming community from the 1860s until a few years after the end of World War II? Owing to their deep knowledge of traditional English farming methods, early settlers established this valley as a major food producer for Brisbane town.

The area now known as The Gap was a heavily forested area with abundant vegetation and wildlife before early European settlers acquired lands across the valley. Initially, the area was turned into a timber-felling area before converting it into farmland.

It is believed that the first crown lease of land belonged to Darby McGrath in 1851, who established a cattle and sheep station across the valley. Ownership would then change hands for the next four decades.

Glenmore house and diary which later became Glenmore Estate |
Glenmore house and diary which later became Glenmore Estate | Photo credit:  The Gap Historical Society / /thegaphistory.com

Early settlers cultivated the land to grow crops to feed their cattle who in turn provided them with milk, cream and butter, and meat. They also raised horses, pigs and poultry and grew vegetables and fruits for their own use and as a source of income, selling excess produce to weekend travellers who visited the area. 

In other areas of the district, farmers grew pineapples and bananas whilst others specialised in lettuce growing and other vegetables which they sell or exchange for other goods or produce.

Since there was no piped water available at the time, despite the area being close to the reservoir, farmers either relied on Fish Creek (a tributary of the Enoggera) or cart water from a tank near the reservoir. 

After World War I, about 413 acres of land were cut into 42 small farms as a “soldier settlement” where a poultry industry was established in 1919. The number of holdings, however, dwindled to eight after a few years as many of the farms failed commercially.

Settlement Road 1920s
Settlement Road 1920s | Photo credit: The Gap Historical Society / /thegaphistory.com

Those who chose to remain refined their farming skills through trial and error. Soon, they would form the Soldier’s Settlement Co-operative Hatchery Association Ltd. to share knowledge and help one another.

During World War II, a group of farmers supplied chickens for the American Catering Corps whilst others found success in the “cut flower” industry. Some also sold their produce carrying carts loaded with lettuce, radish, celery, shallots and more. Others, however, ventured into orchard farming in the area, later known as “Ashgrove Park Estate”, but weren’t as successful due to the acidity of the soil.

About 1939, Claude Hamilton Mason established Mason’s Jam Factory east of the Ashgrove Golf Course, producing bottled jams and pickles until circa 1990.

By 1949, Post Office records showed five poultry farmers in the district as well as two dairy farmers, a jam maker, the Stirling granite quarry, and the church and a grocer in Waterworks Road.

The first residential subdivision was given approval with “Berry Estate-Walton Bridge” selling 27 blocks on 14 January 1956. Other estates followed including Ashgrove Park, Beverly Hills, Parkdale, Curtisfield, Majestic Outlook, Alton, Grant-Lea, Glenbrae, Finlayson & Farrell, Eastern-Vista