Mount Coot-tha (1929)

Brisbane Courier 1 July 1929 

'MOUNT COOT-THA: ITS HISTORY REVIEWED

ASSET TO BRISBANE.

Mount Coot-tha has been appropriately termed the "Mount of Beauty." All who have stood on its crest have been impressed with the grandeur of the panorama that it gives of city, river, bay, and mountain ranges. Contrasting with the natural scenery. Mount Coot-tha itself Is beautiful. Even in the long-gone days, When the place that was to be Brisbane was an unbroken vista of trees; when nothing but virgin bush was to be seen from the eminence where thousands have since looked on to and beyond the city; when smoke from aboriginal fires was the only intrusion in the picture of nature. Mount Coot-tha must have presented a wildly beautiful scene.

Mt Coot-tha, 1910. Queensland Historical Atlas.

ORIGIN OF NAME.
Mount Coot-tha was once a favourite ground of the blacks, who hunted marsupials and birds, and very often found hives of native honey there. From such discoveries the mountain owes the origin of its present name. "Coot-tha," in the native dialect, meant "dark native honey." This meaning is applied to the word in "Tom Petrie's Reminiscences," where the author gives its pronunciation as "Ku-ta"; other translations interpret it merely as "honey." The name by which the mount was known to early settlers, and by which it Is popularly called to-day, was "One Tree Hill." This was derived from the fact that an arboreal monarch once stood on the summit in solitary splendour. In the early '40's a dense forest of large trees grew on the top of the hill, and with their thinning-out, the giant tree became more conspicuous year by year because of its isolation and great size. So the ridge became "One Tree Hill." The big tree was killed by careless picnickers lighting fires at its base. Frequent blazes scorched its trunk, and sapped its life, and one day the stark old tree had to be felled.

HISTORY OF THE RESERVE.
The attractions of "One Tree Hill" as a recreation and picnic ground were recognised from the days when civilisation began to penetrate the country around Moreton Bay. Many of the first residents found it a delightful retreat. But the mountain's timbers were exploited for some years before Mount Coot-tha was definitely made a park reserve. According to the Assistant Under Secretary for Public Lands (Mr. C.W. Holland), the land was originally set apart under the Crown Lands Alienation Act of 1868 as a reserve for timber for railway purposes. A survey was made in 1874, and the reserve was found to contain an area of 1476 acres. In 1880 the reservation for timber for railway purposes was cancelled, and an area of 1500 acres was permanently reserved for a public park. A deed of grant upon trust, "for the appropriation thereof as a public park for the recreation, convenience, health, and amusement of the inhabitants of the city of Brisbane in our said colony, and for no other use and purpose whatsoever,” was issued to Sir Charles Lilley, Sir A.H. Palmer, Sir Samuel Griffith, and the Hon. H. E. King.

APPOINTMENT OF TRUSTEES.
Subsequent changes' placed the following gentlemen on the trust, in succession: - Sir Thos. Mcilwraith, Mr. John Stevenson, Sir Hugh Nelson, Sir Alfred Cowley, Hon. Albert Norton, Mr. E.H. Macartney (Queensland's Agent General-elect), Dr. E.S. Jackson, and Sir Robert Philp. Mr. H. W. Radford, Clerk of the Legislative Council, acted as hon. secretary to the board of trustees, and took a keen interest in the reserve. Afterwards Messrs. C. W. Costin and C. R. Gregory, each in turn Clerk of the Legislative Council, acted as hon. secretary. Grants were made by the Government to the trustees for roads, erection of shelter shed, fencing, salary of caretaker, &c. The name was changed from "One Tree Hill" to "Mount Coot-tha." by notice published in the "Government Gazette" of August 10, 1883. In 1919 the trustees surrendered their trust in favour of the Brisbane City Council, which was then appointed as trustee.

AREA OF THE RESERVE.
With the growth of the city Mount Coot-tha reserve also has expanded. The area has grown, by additions from time to time, to a little over 2567 acres. The Brisbane City Council is about to apply to the Land Administration Board for the grant of an additional area of 35 acres of Crown land, formerly held as a quarantine reserve, in the direction of Indooroopilly, and, if it is obtained, the acquisition of another 10 acres of privately-owned land that lies between will make the total area of the Mount Coot-tha reserve 2612 acres. But the reserve has grown in other respects. Roads have been improved, a fine new kiosk at the peak of the hill has replaced the rustic structure that formerly stood there, and a pretty look-out tower has been built. Indicative of the number of vehicles that now run to the city's favourite observation point is the fact that one-way traffic is about to be introduced between the Summit and Simpson's road, Paddington.

HISTORIC FIG TREES.
One of the Moreton Bay fig trees that stand at the top of Mount Coot-tha was planted by King George V. (then Prince George), and his brother, the late Duke of Clarence (then Prince Albert), during their visit to Brisbane in 1882. On that occasion the late Sir Thomas Mcllwraith and Earl Clanwilliam also planted trees. To-day the historic fig trees spread a kindly shade for visitors, and add to the quiet beauty of the surroundings. Mount Coot-tha's altitude of 746ft., and its proximity to the city - it is about four miles from the General Post Office - makes it a very valuable asset to "Brisbane. But other features - the Summit and the Devil's Slide, the broken dams, and the stony gullies, where water used to run, the cool shady slopes, and the bubbling streams, the stately trees, and pretty shrubs, have endeared the whole reserve to those who love to commune with Nature. In all parts of Australia, and, Indeed, abroad, there are people who are glad' that, owing to the prevision of public-minded men. "Brisbane has Its Mount Coat-tha."