History of Cleveland

Cleveland Lighthouse circa 1904

Cleveland Lighthouse circa 1904; image courtesy of Redland Libraries Local History Collection 

The Quandamooka story

The traditional owners knew the Cleveland area as Nandeebie or Nandillie. This was a Jandai language word spoken by the Koobenpul people, the earliest known occupants of Cleveland and surrounds. Like the rest of the Redlands, there are several accounts of early interactions between the original inhabitants and the first European settlers.

Evidence of an Aboriginal presence around Cleveland includes bora rings with associated debarked trees in Ormiston and near Hilliards Creek, close to the site of the Redlands Hospital.

Behind the name

After Europeans started arriving in Moreton Bay in the 1820s, Cleveland Point was briefly known as Pumpkin Point and Emu Point. The area was named Cleveland in the early 1840s by surveyors after the Duke of Cleveland, William Henry Vane. One of the Duke of Cleveland’s properties was Raby Castle in County Durham, from which we get the name Raby Bay. At the time, Cleveland was a much bigger area than it is today as it included Ormiston and Thornlands. 

Arrival of Europeans

Unlike other Redlands suburbs, which began as farming settlements that grew, Cleveland began life as a township. It was proclaimed in December 1850. At this time, many hoped to make Cleveland the main port of Moreton Bay, with either Brisbane or Ipswich as the commercial centre. The first European settlers to live in Cleveland were involved in the port and included Francis Bigge and Louis Hope.

Although they built some buildings and a stone jetty on the end of Cleveland Point, the port plan failed and, from the 1860s, Cleveland became home to small shops and other businesses as well as small farms growing firstly sugarcane and, later, fruit and vegetables. Cleveland was also popular as a seaside resort and, when the Cleveland railway opened in 1889, Brisbane folk travelled to Cleveland to stay at hotels such as the Grand View, which still operates today. 

On track

When the railway came to Cleveland, the main station was near Shore St East and Passage St, where the Raby Bay canal estate is now. Farmers from as far away as Redland Bay and Mount Cotton loaded their crops at this station bound for market in Brisbane. This area around the railway station was the centre of activity in Cleveland until the 1940s, with the main shopping centre along Shore St East, opposite the railway station and goods yard. 

Cars and trucks began arriving in the district in about 1908-1910 and, by the early 1920s, they were slowly replacing the trains as the main means of transport, including for the farmers’ produce.

By the 1940s, a new shopping district was growing around Bloomfield St and Middle St, where it remains today. This area was called Raby Bay rather than Cleveland but, by the 1980s when the Raby Bay canal estate was being built, the name came to mean the canal estate and the rest of the area was called Cleveland. 

When was it? 

  • Cleveland was proclaimed a township in December 1850.
  • The oldest remaining buildings in Cleveland were built in the 1850s: the Grand View Hotel and the Courthouse Restaurant.
  • In 1861 a post and telegraph service began on Cleveland Point.
  • The Cleveland Point Lighthouse was built about 1864 to guide the small coastal steamers (ships) that travelled between Brisbane and farming settlements along the Logan and Albert Rivers.
  • The first public jetty was built in 1866. It ran from Cleveland Point towards Peel Island.
  • The first school in Cleveland – and the Redlands – was set up in 1861. It was a small private school. In 1868, the Cleveland State School was set up. It was called the Cleveland East School and was on North St, between the Grand View Hotel and St Paul’s Anglican church. In 1915, it moved to its present site in Queen Street. That is the same year that the district’s first street lights were installed.
  • In 1874, Cleveland’s first church, St Paul’s Anglican church on North St, was built.
  • In 1880, the first police station was built on Passage St.
  • In 1889, the railway came to Cleveland.

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