The Reserve sits on a sandstone formation called the Oxley Group that was laid down in the Tertiary Period (between 2 and 66 million years ago), and has been heavily eroded by the creeks in the area, and of course the nearby Brisbane River. While not as fertile as some of the surrounding older geological areas, the area was part of the primordial Gondwana Rainforest, remnants of  which still exist in parts of southeast Queensland and northern New South Wales.

Aerial photograph of the reserve from 1946
Aerial photograph of the reserve from 1946

Following the European settlement of the Brisbane area in 1825, the new town slowly spread westward, and in 1863 the newly created Queensland government apportioned for freehold title the area that now covers the suburbs of Jindalee, Seventeen Mile Rocks, and Sinnamon Park. Its botanical importance was recognised early, as this report in the Brisbane Courier on 18 October 1889 attests (although the dreaded lantana had already made an appearance by then): Botanical Gleanings by Georgius . You can download a reprint of the article here: Botanical Gleanings (PDF 181 kb).

Until its gradual sale to developers in the mid-1960s, most of the area was farmland, but is now mostly suburban development with some parkland. In this environment, the Fort Bushland Reserve is one of the few areas of relatively untouched bushland in the area.

The “Fort” commemorated in the modern name of the reserve was taken from the house built by Henry William Coxen high on the bluff overlooking the Brisbane River in about 1873. That building is today part of the Passionist Community of the Catholic Church, which adjoins the reserve.

For a more complete history of The Fort, read The Fort at Oxley and its Early Owners.

“‘The Fort’ at Oxley and its Early Owners”, adapted from a talk by Olivia Corkran. Published in The Dynamic and the Genteel, edited by Ralph Fones. Oxley-Chelmer History Group Papers IV, 2004, pages 10-13. Reproduced by permission.

This and other publications about the area are available from the Oxley-Chelmer History Group Inc , 59 Dudley St Sherwood 4075.

Coxen's original block
Coxen’s original block, as drawn by Miss Olivia Corkran

You can also read some edited recollections of Miss Olivia Corkran, the daughter of the second owner of The Fort, produced by Hazel Lahey of the Oxley-Chelmer History Group.

While there is some evidence of its past agricultural heritage–we have found a dry stone wall, some very weathered fence posts, the remains of an old water tank, and a large amount of very rusted barbed wire–the reserve has little to show for its past history. The aerial photograph above shows that much of the southern (Cliveden Avenue) side of the reserve was at one time almost completely cleared, but has since returned to almost full cover.