A woman is waving at someone we can't see. She is standing on a balcony with girders of a bridge nearby.

Brisbane time capsule

Explore the Brisbane time capsule

The Queensland capital city shines
 Beth Taylor


The NFSA's Brisbane time capsule curated collection celebrates Brisbane's people, places and stories.

Animated still of two blue heeler dogs dancing in the twilight with the skyline of Brisbane City in the background.
Bluey, Series 1, Episode 39, Copycat. Courtesy Ludio Studio.

Explore the region's history from its volcanic formation 60 million years ago to the traditional custodians, the Turrbal people.

In addition to the highlights below the collection includes historic footage of the city from 1899, Expo 88, floods, public transport and even its supporting role in the beloved kid's animation Bluey (pictured right).

Life inside a bridge pylon

In what must be one of Australia's more unique addresses, three successive generations of toll-masters lived in the pylons of Brisbane's Walter Taylor Bridge (then known as the Indooroopilly Bridge).

This story from the Australian Diary series offers a peek inside one of the apartments and introduces us to toll-keeper George MacDougall and his wife Elaine:

Australian Diary 77: New Australians Live in Unusual Home, Film Australia Collection © NFSA. NFSA title: 1552

The narrator's comment about Elaine serving her 'Lord and master' reveals the expected gender roles of 1950s Australia.

Ekka excitement

This clip from a Seven News Brisbane special includes early footage from the Royal Queensland Show, or Ekka ('Exhibition') for short:

A history of the Ekka. Excerpt from Seven News Brisbane special Queensland: Flashback 150 Years, 30 May 2009. NFSA title: 1050663. Courtesy Seven Network.

Although short, this clip skilfully evokes memories of the Ekka by pairing silent archival footage of people enjoying rides with old-fashioned carousel music.

Stills of the first exhibitions at the Brisbane Showgrounds show the scale of the event and underline social historian Dr Joanne Scott’s comments about the Ekka’s role in putting Queensland on the map.

Interestingly, the Ekka has only been cancelled three times to date – 1919, during the Spanish flu pandemic; at the height of the Second World War in 1942; and in 2020, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Maroons trump Blues

The first State of Origin match between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons was held at Lang Park in Brisbane on 8 July 1980.

Legendary Queensland players Arthur Beetson, Wally Lewis, John Lang, Kerry Boustead, Chris Close and a young Mal Meninga (then only 20 years old) played on the day:

The first State of Origin match, 1980. Excerpt from Seven News Brisbane special Queensland: Flashback 150 Years, 30 May 2009. NFSA title: 1050663. Courtesy Seven Network.

The voice-over in this Seven News Brisbane special accurately describes it as a ‘brutal encounter’. The game footage, covered brilliantly from several different angles, backs up that statement with plenty of aggressive play on the field.

The choice to include the original Seven Network commentary (‘it’s on for young and old now!’) emulates the feeling of watching this historic game live.

Visit the Brisbane time capsule curated collection to learn more about Brisbane's past, including the tornado that tore through Brisbane suburbs in 1973.

Explore other Australian city time capsule collections: Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Darwin, Perth, Hobart and the Gold Coast.