About Brisbane

An Introduction To Brisbane

Brisbane is the capital and most populous city in Queensland, and the third most populous city in Australia. Brisbane’s metropolitan area has a population of 2.3 million, and the South East Queensland urban conurbation, centred on Brisbane, encompasses a population of more than 3 million. The Brisbane central business district stands on the original European settlement and is situated inside a bend of the Brisbane River, about 15 kilometres from its mouth at Moreton Bay. The metropolitan area extends in all directions along the floodplain of the Brisbane River valley between Moreton Bay and the Great Dividing Range.

The metropolitan area sprawls across several of Australia’s most populous local government areas, including the City of Brisbane, which is by far the most populous LGA in the nation. The demonym of Brisbane is Brisbanite.

One of the oldest cities in Australia, Brisbane was founded upon the ancient homelands of the Turrbal and Jagera peoples. Named after the Brisbane River on which it is located, which in turn was named after Scotsman Sir Thomas Brisbane, the Governor of New South Wales from 1821 to 1825. The area was chosen as a place for secondary offenders from the Sydney Colony. A penal settlement was founded in 1824 at Redcliffe, 28 kilometres north of the central business district. That settlement was soon abandoned and moved to North Quay in 1825, and opened to free settlement in 1842.

The city was marred by Aboriginal conflict between 1843-1855, and development was partly setback by the Great Fire of Brisbane, and the Great Brisbane Flood. Brisbane was chosen as the capital when Queensland was proclaimed a separate colony from New South Wales in 1859. During World War II, Brisbane played a central role in the Allied campaign and served as the South West Pacific headquarters for General Douglas MacArthur. Today, it is well known for its distinct Queenslander Architecture which forms much of the built heritage of Brisbane.

Brisbane has hosted several large cultural, international and sporting events, including the 1982 Commonwealth Games, World Expo ’88, the final Goodwill Games in 2001, and the 2014 G-20 summit.

CLIMATE

Brisbane has a humid subtropical climate with hot, humid summers and dry moderately warm winters. Due to its proximity to the Coral Sea and a warm ocean current, Brisbane’s overall temperature variability is somewhat less than most other Australian capitals, particularly in winter, when maximum temperatures below 20 C are relatively uncommon (compared with Sydney, Adelaide, and Perth). From November to March, thunderstorms are common over Brisbane, with the more severe events accompanied by large damaging hail stones, torrential rain and destructive winds. On an annual basis, Brisbane averages 124 clear days. Dewpoints in the summer average at around 20 °C.

The city’s highest recorded temperature was 43.2 °C on 26 January 1940, but temperatures above 38 °C are uncommon. On 19 July 2007, Brisbane’s temperature fell below the freezing point for the first time since records began, registering −0.1 °C at the airport. In 2009 Brisbane recorded its hottest winter day at 35.4 °C on 24 August. Brisbane’s wettest day occurred on 21 January 1887, when 465 millimetres of rain fell on the city, the highest maximum daily rainfall of Australia’s capital cities.

From 2001 until 2010, Brisbane and surrounding temperate areas had been experiencing the most severe drought in over a century, with dam levels dropping to 16.9% of their capacity on 10 August 2007. Residents were mandated by local laws to observe level 6 water restrictions on gardening and other outdoor water usage. Per capita water usage is below 140 litres per day, giving Brisbane one of the lowest per capita usages of water of any developed city in the world. On 9 January 2011, an upper low crossed north of Brisbane and dropped rainfall on an already saturated southeast coast of Queensland, resulting in severe flooding and damage in Brisbane and the surrounding area; the same storm season also caused the water storage to climb to over 98% of maximum capacity and broke the drought.

Water restrictions have been replaced with water conservation measures that aim at a target of 200 litres per day/per person, but consumption is rarely over 160 litres. In November 2011, Brisbane saw 22 days with no recorded rainfall, which was the driest start to a November since 1919. Furthermore, August 2012 was the city’s driest August and the driest month ever experienced in its recorded history (records at the Brisbane Airport commenced in 1929, although the station closed in February 2000). At the meteorological station in the city’s downtown core (Brisbane Station), only 0.2 mm of precipitation was recorded in August 2012.

Brisbane also lies in the Tropical Cyclone risk area, although cyclones are rare. The last to affect Brisbane but not directly cross the city was Tropical Cyclone Hamish in March 2009: it remained 350 km north of Brisbane but caused significant damage to beaches as well as the worst oil spill in Moreton Bay. Average annual temperature of the sea is 24 °C , from 21 °C in July to 27 °C in February. The city is susceptible to severe thunderstorms in the spring and summer months; on 16 November 2008 a severe storm caused tremendous damage in the outer suburbs, most notably The Gap. Roofs were torn off houses and hundreds of trees were felled.

More recently, on 27 November 2014, a very strong storm made a direct hit on the city centre. Described as ‘the worst storm in a decade,’ very large hail smashed skyscraper windows while a flash flood tore through the CBD. Wind gusts of 141 km/h were recorded in some suburbs, many houses were severely damaged, cars were destroyed and planes were flipped at the Brisbane and Archerfield Airports. Dust storms in Brisbane are extremely rare; on 23 September 2009, however, a severe dust storm blanketed Brisbane, as well as other parts of eastern Australia.


Climate data for Brisbane (1999–2014)

 


Month


Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec


Record high °C


40.0

41.7

37.9

33.7

30.7

29.0

28.2

35.4

35.1

38.7

38.9

40.0


Average high °C


30.2

29.9

28.9

27.1

24.4

21.9

21.9

23.2

25.7

27.1

28.0

29.3


Average low °C


21.5

21.3

20.0

17.3

13.5

11.7

10.1

10.7

13.7

16.3

18.7

20.3


Record low °C


17.0

16.5

12.2

10.0

5.0

5.0

2.6

4.1

7.0

8.8

10.8

14.0


Average rainfall mm


153.9

133.0

105.8

65.8

58.5

57.6

24.7

42.1

28.8

72.5

106.6

138.7



Avg.
precipitation days


12.4

12.6

14.3

11.9

10.0

9.2

7.2

5.4

7.3

8.9

11.7

13.2



Avg.
relative humidity (%)


57

59

57

54

49

52

44

43

48

51

56

57


Source: Bureau of Meteorology