Rowes Bay Wetlands

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welcome to the Town Common learnscape

people, place & change: learning to live in the landscape

The Townsville Town Common

The features of the greater Town Common (including the Rowes Bay wetlands) were formed within the last 5,000 years (Trezise and Stephenson 1990) through normal coastal processes.

The wetlands and lowlands of the Town Common are an aftermath of sand dune formation and water catchment drainage processes including erosion and sedimentation.

Using the natural resources (food, water and materials) of the wetlands and surrounds would have been a normal part of Aboriginal Traditional Owner’s nature based economy. Traditional Owner natural resource use was based on sustainable harvest and this served to maintain the wetlands in good ecological condition until after European settlement.

It is obvious that the nature based Aboriginal economy was more harmonious and tuned to the environment than the economy of the European newcomers.

Changing Landscapes

The Rowes Bay to Pallarenda foreshore and inland coastal landscape once featured a connected system of hills and peaks, rocky headlands, mudflats and beach backed by dunes, estuaries, mangrove swamps, stream channels and ancient beach ridges.

Prior to European settlement the most dramatic changes to the landscape would have resulted from natural climatic extremes e.g. cyclones and storms, flood, extended dry periods and fire.

This already variable landscape has changed dramatically since European settlement with portions of coastal wetlands drained and filled to host residential development and urban infrastructure thereby degrading the environmental infrastructure.

The most significant human driven changes to the landscape and its hydrology (water movement) have occurred since 1869 when the Town Common was gazetted.

Common Title

October 1924
February 1914
June 1869

Cadastral Evolution

Town Common
The Sanitary Reserve
Pasturage Reserve
SRS 1848
Sepia Map

The Chronologic Town Common
4000 BC
1000 AD
Coastal and catchment processes acted to form the dunes, coastal plains and waterways and create the Rowes Bay wetlands and associated landscapes from Kissing Point to Many Peaks Range. The system of dunes and swales extends approximately 2.75 kilometres inland from the existing coastline.
???? to +19?? Aboriginal Traditional Owners would have used the Town Common and surrounding wetlands as part of their range for hunting and gathering food and other resources. Parts of the Many Peaks Range may have been used for camp sites and provided a vista to see what was happening on the surrounding plains and out to sea.
Establishment of Townsville by European settlers.
1865 Market gardens and a dairy farm established near Jimmy’s Lookout. Vineyard established at Kissing Point.
1869 The Townsville Town Common is gazetted (GG 26.6.1869) and includes the Rowes Bay wetlands.
1870s The vineyard had closed down and the market garden area was being called German Gardens. The Town Common is in use for pasturage of town residents and visitors cattle and horses.
1874 - 1891 Development of the Townsville Port breakwaters.
Residential housing starts to extend towards Rowes Bay
Pre 1870 The vineyard had closed down and the market garden area was being called German Gardens
1870 Development of the Townsville Port breakwaters
1874 to 1891 Residential housing starts to extend towards Rowes Bay
1900 The Sanitary Reserve over much of the Rowes Bay wetlands was established
Early 1914
The Townsville Town Common is gazetted as a Pasturage Reserve under new land administration legislation (The Land Act of 1910).
1914 - 1918
World War I. German Gardens renamed Belgian Gardens
Early 1920s
Heatley’s Parade and the road to the Pallarenda Quarantine Station were constructed
The Sanitary Reserve was established from the Pasturage Reserve. It included much of the current Rowes Bay wetlands
Townsville airport/military base established 
1939 - 1945
World War II
1940s to 1960s
Tidal mudflats between Castle Hill and Kissing Point are ‘reclaimed’ for residential development
Most of Belgian Gardens and North Ward streets had been laid out
The population of Belgian Gardens (129 houses), North Ward (113 houses) and Rowes Bay (76 houses) had swollen to around 1600
Most of the Rowes Bay street network had been laid out. The One Mile Creek drain was nearing completion, replacing the lower 0.8 km of Mundy Creek, as part of the Town Common drainage works.
Dec 1971
Cyclone Althea see Bureau of Metreology report (4.6 Mb)
Mundy Creek channel reclaimed and built on (Built score = Belgian Gardens 151 houses, North Ward 129 houses and Rowes Bay 88 houses).
RSL retirement village was built comprising some 70 villas.
Another 2.5 hectares of wetlands were approved for reclamation to extend the RSL retirement village

2007- 2010

2010 - 2012