A period of volcanic activity over 200 million years ago led to larva flows that form the Brisbane Tuff. These rocks are best seen at the Kangaroo Point Cliffs and can also be seen at the Windsor Quarry (Lutwyche Road). Brisbane Tuff forms the hills around Lutwyche and Kedron.
As streams matured following the volcanic activity, swamps formed. Swamp vegetation, mud and clay deposited in swamps were compacted to form coal. Coal deposits in the Kalinga area were worked early in Brisbane’s history; they supplied coal to the local area. The deposits were too small for long-term production.
Basalt lava outcrops occur in the Clayfield and the Nudgee areas. These soils erode to red clays and were exploited for agriculture early in Brisbane’s settlement.
Terraces in the vicinity of Nudgee are remnants of a higher sea level that existed about 60,000 years before present. At this time of higher sea-level sediments from the eroding mountain ranges were deposited on the floodplain. These now form the substrate between rocky hills in the middle and lower reaches of Kedron Brook.
The original mouth of Kedron Brook was a former channel of the Brisbane River that has migrated south over time.
The soil in an area reflects the geology and climate of the location. In the Kedron Brook catchment, soils on hilly areas are generally stony, clay and often nutrient poor.
Soils that have developed on the alluvial terraces tend to be sandier, and even more gravely. These were more fertile and exploited for early agricultural activities. Finer clay soils are associated with more recent sediment deposits in the lower catchment.
Urban soils differ in many ways from the soils under natural vegetation.
Settlement and development
The fact that the lower reaches of Kedron Brook were one of the first sites of free settlement in Brisbane is evidence of the rich resources and attractive nature of Kedron Brook to the new settlers. As settlement expanded in Brisbane, settlers sought the best land for harvesting timber and establishing productive market gardens. This land was also that favoured by wildlife.
German missionaries, who established Zion Hill Mission for the Aborigines in 1838, named Kedron Brook. The name is derived from biblical references to the crossing of Kidron Valley to enter the Garden of Gesthsemane.
European occupation along Kedron Brook followed the opening of the former penal colony to free settlement in 1842. As settlement expanded in Brisbane, settlers sought the best land for harvesting timber and establishing productive market gardens. This land was also that favoured by wildlife and undoubtedly had the highest biodiversity. Early settlers would have exploited fish and wildlife, particularly during difficult times such as during the depression.
Increasing occupation during the 1860s and 1870s diversified development. Loggers harvested red cedar and pine from the upper reaches of Kedron Brook. Timber harvesting for building materials was undertaken as land was surveyed. Gold was mined at Bellbird Grove at the ‘Golden Boulder Mine’. Small coal deposits supplied local needs from the Kalinga area. Brisbane tuff was quarried at Windsor, Stafford and Lutwyche quarries to produce crushed aggregate.
Development of the Brook began along the route to the Gympie goldfields. This route is now called Lutwyche Road. Kedron Brook was described at the time as a “fairy-like stream, its banks lined with wattle, ti-tree and flowers’ and was a favourite fishing spot.
Farms that grew maize, fruit and vegetables were established along the Brook and grapes were also grown for a time in the Mitchelton area. Market gardens were established along the floodplain on the rich alluvial soils adjacent to Kedron Brook.
Brisbane boomed in the 1880’s, but reticulated water supplies were limited at the time. With seasonal rainfall, it was important to have a reliable water source; Kedron Brook provided that.
Farming, urban and industrial development spread in a more or less haphazard manner to the west along the reaches of Kedron Brook. Transport corridors and proximity to water linked development.
The opening of railway lines to Sandgate in 1882 and Enoggera in 1899 led to further commercial development. The railway extended to Mitchelton and Samford in 1918 with the addition of stations along the Sandgate line and a bridge suitable for trams on Lutwyche Road in 1927.
Although farming and dairying were major activities in the Kedron Brook catchment, the water flow lent itself to the production of hides and slaughtering. Tanneries, skin traders and slaughter yards were established. The first tannery was established in 1886 at Kedron, others were located in the Ferny Grove and Keperra areas.
Intensive use and limited sanitation led to pollution of Kedron Brook by the early 1900’s.