BRISBANE’S HISTORIC HOMES-NO. I., NEWSTEAD HOUSE.Newstead House, delightfully situated at the Junction of the Brisbane River and Breakfast Creek, was originally the resi-dence of the first Government Resident at Brisbane, Captain Wickham
Brisbane’s earliest surviving home, Newstead House dates from 1846 when it was built as a simple single storey dwelling for pastoralist Patrick Leslie who had pioneered settlement in the Darling Downs region.
Leslie only lasted there a year, selling it in 1847 to his brother-in-law Captain John Wickham, one time officer of the Royal Navy and senior government official of Moreton Bay. During his time with the Navy he was part of the ship’s crew of HMS Beagle, the vessel that took Charles Darwin on the investigative trip whose outcome would rock the world of religion. Subsequently a faithful model of the ‘Beagle’ is on display at the house that Darwin himself has been a guest in.
It was during Wickham’s residency that the house was added to substantially, with extra rooms and a wraparound verandah, as well as becoming a social hub in its capacity as a kind of unofficial government house. Yet it was not to be a happy house – Wickham’s wife died in 1851 and he spent 6 years as a widower there before remarrying in 1857 with the expectation that he would be the first Governor of Queensland. When George Bowen was chosen instead, overcome with bitterness Wickham packed up and returned with his wife and family to England.