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Casino dig reveals our early drinking habits

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Broken bottles aren’t uncommon around inner-city entertainment precincts but construction workers on a Brisbane casino site have uncovered one dating back almost 200 years.

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The consortium responsible for the $3.6 billion Queen’s Wharf development today revealed the various artefacts discovered during excavation, building and restoration works.

They include an oval-shaped Islington glass bottle, manufactured between 180 and 190 years ago and likely used by European settlers on the banks of the Brisbane River.

“This style of glass, oval-shaped drinking vessel was popular in the 19th century and were made by a variety of companies,” said Urbis archaeologist Holly Maclean, who was engaged by the consortium.

“At the time, most bottles were sealed with corks, but when they dried out, the pressure and carbonation would be lost. Therefore, the torpedo bottles were deliberately designed to lay on their side, ensuring the cork would always stay wet and sealed.”

Mclean said earlier, earthenware bottles had also been found, and every artefact was measured, situated and photographed before being “collected, bagged, and tagged”.

“This provided all the data needed to later help understand where the artefact came from, the site uses that could be interpreted from the find, and when these activities may have occurred,” she said.

Destination Brisbane Consortium project director Simon Crooks said there was also evidence of plates, various plates, mosaic tiles, terracotta dishes, inkwells, champagne or wine bottles, milk bottles, and medicinal containers.

“These fascinating pieces of history were discovered during several stages of the development, starting in 2016 when we investigated some of the heritage buildings’ footings,” Crooks said.

“Since then, further artefacts have been uncovered through the demolition and early works service diversion phase; bridge piling along Queens Wharf Rd; bulk excavation works; and most recently, trunk sewer excavation along North Quay and Queens Wharf Rd last year.”

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