Get To Know Sir Augustus Charles Gregory, The Man Who Built Rainworth House

Built in 1862, Rainworth House is known as one of the few surviving original timber houses in Bardon. Get to know the life of Sir Augustus Charles Gregory, the man behind this historic home. 

Read: Discover the Rich History of Rainworth House in Bardon

Augustus Charles Gregory was born on 1 August 1819 in Farnsfield, a large village in Nottingham, England. He was only 10 years old when his family moved to Western Australia on board a ship called the Lotus.

Sir Augustus Charles Gregory
Sir Augustus Gregory (Photo credit: John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Negative number: 16036)

Queensland’s First Surveyor-General

He became the first Surveyor-General of Queensland, a position he held for 16 years, from 1859 to 1875. The position was originally created for Queensland, when it became a separate colony in 1859.

As the Surveyor-General, he was responsible for controlling and regulating the survey, sale, occupation and management of Crown Lands in Queensland.

Trained under John Roe, Sir Gregory showed great aptitude, bushmanship and an ability to manage men, qualities that aptly fitted him to the position of expedition leader.

Sir Gregory was described as someone who worked with speed and efficiency, and an ability “to institute and oversee a large, complicated and important Government department.” 

The position was abolished in 1993, with Neil Graham Divett having served only three years of his term.


Sir Augustus Charles Gregory
Sir Gregory’s Australian exploration routes (Photo credit: CC BY-SA 3.0/Summerdrought/Wikimedia Commons, Adapted from Australian Geographic map 1995)

Besides being a Surveyor-General, Sir Gregory was also known for being one of Australia’s greatest explorers. He undertook major expeditions from 1846 to 1858. 

During his first exploration in 1846, he was joined by his brothers, Francis Thomas Gregory and Henry Churcham Gregory. They explored a considerable amount of the country, with four horses and seven weeks’ provision.

In 1855, the Royal Geographical Society in London sponsored Sir Gregory’s North Australian Expedition. The purpose of the said expedition, which lasted for over a year, was to examine the natural resources of the region with a view to potential settlement. 

His last major expedition happened in 1858, when he led an expedition for the New South Wales government in search of German explorer Ludwig Leichhardt.

Rainworth House

Sir Augustus Charles Gregory
Rainworth in 2009 (Photo credit: Heritage Branch staff)

Sir Augustus Charles Gregory himself built the house in 1862. At the time, Rainworth House was the only farmhouse in the area. The name Rainworth was taken from a small town in Nottinghamshire which is close to his birthplace at Farnsfield.

He died unmarried in his home 25 June 1905 at the age of 85. His resting place can be found at the Toowong Cemetery.

Read: Bardon’s Blast From the Past: A Walk Down Memory Lane Through Heritage Homes

Today, there’s a few places in Brisbane that honour Sir Gregory, including Milton’s Gregory Park and Toowong’s Gregory Street. In Western Australia, the coast to the west of Northampton was also named Port Gregory, after him, as well as Lake Gregory, the freshwater lake near the northern Great Sandy Desert. 

Bardon’s Blast From the Past: A Walk Down Memory Lane Through Heritage Homes

The leafy suburb of Bardon is also home to several beautifully-constructed heritage homes that delight and charm passersby. Have you stumbled into a uniquely-structured house in the area? If you do, then it might have been a part of the area’s heritage homes that holds so much history.


Oogarding: Mediterranean Style villa
Address: 100 Simpsons Road

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Just when you’re about to make that sharp bend in Simpsons Road, you will notice a Mediterranean house against the tall gum trees. The Oogarding home was built in 1940 by architect Melvyn Rylance who was commissioned by James Gervase and Edith Joyce. Gerb (Mr Joyce’s nickname) Joyce is the owner of the Helidon Spa soft drink company, where the name of the house was derived from as “oorgarding” is its Aboriginal name.

The Oorgarding home sits on a perfect location in Bardon as it’s safe from flood and has sweeping views of the city.


Bardon House: Victorian-style, stone structured home
Address: 41 The Drive

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Joshua Jeays, the early mayor of Brisbane constructed this house between 1864 and 1926. He sourced stone from a quarry at Woogaroo which he also developed to use for the house. The two-storey Victorian Gothic structure, with a pitched roof, gables and dormer windows was passed on to his daughter. Mr Jeays never lived in the house. Some say that it was because his wife died even before the construction was finished.

In 1911, the Exleys bought the house from the Jeays. After years of living in the house, the Catholic church bought the house in 1925. I(t served as a temporary church until an actual church was built in the suburb. In 1937, the Franciscan Sisters moved into the house to run St. Joseph’s, a school. Today, the house is still part of the school.


The Fairy House
Address: McGregor Terrace

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A magical home can be spotted along McGregor Terrace. The Fairy House was built shortly after the World War II by Russian artist and architect Grigori Mekhonoshin. The uniquely designed home was intended for his daughter. When walking along the busy street, the apex of the attic is visible. When you come closer, you will see several sculptures adorning the house.

The house actually has three levels. Each level, as well as each room, has outside access. The upper level is the most interesting. It has a trap door with a ladder that provides access to the room below. Its external access is accessible via a charming walk bridge.


Rainworth House
Address: 7 Barton Street

Photo credit: Heritage branch staff / Wikimedia Commons

Vital to the evolution of Queensland’s history, the house is an example of an 1860s vernacular dwelling. The house was built by Sir Augustus Charles Gregory KCMG CMG FRGS MLC, a famous explorer and surveyor-general of Queensland in 1862. He built the house to serve as a peaceful place where he can retreat to regroup his thoughts, create, write, and invent.

Each house in Bardon has a story to tell, but what makes these Bardon heritage homes special is that they have played a huge part in the suburb’s history and served as a bridge to a time long gone but fondly reminisced.