Balmoral, an inner Brisbane suburb, is four km north-east of the city centre, across the Brisbane River. It was named after the country residence of Queen Victoria in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Now a suburb of scarcely more than 1.5 sq km, the name denoted a larger area before the Greater Brisbane amalgamation in 1925.
The absence of a bridge crossing until 1856 hindered the area's development. Early Euopean settlers established farms, growing cotton, bananas and some sugar. The land boom of the 1880s triggered a period of subdivision and growth. The Balmoral local government division was established in 1888, comprising an area of 62 sq km, including the localities of Bulimba, Morningside, Cannon Hill, Hemmant, Wynnum West and Norman Park. (Wynnum West was transferred to Wynnum Shire in the early 1920s, reducing Balmoral Shire to 52 sq km.) The Shire had about 14 km of river frontage, and the part west of Bulimba included several industries. The Australian Meat Export Company, Borthwicks, a bacon factory, a fertilizer works and a brickworks were at Murarrie. The railway from Dutton Park to Cleveland (1889) provided access to prospective residential and actual industrial areas, and grazing and dairying were carried on in Hemmant and Tingalpa as late as the 1920s.
Bulimba, without a tram service, had river-ferry crossing points to tram lines on the north side, taking residents to Fortitude Valley or the city. Balmoral, however, was even adrift from the railway line; and Norman Park, although closer to the railway, languished after the 1890s collapse in subdivided land values. The extension of the tram service from the Norman Creek bridge along Wynnum and Riding Roads to Barton Road (1925) and later to Oxford Street, and the provision of power through the Bulimba power station (1926) finally stimulated residential settlement in an area previously thought to be too far from central Brisbane. The Norman Park primary school (1900) reached an enrolment of over 750 by 1926. Balmoral's children could attend the neighbouring Bulimba or Morningside State primary schools (1866, 1923) or the Sts Peter and Paul Catholic school (1916) in Balmoral itself.
By the mid-1920s, Balmoral Shire had been incorporated into Greater Brisbane. The better residential sites had been built on, leaving the less desirable for post World War II housing.
Balmoral Shire's census populations were 3847 (1911) and 9029 (1921). The shire offices were near the Morningside railway station, a logical choice making the best of the transport options at the time. Balmoral Park near the Morningside railway station is a reminder of the old shire. The latter day suburb of Balmoral is north-west of Morningside, with its western boundary, Riding Road, once sharing a tram line with neighbouring Bulimba. Bulimba primary school (1866) is also in Riding Road. The Balmoral high school (1958) is on the boundary between Balmoral and Morningside. Balmoral's recent censuses have been :
Rod Fisher & Barry Shaw, eds, Brisbane: people, places and progress, Kelvin Grove, Brisbane History Group, 1995
The Brisbane centenary official historical souvenir, Brisbane, Watson, Ferguson & Co, 1924