Herston, an inner suburb of Brisbane with mixed residential and institutional uses, is 2.5 km north of the CBD. Lying south of Breakfast Creek, it is bounded by Ballymore Park to the west and Bowen Bridge and the RNA Exhibition grounds to the east. The southern boundary is the Mayne Workshops railway line, separating Herston from Spring Hill.
The first European residence in the area was 'Herston' (in today's Herston Road west of the Royal Brisbane Hospital), built by Colonial Secretary Robert Herbert and John Bramston in 1859, the name an amalgam of their surnames. Herston was later sold to Sir James Garrick, who then applied the name to the district generally. Further settlement followed through the 1860s-1880s, wealthy residents attracted to the area by its elevation and proximity to the city. By far the larger part of the future suburb of Herston was York's Hollow, set aside as a Government Domain, part of which included a low-lying waterway which ran into Breakfast Creek.
The Domain was used as a military parade area and in 1864 a barracks was established at its western end. A later proposal involved locating Government House and the University of Queensland on the site, however neither eventuated. Meanwhile, the waterway made a useful municipal tip, which incidentally raised levels that resisted back-flooding from Breakfast Creek. Another reservation over an old quarrying site north-east was proclaimed in 1863, for the siting of the General Hospital, which relocated from its original North Quay site in 1867. This use continues uninterrupted, the heritage-listed Royal Brisbane Hospital precinct today dominating the suburb. A provisional school opened in 1875, transferred the following year to the site of the Kelvin Grove School.
Despite these improvements Herston remained a place dominated by the spacious estates of the city's affluent merchant class, and did not attract any substantial urban population until substantial subdivision in the 1910s. Employment opportunities were within walking or cycling distance at the Mayne railway workshops, or by tram down Bowen Bridge Road to Fortitude Valley.
Herston grew to be a largely working-class suburb with numerous local businesses and neighbourhood stores. The Progress Hall opened in Dunsmore Street in the 1920s, along with a Methodist church, a Presentation convent school (1924) and an Anglican church (1928). Victoria Park (established in York's Hollow in 1865) was mostly open playing space, children swum in Breakfast Creek during high tide when industrial outfall was held upstream, and older residents remembered Herston during the 1920s-40s as being a bit like a country town. Victoria Park housed unemployed camps during the Depression years of the 1930s, and civic improvements in this period included the construction of Gilchrist Avenue through Victoria Park in 1931 and the laying out of the municipal golf links in the same decade. While the proposal to locate the University of Queensland at Herston never materialised, the University's medical school opened on a site adjacent to the hospital in 1939. Apart from the Depression unemployed camp, Victoria Park housed temporary structures from 1930 to 1960, including World War II Barracks, postwar temporary accommodation and homeless housing.
Some of the land along Breakfast Creek was used as a manure depot and otherwise filled, and a flood-prone amphitheatre was filled and top-dressed, becoming Ballymore Park and Rasey Park in the 1930s-40s.
By the 1970s Herston's residential profile had begun to change. Families moved out, the convent school closed (1969), and the Methodist and Anglican churches were both replaced by flats in the 1990s. Local businesses and shops were closed. In the 1990s significant portions of Victoria Park were resumed for the Inner City Bypass project, a major traffic thoroughfare which superseded the less intrusive Gilchrist Avenue.
Herston has been a census area since 1976 and the recorded populations have been:
In 2001 it was estimated that over 1000 were not usually resident, most of them being in the hospital complex.
D.J. Hacker et al, Herston recollections and reminiscences, Brisbane, Queensland Women's Historical Association with the assistance of the Brisbane City Council, 1995
Queensland heritage register website, for detailed history and description of hospital and medical school precincts