Shorncliffe, a bayside suburb adjoining Sandgate, is 17 km north-west of central Brisbane. Situated on Cabbage Tree Head, the name was derived from Shorn Cliff (1852), describing the head land when viewed from Moreton Bay.
Shorncliffe was the place first settled when the town of Sandgate was surveyed and the town lots auctioned in 1853. The lots were in the vicinity of Yungah Street, extending to Cabbage Tree Creek. Signal Row, which intersects with Yungah Street, is a reminder that Shorncliffe was a convenient point from which to receive messages from passing ships.
Access to Shorncliffe was problematic until the bridging of Cabbage Tree Creek in 1865, which almost coincided with John McConnel, an Ipswich pastoralist, building his 'Cressbrook' mansion in Park Parade. Later named 'Morven', the building had numerous subsequent uses, including an American Army billet in World War II. It is now the Catholic St Patrick's boys school. Several grand bayside residences followed along the beachfront parades, together with the comfortably appointed Seaview Hotel in Pier Street. Other examples were Musgrave House convalescent home (1884) in Allpass Parade and the elaborately decorative two-storey Drew House in Wharf Street. Both are listed on the Queensland heritage register, although Musgrave House has been a boarding house since 1939.
A railway line to Sandgate was opened in 1882 and extended to Shorncliffe in 1897. Excursionists and picnic parties were put within easy walking distance from the train terminus to the Sandgate baths, the pier and Moore Park, all in Shorncliffe. This favoured position was overshadowed by the opening of the Hornibrook Highway, putting motorists in touch with Redcliffe's beaches. Shorncliffe acquired a timeless, village quality, much admired by late twentieth century residents commuting from there to Brisbane.
The 350 metre long timber pier (1882) was found to harbour marine borer and closed in 2012. Work began in 2014 to replace the pier to be built on concrete and steel piles with wooden decking and handrails and a larger rotunda, scheduled to re-open in 2016.
Shorncliffe has a few local shops, a hotel, a primary school (1919), St Patrick's boys school, a long foreshore reserve and Sandgate golf club. Its census populations have been:
Maree McDonald, Sandgate: tides of change: a historic perspective, Brighton, Reepete Publishing for the Keep Sandgate Beautiful Association, 1997