Origin of the name – Boggo

Origin of the name -Boggo

The distinctive name of Australia’s most notorious prison has a fascinating origin.

The origin of the name “Boggo” may lie with the traditional owners of the area south of the Brisbane River. According to Annie MacKenzie, author of Memories Along the Boggo Track, on the edge of “One Mile Swamp” at Woolloongabba were two leaning trees – referred to as “Bloggo” or “Bolgo”.

From the late 1840s bullock teams headed east along Stanley Street, transporting goods from the wharves at South Brisbane, to Ipswich Town. The rapidly growing commercial centre serving the Darling Downs was considered to be the likely capital of a future new state. The teamsters turned off at these trees, skirting the edge of the swamp, creating a short-cut to Ipswich Road to the west. The route they carved through the dense scrub became a rough, perilous track connecting South Brisbane to the Ipswich Road – called Bolgo Road.

The early track was virtually impassable in wet weather, especially the lowest section from the corner of Stanley Street also called Clarence Corner to the foot of the slope which would become known as the “Gaol hill”. After rain, this section became a “bog-hole”. The aboriginal word “Bloggo” was corrupted to simply “Boggo” and the notorious way to Ipswich Road was locally cursed as the “Boggo-track”. According to local folklore a passenger coach drawn by four horses got bogged so deep that they were never seen again.

The track was surveyed when the Gaol Reserve was mapped in 1863, eventually becoming known as the “Boggo-road”. Over time One Mile Swamp was drained and filled, the Boggo-road raised, widened and graded. In time, the entire area from the former track south-west to the Brisbane River became known as “Boggo”.

The Gaol was never officially “Boggo Road Gaol”. The official name changed over time: H.M. Gaol South Brisbane (1883); H.M. Prison Brisbane (1921); Brisbane Prison Complex (1973-74); finally, Brisbane Correctional Centre (1988).

The two gaols with Annerley Road (then Boggo Road) in the foreground.

Locals called it “Boggo-Road Gaol” after the road it was on.

Listen to Episode #1 of “Boggo” the official podcast for Boggo Road Gaol . Join Gaol Director Jack Sim and Research Coordinator Sue as they explain where the word “Boggo” came from and how Boggo Road Gaol was never its official name. Also, don’t forget to come get “locked up” with us on our daily public History Tours running at 11:00am everyday!

This article was contributed by Research Coordinator Sue Olsen as part of the ongoing research program for Boggo Road Gaol Pty Ltd. The aim of the program is to bring to light and share articles relating to Boggo Road for the purposes of review and study. Do you have a story to share or something you would like us to know about? You can contact the research team here.


Boggo Road Gaol
Boggo Road Gaol