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Suncorp Stadium

by Donald Geddes — last modified Jul 11, 2015 07:19 PM
Suncorp Stadium saw a sell-out crowd flock to see the final State of Origin Rugby League clash last week.

The sporting arena in Milton was originally called “Lang Park” and was named after the first Presbyterian Minister in Australia, Rev. Dr. John Dunmore Lang.

The site of Lang Park was originally the North Brisbane Burial Grounds, and until 1875 was Brisbane's primary cemetery. By 1911 the area was heavily populated so the Paddington Cemeteries Act (1911) was introduced and the site was redeveloped as a recreational site. In 1914 it was fenced off and named in honour of Dr. John Dunmore Lang.

John Dunmore LangWhen Lang arrived in the N.S.W. colony, he found a number of Presbyterians but no church for them. He applied to the Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane for funds, but was refused. Nevertheless he began building the Scots Church which was opened on 16th July 1826 with a significant debt.

He returned to Britain where he persuaded Lord Bathurst, the Secretary of Colonies, to recognise the legal status of the Church of Scotland to the extent that he was allowed a stipend of £300 per annum.

Lang had been greatly influenced by the Scottish preacher Dr. Thomas Chalmers and held to the doctrinal standards of the Westminster Confession. As a result, he clashed with moderate Presbyterians as well as those Anglicans who wished to see the Church of England become the established Church in the Colony.

After he returned from England in 1835, he published a weekly newspaper, the “Colonist”, in which his outspoken comments led to many clashes and libel suits in which he conducted his own defence.

As a result of clashes with others in the Presbyterian Church, Dr Lang was deposed from the Ministry and not re-admitted until 1863.

Lang then turned his attention to the Morton Bay District which was part of N.S.W.  After unsuccessful attempts to establish a Mission to the Aborigines, in 1838 he saw the establishment of the German Mission Station at what is now Nundah.

Dr. Lang had been concerned that most of the immigrants who came to the colony were Irish and Roman Catholic. He wanted a more balanced representation by including more Scottish Presbyterians.

The labour shortage in the colony was most acute in the Morton Bay District where Squatters were wanting cheap labour with a modified convict system even though the Convict System had ceased in 1839. In contrast Lang wanted “free labour” which would provide a better class of immigrant including skilled tradesmen and agricultural labourers. His ambition was to create a colony of cotton growers at Moreton Bay.

He was a fearless and outspoken man and Lang soon found himself in opposition, not only to the leading squatters of Moreton Bay, but to powerful enemies in Sydney and London.

His involvement in politics led to him being elected to the Legislative Council as a member for Stanley, Moreton Bay, and he at once agitated for separation from New South Wales. He wanted the colony to be called Cooksland.

Lang organised a number of schemes to bring immigrants to Morton Bay. In 1848 270 migrants sailed in the Fortitude (after which Fortitude Valley is named) but they did not receive the land grant they hoped for. Three more ships brought 1200 migrants when Lang decided to act independently of the Government.

John Dunmore Lang’s contribution to the founding of Queensland is not to be underestimated. While he is often remembered for the controversy in which he was involved, what is seldom mentioned is much of this came from his outspoken criticism of the immorality of leading colonists. Lang retained his strong biblical and Calvinist standards to the end.

In 1872 Lang celebrated his fiftieth year as a minister, and was elected Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in New South Wales. He died in Sydney on August 8 1878 at the age of almost seventy-nine years.