Bulimba was a popular camping ground for the Aborigines. Corroborees and camps there were common. The Aborigines called Bulimba ‘Tugulawa’, which meant ‘heart’, probably a reference to the heart-shaped piece of land that forms the peninsula of Bulimba.
Bulimba Electorate was created in 1872 and in 1879 the Bulimba Divisional Board was created as the local government authority for the area from Tingalpa Creek to Stone’s Corner. Most of the housing subdivisions in this area took place during the land boom of the 1880s. Bulimba, Bulimba Bridge, Circular Quay, Bulimba Ferry, and the Love and Jamieson Paddock Estates were all developed in central Bulimba during this period. The building boom resulted in a great increase in the number of developments and residents in Bulimba.
In 1888, Bulimba was described as ‘a small township about four miles distant from the City’. Peculiarly, at the beginning of the twentieth century, parts of New Farm and Teneriffe which are on the northern side of the river were referred to as part of Bulimba.
Schooling in Bulimba & Balmoral began at Bulimba House in private classes under a Mr Johnston. In 1866 the Brisbane Courier reported a public meeting in the Bulimba Ferry Hotel ‘for the purpose of considering the best means of raising a fund for the erection of a National school at Bulimba’. This school was opened in the Wesleyan chapel in July 1866, because the school buildings were not finished. The first head teacher was Mr John Jones Brown, who had previously opened the first private school in Brisbane. The schoolhouse measured approximately six metres by four metres, with two verandahs, and was built at a cost of 280 pounds. As the population grew extra classrooms were added. The main school block was built in 1937.