‘The Oasis’ in the Brisbane suburb of Sunnybank was created by Mrs Mabel Pottinger and her two sons, Norman and Lewis. They had a flower, fruit, vegetable and poultry farm and turned that into a tourist attraction what became The Oasis.

This started in 1937 when the family built a tennis court amongst their well kept lawns and gardens. The family then added a swimming pool, digging it themselves by hand, drilling two bores and a well to draw water. The Pottinger’s opened their facilities to the public in 1938 as the Oasis Tourist Gardens.

The Oasis really started to take off in 1942 when during the Second World War thousands of American military personnel stationed in Brisbane used the Oasis as a rest and recreation venue. Also the Dutch military from Camp Columbia – where the Netherlands East Indies Government in Exile resided – frequented the resort.

Over the years Norman and Lewis continued to add pools and new attractions to the property to increase patronage. The Oasis remained a popular Brisbane attraction for 51 years until in 1989 the owners sold the property to developers to build a housing estate. By 1989 attendance numbers had slumped with the increase ownership of backyard swimming pools and automobiles, meaning people could now easily drive to the beaches of the Sunshine and Gold Coasts.

Dutch Girls (most likely who worked at Camp Columbia) at The Oasis – 1945 (Photo collection Joan McConaghy).

Dutch Australian Gerry Rüsing–Molenaar shared her childhood memories of The Oasis with us:

“My memories of the Oasis are ones I will never forget. I was about 9 years old the first time I went there with my parents and my friends. The Oasis had tropical gardens with many animals and birds. If I remember correctly there were about three pools, a baby pool and a playground.

If you weren’t dressed properly, they would not let you in. Men had to wear a shirt and tie, and shorts were not allowed. I remember my father going all dressed up, wearing a suit and a tie. Inside you were of course allowed to wear your togs and lay sunbathing in the grass. Bringing your own food was not allowed. That is probably why it was such a clean place.

I remember the high diving board from which my dive didn’t always go well when falling flat on my stomach. That really hurt. Across the road from the Oasis was the Acacia which was also a swimming pool but not as nice as the Oasis.

The Oasis was a nice and peaceful place to spend the Sunday. It is a shame that it had to be replaced by housing. I am glad that I can look back to the great times we had at this wonderful place.”

See also:

A Suburban Oasis: Sunnybank’s Oasis Swimming Pool & Gardens

MoB Sunday Stories: The Oasis

Oasis Gardens’ at Coorparoo Historical Association

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