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In a small corner of Brisbane's CBD, archaeologists have uncovered items that are helping to piece together the district's "swampy" past.
Whole boots, ceramics and coins from the late 1800s are among the items found beneath Albert Street by archaeologists working alongside the city's Cross River Rail project.
Heritage consultant Dr Kevin Rains said the area once known as Frog's Hollow had given up some fascinating finds.
"The items we've found show us that it was a very ethnically diverse population, there being a red-light district — or slum, as the media of the time called it," he told ABC Radio Brisbane.
"It was originally developed as a warehouse district as it was close to the wharves, with sailors and workers who moved through the many boarding houses and hotels there."
Ceramic pieces found beneath Albert Street in Brisbane.(Supplied: Cross River Rail Project)The district ran from the lower Albert Street area towards the intersection of Albert and Charlotte Street, not far from the botanical gardens.
Dr Rains said among the most interesting finds were two small needles.
"The set of opium picks with two little needles are fascinating, ones a spatula and ones a needle, beautifully decorated out of silver or pewter," he said.
"It was used to clean opium pipes and preparing opium for smoking.
The opium sticks have been discovered fully intact.(Supplied: Cross River Rail Project)"There was boarding houses and what the police called opium dens with many Chinese people moving to the area around the 1880s from the goldfields."
The discovery of The Nine HolesOne of the main sites within the district was once called The Nine Holes, and showed the beginnings of what could have been Brisbane's first Chinatown.
"It was a low commercial terrace and it was called that as it had nine tiny shops in it," he said.
"Most of the tenants in it were Chinese businesses, but there were also European and British businesses, and South Sea Islanders working and living in the area as well."
The map shows where the Frog's Hollow district stretched to.(SuppliedHe said each day construction workers on the site were coming up with horseshoes or bottles.
"We found some amazing horseshoes, from tiny ponies to draught horse size," Dr Rains said.
"We believe there was a shoemaker on the site, as we found a really well-preserved pair of leather boots alongside many cut-offs and boots.
"Because the area was swampy it kept the shoes in one piece."
His favourite find though was not an item but rather what was within a concrete floor beneath the terrace.
This boot was preserved in the swampy mud.(Supplied: Cross River Rail)"We found a concrete floor beneath the Nine Halls and it was part of a cellar, and in there was a set of dog paw prints of a puppy, or a small terrier of some kind, from more than a 150 years ago," Dr Rains said.
"This tells us a bit more about the domestic life, and that it wasn't all vices and drugs and alcohol. There were many ordinary people getting on with their ordinary lives.
"The area started being developed from the 1860s onwards, and by the 1920s it had ceased, with a lot of slum clearing starting to happen."
The items discovered have been photographed, assessed and catalogued, with many of the pieces set to go to the Queensland Museum and local historical societies.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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