For thousands of years the river and surrounding land was the traditional country of the Turrbul and Jagera people. The area that became known as Gardens Point was originally covered in thick scrub and known by the traditional owners as 'Meanjin', meaning 'place shaped like a spike'. In 1825 the Moreton Bay penal settlement was established on the northern bank of the river. The land nearest the point was cleared to grow much needed food for the struggling convict settlement.
In 1855, overgrown and unused for almost twenty-five years, the land was subdivided into town allotments, but the people of Brisbane petitioned the Sydney-based government in protest against the sale. Despite New South Wales' growing hostility over the Moreton Bay District's campaign to become an independent colony, the request was heeded.
Until the turn of the 20th century, this site was frequently inundated by major flooding. In an attempt to lessen the damage by future deluges, the river at the Gardens Point bend was widened and deepened in 1901. The point was also reshaped with ten acres (4 ha) excised.