If you grew up or have lived in Manly for a while now, you have probably heard or seen the Manly Retaining Wall more commonly known as The Great Wall of Manly. However, did you know that there are hidden figures of animals on that wall?

History of the Manly Retaining Wall

The Manly Retaining Wall or The Great Wall of Manly was built in 1933. The wall’s charm is enhanced by its irregularly shaped stones which were quarried at Lytton.

The Manly Retaining Wall is located at the corner of Falcon, formerly known as Spring, and Wellington Streets, forming a cutting in the centre of each road.

The Great Wall of Manly

Photo credit: Heritage Branch staff

Since the slope on the area was so steep, the road had to be divided in two to allow access to houses located on either side of the road.

Falcon Street was originally divided by an embankment which was so high and wide, it restricted access for two way traffic. A retaining wall has to be built to replace the embankment; however, the cost of construction would have been greater than the surrounding properties were worth.

To make the retaining wall materialise, Brisbane City Council District Engineer for Wynnum applied for a relief labour initiative.

The Unemployment Relief Scheme, introduced by the State Government in 1932, was a means of providing work projects for the unemployed during the Depression of the 1930s. The Brisbane City Council took advantage of this scheme to construct the retaining wall. The Council provided the tools and materials whilst the State Government provided the labour.

Photo credit: Heritage Branch staff

The plan for the 200-metre long wall was signed by the Designing Engineer and the City Engineer, Mr Gilchrist in February 1933.

Figures on the Wall

Emu on the Manly Retaining Wall Photo credit: I grew up in Wynnum/Manly/Facebook

As if the magnificence of the retaining wall was not enough, a talented worker was able to add interesting figures on the face of the wall. The man was said to be Leopold Sticher and he reportedly created 10 or 12 different figures on the wall.

Goanna on the Manly Retaining Wall Photo credit: I grew up in Wynnum/Manly/Facebook

These figures include kangaroos, emus, boomerangs, and human heads, one of which is apparently a likeness of the District Engineer in charge of works. Next time you pass by the heritage-listed wall, don’t forget to look for Leopold’s handiwork.

The Great Wall of Manly was entered into the Queensland Heritage Register on 5 October 1998 and is now a popular feature of the area.

Looking for more places to visit in Manly? Check out the Jan Powers Farmers Market in Manly for heaps of fresh produce and great food.