The Beenleigh railway line.passes through the suburb which is serviced by Rocklea railway station.
The locality was originally called Rocky Waterholes Creek. It was renamed Rocklea after a town in Dorset, England, with the opening of the Beenleigh railway line in 1884 as it was felt the original name was too long.
In September 1884, Hooker, Sons and Elliott Auctioneers auctioned 214 allotments of the Rocklea Township estate. The allotments were on Hawtree, Brier, Piers, Holmes and Blackburn Streets. Also in September 1884, John W. Todd auctioned 28 large blocks of the Mount Pleasant Estate. The map shows the area in Rocklea bordered by Ipswich Road and what is now Boundary Road, opposite what is now Archerfield Airport.
In September 1884, 238 subdivided allotments of Rocky Waterholes Township Proper were auctioned by John Cameron. The following year, in December 1885, 152 subdivided allotments of Rocky Waterholes Township Proper Estate were auctioned by John Cameron Auctioneer. A map advertising the estate shows it to be very close to Rocky Waterholes Creek.
Rocklea Tramline Estate was advertised for auction on 11 September 1915 by Henry B Watson, auctioneer. 189 building sites were offered on Freney and Bale Streets, Rocklea. The map advertising the estate sale states that the estate was six minutes from Rocklea and Salisbury railway stations.
Show Ground Estate Rocklea was offered for sale in the late 1920s by Queensland Development Company, consisting of 104 allotments. The estate map shows the Sydney-Brisbane rail corridor under construction (built 1925-1930). The Estate was adjacent to the Rocklea Showground and included Goburra, Corella, Boobook and Galah Streets. The southern border of the estate is labelled Fauna Parade, now Fauna Parade Park.
The on a 53 hectares (130 acres) were officially opened on 31 August 1964 by the Premier of Queensland, Frank Nicklin. The first markets in Brisbane were at Market Street and produce was delivered by boats on the Brisbane River. In 1864 the markets relocated to Roma Street Markets where they were very well-located to Roma Street railway station which opened in 1873 enabling produce to be sent by rail. The markets expanded over time into Turbot Street until the traffic congestion created by the markets forced the markets to move to the suburbs in the 1960s.
On 31 July 2009, the last race was held at the Rocklea horse harness racing track.
Rocklea State School is a government primary (Prep-6) school for boys and girls at 19 Elmes Road ( In 2017, the school had an enrolment of 38 students with 7 teachers (4 full-time equivalent) and 8 non-teaching staff (4 full-time equivalent).).
There is no secondary school in Rocklea. The nearest secondary schools are Corinda State High School in Corinda to the north-west, Yeronga State High School in Yeronga to the north-east, and Glenala State High School in Inala to the south-west.
Fruit and vegetable market
The Brisbane Markets occupy a 100-hectare (250-acre) site on Sherwood Road () where fresh fruit, vegetables, and flowers are sold to the wholesalers and retailers.
The suburb is predominately zoned for industrial land uses. Many of the companies situated in Rocklea are part of the transport sector, with the proximity to Archerfield Airport being a drawcard. The Rocklea Works of English Electric built diesel-electric locomotives for several operators including the Queensland Railways 1600 class and successor classes.
DuluxGroup's main paint manufacturing facility is located in the suburb.
Rocklea is one of Brisbane's most flood affected suburbs. Severe damage was experienced in both the 1974 Brisbane flood and 2010–2011 Queensland floods. Flooding in Rocklea is particularly harmful to the coastal ecosystem because of the oil and other toxic chemicals which are washed downstream. The effect of flooding on the Brisbane Markets was minor in 1974 but since then the site has grown five times and in 2011 35 buildings were inundated.
After the 2011 flood, home and land values in the suburb decreased dramatically. The median house price decreased by 23.9%.
In the 2011 census, the population of Rocklea was 1,255, 45.3% female and 54.7% male. The median age of the Rocklea population was 36 years, one year below the Australian median. 60.5% of people living in Rocklea were born in Australia, which is somewhat less than the national average of 69.8%. The other top responses for country of birth were New Zealand 5.2%, England 2.5%, India 2.2%, China 1.8%, Russia 1.4%. 69.4% of people spoke only English at home; the next most popular languages were 2.9% Russian, 2.8% Vietnamese, 2.1% Mandarin, 1.8% Tamil, 1.7% Arabic. The most common religious affiliation was "no religion" (25%), followed by Catholic (22%) and Anglican (10%).
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