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Brisbane's 5 Best Historical Spots

Home > Brisbane > Places of Interest | Museums | Historic Houses | Tours | Lists
by Roy Chambers (subscribe)
Lover of all things interesting and new
Published April 19th 2015
Step back in time at Brisbane greatest historical locations
Brisbane's 5 best historical spots

Brisbane is modern metropolis surrounded by vast stretches of suburbs, yet if you look around you will find some fascinating historical locations.

The old windmill in Wickham Park is Brisbane's oldest building
The old windmill in Wickham Park is Brisbane's oldest building


Brisbane takes a living approach to most of its history. Some of these places are preserved as museums and others are where you can eat, drink, listen to music or just hang out. Here are 5 great historical spots around Brisbane.

Best historical residence: Newstead House

Newstead house is Brisbane's oldest surviving residence and is now operated as a house museum with the residence furnished in the late Victorian style. Originally built as a colonial-Georgian style cottage in 1846, it was extended and expanded upon.

Newstead Hosue (Courtesy of Troy Thomas visa Wikicommons)
Newstead Hosue (Courtesy of Troy Thomas visa Wikicommons)


This historical significance goes well beyond its age and beauty, as it was designed and built by Andrew Petrie, who was Queensland's first architect and in fact the first free settler to move to Queensland. He was also avid explorer of the region.

The Interior of Newstead House
The Interior of Newstead House (Courtesy of newsteadhouse.com.au)


Open on Tuesday to Friday from 10 am to 4 pm and Sundays from 2 pm to 5 pm with adult tickets $6 and children $4. It is amazing to walk the grounds of such a well preserved and brilliantly located private residences. On Sundays during the summer months you can also enjoy a Devonshire Tea on the Verandah on.

Best tourist spot: St Helena Island

Established as a penal colony in 1866, St Helena Island is Brisbane's best preserved historical location and is a unique location in the Brisbane area.

Historic Ruins on St Helena Island (Courtesy of Wiki Commons)
Historic Ruins on St Helena Island (Courtesy of Wiki Commons)


While it is possible to simply visit the island, unless you join a tour you are restricted to the picnic area and you are not allow you access to the ruins. The tours though include meals and historical re-enactments, making it well worth the admission price. Tours operate during the day as well as ghost tours at night. Prices start at around $42.

Prisoners making boots in 1911 (Courtesy of the State Library of Queensland)
Prisoners making boots in 1911 (Courtesy of the State Library of Queensland)


Best public building:City Hall

The size of Brisbane's City Hall demonstrates the hopes and dreams Queenslanders had for the future of their city and their state. Built between 1920 and 1930 this building is the seat of the Brisbane City Council, but also has a great museum and wonderful concert hall.

Brisbane City Hall circa 1930 (Courtesy of Brisbane City Council)
Brisbane City Hall circa 1930 (Courtesy of Brisbane City Council)


The building is open 7 days a week to the public and houses the Museum of Brisbane. The highlight of visiting Brisbane City Hall is usually a visit to the clock tour. It is also possible to join free tour of the building.

Concert Hall at the Brisbane City Hall
Concert Hall at the Brisbane City Hall


Don't forget the 2 cafes in City Hall, including the Shingle Inn accessible from the King George Square entry and the Red Cross run Commix Expresso accessible via the Adelaide Street Entrance.

Best converted building: Customs House

There can be something special about when an older building is re-purposed. Many of the historical building in Brisbane are simply veneers, so you when you enter them you don't feel that you have stepped back in time.

Customs House circa 1906 (Courtesy of Wiki Commons)
Customs House circa 1906 (Courtesy of Wiki Commons)


Customs house has become one of the nicest restaurants in Brisbane that few people go to. It also serves as a function hall for events. The general public is not normally allowed to wander around the building, however University of Queensland regularly holds free classic music concerts followed by a tour of the building.

Banquet Hall at Customs House (Courtesy of Wiki Commons)
Banquet Hall at Customs House (Courtesy of Wiki Commons)


Best outdoor location:St Stephen's Cathedral

St Stephen's Cathedral is a lovely Catholic church and adjoining chapel located in the heart of Brisbane CBD's office district. While a great location to visit in itself, it is not why it is on this list. What I wanted to include is a location where you feel you have stepped into another time or place.

St Stephens Cathedral
St Stephens Cathedral


Go to the grounds of the cathedral during lunch on weekday and it will be filled with office workers enjoying the location as a place to relax and enjoy their lunch. Because of its popularity there are plans to add additional seating and facilities.

The grounds of St Stephens is a popular location for city workers to enjoy their lunch
The grounds of St Stephens is a popular location for city workers to enjoy their lunch

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Your Comment
Very Interesting article, Roy. However, along of Newstead as ' best Historical Residence' , I would like to suggest " Miegunyah" 35 Jordan Terrace, Bowen Hills. If you haven't visited yet, please come along Wed/Sat/Sun to visit an original 1886 residence, built by William Perry, of Perry's Ironmongery Business, Brisbane.
by s.mag (score: 1|10) 1151 days ago
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