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City Centre Heritage Trail

Home > Brisbane > Free | Historic Houses | Places of Interest | Walks
by Roy Chambers (subscribe)
Lover of all things interesting and new
Published July 3rd 2014
Brisbane's historical heart
See the historical side of Brisbane by walking through the city centre and even up to Spring Hill. Follow the Brisbane City Councils Heritage Trail guide to learn about the city's past.

City Hall Brisbane (Attribution: John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland)
City Hall Brisbane (Attribution: John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland)

Any visitor to Brisbane will often see our heritage peaking out between tall glass buildings making Brisbane feel like a modern city partly ashamed of its past. Yet if you seek out history in Brisbane you will quickly see that there are many historical locations worth a look.

Following the Brisbane City Councils City Centre Heritage Trail through the heart Brisbane you will uncover many secrets, though you may also want to push on to other historical buildings not covered by this walk.

The trail guide recommends you start the Regent Theatre, though it is probably better to describe the starting point as, what is left of the Regent Theatre. This lovely historical building and working theatre was closed and partially destroyed as part of a development project (the Brisbane City Council fined the developers for the destruction).

The next stop is the lovely Brisbane Arcade that was built in 1923 and today stills provides an elegant shopping experience.

Brisbane Arcade built in 1923
Brisbane Arcade built in 1923

The next worthwhile stop is the recently renovated Brisbane City Hall. Open 7 days a week to the public, feel free to pop in for a look or attend one of the many events. Across the street from King George square is the Albert Street Uniting Church. Unfortunately it is only open to the public Monday to Friday 10 am - 2 pm.

Albert Street Uniting Church (Attribution: Wikicommons - Kgbo)
Albert Street Uniting Church (Attribution: Wikicommons - Kgbo)

If you a looking for something less religious and more fun, the trail takes you next to what was originally called the People's Palace. Built in 1911 by the Salvation Army as a Temperance (no alcohol) hotel, it is now a popular backpacker pub. You can often get a great drink and meal deal for around $10.

Have a beer at a former temperance hotel
Have a beer at a former temperance hotel

You may want to head up Spring Hill to various locations near the Roma Street Parklands, however I would suggest that these are better to do as part of a visit to the parklands. Highlights in Spring Hill include the old Windmill Tower built in 1828 which is Brisbane's oldest standing building. Right next to it is the Tower Mill Motel, a highly innovative building for Brisbane when it was built in 1966.

Windmill Tower, Queensland's oldest standing building
Windmill Tower, Queensland's oldest standing building

Returning back to the city you will visit Central Station, Anzac Square and the General Post Office. A lovely historical walk that will take you through to the Cathedral of St Stephen. which has tours every weekday at 10:30 am.

Cathedral of St Stephen
Cathedral of St Stephen

The last stop on the trail is the building that was taken over by general Douglas MacArthur as his Australian headquarters during World War II. Here you can visit the Museum ($6) on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays (10 am - 3pm) or visit the Apple Store that has taken over the ground floor.

City Mini Walk

If you want to a quick historic walk start in Ann Street opposite Central Station. Make your way through Anzac Square and then Post Office Square and then pass through the arcade at the General Post Office to arrive at St Stephen's Cathedral and Chapel.

Central Station and ANZAC Square seen from Post Office Square
Central Station and ANZAC Square seen from Post Office Square
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Why? See Brisbane's historic city centre
Where: Start at 167 Queen Street, Brisbane
Cost: Free
Your Comment
I love that the arcade still has some of that 1920s feel.
by Bryony Harrison (score: 4|12528) 2056 days ago
Don't forget that a volunteer Brisbane Greeter guide to these walks is not only for the Brisbane visitor. Many a local has taken advantage of the depth of knowledge friendly local guides can impart. All of them have their own tales to tell of their experiences of living in beautiful Brisbane, giving a really personal touch to the greet.
by Alison Muirhead (score: 2|266) 2051 days ago
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