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Heritage Trails in Brisbane

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by Roy Chambers (subscribe)
Lover of all things interesting and new
Published March 29th 2015
Heritage Trails in Brisbane
Brisbane doesn't come across as a city with a lot of history or remaining heritage. Yet often in surprising places you will find patches of the city's colourful history. The Brisbane City Council has put a lot of effort into putting together heritage trails. Here are some of the highlights.

Brisbane City Hall circa 1932 (Courtesy of griculture And Stock Department, Publicity Branch)
Brisbane City Hall circa 1932 (Courtesy of griculture And Stock Department, Publicity Branch)


Most of Brisbane Heritage lies in the city, inner suburbs and along the river. The Brisbane City Council heritage trails are a strange combination of great walks or sometimes just a list of places where interesting buildings used to be.

Brisbane's oldest Building, the Old Windmill in Spring Hill
Brisbane's oldest Building, the Old Windmill in Spring Hill


Maps and information for each walk is available from the Brisbane City Council Website. Expect more heritage trails to be added to the list.

CBD River Front

The highlight for me in terms of heritage is the Brisbane City River Front. Walking or cycling along the river is a popular activity in Brisbane for locals and visitors. The riverfront includes great views, historical locations, park frontage and artworks along with the heritage.

Old Government House at QUT
Old Government House at QUT


My favourite Brisbane heritage trail is the Reflections on the River trail that goes from The Maritime Museum, around the Botanic Gardens, and along the river front up to Eagle Street. I would personally just start at Parliament House, visit the art galleries at QUT, walk through the park and then divert to see the historic buildings on Edward Street. If it is on a Sunday, it is worthwhile stopping off at the Riverside Markets around 1 Eagle Street.

Old Naval Offices as part of the Reflections on the River Heritage Trail
Old Naval Offices as part of the Reflections on the River Heritage Trail


On the opposite of the river there is the Kangaroo Point Art and the River outdoor public art trail which takes back to South Bank.

Follow up a heritage trail walk with The art and the river art trail
Follow up a heritage trail walk with The art and the river art trail


South Bank and South Brisbane also have a lot of heritage locations. Walking through South Bank is a popular activity with many different attractions. These include a number of pubs that are in buildings dating back to when South Brisbane competed against Brisbane City as the place to be. Visit these and other historic locations with the Secrets of South Brisbane Heritage Trail.

The moment you realise that your favourite South Bank pub was built 1885
The moment you realise that your favourite South Bank pub was built 1885


City and Valley

While I love some of the historical aspects of these two locations, the busy nature of both the city and Fortitude Valley make them less desirable locations for walking. However, if you are an early riser, then wandering around these areas before the crowds arrive can be really pleasant.

Central Station and Anzac Square
Central Station and Anzac Square


The highlight for me in the City Centre Heritage Trail is the area around Central Train Station and Post Office Square and then continuing down to the Cathedral of St Stephen and its adjoining chapel. Don't forget to pop into MacArthur Central. Thanks to Apple for actually restoring some of the shopfront when they put their store in this historic building. During World War II this building was used by General Dougals MacArthur for his headquarters and now houses a the MacArthur museum.

Cathedral of St Stephen
Cathedral of St Stephen


It is a short walk from the City up to Fortitude Valley. When people think of the Valley they focus on Chinatown and the various bars and nightclubs. However if you walk around the area you see both history and contemporary culture existing hand in hand. You will see wonderful shopfronts of interwar period shops, the grace of the little Centenary Place Park, or various murals splashed on the sides of buildings.

In the 1920s Fortitude was a growing shopping area of Brisbane
In the 1920s Fortitude was a growing shopping area of Brisbane


Milton to Indooroopilly

As I warned in the Introduction, many of the Heritage locations in Brisbane are simply signs saying this used to be a historical location until it was bulldozed. The Milton Heritage Trail is mostly this but with a few interesting buildings that are leftl.

Milton heritage trail includes the XXXX factory, so it has that going for it
Milton heritage trail includes the XXXX factory, so it has that going for it


Nearby is one of the nicest suburban areas to walk through, Rosalie. Along with many historical homes, there are also places such as the Sacred Heart Church sitting on top of a hill.

Scared Heart Church in Rosalie
Scared Heart Church in Rosalie


Indooroopilly also includes numerous houses, halls and churches to visit. Maybe it is just me, but I like these suburban walks because you end up with a feel for the Queensland way of life which is different to those of other states and countries.

Historic Bridges in Indooroopilly
Historic Bridges in Indooroopilly


Ascot, Hamilton and Bulimba

Bulimba's heritage trail is one of the most popular. Maybe it is appeal of one of Brisbane's most desirable residential locations, or perhaps it is that you can do this as part of a ferry ride from the city.

The historic Bulimba Warf
The historic Bulimba Warf


Hamilton and Ascot also have that reputation as a place the well-to-do to live in Brisbane. When you are aren't going to the races or you have some time before enjoying some fine dining, why not walk back in time along racecourse road and surrounds.

Hamilton Town Hall (Courtesy of Wikimedia)
Hamilton Town Hall (Courtesy of Wikimedia)


Some surprises

One of the most interesting areas to be left off this list is Albion. Despite the loss the flour mill, it still remains a lovely pocket of history which is rarely explored by Brisbanites. It also includes a little Chinese temple dating back to the time when this was the home of the Chinese markets.

Albion has a surprising number of historical buildings and locations
Albion has a surprising number of historical buildings and locations


What is left off

There is a lot of history that is not included in the heritage trails. Sometimes there are little pockets, such as those you find at Chermside. It is hard to imagine what it was like in the 1950s with one of Brisbane's first shopping malls designed for car owners to visit while still being serviced by trams that ran all the way from the city.

Other times way is left off are the interconnecting bits. There is a lot of history between New Farm and Teneriffe and it is certainly a very lovely river walk, but this area has yet to make the heritage trail lists.

Teneriffe during the annual festival
Teneriffe during the annual festival


Another great historical location is Sandgate. While most people head to Sandgate for the seaside, part of the location's charm is a small scattering or heritage buildings. These include the old Post Office which is now the 4017 Bar & Grill and the Town Hall.

Sandgate Townhall (Courtesy of Wikimedia)
Sandgate Townhall (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

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Your Comment
Southbank is a lovely stroll that pays homage to Expo '88.
by Jenny Rossiter (score: 3|4067) 1572 days ago
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