Of all the heritage trails in around Brisbane, Reflections on the River is by and far the most interesting, combining fabulous buildings, well preserved historical streets, the City Botanic Gardens and of course the river.
The downloadable heritage trail guide suggests you start at the Riverside Ferry Terminal. A great way to arrive at the starting location is by ferry where you can view many of the historic buildings from the river.
From the ferry terminal you will see the Story Bridge. This somewhat ugly bridge has a great deal of character as well as history. so a nice place to start the walk.
Now Customs House is a great restaurant, often booked for weddings and other functions. On select Sundays enjoy free music from the UQ school of music. The building is open for sightseeers but with only a limited area is open. However on concert days guided tours will often be given. Visit their website for more information.
On Sundays you can pass through the Sunday Markets at the Eagle Street Pier. This district has some of the most exclusive office space in Brisbane, home to many law and upmarket accounting firms as well as a few historic buildings.
Passing Eagle Street Pier you taken back in history as you pass numerous elegant buildings on the way to the Botanic Gardens. Many of these buildings are home to great restaurants though some are also office space.
The nicest walking option at this point is to head through the Botanic Gardens and make your way to the Queensland University of Technology. If you arrive at the campus through the Gardens you will arrive at the old government house. This is a building that looks like it doesn't really know what it wants to be and is rather uninspiring but it is host to the William Robinson Gallery. There is a collection of his work, but will also have other exhibitions and events.
The QUT campus has a few other preserved buildings however the other most interesting place to visit is the QUT Art Museum for the art, not the history. Worth visiting if you are passing through.
As you leave the QUT campus in the direction of the city you will pass the Queensland Parliament House. A great building to visit, whether to observe the government at work, see art exhibitions or join a weekday guided tour.
It is worth continuing down George street to admire the Queensland Club and The Mansions though you can also cross the river using the Goodwill Bridge and return back along the opposite bank following the Art and the River Public Art Trail.
What is Brisbane's track record on preserving history?
Brisbane has a varied track record in preserving its history. There are places such as Queen Street Mall where there are many historical buildings that are simply veneers on the upper layers of buildings. Internally and the lower levels are all thoroughly modern. On the other hand Reflections on the River takes you through the less commercial areas of Brisbane city where many of the buildings have been kept intact. Some becoming offices, others art galleries and yet others fabulous dinning establishments.