South Brisbane Heritage Trail

South Brisbane was originally slated to be Brisbane's CBD, with some grand commercial buildings being established on the south side of the river, until the 1893 flood changed all that. 

Still it retains a slew of buildings and historical sites that are an important part of Brisbane's heritage and are part of a Brisbane City Council heritage trail, starting at Dock St and ending near the Wheel of Brisbane.

This walk, with only a few gentle hills, takes aprox 45 mins-1 hr.

1 & 2. Dry Dock & Coal Wharves - Start the walk at the old dry dock that still remains as part of the Qld Maritime Museum, the only remnant of the South Brisbane Coal Wharves which opened and stretched along this busy working section of river from 1884. The old dry dock  dating from 1881 was made of high quality Helidon stone, quarried from Helidon west of Brisbane. 412 Vulture St South Brisbane

Ship sitting in a dry dock in the Brisbane Maritime Museum

3. South Brisbane Memorial Park – Cross Grey St to the this peaceful triangular 'island', which is one of Brisbane's  memorial parks, established in 1920 to commemorate the fallen in World War I.459 Stanley St South Brisbane

Sign at entrance of South Brisbane Memorial Park with trees lit up at night

4. Former South Brisbane Municipal Library – Big things were planned for the Municipality of South Brisbane, as evidenced by this grand Post Office that was built in 1881 before it was changed into the Sth Brisbane Municipal Library in 1887, thus becoming Queensland's first free municipal library. Today it houses the Griffith Uni TV & Film School.

5. Sth Brisbane Municipal Chambers – Across Vulture St. this majestic Italianate South Brisbane Town Hall was built in 1891-92, reflecting the prosperity of the era. Later it became the Qld Conservatorium and today is part of the Somerville House administration and receptions area. 263 Vulture St

Sth Brisbane Municipal Chambers

6. Coombooquepa - Continue along the same side of Vulture St. Atop the landscaped cliff of Somerville House stands this landmark grand masonry villa, built in 1890 for the Stephens family to replace an earlier timber home inhabited by prominent Sth Brisbane resident Thomas Blacket Stephens MLA. During World War II it was a HQ for the US Army and after that the Somerville House boarding school. Today it is the school's admin facility. 259 Vulture St

7. Byanda -Turn right into Grey St and on the left amongst the Hotel Emporium redevelopment is one of the last grand houses remaining in the area, Byanda, which was one of a batch of stately homes on this hill. Expo 88 revellers would remember it as Expo's  popular Collins Place Spaghetti House and today it awaits a new lease of life as a bar restaurant site for Emporium. 271 Grey St

8. Allan & Stark - Continue downhill and take the first right into Tribune St – follow this all the way along (with a recommended refreshment stop at Hoo Ha Bar on the corner in the old Qld railway building). Follow the path into South Bank Parklands and take a left on the Arbour Walk which leads parallel to Stanley St down to Stanley St Plaza. On the left before the intersection is the ornate Allan & Stark drapery building, a relic of the commercial era which was brought abruptly to a halt in the 1893 floods. Allan & Stark never moved back into the building but rather set up shop in Queen St along the river for a long and successful retail run. 253 Stanley St

Allan & Stark building in South Brisbane

9. Plough Inn – Since the 1860s there's been a hotel on this site and during the economic boom of the early 1890s the Plough Inn was established and still draws a crowd today. 153 Stanley St

Woman walking in front of Plough Inn in South Brisbane

10. Nepalese Peace Pagoda – From Stanley St Plaza head to the riverfront and turn left along Clem Jones Promenade. Nestled in the tropical rainforest is another Expo 88 icon – the intricately carved Nepalese Peace Pagoda.

11. The Pearl Ferry Disaster – Continue along the riverfront to near the Wheel of Brisbane. It is on this reach of the river that Brisbane's biggest boating disaster occurred in 1896, when the Pearl passenger steamer capsized and the majority of passengers lost their lives in te raging river.

12.Victoria Bridge Abutment – Adjacent to the Victoria Bridge is the abutment that remains from the previous Victoria Bridge, one of a small string of bridges that have stood on this spot and washed away during floods. The Abutment is also a memorial to a young Greek Boy who lost his life on the bridge during an army procession.

Old Victoria Bridge

13.Moreton Bay Penal Settlement Farm – Follow the riverfront around past the Cultural Centre and GOMA to the base of the Kurilpa Bridge. It is here that jungle-covered land was cleared and corn planted as part of the penal settlement's agricultural base.

14. William Jolly Bridge – Continue around the river bend to the bridge that was originally named the Grey St bridge when it opened in 1932 and is now named after the mayor of the time who opened it, William Jolly.

Child cycling under the William Jolly Bridge in Brisbane

15. Coronation Hotel – Cross the lawn beside the bridge to the roundabout and head under the bridge onto Montague Rd. On the corner of Hope St is The Joynt, which started life in 1891 as the Montague Hotel and in 1953 was renamed the Coronation Hotel to commemorate Queen Elizabeth's coronation. 48 Montague Rd

Coronation Building in South Brisbane

16. Paul's Ice Cream & Milk Office – Across the road from the joint is the striking modernist brick office of Paul's Ice-Cream and Milk, which was designed by local architects Conrad and Gargett and built in 1944. 54 Montague Rd

17. St Mary's Catholic Church -  Follow Hope St to the intersection of Peel St and turn right. Cross to Merivale St (via Peel St) on the opposite corner where St Mary's church has stood since 1893. From 1870 the Sisters of St Joseph, with Saint Mary MacKillop at their helm, established and taught at their parish school here. 20 Merivale St

Facade of St Mary's Catholic Church South Brisbane

18. Site of Red Rag Riots – Cross Merivale St and turn right, following it down to the intersection of Melbourne St. It was here on the corner that 8000 angry returned servicemen from WWI descended on the Russian Hall in Merivale St in what was one of the most dramatic events in Brisbane's history. Cnr Merivale & Melbourne St

19. Hotel Terminus – Turn left on Melbourne St and walk to the next block where the majestic 1927 built Hotel Terminus is now the Fox Hotel (well worth a visit, especially Dandys Rooftop Bar). Next door is the site of the long since demolished Trocadero Dansant, one of Brisbane's most popular night spots from 1923 – post World War II. (Under the nearby rail bridge are some quirky plaques commemorating past entertainment venues in the area like the Blue Moon skating Rink and the original open air Cremorne Theatre). 71 Melbourne St

Fox Hotel building and Dandys Rooftop bar

20. South Brisbane Railway Station – Turn right onto Grey St and cross Melbourne St at the lights. The imposing railway station dates from 1891 as a symbol of the big things that were planned for South Brisbane. 133 Grey St

South Brisbane Railway Station building

21. Dr Carver's Service Club – Follow Grey St along to the lights and cross the road then back track a little way along to the site of Dr Carver's, the famous American Red Cross jazz club from World War II which provided recreational services to African American soldiers. 74 Stanley St/100 Grey St

22. Cultural Centre - Turn and walk back past the Cultural Centre, the sprawling multi-venue complex comprising QAG, QPAC, Qld Museum and the old incarnation of the State Library. Designed by award-winning Brisbane architects Robin Gibson, the first stage – QAG, was built in 1982. The re-designed State Library (2007) was another award-winner by esteemed architects Donovan Hill and Peddle Thorp and the multi-award winning GOMA (also opened in 207) is remarkable not only for its design by Kerry and Lindsay Clare but also for the extraordinary budgetary restraints they worked within.

Cultural Centre building
Book now for An American in Paris