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Brisbane Landmarks Walking Tour (Self Guided), Brisbane

Brisbane can proudly boast of a number of breathtaking landmarks and monuments that will impress even the most well-travelled visitor. This huge city, rich in culture and history, offers marvelous scope for sightseeing. Here's our rundown of spots you should definitely visit during your time in Brisbane.
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Brisbane Landmarks Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Brisbane Landmarks Walking Tour
Guide Location: Australia » Brisbane (See other walking tours in Brisbane)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 Km or 1.6 Miles
Author: gene
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Story Bridge
  • Customs House
  • The Cathedral of St. Stephen
  • The Post Office Square
  • Anzac Square War Memorial
  • King George Square
  • Brisbane City Hall
  • The Old Windmill
Story Bridge

1) Story Bridge (must see)

As Brisbane grew and continued to flourish in the early 20th century, it became apparent that there was a need for a bridge crossing the Brisbane River downstream of the CBD. Roger Hawken of the University of Queensland devised a plan for a series of bridges to relieve traffic congestion. In 1926 the site at Kangaroo Point was selected to connect with Fortitude Valley and it was fast tracked as an important public work in order to provide much needed employment during the Great Depression. Construction began in 1935 on the cantilever design and the bridge was officially opened in 1940. During construction it was known as the Jubilee Bridge in honor of King George V, however by 1940 it was decided that it should be named after John Douglas Story who had been a high level public servant that had campaigned strongly for the bridge’s construction.

To this day the Story Bridge remains the largest steel bridge to be designed and built in Australia, by Australians. Today, the Story Bridge is very much a landmark of Brisbane and provides beautiful views of the city’s CBD as you cross. These days in addition to hosting crossing traffic, it offers a bridge climb that is one of only three of its kind in the world. Views from the top of the bridge look out over the city and out towards Moreton Bay. You can also do an abseil climb down one of the pylons to Captain Burke Park on the Kangaroo Point side of the bridge – this is the only abseil climb of its kind in the world.
Customs House

2) Customs House

Customs House is one of Brisbane’s most beautiful colonial buildings and its location on the shores of the Brisbane River make it even more impressive. The building once played a key role in the city’s economics – it was built in 1886 to replace a humble custom’s house at Petrie Bight. It was designed by Charles McLay of the Colonial Architect’s Office and is a magnificent example of the Victorian Free Classical style. The exterior of the building is dominated by the impressive copper dome roof and its beautiful portico.

The building is now owned by the University of Queensland and is used for public and private functions – you can often find art exhibitions or music concerts being held inside. Some of the rooms are open to visitors to enjoy and take in the significant history of the building and remind us that Brisbane was once a great port city. Within Customs House, the Long Room is the grandest and there are historical displays inside showing the building as it was in its heyday. There is also a charming restaurant that can be visited by the public and provides the perfect chance to imagine Brisbane as it was in Victorian times.
The Cathedral of St. Stephen

3) The Cathedral of St. Stephen (must see)

When Queensland separated from New South Wales in 1859 it was deemed that Brisbane should have its very own grand cathedral. The Catholic diocese set to work and a Gothic Revival cruciform design was approved. Construction was begun on St. Stephen’s Day, 26 December, 1863 and completed in 1922 following some redesigning and downsizing required for economic reasons. The dominant features of the façade are the sandstone spires and inside the church there are many impressive stained windows that came from Munich, Germany, France, England and Ireland. The collection of stained glass is often considered to be the most extensive in Australia.

St. Stephen’s Chapel, which stands in the cathedral grounds, is Brisbane’s oldest religious site dating from 1850. It was designed by A. Welby Pugin and construction began in 1847. Throughout the cathedral and its grounds there are many notable statues and taking a guided tour you have the chance to learn more about these and other aspects of the cathedral. There are daily tours of the cathedral at 10:30am Monday to Friday and following Mass on Sunday. Renovations took place in the 1980s to ensure that the cathedrals facilities were brought up to date and in 2000 a new organ was added.
The Post Office Square

4) The Post Office Square

Post Office Square is nestled between Adelaide Street and Queen Street and provides a large green space in the middle of the CBD. Underneath the square there is a subterranean shopping center and there are several stair wells leading down from the square into the mall. The square is located directly opposite the General Post Office, which is a beautiful sandstone building that dates from 1872 and was home to the Queensland Museum for a time in the 19th century. Each day many workers from the surrounding office buildings descend on the square to enjoy some alfresco lunch and it was also the site of the Occupy protests in Brisbane in 2011. There are often street entertainers in the square and it makes for a relaxing rest spot peppered with some interesting people watching.

There are various statues and fountains within the square; one of the key ones being a statue of Major-General Thomas William Glasgow facing towards Anzac Square. He was leader of one of the light horse brigades that landed at Anzac Cove in Gallipoli and later a Senator for Queensland. Post Office Square is well known for its excellent food court where each day the hoards head for a bite to eat.
Anzac Square War Memorial

5) Anzac Square War Memorial

The Anzac Square Memorial is accessed either from its Ann Street location or by the stairs from Anzac Square off Adelaide Street. The memorial is dedicated to all Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who have fought for their country since the Boer War. The Shrine of Remembrance is a circular sandstone construction in the Greek Classic Revival Style and was dedicated on Remembrance Day 1930 with the lighting of the eternal flame. The 18 pillars and the 18 steps leading up to the shrine represent the year 1918 when World War I ended. Every year on Anzac and Remembrance Day there are ceremonies held there.

In Anzac Square below the shrine the bottle trees were planted to represent the Light Horse Regiment of the Boer War and WWI and the date palms represent the success of the diggers in the Middle East in World War II. Below the Shrine of Remembrance is the crypt where you can see the honor rolls from all the wars that Australia has been involved in, along with plaques, interactive displays and a mosaic of 140,000 Venetian crystal tiles and soils from overseas war cemeteries.
King George Square

6) King George Square (must see)

King George Square lies in front of the Brisbane City Hall and is one of the city’s main meeting places. Originally called Market and Albert Square it was renamed and revamped in King George’s honor following the monarch’s death. Large bronze lions guard the square when you enter from the Queen Street Mall side of the square. One of the main features of the square is the mounted King George statue. Originally it was facing towards the city hall, but it was turned around when Queen Elizabeth II visited and asked: “Why is grandpa retreating?” Several bronze statues from the World Exhibition of 1988, held in Brisbane, were relocated here. At Speakers Corner there are other statues that depict notable Queenslanders such as Steele Rudd, Emma Miller and Sir Charles Lilley.

The square has long been a civil space where people have expressed their political views and been the starting point for many protests and sit ins. The Civil Liberties Movement between 1965 and 1972 was particularly ardent. In 2009 the square was revamped and the old fountains and grassy spaces were removed and replaced by drought proof trees and plants. There is a great café on the square called Groove Train.
Brisbane City Hall

7) Brisbane City Hall (must see)

Brisbane City Hall is located in King George Square in city’s CBD and is the center of the Brisbane City Council. The building is widely considered to be one of Brisbane’s best and one of the most ornate and beautiful of Australia’s city halls. The foundation stone of the building was laid in 1920 and construction was completed by 1930. For many years the hall was Brisbane’s tallest building and to this day you can take the elevator to the top of the clock tower and get an impressive panoramic view over the city. The viewing platform is open 10am to 3pm every day for free. The clock tower is 91 meters above the ground and was inspired by St. Mark’s Campanile in Venice, Italy.

Built in the Italian Renaissance style, there is much of interest to see in the building. Above the Corinthian columns at the entrance to the building is the ornately carved tympanum, which was carved by Sculptor Daphne Mayo in the 1930s. It features scenes of the settlement of Queensland with cattle drovers extending out into the lands filled with kangaroos. Inside there are many beautiful rooms, but the highlight is the main auditorium inspired by the Pantheon in Rome.
The Old Windmill

8) The Old Windmill (must see)

The Old Windmill is Queensland’s oldest surviving building and one of the very few convict built buildings to remain in the city. It was constructed in 1824 to grind maize and wheat to feed the convict population of the colony. Originally a treadmill the mill, but the cloth sails were added a couple of months after its inauguration; however the treadmill was still put to use as a form of punishment. In 1841 two aboriginal men were hung from the windmill after they were deemed to have been guilty of murdering two members of a surveying party at Mount Lindsay.

Around 1849 the windmill was decommissioned and was put to use as Queensland’s first museum and during the 1930s and 1940s it was used as a broadcasting tower. In fact, it is thought that this was the site of the very first TV broadcast in Australia in 1934. In 1866 a cannon was installed at the windmill and was fired each day at precisely 1pm for the residents of the colony to set their watches by.

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