Historic Homes in Brisbane

Be transported to the Brisbane of yesteryear with a visit to a grand historical house.

Newstead House

Newstead House

Just a few kilometres north of the CBD, Brisbane’s oldest surviving residence Newstead House dates from 1846. Originally built for Patrick Leslie, over the years it has evolved from a simple colonial Georgian cottage into a sprawling homestead with intricate balustrade, spacious verandahs and a vista that incorporates the Brisbane River, undulating parkland, elements of the Breakfast Creek Heritage Precinct and the changing suburbs of Hamilton, Bowen Hills, Bulimba and Newstead.

As the leader of the squattocracy advocating a new colony based on Moreton Bay using convict labour, Leslie declared he would farm Newstead Cottage, supplying fresh fruit and vegetables to Brisbane. This idea was short-lived and, convinced that Cleveland would soon bypass Brisbane in influence, Leslie and his wife, Kate, returned to the Darling Downs, selling to J. C. Wickham and his wife, Anna, Kate’s sister. A few owners later,  it was James Taylor, a Toowoomba identity, who began to subdivide Newstead Estate, creating what is now the present-day suburb of Newstead. 

Today the homestead is painted and furnished in the exuberant style of the late-Victorian period. It is open Tuesday to Friday from 10am-4pm, Saturday for private events only, and Sunday from 2-5pm. Entry is adults $6, concession $5, child $4, family (two adults and their children) $15. Groups are also welcome.

Ormiston House

Ormiston House

Another of Queensland's finest examples of heritage-listed colonial architecture is Ormiston House. On Brisbane’s southern bayside, it is surrounded by 5.6ha of equally historic grounds and gardens overlooking Moreton Bay. The house was built in the 1860s by Captain Louis Hope, who was to become known as the father of the Australian sugar industry. In response to a London Society of Arts offer of a medal for the first ton of sugar made in Queensland, he planted eight hectares of sugar cane, and in 1864 his mill crushed the first commercially grown cane.

Heritage-listed Ormiston House and its grounds have been carefully restored over the past 45 years, funded by a team of dedicated volunteers. Throughout the year, the venue has a busy and varied calendar of open days and special events that attract many visitors and tourists. The house is open every Sunday from noon to 4pm, and you can enjoy a Devonshire tea on the wide verandahs.

Wolston House

Wolston House, the oldest surviving residential farmhouse in Brisbane, is just a 25-minute drive from the CBD. A pre-Separation structure commenced in brick and completed in stone, the home is a great example of quality techniques and workmanship of the 19th century. The National Trust of Queensland picked up Wolston House in 1963 and has since maintained and conserved the home and components that give it heritage value. The home is open to visit every Sunday, 11am-4pm.

Parliament House

While it is not exactly a homestead, behind the doors of Parliament House history is being made every day. The palacial building’s construction started in 1864 and was finally completed 25 years later in 1889.

Parliamentary attendants conduct tours of Parliament House from 1-4pm during the week on days when the Parliament is not sitting. On days that Parliament is sitting, one tour runs at 2pm. The tour gives the public the chance to visit the foyer with grand staircase, Legislative Council (Red Chamber), the honour boards, leadlight window, level B verandah to view the Annexe Building, Legislative Assembly (Green Chamber), Mace, Wind Yarn (the Parliament’s didgeridoo), and Speaker and Sergeant-at-Arms costumed mannequins.

On sitting days, the public are also welcome to view Parliament in session from the Legislative Assembly public gallery. Parliament House also hosts a monthly High Tea in the Strangers’ Dining Room, as well as five yearly special high teas that are accompanied by a classical string duo.

Old Government House

Old Government House

Old Government House was the hub of colonial life in the early days of Brisbane. Completed in 1862, shortly after Queensland separated from New South Wales, the House was Queensland's first public building. The House was both a private residence and official state office for Governor Bowen, the colony's first governor, and continued to be the home of Queensland's governors until 1910.

In 2002, the Queensland University of Technology accepted custodial responsibility for the House and undertook a lengthy restoration project. Old Government House was reopened to the public in 2009 as a historic house museum, a gallery housing the works of renowned Australian artist William Robinson and an elegant venue for hire.  The home is open to visitors every day except Saturday, 10am-4pm.

Government House

Built in 1864, it wasn’t until 1910 that Government House became, well, Government House. Originally called Fernberg, the home was meant to be a temporary residence for the then Governor, but after more than a century the property has retained it as a permanent title. Home to the current Queensland Governor, Government House in Paddington is only open to the public on special days such as Australia Day and Queensland Day. Check online for the next open day.

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