After the Brisbane Gaol the second group of buildings to appear on Petrie Terrace (then known as ‘Green Hill’) were these military barracks, built in 1864 for the British Imperial Garrison to specifications from the War office in London.
The first building was the well-preserved two-storeyed living and sleeping quarters and in 1867 the single storeyed sandstone building with overhanging verandahs over Countess St was built as a military hospital. Upon completion however it became a detention centre for the deranged who, if they were deemed insane were shifted to the dreaded Woogaroo Lunatic Asylum at Wolston Park. (Today one of its offices still has the tiny barred viewing window from when it was a holding cell).
Later it was used as a health check centre for diseased prostitutes who would gather on its verandah and also a hospital for soldiers from the Maori Wars. After the British troops withdrawal in 1869 the premises were handed to the police force who erected stables on Countess St which are preserved today.
In the 1880s, as a result of Russian invasion paranoia the Queensland Defnce Force was created and the precinct was named Victoria Barracks and remains their home today. The complex also contains Queensland’s oldest tennis court. Built for the officers and dating from 1892, the most famous player to grace its lawn was Martina Navratilova.