On a grassy outpost in the industrial reaches of Lytton lie the heritage listed remains of Australia's only surviving moated 19th century fortress, the so-called birthplace of Queensland's military history and one of several forts that were built in the 19th century to protect the country's coastline.
Up until the 1930's this concealed seaside fort was not only Queensland's front line of defence but the site of the regular military training camps and ceremonies that were highlights of the state's political and social calendar in the lead up to 'The Great War'. After World War II it was abandoned and stripped of all of its equipment except for two 1878 vintage 64 ponder Barbette Mounted guns and four original 1886 barrels (one of which is now mounted at Annerley's Dudley St Army Depot).
Although many of the original wooden buildings and bridge were destroyed by fire in the ensuing years, what remains is still a fascinating labyrinth of rooms, passageways, tunnels and gunposts that children will also enjoy exploring. Roughly once a month there are scheduled cannon firings (check the website for details) and also on site is a museum that contains a collection of military memorabilia and stories for further info.
In addition the visitor info building, from where guided tours leave at regular intervals, was once the laundry room of the quarantine station that occupied the site in the World War I era and some of the other buildings including the bath house are still standing and in use by the Fort Lytton historical society.
During school holidays young budding archaeolgists and fun seekers can join the Raiders of the Lost Fort programme, which is run by actors and incorporates drama and history as the race is on to unearth the secrets of the fortification. $8 per child.
While refreshments are available in the form of instant coffee, tea and nibbles at the entrance, there is a great picnic spot down by the banks of the river. BYO gas barbecue as fires are not permitted in the national park.
Need to know: the grassy pathways are not easily negotiable by wheelchair or stroller. Admission is available for groups at a fee on weekdays.