City South Bank
This walk meanders through Brisbane’s best preserved and oldest city precinct, the sprawling parklands, beach and pools of South Bank in the city’s midst and the well-connected arts hub incorporating the Museum, art galleries and theatres.
1. Reddacliff Place is the city square where the 19th century and 21st century face off over a bunch of sculptures made from vegetable steamers. Flanked by the abstract primary coloured skirt of the Brisbane City Council Library and headquarters on one side and the grand Italianate façade of the old Treasury building (now the Casino) on the other, it was once the thoroughfare to the Victoria Bridge from pre-mall Queen St. Facing the casino from across George St, on the edge of the mall is the sandstone Family Services building, the city’s first high rise office tower that was a pioneer in the use of steel framing, built between 1914-1920.
2. From the square turn left onto William St (on the riverside) where below the Treasury building across the street is a retaining porphyry wall built in 1889, complete with original gas lamp and decorative iron railing. Built into the side of it downstairs on Queens Wharf Rd is an old air raid shelter from the 1940’s.
3. Just past the Treasury Building is Brisbane’s only intact historic square, with origins in the 1880’s boom times when Brisbane was metamorphosing from a wild shanty town to the grand colonial city envisioned by its British forebears. The Land Administration building c1901, which is now the Treasury Hotel looks over the Queens Gardens where thousands turned up to watch the unveiling of their Queen Victoria’s statue in 1906. Attached to the former Queensland Museum and State Library on William St is the 1959 extension featuring a glass-tiled mosaic and rare piece of 1950’s public art by Lindsay Edward.
4. The tiny park beside the old museum leads to the Commissariat Building, the only other convict era building along with The Windmill in Brisbane. The first two floors were built by convicts in 1828-29 as a provisions store while the third floor was built in 1913. Inside is a small and fascinating museum detailing the early settlement era.
5. From the Commissariat Building, cross William St and take the laneway between the Treasury Hotel and the adjacent old Government Printing Offices designed by DDG Stanley and built in 1874. Turn right onto George St – overlooking entrance of the printing office is the face of the printer’s devil with 2 devils on the parapet.
6. On the corner of George and Margaret Sts is the distinctive red brick and white GHM Addison designed stone row of terraces The Mansions. Upon their completion in 1889 their first three tenants included Queensland’s first female physician Dr. Lillian Cooper.
7. Intersecting Alice and George St is what would have been the most beautiful intersection in Brisbane had Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen not sent in his demolition thugs in the middle of the night on April 20 1979 to knock down the once beautiful New Orleans style Belvedere Hotel which stood on the corner between Old Parliament House and the Queensland Club. In its place stands a bland soulless square with a statue of Queen Elizabeth II while across the streets the Charles Tiffin designed Louvre Renaissance style Parliament House and white colonial FDG Stanley designed Queensland Club still stand in their 19th century glory.
8. Follow George St through the QUT precinct to its natural end at Old Government House which was constructed for Sir George Bowen the first appointed governor of Queensland in 1862.
9. Head to the river and cross via the Goodwill Bridge. Turn right and follow the riverfront Clem Jones promenade past the pools, Streets Beach, Nepalese Pagoda and Cultural Centre then under the Victoria Bridge past the Queensland Art Gallery and State Library to GOMA.
10. Take the Kurilpa Bridge, which follows the route where Aborigines once crossed the river at low tide, to Tank St where in the courtyard outside the Commonwealth Law Courts are a group of sculptures by renowned 20th century Australian sculptor Robert Klippel. The Santos building overshadows Tank, George and Turbot Sts is one of the city’s modern architectural masterpieces which changes colour and texture according to the light and angle it is viewed from.
11. Turn right into George St and head back to Reddacliff Place, passing the Tribal Theatre which was built in 1910 as the Lyceum and the Law Courts Complex which stands on the site of the grand 1880’s building that was destroyed by an arsonist in 1968.