A customs house has inhabited this spot near Petrie’s Bight since 1849, with this grand copper-domed building with its massive colonnade replacing a much smaller one in 1888.
Designed by architect Charles McLay (also designer of Fortitude Valley Post Office), it was built by the leading building firm of the day John Petrie & Sons.
Of interest in the design are the scenes carved into the pediment of a kangaroo and emu with shield between that bears a close resemblance to the Queensland Coat of Arms, despite it not coming to being until 1893.
Although the exterior all but remains intact, including the retaining wall, stone steps to the riverside and even the fig tree in the little private garden, thought to be planted around 1890, much of the interior has been altered. In 1947 all but two of the original internal masonry walls were removed and the grand cedar staircase replaced with a terrazzo one (although this has in recent decades been replaced by another cedar one in an attempt to recreate the original look).
Despite the changes, Brisbane's Customs House is still a beautiful space to take a wander, with the most stunning place being the Long Room directly under the dome. Now that it is owned by UQ, on Sundays there are regular free classical recitals held in here that are well worth a visit. Additionally the downstairs dining room and terrace is one of Brisbane’s better Sunday breakfast spots.
427 Queen St