Brisbane Open House is a free public festival that celebrates Brisbane’s architecture and allows the public to access and tours of the buildings. This year more than 80 buildings were open to the public including our new State Parliament building, 1 William Street.
We headed into the city and parked at Southbank under the Art Gallery before walking over the Victoria Bridge and heading down William Street. We stopped first at the Treasury Hotel which was previously the Lands Administration Building. We were able to join a guided tour of rooms and were given their history. It brought back memories for me as it my days as a search clerk with Commonwealth Development Bank I carried out a good deal of my work in this building.
Just across from the William Street entrance we then entered the Commissariat Store. The heritage-listed former Commissariat Store is Brisbane’s oldest occupied building and is one of only two buildings surviving in Brisbane from the convict period. It is of national importance as one of four Commissariat buildings surviving in Australia, and provides evidence for the building methods, skills and materials available at the time it was constructed.
The Commissariat Store was built as a two-storeyed provisions store by convicts using local stone in 1828–29. Penal colonies were run on a military system and the Commissariat was used for the procurement, supply and distribution of essential goods.A third storey of rendered brick was added in 1913 to accommodate its continuing use as a government store. Since 1981 the Commissariat Store has been the headquarters for the Royal Historical Society of Queensland.
Taking a long way round due to the construction for the new Queens Wharf development we made our way to 1 William Street, only to find long queues. Our interest was not worth a long wait so we headed back stopping for lunch on the way. After lunch we reversed our journey over the bridge and continued along the river bank and into the streets of South Brisbane and West End finding St Mary’s Catholic Church which was founded in 1892. Today it is surrounded by high rise apartments and density style living but retains it’s place in the community.
Our last visit was Peters Ice Cream Factory which today is an empty shell and will soon form part of the West Village development however the buildings are heritage listed. The self tour included a screening of interviews with former employees who spoke of the joy of working there.
The Peters Ice Cream Factory buildings will be restored to their former glory and will be the centrepiece of the new West Village development by Sekisui House Australia. During development, the Ice Cream Factory is the proud home of “The Bromley Room”, a unique gallery and event space curated by West Village artist-in-residence David Bromley. On the ground floor, a school of construction is preparing young Queenslanders for careers in our $13 billion construction industry.
With very tired feet we made our way back to the car.