City Hall tour
Brisbane’s City Hall, “the People’s Place”, was constructed in the 1920s at a cost of almost 1 million pounds and was the second largest construction project in our nation’s history, second only to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Museum of Brisbane invites visitors to discover the many treasures and jewels of our most recognised civic building through a City Hall tour.
King George Square foyer
Like any good story, this one starts at the very beginning. It’s hard to believe this impressive neo-classical structure was previously a swampy council works yard back in the 1880s, but your City Hall tour guide takes you on a journey from “swamp-yard” to the centre of civic government it is today.
From highly publicised renovations to secrets within the walls, the City Hall tour starts with the inside story about the recent 3 year $215 million restoration due to extensive damage to the original foundations.
Basement and the signature wall
From here, the tour ventures into the depths of the building for an exclusive glimpse of the iconic and heritage listed “signature wall” in the basement of City Hall. This historical treasure can only be accessed on a City Hall tour. The signature wall contains signatures, names and dates from many soldiers of different nationalities stationed in Brisbane during World War II. While in the basement, you can examine the last remaining original supporting column of City Hall and view the damage to the foundations that preceded the restoration.
Next stop, the Enoggera Courtyard to see the cobblestones discovered beneath City Hall during the restoration. These cobblestones, constructed from material quarried from the Kangaroo Point Cliffs, date back to the 1880s, when the site contained a stable with cobblestone flooring. This site also contains a porphyry stone and iron drain that is more than 120 years old.
After the Enoggera Courtyard, the tour moves onto the Auditorium, an historic and visually stunning amphitheatre with construction inspired by the famous Pantheon of Rome. This space houses the Willis & Sons Pipe Organ, containing over 4,300 pipes, with several pipes reaching 13 metres in height. It is one of only 2 of its kind remaining in the world, the other being located in Westminster Abbey, England.
While seated in the auditorium, guests experience the amazing sight of 8500 L.E.D. lights displaying a light show over the domed ceiling. Reflect on the history of this room, with musicians such as The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and KISS, along with other dignitaries such as 2 Popes, 2 Dalai Lamas, 6 Kings and Queens of Europe, including Queen Elizabeth II, Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales, all visiting or performing in this magnificent space. Please note the auditorium is not available for tours on Tuesday, due to free concerts being held from 11.30am – 2.00pm.
Lord Mayor’s office and Gold Mirror Room
Moving on from the theatrics of the auditorium to the excitement of public life, the tour takes in the Lord Mayor’s office and the iconic “Gold Mirror Room”, used for intimate receptions and press conferences. This room was named for the large mirror classified as French second Empire, donated to Lord Mayor Clem Jones and his wife in the 1970s by the Rosenstengle family who were famous Brisbane furniture makers based in Fortitude Valley for more than 100 years.
William Bustard stained glass
Offering a burst of colour towards to end of the tour are the beautiful 4.2 metre stained glass windows, created almost 100 years ago by well-known Brisbane artist William Bustard. These magnificent windows display scenes symbolically representing colonial Brisbane, as well as Brisbane’s original coat of arms, floral emblem and motto.
Museum of Brisbane
The 45 minute tour concludes in the refurbished Museum of Brisbane. The Museum explores seemingly ordinary people and places of Brisbane to uncover unexpected and fascinating stories. At the end of the tour, guests are welcome to explore the Museum, which is free of charge, or perhaps take a free 15 minute Clock Tower tour ascending in the second oldest manually driven cage lift in Australia to 76 metres above the city on the viewing platform. During your descent, you will stop inside the clock faces, giving you an entirely unique view inside the largest public clock faces in the country.
Book a Brisbane City Hall tour
When: daily at 10.30am, 11.30am, 12.30pm (walk-up only), 1.30pm, 2.30pm and 3.30pm
Admission : free
Bookings: essential, please call 07 3403 8463 to make a booking
Depart: King George Square foyer