City Exploring: Brisbane Open House

A lot of cities around the world have a ‘Open House’ where you can go inside of buildings that aren’t generally open to the public, and Brisbane is no different.

Brisbane Open House has been running for two days each October since 2010 and has been growing every year since. This year they had 100 buildings around Brisbane that are open to the public. Many of them with guided tours so you can learn more about the history of the building.

What I love Brisbane Open House is you get to see inside buildings that you go past all the time and wonder what they are like inside. Even though it can really tiring – you tend to walk and stand a lot, not idea for a person with a dodgy knee but at the same time, it is really fulfilling and interesting.


I’ve been to about 3 in the past and was eager to go again. This time I focused my exploring on the east side of the City Centre, so I chose to visit the Treasury Hotel (#36), Commissariat Store (#32) and Parliament House (#35). I also added City Hall (#8) in at the last-minute but only for a specific reason – you’ll find out later in the show.

Brisbane Open Day (or BOH for short) is held on a Saturday & Sunday – usually between about 10am & 3pm. Some buildings are open both days and some are only open one of the two. They have a really great website where you can read about the buildings featured that you can visit or you can purchase a book online or on the day, for $8 – I was lucky enough to have a friend procure me a book this year but normally I just go online.

As much as some people will hate to hear this – but planning is key! There are buildings all over Brisbane – some are easy to reach by public transport and some, well not so much. You really have to have an idea of what you want to see so you can plan accordingly – for example the guided tour I went on at the Treasury Hotel took around 30-45 minutes, so that is a big chunk out of the day gone.

So here is how I spent Brisbane Open Day 2016.

I got the bus into the city around 9.15am, I like to get in early or I tend not to go places at all. Plus it can be a lot less crowded first thing in the morning.


First thing I did when I got to the city is head to Miss Kay’s for a bacon & egg burger for breakfast – I needed the fuel! It was so good that I didn’t actually eat anything else until I got home after 1pm. It was delicious and did not last long.

After breakfast I headed to the Treasury Hotel – across the intersection from where Miss Kay’s is located on George Street.

Treasury Hotel, Brisbane

I’ve walked past this building so many times and I have always wanted to see inside. To be honest, I’ve always wanted to stay here! I learned that the hotel itself has around 90 rooms and there are more over at the opposite building of Treasury Casino (something I did not know).

Treasury Hotel, Brisbane Treasury Hotel, Brisbane

The building use to be the Land Administration Building and as kept a lot of its room names (Surveyor’s Room & The Map Room for example) and restored many or the original features. What I noticed the most about the inside of the Treasury Hotel is just how high the ceilings are. The other thing that was really surprising about the hotel was the courtyard in the middle of the building. It’s very similar to the actual Treasury Casino building, but they have covered the courtyard and it is now the main gaming floor – still worth a look though.

Treasury Hotel, Brisbane Treasury Hotel, Brisbane

The hotel was guided tour only but you could wander around the public areas on the ground floor taking photos of the amazing features such as the amazing stained glass windows in the William Street Entrance.

Commissariat Store, Brisbane

Once I had finished at the hotel I headed directly across the road to the Commissariat Store (I have serious trouble both spelling and pronouncing that word!).

The Commissariat Store is old. In fact, it is the 2nd oldest building in Brisbane. The lower floors were built by convicts in 1828-1829, which I know compared to some places around the world is not very old at all but in these here parts, that’s pretty darn old!

Commissariat Store, Brisbane

The building now houses a museum dedicated to the history of not only the building, but the immediate area and of Brisbane itself. There are 3 floors of displays and the ground floor has great models of what the buildings in the area use to look like.

Commissariat Store, Brisbane

The Commissariat Store’s purpose was to “procure, store and disburse provisions to the military, convicts and colonists”. It also housed convicts, of which there is still some evidence today.

After The Commissariat Store, I wandered down William Street towards Parliament House.

Brisbane Streets Brisbane Streets
Brisbane Streets

Some of the things I noticed as I walked down William Street – an old-time street sign, which I think is the only one in Brisbane; more of the traffic signal boxes, I really need to do a photo blog just about them – they are everywhere! And  the Neville Bonner building. I had always assumed, by looking at the building, that it was built around the 1960-1970’s era. I actually googled it when I got home and found out that it was actually building in 1999.. the things you learn – also, it’s not going to be around much longer. There is going to be a massive redevelopment in this area and this building is one of the sacrifices being made – so check it out while you can Brisbane peeps!

Parliamaent House, Brisbane

I finally made it down to Parliament House. Now I have been passed this building, I don’t even know how many times – it right next to the university I work for and when I was based at the city campus I went past Parliament House twice a day. I have worked at QUT for 13 years and I have never set foot inside this building.. it’s kind of tragic actually!

So today I rectified that and I am so glad that I did. I have the most photos of this place so here we go!

The Main Chambers
(FYI, the Premier is basically the boss of Queensland)

Parliamaent House, Brisbane Parliamaent House, Brisbane Parliamaent House, Brisbane

The, quite frankly, Bloody Amazing Library

Parliamaent House, Brisbane Parliamaent House, BrisbaneParliamaent House, Brisbane

The Hallways

I want to know what a ‘Government Whip’ is and if we can use them for whipping members of Parliament that are dickheads?!

Parliamaent House, BrisbaneParliamaent House, Brisbane

The Lights

The chandeliers in the this place were AMAZING!!!

Parliamaent House, Brisbane Parliamaent House, BrisbaneParliamaent House, Brisbane

Other Impressive Features

Parliamaent House, Brisbane Parliamaent House, Brisbane

The Outside

Parliamaent House, Brisbane Parliamaent House, BrisbaneParliamaent House, Brisbane

Once I finally left Parliament House, I headed back into the central city via George Street, and yes – there were more things for me to photograph…

Brisbane Streets Brisbane StreetsBrisbane Streets

The Mansions are another building I’ve been passed a lot and I’ve always loved them. As I was crossing the road at the intersection of George & Elizabeth Streets (yes very royal names), I notice Irish Murphy’s giant hole in the wall and I thought it worth a photo being taken.

My final stop for the day – I was filling in about 10 minutes before my bus, was the ever fabulous Brisbane City Hall.

Brisbane City Hall

It’s strange to think that a some years ago there was talk of tearing it down because, if I remember correctly, it’s foundations were sinking. After being closed for a number of years and a multi million dollar fix, the building was re-opened a couple of years ago and once again houses the Lord Mayor of Brisbane’s offices; the Museum of Brisbane and one of the most incredible auditoriums I’ve ever been in!

Brisbane City HallBrisbane City Hall Brisbane City Hall

To be honest, the only reason I actually went to City Hall is because of the dome. They don’t always have the auditorium open but on occasions like this, when they do, the dome is lit up – it really is an amazing spectacle.

So there you have it – I hope you enjoyed my 2016 Brisbane Open Day adventure.

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