The Vibrant Valley Heritage Trail takes you on a journey through history that highlights important historical sites and events that have shaped Fortitude Valley over time.
The Valley has long been associated with Brisbane’s darker side, but there is more to the story. The trail reveals:
- the Valley’s rise as a commercial and retail centre in the late nineteenth century
- important contributions by the Chinese community
- emergence of the Valley as the centre for Brisbane’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community
- the famous Fitzgerald Inquiry era
The Post Office was built in 1887 when the Valley was prospering.
The ground floor of this grand building provided postal and telegraph services and the upper floor was where the postmaster and his family lived. Originally, there was a small service wing at the rear of the building where the kitchen, dining room and servants’ room were, but this has since been demolished.
In 1907, respected Chinese businessman and Queensland’s first naturalized Chinese settler, James Dung Yow, started
translating mail addresses sent in Chinese into English for the post office. This important service ensured that the many Chinese merchants, business owners and their families in the Valley received mail from their homeland.
With the onset of the Great Depression in 1929, the Fortitude Valley Post Office was responsible for the distribution of welfare payments to 1205 recipients weekly. At the time, this was one of Australia’s busiest welfare distribution centres.
In the 1990s, the Fortitude Valley Post Office was converted into a nightclub,’The GPO’, and remains one of Brisbane’s most popular night spots.
You can download:
- Explore the Vibrant Valley brochure (PDF – 3.2Mb)
- Explore the Vibrant Valley brochure (Word – 324kb)
Centenary Place was created in 1925 to commemorate Queensland’s centenary of European settlement. Within the park
there are two statues.The statue closest to Ann Street was created by renowned sculptor, Sir Bertram Mackennal and depicts Thomas Joseph Byrnes, the first Queensland Premier to be born in the State.
This statue was initially erected in 1902 on the corner of Boundary and Wickham Streets, but was moved to its present location when the park was created.
It is one of the earliest statues erected in Brisbane.
The second statue depicts famous Scottish poet, Robert Burns.
This statue was commissioned by the Brisbane Caledonian Society and Burns Club in 1929. Statues of Burns are traditionally positioned with their backs to the church and if the proposed Holy Name Cathedral had been constructed, this would have been the case.
In the 1960s and into the 1970s, Centenary Place became Brisbane’s ‘Speaker’s Corner’, with orators from all political and social sectors, including Aboriginal rights activists, conveying their messages to hundreds of listeners on Sunday afternoons. Today, Brisbane’s ‘Speaker’s Corner’ can be found in the city’s King George Square.
Places are on the Heritage Trail Map
|1.||Fortitude Valley Post Office||740 Ann St, Fortitude Valley||The Fortitude Valley Post Office was built in 1887 when the Valley was prospering. The ground floor provided postal and telegraph services and the upper floor was where the postmaster and his family lived.|
|2.||Shannon’s Building and Winn Street Warehouse, Tyrell’s Building||717 & 697 Ann St, Fortitude Valley||This two-storey set of brick shops was built in 1924 when the Valley was a bustling hub of commercial activity. Behind the Shannon’s Building is the Winn Street warehouse that was constructed at the same time.|
|3.||The Beat||677 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley||In the 1980s this building was converted into a nightclub called the ‘Cockatoo Club’. The name was changed shortly after to ‘The Beat’ and became one of Brisbane’s favourite gay clubs.|
|4 & 5||Bragg’s Bakery and Apothecaries Hall||694 & 690 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley||Both these buildings were built in the 1880s and replaced earlier buildings. They reflect the commercial growth in the Valley during the economic boom.|
|6.||The Empire Hotel||339 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley||This ornately decorated hotel was built in 1888 and designed by renowned colonial architect, Richard Gailey.|
|7.||Chinatown Mall and TC Beirne Department Store||28 Duncan Street, Fortitude Valley||Brisbane’s Chinatown was officially opened in 1987. The large, decorative building on the north side of the mall was the TC Beirne Department Store that was built in 1902 and had its frontage to Brunswick Street.|
|8.||All Hallows’ Convent and School||547 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley||This girls’ school was originally founded on this site in 1863 by the Sisters of Mercy, under the direction of Queensland’s first Catholic bishop, James Quinn.|
|9.||Holy Name Cathedral site||586 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley||The ornate wall is the only remnant left of the ill-fated Holy Name Cathedral that was intended to be the largest Catholic cathedral in the southern hemisphere. Work began in 1928 but was never finished due to the Great Depression.|
|10.||Centenary Place||85 Wickham Street, Fortitude Valley||Centenary Place was created in 1925 to commemorate Queensland’s centenary of European settlement.|
|11.||Interwar commercial precinct||126-144 Wickham Street, Fortitude Valley||This row of shops was constructed in the 1920s after the roads around Centenary Place were reconfigured.|
|12.||Swift’s Building||201 Wickham Street, Fortitude Valley||Built in 1905, this building holds a prominent position on the intersection once known as the ‘Valley Corner’.|
|13.||The Prince Consort Hotel||230 Wickham Street, Fortitude Valley||When first opened in 1888, the hotel offered 28 bedrooms, 3 parlours, billiard room, dining room and a very large bar.|
|14.||Foresters’ Hall||211 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley||Foresters and other Friendly societies were formed in Australia in the 19th century as support societies for their mainly working-class members. This hall was built in 1889.|
|15.||Valley Fiveways Building||187 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley||This 1928 brick building became associated with a notorious episode in Queensland’s recent history – the Fitzgerald Inquiry.|
|16.||Site of the ‘Whiskey Au Go Go’ bombing||356 St Pauls Tce, Fortitude Valley||This was the site of one of Australia’s worst mass murders after the club was set alight on the night of the 8 March 1973. Fifteen people were killed.|
|17.||The Maternal and Child Welfare Clinic||112 Alfred St, Fortitude Valley||Also known as the Fortitude Valley Baby Clinic and Nurse Training Centre, it was built in 1923-24.|
|18.||McWhirter’s Department Store||247 Wickham St, Fortitude Valley||This striking Art Deco landmark was originally the famous McWhirter’s Department Store that was first established 1898.|
|19.||Overell’s Department Store||250 Wickham St, Fortitude Valley||By 1910 the Overell Department Store, with frontage to Brunswick Street, boasted 20 departments. This same year Overell built a second store with Wickham Street frontage. The Wickham Street store was devoted to men’s clothing, while the Brunswick Street store sold women’s apparel and accessories.|
|20.||Valley Presbyterian Church and School||25 Warner St, Fortitude Valley||The church was designed by Richard Gailey and constructed in 1885. Beside the church is the 1906 Sunday School, where the congregation’s children were given religious education.|