Revitalisation Prospects Raised for Victoria Barracks in Petrie Terrace

Did you know that the historic Victoria Barracks in Petrie Terrace could be on the brink of a major transformation? The possibility of selling the site and opening it up for public use as part of the city’s sports and entertainment district has garnered significant attention. Tell us what you think about this here.

An audit of the Defence Department’s property holdings is currently underway, and this review encompasses the largely underutilised Victoria Barracks at Petrie Terrace, positioned between Caxton and Countess streets. The key idea behind this proposal is to bridge the gap between Roma Street train station and Suncorp Stadium, creating a seamless link for both locals and tourists.

The potential of this site lies in its landmark buildings and expansive open spaces, which could be repurposed to attract culture enthusiasts and tourists alike. Importantly, this redevelopment would complement the existing attractions in the vicinity, such as the Roma Street Parkland and the planned Brisbane Arena venue.

Victoria Barracks
Photo Credit: Architectus

The need for such a development became evident when Suncorp Stadium was redeveloped without a dedicated pedestrian link for train commuters heading to Roma Street station. One solution proposed was to channel pedestrians through Victoria Barracks, an option that was also considered during the planning of Roma Street Parkland. However, the Department of Defence had initially declined to release control of the site.

In recent years, however, the Department of Defence has been contemplating a different future for parts of the barracks. It is exploring the possibility of transforming the site into an arts centre with boutique accommodation, marking a significant departure from their military past.

Photo Credit: Cory Exelby/Google Maps

Adjacent to Victoria Barracks is The Barracks, a former police establishment converted into a thriving complex with restaurants, retail outlets, and cinemas, where the historic buildings have been thoughtfully preserved and enhanced. Its success story further underscores the potential of Victoria Barracks for a vibrant future. 

In 2022, a report showed that the Department of Defence was cautioned about the deteriorating condition of the buildings, even while they were being maintained. However, pending the outcome of the property audit, the department remains tight-lipped about the site’s future.

Meanwhile, as Deputy Premier Steven Miles endorses the proposal, Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner has suggested that the federal, state, and local governments collaborate on a long-term plan for Victoria Barracks. 

Schrinner believes that the site holds a pivotal role in connecting Suncorp Stadium and Roma Street, and its potential should be harnessed to its fullest, ahead of the 2032 Brisbane Olympics. Federal Labor MP Graham Perrett, a member of the Olympic organizing committee, shares the sentiment that Victoria Barracks is in need of rejuvenation. 

Published 6-Oct-2023

A Trip Down Memory Lane at the Petrie Terrace Heritage Trail

The Petrie Terrace Heritage Trail takes you through the historic portion of this inner-city suburb. Take a walk through the western part of the Brisbane CBD and discover the people and events that shaped the rich history of Paddington’s neighbouring suburb, Petrie Terrace.

A 2.7 kilometre trail with 18 points of interest, the Petrie Terrace Heritage Trail may take a two-hour walk to explore.

First Stops on Caxton Street

Start your journey on Lang Park, formerly the North Brisbane Burial Ground. The burial ground, also known as the Paddington Cemetery was in use from 1843 to 1875, during which time up to 10,000 people may have been buried.

By 1910 the cemetery fell into disrepair and it was proposed the grounds be turned into a recreation reserve. When the Paddington Cemetery Act was passed a year later, the government relocated the remains to another cemetery.

The creation of a parkland began in 1914. It was named Lang Park in honour of John Dunmore Lang’s contribution to the Brisbane area. Fast-forward to present day, the burial ground is now part of Suncorp Stadium.

Milton looking across the former Paddington Cemetery (Photo credit: Agriculture And Stock Department, Publicity Branch/ Wikimedia Commons)

Walk further to Caxton Street and visit the Ithaca Playground, now called the Neal Macrossan Playground. The Playground Association of Queensland established the playground in 1918 to provide recreational and educational facilities in disadvantaged areas.

Turn to Wellington Street and you will see Stombuco’s terrace houses, the fine examples of Brisbane’s 19th century terrace houses. The terraces were designed by Andrea Stombuco, who also designed some of Brisbane’s most beautiful buildings like the “Rhyndarra” in Yeronga and All Hallows Convent School in Fortitude Valley.

Crossing Musgrave Road

Before heading to Petrie Terrace, you will find the Normanby Hotel, one of the city’s landmarks. The heritage-listed hotel demonstrates an early Brisbane use of Queen Anne stylistic elements in commercial design.

Photo credit:

A four-minute walk from the hotel will take you to a ridge along Petrie Terrace that used to be an important place for many Aboriginal people. The Ipswich, Rosewood, and Wivenhoe tribes camped in the vicinity until the Europeans settled and developed the inner-city suburb.

Stroll Countess Street then turn left to Princess Street and you will find the Hardgrave Park. Named after Petrie Terrace resident and local politician John Hardgrave, the 1.08ha park is the earliest gazetted park reserve in Brisbane.

More on Petrie Terrace

Explore Petrie Terrace and you will soon end up at Princess Row where you will see some of the oldest surviving terrace houses in Brisbane. Head south and you will reach the “Shawn” Flats, characterized by Old English and Mediterranean sets of flats built in 1936 for widow Margaret Murphy.

Walk down Cricket Street and you will reach the Petrie Terrace gullies. In the 19th Century, parts of it experienced overcrowded conditions. It was believed that the base of the hill’s close proximity to the cemetery contributed to the locals’ unhealthy conditions.  The closure of the cemetery at the bottom of the hill and the establishment of a new cemetery in Toowong addressed the community’s concern.

Head west Toward Menzies Street and you will see an example of Petrie Terrace modest timber cottages. The cottages along the street were built on small proportions of land, a reflection of the crowded conditions on the hill in the lates 1800s.

Go northeast and you will reach Victoria Barracks. This has been an important military facility since the 1860s. A minute walk leads to the Brisbane Gaol that used to be the
site of Queensland’s second purpose-built prison before the establishment of the police barracks.

The southwest part will bring you to The Prince Alfred Hotel, named in the honour of Queen Victoria’s son, Alfred. It is currently owned by a private company and now known as The Lord Alfred Hotel.

Toward Weetman Street awaits the Oddfellows Wall built in 1891. It is now Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall, a popular Brisbane night spot. The next trail, located in the Street Side Bar reminds of the groups of “larrikin” or the teenage male delinquents who caused havoc in Petrie Terrace in the late 19th Century.

Turn right onto Sheriff Street then turn left onto Hale Street, where you will find the La Boite Theatre. It was Australia’s first purpose-built arena theatre. In 2001, La Boite moved to a venue in Kelvin Grove. The Petrie Terrace theatre has been sensitively converted into offices.

Explore Sexton Street and you will reach the second to the last stop, the Jackson & Co’s Granary. In 1947, a terrible tragedy took place on this site. The use of carbon disulphide in an enclosed building caused a massive explosion and killed four people.

About 500 metres from the Jackson & Co’s Granary takes you to the last point of interest of the Petrie Terrace Heritage Trail. The Police Barracks back in the 1930s is now more popular to the locals as The Barracks, a landmark retail and commercial precinct.

Whilst some of the points of interests are private properties, walking through this trail lets you discover the rich history of Petrie Terrace.

Discover the Rich History of The Barracks in Paddington

The Barracks in Paddington is important in the suburb as it serves as a landmark commercial precinct today. However, did you know the interesting history of the precinct?

From being amongst the earliest Brisbane gaol to becoming a popular underground night club in the 1990s, The Barracks certainly has quite a few stories to tell.


The Barracks was formerly known as the Petrie Terrace Police Depot. It is significant in the history of the suburb as it was occupied by the second purpose-built Brisbane Gaol from November 1860 until July 1883. The overcrowded Petrie Terrace Gaol was closed in 1883 upon the completion of a new gaol at Boggo Road, South Brisbane.

The Barracks in Paddington
Aerial view of Petrie Terrace Gaol, Brisbane, 1862. The gaol was erected in 1860 to the design of the colonial architect Charles Tiffin. It was converted into a police barracks in 1883. Photo credit: John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland/Wikimedia Commons

In 1885, the gaol reserve was divided between the newly established permanent Queensland Defence Force and the Queensland Police Force. The QDF occupied the 1864 military reserve and the northern end of the gaol reserve, the whole of which was renamed Victoria Barracks by mid-1885.

The Barracks in Paddington
Photo credit: John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland/Wikimedia Commons

The Queensland Police Force occupied the remainder of the gaol reserve as a police depot and training centre. The police occupied the former gaol reserve for a century until the mid-1980s. However, the site was officially gazetted as a reserve for police purposes in 1901.

Petrie Terrace Police Depot

The former gaol was officially recognized as Petrie Terrace Police Depot from 1850-1960. Additions to the building included the construction of stables in 1912 and a police garage and workshop in 1936.

The Barracks in Paddington
View of the brick barracks at the police depot on Petrie Terrace in Brisbane, 1951 Photo credit: John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland/Wikimedia Commons

In 1938, work commenced on the construction of a new three-storeyed, brick and concrete police barracks at the Petrie Terrace Police Depot, on land formerly utilised as a parade and drill ground.

The new barracks, designed by Raymond Clare Nowland, was considered as one of the best investments that the Government had made at the time.

During WWII  a brick building to house the Police Wireless Transmission Station VKR was erected in the southwest corner of the police reserve. Military police attached to the Australian Army, Royal Australian Navy, Royal Australian Air Force, United States Army, United States Shore Patrol, and the Royal Navy utilised the police wireless transmission station at Petrie Terrace.

Change in Use of the Police Depot

Use of the Petrie Terrace Police Depot as a training facility ceased in 1973, but the Depot continued to serve other police purposes until the mid-1980s.

In 1987 the State Government sold the former police reserve and buildings to private enterprise.

The Barracks in Paddington
Photo credit: Heritage Branch Staff

The Former Police Stables functioned as a nightclub through the 1990s, while the Former Police Wireless Transmission Station was converted into a restaurant.

The former Petrie Terrace Police Depot was listed on the Queensland Heritage Register on 23 July 1999.

Former Petrie Terrace Police Depot Transformation

After suffering from high levels of vandalism, the former Police Depot was developed to what is now known as The Barracks in 2007.

The Barracks in Paddington
Photo credit: Heritage Branch Staff

The $120 million mixed-use development was completed in 2008 and is now a popular landmark retail and commercial precinct in Paddington.

The three heritage listed buildings from the Police era remaining on the site are the stables (1912), the three storey brick barracks (1939) and the radio communications centre (1941).

The Barracks in Paddington
Photo credit: The Barracks/Facebook

In 2009, The Barracks won two prestigious UDIA Awards for Urban Renewal and best large Retail/Commercial development.

Learn more about The Barracks in Paddington by visitng their official website.