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Skip Navigation LinksDepartment of Housing and Public Works > About us > Our history > 1868


Queensland’s first Parliament met in an old convict barracks in Queen Street, Brisbane. This was not considered suitable accommodation for Parliament and so in 1864 an Australia-wide competition was held for the design of the new House. Charles Tiffin, Queensland’s Colonial Architect, won first prize for his French Renaissance style design.
Although Tiffin hoped the building would be ready in just three years, numerous delays meant the project took much longer to complete and proved costly. In fact, when Parliament met for the first time the ground floor was still occupied by workmen, the staircase had only a temporary railing and the plaster was wet.    
Despite criticism centred around Tiffin’s apparent lack of cost management skills, the government’s first architect went on to oversee the construction of over 300 buildings in Queensland including Customs House in Brisbane and the Sandy Cape Lighthouse on Fraser Island. Sandy Cape Lighthouse was completed in 1870. In most cases the lighthouses were constructed of a hardwood frame on a concrete base sheeted with galvanised iron. Most were designed in the Office of the Colonial Architect and built under the supervision of that office to specifications provided by the Department of Harbours and Rivers.
Today, Parliament House continues to be used for its original purpose and is one of Brisbane’s best known landmarks. The public can do tours of the house and school excursions on sitting days allow students to see first-hand how the Parliamentary process works.

Last updated 11 June 2014    Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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