Grand designs: The quintessential Queenslander
Back in the UK, I knew of a few things Queensland was famous for; the Great Barrier Reef, Bowen mangoes, seafood on Christmas Day, and of course, the rocket-fuel that is Bundaberg Rum.
Since touching down here nearly five years ago, I’ve discovered some other gems that deserve a little more recognition than they actually get – outback pubs for their unique hospitality, the State of Origin for its intense rivalry, and surf clubs for their mix of real surfers, wannabe surfers, top-notch views and scrumptious food.
But there’s one thing I’ve really fallen in love with and look at with doe eyes every time I pass one by, and that’s the classic Queenslander house. Their expansive verandas, intricate woodwork and high ceilings conjure an image of relaxing outdoors on hot summer’s night with a beer in hand.
Dating back to the 1840s, the style is not unique to Queensland, but it’s here that it’s been perfected. Perched high on timber stilts, the wooden design is perfect for hot, humid summers. Take a drive around Brisbane’s suburbs like Paddington, Bardon, Ashgrove and Albion, and you’ll find some architectural beauties.
How to spot a Queenslander:
- Built from timber with corrugated-iron roof that was cheap to buy, post-war.
- Built on wooden stumps.
- Expansive verandas front and back, or even around the entire building.
- Fretwork (decorative wooden features) to screens and doorways.
- A picket fence – isn’t it everyone’s dream?
Where to spot them:
Alfred & Constance, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane
Alfred & Constance is an amalgamation of two beautiful heritage-listed Queenslanders in the heart of Fortitude Valley. Also one of the hippest and funkiest bars in Brisbane with wacky and wonderful decor.
This town isn’t just the birthplace of P.L. Travers, the author of Mary Poppins, it’s also home to a huge number of traditional Queenslander houses. Drive through the town and you’ll find many beautiful examples with one of the finest, Eco-Queenslander, now converted into a 4-star holiday home and B&B.
Spicers Balfour, New Farm, Brisbane
Hidden from the sounds of the city but with views to the Story Bridge, Spicers Balfour Hotel is a recently renovated Queenslander offering modern luxury inside its classical façade.
Regatta Hotel, Toowong, Brisbane
Although today it’s not a classical Queenslander, this famous Brisbane landmark started life as a single-story wooden building back in 1887. The original trademark, cast-iron railings and verandas that gave it so much personality then, remain today.
The Collingwood, Paddington, Brisbane
Squeezed into one of Brisbane’s classiest suburbs is a B&B with a difference. Smartly and classically renovated on the outside, inside The Collingwood (eds note: business now closed) it’s all mod cons with a boutique twist. Perfect for a couple’s escape.
Of course, you could just drive around the suburbs and ogle all the residential houses, too. Maybe I’ll bump into you along the way!