Kangaroo Point Houses

Bungalow 1922 and 2021

The bungalow in Quinton Street has a U-shaped verandah and a short ridge roof with gable over the verandah entrance.

Bungalow Quinton Street, 1922. (Brisbane City Council Archives)
Floor plan of bungalow in Quinton Street. (Brisbane City Council Archives)
The bungalow in 2021. (supplied: Juliet Puff)


On the site where St Vincent’ Hospital (formerly Mount Olivet Hospice) is now, there used to be two beautiful historic homes. There was ‘Old St Mary’s, the home of Dr. Lilian Cooper and Mary Josephine Bedford (see details below.)  Next to it was “Hilderstone” set in picturesque gardens sloping down to the river.

The imposing residence Hilderstone in 1930. (State Library of Queensland)

“Hilderstone” was built in 1866 by the renowned Brisbane architect and politician, James Cowlishaw for Mr. Ernest Goertz and his wife. Mr. Goertz was a wine and spirit merchant in Eagle Street. The single-storey building soon became too small for the large family of seven sons and two daughters, so an upper storey was added in 1887. The new elegant home had large rooms, high ceilings, cedar fittings and seven marble mantlepieces and was then named “Hilderstone” after Hilderstone Hall in England. Mr. Goertz was originally from Windsor, England and Mrs. Goertz was Australian-born.

Obituary for Ernest Goertz. (The Week, Brisbane, 14 April 1899)

After the death of Mr. Goertz on 4 April 1899 at the age of 68 Mrs. Goertz and her daughter moved to a smaller home in Dornoch Terrace, South Brisbane. She rented the house out furnished and it became the home of many distinguished personalities.

Notice advising of Hilderstone as private boarding house. (Brisbane Courier, 22 October, 1930.)

 She eventually sold it to a Mr. Bull, keeping only some sentimental furniture pieces and oil paintings. The new owner had the grounds subdivided and let the house to Mrs. Finnimore, who ran it as a very successful boarding house. Mrs. Goertz died on 1 August 1933 at the age of 97.


The beautiful cliff-top home called Old St Mary’s on Main Street with expansive gardens , large trees and magnificent views overlooking the Brisbane River was the home of Dr Lilian Cooper and her lifelong partner Miss Mary Josephine Bedford. It would eventually become the site for Mt Olivet Hospital (now St Vincent’s) a hospital for the incurably ill and dying..

Old St Mary’s. (State Library of Queensland)

The original land of 1 acre and 17 perches was first granted to William Wilson in 1851 who built a small cottage on it. The next owner was the Rev J R Moffatt, the first rector of St Mary’s Anglican Church (1860-1870) which was then a small timber building in John Street (now Rotherham Street) before the stone church was built in 1873.  After his appointment to St Mary’s he commissioned architect Benjamin Backhouse to design a ‘wood cottage with stone foundations’. Tenders were called on 12 June 1862 and the house was built shortly after. Moffatt named the house ‘St Mary’s’ and lived there until he sold it in 1865. It was separated from the Church property only by a cutting (today Amesbury Street).

Houses in Kangaroo Point with St Mary’s and Old St Mary’s indicated. (State Library of Queensland)

Although owned and tenanted by different people, the house remained basically the same until 1887 when it was bought by pastoralist John Collins as his town house. He extended the small home and turned it into a large and rambling residence, but he himself never lived there permanently.  There were four main rooms with high ceilings and a verandah running three parts of the way round. A staircase leading up from the left of the hall led up to some attic rooms with dormer windows. The hall ran right through from the front verandah entrance to the back. The kitchen was a separate building, attached to the house on the left-hand side by a covered gangway. This was later removed by another owner.

In 1913 Collins’ granddaughter Bertha became the owner after her marriage to Captain Douglas Harris. When they went overseas during WWI the house was let to various tenants including the Layton family. Mrs Layton designed and established  a a fine garden. After the war the now Colonel and Mrs Harris returned to the home and their two daughters were born there. A single-storey extension wing was added for another kitchen and two rooms, used as nurseries, with arched brick fireplaces opening on to the verandah with views overlooking the river. The next occupants were Judge and Mrs Shand , then Mr & Mrs Ernest Bell, MLA, pastoralist and their families.

Portrait of Dr Lillian Cooper. (State Library of Queensland)

In 1926 Old St Mary’s was bought by Dr Lilian Cooper for a semi-retirement home for her and her partner Mary Josephine Bedford.

Mary Josephine Bedford. (State Library of Queensland(

They renovated the inside of the house and turned the Harris-era nurseries into doctor’s consulting rooms for Lillian and a study for Josephine with a library well-stocked with religious books. The older part of the house was plastered and wall-papered and decorated with souvenirs of their travels, ornate antique carved furniture, marble mantlepieces, rare china and paintings and tapestries. The house and garden were their happy and treasured retreat. They also hosted many enjoyable and popular functions for various community organisations in their beautiful garden with stunning river views.

Lilian retired in 1941 and died in her home on 18 August 1947. She bequeathed the house to her partner, who later offered it to the Sisters of Charity for construction of a hospice for the old and dying, especially the poor. That hospice became Mt Olivet Hospital (now St Vincent’s Hospital).

The story of Mt Olivet and St Vincents coming up.

AltaVela, 1902 – a residence at 19 Ellis Street, Kangaroo Point

This small timber cottage at 19 Ellis Street had  verandahs on two sides onto which large shuttered windows opened. A lady with three dogs sits on the verandah beside her collection of plants arranged on a prominent tiered stand. (State Library of Queensland neg. 188327).


The two-storey brick and timber Tudor Revival Style building at number 2 at the end of Scott Street consists of two identical flats, one per floor. It was built around 1925 in the post WW1 period when flats first started appearing in Brisbane suburbs.
It was designed by Elina Mottram, the first woman to open her own architectural practice in Brisbane and Queensland’s longest practising female architect.

The ground level flat is built of red face bricks with arched brick openings. The upper level is of timber with featured lattice work. The four bay windows on the western side overlook C.T. White Park and the river. Entry to the upper flat is via external timber stairs.

The flats were built for Professor Frank and Mrs. Zina Cumbrae-Stewart, prominent Brisbane citizens of 1910 – 1930s. Frank (Francis) Cumbrae-Stewart was a barrister, King’s Counsel and foundation registrar and librarian of the new University of Queensland in 1910. He was also the founder and president of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland in 1925, as well as founder and trustee of the John Oxley library. He wrote many historical papers and in 1926 was appointed Garrick Professor of Law at the University of Queensland.

Frank and Zina Cumbrae-Stewart about the time of their retirement. (State Library of Queensland)

Zina-Cumbrae-Stewart was a strong Anglican, actively involved in many community organisations such as the Mother’s Union, the Red Cross and Mothercraft. She was President of the National Council of Women of Queensland for nine years. In 1931 she co-founded the Queensland Social Services League to help overcome problems of the Depression. She was the first woman to speak from the platform of the Brisbane City Hall and had early involvement in educational broadcasting.

The couple moved to Kangaroo Point from Taringa about 1914-15 and lived in a large house at 238 Main St, cr Main and Scott Streets. The flats were built in 1925 and first occupied in 1926. The couple lived in the Main Street House until 1930 and then moved to the flats, which became known as Scott House. After his retirement in 1936 they moved to Melbourne. Frank Cumbrae-Stewart died in 1938 and Zina died in 1956. The flats passed to her son who sold the property to GDW Investments for #3.3 million for high-rise development.

The flats were entered on the Qld Heritage Register on 29 April 2003 representing one of only two remaining intact examples of Elina Mottram’s work.

Scott Street streetscape in February 2019 after completion of the Walan building. A blend of the old with the new. (photo: C. Gerard)
Looking up at the back of the flats from the slope of C.T.White Park below. The bay windows overlook the park and the river. (photo: C. Gerard)
The flats with the original garage which was removed for the development. (photo: C.Gerard)

After minor changes and removal of the garage (not heritage-listed) the flats have been incorporated into the new development, Walan, and can once again be clearly seen and appreciated.


This elegant two-storey brick building at 59 Shafston Avenue is a great example of the type of house that well-to-do businessmen of the late nineteenth century used to call ‘home’. It is now listed on both the National and State Heritage Register so that its unique character and features can be admired by present and future generations.

The cast iron work on the verandahs, the beautiful stained glass windows, three chimneys and the imposing lookout/observation deck all contribute to the unique character of this charming building.

Leckhampton has an interesting history. It was designed by noted Brisbane architect Alexander Brown Wilson and built in 1889-1890 as a residence for Charles S. Snow, a successful city jeweller, organist at the nearby St Mary’s, and founder of the Boy Scouts in Queensland.
From Snow’s death in 1913 to 1924 the house remained in the Snow family. In 1924 it was sold and later converted into flats.

In 1984 the interior underwent another major refit to office accommodation. At that time another building of similar style was built next door, on the left-hand side of the driveway, but this copy is not part of the heritage listing.

Alpha cottage, February 2019

This small tin and timber colonial cottage on concrete stumps at 127 Lambert Street shares a similar history to Thornclyffe, further down the street at number 162. Both are on land bought in 1852 by Queensland explorer, squatter and writer of Queensland history, Henry Stuart Russell. The cottage was built ca. 1882 in the early stages of the housing boom most probably as a rental property for lower to middle class tenants as it was in an ideal location close to the commercial centre of Kangaroo Point, the river and the city.

Side view of Alpha Cottage in 2010.

It is believed that the first known occupant, Cecil Fison, named the cottage Alpha Cottage. He was the first of many lower middle class tenants. At the time he worked for the ‘Marine Board’ as examiner in ‘seamanship and navigation’ and ‘inspector of oyster fisheries’. Other tenants included Herbert Crossely (1893), Skin and Hide Merchant in Charlotte Street, and F. Cullen (1897-99) who had a grocery store in Main Street between Darragh and Ferry Streets. The land was divided into two portions with Alpha Cottage remaining on 20 perches.


Alpha Cottage as shown on the BCC Heritage Register.

Alpha Cottage was entered on the Brisbane Heritage Register on 30 June 1997 as a significant example of the diverse residential development in Kangaroo Point during the late nineteenth century. The register describes the cottage as having ‘a transverse gable roof clad in corrugated iron and front and rear enclosed verandahs with separate convex roofs. The building is clad in wide chamfer boards with louvred windows and narrower chamfer boards enclosing the front verandahs. A short flight of stairs access a central door in the front verandah. Windows to the sides of the cottage have hoods. Bargeboards to the main roof edges are scalloped. An attic opening sits within the gable wall visible from the street’.

Alpha Cottage on the bend of Lambert Street tucked in between highrise developments.

While high-rise buildings now surround Alpha Cottage it is an important physical reminder of the early days Kangaroo Point.

Heritage-listed Thornclyffe hidden behind a tall wall

Hidden behind the fence at 162 Lambert Street, on the corner of Lambert and Castlebar Street (previously King Street) is Thornclyffe, a colonial house built at the height of the housing boom when residential development expanded in Kangaroo Point. The house and land is associated with many famous owners and tenants.

The land was originally part of a number of allotments covering 44 acres sold by the Honourable Louis Hope, M.L.C. from 1862-1882, owner of Shafston House (1851), and a major figure in establishing the colony’s sugar industry.

Henry Stuart Russell (SLQ).

In December 1952 the property was bought by Henry Stuart Russell, explorer, squatter, writer and author of The Genesis of Queensland. He completed the house, then known as Ravenscott and re-named it Shafston, after his wife’s birthplace in Jamaica.

In 1875-77 Thomas Faulkner purchased various parcels of land offered by Hope and sold it to Barbara Murphy, “widow” in 1881. The allotments were included in a new title deed for the land (just over an acre and one rood) which extended from the corner of Lambert and King Street (now Castlebar St) to the Brisbane River.

Article on Henry Stuart Russell in The Sunday Mail, 21 July 1929.

‘Thornclyffe’ was built for Mrs. Murphy ca.1884-86 who secured several mortgages from Sir Thomas McIlwraith, totalling £ 1600 over three years. In 1886 she married Henry William Llewellyn who later joined the Colonial Secretary’s Department as a draftsman and clerk. They lived there until the early 1890s, but owned it until December 1907, keeping it as a rental property. One of their later tenants was the Hon. David Dalrymple, M.L.A., a minister from 1895-1903.

After the Llewellyns sold the property in 1907 it underwent several subdivisions in 1907, 1913, 1917. It was named “Neerradah” (also spelt “Neerreadah”) by the Dalby family who owned it from 1913 to 1951. After a further subdivision in 1953 only one rood and sixteen perches remained with the property. Over the years various alterations and additions included a garage (1961) and swimming pool, tennis court. (1980s).

Aerial view showing location of Thornclyffe- when it was built the land used to go right down to the river.

The property was entered on the Brisbane Heritage Register on 5 July 2013 “As a fine residence built in Kangaroo Point at the height of the 1880s building boom which demonstrates the desirability of the area for upper middle class residents in the late nineteenth century. It is important in demonstrating the evolution or pattern of the City’s or local area’s history.” (Source: Trove/BCC Heritage Register).

Thornclyffe in 2010 (image courtesy Remax)

The restored and renovated residence with 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and 3 car accommodation on 1434m2 was sold in July 2010 for $2,300.000

Floorplan of the renovated house at time of sale in 2010. (photo courtesy Remax).

In 2017 a development application was lodged with Brisbane City Council to move the house and build a 15-storey tower next to it. It met with strong local opposition by residents who were concerned about height and heritage impact of the development.


A revised development application has been submitted (March 2019) for a nine-storey apartment tower development (down from the original 15-storey application) which will wrap around the heritage-listed Thornclyffe.



This timber cottage with corrugated iron roof at 37 Cairns Street was constructed for ferry proprietor John Gibbins between 1876 and 1878. It was one of the first houses to be built in Cairns Street and is one of five nineteenth century houses that survive in the street, providing a unique link to the past. After Gibbins’ death in 1885, his estate was placed in trust and later divided among members of his family. The house has since had a number of different owners and has been known as ‘Dunholme’, ‘Chesthunt’ and ‘Woniara’. It was listed on the Local Heritage Register (BCC) on 30 October 2000 as an important example of middle class residential development in Kangaroo Point in the 1870s.

Historic elegance on the corner of Cairns Street and Lambert Street with modern high-rise construction in Lambert Street on the left and the Point Hotel on the right.

Capsellig at 634 Main Street, Kangaroo Point (Brisbane City Council Local Heritage Register)

The history of this house at 634 Main Street on the corner of Main Street and Bell Street, starts in 1855 when David Bell bought the land consisting of 4 acres, 3 roods and 24 perches from the NSW government. Twenty years later, in 1875 he sold it to land speculator, Harry Clifford Love who formed a partnership with his brother Joseph Herbert Love. Unfortunately they ended up insolvent and the land was not sub-divided until 1902 when it was marketed as the Denver Estate. That’s why houses in Bell Street were not built until the mid 1900s, while those in nearby streets were of the colonial style of the 1880s.

Poster of the Denver Estate sale of 28 June 1902 showing lots 33-36 which were bought by John H. Gillespie between 1911 and 1915. (SLQ)

Between 1911 and 1915 John Herbert Gillespie, a builder, bought 7 blocks on the Denver Estate, including the four adjoining blocks, lots 33-36 facing Main Street. He cut off some land at the back of blocks to create another block fronting Bell Street. He lived in Bell Street from 1913 and between 1914 and 1922 a large middle-class residence was built on the 34.3 perches remaining of lots 33-35, in the prominent corner location, most likely by Gillespie. He amalgamated the blocks in 1931. He lived in this house from 1930 until his death in 1954. The property was transferred to his wife in 1958 and was sold after her death in 1961.

In line with changing housing trends in Kangaroo Point in the early 1960s, the property was converted to a doctor’s surgery and professional rooms in 1963. It was listed on the Brisbane City Council Local Heritage Register on 1 January 2005 as ‘a fine example of a Federation Queen Anne style residence with attractive, quality interior and exterior finishings’ and as a ‘timber and tile house that is representative of the 1910s housing in the later stage of Kangaroo Point’s residential development.’ (BCC Heritage Register)

The house is described as ‘asymmetrical with varied roof shapes, terracotta tiles and ornaments. Designed to suit its corner block, the front verandah entrance facing the corner of Bell and Main Streets has a timber gable screen. The associated verandahs have been glassed in. The original front door is interwar style, being high-waisted with a stained-glass port hole. The entrance has a decorative, semi-circular timber surround with stained-glass fanlight and quarter panels. A stained-glass porthole window is also featured on the verandah.

The interior has stained glass French doors with fanlights, pressed metal ceilings and a decorative archway from the hall. The metal fireplace with timber surround and mantelpiece has been restored. ‘ (Local Heritage Register citation) (Source: SLQ/BCC Local Heritage Register Citation/Trove)

Riverfront residences along Pixley Street ca. 1929
Riverfront residences along Pixley Street, Kangaroo Point ca. 1929. (State Library of Queensland, neg. 17023)

These Riverfront residences along Pixley Street are seen from the opposite side of the river. The ferry is heading toward Thornton Street ferry stop which can be seen to the extreme left of the photograph. On the right of the photograph, the large white house with its own boatshed and moorings was the home of John McGinnis Williams. The schooner moored at the right of the photograph was the Francois, built in Brisbane by Norman Wright in 1926. Mr Williams’ extensive rose gardens could be admired from the river. (description with photo)

Cairns Street and Evans Deakin Shipyard in 1963. (State Library of Queensland)

All that’s left today on this classic picture of Cairns Street and the Evans Deakin shipyards in 1963 is the disused dry dock, five houses in Cairns Street and the electrical substation at the river end of the street.

The most significant are three identical workers cottages and a larger house [see arrows on photo] next to them on the corner of Lambert Street built in the late 19th century.

The land on which all four houses stand was part of the Shafston Estate. In January 1876 John Mullen, a labourer, bought a large block consisting of one rood [40 perches or 1,012 m2] on Cairns Street with side frontage to Lambert Street. He built a two-storey house on the corner block and two years later moved in with his wife and five children. Main features of the house are a transverse-gable roof, brick chimney and verandahs on three sides to catch river breezes. There is a separate gable roof kitchen wing extension at the back of the house. Exterior walls are clad in chamfer board and French doors lead on to the verandahs. A picket fence encloses the property on both street frontages.

View of 35 Cairns Street on the right with ‘Dunholme’ on the opposite corner. (Brisbane Local Heritage Register)

The house is very similar to ‘Dunholme’, on the opposite corner which was built for John Gibbins about the same time. [see separate entry above ]

In 1878 the family moved to Bowen Bridge as John Mullen had obtained the lease of the Bowen Bridge Hotel. They rented the family house out, but returned three years later when the hotel licence was not renewed. Next John took up a licence as quarryman at the Merton Road Quarry in Woolloongabba.

The 1880s marked the beginning of a population and building boom in Brisbane. Demand for housing increased sharply, especially on the south side. The population in Kangaroo Point had increased from 1,903 in 1881 to 3,204 in 1886 and rental properties for workers in the local area and the city were highly sought after.

John Mullen decided to take advantage of this boom and build three small cottages on his large property. However, he could not subdivide the block as the minimum land size for housing blocks at the time was 16 perches and his block was only 40 perches. He got around this problem by keeping all four on a single deed! The cottages were especially popular with wharf and ship workers at the nearby Moar’s shipyards which opened at the river end of Cairns Street.

After Mullen’s death in 1898 the property passed to his unmarried daughter Margaret who rented out all four cottages and kept ownership until 1945. The area continued to be popular for tenants especially after the opening of the Story Bridge in 1940 and the re-opening of the Cairns Street shipyard in the 1940s. The family house was rented to working class tenants and wharf workers. The cottages had a series of owners until they were bought by Clive Chatwood in 1979.

Christmas ca. 1981 at the cottages. (photo supplied)

The three cottages at number 29, 31 and 33 Cairns Street are generally known as the’ Cairns Street Cottages’ and were built as rental cottages during the housing boom of the 1880s. They were on one title deed, but had several owners and were mostly rented to shipyard workers. Over time they became neglected and run down and were finally offered for sale in 1979.

The three-bedroom cottages were given a new lease of life when they were bought by Clive Chatwood, an electrician and carpenter who was working at the Evans Deakin shipyards across the road.

Clive Chatwood in the 1980s. (photo supplied)

He fell in love with the unique cottages and decided to restore them. The restoration took him over a year and he did all the work himself. Concrete stumps, new roof sheeting and new wall studs replaced the old rotten and rusty areas.

After the major internal and external makeover the cottages were once again homes for families and remain a unique reminder of the colonial days of Kangaroo Point.

The beautifully restored cottages in October 2010. (supplied: John Gerard)

Allison H: I was related to the family who had owned those 3 cottages and the house! We were interested in buying them when they were sold in 1979, but as a young couple we could not raise the $39,000 (or whatever it was) and keep them in the family ? It is nice to see them restored, but I always think of the lost opportunity!!
Daniel K: Fantastic story. There is hope for some old homes yet.
Amanda M: They are such an eye-catching set of houses when coming off the bridge, nicely done

Old Houses in Kangaroo Point 1971
Old Homes at Kangaroo Point, 1971. (National Archives of Australia)

58 Sinclair Street – Then and Now

The house at 58 Sinclair Street is a great example of how the original tin and timber houses built ca. 1920 have survived over a hundred years and can be beautifully restored and maintained. The black and white photo was taken by Frank Corley ca. 1970.

58 Sinclair Street – then and now (State Library of Queensland, realestate.com)

The second photo was taken in June 2020 for a real estate rental advertisement. After being sold for $56,000 in 1987 it was restored and updated with all modern features including air conditioning and solar panels. The 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom home with 3 car spaces is on a 403m2  block and is located close to Raymond Park. It was sold again in 2011 for $700,000 and has been rented since then; it is now valued at about $1.4 million.

Back garden (Domain real estate)
Back patio (Domain real estate)
Housing Commission Flats 1965
Housing Commission flats Kangaroo Point, 1965. (Queensland State Archives)

These flats are located on the corner of River Terrace and Paton Street.

Comment by Jeff W., 12 January 2021

I thought I recalled the flats from the 1970s. They are along River Terrace at the corner with Paton Street. I used to walk past there regularly and always thought they looked like a nice block of flats to live in what with the view. However, at the time I was unaware that they were housing commission. As I walked along I was always enamoured with the magnificence of the Poinciana Tree particularly when it was in bloom and creating a carpet of brilliant red along the footpath. The Poinciana tree is to the left of the picture. The building and tree are still there in 2020/2021 Google Earth Drive by. The building looks much the same, including the letter boxes. Sadly though the Poinciana Tree is still there straggling on and looking very unloved and dejected. Obviously the high-rise developers next to it had no consideration for the local flora on their property.

Comment by Mark U., 12 January 2021

They are still there with some slight modifications. I was told by a local they were designed to have another 3 floors added if required in the future, but I don’t know if it’s true.