The Naval Stores

The Naval Stores, Kangaroo Point

What is generally known today as the home of Riverlife Activities at the bottom of the cliffs at Kangaroo Point is actually the heritage-listed NAVAL STORES.

The Naval Stores at Kangaroo Point Cliffs (34 Amesbury Street) have been a distinctive landmark since the early days of Brisbane when viewed from the city side of the Brisbane River, esp. the Botanic Gardens. Early photos clearly show the Naval Stores at the foot of the cliffs with St Mary’s Anglican Church up above.

Paddle steamer passing the Naval Stores and Kangaroo Point Cliffs in 1894.

The stores were built between 1886 and 1888 at a time of world tension when concerns about hostilities in Europe and perceived threats of invasion led to a decision by the colonies to provide their own defences. The Queensland Government established the Marine Defence Force and purchased two warships, the Gayundah and the Paluma from Scotland; the torpedo boat Mosquito, among others, was later added to the fleet.

HMQS Gayundah berthed in front of the Naval Stores

The Naval Stores were built on the site of the former Kangaroo Point quarry. From 1887-1959 they were used for weapons maintenance and storage and for training of the naval brigade.

From 1959 to 1983 they became the base for the Royal Australian Navy. A Naval office was established directly opposite at the bottom of Edward Street.

The original stores consisted of two two-storey buildings known as Store No 1 and Store No 2. They contained storerooms, workshops and training rooms. A torpedo storeroom on the upper floor of Store No 2, had a hatch through which torpedoes were raised and lowered.

A wharf and slipway provided ship access and mooring facilities.

From about 1900 additions and alterations were made including a turntable for manoeuvring guns to and from ships; a bridge linking the two stores and wooden stairs which connected parts of the site and provided access up the cliffs to Amesbury Street and St Mary’s.

The Naval Stores ca. 1896 (SLQ).

The stairs were used by governors when they resided at Old Government House to attend services at St Mary’s, the Naval Chapel (built 1872-1873). They are now unsafe and can no longer be used.

First Ship-to-shore wireless transmission made from HMQS Gayundah

On 9 April 1903 the HMQS Gayundah made radio communication history when she sent the first ship to shore wireless message from near Moreton Island to a receiving station in St Mary’s on top of the cliffs above. The cliff-top shore-based radio transmitting station was in active use from 1903 to about 1923.

Queensland shore radio terminal and gunboat HMQS Gayundah with temporary mast for first RAN ship to shore radio trials in Moreton Bay, 9 April 1903.
Plaque to commemorate the first ship-to-shore transmission in 1903. (photo: C.Gerard)

In 1987 the Brisbane City Council bought the site and turned it into an interpretive centre. Store No 1 was severely damaged by fire around that time. The stores were added to the Queensland Heritage Register on 21 October 1992. See

Since 2005 the site has become the home of Riverlife,  a popular adventure and function centre.

The stores were inundated by floods on three occasions, 1893, 1974 and 2011, a marker at the side of the remaining building shows the levels.

The Naval Centenary Memorial

The  ship shore- based radio transmitting station located on the top of the cliffs facing the river in the grounds of St Mary’s Anglican Church was used from 1903 to about 1923. In 1931 it was leased to St Mary’s  for use as a Girl Guide Hut, which was moved off the site in 1947.

In its place now stands a beautiful memorial to honour members of the RAN and Allied navies who died in service or were killed in action in the various conflicts in which Australia has been involved.

The memorial is the result of the enthusiasm, dedication and hard work of a committee formed in 2010 to establish a general naval memorial.

It was to mark the centenary in 2011 of the approval of the RAN receiving the grant of Letters Patent from King George V, creating the title “Royal Australian Navy”.

The memorial foundation stone was unveiled on 10 July 2011 by Her Excellency the Governor of Queensland Ms Penelope Wensley AC. The completed Naval Centenary Memorial was unveiled on 9 April 2013 by Her Excellency and dedicated by the Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane on the day before the 110th Anniversary of the RAN’s first recorded ship-to-shore wireless transmitted signal.