The story behind Customs House Brisbane


Learn why this heritage building remains one of Brisbane's most-loved establishments.

Customs House Brisbane has an intriguing history that dates back to the 19th century, which is still prominent in the elegant structure that stands today on Queen Street.

Early beginnings

Customs houses were built in all major Australian ports in the 19th century, when customs and excise duties were an important source of revenue.

Customs House Brisbane was originally a modest single-storey brick building located at Petrie Bight. However the port of Brisbane grew so quickly that in 1884 the Queensland Government agreed to replace its existing Customs House with the much grander building which stands today.

Designed by Charles McLay of the Colonial Architect’s office, Customs House Brisbane is an example of Victorian Free Classical style, with its grand columns and a copper-sheathed dome which is still a major feature on the landscape.

After Federation in 1901, Customs House became part of the Commonwealth Government’s customs service and some of its elegant rooms were carved up as offices. In 1988 Customs House closed and customs activities left their symbolic home on the river for an office block up the road.

Customs House in 1898

New life

In October 1994, Customs House reopened to serve as a restaurant and events venue, preserving the heritage building for future generations to visit.

With its prominent Queen Street location and magnificent river views, Customs House is regarded as one of Brisbane’s premier event venues.

Event spaces include the Long Room, which can host up to 300 guests in cocktail style beneath the building’s impressive copper dome.

In 2016, Customs House underwent a $2-million-dollar refurbishment of the ground level to create a new event space called the River Room, which can host banquets for up to 120 and cocktail soirees for up to 200 guests.

The River Terrace

The River Room opens out to a spectacular outdoor venue, the River Terrace, which enjoys views of Brisbane’s Story Bridge and the Kangaroo Point cliffs.

The space can also host up to 200 guests in cocktail style, and can be used year-round with marquees available in November and December.

Find out more about hosting an event at Brisbane’s Custom House here.

Watch how Customs House Brisbane can be transformed for events:

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