Customs House, Brisbane – Fact sheet 226

The Moreton Bay district of what is now the state of Queensland was officially opened to free settlement in 1842 and growth of the Port of Brisbane quickly followed. The Colony of New South Wales declared Brisbane a 'Port of Entry and Clearance' in 1846. The original Custom House was built in 1849 at a bend in the Brisbane River known as Petrie's Bight. It was demolished in 1886 at the commencement of construction of the new Custom House, which was completed in 1889. This building was used for Customs operations in Brisbane for the next 100 years. Originally referred to as 'Custom House', it has been referred to as 'Customs House' since Federation in 1901.

Customs house elevation

New Customs House Brisbane – Elevation to river, 1886. NAA:J2774, W767

The changing face of Customs House

The building has had minor changes and repairs over its life, with major internal alterations in the late 1940s and a major restoration in the early 1990s. The National Archives office in Brisbane holds a number of plans, files and photographs that document the changes in Customs House.

Plans and drawings

Selected series of plans detailing architectural work, siting, design, repairs, maintenance and alterations relating to Customs House are listed below. Digital copies of plans held in series BP 374/1 may be viewed on our RecordSearch database.

Collection references

* Digital copies can be viewed on RecordSearch.

Repairs and alterations

The Brisbane office holds correspondence files relating to the Department of Works, and the Property and Survey Branch. They document various works carried out on Commonwealth buildings and include specifications, alterations, improvements and repairs. The series below contain records relevant to the Brisbane Customs House.

Collection references

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
SeriesSpecification of works1869–1913BP269/1
SeriesProperty correspondence files1902–98J56
SeriesWorks files1939–50BP243/1
SeriesDirector of Works job files1949–76BP881/1


Because of the prominent location and iconic status of Brisbane Customs House, photographs – including images of the original building – are found in a number of photographic collections held by the Archives. Selected samples are listed below.


 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
SeriesPhotographs of Brisbane Customs House1890–1976J2218

Further information

Further information on the Archives' holdings of records relating to Customs Houses is available in:

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