Milton Heritage Trail: A Trip Down Memory Lane

A day in Milton may not reveal a lot of its early character but exploring its 17-point heritage trail will give you a glimpse of this inner suburb’s rich and interesting history.

The trail begins at 14 Park Road, now a commercial, retail and entertainment precinct. During the 19th Century, it was already full of houses and small shops but one establishment that stands out is the Smith’s Shop. This historic timber building was constructed in 1888 by Thomas Smith, a horse-drawn cab proprietor and his wife, Agnes.

Today, you’ll see a fromagerie with wine bar and cafe in the location. The current restaurant has retained much of the old building’s 19th century appeal, with the full-front veranda still visible when you visit the place.

The former Smith’s Shop, now a restaurant. Photo credit: Google Street View

Head south on Park Rd towards Gordon St, and you’ll reach the next point of interest, the ‘Savoir Faire.’ Located at 20 Park Rd, it was Brisbane’s first alfresco dining precinct when it opened in 1988.

Savoir Faire, known for its faux cobblestone pavements and rattan footpath chairs provided Brisbane residents with a vibrant restaurant and shopping precinct until after World Expo ’88 had ended.

The World Expo ‘88, a $625 million event was successfully used to promote Queensland as a tourist destination and it spurred a major redevelopment at the South Brisbane site.

Tower Ad

The 55-sqm site where the Savoir Faire was located was posted for lease in February 2019. It was marketed as a commercial zone suitable for retail, medical, and other use.

A Stop at a Heritage-Listed Villa

Turn left onto McDougall St and you’ll find one of the oldest houses in Brisbane. Milton House, a heritage villa was constructed in 1852 for retired Queen Street chemist Ambrose Eldridge.

Milton House in 1954 (Photo credit: State Library of Queensland/rosettadel.slq.qld.gov.au)

Milton House has a Colonial Georgian style, characterized by its segmented sidelights and arched fanlight in the doorway, symmetrically arranged rooms, and wide open verandahs. The house has been restored by its current owner, Kings Row Corporation, as part of their new development surrounding the historic house.

The Milton House in 2018 (Photo credit: kgbo/Wikimedia Commons)

Between Douglas Street and Coronation Drive in Park Road lies the former site of the Salvation Army Rescue Home. It was established in 1888 to provide shelter and protection to women who had fallen into prostitution, crime, drug or alcohol addiction. The home moved from Park Road to larger premises in Taringa in 1894.

The next stop serves as a remembrance to Surveyor-General John Oxley, who surveyed the reach of the Brisbane River in 1823. Naming the river Brisbane, Oxley described it on his map as having “rich flats and fine timber.”

When he came back to further explore the area in 1824, Oxley discovered a series of large freshwater ponds linked by a creek. It is believed that this was Western Creek, now known as the Milton Drain.

A short walk from the John Oxley Centre will lead you to the Cook Terrace at 249 Coronation Drive. Built between 1888 to 1889, it is one of Brisbane’s remaining blocks of terrace houses.

Constructed as rental properties by Joseph Blain Cook, the terraces became a prestigious riverfront address and were home to primarily professional tenants. They were registered as flats for more than 70 persons after the World War II and were restored in 1980s.

Terraced house on Coronation Drive at Milton, Queensland (Photo credit: kgbo/Wikimedia Commons)

Cook Terrace has a nice view of the river, which witnessed the major flood in Brisbane in 2011. It was dubbed as the most severe flooding in Milton for almost four decades. Being bounded by Western Creek and as a riverside suburb, the suburb has always been prone to flooding.

In February 1893, Brisbane suffered its worst recorded flood event. Torrential rain from three successive cyclones that crossed the central Queensland coast caused the banks of the river to burst three times.

Residents of Brisbane view the swollen Brisbane River during the 1893 floods. (Photo  credit: John Oxley Library, State LIbrary of Queensland/bishop.slq.qld.gov.au)

After looking back on Milton’s major floodings and the lives of more than 30 people who died on the floods, head to the Coronation Motel at 205 Coronation Drive. It is one of the most fashionable venues in Brisbane when it first opened in the 1960s.

Before the motel was demolished in 2002, the motel provided its guests with very modern facilities including underground car parking, restaurant, bar, dance venue, pool and river views. It was close to the city and an alternative to the inner-city hotels.

A postcard created in 1966 showing the now-demolished Coronation Motel (Photo credit: Queensland Places/ Copyright © Centre for the Government of Queensland, 2018)

The site is now home to Coronation Residences, a luxury apartment block, overlooking Coronation Drive and the Brisbane River.

More on Coronation Drive

The heritage trail also recalls Milton’s well-known furniture house during the late 1800s. John Hicks’ company, also known as ‘Hixco,’ became renowned for high quality, locally-produced furniture.

Furniture displayed in the Hixco Catalogue in 1930 (Photo credit:John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland/bishop.slq.qld.gov.au)

Found in the corner of Coronation Drive and Cribb Street, the furniture shop was known for bringing Art Deco into Queensland homes by adapting design ideas from Europe and North America for the local market.

The next stop would be at the Cribb Street between Coronation Drive and Railway Terrace, once occupied by the Cribb Street terrace homes. During the 1893 floods, both sets of terraces were inundated by water.

The first set was constructed in 1887-1888 and consisted of eight attached houses between McDougall Street and Railway Terrace. Each house was made of brick and consisted of “four main rooms, half hall, kitchen, two verandah rooms, pantry, washhouse, and stables.”

In 1889, the second set of terraces was built and was called ‘Hobart Terrace’. It consisted of four, three-storey brick houses with front verandahs. These houses had smaller backyards and no stables.

After exploring that was once the Cribb Street terrace homes, your next stop is the Milton Sanitary Disposal Depot. Located in Cribb Street and Little Cribb Street, it’s the site where the area’s rubbish and sewerage were dealt with.

The disposal depot was established to address Milton’s sanitary problems during the early 20th century. Before Brisbane homes had flushing toilets and an efficient sewerage system, waste from backyard toilets was collected by the night soil man.

Sanitary problems arose in this part of Milton when almost half of the households were burying their night soil in their backyards as they couldn’t afford the services of the night soil man.

During the years of its operation, Milton residents lobbied for the depot to be moved elsewhere and by 1949 it was closed.

Past the former site of the Milton Sanitary Disposal Depot is the place where the Milton Tramway Workshops used to be found. Situated between Boomerang Street and Cribb Street, the tramway workshops were established in 1930 and comprised of workshops, car sheds and administrative offices.

Brisbane City Council Tramways Department headquarters in River Road (now Coronation Drive) Milton when new in 1927 (Photo credit:Official Brisbane City Council photograph/Wikimedia Commons)

By the 1960s, when compared with buses, Brisbane City Council viewed trams as an inefficient, expensive and inflexible form of public transport and subsequently decided to discontinue the service across Brisbane.

Looking Back at Milton’s Industry

Beside Brisbane City Council’s Tramway Workshops on Boomerang Street was Morrows’ biscuit factory. The factory was opened in 1912 and began a tradition of baking many of Queensland’s favourite biscuits.

In the 1960s Morrows’ was one of four biscuit companies from around Australia consolidated into Arnott’s Biscuits Pty Ltd as a means of protecting the industry from foreign interests.

From the Little Cribb Street, exit the roundabout, turn left and then right and you’ll find Lang Park and Christ Church Anglican Church. Located at 9 Chippendall Street, the area was originally the site of the North Brisbane Burial Ground.

Today, Lang Park is known as Suncorp Stadium and is a Queensland sporting landmark. It has long been colloquially known as ‘The Cauldron’ for its intimidating atmosphere for interstate players.



The third to the last stop is the World War II air raid shelter at 21 Railway Terrace. This concrete structure was built as an air raid shelter during World War II.

Brisbane City Council erected a series of more than 200 concrete shelters designed to be reused as bus shelters throughout the city. Many private property owners constructed their own bomb shelters.

The World War II air raid shelter is converted into a cafe, now more popular among locals as the Bunker Coffee. It was given urgent protection by the Brisbane City Council after City planning chairman Matthew Bourke said that it has been identified as a potential local heritage place which may have heritage significance.

This cafe, covered in green vines, used to be an air raid shelter. Photo credit: Bunker Coffee/Facebook

Last Stops in Milton Road

A three-minute ride from the Bunker Coffee will take you to the second to the last stop, the XXXX Brewery at 185 Milton Road.

In 1866, Patrick Perkins started the Perkins Brewery in Toowoomba. In 1872, he later extended his operations to Brisbane with the purchase of the City Brewery in 1872.  

In 1928, long after the death of Patrick Perkins, the Perkins brewing company was bought by the Castlemaine Brewery with new company being known as Castlemaine Perkins Limited. Castlemaine Perkins was acquired in 1992 by drinks conglomerate Lion Nathan.

The Bishopsbourne at 233 Milton Road (Photo credit: Queensland Government/apps.des.qld.gov.au)

Head west on Milton Rd or the State Route 32 toward Underpass and you’ll reach the end of the trail, ‘Bishopsbourne.’ This majestic house was built between 1865 and 1868 as the residence of Brisbane’s first Anglican bishop, Edward Tufnell.

Whilst some points of interest are private properties and are not open to the public, the trail will somehow give you a brief look at Milton’s most relevant events in the past.