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"The varied history of Queensland?s oldest building" The Old Windmill Tip by tiabunna

The Old Windmill, Brisbane: 5 reviews and 11 photos

  The Mill, Brisbane
by tiabunna
  • The Mill, Brisbane - Brisbane
      The Mill, Brisbane
    by tiabunna
  • The Mill, Brisbane - Brisbane
      The Mill, Brisbane
    by tiabunna

An illustration of Brisbane’s ongoing redevelopment is that just two convict-built buildings remain from its early days, though admittedly many of the early buildings would have been built of timber. One of the two buildings is the former Commissariat Store (now occupied by the Historical Society), where the lower levels are of convict origins. The other is ‘The Mill’, seen here, which dates from 1828 and is Queensland’s oldest building.

The mill was built as a windmill to grind the penal station’s grain, this being the reason for siting it on a ridge above the city. But whether the winds were too light and infrequent or the design wrong, it soon was fitted with an external treadmill to be driven by convicts. From all accounts, working the treadmill was a dreadful task and often used as a form of punishment. Free settlement in 1842 brought an end to the colony’s convict era and new uses for the mill.

In the 1860s, the old mill began to be used for shipping and meteorological observations and as a flag station to signal shipping. Later, the large copper ball was raised and dropped at 1300 daily as a time signal – which continued until 1930.

The tower’s other significant claim to fame, largely ignored, is that the first television signals in the southern hemisphere were transmitted from it by experimenters in April 1934 – long before TV commenced in most places. These experimental TV broadcasts continued until WW2: it's interesting that, recently, a commercial TV network has loudly claimed as “Australia’s first TV” the commencement of its broadcasts in Sydney and Melbourne somewhat later during 1956!

More recently, careful restoration and conservation work was carried out in 1988, to ensure the mill will survive into the future. The interior of the tower is not open to the public. Curiously, although it features on the cover of the brochure by Brisbane’s Living Heritage Network, it is not mentioned inside or on the brochure’s map (or in Brisbane's glossy "Official visitors' guide")!

Address: Wickham Terrace, Brisbane
Directions: Head up Edward Street from the city area to Wickham Terrace, then turn left. It is not far along on the left hand side.
Phone: +61 413 253 424

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jan 19, 2007
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