Standing proudly between the city’s modern skyscrapers is the Brisbane City Hall and Clock Tower. With its trademark sandstone pillars and bronze lion statues, it welcomes thousands of visitors every month, but did you know you can go inside for a tour?
Free daily tours allow guests to explore the marble halls of City Hall and climb the heights of the Clock Tower to experience Brisbane from a unique angle. You’ll discover the beautifully symmetrical building is steeped in history and cultural significance from hosting concerts in the elegant auditorium to remaining the current home of the office of the Lord Mayor.
Free Daily Tours
The City Hall
Built between 1920 and 1930 and located at King George Square, the heritage-listed Brisbane City Hall underwent extensive (and expensive – $215million) renovations which were completed in 2013. Tourists and locals are invited to learn about the construction of the hall, the Pantheon inspired auditorium and inner workings of council in free and informative daily tours that run for 45 minutes.
The tours are run by friendly and passionate guides who regale the secrets and stories of the hall revealing fascinating titbits you couldn’t hear elsewhere. Access to certain areas and rooms are dictated by the daily function schedule, meaning each visit is likely to be a little different from the last.
The building’s craftsmanship and the dedication to restoring its original features is impressive to say the least, making this a worthwhile tour to pop on your Brisbane city itinerary. Whether you’ve lived in Brisbane your whole life or are simply passing through, you are guaranteed to learn a thing or two about the “people’s place”.
The Clock Tower
While visiting Brisbane City Hall, make sure to book a FREE Clock Tower tour which encourages visitors to take a step back in time and explore the workings of what was once Brisbane’s tallest structure.
The 15 minute tour, which kicks off from the Museum of Brisbane reception on level 3, starts with a journey in a vintage cage lift system which is a real highlight in itself. You’ll quickly arrive at the fully enclosed, 76 metre high viewing platform giving you 360 degree views of the city below which has changed dramatically since the tower’s construction 90 years ago.
With a keen eye you’ll be able spot some other iconic Brisbane locations such as Kangaroo Point Cliffs, South Bank and Roma Street Parklands. During the descent down the lift briefly stops behind the giant clock face while a knowledgeable tour guide explains the clock’s fascinating time keeping mechanism as it begins to wind up for the next chime.
What Age is the Tour Best Suited For?
If you have friends with one day in Brisbane with kids, this could be a fun activity in addition to other inner city icons like South Bank and the Roma Street Parklands.
The Brisbane City Hall and Clock Tower tours are a fun addition to a day out in Brisbane city but a bit of pre-planning is required to ensure you secure tickets for your desired date and time.
Although the tours are free and accessible to all ages, they are probably best suited to older school-aged children and adults due to the length and slower pace of the main tour plus the information heavy talk is likely to be of greater interest to a more mature crowd.
The Clock Tower tour is appropriate for a slightly younger audience as the littles are sure to enjoy the novelty of climbing inside a real, operational clock and it is only 15 minutes long. Brisbane Kids will also earn a “I went up the Clock Tower at MoB” sticker, which is a neat souvenir to take home.
Unfortunately, the Clock Tower tour is not wheelchair or pram friendly as the upper level can only be accessed via a narrow set of stairs. You might also be required to carry small children up to the observational deck as the staircase is rather steep.
The City Hall tour is wheelchair accessible with the option to use lifts if required. Any prams, backpacks and other large items can be secured in a free locker room during the tours.
When and How to Book
Tours of the City Hall run daily at 10:30am, 11:30am and 1:30pm, although these are subject to change if the hall is in use. Bookings are absolutely essential as there is a 20 person limit per tour and popular times do book out in advance. Visit Museum of Brisbane to book online or phone 07 3339 0845.
TIP: The auditorium hosts a FREE classical concert every Tuesday starting at 12pm. If you can do the tour mid week then the 10:30am session would time perfectly to see the concert straight after!
The Clock Tower tours run every 15 minutes, 7 days a week from 10:15am – 4:45pm. Tickets must be purchased separately to the City Hall tour either online or at the reception desk. You’ll need to get in quick as the tour only accommodates seven people at a time.
Please note, the clock does not chime over the weekends so during the week is the best time to go if you want to see it in action. You’re unlikely to actually hear the bells ringing internally as the tour is designed to be squeezed in between the chiming.
Other Things Worth Visiting Nearby
Your day doesn’t need to end after the tours conclude as there is so much more to see while in the city centre. Most obvious is the Museum of Brisbane as it’s located within the hall hosting a fabulous range of local exhibitions and kids activities throughout the year.
Situated on the hall’s ground level and tucked down a corridor to the right as you walk in is the reincarnation of Brisbane’s oldest cafe – the Shingle Inn. Originally opened in 1936 on Edward Street, the store was forced to close in 2002 due to city developments but the original store fit out was gifted to the people of Brisbane. It now resides within the hall and is a great option for lunch or a coffee.
And, if a morning inside has caused the kids to go a little stir crazy, then the beautiful Roma Street Parklands is a great and nearby location to stretch those legs and take in some stunning floral displays. A quick bus trip over the river will land you at South Bank, GOMA and the Queensland Museum which are all must see destinations while visiting the river city with your family or friends. So why not make a day of it and rediscover the best Brisbane has to offer?