My Weekend In Brisbane : Fort Lytton.

I’ve lived in Brisbane for nearly thirty years and never visited despite it being less than thirty minutes from home.

Built in 1880-1882 in response to a fear that a foreign colonial power such as Russia or France might launch a naval attack on Brisbane or its port, Fort Lytton is located at the mouth of the Brisbane River.

It was designed to deny enemy vessels access to the river and achieved this by a remote-controlled minefield across the mouth of the river, and four muzzle-loading heavy guns, later changed to breech feeding. The minefield was closed in 1908, but the guns continued in operation until 1938.

I’m told the fort is a typical nineteenth century garrison – a pentagonal fortress concealed behind grassy embankments – surrounded for greater protection by a water-filled moat.

Fort Lytton was a major training base for soldiers across the Boer War, WW1 and WW2.

My introduction to this fascinating slice of Brisbane’s military history was a recent evening performance at the Fort, “ A Lost Story From The Great War”.

This follows the true story of Brisbane born Raymond Stanley, a decorated war hero, who spent time at Fort Lytton before being shipped to Gallipoli, and later, to the Western Front.

Armed with lanterns for light and sound the audience participates in a guided tour throughout the historic fortifications, littered with theatrical re-enactments. Light and sound effects, with photos projected onto the walls of the fort, take you back to the Great War.

Courtesy Event Flyer

Interestingly Stanley dabbled in photography and many of his photographs are used during the theatre promenade experience adding to its authenticity.

I’m looking forward to returning in daylight and walking through the rest of the site and the Museum. I’m told kids love the Open Days when the cannons are fired.

One minor issue. Brissie is subtropical and after weeks which have been a mix of heat, humidity and rain the mosquitoes are rampant. So is my garden.

Up Next : My Saturday Night At Dutton Park Cemetery, Brisbane’s Oldest Boneyard. Yep, it’s been a bizarre weekend……..

A Brisbane City Treasure : The Shrine of Remembrance

The Shrine of Remembrance is a major Brisbane landmark of cultural and historic importance. Each year it hosts ceremonies for ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day ( formally known as Armistice Day).

A service marking The Fall of Singapore is another annual event in remembrance of the losses of the 8th Division during World War 2, and is held on the closest Sunday to February 15th.

When my eldest daughter was in her last year of Primary School she won a Brisbane wide debating competition and was asked to speak at the Shrine at a memorial service honouring the Rats of Tobruk. She must have been only 11 or 12 at the time but had all the confidence in the world, and the old widows, old soldiers, and families of the fallen took my daughter under their wings, named her an honorary Rat for the day, and then bundled her off to a luncheon at a swish golf club for a couple of hours.

The Shrine of Remembrance is located in ANZAC Square, between Ann and Adelaide Streets. 

Funds were raised by public subscription for a memorial to the fallen after WW1 and in 1928 a competition was held for its design. Designed in the Greek Classic Revival style, the columns of the Shrine of Remembrance are built of sandstone and the Eternal Flame is kept in a brass urn within the Shrine. The 18 columns of the Shrine symbolise the year 1918, when hostilities ceased. Written around the top coping are the names of the battles in which Australian units figured prominently – ANZAC, Cocos Islands, Romani, Jerusalem, Damascus, Pozieres, Bullecourt, Messines, Ypres, Amiens, Villers-Bretonneaux, Mont St Quentin, Hindenburg Line.

The Shrine forms the focus of the radially pattern pathways, pools, and lawns of the lower park area which is planted with palms, pines, and mature bottle trees. The bottle trees were donated by Colonel Cameron in memory of the Light Horse Regiments with which he served in the Boer War. There are several statues littered along the parklands as well as benches which I always found allowed for a little respite when I was working nearby.

It wasn’t until a recent weekend that I visited the crypt situated under the Shrine of Remembrance. It contains memorial plaques to numerous Australian regiments, specifically Qld in origin, who fought during these campaigns. It’s only a small exhibition but packs a punch. It includes an interactive area popular with schoolchildren who learn personal stories and gain insights into the times. 

Admission to the Memorial Galleries is FREE and open Sunday to Friday 10am to 4pm. Anzac Square Parklands open 24 hours daily. Make the effort to visit – it’s worth it! 

The Brisbane Literary Trail

Who even knew there was such a thing as the Brisbane Literary Trail? Have you heard of this? Twenty five years living in Queensland and it’s new to me. Another pat on the back for Tourism Qld.

I stumbled across this by accident on the weekend when I was participating in an organised Scavenger Hunt. An epic fail. What should have taken two hours to complete took five and a half hours, and that was leaving out the last two challenges. A typical Gemini thing. As Bob Dylan, another Gemini, once said, “I change during the course of a day. I wake and I’m one person, and when I go to sleep I know for certain I’m somebody else.

Rather than focussing on the task at hand – trivia, challenges, deciphering maps and codes, puzzles and the hunt – I was waylaid at the casino, at a Suitcase Rummage ( where I picked up a brand new  Wizard of Oz jigsaw for $2), coffee in the Botanical Gardens, and an art and craft market. And lets be totally honest : a chocolate croissant – the eighth deadly sin.

So I’m sure you can appreciate my apprehension about next months adventure when I’m to be locked in an Escape Room.

Back to the Literary Trail that includes 32 plaques that were embedded in the pavement back in 1996 and start in Albert Street in the CBD. They are a little worse for wear but worth investigating. All include a quote by a Queensland writer with most Brisbane born and bred.

Brisbane is so sleepy, so slatternly, so sprawlingly unlovely! I have taken to wandering about after school looking for one simple object in it that might be romantic, or appalling even, but there is nothing. It is simply the most ordinary place in the world.

David Malouf, Johnno, St Lucia, UQP, 1975

The glow in the sky. Orange streetlights. Outlying suburbs. It was beautiful. The highway turned onto the six-lane arterial. We came in through Oxley and Annerley, flowing with the traffic. Then the city high rises were in view, alight, multicoloured. Brisbane. It was impossibly beautiful.

Andrew McGahan, 1988

At around two o’clock I walk up to Wee Willie Winkie’s on Waterworks Road […] and I buy a packet of Tim Tams. I stand outside the store eating them and watching the occasional cars speed past, heading out of town and down the hill into Ashgrove’

Nick Earls, Zig Zag Street.

There is development of a new public transport station underway in Albert Street so if you are interested I’de be following the Literary trail sooner rather than later. Public funding is going towards another Olympic bid, after all.