Brisbane Open House
191a Breakfast Creek Road, Newstead
Sunday // 10am to 4pm
General access and guided tours

Newstead House

Built in 1846, the iconic landmark is Brisbane’s oldest standing residence. One of the most prominent homes in Queensland’s history, Newstead House has been occupied by some of Brisbane’s most influential colonial figures, including Patrick Leslie, Captain John Clements Wickham and George Harris.

The core of Newstead House is the 1846 two storey brick and stone Georgian cottage built by Patrick Leslie, one of the pioneers of the Darling Downs. From 1847 until early until early in 1860, Newstead was the home of Captain John Clements Wickham, the highest ranking official in Moreton Bay. By 1859 Queensland was poised to become a colony in its own right, separate from New South Wales. But Wickham was overlooked for the position of Governor and declined an opportunity to become Colonial Treasurer. From 1862 Newstead House was owned by politician and merchant George Harris who created the Newstead House we know today. Working with prominent architect and politician James Cowlishaw, Harris made significant improvements and extensions. The Harris family led a lavish lifestyle, with an entertainment budget said to have been up to 20, 000 pounds a year. By 1874 George Harris had mortgaged the property to James Taylor of Toowoomba.

The house had many occupants in the subsequent 20 years until in 1917 the City of Brisbane purchased Newstead House itself. Harry Moore, Brisbane’s Superintendent of Parks, moved into Newstead House and began redesigning the gardens. From late 1942 through to the end of World War II Newstead House was commandeered by the American military and occupied by the Photographic Detachment of the 832nd Signal Service Company.

Today Newstead House enjoys a resurgence of community engagement through innovative programming, exhibitions, education programs, tours, as well as welcoming domestic and international visitors.

Newstead Substation #5

Brisbane’s first tram tracks were laid in 1884 by the privately owned Metropolitan Tramway & Investment Company. These tracks ran from Woolloongabba to Breakfast Creek, covering nearly 10.5 km with branches to the Exhibition Building and New Farm. In 1897 the first electric trams were introduced in Brisbane, at which time Newstead/Teneriffe was attracting significant residential development as well as the beginning of industrial uses. In the following years, Brisbane’s tramway system experienced rapid expansion in response to the growth of the city itself. In 1897 there were 20 tramcars, however by 1916 there were 172. The electric tram provided mass transportation for Brisbane residence, before the dominance of private motor vehicles.

At the end of the World War One, it was felt that the tramway system should be owned by a public body rather than a private company. In 1922 the Brisbane Tramway Trust was formed by an Act of Parliament, who took ownership and control on January 1 1923. The Trust held office for three years, at which time the newly formed Greater Brisbane City Council took over control and administration of the tramway system. High on the agenda for the new city administration was the expansion of electricity supply and the development of better public transport networks. New Farm Powerhouse became symbolic of this commitment.

The Brisbane City Council Tramways Department architect, Roy Rusden Ogg designed Substation #5 in 1927 and it was constructed soon after. Ogg also designed the New Farm Powerhouse and seven other Tramway substations. The substation is 14 metres in height and covers 132 square metres, featuring red brick.

Trams were taken out of service in 1969. In 1978 Substation #5 was converted into a resource centre for Newstead House. In the first stage of conversion the electrical machinery was removed, the entry door was redesigned, the carpet was laid and the internal walls were painted. In the second stage, a mezzanine floor was built to provide office areas.

Substation No. 5 is part of the Newstead state heritage-listed precinct also incorporating Newstead House and Newstead Park. Substation No.5 Newstead represents a substantial historic structure. Recently in 2017 the Board of Trustees began stage one of the redevelopment of this industrial building, which included removing carpets, sounds boards and a lighting rig. The redevelopment of Substation No.5 by the Newstead House Board of Trustees is seen as a vital component in the development of the Newstead House cultural precinct. The adaptive re-use of this asset is pivotal to ensure the continued reinvigoration of the precinct, providing both depth to the facilities and new infrastructure.

What's Open

Newstead House and Substation #5

Tour Information

Sunday Guided Tours
Times: Guided tours of Newstead House 10am, 11am, 12pm

Additional Activities

Food and beverages available. Musical performances. Children's activities


Newstead House and Newstead Substation #5

Newstead House: 1846
Newstead House: James Cowlishaw // Newstead Substation: Roy Rusden Ogg