Brisbane Open House
Corner Butterfield Street and Bowen Bridge Road, Herston
Saturday : 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Guided tours

This walking tour offers an overview of the history of the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH) which was opened in 1867.

The Heritage Trail begins and ends at the RBWH Education Centre and visits points of significance around this fascinating site.

The first public hospital in Brisbane, the Moreton Bay Hospital, was established on 12 January, 1849 near the site of the present Supreme Court buildings in George Street. It served a vast area comprising the districts of Moreton, Darling Downs, Wide Bay, Burnett and Maranoa. In its first year, 94 patients were treated and the total expenditure for that year was 370 pounds.

By 1856, other hospitals had been established away from Brisbane. As a result, the name of Moreton Bay Hospital was changed to the Brisbane Hospital.

A new hospital was built on the RBWH’s present site at Herston, then known as the Quarries. The patients were moved from the hospital in George Street to the new Brisbane Hospital on 8th January, 1867. The first nurses graduated from the hospital in 1888 and in 1939, The University of Queensland Medical School was opened adjacent to the hospital. Since that time, the hospital has provided training for thousands of doctors, nurses and allied health professionals. The Royal Brisbane Hospital was so named in 1966 and has become the major teaching hospital for Queensland.

The first women’s hospital began in 1864. It was called the Queensland Lying-In Hospital and was located in Leichhardt Street, Spring Hill. In 1867, the hospital was renamed the Lady Bowen Hospital after the wife of Queensland’s first governor.

Towards the end of 1929, it was agreed to build a new maternity hospital on land adjacent to the Brisbane Hospital at Herston. The then Minister for Health, Ned Hanlon, officially opened the new Women’s Hospital in 1938.

In 1966, Queen Elizabeth 2nd gave permission to use the prefix “Royal” to the Brisbane Hospital and in 1967, the Queen also approved the use of the “Royal” prefix for the Brisbane Women’s Hospital. (Patrick, R., 1988).

Following years of strategic planning and a multimillion dollar redevelopment program, the Royal Brisbane and Royal Women’s Hospitals were amalgamated to become Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital in 2003.

Today, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital is Queensland’s largest hospital and employs more than 8000 multidisciplinary staff that together care for more than half a million patients each year. RBWH provides outstanding care across an extensive range of clinical areas and is known for its preeminent cancer, maternity, trauma and burns care. The hospital fulfils a significant teaching and research role with links to Queensland’s major tertiary institutions, and is committed to developing new and innovative healthcare to improve health outcomes.

Tour Information

Frequency of Guided Tours: Tours will be on the hour from 9am - 3pm. Tours meet at the RBWH Education centre off Central Drive within the hospital grounds (off Bowen Bridge Road). Limited capacity. Register on the day.

Tour Tips

Register at the building on arrival, Photography restrictions, The site is very steep in places and can be physically challenging. Visitors should bring a hat, water bottle and wear comfortable walking shoes. A history display will be available to peruse within the Educations Centre for visitors waiting the start of the Tour along with some of the newest Technologies being considered in health care. Food and Beverage retail outlet are also available at this location for purchase.

Additional Activities

Refreshments available

Dress Requirements

Enclosed shoes

Wheelchair access


Is Heritage listed


from 1800's to present