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AHS ensures cultural preservation of the Mt Coot-tha Kiosk and Lookout, unearthing a rich history at one of Brisbane’s premiere vantage points


AHS was commissioned by Mantle Group to prepare a Heritage Impact Statement (HIS) for the proposed Mt Coot-tha Summit Precinct revitalisation project which will see the Summit Precinct, including Kiosk and Café, renewed into a world-class destination.

We were engaged to investigate the history of the Mt Coot-tha Lookout and Kiosk, originally constructed in 1918, which remains a popular leisure and recreation landmark.

The first recorded European ascent of Mt Coot-tha took place in 1828, well before the advent of motor vehicles, but it wasn’t until the early 1900s that the lookout became a popular destination for Brisbane locals.

Mt Coot-tha sits within the Taylor Range, originally coined Glenmoriston’s Range by John Oxley in 1823. By 1828 botanist Charles Fraser summited the southern extremity of the range, describing magnificent views and a diverse selection of trees and vegetation.

“The view from south-east to north-west was extensive and very grand, presenting an immense, thinly wooded plain, whose surface was gently undulated, and clothed with luxurious grass,” Fraser wrote in his diary.

Early accounts refer to the area as ‘One Tree Hill’, which was declared a timber reserve in 1873 and, in fact, much of the railway from Ipswich to Brisbane used wood from the region.

The mountain wasn’t named Coo-tha until a Parliamentary Clerk, Mr HW Radford, discovered that local aboriginal descendants referred to the area as ‘Coo-tha’ or ‘Kuta’— meaning place of honey.

Around the same time, Five Moreton Bay Figs were planted by Premier Sir Thomas McIlwraith, Prince Edward, Prince George, Vice-Admiral Sir Arthur Palmer and Early Clanwillliam, which grew to provide ample shade at the summit.

Mt Coot-tha Kiosk and Lookout prove popular

The popular Lookout was first cleared at the summit and formalised in 1902, marked by the erection of a stone pillar made by Petrie’s Stone Masons with a metal faceplate pointing out distant landmarks seen from the vantage point.

In 1919 a small viewing gazebo was built, with a stone base, open balustrades, and a pergola entrance, offering stunning views of rapidly developing Brisbane City.

By that time the Board of Trustees, consisting of prominent members of Queensland’s political elite, had caught wind of the site’s popularity.

Funds were allocated to build roads, picnic facilities and pay for a caretaker to run the newly built shelter shed, which had a small kiosk next door.

Early reports refer to the Kiosk as a kitchen, which it likely was, and with the upgrades came increased day-trip popularity with recreational motorists.

The early 1918 kiosk formed the basis of what still stands today, and it wasn’t long before it was expanded, and the shed next door demolished.

A Kiosk extension in the late 1920s was undertaken to accommodate increasing visitor numbers, doubling the size of the facility with included living quarters and prominent fleche and chimney.

In the leadup to WWII the military occupied Mt Coot-tha and the large Fig trees near the Kiosk were cut down to make space for a searchlight and anti-aircraft detachment.

The Kiosk was used by the Australian and US army services as a canteen, providing food services and support to troops.

After WWII occupation of the site, the Lookout and Kiosk were left worse for wear and needed significant refurbishment, for which the Council claimed damages.

A major upgrade took place, with City Architect F. Costello designing a raised viewing platform and concrete canopy on a stone base, with a drinking fountain and direction finder added to the Lookout.

From the 1940s, additional extensions and improvements took place offering the ability to cater for larger numbers and by 1950 the circular drive, new entrance, lounge and lavatories were added.

The Lookout and Kiosk remained largely unchanged until the 1990s, when in 1996 major refurbishments were undertaken, including a new deck and pyramidal gazebo.

Five Moreton Bay Figs were planed in 1881 by Premier Sir Thomas McIlwraith, Prince Edward, Prince George, Vice-Admiral Sir Arthur Palmer and Early Clanwillliam. By 1912, they provided ample shade at the summit.


World-class revitalisation project to blend heritage with contemporary experience

Ahead of the proposed Mt Coot-tha Summit Precinct revitalisation project, which is set to offer a world class destination experience, AHS have worked closely with Mantle Group and the design team to ensure that significant elements of the State heritage listed precinct are conserved and protected for future generations.

Despite the many upgrades across the past two centuries, many of the original Kiosk and Lookout’s design elements remain intact and are of high cultural significance.

The balance between heritage conservation and contemporary adaptation of buildings is always a fun challenge and at AHS we thrive on being a part of these large projects and providing best practice heritage advice and initiatives. Throughout this ongoing project AHS will continue to provide heritage advice and recommendations and we have developed policies and guidelines to ensure the careful conservation of this historic Brisbane landmark.

It’s all in a day’s work for our brilliant AHS team!

Contact us

To discover how we may be able to assist on your next project, contact us today here or phone (07) 3221 0000. You can also connect with us on LinkedIn.

The Duke and Duchess of York visited Mt Coot-tha in 1927, before ‘Telegraph House’ was built over the viewing platform.


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The Challenge

The popular Lookout was first cleared at the summit and formalised in 1902, marked by the erection of a stone pillar made by Petrie’s Stone Masons with a metal faceplate pointing out distant landmarks seen from the vantage point.

In 1919 a small viewing gazebo was built, with a stone base, open balustrades, and a pergola entrance, offering stunning views of rapidly developing Brisbane City.

By that time the Board of Trustees, consisting of prominent members of Queensland’s political elite, had caught wind of the site’s popularity.

Funds were allocated to build roads, picnic facilities and pay for a caretaker to run the newly built shelter shed, which had a small kiosk next door.

Early reports refer to the Kiosk as a kitchen, which it likely was, and with the upgrades came increased day-trip popularity with recreational motorists.

The early 1918 kiosk formed the basis of what still stands today, and it wasn’t long before it was expanded, and the shed next door demolished.

A Kiosk extension in the late 1920s was undertaken to accommodate increasing visitor numbers, doubling the size of the facility with included living quarters and prominent fleche and chimney.

In the leadup to WWII the military occupied Mt Coot-tha and the large Fig trees near the Kiosk were cut down to make space for a searchlight and anti-aircraft detachment.

The Kiosk was used by the Australian and US army services as a canteen, providing food services and support to troops.

After WWII occupation of the site, the Lookout and Kiosk were left worse for wear and needed significant refurbishment, for which the Council claimed damages.

A major upgrade took place, with City Architect F. Costello designing a raised viewing platform and concrete canopy on a stone base, with a drinking fountain and direction finder added to the Lookout.

From the 1940s, additional extensions and improvements took place offering the ability to cater for larger numbers and by 1950 the circular drive, new entrance, lounge and lavatories were added.

The Lookout and Kiosk remained largely unchanged until the 1990s, when in 1996 major refurbishments were undertaken, including a new deck and pyramidal gazebo.



How we helped

Ahead of the proposed Mt Coot-tha Summit Precinct revitalisation project, which is set to offer a world class destination experience, AHS have worked closely with Mantle Group and the design team to ensure that significant elements of the State heritage listed precinct are conserved and protected for future generations.

Despite the many upgrades across the past two centuries, many of the original Kiosk and Lookout’s design elements remain intact and are of high cultural significance.

The balance between heritage conservation and contemporary adaptation of buildings is always a fun challenge and at AHS we thrive on being a part of these large projects and providing best practice heritage advice and initiatives. Throughout this ongoing project AHS will continue to provide heritage advice and recommendations and we have developed policies and guidelines to ensure the careful conservation of this historic Brisbane landmark.

It’s all in a day’s work for our brilliant AHS team!

Contact us

To discover how we may be able to assist on your next project, contact us today here or phone (07) 3221 0000. You can also connect with us on LinkedIn.

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Case Study

Palings music mecca given new lease on life

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Saibai Church receives specialist advice

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Restoring Brisbane’s iconic Naldham House

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AHS protects Aboriginal Cultural Heritage across renewable energy sector

Case Study

AHS analyses iconic Queens Plaza façade

Case Study

History of Wynnum Seventh Day Adventist Church unlocked

Case Study

Extensive war history unearthed at Milman Hill Complex on Thursday Island

Case Study

AHS helps to record and conserve Bega’s network of historic granite kerbs and gutters for our client Bega Valley Shire Council

Case Study

AHS delivered a Conservation Management Plan for the State heritage listed former Cairns Masonic Temple

Case Study

Delivering heritage services including an Archival Recording at the Coffs Harbour Forestry Building

Case Study

Conserving Willard’s Farm, one of the oldest surviving farms and residences within the Redlands on Brisbane’s Bayside

Case Study

AHS projects with Cairns Regional Council include a CMP for Mulgrave Shire Council Chambers

Case Study

AHS uncovers a lengthy historical legal challenge while researching the William Mitchner Shelter

Case Study

AHS helps visitors experience the history of Cairns Court House

Case Study

AHS helps to conserve the Mount Morgan Coronation Lamp and Boer War Memorial

Case Study

Discovering the evolution of Queensland ambulance services at Charters Towers

Case Study

AHS helps preserve one of Buderim Mountain’s oldest surviving houses

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Rediscovering a heritage home’s socialite past in New Farm

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AHS advises Rockhampton City Council on maintenance and heritage protection of the iconic Rockhampton Customs House

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