Day 1: Milling with history

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old windmill

High on Wickham Terrace, a pleasant walk from the City View Shoebox, is an old windmill that stands looking strangely out of place in a busy street.

It is set in its own peaceful little park and now, with the new Herschel Street tower rising in the background, presents a contrasting image of old and new.

old windmill
The sails of the old windmill are long gone

The windmill was built by convicts in the 1820s and is the oldest surviving building in Queensland.

In the distance behind it, is rising Queensland’s tallest building, so this is a place setting records.

The windmill was built in 1824 and was first operated by convicts on a treadmill grinding grain to help feed the colony.

In 1828, it was given wind-powered sails and really did look like a Dutch windmill. Its sails have now gone.

old windmill
Inside the old windmill

On January 20, 1862, it became the first home of the Queensland museum and it also served as a signal tower, not unlike the Greenwich observatory above the Thames in London.

At 1pm each day, the copper time ball would drop signalling the time to boats on the Brisbane River and people in the city below.

The time ball was replaced by a time gun in 1866 and the one we see now, was installed in 1894. It continued operating until the mid-1950s.

During the 1890s, the fire brigade used the roof to keep watch for fires at night.

Its height made it useful for radio signals and in the 1930s and ‘40s it was used for pioneering television broadcasting.

old windmill
Queensland’s oldest surviving building and Queensland’s newest and tallest building.

The original brick and masonry structure (it’s five storeys high) was rendered with cement in the late 19th century and this was refurbished in 1988.

It has been scored to imitate the stone blocks of the original.

Its future was secured in 1921 when Brisbane City Council and the State Government began negotiations for ownership and it is now rightfully on the Queensland Heritage Register.

old windmill
Staircase winding to the top of the Old Windmill

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