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Ultimate Guide to Brisbane Art Deco Tour

Ultimate Guide to Brisbane Art Deco Tour

A part of Brisbane’s charm is that within this vibrant city, modernity seamlessly blends with its rich cultural heritage. One of the city’s hidden architectural treasures are its Art Deco gems that stand out in timeless elegance (think The Great Gatsby era!). 

If you’ve been looking to delve into Brisbane’s Art Deco past, a journey through its historical landmarks is a must! And what better way to explore these heritage buildings than through Brisbane Art Deco Tours? 

See the city in a different light and discover the rich history behind Brisbane’s art deco era! 

What is Art Deco?

The Art Deco movement emerged in the early 20th century in Paris, France and influenced architecture and the visual arts as the First World War concluded. 

During this time, the world was eager to move away from the trauma of war and welcome a new age of optimism and progress through fresh and modern design. The style became widely popular in the US and Europe in the 1920’s to 1930’s. 

Art deco’s key characteristics consist of bold geometric shapes, sleekness and simplicity, functionalism, and symmetry. The style was also a direct response to the elaborate and delicate designs of the 19th century that often used expensive materials. 

With the onset of industrialization, designers and artists focused more on enhancing the aesthetic quality of mass-produced functional objects. This included clocks, cars, and buildings. 

Discover Brisbane’s Art Deco Past

In the 1920s and The Great Depression, the art deco movement reached Australia. Construction of new infrastructure has also increased throughout Queensland as a means of keeping people employed.

During this time, you’ll notice that the preferred architectural style was art deco, as it’s known for its great aesthetic value and use of durable building materials.

In Brisbane, you’ll find several art deco style buildings that stand frozen in time piquing the curiosity of all those who walk past them. Now let’s take a look at some of these buildings! 

Coronet Court

Location: Brunswick St., cor. Elystan Road, New Farm QLD 4005

Built in: 1933

A stunning architectural gem in the heart of Brisbane, the Coronet Court is a prime example of the art deco architectural style that swept the world in the 1920s. 

The construction of the Coronet Court was finished in November 1933 and during that time it was known to have “the architectural dignity of a mansion.”

Today, it’s a well-loved architectural landmark in New Farm boasting of lush park views, a prime location, and the gold standard of art deco living in Brisbane. 

Waterloo Hotel

Waterloo Hotel
Image Source: Waterloo Hotel Facebook

Location: Ann St &, Commercial Rd, Fortitude Valley QLD 4006

Built in: 1937

Another prominent landmark in New Farm, the Waterloo Hotel remains an icon with its interwar functionalist style. It was constructed in 1937, but according to historical records, a hotel has stood there since 1880. 

In the 1930s, this area in New Farm-Teneriffe saw the peak of industrial and residential development with its central location at a major transport junction. The Queensland Brewery Ltd. saw the potential of the property and purchased it in 1936. 

The building underwent several major changes throughout the years, but its main exterior styling remained intact. Today, the original Valley Pub is still home to some of the best local dines and is open seven days a week. 

McWhirters Building

McWhirters Building
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Location: Brunswick St &, Wickham St, Fortitude Valley QLD 4006

Built in: 1931

The McWhirters Building was home to a small drapery in the 1880’s which then flourished into a four-building department store by 1931. During that time it was one of the first to bring in Italian fashion to Brisbane. 

Now, the district from where it stands, Fortitude Valley, is now Brisbane’s high-end fashion hub and entertainment precinct. 

The building has since been developed into an apartment building on the upper floors, while the ground floor remains to house retail outlets as well as some eateries. 

501 Ann Street

501 Ann Street

Location: 501 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley QLD 4006

Built in: 1942

Another art deco gem within Fortitude Valley is 501 Ann Street or the Queensland Brewery Company Building. 

It’s a heritage-listed commercial building built between 1940 – 1942 which veered away from the typical commercial building designs in Queensland at that time. 

The architect who designed it was HS McDonald who played a key role in introducing the trend of functionalist design to Queensaland. 

Brisbane Art Deco Tours

These buildings truly are living pieces of history that tell so much of Brisbane’s past! Take a walking tour guided by the experts in art deco or ride a vintage car like Jay Gatsby while exploring early 20th century architecture around the city! 

Roaring Twenties

Roaring Twenties
Image Source: Roaring Twenties Facebook


Contact: [email protected] / +61 405 111 875

Here’s your chance to get a taste of the Roaring Twenties! Ride a luxurious vintage Chrysler or a Dodge Tourer as you explore a different side of Brisbane! 

Explore the city in elegance and style as you visit heritage-listed buildings – timeless gems that saw the city’s history unfold. Discover architectural jewels scattered in the city such as Coronet Court, Westella, Carmel Court, and more!

At the Roaring Twenties Art Deco Tour, you’ll meet Clyde, a 1937 Dodge convertible and Capone, a 1936 Chrysler Sedan. The tour is approximately 2 hours long and includes DSLR photography and can accommodate up to 4 passengers for $295. 

The vintage automobiles can also be hired for weddings and other special occasions, as well as bayside leisurely rides and tours. 

Pro Tip: 
Take note that the Art Deco Tours are only available from Mondays to Fridays. And if you wish to book on weekends, it will be subject to availability and an additional fee of $50. 

Walking Tours by Art Deco Society

Walking Tours by Art Deco Society
Image Source: Art Deco Society Facebook


Contact: [email protected] 

If you like to tour while squeezing in some cardio at the same time, then you should join the walking tours by the Art Deco Society! 

The group was formally established in 2015 by Kim Wilson and Ally Hannon after the successful launch of Kim’s book, “Brisbane Art Deco: Stories of our Built Heritage.”

What’s great about these tours is that you’ll be guided by art deco experts and enthusiasts who will give you detailed commentary on each building. 

You can check out their walking tours and events here

Pro Tip: 
We recommend getting a copy of the book, “Brisbane Art Deco: Stories of our Built Heritage” if you’re interested to learn more about the city’s art deco era. 
Although it’s currently sold out, you can opt to get notified once it’s available again here

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