Maryborough Heritage Gateway

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Historical Customs House building in Maryborough, in the Maryborough Heritage Gateway

Maryborough Heritage Gateway, also known as Portside Heritage Gateway and Portside Heritage Precinct, is a historical look at the early settlement of Maryborough and its port district.

Maryborough is one of Queensland’s oldest cities, first settled by George Furber in 1847 to set up a wool store. It was on the wrong side for the sheep runs, so 1848 saw a new site on the opposite side of the river at the “original Maryborough site” where the pioneer graves are located.

The site was not the best for ship access so a new location for Maryborough with deeper water access for larger ships was identified in 1850 and declared a township in 1851. The move was contested by those who had established businesses at the old site, however, after increased raids by Aboriginal people, including the killing of George Furber and his son-in-law Joseph Wilmshurst in 1855, the old site was effectively abandoned by 1856.

In 1859 Maryborough was declared an official port of entry with 22,000 immigrants entering Australia through the port between then and 1901.

Maryborough Heritage Gateway is made up of several attractions and locations. The Bond Store, Customs House and Residence, and the Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum. Behind the Bond Store and Customs House is Mary River and Queens Park, and the Mary Ann Locomotive, a full-size replica built by OLDS Engine House.

Bond Store

Historical Bond Store in Maryborough in the Portside District

The bond store provided storage for imported goods needing to be taxed, such as rum, tobacco, opium, and other goods. The building has a history starting from 1864 and still has the original handmade bricks and original floors.

The entry from the street is into the shop with some local produce, mainly jams and liquor, and purchase tickets for entry.

The top floor has several displays showing the history of the bond store and the development of industry and commerce in Maryborough. There is no ceiling showing off the large exposed beams above.

Time Machine exhibit at the Bond Store in the Maryborough Heritage Gateway

My boys were fascinated with the time machine, selecting a year to display a video onto the brick wall opposite. They were less interested in the video than playing than playing with the time machine switches.

The Mary Ann is represented by a display about Walkers Ltd, starting the heavy industry in Maryborough. The Mary Ann was the first locomotive built by Walkers Ltd in 1873 and continued with a contract for 30 steam locomotives in 1896.

Other industries around Maryborough have displays with information, including the timber industry, wool and sugar industries.

Ship building began for Walkers Ltd with three steam barges in 1877. The success of Walkers Ltd over a century built a total of 68 ships and over 500 locomotives.

Stairs lead to the bottom floor. The first part has a metal flooring which continues into the next part. Glass floor panels show the barrel rails underneath. Part of the floor has a barrier to prevent access to it but has the original earthen floor.

Customs House

Historical Customs House in Maryborough in the Portside District

The Customs House is beside the Bond Store (the Customs House Residence is between them). Queensland separated from the colony of New South Wales in 1859, and Maryborough was declared a port of entry.

The Maryborough Customs House was built in 1899, replacing an earlier building from 1861, and remained as the customs house until 1988.

The customs house building and the residence were designed by architect John Smith Murdoch, who designed the original parliament house in Canberra.

The displays inside Customs House focuses on immigration from the 1860s until 1901 when Australia was federated.

22,000 people immigrated to Australia through the Port of Maryborough on 154 ships. The journey from England took up to 3 months for the free settlers. No convicts came through Maryborough.

Passengers' Contract Ticket exhibit at the Customs House in Maryborough Heritage Gateway

The displays provide some insight on the journeys taken, starting with dress-ups for the kids (big and small) to take a photo of your passengers’ contract ticket, complete with your own name.

Kids are encouraged to interact at different points, such as laying on the ship’s bunk to see what it is like in the small sleeping space. When they do, they see a diary on the underside of the bunk above from an 11 year old making the journey to Australia.

The displays continue through to arrival at Maryborough, to getting work, and establishing a place to live. There is also a room with artefacts from the early years of Maryborough and history of the town.

The building is as interesting as the content and displays within it. The main foyer of the building has grand high ceilings, from the outside the windows appear they would be for another floor above, but they are set high above the floor.

In the centre is an ornate storage shelves and desk with compartments, draws and doors all over it. It appears to be in such great condition for an old and overly decadent piece of furniture. It isn’t that old, made in recent years and gifted to the Customs House, but it is never the less an interesting piece to look at.

Military and Colonial Museum

Historical Military and Colonial Museum in Maryborough in the Portside District

The Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum has over 7,000 items of military and colonial memorabilia, providing a testament to the heroes who fought for our way of life and prosperity, as well as those who pioneered and progressed the Maryborough area.

The museum has a good display of medals, including the Victoria Cross and two of the most historically significant medal groups to Australian soldiers for the Vietnam War.

Displays include original uniforms, infantry weapons, stories from real men and women who served for Australia, and much more.

Of the three museums to look through, the military museum will take the most time to look through. There is much more individual items to look over.

To get there:

Brown sign for Maryborough Heritage Gateway

Head south on Bruce Hwy, take the exit towards Maryborough and Hervey Bay onto Walker St. Follow Walker St for 3.5km and turn right into Ferry St. Follow Ferry St for 450m and turn left into Kent St. Follow Kent St for 950m and turn left onto Richmond St, where a brown sign for Maryborough Heritage Gateway is seen behind the Mary Poppins statue. The Customs House is 120m and the Bond Store and Military Museum on the right along Wharf St.

Heading north on Bruce Hwy, on crossing Mary River continue on the highway for 900m passed the first exit for Maryborough and turning right at the next into Walker St. Follow Walker St for 3.5km and turn right into Ferry St. Follow Ferry St for 450m and turn left into Kent St. Follow Kent St for 950m and turn left onto Richmond St, where a brown sign for Maryborough Heritage Gateway is seen behind the Mary Poppins statue. The Customs House is 120m and the Bond Store and Military Museum on the right along Wharf St.

Coming from Hervey Bay, head towards Maryborough on Saltwater Creek Rd. In Maryborough, Saltwater Creek Rd bends to the right becoming John St. Continue on John St for 1.1km to the end and turn left onto Kent St. Follow Kent St for 550m and turn left onto Richmond St, where a brown sign for Maryborough Heritage Gateway is seen behind the Mary Poppins statue. The Customs House is 120m and the Bond Store and Military Museum on the right along Wharf St.

Cost: Portside Pass Adults $15, Child Free with paying adult, individual tickets also available to the Bond Store, Customs House, and Military and Colonial Museum

Hours: Mon-Fri 9.30am-3.30pm, Sat-Sun 9.30am-12.30pm

Toilets: No

Bins: No

Tables: No

Seating: No

Water: No

Food: No

Wheelchair accessible: Yes

Pets: No


Playground: No

Hours:Mon-Fri 9.30am-3.30pm, Sat-Sun 9.30am-12.30pm

Wheelchair accessible:Yes

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