Fort Lytton

A unique military site at the mouth of the Brisbane River

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Last Sunday, I took my family for a scenic drive out to Fort Lytton National Park, one of Brisbane’s hidden gems that includes the Queensland Museum of Military History, and Fort Lytton Historical Association.  As I arrived, I was immediately struck by the historic significance of this national park which dates back to the late 19th century as a military fort and quarantine station.

The fort, once a critical defence point for Brisbane, is remarkably well-preserved with excellent examples of Australian artillery that visitors can see up close. Having just visited significant WWII sites in Normandy France with my daughter, she and I were surprised by the similarity and impressed to see a site on our own doorstep that compares favourably to other well-known military sites in Europe.  

We joined a tour led by Mike, a passionate volunteer guide whose enthusiasm brought the history of Fort Lytton to life. Mike’s storytelling painted vivid pictures of the fort’s role in various conflicts, from its establishment in 1881, to its use during World War II as protection from possible enemy attack. We explored the maze of underground passages and gun emplacements, all in the beautiful grassy riverfront setting that once provided strategic defence against potential threats. 

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The Queensland Military Historical Society runs an on-site museum, with an impressive collection of artifacts, including uniforms, weapons, and personal stories of those who served. It provided a deeper understanding of Brisbane’s military history and the fort’s role within it. We particularly enjoyed the touch screen display which delved into the lives and careers of significant military officers who served at Fort Lytton. 

Fort Lytton is open every Sunday from 10am to 4pm, and admission is free, although donations are appreciated. I highly recommend packing a picnic and visiting in the morning for a guided tour (10.30am, 11.30am, 12.45pm and 1.45pm) making sure you visit the museum buildings, too. 

You can also grab a map for a self-guided tour, but we much preferred the tour with Mike, who made the visit engaging and educational for the whole family.