The collections of Newstead House are largely the result of generous donations making it a veritable old museum in Brisbane. The initial collection was established by David Gibson OAM and The Friends of Newstead  Inc during the 1970s and 1980s to tell the story of Newstead House during the Harris occupation, in the late Victorian period.

The collections have historical links to The Queensland Women’s Historical Association and The Royal Historical Society of Queensland.

Subsequent donations and purchases have strengthened this significant collection, and ensured that a diverse range of the Newstead House experience is represented in this old museum Brisbane.

Significant Collection Items

At first glance, the collections on display at Newstead House may appear bewildering. This is because the fashion for interior design and furnishings during the Victorian Era was very different to modern day fashions.

Interiors of the Victorian Era have been described as excessive and opulent compared to today’s minimalist aesthetic, and a bare room was considered to be in poor taste. Every surface was filled with objects and furniture that reflected the occupants’ interests and aspirations, and ‘more’ was definitely best.

To help you to look closely at our collections, here are two significant objects that are on display at Newstead House.

Sir Thomas Brisbane’s Pipe


Silver gilt, meerschaum, ceramic, wood, cord.
Made by Joseph Ash, London in 1811

Sir Thomas Brisbane’s connection to the modern day city of Brisbane started in 1823, when Sir Thomas, the Governor of New South Wales sent John Oxley, the Surveyor-General of New South Wales to find a site for the new penal settlement for convicts who had reoffended. On this expedition, Oxley discovered a large river flowing into Moreton Bay which he named after Governor Brisbane.

After deciding on an area at Redcliffe, Moreton Bay’s first convicts arrived in 1824. The settlement proved to be unsuitable and Oxley recommended that the settlement was relocated to land along the Brisbane River. On the 9th of November 1824, Governor Brisbane visited Redcliffe and agreed to relocate the settlement to the new location. In 1825 the settlement was moved and named Brisbane Town.

Sir Thomas Brisbane had a distinguished military career and a fondness for science and astronomy. In 1810, he was promoted to the position of colonel and elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of London. It is likely that this pipe was given to Sir Thomas to celebrate this honour.

Signal Cannon


Brass, wood Made by Low and Duff, Dundee in 1889

This signal cannon was originally from a ship in the White Star Line, made famous by their ship the Titanic. The White Star Line was initially focussed on the Australian gold mining trade. The UK-Australia route became very profitable as many hopefuls took the voyage to Australia in the hope of discovering gold. Australia’s population more than tripled between 1851 and 1871 after the discovery of gold.

This cannon also served as the starter cannon for 18-foot yacht races held on the Brisbane River. Yacht racing was a popular leisure activity and sport, and a competitive fleet regularly raced on the Brisbane River. The first Australian Title on the Brisbane River took place in 1845, the year the Newstead House land grant was purchased.

(Cabinet of Curiosities, Museum of Brisbane, 2011)

Object of the Month

Check Out Our Collection

Discover a different object from Newstead House’s collection every month! Staff, interns and volunteers at Newstead House are sharing their favourite objects from Newstead Houses’ wonderful collection.

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This week’s Object of the Week: