#SheTravels Historical Ormiston House In Brisbane – Ruth Greening

March 15, 2024

Brisbane has treasures that continue to give me joy and enlighten my learnings. It is endless. Moreso because Queensland is not my place of birth. So in a way, I am lucky to have ongoing ‘first time’ experiences in this beautiful city and state.

Only recently once again I was introduced to something new, Ormiston House.   I was invited to join my friend to celebrate her mother’s birthday over a Devonshire Tea. I was soon to discover this little gem so close to home. 

On Quandamooka Country historical Ormiston House is the birthplace of the Australian Sugar Industry, it is part of the Redlands district, about a half hour’s drive from the CBD, located at 277 Wellington St, Ormiston Qld. 

Ormiston House is one of Queensland’s finest examples of heritage-listed colonial architecture meticulously restored, with expansive grounds and beautiful gardens we sat peacefully on the balcony consuming our delightful fresh scones, jam and cream with our cups of tea and coffee. 

Brisbane’s March sea breeze was comfortable as it drifted its way up from where we sat. Overlooking the mat of groomed lawns, the expanse of blue waters in Moreton Bay was cathartic. I could feel my shoulders drop. The scent of the blooming pink frangipani was calming. Trees, born well before my time, would have untold adventures we could barely imagine. If only they could talk

Brief history

Captain the Hon. Louis Hope (1817-1894) from the Coldstream Guards, moved from NSW to Kilcoy north of Moreton Bay.  Farmer, grazier, sugar planter and miller he was a man of vision and in 1850 purchased 800 acres of land at Raby Bay which he named Ormiston after a village on the family estate in Scotland. In 1850 he married, had children and finally moved from Kilcoy into the completed Ormiston House in 1862.  

He also built St Andrew’s Chapel on this estate for his family and workers which was also used as a school room. He earned the title of The Father of the Commercial Sugar Industry for growing and milling the first commercially produced sugar as well as elevating the sugar industry in Queensland to what it is today. Captain Hope became a life member of the Legislative Council and served for 20 years.  

Unfortunately following a dispute with a neighbour over the crushing of his cane with no compensation he dismantled the mill and sold it in 1875. Finally, he and his family returned to England in 1884. He died aged 77 years. His great-nephew was appointed the first Governor-General of Australia in 1901. 

Purchased by the Carmelite Order in 1959 to turn it into a monastery, they soon realised the historical significance and built a smaller building next door. In 1967 the Ormiston House Restoration Association was formed to restore the house and gardens to their former glory. In 1992 The Ormiston House Friends and Advisers Committee was formed and continues to maintain and restore this beautiful historical site.


Dedicated volunteers continue to perform most of the work, provide guided tours, hold special events and treat us to our delightful Devonshire Teas on Sunday afternoons.  Friends of Ormiston House volunteer Graham Gilbert was our guide for the afternoon. In his early nineties, Graham still held a spring in his step as his knowledgeable mind walked and talked us through ancestors and happenings from the past. He didn’t need notes he had a steadfast account of the who’s who at Ormiston House including a little gossip. 

It is well worth a visit to immerse yourself in a tranquil, slow-paced historical tour of the premises. Dwell on historical collections and memorabilia in every room: an original copy of 1983 Brisbane White Pages, The Tartan Map, hand-crafted wooden rocking horse, wrought iron doll beds and a cane pram similar to one I had as a little girl, black and white photos of the Hope Family, graceful table settings with old English crockery and polished silver, with so much more to see. 

Special Events 2024 

Bookings essential for some functions:

12 May: Mothers Day High Tea @11am $60 p.p 

9 June:  Winter Craft Markets @11am – 3 pm, gold coin entry

7 July: Christmas in July noon $70 p.p

21 July: Rolls Royce Concours @10.30am – 3 pm 

6 October: Breast Cancer Awareness Month High Tea @2pm $60 p.p

27 October: Spring High Tea Sunday  @11am $60 p.p

24 November: Christmas Craft Markets Z@11am-3 pm

Enchanted Fairy Garden and Fairy Parties available via bookings

7 December: Celebrate Christmas with our twilight Carols on the lawn @5.30pm onwards, gold coin entry

Booking Information

Ormiston House is open February to December on Sunday afternoons from 12-4 pm. Last entry 3 pm.

Entry fee to house and grounds $8 Adult, $5 Chile 5-12 yrs

Devonshire Tea/Coffee $8

Arrangements can be made by appointment for weekday group and school tours, verandah functions, weddings and school formal photographs. 

For bookings call 0407 034978 or email duchesne.ormistonhouse@gmail.com 

Website: https://www.ormistonhouseqld.com.au/ 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/historicormistonhouse

Ample parking on the premises


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