Sites and Displays

Commissariat Store

115 William Street, Brisbane

Visit one of only two remaining convict-built buildings in Brisbane and see exhibitions on the history of Queensland. See where archaeologists excavated beneath the floorboards and the pieces of the past they found. For more details: https://www.commissariatstore.org.au/

The 2011 floods revealed additional archaeology between the edge of William Street and the Commissariat Store building. For more information see, ‘Archaeological treasure on a Brisbane doorstep’, Sydney Morning Herald, 28 November 2011.

Mill Point, Southern Cooloola Section, Great Sandy National Park, Sunshine Coast

Approx 5km north of Boreen Point.

Take a walk into the past at the site of this 19th century timber mill settlement on the shores of Lake Cootharaba. Signs along the 2.4km (one way) trail tell the history of the site. Archaeologists have excavated at the site uncovering the remains of the houses where the mill workers and their families lived. To see what exciting things they found visithttps://webarchive.nla.gov.au/awa/20130505180254/http://www.atsis.uq.edu.au/index.html?page=42037

For details on the national park: http://www.epa.qld.gov.au/projects/park/index.cgi?parkid=235

Also visit the Noosa Museum to learn more about the Mill Point story.
29 Factory Street, Pomona
For more details: http://www.noosamuseum.org.au/

Museum of Tropical Queensland, Townsville

70-102 Flinders Street East, Townsville

The most famous attraction of the Museum of Tropical Queensland is the Pandora exhibit, which tells the story of the ill-fated Pandora, her crew and prisoners (the mutineers from the Bounty). The exhibition features artefacts recovered by archaeologists from the wreck of HMS Pandora which give an insight into maritime life in the 18th century. Witness the terror of the prisoners inside the ‘Pandora’s Box’ as the ship sinks. See unique artefacts recovered from the wreck of the Pandora. Search the database for information on other Queensland shipwrecks

For more details: https://www.museum.qld.gov.au/tropics/whats-on/pandora-gallery

Queensland Museum Kurilpa (South Bank)

Corner of Grey & Melbourne Streets, South Brisbane

Learn about Queensland’s history and archaeology at the Queensland Museum in the Queensland Stories: People Places Past and Present exhibition, and in the museum’s Inquiry Centre. More details about the museum are available on their website. The museum also has a page filled with information on the archaeology of Queensland.

Archaeology of Brisbane’s streets and the Queens Wharf Precinct

Significant archaeological remains have been found under the streets of Brisbane, which has led to sections of Albert St, George St, William St, North Quay, Queen’s Wharf Rd, Adelaide St, Burnett Lane, Elizabeth St, Charlotte St, Margaret St and Alice St being listed on the Queensland Heritage Register. The redevelopment of the Queens Wharf Precinct in Brisbane in particular has revealed archaeological remains as the street alignment changed. For more information see this page on the Historic Queens Wharf website, and this page on the Queens Wharf project site. In 2017 archaeologist Holly Maclean was interviewed by ABC Brisbane Breakfast about her work on the Queens Wharf site.

Archaeological discoveries during major road works

Major road projects have uncovered archaeological remains, including the Toowoomba Bypass Project and upgrades of Kingsford Smith Drive in Brisbane. You can read more here.

Cross River Rail Project in Brisbane

The Cross River Rail Project in Brisbane to establish a new underground transport system has involved deep excavations in numerous locations in Brisbane. These led to the discovery of items of archaeological significance and numerous urban archaeological sites excavated and analysed in detail. Further information is available on the Cross River Rail website. There is also a free archaeological exhibition Digging Deeper at the Cross River Rail Experience Centre on Elizabeth Street, Brisbane City.

Archaeological Places on the Queensland Heritage Register

To search and view places on the Queensland Heritage Register visit https://apps.des.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/


Harvey, C. 2013. An Overview of Historical Archaeology in Queensland, Australia. International Journal of Historical Archaeology 17(3)  

Queensland Archaeological Research

This journal has been published since 1982 and features both historical archaeology and First Nations archaeology in Queensland. For more information see their website.

Paradise : life on a Queensland goldfield / Jonathan Prangnell, Lynda Cheshire, Kate Quirk.

Brisbane, Qld. : University of Queensland Archaeological Services Unit, Burnett Water Pty Ltd, 2005.

Pandora : an archaeological perspective / Peter Gesner.

South Brisbane : Queensland Museum, 1991.


Queensland Heritage Act 1992

The Queensland Heritage Act provides for the conservation of Queensland’s historical cultural heritage for the benefit of the community and future generations.

The main sections relevant to historical archaeology include:

  • Part 5 – Registration of archaeological places in the Queensland Heritage Register
  • Part 9 – Discovery and protection of archaeological artefacts
  • s89 – Requirement to give notice about discovery of an archaeological artifact
  • s69 – Assessing development in a registered archaeological place

More information on the legal management of archaeology is available from the Queensland Government website. The Queensland Government also prepared guidelines for archaeological investigations in 2019.

Get Involved

National Archaeology Week

Held in May each year with events and activities for the public. Visit http://www.archaeologyweek.com/

Toowong Cemetery

The Friends of Toowong Cemetery, in conjunction with The University of Queensland’s School of Social Science, have been undertaking voluntary archaeological investigations and searching for buried headstones in the cemetery grounds since 2006. The annual archaeology dig is a chance for the general public to be involved in unearthing Brisbane’s history. https://www.fotc.au/headstones/archaeological-digs/

Many thanks to Karen Murphy for compiling the original page and to Jessica Heidrich for updated (2024) information.