Burnett Lane Brisbane


Brisbane’s oldest lane dates from convict days when the block it cuts through on the Queens St side was the site of the Prisoner’s Cells and Barracks and the Superintendent of Convicts residence. When four cottages were built on the Adelaide St side the laneway was built for access to them.



Burnett Lane –  Brisbane’s oldest laneway, named after our first colonial surveyor, started life as a prison ‘exercise’ yard in the dark days of the penal colony and was the grim scene of floggings and hangings. After the penal colony closed and the city buildings replaced the gaol, it was a tradesman’s entrance to Brisbane’s first bookshop (amongst other things).


The lane takes its name from Brisbane’s first surveyor James Burnett, who died at 39 and is now profiled on the rear wall of one of the Queen St buildings. Archaeologists have pinpointed the paved Burnett Lane as having been built over the Prisoner’s Barracks Yard, where the settlement’s first hanging occurred in 1830.


In recent years it has experienced a council makeover with all sorts of interesting historical facts scrawled on its walls, luminous artworks on the ground and a tiny smattering of uber cool restaurants, cafes and bars: Super Whatnot, Survey Co, German Sausage Hut Imbuss, Felix Espresso, and across the Albert St Mall, the basement Brew Café Wine Bar. It is also the rear entrance to the southern hemisphere’s biggest second-hand vinyl store the Record Exchange and Burnett Lane’s resident Galleria. The only downside is that by day there’s an ongoing battle between pedestrians and delivery trucks (which will sadly continue as long as there are no set restricted delivery hours outside of which pedestrians can enjoy free range access).

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The German Sausage Hut is just a stumble away for anyone with a hankering for a gourmet snag or a freshly baked pretzel. You might have sampled these famous sausages at one of the pop-up market stalls around town.  The German Sausage Hut serves the best of their wursts straight from the grill in an oven-fresh roll with their secret recipe sauerkraut.  Beer lovers will also appreciate the German beer on tap. –
Then there was a broad archway that extended about 10 metres through an open hallway in the centre of the three storey stone Queen St Prisoner’s Barracks and within it was a ‘flogging triangle’, so placed for all convicts new and old to see. In 1828 1100 lashes were meted out to 200 convicts, 128 of them taking the brunt with 50 or more of these whippings.
After the penal settlement closed the Queen St side housed the first Town Hall which was built there in 1864 and operated until the current City Hall was built. After the barracks and other convict buildings were demolished the late 19th century buildings which still front Queen St were constructed, including the Andrea Stombucco designed 1881 Allan & Stark Building which was later added to by Richard Gailey. Myer purchased it in 1970 along with the building fronting Adelaide St across Burnett Lane and during those retail years the lane was a hive of delivery truck activity.

Published by Ladymaggic

Artist, Traveller, Researcher and Writer, currently living in Australia where I photograph and share experiences and events as I travel. Travel photos and videos about many places in Australia​ and the world

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