Postcard from Brisbane Open House (Fort Lytton)

This is the weekend where Brisbane opens the doors of buildings that the public don't normally get to look round. This year there were over 100 all over the city. We had quite a few that we would like to have seen, but there just isn't time, so we chose three and got to see two of them.

The first was Fort Lytton - actually a collection of a dozen buildings, half of which were open to the public on Saturday with a couple more available on the Sunday. It's an interesting site to look round anyway. It used to be a defensive fort at the mouth of the river, and there are still two 64-pounder guns in place.

The visitor centre was open as you'd expect, and if you ever get a chance to go, have a look at the books of photographs. Some of them show Brisbane during the 1890 flood which, I think, was the highest flood the city has experienced. It made the flood a few years ago look quite small in comparison.

The quarantine building was interesting. I didn't realise that it was still in use in 1980! Again, photographs and a knowledgable teacher to explain the history. We got a bit nervous when we watched a brown snake making it's way across the path to the building, but people had the right idea. Stamp your feet on the wooden floor and the snake moves off.

The decontamination station was open as well, and we had a good look at the autoclave which was still in use in the 1960s. Huge, heavy, able to use steam, formaldehyde or cyanide to disinfect everything and anything considered a risk. You;d need to be sure that the cyanide was removed before giving luggage back to a passenger!

Three of the guns fired while we were there. Two of the 6 pounders and one of the 64 pounders. The sergeant in charge of the gun crews gave out ear plugs which was definiately a good idea.

We've been to the Fort before, but not had the opportunity to go into the buildings before. It's a great place to visit, and we got a lot out of being there.


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