Last week, we featured QUT’s new main Creative Industries Precinct building. But there are four other buildings nestled behind it called The Barracks. In many ways, these are more special. Because they are part of Brisbane’s history.

Damon Ryan reports.


The Gona Barracks have been a part of Brisbane history since before World War 1.

Few knew that Japanese prisoners of war were secretly held here.

But for our troops these buildings housed drill and mess halls and hold a multitude of memories.

Life at the barracks was centred around the Frank Moran Memorial Hall.

Helen Klaebe, QUT Historian: “So it’s where everyone used to gather, drinking and playing cards.”

But more recently, QUT purchased the land and barracks with plans to expand their Kelvin Grove campus.

The expansion began five years ago. Now it’s up and running.

Students work with the latest technology surrounded by wooden buildings that remain as a reminder of days gone by.

In this open plan studio students work to mold and nurture their creative ideas.

Vox Pop 1: “It’s everything I could hope for. I was really excited to move into the new facilities.”

Vox Pop 2: “Wonderful mindfield for work actually.”

A creative oasis for students and for those who teach them, The Barracks provide a unique learning environment.

Dr Courtney Pedersen, QUT Head of Visual Arts: “The kind of studio program that we run here at QUT is pretty unique and it’s what we call an open studio. So, it’s a space where students all learn together.”

Working with textiles, clay, paint, and wood every student is encouraged to collaborate and learn together.

Dr Courtney Pedersen, QUT Head of Visual Arts: “You can see that they can kinda do construction here. They can do welding, they can do wood work. All of those sorts of things in one spot.”

With their modern exterior it might be easy for some to forget the history of these buildings.

Lynn Green, QUT Major Projects: “It’s surprisingly original, which has been very much an objective of the project, just to retain the original character.”

They designed the buildings with the environment in mind. Students are encouraged to use pedal power with specially designed parking racks for more than forty push bikes.

In this space students use kilns to fire their pottery creations. No artificial cooling here just fresh air.

Walk between these restored buildings and there are constant and deliberate reminders of how the old complements the new.

Where soldiers gathered for some R&R, students will now use this space as a gallery to showcase their works of art.

The Frank Moran Memorial Hall is turning into an exhibit to revive the history of the barracks.

Drawing upon its storied past a third year student is turning this empty building into a historic exhibit.

The Barracks may sit in the shadow of QUT’s newest and most advanced building, but they stand as a symbol of what was and what can be.

Damon Ryan, QUT News.