40 years ago, when I last visited, you could walk in any time. Charles, the lift operator, would take you to the top and you could stay as long as you liked. We tried to be there at midday to get maximum impact of the bells. Charles even used to let us out inside the clock faces and to walk around the dusty archives. We felt very special.
Today, the 15 minute tours are carefully timed to avoid being up there for any of the chimes.
The lift is the oldest manually operated lift remaining in use in Australia and the clock faces are the largest in Australia. Each of the 4 faces is almost 5 metres in diameter; the minute hands are 3 metres long
Although no longer a casual, walk-up experience I still enjoyed the trip back in time and the commentary, as well as the views from the top – even if you have to look from behind Perspex safety shields.
There are no crying children; the smell, so strong in my memory, of grated cheese and carrot sandwiches has long gone. The Museum of Brisbane has taken the place of the rooftop childcare centre where Mum worked, where I was cared for as a baby and a child and where I later did my Girl Guide childcare badge.
A small museum highlighting features of Brisbane’s past and present, entry is free and there is a free half-hour guided tour at midday
Timed tickets for the clock tower (also free) are issued at the Museum counter on a first-in, first-served basis.
Somewhere up there an unofficial time capsule, placed during the tower’s construction, remains unopened.
Back on the ground, Cassie the Cassowary and I made sure the lions that guard the City Hall were still friendly …
… and admired the Petrie Tableau …
… before heading to the nearby MacArthur Museum. More about that next week.
Top tip: It pays to be at the counter early to get your clock tower tickets. I arrived at about 11.00am on a quiet day and the first available slot was at midday. I opted for 12.30 so that I could also do the Museum tour. By the time I left at 12.45 they were handing out tickets for the 4.00pm tour.
The museum opens at 10.00am and the first clock tower tour is at 10.15am.