You don’t need to travel to Europe to see a historic military fort – Brisbane has its very own coastal fortress, Fort Lytton, complete with a water-filled moat for you to visit.
Situated on the Brisbane River, Fort Lytton is a fascinating landmark to explore with your Brisbane Kids.
A visit to Fort Lytton can include a free tour of the pentagonal fortress, a picnic along the grassy banks of the Brisbane River, and the opportunity to watch the canons being fired on selected dates.
Currently, Fort Lytton is open every Sunday and on some days during the school holidays. Entry is by gold coin donation.
History of Fort Lytton, Brisbane
Fort Lytton is one of several coastal fortifications built along Australia’s coast in the 19th century to safeguard shipping lanes and ports from possible enemy raids.
From 1881 until the 1930s, Fort Lytton was Brisbane’s front line of defense and included a water-filled moat and heavy armaments concealed behind grassy ramparts, connected by underground passages.
The fort also controlled a minefield in the Brisbane River, which was operated from a concealed tunnel under the fort.
At the time, the fort held state-of-the-art military equipment and technology, including ‘disappearing guns’, which could be raised rapidly over the ramparts, and lowered just 20 seconds later.
The fort became a national park in 1988 and is now jointly managed by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and the Fort Lytton Historical Association.
Things to do at Fort Lytton, Brisbane
Fort Lytton is open to the public on Sundays from 10am until 4pm. There is plenty of free parking, and admission is also free (although donations are invited).
There is no need to book, and free guided tours are offered throughout the day. Alternatively, you can wander around the fortress buildings at your own pace, using the ‘self-guided tour’ leaflet. However, one of the main exhibits is only open to people on tours. The tours are flexible, and you can join or leave them at any point, which is useful for little ones with short attention spans! Children are also encouraged to ask questions and get involved on the tours.
The fort is exposed to the elements, so it’s a good idea to wear a hat, sunscreen and pack some refreshments.
A shady picnic area is available, and you are welcome to bring a gas or fuel stove for cooking. Hot and cold beverages can be purchased from the canteen, although there are no EFTPOS facilities on site, so you will need to bring cash.
There are wheelchair accessible toilets at Fort Lytton. However, the grass pathways that access the historical site make the use of wheelchairs and prams difficult.
Events at Fort Lytton, Brisbane
Fort Lytton hosts a number of family-friendly events throughout the year, including historical re-enactments, cannon/gun firings, ‘Fort Lytton at Night’ (a theatrical performance for adults and children over 12 years), and ‘History Alive’, run by the Queensland Living History Federation.
History Alive runs over two days in June each year and includes Roman, Viking, Medieval, Napoleonic, Colonial and World War activities, such as battle re-enactments, dance workshops and cooking demonstrations. For more information on upcoming events, visit the Fort Lytton Historical Association website.
Getting to Fort Lytton, Brisbane
Fort Lytton National Park is situated in the Brisbane suburb of Lytton on the southern bank of the Brisbane River: 160 South Street, Lytton. For further information, visit http://fortlytton.org.au/.