Ipswich pays $1 for castle

Ipswich Historical Society president Hugh Taylor and Cr Bruce Casos inspect a water tank at the site where Brynhyfryd stood at Blackstone Hill.
Ipswich Historical Society president Hugh Taylor and Cr Bruce Casos inspect a water tank at the site where Brynhyfryd stood at Blackstone Hill. Rob Williams

THE site of Ipswich's "coal castle" Brynhyfryd at Blackstone Hill is planned to open as a tourist attraction after council purchased five parcels of land for $1.

Built in 1889 by the "Coal King" Lewis Thomas, the George Brockwell Gill designed three-storey mansion ironically was condemned after undermining, explosions and subsidence structurally compromised the grand building.

Welsh-born Thomas made his fortune as owner of Aberdare Colliery at Blackstone and was also the Minister for Bundamba from 1893 to 1899 and part of the Queensland Legislative Council from 1902 until his death in 1913.

The mansion was demolished in the 1930s with building materials and furnishings auctioned off.

The site has been under private ownership since and closed to the public as fires still burn in the shallow mine workings evident in small sink holes today.

Local councillor Bruce Casos said on behalf of the community council acquired five parcels of land at 1 High St, Blackstone, including the former site of Brynhyfryd, to be included as part of the city's open space network.

Owners Juxgold Group/Blackstone International Pty Ltd effectively gifted the land to the city.


Cr Casos said council had appointed a masterplan committee working on the future of the site and would conduct geotech surveys to determine the best use for the site.

The land commands spectacular views across the city from Pine Mountain to Mt Coot-tha on one side and across to Mt Flinders on the other side. It is also a known location for fossil digs with finds from the Triassic period and mountain bike enthusiasts.

"Brynhyfryd, which is Welsh for 'pleasant view', had a fascinating history," Cr Casos said.

"On a clear day, it was said that sailing ships on Moreton Bay could be seen from the castle tower."

Cr Casos said options for the site included a bush chapel to take in the views and a museum hall to showcase the history of the castle, Welsh origins and Aboriginal history of the area and educational aspects of the geology.

Parks, Sport and Recreation Committee Chairman David Morrison said through the acquisition of these parcels of land on Blackstone Hill council had inherited a complexity of issues.

"Careful consideration needs to be undertaken of how these constraints impact on the past, current and future historical, undermining, recreation and conservation values of the site," Cr Morrison said.

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