Built in 1899 the Maryborough Customs House replaced the earlier customs house built in 1861. With the separation of Queensland from the colony of New South Wales in 1859, Maryborough was declared a Port of Entry – a place where people may legally enter a country – and the Customs House was sited adjacent to the port. Wharf Street was the centre of the town that grew up around the busy and important port and the surviving buildings help tell the story of the maritime activities.
The conditions of importing and exporting from Maryborough were subject to the control of the Queensland Customs Department. Taxation on goods entering and leaving the colony was an important source of revenue for the newly established Queensland government. Collectors and sub-collectors were appointed as towns along the coastline were declared Ports of Entry, and although most customs officers
commenced their duties in humble or makeshift buildings, the importance of the service soon demanded customs houses of more prominence and grandeur.
After the major flood in 1893, a decision was made to build a new customs house in Maryborough, inspired by the newly constructed Customs House in Brisbane, in 1889. Others were built at Rockhampton, Townsville, Bundaberg and Mackay in this Federation period.
Customs House and its adjacent residence were designed by the noted architect John Smith Murdoch, who also designed the first Parliament House in Canberra. The buildings are constructed of locally-made brick and are testament to the fine craftsmanship of the contractors, Henry Neale and Son, as well as other local tradespeople.
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