St Marys Roman Catholic Church | Environment, land and water | Queensland Government

Skip links and keyboard navigation

St Marys Roman Catholic Church

  • 600692
  • 271-275 Adelaide Street, Maryborough


Also known as
St Mary's Roman Catholic Church; St Marys Catholic Church
State Heritage
Register status
Date entered
21 October 1992
Religion/worship: Church
8.1 Creating social and cultural institutions: Worshipping and religious institutions
Stanley, Francis Drummond Greville
Construction period
1869–1936, St Marys Roman Catholic Church (1869 - 1936)
Historical period
1840s–1860s Mid-19th century


271-275 Adelaide Street, Maryborough
Fraser Coast Regional Council
-25.53730842, 152.70371167


Street view

Photography is provided by Google Street View and may include third-party images. Images show the vicinity of the heritage place which may not be visible.

Request a boundary map

A printable boundary map report can be emailed to you.


Criterion AThe place is important in demonstrating the evolution or pattern of Queensland’s history.

St Mary's Church the principal Roman Catholic Church in Maryborough illustrates the growth of the town from a small port to a large regional city. The church demonstrates the development of the catholic church in regional Queensland, from the establishment of centres in major regional towns in the mid nineteenth century to upgrading facilities during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Criterion DThe place is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a particular class of cultural places.

The building is a characteristic example of a large regional Roman Catholic Church, with substantial sections dating from the nineteenth century and sympathetic early twentieth century additions.

Criterion EThe place is important because of its aesthetic significance.

St Mary's has aesthetic and architectural merit as the work of a group of talented architects, forming a well composed building on a prominent Maryborough site. The building features fine craftsmanship, particularly the marble high altar, stained glass windows, Stations of the Cross and joinery.

Criterion GThe place has a strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group for social, cultural or spiritual reasons.

The building has important spiritual associations with the Roman Catholic community in Maryborough as their place of public worship for 125 years and has association with many of the parish priests who were responsible for adding to or altering the building.

Criterion HThe place has a special association with the life or work of a particular person, group or organisation of importance in Queensland’s history.

The building has associations with architects, Charles Tiffin and FDG Stanley and with POE Hawkes, an innovative Maryborough architect.


St Mary's Roman Catholic Church was constructed in several stages and incorporates the first permanent Roman Catholic church in Maryborough started in 1869 to a design of Charles Tiffin. The building was enlarged in two major stages of construction, the first in 1884-5 to the design of FDG Stanley and then in 1936 to the design of local architect, POE Hawkes.

The original township of Maryborough was situated, not in its current place, but on the north of the Mary River, after wharves were established in 1847-8 providing transport for wool from sheep stations on the Burnett River. In 1850 Surveyor, HR Labatt arrived in Maryborough with instructions to "examine the River suggest ...the best site or sites for the laying out of the town, having regard to the convenience of shipping on one hand and internal communication on the other...also...point out the spots desirable as reserves for public building, church, quay and for places for public recreation." The site recommended by Labatt was not where settlement was established but further east and from the early 1850s this is where the growing town developed. As part of the survey two acres of land, through which a creek ran, in Section 85 was set aside for the Roman Catholic Church.

To service the early Roman Catholic community in Maryborough, Father James Hanley from Brisbane, visited Maryborough and held Baptismal services. The first service was held in August 1852 in the house of the local chief constable. Towards the end of the 1850s the town of Maryborough developed with the erection of several public buildings including churches, and in 1856 a decision was made by the catholic community to erect a timber building to house 300 people. The tender of Linklater and Thompson was accepted and the church was ready for use in 1858, though not on the reserved site which was subject to flooding. A new site had been donated to the church by James Cleary and this has remained the principal catholic church site in Maryborough. The timber building was erected principally as a school house, but used as a service centre when Hanley's replacement, Dean Rigby visited Maryborough.

After the formation of the State of Queensland in 1859, the Roman Catholic Church formed the Brisbane Diocese encompassing the entire state. Bishop Quinn was appointed and he arrived in his diocese in 1861 and immediately made plans to visit the populated areas, including Maryborough. He arrived in the town on 25 July 1861 with two fellow priests, one of whom, Father Tissot, remained in Maryborough as the first Parish Priest.

By 1867 Father Tissot and his congregation considered the timber building inadequate as their church and steps were made to construct a new permanent church. It was in this year that gold was found in Gympie and the development of Maryborough, as the port of the gold fields, was rapid. The services of Brisbane architect, Charles Tiffin were procured to design the new brick church and the foundation stone was laid on 29 July 1869. Tiffin was a well known public architect who was appointed to the position of Clerk of Works of Moreton Bay in 1857 and in 1859 he became the first Queensland Colonial Architect and was responsible for the design of many well known Brisbane landmarks, including Old Government House, Parliament House and the (now demolished) Public Lands Office. He also designed several buildings in Maryborough including the Government Bond Store in Wharf Street and the Post Office.

St Mary's Roman Catholic Church, as it became known, was completed and opened at a service conducted by Father Tissot on 4 February 1872. The building was constructed by local contractors G Smith and J Thomas under the supervision of WN Davidson. When completed, the church was described as Early English and of brick with stone quoining and detailing. The building had a steeply pitched gabled roof clad with shingles. Side aisles extended the length of the four bay nave and these were lined with double lancets. The plan incorporated a small porch, chancel and two sacristies. Father Tissot landscaped the grounds surrounding the church and provided the a chancel screen and other timber panelling carved by himself. He is thought to have been involved with the design of the high altar and the carved timber canopy, or baldacchino above the altar. Provision was made in the design for extension of the church at a later date.

On 21 November 1882, at a meeting presided over by the new Bishop, Robert Dunne, a decision was made to extend St Mary's. The services of Colonial Architect, FDG Stanley were sought and plans for alterations were prepared and the church was re-opened in May 1884. The contractor for the work was Fritz Kinne at a cost of £1871. The additions included the extension of the nave by three bays and the erection of a large chancel. The roof was reclad with slate and several ventilation gablets were added near the ridge. Internally the church was painted by Messrs O'Malley and Mill. A new set of Stations of the Cross from Lyons, described as oleographs or coloured lithographs printed with oil paints, were framed in gold.

During the nineteenth century the Roman Catholic Church in Maryborough continued to grow with several outbranches of the parish established in surrounding areas. A large presbytery, convent and school were constructed. In 1912 a new organ and blower, costing £900, were installed in the gallery of St Mary's.

Substantial alterations were made at St Mary's in 1936 to the design of innovative local architect, POE Hawkes and carried out by contractor, Herbert Neilson for £7000. Again, the length of the building was extended, north and south chancels were added, as were sacristies, confessionals and a Baptistry. The organ was moved from the gallery and placed in the Sacred Heart transept. Externally, the building was rendered and an entrance was formed from Adelaide Street, where previously access was provided only from Bazaar Street. A marble high altar was made by local craftsman, Mr Prout. A cock was added to the western gable of the church reflecting the French ties of Monsignor MacCarthy, the then parish priest. Cocks were traditionally added to the roofs of French churches to symbolise resentment over Italian dominance of the papacy.

Minor alterations have been made to the church since 1936, including the recladding of the roof with tiles and rib and pan roofing in two stages in 1959 and 1967. A section of the timber floor of the body of the church was replaced with concrete in 1979, followed by work in 1980 to stabilise foundations in the north western corner. A porch was constructed on the northern transept in 1987 and the timber canopy over the high altar was removed in 1989.


St Mary's Church is centrally located in metropolitan Maryborough. The complex comprises the stuccoed masonry church, stone and concrete grotto, and two modern steel and canvas shelters.

The nave of St Mary's runs north west/south east on the block between Adelaide and Bazaar Streets with pedestrian access provided from both of these streets. The principal entrance to the complex is via Adelaide Street, at which end is the entrance of the church, with the chancel end of the building, and transepts at the Bazaar Street end. The building has a steeply pitched gabled roof, and with gothic accoutrements and essentially cruciform plan formed by the long nave and intersecting transepts, the building conforms with many of the ideals of gothic ecclesiastical architecture.

The principal façade of the building comprises the centrally located gable end of the building, abutted to the north east by a smaller gabled section surmounted by a small plaster statue of a rooster. On the face of the main gabled bay is a centrally located entrance formed by a gabled porch, surmounted by a statue of Our Lady and flanked by plaster moulded pinnacles. Above this is a large traceried stained glass window of five lancets with foils above. The roof is concealed by a moulded string coursed parapet which encircles the building. Surmounting this parapet on the central gable of the front of the building is a Latin Cross.

St Mary's Church has a seven bay nave, defined by internal columns supporting a nave arcade of pointed arched openings above which are small quatrefoil opening within triangular recesses forming the clerestory of the building. Around the altar the order of architecture changes to classical and, as a continuation of the nave arcade, Corinthian columns support an entablature to create the chancel space. On the entablature are painted, in relief lettering, several religions phrases in Latin, and this writing continues around the cornice line of the transepts at this end of the building. In one of the transepts is a large organ.

Image gallery


Location of St Marys Roman Catholic Church within Queensland
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last updated
20 January 2016
  1. Is your feedback about:
  2. (If you chose ‘website’ above)

    Page feedback

    1. How satisfied are you with your experience today? *
  3. (If you chose ‘service’ above)

    Feedback on government services, departments and staff

    Please use our complaints and compliments form.