The Queensland Club in Brisbane was a place where affluent graziers and professional men frequented. Squatters from the Darling Downs and the Brisbane River Valley proposed and supported Ipswich as the capital of the new State of Queensland and not Brisbane. Prior to the railway in the 1860s, Ipswich had been the main commercial centre and the main outlet for shipping wool from the Darling Downs by barge or river steamer.
The great success of the "North Australian" Club in Ipswich made Brisbane people think of starting a club, Originally to be known as the “Brisbane Club,” the first meeting to organize having been held in the office of D. F. Roberts in 1860. The first ballot for member was held on March 1, 1860, and the first club room was on the premises of W. A. Brown, the sheriff, in Mary Street.
The first committee included Sheppard Smith, of the Bank of New South Wales, E. S. Elsworth of the A. J. S. Bank, and Nehemiah Bartley. They drafted the rules and engaged the first servants after which R. G. W. Herbert and J. Bramston were added to the committee. Brown's small brick house in Brisbane's Mary Street was purchased to serve as a residential club and accommodation close to Parliament and was considerably altered.
It became evident that the squatters were not going to achieve their aims due to a clique of Brisbane businessmen with vested interests having more influence. Aware that their future prospects were bound up with the new Government of Queensland, the squatter faction realized they needed to have a say in Government through representation and in turn joined the club.
A reported fire broke out in the building on early Sunday morning the 4th April 1870. The fire was supposed to have originated in the bar, or hall, close to the bar door but the cause was quite a mystery. It resulted in the total destruction of the whole of the southern potion of the bar, strangers' room, library and secretary's room, hall and bedroom, and their contents. An enquiry found that the fire was accidental and the London and Liverpool Insurance Company paid up 1,500 pounds for damage to the building.
Twenty-three years after its inception, club members from various professions commissioned the local architect and club member, Francis Drummond Greville Stanley, to design them a much larger premises. Following the opening of the new clubrooms the building was licensed as the Queensland Club Hotel by Mr Henry Swiss Davis. A newspaper report describes the hotel's amenities
Stanley designed a building in the neoclassical style, on the corner of Alice and George Street, across from Parliament House. With a cost of £14,150, construction work began in 1883 and was completed the following year. The Queensland Club building had a handsome stairway and wide cool verandahs, the reception rooms were furnished with deep leather-covered Chesterfield sofas, baize-topped card tables and paintings. A newspaper article of the day describes the building. The club was an all-male sanctum and the policy was that 'accompanied ladies may view the ground floor on special occasions'.
The Queensland Club is still decorated with some of the original furniture along with the enormous stuffed crocodile, shot by a Proserpine member named Bode in the 19th century, which stands on a long table under the main stairs. Under successive governments the Queensland Club became an influential corridor of power.
The Queensland Club was not immune from controversy. A newspaper reported that on the 23 July 1895, George Robertson, formerly secretary of the Queensland Club, was sentenced to ten months' hard labour on two charges of embezzlement to which he pleaded guilty.