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Maryborough’s Cistern Chapel

Maryborough’s Cistern Chapel

Art, History & Culture | Maryborough City Council
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About Maryborough’s Cistern Chapel

Visiting historical Maryborough is like a nostalgic trip down memory lane. The city centre is brimming with beautiful examples of colonial Queensland architecture.

The City Hall is a beautiful example and it’s especially popular if you need a comfort stop, as it houses possibly the poshest public toilets in Australia. Just a three-and-a-half-hours’ drive north of Brisbane, Maryborough unveiled its latest tourism attraction in June this year— the flashiest loos in the land.

Italy has the Sistine Chapel, but Maryborough now has the Cistern Chapel! The locals are flushing with pride over its lovely lavatories which are ornately decorated with a Victoriana theme.

Taking a leaf out of Michelangelo’s handbook, local artists, Arkos Juhasz and Gary Madden are the creators behind the breathtaking brushstrokes. From floor to ceiling each loo is lavishly adorned, making the Cistern Chapel a must-do in Maryborough!  You’ll also find painted on the walls of the Cistern Chapel a hint of the major attraction in town – Mary Poppins.

Maryborough is the birthplace of Mary Poppins author, Pamela Lyndon Travers. The creator of the world’s most famous nanny.  Cistern Chapel Committee president Nancy Bates said she had the grand vision after a visit to the dingy toilets a couple of years ago.

“Maryborough is developing into a great tourist precinct and I thought, ‘This is the heart of it and it’s just not good enough’,” she said.

“So I snapped up a couple of photos and sent them to Daniel Sanderson, the councillor here who looks after the city area.

A couple of weeks later he sent me back a text and said, ‘Good news — we are going to repaint them’.

“I said, ‘No, Daniel. I want the best toilets in Australia, maybe the world’.

“The fanciest. I want chandeliers, I want fresh flowers and music.”

More than 12 months later the transformation is complete and the heritage city of Maryborough is now home to the quirkiest public toilets in Queensland!

Since opening in May 2022, The Cistern Chapel has proven very popular, being visited by more than 25,000 people from far and wide.

Stunningly, the 5.5-metre high walls of these public bathrooms located in the Town Hall are adorned from floor to ceiling (in fact, even across the ceilings) in some of the most amazing art outside of The Louvre, making it easy to see why tourists are making the pilgrimage to visit these divine dunnies from across the globe.

The pièce de resistance has to be the Golden Throne Room, complete with crystal chandeliers overhead, that is a must-see in the Ladies, along with the enchanting stained glass window of a young lass in a beautiful garden that brings a smile to your face as walk into the space.

For the blokes, it’s understandable that you will not know where to look – but at the same time – with such amazing artwork all around, it might be a fine distraction from the business at hand!

Open to the public 7 days a week, the float of proud volunteer Flusher Ushers, as they’re affectionately known, are happy to let visitors in to view both bathrooms – when they’re not in use as intended, of course.

For those with young children, the parents’ room provides every need – from a secure gate and change table facilities, right through to comfy feeding chairs with the addition of a whimsical ceiling fixture and wall which gives a solid nod to PL Travers, author of the much-loved tale, Mary Poppins, who lived in Maryborough when she was young. Look up and you’ll notice that the beautiful cherry tree is also 3D.

With so much to discover within a short walk of the Town Hall Green, when nature calls, this is undeniably the perfect place to sit and contemplate the meaning of life, and to ponder where to visit next.

Only a few blocks away, you can explore The Story Bank Museum, head to the Wharf Precinct and learn about the early days at The Bond Store, follow the self-guided Maryborough Mural Trail with 27 large scale murals to take in, or just meander your way to Queens Park to stroll along the interactive and impressive Maryborough War Memorial.

In fact, as perfectly put by Nancy Bates, one of the Flusher Ushers, ‘We don’t charge you to spend a penny, but we’d certainly love you to drop a dollar or two in the town’.

You’d have to agree, this certainly puts a whole new meaning to ‘Loo with a View’.

The Cistern Chapel i s free to enter, and has full wheelchair accessibility.  There are markets held across the green every Thursday morning.

Story credits to Nancy Bates, Weekender and Danella Perrins.


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