The House & Grounds

The Birthplace of the Australian Commercial Sugar Industry

Historic Ormiston House, on Quandamooka Country

Commemorative Cairn

Captain the Hon. Louis Hope (1817 - 1894) was the seventh son of John Hope, the fourth Earl of Hopetoun, and his second wife, Louisa Dorothea. Louis Hope had been a Captain in the Coldstream Guards, but retired and travelled to Sydney in 1843. He then came to Moreton Bay, where he settled in Kilcoy in 1848. Louis married Susan Dumaresq, an artist who specialised in sketches, in 1859. The couple had eight children.

By circa 1853 Louis had purchased land that would become Ormiston. The area of land on which Ormiston House stands was thought to be named after a Scottish village on the Hopetoun estate.

As the first person to successfully grow, mill and produce sugar commercially, Louis Hope is recognised as the Father of Australia's commercial sugar industry.

Ormiston House brings a unique history, and one that must acknowledge all those involved in this history, including the Traditional Land Owners, the Quandamooka people.

Slab Hut

One of the earliest buildings constructed by Captain the Hon. Louis Hope (1817-1894) and Susan Hope (1832-1901) on the property was the Slab Hut, which still stands today. It was built of rough timber slabs, and gaps in the walls were covered with metal strips and nailed with handmade nails.

The main house was built in three stages - the first completed in 1862, and the final two stages completed between 1864 & 1865.

The bricks for the house were hand made locally, in a kiln on the property. The floors were constructed of Cypress pine, while the shutters, doors, architraves and fireplaces are red cedar. The door panels are constructed of mahogany. Most of the ceilings in the house are restored Wunderlich pressed metal and metal zinc.

Other buildings and structures that once existed on the property include the sugar mill, a jetty, multiple large water tanks, a tramway, stockyard, barn, wells and waterholes, salt pans, a covered walkway connecting the main house and slab hut, and a dairy. These buildings and structures no longer remain.

Drawing Room

Ormiston House displays the simplicity and elegance of early colonial architecture. the wide verandahs, high ceilings, fireplaces, and decorative lights combine to make the house one of the finest remaining examples of colonial architecture in Queensland.

The Carmelite Community was dedicated to preserving the important history of this property, and in 1967 the Ormiston House Restoration Association was officially formed. This Brisbane-based association of volunteers worked towards the ongoing restoration of the house and gardens. A Redlands branch of the committee was also formed.

Today, a dedicated group of volunteers continue the work of these earlier committees to ensure that all visitors can experience this beautiful property and discover its unique history. As many residents have occupied the house over the years and made their own alterations to the property, the restoration has been complex, and some parts of the house incorporate building work from different eras.

Front Lawn facing Moreton Bay

The Ormiston House gardens were designed around a gardenesque landscape theory, which gave attention to each plant and its placement for the best conditions to grow its full potential. Louis Hope developed the gardens for the acclimatisation of both native and exotic plants, including many fruit-bearing varieties.

In addition to growing native plants, Louis Hope cultivated various exotic plants that were used in the gardens. The gardens retain both a horticultural and historic importance today. Historically, they had both an ornamental and agricultural purpose, and still contain many important specimens today.


The many orchards on the property were of particular delight to those who visited the Hopes and later residents of the house. The 18-acre orangery planted by Louis Hope was especially successful and in 1883 produced a record crop of around 4000 dozen oranges of the Seville variety!

Some plants grown on the Ormiston property were acquired by Louis Hope from Walter Hill, first superintendent of the Brisbane Botanic Gardens. Statues were placed amongst the trees, and a large fountain was supplied with water from reservoirs. Such extensive gardens would have required irrigation. Hope had access to natural wells on the property, but he also used what was thought to be the first piped irrigation system in Queensland.


In 1967, when the Ormiston House Restoration Association was formed, a dedicated sub-committee was formed to research and restore the heritage gardens as fully as possible. Restoration work was undertaken in stages as funds allowed. the gardens remain an important part of the restoration and maintenance focus for Ormiston House due to the rich and unique history evident.

In restoring the gardens, as many original specimens as possible have been retained. this includes both small plants and the large Quadrangulata tree (Maytenus Quadrangulata), which is native to Brazil, and one of only two known mature specimens of this tree in Queensland.

The Picturesque Grounds and Gardens

Beautifully Restored Rooms