Walter Taylor Bridge Open for Tours: What Life Was Like in Australia’s Only Inhabitable Bridge

About eight years have passed since the last resident of Walter Taylor’s inhabitable bridge left in 2009. Formerly known as the Indooroopilly Toll Bridge, Australia’s longest span suspension bridge is the only one in the country that harbors a lot of memories and untold stories. Until now, traces of residency are still visible. These traces form the undeniable imprints of the people who once called the bridge’s towers their home.

Today, few passersby stop to wonder about what happened to the newly-washed laundry that once dangled on the line strung outside the bridge. Today, there is nothing there to see. The bridge’s inhabitable towers were immediately closed for occupancy after the last resident left. Eventually, however, it reopened for public tours with the Brisbane Greeters. What people only know now is that life went on inside the bridge’s pylons. To the curious, the question still remains: How was life inside the Walter Taylor Bridge?

Inhabitable Towers

The bridge, which was built and designed by Walter Taylor, was primarily meant to solve the dilemma of vehicular travel from Chelmer to Indooroopilly. Before it was built, automobiles and travellers depended on ferry service to take them across the Brisbane River. The bridge, when it finally opened on 14 February 1936, made the lives of travellers a whole lot easier. The only downside, however, was that they must pay the toll upon crossing the bridge.

For the convenience of the toll collectors, the bridge’s pylons at the Indooroopilly side were thus made to be inhabitable. The first toll collectors and their families at the time were the earliest occupants of the bridge. As time went by, the descendants of these collectors maintained the toll-keeping and residency in the bridge’s pylons.

Walter Taylor Bridge
The great view the tollkeepers and their families had for years must have been something worth living in a bridge tower for. Photo Credit: Everywhere History/Facebook

Meanwhile, the tower at the Chelmer side of the bridge was rented to university students between the 1970s and 1980s. Traces of their occupancy are still visible up to now on the walls and ceilings inside the pylon. For sentimental reasons most probably, the traces were preserved as they leave a lasting remembrance of the cheers, laughters, and tears that once resided in the wide halls of the tower.

After Mr Taylor’s death in November 1955, the bridge he built was then renamed in his honour. In 1965, management of the bridge was eventually taken over by the Brisbane City Council. The toll fee was removed and travellers then started crossing the bridge for free. In 1992, Walter Taylor Bridge, with its impressive towers, was included in the Queensland Heritage Register.

The Unforgettable Last Moment of Occupancy

One of the last residents of Brisbane’s inhabitable bridge made headlines in 2009 when he had to be rescued by firefighters using a crane. The 300-kilogram 57-year-old man, who does not want any further attention from the media, apparently suffered from an asthma attack. He phoned for an ambulance but paramedics later reportedly found it was “impossible to stretcher him down two narrow flights of stairs” inside the tower where he resided with his family.

“A decision was made to cut out a window in the room where the patient was and get him out and on to a crane. It all went pretty smoothly,” said Steve Marmotta, a station officer from the Taringa fire brigade.

The man was then taken to the Royal Brisbane Hospital as he was already in a critical condition when rescued. According to council maintenance workers in the area, the said man “had not left the building” for years. They said it could not have been possible for him to do so since he won’t be able to “get down the narrow flights of stairs.”

It was confirmed that the man and his family are descendants of Mort Green, the bridge’s tollmaster whose family was privileged to reside in the tower for 70 years. After the last of the Greens was rescued, police authorities then ordered the bridge closed before 5:00 p.m. on 19 August 2009. Since then, no family has resided in the bridge again.

Open for Tours

Now referred to as Brisbane’s Art Deco towers, regular tours are being conducted for free by the Brisbane Greeters. The 60-minute tour features a two-kilometre bridge precinct walk and a chance to experience what it’s like to be inside the pylons. Each tour departs from the corner of Railway Avenue and Lambert Road, next to the Indooroopilly Station. For inquiries on how to prepare and what to do on or prior to the tour, you may contact the tour guides via email ( or phone (+61 7 3156 6364).

Click here to book your Walter Taylor Bridge tour with the Brisbane Greeters.