Australia may not have the same grand, opulent, and ancient churches and cathedrals that you’d find across Europe. But in its relatively short history, the nation has constructed some impressive Gothic-style cathedrals of its own. Here are Australia’s most beautiful churches and cathedrals.
St Mary’s Cathedral is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, and the seat of the Archbishop of Sydney. In 1932, Pope Pius XI bestowed the title and dignity of minor basilica on the cathedral. The foundation for St Mary’s was laid in 1868, but it took several decades for the Gothic Revival-style cathedral to be completed. It was constructed using local sandstone, and features a crypt with mosaic flooring, stained glass windows shipped from Birmingham in the 1880s, and 14 bells. Located opposite Hyde Park in the Sydney Central Business District (CBD), St Mary’s Cathedral is now visited by hundreds of tourists annually.
St George’s Cathedral is the mother-church of the Anglican Diocese of Perth. It was Heritage listed in 2001, because it’s a fine example of Victorian Gothic architecture, makes a major contribution to central Perth’s streetscape, and is held in high regard by the community and Anglican church members. Consecrated in 1888, St George’s Cathedral was made using local jarrah for the arches, limestone from Fremantle, bricks from Swan River brickyards, bluestone pillars from Victoria, marble from Italy, and a Caen stone pulpit carved in France.
St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral is located in the heart of Adelaide, which is coincidentally nicknamed the City of Churches. Initial construction of the cathedral began in 1851, making it Australia’s oldest cathedral. However, the tower was not completed until 1996, 145 years later. It’s classified as a Gothic Revival building, constructed in the early English style. The main bell in the tower is the Murphy Bell, which is over 150 years old. There are 13 surrounding bells, which are rung by The Australian and New Zealand Association of Bellringers’ members.
Located in the middle of Brisbane’s CBD, Albert Street Uniting Church is the spiritual home of Wesley Mission Queensland. The Heritage-listed building was designed by George Henry Male Addison, and built from 1888 to 1889. In the early 20th century, it was the main Methodist church in Brisbane, and became the Uniting Church after its formation in 1977. It’s made from red brick with white Oamaru limestone trimmings. Inside, the focus is on the raised pulpit and decoratively painted pipe organ.
St Patrick’s Cathedral: “Mother Church of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, and one of the architectural glories of Melbourne”. Pope Paul VI conferred the title and dignity of minor basilica on St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1974. Located just outside of the CBD, it’s Australia’s tallest and largest church building. Built in the Gothic Revival style, St Patrick’s Cathedral has a stunning interior, where music has been playing since 1858. Its unique bluestone exterior was sourced from basalt deposits in Footscray.
St Mary’s by the Sea is a Heritage-listed and non-denominational church located in Port Douglas. The timber structure was built between 1913 and 1914, in the Gothic style. It was previously a Catholic church. Today, St Mary’s by the Sea hosts many destination weddings. It has stained glass windows inside, and a large window behind the altar that looks out to the Coral Sea. There may not be a church in Australia with a better waterfront view.
Located on a hill in Newcastle, Christ Church Cathedral is in an imposing position, looking out over the city. The first Christ Church was built in 1817, but the current cathedral was consecrated in 1902. A building committee advertised for interested architects to submit suitable church plans in 1868, and they received responses from architects in Australia and North America. The Very Reverend Katherine Bowyer is the current dean, and the first woman to hold the position.
Located opposite Federation Square and Flinders Street Station in Melbourne, St Paul’s Cathedral is one of the city’s architectural landmarks. It was built by famed English Gothic Revival Architect William Butterfield. Although it was completed in 1891, the spires were not finished until 1932. St Paul’s Cathedral was constructed using sandstone and limestone from Geelong. Its main spire, the Moorhouse Tower, is the world’s second highest Anglican spire. Step inside St Paul’s and be blown away by the intricate interior.
Sacred Heart Cathedral is local in Bendigo in rural Victoria. It’s Australia’s second tallest cathedral, after St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne. Although the groundbreaking ceremony of the cathedral happened in 1897, it wasn’t completed until 1977. Sacred Heart Cathedral was built in the English Gothic style, with sandstone from Geelong, enclosed flying buttresses, stained glass windows from Birmingham’s John Hardman & Co., and marble flooring from Italy.
Located at the centre of Victoria Square in Perth, Saint Mary’s Cathedral was built in the academic Gothic style. It has been completed in three main stages. The first phase was completed in 1865, then the second phase in the 1920s was halted by the Great Depression. The final phase included closing the cathedral from 2006 until 2009, when a second spire, new seating for 1,600 people, and an underground parish centre were unveiled. The new design by Architect Peter M. Quinn has since won three architectural design awards.