A Life of Talent and Love: The Remarkable Journey of Des Zagami


The beginning of Des Zagami’s life dates back to 1940 in the hamlet of Coalbank – an unassuming and rural community in the Toowoomba region. “Not to be found on any map. Never has been, never will be,” according to Des.

Eventually, his family settled in the humble suburb of Morningside (just east of Brisbane city). This allowed Des to graduate from St Laurence’s College and enter the workforce through a six year cadetship in Architecture. Sometime later, Des met the love of his life, Eileen. It was fate that brought the pair together on the occasion of his parents’ 25th wedding anniversary to be precise. Ironically, the duo celebrated their 56th year of wedded bliss last December.

After their wedding in 1966, they set sail for a five-year long honeymoon in Fiji. It was here where Des accomplished his proudest and most memorable career achievement, while, Eileen taught at an all-Fijian secondary girl’s school – a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for both of them.

Des worked with the Fiji Government to design and construct the Royal Reception Hall in the grounds of the Prime Minister’s residence to mark the celebration of Fiji’s Independence in 1971. On this occasion, he was afforded the opportunity to meet (the now) King Charles III, and later he was offered a position as a project Architect with the Southern Electric Authority in Queensland.

They moved back to their roots in Brisbane and continued to enjoy their exciting new career and family adventure. In 1988 Des was appointed Director and CEO of the Queensland Cultural Centre Trust which owned and operated the Queensland Cultural Centre comprising QPAC, Queensland Art Gallery, Queensland Museum, State Library, and Queensland Theatre Company. In this role Des had oversight of initial expressions of interest from local and overseas

Architectural consortiums for the design and development of QAGOMA, Brisbane’s backbone in all things arts and culture. For the final 12 years prior to his retirement in 2010, Des held the position of

Director of Planning and Building in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.

Although these few words only touch upon a small portion of Des’ career, it’s clear he has lived a life of profound talent and love. With three kids and four grandchildren, Des and Eileen’s life journey has been a rich and rewarding one, something to be justifiably proud of. The pair now call The Village Coorparoo home.

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