Brisbane’s playground for both young and old.
With 17 hectares of lush parklands, picturesque river views, interactive installations as well as the award-winning Queensland Cultural Centre housing the city’s big four cultural institutions, there are innumerable reasons why South Bank continues to attract locals and tourists alike. (Featured image: @j.d.lin)
You can relax on the grass and take in the sights of the city on the other side of the Brisbane River. Or, you could go for a wander beneath 443 curling, galvanised steel posts, canopied over with magenta bougainvillea flowers after getting your feet wet at the beach. Perhaps you’d prefer to stop at a cafe, grab a latte and bite to eat before exploring thought-provoking and cutting-edge art at Australia’s largest modern art gallery. And then, why not finish the day with dinner at a world-class restaurant by the river?
Go once to South Bank and you’ll be going as often as you can to soak up the best that Brisbane has to offer.
To help navigate your way around, we have come up with the Secret Brisbane Guide outlining the must-sees, must-dos, and cannot-miss experiences at South Bank.
Things To Do And See
South Bank is best enjoyed on a sunny day. With Brisbane’s average of 283 days of sunshine per year thanks to its sub-tropical climate, the south side of the river is pretty much the perfect place to visit all year round and celebrate life outdoors. But if it’s too hot or it does decide to rain, visitors are always able to make their way to the Cultural Precinct, but we’ll get there later. First, how about you …
Go For A Wander
Stroll through South Bank and lose yourself along one of the many walking tracks. From the kilometre-long The Arbour with its vibrant magenta bougainvillaea flowering overhead to The Rainforest Walk at the heart of the parklands where wanderers can spot any number of reptiles, birds and fish from the boardwalk.
Or, stick to the river you’re used to and either walk or ride the Clem Jones Promenade. Running the length of the South Bank parklands from the Queensland Performing Arts Centre right up to the Maritime Museum, the promenade is a favourite for walkers, runners and cyclists. Cross the 450-metre long Goodwill Bridge, so named after The Goodwill Games held in 2001, to visit the Brisbane Botanic Gardens. Once you’ve had enough though, sit back and relax in one of the many seating areas and watch the world go by. It’s only right that you take some more time for yourself.
Go For A Swim
Not one, not two, but three pools for you to cool off after a hot day in the Brisbane sunshine. Free to use and open all year round (9am – 5pm), these aquatic areas are oases in the city so long as people follow the rules. Lifeguards are also employed to help make sure people remain safe.
Streets Beach, a lagoon surrounded by sand a luscious greenery, is Australia’s only inner-city, man-made beach. That’s reason enough to give it a visit but when the sun is shining and escape from the city is high on the improbability scale, this place is a godsend. Similarly, a visit to the Boat Pool is also a relief from the heat. For the kiddies, Aquativity is a fun and interactive water-play park incorporating a number of educational play elements referencing the Brisbane River—its water cycle as well as native species which call it home.
Enjoy A Picnic Or A Barbie
BBQs are free to use because of course they are. Located at Picnic Island Green, Riverside Green and Aquativity, it’s time to get the family together or the crew rounded up for a few snags and a couple of drinks. That’s right, liquor may be consumed so long as it is in the following public areas and from these dates:
– Sunday 14 June 2020, River Quay Green
– Saturday 20 June 2020, Riverside Green and Picnic Island Green
If you’re looking for a more secretive or secluded picnic spot, then head to Rainforest Green or the Liana Lounge.
Take To The River
Visit Riverlife on at the base of the Kangaroo Point Cliffs and take to the river on a kayak or stand-up paddleboard. Or, go to the top of the cliff and see if you’ve got what it takes to throw yourself over the edge. Ok, not literally. But you can abseil down and bouncing off walls is always a good time.
What Else To See And Do
There’s The Wheel of Brisbane which is near on impossible to miss as it’s air-conditioned gondolas, which provide unobstructed 360-degree views, tower above everything else in South Bank. However, if you’re just strolling through or riding along, there’s a good chance you’ve missed a number of cool and interesting spots. You might have also showed up on a quieter day because gigs, concerts and markets are in no short supply. So then, what else is there to see?
The Nepalese Pagoda
It was gifted to Brisbane as part of the 1988 World Expo and took 160 families two years to craft by hand using 80 tonnes of hard-carved Terai timber from the southern jungles of Nepal. Subsequently, this is the only example of a Nepalese temple in Australia and one of only three that exist outside of Nepal.
The Epicurious Garden
A community garden run by volunteers featuring exotic plants, fragrant herbs and lush, tranquil surrounds. To keep the garden beautiful and in order, only garden volunteers and horticulturists may pick from the garden. However, those who would like to try the produce are welcome to collect samples from the harvest cart. Or, ask the volunteers for some help.
Markets And Events
Although The Collective Market and The Young Designer’s Market are currently on hold, we’re so very excited for both to make their return so our eyes can feast on the wide range of stunning and incredible wares and creations.
The Sound Society put on gigs every Friday and Saturday at South Bank helping showcase the best of emerging Brisbane talent. When the shows are at River Quay Green, adults are able to have a tipple so long as they’ve also got a bit of food with them to nibble. There’s also Sunday Social On The Green putting on live music performances, lawn games, and sweet chill-out seating so you can plop down with a prepared picnic hamper you picked up from one of the nearby eateries. Now, that’s how a weekend should end.
Parents, look out because there is also the Kids Collective which provides a free children’s program with workshops every Thursday.
And Finally, The Queensland Cultural Centre
First built in 1976 and now the centrepiece of Queensland’s art portfolio, the heritage-listed cultural centre is composed of the four main institutions. But with open plazas, fountains and a forecourt large enough to hold events, there’s fun and games to be had outside too. Make sure to check out the relevant websites for upcoming events and special features.
Queensland Performing Arts Centre
State Library of Queensland
Queensland Museum and Sciencentre
Queensland Art Gallery and Queensland Gallery of Modern Art
Food And Drink
After all of that walking, exploring and playing in the sun, you’re probably a bit famished. Luckily, South Bank has got food and drink covered so there’s no need to cross Victoria Bridge and go back into the city. There are bars and cafes, cheap eats and fine dining options to choose from depending on your particular craving. Speaking of which, sweet tooths can also indulge in a sugary dessert. Here are some of our favourites.