Whether you’re a Brisbane local or visiting from out of town, a trip to South Bank is a must-add to your to-do list. Visiting Brisbane for the first time, there are always the familiar sites the locals have always loved but South Bank being South Bank, the Parklands are forever changing with something new always around the corner. South Bank Parklands Brisbane – All The basics That You Need To Know.
The Southbank Parklands are situated on the Southern Bank of the Brisbane River directly opposite Brisbane City. Nestled between the Goodwill Pedestrian Bridge at the southern end and the Victoria Bridge at the northern end, both giving direct access to Brisbane, the Botanical Gardens, and the CBD. 🔥👉 Tip: Click on the red markers on the map for land-mark locations.
Southbank was originally a meeting place for the traditional indigenous landowners, and in the early 1840s became a central point for early settlers that had migrated to the area. From the 1850s the Southbank Precinct was quickly established as the business centre of Brisbane. Throughout the years the inner-city suburb of South Brisbane gained a very seedy reputation with many pubs, brothels, boarding houses, and industry all set amongst warehouses with very few homes. It was a real “no go” area especially after dark but changes were on the horizon and what a transition was coming!!!!
The renaissance of the area arrived when the “WORLD EXPO” announced it was coming to Brisbane, and South Brisbane was going to be its new home. The transformation had begun, and Expo 88 opened 30th April 1988. The theme of Expo was “Leisure in the Age of Technology” and the mascot for the event was an Australian Platypus named “Expo Oz.” Following the hugely successful Expo ’88 South Bank Parklands was built on the former Expo site.
Today, the Parklands are now a mixture of Rainforest, open grassy areas with BBQ’s and places to picnic, beaches and freshwater pools and Markets as well as a Riverfront promenade, the Grand Arbour and many café’s, restaurants, takeaways, and bars. This is also one of Brisbane’s most important cultural districts accommodating the Queensland Museum and Science Centre, GOMA (Gallery of Modern Art), QPAC (Queensland’s Performing Arts Centre), Queensland Conservatorium and the State Library of Queensland at the northern end and the Queensland Maritime Museum at the southern end of the Parklands. Southbank is also an entertainment hub, regularly hosting large scale events and festivals attracting approximately 11,000,000 visitors annually.
Not sure where to start then do what I do and head to the South Bank Visitor Information Centre (click here), the super friendly staff can give you some local’s advice on what to see and do. The visitor information centre is located in the heart of the South Bank Parklands, situated in the Stanley Street Plaza near the Plough Inn.
How to Get There
There are several ways to get to South Bank. If are you not driving and parking these options are available and add just a little bit more adventure to what can be an extremely exciting day out. Translink (click here) has all the bus, ferry, train, planning details you need with locations, times, transport options and a heap of other information to help you get there and back.
👉 From Brisbane City: Cross the Victoria Bridge from Queen Street. This will bring you to the Northern end of the Southbank Parklands.
👉 From Brisbane City via the Goodwill Bridge. You can also incorporate a walk through the Botanical Gardens, past Old Parliament House and then stroll through the QUT (Queensland University of Technology) grounds then accessing the Goodwill Bridge bringing you to the southern point of Southbank near the Queensland Maritime Museum.
👉 Train to South Bank or South Brisbane Station.
👉 Catch the bus, stopping at the two main Busway Stations that are the closest to the South Bank Parklands – South Bank and Cultural Centre Bus Stations.
👉 CityCat / KittyCat / City Hopper ferry services that link South Brisbane to many other Riverside locations.
👉 Drive and Park, Car Parking stations are within close proximity to South Bank. These can be a little expensive and also fill extremely fast on certain days. Check the parking location, prices, and space availability before you go.
👉 Electric scooters are also available for hire and can be picked up at many spots around the area.
Today, I’ve parked the car on the outskirts of Brisbane and heading to South Bank by bus arriving at the Cultural Centre Bus Station. This is an extremely busy bus interchange but just a few steps away from the hustle and bustle it gives way to a number of coffee shops, ☕ “Cafe Muse” situated in the Queensland Museum is one of my favourites.
You might have guessed that as we were having coffee in the Queensland Museum, we are now in the Cultural Centre district of Southbank. You’ve guessed right, this is the neighborhood to visit GOMA (Gallery of Modern Art), State Library of Queensland, Queensland Art Gallery, Queensland Museum & Science Centre, and across the road is QPAC (Queensland Performing Arts Centre). 🔥👉 Tip: There are lifts, escalators, and ramps available to access the Cultural Centre and South Bank Parklands if using steps and staircases are a problem. 🔥👉 I have recently posted a Blog on one of the excellent exhibitions that you are likely to see if visiting GOMA: The Motorcycle – Design>Art>Desire (only until the end of April 2021) – Visit the ROAD TRIP’N blog: GET YOUR MOTOR RUNNING – FULL THROTTLE OPEN.
Enter the South Bank Parklands from the northern end, and you are immediately greeted by a huge “Brisbane” sign situated in the Cultural Centre Forecourt. With the river and city as it’s backdrop, you now know you are definitely in the right place to begin your exploration of this historic and fun filled precinct, it’s extremely hard to miss.
South Bank is home to some of Brisbane’s most famous tourist attractions. There is a huge array of activities to keep the family entertained like riding the Wheel of Brisbane, taking a swim at Street’s Beach, just meandering along the Arbor or the Clem Jones Promenade while embracing the magnificent city and river views.
The Wheel of Brisbane stands out like a lighthouse on the horizon as it towers above the surrounding parklands and is really worth a visit. If you’re not afraid of heights, grab a ticket (you can book on-line or at The Wheel itself), and enjoy 360-degree panoramic views of the city and surrounds from your air-conditioned gondola, sixty metres above the ground. 🔥👉 Tip: If you ride the wheel during the day try it again at night, it’s just magic.
Scenic Strolls at South Bank
It’s always a great time to head outdoors and enjoy South Bank making the most of Brisbane’s marvelous weather by undertaking any one of a number of scenic strolls around the Parklands.
First up we’ll take the Clem Jones Promenade, popular with cyclists, walkers, and joggers as it winds its way along the Brisbane River commanding uninterrupted views of the City and Brisbane skyline.
We’ll mosey along the length of The Promenade until we reach The River Quay Green and restaurants for a coffee break, only detouring along the way by the appearance of huge green spaces and side tracks that are just begging to be explored.
River Quay is a stunning location at the southern end of the parklands, in very close proximity to the Maritime Museum and Goodwill Bridge, offering award winning waterfront dining, vast expanses of riverside green spaces and uninterrupted views of the Brisbane River. It is just the perfect place to relax and enjoy the classical Queensland lifestyle. Grab a picnic hamper from any of the River Quay restaurants, enjoy absolutely stunning river views and join some live music on Sundays in the amphitheater on the Green.
I’ve begun my visit today with a visit to the Nepalese Peace Pagoda (free entry) standing pride of place on the edge of the rainforest. An amazing piece of architecture with it’s origins in the Expo88 exhibition, comprising of over 80 tonnes of hand-carved timber that took many Nepalese families over two years to complete.
On the Edge of the Clem Jones promenade, tucked away just behind the Pagoda is the beautiful Rain Forest Boardwalk snaking through an overhead canopy of lush tropical trees and past enchanting babbling water features. Sit awhile, take some time out and just relax on any one of a number of timber benches and enjoy these blissful surroundings.
Strange looking structures set amongst grassy slopes with a huge pavilion built next door, Flowstate is a varied event function precinct available for private or business functions. The centrepiece of Flowstate is an art installation, Jem, and interactive formation that responds to people with an array of light and sounds as they move around the structure.
Kaohsiung Place is situated along the Clem Jones promenade. A quiet shady place symbolizing the friendship and sister city relationship between Brisbane and Kaohsiung, Taiwan. With plenty of undercover seating there is time to put your feet up for a while and contemplate what’s next on your foray into the South Bank Parklands or just enjoy those cool river breezes.
One of the “must see” places is South Bank’s Epicurious Garden. With its fragrant herbs, seasonal edible plant life including fruits and vegetables this garden is all about discovery and what fresh produce looks, feels and smells like. Located in the heart of the South Bank Parklands, near the River Quay, the Epicurious Garden is free to visit and is open all year round.
What could be better than getting to know the South Bank attractions than taking the 1km long walk along the Arbor under a canopy of colourful bougainvillea flowers as it winds its way in and around the parklands.
The Arbor walk also can start at the northern end of South Bank cultural forecourt and meander along past the ABC studios, the Piazza entertainment quarter, food courts, green open spaces, South Bank Collective Markets, Kids Collective – free activities for the younger ones, beaches, swimming pools and playgrounds.
Feeling a bit peckish or just yearning for an ice-crème, South Bank has you spoilt for choice. The Parklands offer a huge array of places to eat and dine. The Central Cafes area provides take away meals like fish and chips, pizza’s and off course the most yummy ice-cremes with more upmarket cafes and restaurants in the surrounding streets and The River Quay. Your choice is endless, and I can assure you, you won’t go hungry.
🔥👉Tip: South Bank has a huge array of BBQ’s scattered around the parklands for visitors to use, most of which are situated close to undercover seating and tables.
If you want to save a few $$$, there is the option of bringing your own picnic /BBQ goodies. 👉 Tip: I have found that our big supermarkets usually have the best array and best prices for purchasing food and other essential items. Woolworths have two “Woolies Metro Supermarkets” situated near South Bank, one at the southern end and the other in the north, both having easy access to bus and train stations. It was amazingly easy to buy my supplies at “supermarket prices” and then head to one of several locations at South Bank for a picnic or BBQ.
The Collective Markets are held at South Bank every Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday. Friday evening 5pm to 9pm, Saturday 10am to 9pm and Sunday 9am to 4pm. Arts, crafts, collectibles, organic produce, fashion and much more are all on show and available for purchase. Enjoy the vibe, grab a bite to eat and enjoy the atmosphere while you enjoy the music and entertainment while browsing the market stalls.
No visit to South Bank is complete without a visit to the Streets Beach, a man-made pool complete with a sandy beach overlooking the Brisbane River and CBD. The pool, gently sloping down from the beach, is ideal for the little ones to play in the shallows but the big kids haven’t been forgotten and with depths of up to 1.8metres adults can also enjoy this unique oasis in the middle of Brisbane.
To the right of Streets Beach (facing towards the Brisbane River), is a collection of fountains, water jets and water play areas aptly named Aquativity. The official information about this locale emphasises how the activities here “reference the river” and although it is mainly aimed at the younger generation, this is just a fun place for kids of all ages to spend time exploring the shallow pools and rocky streams that flow through the area.
There are also several toilets and change rooms (with showers) scattered around South Bank. If you can’t see one, ask one of the pool lifeguards for directions for the closest near to your location.
You cannot miss this playground. The Riverside Green Playground is a bright and colourful open space close to Street’s Beach surrounded by BBQ’s, shady trees and green spaces. With a superabundance of cafes and take away food outlets nearby, Riverside Green is the crème de la crème of playgrounds, fantastic for the younger kids, brilliant for adults and suitable for all age groups making it an ideal family destination, a place that everyone can enjoy.
There’s something about South Bank that embraces the Brisbane lifestyle and continually entices both visitors and locals alike to visit this astounding inner-city destination. With stunning walkways, a multitude of cafes and restaurants, open green spaces, playgrounds, beaches and water play areas, at any time of the year, there are so many ways for all the family to enjoy an unforgettable day out. These are just a few ideas to get you started on why a visit to the South Bank Parklands is such a good idea.
◾ Catch a bus, train or ferry and start your South Bank adventure experience ◾ Walk across the Brisbane River ◾ Attend a Little days Out event ◾ Grab a picnic hamper and dine beside the Brisbane River ◾ Enjoy a BBQ or picnic and admire the City lights ◾ Walk, run, cycle and explore ◾ Swim, relax and play 💖💖💖💖💖
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