Brisbane is a leafy and green city, where you never really feel far away form nature. But being in the suburbs is not the same as going out into nature. Luckily there are lots of opportunities to find a little bit of nature in the city.
The botanic gardens at Mt Coot-tha are correctly called the Brisbane Botanic Gardens, but most people confuse that with the City Botanic Gardens in the CBD. Now that this is cleared up, I can say that all the great parks in Brisbane it is the Brisbane Botanic Gardens that provides the best expanse to relax.
From green houses through to bushland, from sculpted gardens with meandering paths through to ponds, this is a great place to go for a walk. Even though the gardens are a popular location, few people head to the back end of the park, so it is easy to wander off to locations where there is no one else around.
But you can also return to the great cafe there, or one of the many performances or exhibits occur in the park. This is the park where you can get away from it all, while keeping it all close by.
Best Coastal Location:Wellington Point
The joy of living in a coastal city is that it affords an easy opportunity to visit the seaside. Unfortunately Brisbane's coastal regions are not as good as the numerous beaches and headlands found to the north on the Sunshine Coast or south on the Gold Coast.
But for nature lovers there are lots of great places to visit. One of the best is Wellington Point south of the city. This peninsula juts out into Raby Bay and is a popular location for a range of activities.
Wellington Point and King Island as seen from the jetty
If you don't want to picnic or use of the barbecues, the point of View Restaurant and Cafe does great meals and coffee. The nearby Geoff Skinner Reserve has a small mangrove wetlands path and boardwalk that is worth a visit.
Best Escape: Nt Nebo
Brisbane summers are hot. Isn't it great to get up into the mountains where the air is just that little bit cooler and fresher. While there are many great mountains down near the Gold Coast or up near the Sunshine Coast, the nearest is Mt Nebo followed by the neighbouring Mt Glorious.
Just head to The Gap and keep driving up Mt Nebo Road and you are there. Check out the view at Jolly's Lookout, do some of the short walks like the Morelia Track or simply keep driving along the road until you find a nice cafe to stop in and enjoy a coffee or a meal.
I was trying to think of the best location to barbecue while completely surrounded by nature. There are actually quite a few, but there is something about being beside a lake that really stands out. Lake Samsonvale at the North Pine Dam in Joyner has one of the most perfect barbecue areas I have visited.
Bullocky Rest is a peninsular that extends out into the lake providing a cooling breeze even in the hot summer months. Most weekends it is easy to find a spot, though on public holidays like Easter, the area can be very crowded.
There is also a nice 8 km walk along the lake if you are so inclined and fishing is now permitted. This is also a prime location for spotting Koalas in the Brisbane area. There is also a flock of swans that make the lake their home.
How about a nice bike ride along well maintained bitumen paths that goes for kilometers through forest, over creeks, along board walks and across tidal wetlands? The Boondall Wetlands provides this great experience with a 13 km return ride.
Now the track through Boondall is designated a shared path but I have never seen anyone walk the track, instead it is a favourite of cyclists. The track also connects to other tracks that head out to Sandgate, Nudgee Beach and Toombul.
Most people start at the Toombul Shopping Centre and follow the Kedron Brook cycle path out to the start of the Boondall Bikeway. Though you can also start at the Boondall Wetlands itself, ride the path and then keep going until you arrive at Nudgee beach where there is a cafe that is very popular with cyclists.
While this is a very popular area for people walking, running, cycling and otherwise exercising, many people who have come to visit Brisbane, or even live here, have visited. The combination of being opposite the City Botanic Gardens while also backing up against cliffs and being surrounded by greenery, means that you can go from the city to a natural environment quickly and easily.
As I said, this is a popular location for exercise and adventure, however it also provides a location to relax and meander, with some little side paths and places to stop. There are also several artworks along the path that you can stop to appreciate.