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Art and the River Public Art Trail

Home > Brisbane > Art | Outdoor | Places of Interest | Walks
by Roy Chambers (subscribe)
Lover of all things interesting and new
Published June 8th 2014
Colour and form beside the river
This 2.4 km walk that passes along the Brisbane River bank from South Bank along Kangaroo Point ending at the Thornton Street Ferry Terminal. Find form, colour and artistic expression as you meander both below and above the Kangaroo Point cliffs.

Artwork on the Kangaroo Point Public Art Trail
Artwork on the Kangaroo Point Public Art Trail


While the guide published by the Brisbane City Council recommends that you start from near the Maritime Museum, I believe it is better to start at the Thorton Street Ferry Terminal and head in the direction of South Bank. South Bank has many options when looking for a place to eat or have coffee. You can also combine the Art and the River Public Art Trail walk with the South Bank Heritage Trail.

The first point of call is the Crossover Guardians at the top of the steps leading away from the Ferry Terminal. Like many of the art works along the way it references both the river, history and the culture of Brisbane. The twin sculptors are inspired by both the structure of the story bridge and row boats which used to be the only way across the river.

The Crossover Guardians
The Crossover Guardians


Head down the river. You will pass several art works here, both large and small, so keep your eyes out. You will also come across the first of the Man & Matter series of art works from Expo '88. These colourful and energetic artworks celebrate the interdependence of the human form with technology.

One of the Man & Matter series of artworks
One of the Man & Matter series of artworks


Head down to the boardwalk to escape the crowds and enjoy the view of Brisbane City over the river. Most of the maddening crowd along the Kangaroo Point path avoid the boardwalk.

Kangaroo Point Boardwalk
Kangaroo Point Boardwalk


Some of the most interesting artworks are up on the top of the cliffs. Lookout for the stairs cut into the rock and make your way to the little park at the top. There is also a coffee shop up here. If you started the walk from South Bank this may be where you want to end your walk.

The stairs up the cliffs
The stairs up the cliffs


There are three artworks in this park. Venus Rising: Out of the
water and into the light is clearly visible from the path below and you may have seen it from the decks of the ferry. My view is that this is the premium artwork along the trail and worth the climb up the stairs to view up close and to even sneak a look inside.

Venus Rising: Out of the water and into the light
Venus Rising: Out of the water and into the light


Walk around the park, keep your eyes skyward to lookout for the lovely Seven Versions of the Sun.

One of the Seven Versions of the Sun
One of the Seven Versions of the Sun


For kids there is also the an untitled artwork that is generally called Wormholes. Set in a child friendly playground it is a popular place for kids to climb and play.

Is it art or a playground? Maybe both.
Is it art or a playground? Maybe both.


For great views continue towards South Bank along the cliff tops. However to continue on the art trail you instead need to head back down the stairs and as you continue along the path towards South Bank you will see more of the Man & Matter works.

The view from the Kangaroo Point cliffs
The view from the Kangaroo Point cliffs


You will know you are near the end of the trail when you see the Biomechanical Pelicans perched on the remnants of the old coal warf.

Biomechanical Pelicans
Biomechanical Pelicans


There is one more Man & Matter artwork just outside the Maritime Museum and then it is time to head to South Bank for coffee, beer or a meal. You are also at the start of the South Brisbane Heritage Trail.

The main hassle is the numerous cyclists and joggers who head up and down the river path. Share the path politely and keep an eye out for both art and other path users.
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Why? A lovely walk with art and city views
Where: Thorton Street Ferry Terminal
Cost: Free
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