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Published October 21st 2012
Where there is water, there is life. One of nature's most precious resources also provides reflection, serenity, peacefulness and refreshment, and in busy urban spaces the sights and sounds of a water feature can provide a brief moment of respite from our increasingly hectic lifestyles. Fortunately Brisbane City council is becoming more aware of the intrinsic benefits of using water as a form of public art, and have incorporated both water features and fountains as part of their art in public spaces strategy.
Along with some superb public art in the form of sculptures there are some fantastic water features amongst the concrete and greener spaces in downtown Brisbane. Next time your in the CBD take a minute to appreciate the benefits of a well placed water feature or fountain. While they may not be as grand as Rome's Trevi fountain, the advantages of fountains and water features are numerous. Whether it be for decoration, entertainment, recreation or practical use, water features enhance the way people enjoy and experience leisure time in their cities.
Here are five of Brisbane's most interesting (in my opinion) and perhaps lesser-known water features and fountains. They can all be enjoyed easily on a walking tour of the downtown area.
1) Mooney Memorial Fountain @ Queen & Eagle Streets
Mooney Memorial fountain named in memory of volunteer firefighter James Mooney who was killed in a fire on Queen Street in the nineteenth century
This elaborate 10 metre high stone drinking fountain was commissioned in 1877 to beautify the area between Queen & Eagle streets. Bemoaned as a massive cost to the community back then, the fountain still sits proudly in the exact same location as it did more than a century ago as the city has transformed around it. Best yet, the historic fountain is still pumping water and functioning as a drinking fountain as well as an impressive piece of public art. Named in 1988 as the Mooney Memorial fountain in honour of James Mooney, a volunteer firefighter who lost his life fighting a fire in one of the buildings on Queen St.
Feeling parched downtown? Why buy exorbitantly priced bottled water? This historic drinking fountain is still pumping precious H2O
Outside one of Brisbane's tallest skyscrapers is one of the largest and most impressive water features in Brisbane, providing office workers a relaxing refuge and place to sit and take time out on their lunch break. A large pond of water laps at the base of the 53 storey building before cascading down steps towards the Brisbane river making it the ultimate waterfall feature. The sounds of this fast flowing water and the fact this feature is so photogenic makes it one definitely worth stopping at.
3) Ornamental Ponds @ City Botanic Gardens, Alice Street
Fancy some bird watching and picnicking? The ornamental ponds near the Alice & Edward St entrance to the city botanic gardens provides an example of the relationship between a large body of water and the greater environment. Ducks and other birds play here among the lily pads, and sprouting water fountains in the middle of the ponds provide a focal point for the eyes. Keep an look out for the prehistoric looking water dragons who also love this space.
On each side at the base of the stone staircase in Anzac Square are two Roman inspired pools. These shape of these pools on either side of the staircase leading up towards the shrine of remembrance creates a remarkable symmetry, as do the carefully sculpted green hedges. The crystal clear pools provide a tranquil place to sit an pay tribute to fallen soldiers. A steady stream of fresh water flows into the pools and if you've worked up a thirst from all this water appreciation there is a public water fountain located next to the park benches at each pool. How very refreshing!
Roman inspired pools adjourn the stone staircase in Anzac Square
The man responsible for Brisbane's city botanic gardens as well as the iconic jacardanda and poinciana trees in Brisbane is paid tribute to in Walter Hill fountain, which is another of Brisbane's historic drinking fountains. Built in 1867 the fountain no longer provides water but it remains Brisbane's oldest and its unique design demands you pay attention. The fountain sits proudly among the gardens that Walter Hill was the visionary behind as the first curator of the then-called Brisbane botanical reserve.
Also worth a mention: Splash Pads
It wouldn't feel right mentioning all these water features in Brisbane without reference to splash pads. Splash pad's you ask? Splash pads are water features which spray jets of water upwards from the ground in a stream which can either be upwards or arched. If you want to interact directly with the water - that is to get nice and wet, head over to Southbank Parklands to run through, skip through or stand over these splash pads which are located near the man made swimming lagoon. While not technically in Brisbane city these water features provide entertainment and a safe way to cool down for the kids in the warmer months. This just goes to show the uses for water are almost endless.
There are plenty of other water features and fountains throughout downtown Brisbane, whether it be hotel lobbies, shopping complexes or building foyers. Next time you see one consider stopping by and appreciating it. Like I said - where there is water there is life.