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Brisbane for Beginners: Swimming in the City

Home > Brisbane > Free | Fun for Children | Parks | Playgrounds | Swimming Pools | Lists
by RTFM (subscribe)
For the past four years, I have lived and loved in West End - so I'm new enough to the city to remember how confusing it was, and old enough to be able to pass on what I've learned about this amazing city.
Published January 1st 2015
Finding Brissie a bit hot? Try the pools
One thing even the most casual visitor to Brisbane will notice is that it is hot here. Hot one day and bloody hot the next. If you're fortunate enough to be staying at one of the hotels or backpackers which has a pool great. But if not (and possible for some added variety) why not check out some of the really great Council swimming pools?

Fun at the public pools
Fun at the public pools

There are 20 Council swimming pools across Brisbane - both indoor and outdoor, with a number of pools being heated in case you're visiting here during the cooler months when a dip in a heated pool is definitely the preferred option. Council pools aren't just rectangular holes in the ground filled with water like the little backyard affairs offered by friends and most backpackers for example. Many pools have disabled access/facilities. Other facilities often include slides and play equipment, barbeques and kiosks. All pools have change rooms with hot and cold showers.

For example, the Chermside pool complex boasts a 25 metre heated outdoor lap pool, an outdoor fitness area, a water park with six water-slides and lagoon play area (with separate entry - summer only), and a heated 16 metre indoor programs pool. Heated pools are open all year around. There is also a kiosk on site should you wish to indulge in a poolside nibble...and you can check out the on-duty lifeguard for free!

Pools sometimes offer learn-to-swim lessons for babies through to adults, squad swimming and stroke development classes, along with aqua aerobics and gentle exercise classes. Try finding all this at you're mate's backyard water hole.

Cost: $5 (children $3.70)
For more details click here.

South Bank
Streets Beach

Streets beach, palms and city skyline
Streets beach, palms and skyline

There may be other cities which can boast an inner-city beach, but there can't be many. Brisbane straddles the Brisbane river, which snakes its way through the high rise office and apartments blocks on its way to the sea. Unfortunately, Brisbane has no seaside. It's an "inland" city. The nearest swimming beaches are either on the Gold or Sunshine coasts. And for that you have to jump in the car, or climb aboard a train. But Brissie's lack of an immediate coast prompted them to build their own artificial beach right in the heart of the city. At South Bank.

South Bank is the place to go in Brisbane if you are after theatre, fine dining (or cheap and cheerful eateries), free events, markets, and you guessed it the beach. Streets Beach boasts a sparkling lagoon surrounded by white, sandy beaches and sub-tropical plants, and is situated right in the heart of the 17 hectare Parklands with the majestic river drifting by on one side, and bars, restaurants and baristas crowding the other. And just behind the bars you'll find Little Stanley Street home of the Young Designers market (as well as many other markets).

Aquativity Kids Centre
Aquativity Kids Centre

This is a place you can take the kids to splash about in one of a number of kid-friendly pools, spread your beach towel on the sand and soak up the rays, or relax in one of the bars or restaurants overlooking the pools.

We live in West End, and most weekends will find us strolling the 10 minutes or so to the Parklands with a picnic hamper in tow. With towel spread on the grass, some cool music wafting over the happy crowds from one of the restaurants, it's a hop skip and jump over the boardwalk onto the beach to join the rest of Brisbane cooling off in the lagoon.

There are shallow areas designated for the kiddies, and demarcated with floats, where moms and pops spend quality time with the kids. Just over the float barrier, the water gets deeper, and it is here that you'll find the adults treading water, chatting with friends, laughing and generally cooling off.

The white sands soon become a patchwork of colourful beach towels, tanned bodies and kids building sand castles. This is a beach in every sense of the word and only a stroll away from the CBD.

Relax on the sand, under the palms.
Relax on the sand, under the palms.

If you're on your own no problem. The beach is wonderfully safe. But in case you're paranoid about personal safety or the safety of your stuff, you'll notice the friendly presence of the Brissie cops in their shorts, or on their bikes meandering unobtrusively through the crowd.

The lifeguard's hours change throughout the year, so please contact them on (07) 3867 2048 to see when they are patrolling.


Kids in the kiddies pool
Kids in the kiddies pool

Here with kids? Then Aquativity is for you. This is a fun and interactive water-play park on the right edge f the pool complex (as you face the river). This is a water world designed specifically for the kids, featuring a range of educational play elements that reference the Brisbane River, local catchments, native fish and mammal species (such as mullet and dugong), and the water cycle. fountains spurt up at random to delighted squeals of the kids, the water bucket seems to swing back and forth as though by perpetual motion spilling cool water down on those under it. Paddling pools. Tubular fountains which rise from the water, arc over and return to the pool without making even the smallest splash. It's hard to believe they are actually jets of water. The pool complex is completely free to use, is patrolled by lifeguards all year round and is open daily from 9am to 7pm.

Getting there

To get to South Bank is easy for visitors as there are three huge undercover car parks to service the area, a CityCat stop as well as the Victoria Bridge and Goodwill Bridge that connect the city to South Bank.

You can also take a lovely stroll that takes you from the cliffs of Kangaroo Point to South Bank. Or you could cycle to and from South Bank and lock your bike up in safety at a variety of spots.

South Bank prides itself on its easy accessibility for people living with disabilities with disabled parking bays, plenty of ramps, disabled bathrooms and pool wheelchairs for those who want to enjoy the South Bank Boating Pond.

Public transport

The South Bank Parklands are within walking distance of the Cultural Centre busway station and the South Bank busway station, as well as the South Brisbane railway station and South Bank railway station. There are three CityCat terminals on the Brisbane River, near the Victoria Bridge.


Bicycles can access the South Bank Parklands from South Bank via Vulture Street, Little Stanley Street and the Cultural Forecourt; from Gardens Point via the Goodwill Bridge; and from Kangaroo Point via the Riverwalk. Bicycle racks are located at the Visitors Centre in Stanley Street Plaza, Suncorp Piazza, The Boardwalk, Clem Jones Promenade and Little Stanley Street.


In 1988, Brisbane held a successful World Expo 88, following which the Government intended to develop the site for commercial interests. However, a public campaign successfully lobbied for the site to be redeveloped as parkland for the enjoyment of people in Brisbane. In 1989, the South Bank Corporation, a Queensland Government statutory body, was established to oversee the development and management of the new South Bank Parklands.

In 1998, a major redevelopment was announced that included the Goodwill Bridge, Grey Street, Grand Arbour and improvements to accessibility via removal of the canals and associated pathways.
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Why? Gotta cool off
When: All year round
Where: All Brisbane, and the South Bank
Cost: Streets Beach: Free, Municipal pools $5
Your Comment
The pool at South Banks looks really pretty, and the first pool is really good value.
by Bryony Harrison (score: 4|12622) 2154 days ago
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