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Stay Cool Brisbane - 7 Places to Chill this Summer

Home > Brisbane > Museums | Lists | Fun Things To Do | Exhibitions
by Kiesten McCauley (subscribe)
My early career was in teaching, writing, producing and directing for theatre, comedy and impro shows. Now I'm a professional creative person. Mostly high-end branding, strategy, writing, editing and digital content creation.
Published December 22nd 2014

I love living in Brisbane, but some summer days are hellish, especially for a person who prefers the biting kiss of a cool winter's day to the face-melting heat that reduces even the sanest of humans to mouth-breathing, sweaty grumps. But my fellow Bris-vegans, I'm here to tell you, you need not swelter in your own juices, for there are fun and rewarding things to do around our fair city that will chill you out in no time.

Queensland Museums

Do you love fossils, history, and discoveries? The Queensland Museum and Sciencentre are two popular favourites for a fun and edifying stroll in air conditioned comfort. The Sciencentre is a real hit with families because of the exciting interactive displays and program of shows and workshops. If your kids are dinosaur nuts, or you want to show them a plethora of beetles, butterflies, and bugs, you definitely need to check out The Queensland Museum. The Museum has been building its collections since 1862, when it first began under the name the Queensland Philosophical Society. It's a great day out for history buffs, those interested in the evolution of species and machines, and the achievements of our forebears. Keep an eye on the museum's website for special events and exhibitions because they're changing all the time.

Location: Corner of Grey and Melbourne Streets, South Bank, South Brisbane.

Prices: General admission to the museum is free, but charges apply to the Sciencentre and some special events and exhibitions.

Plus: Budget for parking, food and drink. If you like cool toys, gifts and books bring some dollars for the museum shops.

Family friendly: Yes, it's great for all ages.

More info: (07) 3840 7555.

Chill Factor: As chill as the Ice Age.

Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium

In space, no one can hear you sweat, so why not cool off at the Planetarium? You know what's great about the Planetarium aside from the gorgeous spectacle of the universe? It's dark, the seats recline, and the air-conditioning is mighty, so you can seriously lie back and chill out while you look at the stars.

Located in the Brisbane Botanic Gardens, Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium offers a variety of shows: Black Holes: Journey into the Unknown, Cosmic Collisions, Dark Universe, Dynamic Earth, Moons: Worlds of Mystery, Saturday Night 'Live', Stars of the Pharaohs and The Search for Life: Are We Alone?

Plus there are special shows for the kids: Perfect Little Planet, Secret of the Cardboard Rocket, and Tycho to the Moon. Word of warning to the habitually late out there, you need to arrive before your show's start time to avoid missing out.

Location: Mount Coot-Tha Rd, Toowong.

Prices: Adults $15, children (3-14 years) $9.20, concessions $12.80, group discounts and 'three show passes' available.

Plus: Budget for food and drink or BYO and picnic in the gardens.

Family friendly: Yes, it's great for all ages.

More info: (07) 3403 2578.

Chill Factor: Almost as cool as Jupiter's frozen moon Europa.


Yes, you heard me right. ICE. WORLD. Clearly from that name it is an entire world made from ice, right? Well not quite, but it is the name of Brisbane's two super fun Olympic sized ice skating rinks located at Acacia Ridge for the south-siders and Boondall for those on the north-side. What better way to cool down than to slide about on a gigantic block of ice?

There are public skating sessions seven days a week and you don't have to have skated before to give it a try. I wouldn't recommend this option if you're uncoordinated, but it's great for people of all ages who like to exercise in their leisure time.

I don't have children, but have been reliably informed this is a brilliant option for wearing out the kids too. You can hire skates at the venues, just make sure you bring some nice thick socks for everyone to wear.

Locations: 2304 Sandgate Road, Boondall, and 1179 Beaudesert Road, Acacia Ridge.

Prices: From $11.
Plus: Budget for a hot cocoa at the very least.

Family friendly: Yes, it's great for anyone willing and able to give skating a try.

More info: Boondall (07) 3865 1694, Acacia Ridge (07) 3277 7563.

Chill Factor: Brrrrrrring a jumper.

Palace Cinemas

Family favourites, blockbusters, art films, world cinema, National Theatre Live, opera and ballet, vintage classics, flashback films, film festivals and even art on screen; there is so much more on offer at Palace Cinemas than you'll find at the usual multiplex. Whether you want classy classics or the latest Hollywood brain candy, Palace Cinemas delivers.

The ticket prices are often better than the competitors' too. They even do special discounts for family films to give parents' budgets a break. Like most good cinemas, the seats are comfortable, and the movie theatres are dark and well air-conditioned. More good news for people who like good news: for most sessions, you're not forced to sit in an assigned seat, so you can choose your favourite view of the screen.

The snack bar offers wines and beers for the grown-ups and serves award-winning olive oil popped popcorn.

Locations: 61 Petrie Tce, Brisbane, and 39 James St, Fortitude Valley.

Prices: From $7.

Plus: Enough money for movie snacks and drinks. If you're heading to the Barracks, or you're parking near Centro in a metred area, you might need to factor in some parking money.

Family friendly: Depends on the movie of course!

More info: 1300 627 385.

Chill Factor: Frozen Penguins.

Drinks at the Mill

Nice atmosphere, friendly staff, super-cool, quirky décor and all-important air conditioning all add up to a very chill atmosphere at Fortitude Valley's The Mill. Once a base for US soldiers during WWII, the gothic brick of the building offers the perfect backdrop for industrial hipster leather and wood interior design. Fans of craft beers will be delighted with the variety on offer, and the house cocktails are as tasty as they are good looking.

When there's live music, it's not too imposing, so you can easily carry on a conversation, and the lighting is dim, flattering and calming. It's no surprise The Mill is quietly becoming a favourite meet up spot for local cool kids, and is thankfully devoid of people who don't know how to keep it classy while they have a drink. Fans of The Mill also rave about the reasonable prices, with glasses of wine from just a fiver!

Location: 111 Constance St, Fortitude Valley.

Prices: From $5.

Plus: Enough money for gourmet bar snacks, and depending on the time you visit, parking.

Family friendly: One for the grown-ups.

More info: (07) 3252 2111.

Chill Factor: Ice-cold beer.


gallery, art

If it's not the heat that's bugging you, it's the humidity, right? Well I've got good news for you. To prevent damage and slow ageing, art needs to be kept between 20-22°C and at a humidity of 50%, give or take 3% - now that's literally cool. If the heat's making you crazy, a wander around the gallery can lower stress levels.

Some people worry they won't 'get' art, but the good thing about art is, it can mean different things to different people. Your personal experiences inform your reactions to the work, so there is no 'wrong' way to experience and contemplate art. Brisbane is lucky to have the world-class QAGoMA at South Brisbane; with vast collections, new exhibits all the time, special activities for kids and seniors, delicious places to eat, great cinema and lectures, the galleries offer something for everyone.

Location: Stanley Place, South Brisbane.

Prices: Free, though some events are ticketed.

Plus: Budget for food and drink or BYO and picnic outside on the shaded lawns near the river. If you like cool home wares, gifts and books bring some dollars for the gallery shops. You might have to budget for parking too.

Family friendly: Yes, it's great for all ages.

More info: (07) 3840 7303.

Chill Factor: Cooler than Warhol.

Shlix Gelato

Did you know Schlix Gelato makes chilled desserts for some of Brisbane's most famous and elite venues? They create their cool treats in store to Italian recipes with only the finest ingredients: no preservatives, no artificial ingredients and with fresh milk.

I don't know about you, but if a gelato is coveted by Brisbane's most discerning chefs, I have to try it. Now I'm no scientist, but I'd wager putting cool things into your mouth is sure to cool you down, right? Shlix Gelato has an amazing range of flavours to choose from and they're always introducing something exciting and new.

They have a loyalty card system to help you save money while you make your way through tasting every new flavour. If you're watching your weight, there are low fat options that taste just as heavenly as the naughty stuff.

Location: 364 Brunswick Street, Brisbane QLD 4006.

Prices: From $4.80.

Plus: You might have to budget for parking too.

Family friendly: Yes, kids of all ages will love it.

More info: (07) 3252 2229.

Chill Factor: Mint choc chip.
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Why? It's too darn hot
Where: Brisbane, Fortitude Valley and South Brisbane
Your Comment
Great article very engaging and entertaining. Although I have a family and have done most of the things listed, The Mill sounds brilliant for when we can get some time off. Thanks for writing
by carme (score: 1|18) 1888 days ago
The Queensland museum sounds great!
by Wandering Foodies (score: 2|479) 1887 days ago
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