By secret, I mean any place that you people often pass by but never knew was there. All the places on this list are little locations that I or people I know have not known about despite having passed close by. Some I discovered by accident, others were introduced to me and still others I have always known about but it seems like everyone else I know has never heard of them.
If you know any other secrets, please add them to the comments. I am always interested in learning new secrets.
The bush chapel dates back to an outdoor chapel maintained built by US servicemen stationed on Mt Coot-tha during WWII. In fact the road up to Mt Coot-tha and the JC Slaughter Falls Picnic Area were built by during WWII. There is not much remaining of the army base other than a concrete slab used for some of the picnic tables, the entrance to an old underground ammo dump and the Bush Chapel.
The Bush Chapel lies up a little bitumen path from the JC Slaughter Falls Picnic area where it is generally ignored by everyone who goes to that area. This makes it a lovely spot to walk up to and relax even when the picnic area is packed.
The chapel is simply a stone pulpit and logs for pews. People occasionally use the chapel for small weddings, but other than that it is a quiet little secret worth visiting.
JC Slaughter Picnic Area (Courtesy of Brisbane City Council)
I love the 3 nature reserves that make up the Chermside Hills Nature Reserve. One of the lovely features of these reserves is a green bridge that goes over Hamilton Road from Ravens Street Reserve to the Milne Hill Reserve.
What is a green bridge you ask? Well even if you didn't ask I am going to tell you anyway, so keep reading. It is a pathway constructed over the road covered in tall grass, some rocks and even a rope that allows arboreal animals to make the crossing from one bushland area to another.
I have never taken someone here without the follow reactions. The first is not to realise they are actually on a bridge as it is covered with grass. Then when I tell them it is a green bridge they then shrug their shoulders. Then they look at it in more depth they realise how wonderful it is.
Finding the bridge is a little difficult. The best place to start is at Milne Hill Reserve where it is on the southern end near the car parks off Hamilton Road. If you start at Raven Street Reserve you need to walk to the very North Western Corner of the Reserve. You will come to the end of the bitumen path and you just follow the dirt path up the hill until you find the green bridge.
Unless you are dedicated environmentalist or really into green architecture then visiting just for the bridge is probably not worth the effort, however these 3 reserves are well worth visiting and a walk that starts at Raven Street Reserve's Downfall Creek Bushland Centre and crosses the Bridge to the Milne Hill Reserve for the views is always an enjoyable experience.
Brisbane Botanic Gardens - Mt Coot-tha)
The Brisbane Botanic Gardens is not a secret, but most people visit the gardens at the front, but few people bother to walk over the hill to the back area of the gardens. This area is packed with a great variety of Australian native plants.
Note: Brisbane Botanic Gardens is the one in Mt Coot-tha, not the City Botanic Gardens.
Beyond the little hill that divides the front and back of the park is lovely lake. Surrounded by all native plants, this area uses natives to create a fantastic cultivated garden feel. It also presents visitors to Australia with many different aspects of the Australian bush in one easy to access location.
North Lakes is a suburb of lakes, and by that, I mean many lakes. Yet most people, including myself for a long time, think that North Lakes only had one lake, Lake Eden. But thanks to a tip off I learned there is much more to this area. Not only lakes, but also the North Lakes Environmental Park.
The park is an area of bushland around the upper end of Hays Inlet. Much of it is pretty wild and you have a combination of fire trails and rough bush trails. There is no official way across Hays Inlet in the park, but you will find local kids have put together a rough bridge of unsteady planks you can make your way across (if you dare). Otherwise you can just use the roads that go around the park.
Green fire trail in the North Lakes Environmental Park
There are some lovely well maintained walking and cycling paths around the outside of the park. The most interesting are on the southern side of the park that take you past several lakes. The adventurous will want to wander the bush paths instead.
Maybe I have spent to much time in Asia, but there is something about hiking through the natural landscape to arrive at a Buddhist Temple. There is only one place I know in Brisbane where you can do that, the Chung Tian Temple.
The Chung Tian Buddhist Temple in Underwood is the largest temple in South East Queensland. It follows the Chinese Buddhist Tradition and includes daily services, frequent classes in Buddhism, Tai Chi three days a week and a fantastic vegetarian restaurant and tea house.
What most people don't realise is that it backs on the Daisy Hill Conservation Park. This means, you can hike through the bush to the temple. Personally and myself for many of my Buddhist friends, nothing creates more serenity that being out in nature. So arriving at a temple after a hike is always welcome.
Unfortunately it is downhill to the temple, when ideally we would want it to be at the top of a hill or mountain, but still it is a lovely walk from upper day-use area in the Daisy Hill Conservation Park down to the temple.
Have you tried Karawatha forest? Today we did about 12km around the forest and it is quite a good spot, with well maintained paths, a kids playground (one of the best I have seen) and a Discovery Centre that is a must for big and little kids alike. Also the usual bbq/shelters/toilets etc.