Brisbane has a wide range of parks. Some parks are great for a nice stroll, others are good for exercise and others are perfect for a barbecue. Here is a guide to finding the best park for different occasions and purposes in Brisbane.
Best park to escape the city: City Botanic Gardens
Brisbanites often complain about the lack of green spaces in the city centre, yet the City Botanic Gardens in the city centre is a great place to visit. Yes, it is down the far end of the city, so often too far away for most people to pop in for their lunch break, but it still attracts plenty of people at lunch time on weekdays.
It is also a very popular park in the mornings among people doing everything from yoga to boot camps. Many of these are part of the Brisbane City Councils Active Parks Program. On weekends it also often becomes a hive of activity. You often see tight rope walkers, football matches or just people relaxing on the grass.
When compared with the newer gardens, the City Botanic Gardens has many short comings. Yet if you wander around you will find a variety of spaces, including tree lined avenues, flower gardens, paths overhung with bamboo, mangroves, ponds, fountains and so on.
One of the best features of this park is wandering along the river front. The mangrove boardwalk was destroyed in the floods, but it is still one of the nicest sections of Brisbane's water front, with a section of mangroves and another open section with views of Eagle Street Pier.
Two free walks daily by trained guides are available Monday to Saturday at 11am and 1pm. Come and learn about the plants and the history of the first convict veggie garden in Brisbane.
If you are in the city for whatever reason and need a place to relax for an few minutes or a few hours, then head here.
There is not a lot of green space in the city. You can cross the river to Kangaroo Point or South Bank or walk up to Spring Hill to the Roma Street Parklands. In the city itself your three main choices are ANZAC Square which is a really lovely park, but few facilities to sit down and relax, Queens Park, which is green but has no shade and St Stephens Cathedral where they have opened their garden to local office workers to relax in.
ANZAC Square is one of the few green spaces in the CBD
Sometimes I feel that New Farm Park is a little overrated. The rose garden is particularly disappointing. However the reason that this park is so popular is the open spaces. This is the park to be active in Brisbane. Yes, most parks have some open green space and some have dedicated areas for sport, but New Farm park does this best.
Every weekend the park fills with people barbecuing and playing touch football, tennis ball cricket or just throwing a frisbee around. If you want to get together with friends for some social sport, no other place is better.
Photo of New Farm Park courtesy of the Brisbane City Council
New Farm park is also close to public transport and parking is pretty good for a park in the inner suburbs. Across the road are takeaway shops and cafes and the Powerhouse Farmers Markets is on every Saturday morning.
Photo of New Farm Park courtesy of the Brisbane City Council
I have a fondness for the 7th Brigade Park in Chermside. First of all, it is right next to the Westfield in Chermside, so you can grab drinks, food and snacks. The Downfall Creek cycle path is great for a casual cycle and there is a kids traffic training cycle path for the little ones. There is plenty of green space near the barbecues and giant climbing fort. There is also a basketball half court and handball court for people who want to play those sports. There are cricket pitches across the road at Marchant Park also some further down the cycle path.
Consisting of multiple levels, winding paths, lots of separate little gardens and features such as lakes, fountains, waterfalls, rotundas, bridges and so on, this is such a great park to wander around.
A couple at the waterfall in the Roma Street Parklands
There are also plenty of places for a romantic picnic or barbecue. Franjipani Court, which is also called the lakeside BBQs area, is under the cover of many franjipani trees and beside the lake. But you will also find many other places with picnic tables, barbecues or a place to spread a picnic blanket.
One of many beautiful little places to sit in the Roma Street Parklands
The Melange Cafe near the entrance from the Roma Street train station is also a nice spot for coffee, cake and meal. While not the best cafe around, it is the only place to buy food and drink in the gardens.
For me, any park is romantic, but there are few places that really compare to Roma Street Parklands. If you want parks with flowers, then consider New Farm Park or the City Botanic Gardens. The Brisbane Botanic Gardens is one of the great alternative locations for winding paths. One great little known location is The University of Queensland. If you head there during Jacaranda season the campus becomes an explosion of purple, especially around the lakes. It is a great place to wander and there are plenty of cafes to stop in around campus.
University of Queensland is romantic place to wander around if you don't have any essays due
Best park to see native plants: Brisbane Botanic Gardens
Brisbane has a lot of bushland areas, but most of these don't have the feel of a park or a garden. However the Brisbane Botanic Gardens is a wonderful place to view Australian natives in a garden setting.
Most of the plants are arranged around a small artificial lake at the back of the gardens. This area is pretty quiet as few people both to walk up over the hill to this part of the gardens. You can find a lot of the same plants around South East Queensland, but only here are they so neatly arranged.
There are other areas in the native plants section worth seeking out. The National Freedom Wall was built to celebrate 50 years of freedom in the Pacific following World War II. It features walls with wide open "windows" on the surrounding park.
The National Feedom Wall at the Brisbane Botanic Gardens
I have a lot of trouble thinking of an alternative location that competes with the Brisbane Botanic Gardens for native plants other than bushland areas. The Daisy Hill Conservation Park's Lower Day Use are is a lovely grass barbecue area. The Tree Discovery Trail leads off from here. Here you can visit and learn about a variety of native trees in the area with signs and other educational material on the trail.
You might even see a koala in the wild at Daisy Hill
Best park for art: Kangaroo Point cliffs
There is a lot of artwork in parks around Brisbane. If there is one place that is worth visiting for the art, it is the Kangaroo Point Cliffs.
Kangaroo Point Cliffs has a park at the top and parklands by the water
The Kangaroo Point cliffs include a park on the top of the cliffs and parklands down by the river. There are artworks all along the lower path, up at the top of the cliffs and even in the river itself.
Crossover Guardians at the start of the Art and the River Public Art Trail
One of the most visible artworks is Venus Rising from the Waters at the Cliffs Park. It is worth walking up to the top of the cliffs just to view this artwork up close, but there are other artworks there as well, along with The Cliffs Cafe.
Venus rising from the waters on the top of the Kangaroo Point Cliffs
The other artworks in the Cliffs Park are often unnoticed as artworks. The Seven Versions of the Sun might simply be mistaken as shelters and and untitled artwork nicknamed "worms" is treated by kids as just something else to climb on.
Overall one of the most relaxing art trails to walk along. Yes it can be very busy with people cycling, running, power walking and Segwaying through the parklands, but there are plenty of side paths to avoid the rush.
If you are looking for another place to find art in a park, then try the Kedron Brook Cycleway between Stafford and Michelton.
Artwork beside the Kedron Brook Cycleway near Stafford
Best park for fun, food and events: South Bank Parklands
South Bank attracts a lot of people for a lot of different reasons. Certainly it is the most fun park in Brisbane and certainly the only one where there are numerous takeaway shops in the park and even more restaurants and cafes right next door.
The main reason I come here is because there is an event on. This varies all the time, so you should check out Weekend Notes for more information about what is coming up. Events include music on the green, concerts at Suncorp Plaza and events at Cultural Forecourt