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Captain Burke Park in Kangaroo Point

Home > Brisbane > Fun for Children | Picnic Spots | Places of Interest | Playgrounds | Walks
by Elaine (subscribe)
Impromptu adventuring, exploring our backyard and then putting pen to paper, hoping to entice you to try one, if not all, of our escapades, is my true reward!
Published May 3rd 2021
Oodles of fabulous fun activities for a family day out
Captain Burke Park, Kangaroo Point, Story Bridge, Irish immigrants, sailor, John Burke shipping line, Holman Street, bronze sculpture by Phillip Piperides, Mother and Son seeking freedom, symbolic memorial, boat people fleeing Vietnam, family day out, maritime-themed playground, sandy beach, spreading fig trees, green lawns, barbecues, picnic tables, shelters, amenities, family celebrations, birthdays, outdoor picnics, riverfront walk, bike path, South Bank, iconic Story Bridge Hotel, heritage-listed Howard Smith wharves, dining and brewery destination, tranquil, lush green space, five minutes walk of the city centre, panoramic cityscape
Love this mural by Mark Makhoul - an awesome cover-up for the 'loo' block


After living in Brisbane for sixteen plus years and thinking I was 'Miss Know-it-All' with regards to this stunning river city, I was totally astounded when I discovered the very impressive Captain Burke Park in Kangaroo Point, tucked away neatly underneath the Story Bridge. Who knew! And to enhance the attraction of this gorgeous park, it has a wonderfully romantic story to go with it.

Captain Burke Park, Kangaroo Point, Story Bridge, Irish immigrants, sailor, John Burke shipping line, Holman Street, bronze sculpture by Phillip Piperides, Mother and Son seeking freedom, symbolic memorial, boat people fleeing Vietnam, family day out, maritime-themed playground, sandy beach, spreading fig trees, green lawns, barbecues, picnic tables, shelters, amenities, family celebrations, birthdays, outdoor picnics, riverfront walk, bike path, South Bank, iconic Story Bridge Hotel, heritage-listed Howard Smith wharves, dining and brewery destination, tranquil, lush green space, five minutes walk of the city centre, panoramic cityscape
Captain Burke Park is tucked away neatly underneath the Story Bridge


The Captain Burke Park was named in 1978 in honour of seaman, John Burke. The story goes that John Burke landed in Brisbane in August 1862, on an old sailing ship, the Erin-go-bragh, bringing Irish immigrants to Queensland. This young sailor had fallen in love with Alice Swords, one of the immigrants on the ship and not wanting to leave her alone in a strange country, promptly jumped ship. It's said that Burke arrived with a personal fortune of sixpence, which he claimed, in the best traditions of the sea, he spent on rum.

Captain Burke Park, Kangaroo Point, Story Bridge, Irish immigrants, sailor, John Burke shipping line, Holman Street, bronze sculpture by Phillip Piperides, Mother and Son seeking freedom, symbolic memorial, boat people fleeing Vietnam, family day out, maritime-themed playground, sandy beach, spreading fig trees, green lawns, barbecues, picnic tables, shelters, amenities, family celebrations, birthdays, outdoor picnics, riverfront walk, bike path, South Bank, iconic Story Bridge Hotel, heritage listed Howard Smith wharves, dining and brewery destination, tranquil, lush green space, five minutes walk of the city centre, panoramic cityscape
Fabulous family activities abound at Captain Burke Park


The Queensland authorities were enthusiastic about new settlers and had no qualms about rounding up deserting sailors and putting them to good use. Burke's skills as an experienced seaman soon gained him employment back on the water.

Burke obtained a berth on the Honeyman and Sons steamer, Louisa, and being an ambitious man, studied for, and obtained his Master's Certificate.

Captain Burke Park, Kangaroo Point, Story Bridge, Irish immigrants, sailor, John Burke shipping line, Holman Street, bronze sculpture by Phillip Piperides, Mother and Son seeking freedom, symbolic memorial, boat people fleeing Vietnam, family day out, maritime-themed playground, sandy beach, spreading fig trees, green lawns, barbecues, picnic tables, shelters, amenities, family celebrations, birthdays, outdoor picnics, riverfront walk, bike path, South Bank, iconic Story Bridge Hotel, heritage listed Howard Smith wharves, dining and brewery destination, tranquil, lush green space, five minutes walk of the city centre, panoramic cityscape
Spreading fig trees light up in the evenings


By 1887 the love-struck sailor had started the John Burke shipping line, a company recognised for more than one hundred years, for its trade up and down the Queensland coast. John Burke died in 1918, having built up his company from a single vessel to a small coastal fleet.

For more fascinating information on Captain John Burke's travels and heroics, please follow the State Library of Queensland's link here.

Captain Burke Park, Kangaroo Point, Story Bridge, Irish immigrants, sailor, John Burke shipping line, Holman Street, bronze sculpture by Phillip Piperides, Mother and Son seeking freedom, symbolic memorial, boat people fleeing Vietnam, family day out, maritime-themed playground, sandy beach, spreading fig trees, green lawns, barbecues, picnic tables, shelters, amenities, family celebrations, birthdays, outdoor picnics, riverfront walk, bike path, South Bank, iconic Story Bridge Hotel, heritage listed Howard Smith wharves, dining and brewery destination, tranquil, lush green space, five minutes walk of the city centre, panoramic cityscape
The touching 'Mother and Son seeking freedom' bronze sculpture


At the eastern end of Holman Street, at the edge of the park facing the Brisbane River, visitors to the Captain Burke Park will discover a touching bronze sculpture by Phillip Piperides, that has been named Mother and Son seeking freedom. This symbolic memorial is a dedication to honour the many thousands of boat people, who lost their lives tragically at sea, whilst fleeing Vietnam during the post-Vietnam war years of 1975 to 1995.

Captain Burke Park, Kangaroo Point, Story Bridge, Irish immigrants, sailor, John Burke shipping line, Holman Street, bronze sculpture by Phillip Piperides, Mother and Son seeking freedom, symbolic memorial, boat people fleeing Vietnam, family day out, maritime-themed playground, sandy beach, spreading fig trees, green lawns, barbecues, picnic tables, shelters, amenities, family celebrations, birthdays, outdoor picnics, riverfront walk, bike path, South Bank, iconic Story Bridge Hotel, heritage listed Howard Smith wharves, dining and brewery destination, tranquil, lush green space, five minutes walk of the city centre, panoramic cityscape
An acknowledgment and tribute to the struggles of the Vietnamese 'boat people'


The term 'boat people' was first used in the 1970s when large numbers of boats carrying refugees looking for asylum from the aftermath of the Vietnam War, started arriving in Australia. More than half of the Vietnamese population was displaced during these years, with more than two million seeking to escape South Vietnam to escape Communist rule. Most of these refugees fled to neighbouring Asian countries but some took to boats to come to Australia.

Captain Burke Park, Kangaroo Point, Story Bridge, Irish immigrants, sailor, John Burke shipping line, Holman Street, bronze sculpture by Phillip Piperides, Mother and Son seeking freedom, symbolic memorial, boat people fleeing Vietnam, family day out, maritime-themed playground, sandy beach, spreading fig trees, green lawns, barbecues, picnic tables, shelters, amenities, family celebrations, birthdays, outdoor picnics, riverfront walk, bike path, South Bank, iconic Story Bridge Hotel, heritage listed Howard Smith wharves, dining and brewery destination, tranquil, lush green space, five minutes walk of the city centre, panoramic cityscape
The maritime-themed playground


The 'Mother and Son' memorial is a way of acknowledging and paying tribute to the struggles of the Vietnamese boat people and the problems they faced, which included hunger, storms, pirates, getting lost and capsizing on their journeys. Visitors are invited to stop and reflect on this very important part of Australian-Vietnamese history.

Captain Burke Park, Kangaroo Point, Story Bridge, Irish immigrants, sailor, John Burke shipping line, Holman Street, bronze sculpture by Phillip Piperides, Mother and Son seeking freedom, symbolic memorial, boat people fleeing Vietnam, family day out, maritime-themed playground, sandy beach, spreading fig trees, green lawns, barbecues, picnic tables, shelters, amenities, family celebrations, birthdays, outdoor picnics, riverfront walk, bike path, South Bank, iconic Story Bridge Hotel, heritage listed Howard Smith wharves, dining and brewery destination, tranquil, lush green space, five minutes walk of the city centre, panoramic cityscape
Stretch of low tide sandy beach is ideal for walking and tossing a ball


On a lighter note, the extremely popular Captain Burke Park has oodles of fabulous activities and space to offer families looking for a fun day out -
A maritime-themed playground for children;
A set of steps takes visitors down to a stretch of sandy beach at low tide. The river is not safe for swimming, but paddlers may find the sandy strip useful when exploring the local mangroves.

Captain Burke Park, Kangaroo Point, Story Bridge, Irish immigrants, sailor, John Burke shipping line, Holman Street, bronze sculpture by Phillip Piperides, Mother and Son seeking freedom, symbolic memorial, boat people fleeing Vietnam, family day out, maritime-themed playground, sandy beach, spreading fig trees, green lawns, barbecues, picnic tables, shelters, amenities, family celebrations, birthdays, outdoor picnics, riverfront walk, bike path, South Bank, iconic Story Bridge Hotel, heritage listed Howard Smith wharves, dining and brewery destination, tranquil, lush green space, five minutes walk of the city centre, panoramic cityscape
Captain Burke Park lends itself perfectly to family celebrations


Lush green lawns and spreading fig trees are interspersed with barbecues, picnic tables, shelters and amenities perfect for family celebrations, whether it be birthdays or hen's outdoor picnics.
The Captain Burke Park is directly connected to the riverfront walk and bike path to South Bank, taking in an interesting variety of scenic natural and man-made features.

Captain Burke Park, Kangaroo Point, Story Bridge, Irish immigrants, sailor, John Burke shipping line, Holman Street, bronze sculpture by Phillip Piperides, Mother and Son seeking freedom, symbolic memorial, boat people fleeing Vietnam, family day out, maritime-themed playground, sandy beach, spreading fig trees, green lawns, barbecues, picnic tables, shelters, amenities, family celebrations, birthdays, outdoor picnics, riverfront walk, bike path, South Bank, iconic Story Bridge Hotel, heritage listed Howard Smith wharves, dining and brewery destination, tranquil, lush green space, five minutes walk of the city centre, panoramic cityscape
Man-made features along the riverfront walk


The iconic Story Bridge Hotel is within a stone's throw of Captain Burke Park. Directly across on the opposite side of the Story Bridge is the heritage-listed Howard Smith Wharves, now a vibrant must-do dining and brewery destination.

Captain Burke Park, Kangaroo Point, Story Bridge, Irish immigrants, sailor, John Burke shipping line, Holman Street, bronze sculpture by Phillip Piperides, Mother and Son seeking freedom, symbolic memorial, boat people fleeing Vietnam, family day out, maritime-themed playground, sandy beach, spreading fig trees, green lawns, barbecues, picnic tables, shelters, amenities, family celebrations, birthdays, outdoor picnics, riverfront walk, bike path, South Bank, iconic Story Bridge Hotel, heritage listed Howard Smith wharves, dining and brewery destination, tranquil, lush green space, five minutes walk of the city centre, panoramic cityscape
Looking towards the vibrant must-do Howard Smith Wharves dining and brewery destination


If you're visiting Brisbane or even a local yearning for a tranquil, lush green space within five minutes walk of the city centre, the Captain Burke Park with its panoramic cityscape in Kangaroo Point, is definitely the location to bookmark.

Captain Burke Park, Kangaroo Point, Story Bridge, Irish immigrants, sailor, John Burke shipping line, Holman Street, bronze sculpture by Phillip Piperides, Mother and Son seeking freedom, symbolic memorial, boat people fleeing Vietnam, family day out, maritime-themed playground, sandy beach, spreading fig trees, green lawns, barbecues, picnic tables, shelters, amenities, family celebrations, birthdays, outdoor picnics, riverfront walk, bike path, South Bank, iconic Story Bridge Hotel, heritage listed Howard Smith wharves, dining and brewery destination, tranquil, lush green space, five minutes walk of the city centre, panoramic cityscape
Stunning panoramic cityscape - Image: author


All images courtesy of author
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Why? For a fabulous family fun day out
When: Any time, any day of the week
Where: Captain Burke Park, 75 Holman Street, Kangaroo Point, Brisbane QLD 4169
Cost: FREE facilities to enjoy
Your Comment
It's one of my favourite parks Elaine. Great views of the bridge. So close it feels like you can touch it.
by Gillian Ching (score: 3|2739) 47 days ago
Interesting story about Burke... also great walks along the river.
by Barry (score: 3|2248) 49 days ago
I love discovering new places even after many years. Thank you. Marina
by Marina Marangos (score: 2|982) 48 days ago
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