We spent late afternoon on Australia Day visiting Kangaroo Point Park, on top of the cliffs at Kangaroo Point. Although this park opened almost exactly a year ago, it's the first time that I've been able to get up there and take a proper look.
The park replaced the dilapidated old Kangaroo Point TAFE, which used to occupy this prime site.
I have to say that, from the road, the glimpses I've caught of the park in the past haven't really inspired me. It looked a bit barren and exposed, too glary and hot in summer or the middle of the day. But, on a cloudy afternoon, it turned out to be a lovely place to go for a wander.
The new park has three main things going for it. First, of course, is its location. As with all the other parts of the cliffs, you get magic views of the river, the Botanic Gardens and the CBD. We could also hear music wafting over from the river-stage at QUT, courtesy of one of the few Australia Day activities that hadn't been cancelled because of the threatening weather.
The park's second big attraction is its landscaping. Even though it looked a bit concrete-heavy from the road, when we actually walked along and took a good look, it featured plenty of grassy lawns.There were groups playing footy, kids blowing bubbles, couples lying around on blankets, and people just generally enjoying themselves. The landscaping also features lots of local and interesting plant species, with information about them if you're curious.
The third winning point for me was the quantity and quality of the public art that's gone into the park. From the delicate, soaring metal of the Venus Rising sculpture, to the clever cut-out shelters that make up Seven Versions of the Sun, the art here is beautiful and accessible. Both of my boys noticed and commented on the 'art', without even realising that's what it was. (My older son wanted to climb the big sculpture, my younger son was fascinated with standing under the cut-outs and looking at the sky through them.)
Likewise, the squiggly worms that look like playground equipment are another public art piece, nice to look at but also fun for kids to climb on and explore. There's more info on the art and artists involved in the park on the Queensland Government's Art and Place website.
On a more practical note, barbecues are also provided, and there were plenty of people cooking up an Australia Day barbie, while others were tucking into prawns and a drink. Most days, you can also dine at The Cliffs Cafe, though it was closed for the public holiday when we were there.
A lovely little surprise at the northern end of the park is the newly revealed St Mary's Church, previously obscured by the old TAFE. Now framed by a grassy lawn and iron fence, it makes an historic and scenic addition to the cliffs experience. The church's 160-year-old walls are a striking contrast to the modern architecture of the rest of the park. And, if you're interested in Brisbane's history, there are also plaques dotted about the park giving historical information about the site.
When Kangaroo Point Park first opened, it copped a lot of criticism for its lack of shade. My husband has previously taken our sons up there for ice-creams, and he too had commented to me that it was not very pleasant in the middle of the day.
But he enjoyed this visit, and noted that the trees and plants had grown a lot in the six months since he'd last been there. Hopefully, they'll be providing decent shade in a few years time. In the meantime, I think Kangaroo Point Park is a lovely place to go, provided you pick the right time of day and the right weather for your visit.