During Coronavirus, exercise without crowds in Brisbane
Because of Coronavirus, they closed the gyms but left the parks open, so now many public places are becoming crowded with people exercising. The government is happy for people to get out and stay fit, but we all hope that you do it safely. Here are some places that come to mind for safe exercise in Brisbane.
People all around Australia are heading out to parks to exercise
These are just some of my suggestions based on past experience. If you go to any places that you would like to recommend for others, please post them in the comments.
It should go without saying that while care has been taken to provide accurate and up-to-date information and advice, it may not apply to all states and communities, and could change at any time. It is the responsibility of the reader to check and follow any directives or information. For example, there are stories of people going to beaches or parks that are listed on local council websites as open, only to find them closed when they arrive.
Also, the information here is provided under the principles of harm minimisation. While the idea is that people stay at home as much as possible, there are many people who will go outside to exercise. This article is designed to provide advice and information to make an informed decision about whether to go out and where to do it as safely as possible.
I have seen people actually setting up social groups online to get together and walk as a group, even after the bans on groups were in place. Even worse, they have decided to do this in the busiest part of the city. This is why I keep using Weekend Notes as a platform to provide details and nuance of the rules, along with guidelines and suggestions on how to do things safely.
Also, I can't guarantee that any of these places won't be full of people. Often the problem is that if something is a good idea, others will have had the same idea. So if you arrive at a place and there are lots of people, just leave. Oh, and please post information on the comments about whether a spot is free or full of people.
Social distancing concepts and rules
Exercise outdoors is considered safe because you will mostly do it by yourself, have plenty of opportunity to keep distance from people, and now that outdoor gym equipment is closed, you will do it without touching things. But a quick reminder:
Wash your hands before going out, avoid touching things, avoid touching your face, and wash your hands when you come home.
Avoid using facilities if you can. Take a water bottle instead of using drink fountains, and, while not trying to sound like your mother, go to the toilet before you go out so you don't have to use restrooms.
You are allowed to meet up with one other person when outdoors. Ideally, you want to keep a little distance between you and them.
You can go outdoors with people that you live with. That means, if you live in a house with 20 people, you can all go to the park together. Realise, of course, if you do that, you are likely to be hassled and the police informed. So if you are in a large household, please avoid heading out in groups.
It is better to drive to a quiet location than it is to go to a nearby busy one.
Social distancing is both distance and time. Basically you want to put at least 1.5 metres between you and other people, but also remember, if you pass someone on a path, the time spent together is very short, so the chance of infection is also reduced. Try to combine both rules to increase safety.
Going at the right time of day is important. I stick to exercising after dark because I live in a busy area. Once the sun sets, I can walk or run a fair distance and only see a few people. If I went just before sunset there are many people out and about.
Obey all signs in parks and recreational reserves, and respect the directions of all law enforcement, parks and council officers. There is little point arguing over details and rules if they ask you to leave an area, they just don't have time for it and also possess the power to give you a hefty fine.
Places to avoid
There are lots of places around Brisbane that are very popular for outdoor activities. Other places have narrow paths. Outdoor gyms will be closed, but the ones in my local park have no notice or been closed off, but they should be avoided. In fact anywhere that you might touch handrails or other things are best avoided. The perfect storm of these factors would be the stairs at the Kangaroo Point Cliffs. The popular narrow stairs is in a heavily trafficked area and a lot of people will touch the handrails.
Southbank is best avoided at the moment, but especially avoid running the Kangaroo Point Cliffs stairs
Just because the biggest problem in the world at the moment is the COVID-19 pandemic, doesn't mean that there are not lots of other risks. You want to avoid activities that will have any sort of risk, simply because medical staff are focusing on the main crisis and there are fewer resources to treat you if you come off your mountain bike, have a heart attack, or face plant while doing parkour.
Just in your quiet suburb
For people living in quiet areas, and that is most people in Australia, it is easy to just exercise in their local area. You can go for a walk around the block or further and hardly see anyone. I often try to combine a walk with a visit to the grocery store. Inside the store, I will face more people, and have more chance of infection from touching objects people have touched or coughed on than I would have from walking around outdoors.
Brisbane has lots of little parks that few people visit that are great for burpees, sprint training and other outdoor exercise
Australia has a lot of little suburban parks. They are not as beautiful as some popular places to exercise, but there is a good chance that there will be no one there. An example of a park few people go to exercise in would be Chermside's Marchant Park which is just across the road from the popular 7th Brigade Park. In this park, you are sure to find a nice place 100s of metres from anyone else on one of the cricket or football fields. While the 7th Brigade Park, which attracts more people, has too many places for people to bunch up in.
Chermside Hills Reserves
The Chermside Hills Reserves is made up of 3 reserves. Raven Street Reserve is the most popular with great but narrow walking paths. I would suggest avoiding this area. Milne Hill Reserve attracts people running up and down the steep but wide paths. Normally you will only see 1 person at a time doing this, so this should be a great destination.
Chermside Hills Reserve is a great place for training running or walking, but overall remains fairly quiet
The third reserve, Chermside Hills Reserve (without the plural, because it is one part of the Chermside Hills Reserves), is the best place for walking and trail running. The back paths are wider and attract few people, but normally when walking here you are lucky to encounter more than 1 other person on the trails.
Samford Conservation Park
With its mostly wide fire trails, Samford Conservation Park is popular among walkers and trail runners. Normally you will see a few people on the trails when visiting here, but it is easy to give them a wide birth, cheery smile, a wave and keep walking.
You can do a loop of the park sticking to the wider trails that allow for social distancing
While there are a number of dedicated mountain bike paths, they tend to be narrow and steep. It is recommended that mountain bikers stick to the fire trails at this time, as it is better for social distancing. I think people looking to do individual exercise can use the grassy area at the Lomandra Day Use Area where there are barbecues. Be aware that many barbecue spots around Brisbane are being closed, while the rest of the park might remain open.
North Lakes Environmental Park and nearby lakes
When most people think of walking in nature of North Lakes, they go to Lake Eden. But this area attracts far too many people if you are trying to practice social distancing. However, the area of North Lakes includes numerous lakes and paths through the suburbs where few people know about.
Not many people visit North Lakes Environmental Park
Also, the North Lakes Environmental Park is a beautiful quiet location for walking and trail running. For walkers, I would normally recommend the 8 to 10 km walk that goes from Lake Eden up to the Environmental Park and back. This loop follows several lakes in one direction and goes along the golf course in the other. I still recommend most of this, just skip Lake Eden.
Brighton Beach Queensland
Across the greater Brisbane area, there are few places to where you can head to the coast and be away from people. Even coastal spots that I normally describe as quiet, actually have a fair number of people. The exception has to Brighton Beach just north of Sandgate.
Most people head to this area to walk at Sandgate and Shorncliffe, and yes, at low tide, when you are walking out on the mudflats at Sandgate, you will be far from other people. But Brighton provides the best opportunity to stay away from others. There is enough space on the path and green verge to pass by others while giving them plenty of distance. Out that way you normally see a few fisherfolk, the occasional cyclist and some locals walking.
South D'Aguilar National Park Forest and Fire Trails
Your text goes hereSouth D'Aguilar National Park includes 3 types of trails, there are the dedicated hiking tracks, which are both popular and narrow, so best avoided, wide and well maintained forest trails, that are still popular but you can easily practice social distancing on them, and fire trails, that are rough, steep and rarely visited.
There are plenty of lonely paths to walk in South D'Aguilar National Park
My advice in choosing a place to walk, run or mountain bike, is to find a starting point that is less popular; avoid the lakes, as they can be well walked, and you will find that there are opportunities to walk all day without seeing anyone else. Enoggera Reservoir, including Walkabout Creek Discover Centre and associated paths, has been closed because of the number of visitors it normally attracts.
Daisy Hill Conservation Park & Venman Bushland
The Daisy Hill Conservation Park is a very popular location, but I am recommending it for several reasons. The size of the area, including Venman Bushland area that is right next to it, means you won't see that many people in the park once you get away from the car park. In addition, if you stick to the fire trails, you can easily socially distance yourself from others if you encounter anyone.
There is plenty of space for social distancing at Daisy Hill Conservation Park
Remember, avoid the little narrow paths, picnic areas and so on. It is a big area and people often get a little lost if they are going there for the first time, take plenty of water so that you don't have to use any drink taps. Overall it is a great place for walkers, trail runners, mountain bikers and horse riders.
One area that is worth visiting is the Koala Bushlands in Burbank. While you would want to avoid the narrow and popular Stockyard Creek Walking Track, there is the Horse Trail that that is close to 11 kms return that makes its way through the bushlands, down a suburban street for a short distance and continues along in the next section of the bushlands.
This scenic track is great for walking, mountain biking, trail running and, for people with horses, horse riding. Normally when you think of fire trails in bushlands, they are are not very interesting, but this one passes by waterholes and ends at a creek, so is a great place to either relax or exercise.
White Rock & Spring Mountain
Out west, White Rock Conservation Area and Spring Mountain Forest Park provide the best opportunities for walking, trail running and mountain biking. I must mention one issue. Most people who walk here will want to scramble up White Rock and other rocky features. Of course, to do this you must use your hands. While I don't recommend doing the scrambles at this time, if you do, take hand sanitiser and immediately wash your hands.
If you avoid the scrambles, there are wide open paths in the reserve
The main walk is up to Goolman Lookout. Most of this walk is up a fire trail, so great for social distancing while exercising. This is 5.6 km return, and if you include Rocky Knoll, it will be 7.4 km return.
Governments and health authorities in Australia and around the world are encouraging people to stay at home as much as possible, avoid socialising and leave their homes only when necessary. This has often been backed up with laws and sometimes very severe penalties. As it stands you can still go out in Australia to exercise as long as you follow social distancing rules, meet only one person or go with people in your household.
Because so many people are doing this for physical and mental health, many popular spots have become crowded and therefore vectors for disease transmission. I have provided a list of possible locations where I believe that there won't be many people and lots of opportunity for social distancing. You have to use your own discretion when going to any of these places. As said before, if there are lots of people, try and find somewhere else.
If you know of any great places, or have been to the above locations and found them to be crowded, let me know in the comments. Let's stay healthy, sane and infection-free through common sense and social responsibility.
A quick update, at least over Easter, White Rock, Spring Mountain and Hardings Paddock in Ipswich will be closed. In fact a lot of places will close over Easter, especially places that have proven popular in the past during long weekends.