A writer sharing travels, experiences, a love of festivals & events. Life is a journey and I hope to inspire others. Visit my blog at https://www.travelwithirenke.blogspot.com
Published September 22nd 2018
The former site of Brisbane's World Expo 88, the South Bank Parklands adjacent to the Brisbane River, is a hive of activity with something for everyone to enjoy and are especially beautiful when day turns to night.
Once industrial, this redeveloped area of 17 hectares has become a captivating cultural destination. It's a lush inner-city oasis and a haven of natural beauty with chance discoveries and hidden spots. A rainforest walk with native liana vines was certainly not something we were expecting to find here but indeed we did as well as shrubs and flowering plants abounding in the 1km long bougainvillea-draped Arbour, the Epicurious Garden and along the river bank, amongst other areas.
A Nepalese pagoda was another surprise. We were in awe of this handcrafted masterpiece which was originally brought to Brisbane as the Kingdom of Nepal's contribution to the Expo. It's 3-storeys high and features 80 tonnes of Nepalese timber that took 2 years to build with over 160 Nepalese families involved. You can wander around it and take in the intricate designs close up. This peace pagoda is simply amazing.
Another attraction you can't miss is the sky-high Wheel of Brisbane. This ferris wheel is 60metres tall with 42 fully enclosed and air-conditioned gondolas, giving 360degree panoramic views of the city, its landmarks and its river. A ride on it will cost you $12, with the experience lasting 10-15minutes, including a stop at the top.
Many pathways meander through the parklands that also provide children's playgrounds, the man-made Streets Beach, the Boat Pool and water activities at Aquativity. Wonderful views of the river are highlighted at night with lights glowing on the water from the bridges and the buildings on the north bank. It's a stunning sight to behold with the changing colours. You can also explore the river further with the CityHopper, Brisbane's free ferry service that departs South Bank Terminal 3 every 30minutes from 6am until midnight.
Flanked by Stanley Street Plaza and Little Stanley Street, you'll marvel at the array of cheap eats, funky local cafes and gourmet restaurants to choose from. A stroll from end to end will see you coming across Spanish fare, Parisian hideaways, Italian gems, American diners and quirky bars with craft beers on tap. Let's not forget the ice creameries and chocolate bars either, including popular nationwide franchises Cold Rock and Max Brenner, although my sweet tooth couldn't go past Gelare dessert cafe where hubby and I purchased some delicious little takeaways – a white chocolate & strawberry cheesecake and a chocolate mousse cake.
Art and entertainment are also big here with the Tony Gould Gallery providing a changing program of exhibitions and the Queensland Performing Arts Centre hosting concerts and theatre events in its iconic building near the ferris wheel. Festivals often take place in the parklands too, including the Brisbane Festival each September that brings music, dance, circus and opera with its finale of aerobatics from the Australian Defence Force and magical fireworks in the Sunsuper Riverfire.
The parklands are a wonderful domain to escape to and enjoy leisurely. They also have free wifi 24x7 to satisfy those that need to be connected to their devices. Whatever you do, it's an iconic location you don't want to miss in Queensland's capital.