I am a freelance writer, fortunate enough to live near Byron Bay, one of Australia's most beautiful regions. My writing - for newspapers, magazines, online and for business - lives at vivienne pearson.com
Published February 3rd 2018
A beach in the CBD? The best city-based beach ever
Best known by its informal name, 'The Lagoon', Streets Beach at Brisbane's South Bank has been a fixture of the city for 25 years yet it still looks new.
Each time I visit, I feel like I am discovering it anew. I am totally amazed at how fun and relaxing a swim here is.
Basically, you can lie on a beach or swim in a pool with views across the Brisbane River to the CBD of Brisbane. How lovely is that?!
Your swimming options
There are three swimming areas within South Bank:
Streets Beach / Beach Lagoon
Officially named Streets Beach (thanks to sponsorship by the ice-cream company), this man-made pool is edged by a generous amount of sand, making it feel just like a real beach (minus the waves).
On the far side from the beach is a concrete wall, from which you can check out passing boats and ferries on the Brisbane River, and feel happy that you're not hard at work in one of the city buildings that make up the rest of your view.
The pool slopes down from the beach, so you can enter the water gradually, just like you do at a real beach, and little ones can play in the shallows.
Part of this beach pool has a maximum depth of 1.1m and the rest to 1.8m, meaning that, though there is no lap swimming as such, adults and big kids can swim properly if so inclined.
The bottom is concrete covered with some sand.
Streets Beach, a beach with views over the river to Brisbane's CBD
To the left of the beach (when facing the river) is a resort-style pool officially called the Boat Pool. It has no beach but has a bright blue concrete floor that makes the water stunning even on a cloudy day.
This area has some undercover resort-style wooden platforms for sitting or stashing your stuff. There is even a wooden banana lounge or two!
The maximum depth here is 1.1m so ideal for gentle lazing or for kids to play.
This area, officially called Aquativity, is to the right of the beach (when looking towards the river). It is a collection of fun water-play activities - fountains, water wheels, tipping buckets and the like. Though mainly aimed at younger kids, my 9 12-year-olds enjoyed some time exploring the rocky 'streams'.
The official information about this area emphasises the educational elements and how the activities 'reference the river'. All of this is true, I'm sure, but basically, it is a great fun place for kids to play in water!
The Lagoon is definitely not just for kids. The pools are big enough, deep enough and gorgeous enough for any adult to enjoy. It is common to see solo adults and groups of friends hanging out here.
The safety messages
All areas are supervised by lifeguards (hours vary from 9am-7pm in winter to 7am-8pm in summer holidays) but, though it is reassuring to know that there is someone there to help out in case of accident and their presence definitely helps keep the area a safe one, they are not a substitute for parents looking after their kids.
Usual pool guidelines - under 5s (or older non-swimmers) to be within arm's reach of an adult and older children actively supervised - are still important.
Swimming here is so much fun that time will slip by quickly, so try not to forget to reapply sunscreen when needed!
Also - don't let a cloudy day, or even rain, put you off visiting.
Lifeguards are on duty, but, like at any pool, you still need to supervise your kids
There are also lockers available - for a few dollars hire. We found this a great option as the whole family wanted to swim and move between the three areas without having to keep an eye on belongings. We stashed everything but our towels and a water bottle in a locker (and hired it for longer than we thought we would need, as we know how easy it is for time to slip by).
South Bank is very central in Brisbane, so has lots of transport options, including the free City Hopper ferries, however, it is worth remembering that it is up to a 1km walk to the nearest station or carpark. That might not seem far, but at the end of a big day swimming, it can seem like a very long walk, esp for kids.
If you are driving, there is reasonably priced all day car parking available at QPAC (Queensland Performing Arts Centre) or the Art Gallery.
Make a day of it!
Though we spent nearly 3 hours just swimming, there are heaps of other fun things to do nearby.
Next to the lagoon is the Riverside Green Playground, a great adventure playground.