Once a charming little seaside holiday village, Sandgate is now a vibrant and welcoming community which has still retained its village feel. Its charms extend way beyond the seashore and the areas many great bars and restaurants are a magnet for visitors.
Holidaymakers at Sandgate, ca. 1920-1930.: Attribution - John Oxley Library
If you are looking for a place in Brisbane to do a little day trip then Sandgate then is a charming location worth visiting.
Location and how to get there
The Sandgate area includes neighbouring beachside suburbs of Brighton and Shorncliffe and should also include the inland suburb of Deagon.
Driving is easy and people coming from the south side of Brisbane should consider taking the Gateway Bridge. There is always plenty of parking near the beach or on side streets.
Sandgate is well serviced by public transportation. Trains stop at Sandgate and Shorncliffe Stations and run from early in the morning until around midnight. There are also several buses going to Sandgate that service the Northern Suburbs.
You may even consider cycling to Sandgate. It is part of one of Brisbane's longest bike rides and the area is pleasantly explored on bicycle. If arriving there is tiring you can always put your bicycle on the train back home.
The Sandgate Township
Sandgate has a sleepy, if somewhat upmarket, township feel. Despite its small size it is home to several great pubs, a number of nice restaurants, seafood cafes and takeway shops and a few nice shops.
If you arrive in the morning you will probably stop in at cafe for coffee and cake, if at lunch time then it is probably seafood at a cafe or takeaway by the beach, in the afternoon or evening though, you will most likely want to dine and drink at a local pub.
While Sandgate has a beach, it is not exactly a swimming destination. The reason is that the water remains shallow a long way out. You can see people way out from the shore with just water up to their knees.
As a result Sandgate is one of the most popular kite surfing destinations in Brisbane. For kite surfers, the low water levels make it easier to recover if they have a spill as the can restart standing up. Also they are not competing with boats and swimmers for the water.
Mostly people come to walk along the 4 kms of seaside park. Keen walkers will want to head all the way down to Brighton and back, but most people prefer to wander around the Shorncliffe headlands.
At low tide many people will walk along the flats. This is great fun for kids. While I also like the Wynnum and Manly areas in the south, the Sandgate region is by and far the best seaside location in Brisbane (though beaten by Redcliffe which is strictly speaking outside of Brisbane and no one in Redcliffe will ever admit being part of Brisbane).
Sandgate is not just about food and drink, s it also has entertainment. The Sandgate Town Hall is a great venue and hosts a number of events throughout the year.
Most entertainment centres around pubs. The Full Moon Hotel up on Seymour Street overlooking the ocean is often where the action is on weekends when they usually have performers. Despite the price of meals, the Full Moon Hotel is your still your basic pub.
A much nicer option is the Chandelier Bar & Grill in the former Sandgate Post Office. This much more upmarket bar and restaurant with entertainment on the weekend.
Don't forget the Cardigan Bar which emphases live music. For something a little different, the Cardigan Bar has open mic nights on Thursdays, then there are performers and bands from Friday to Sunday.
The Phoenix Bar and Lounge. Sandgate is a great place for drinks and the food to share. Entertainment tends to be laid back..
Last but not least, the Sangate Community Centre of Rainbow Street hosts the unplugged cafe on the first Friday of every month.
The Sandgate region plays host to a number of markets. The main one is the Deagon Sunday Markets on Sunday morning. There are a number of other markets around the area including the Billycart markets that are on once very two months and a mini market that occurs on some Sunday mornings in the heart of Sangdate.
Sandgate is a nice fishing location. Because of the closure of the Shorncliffe Pier it is not as good as before. But don't worry, the new pier will open in 2016. In the meantime you can fish from a few other locations. Basically look for break waters such as those at Shorncliffe and along the beach front all along to Brighton.
Other places in Sandgate
Even though the seaside is the main attraction in Sandgate, don't forget that there are a number of parks and lagoons in the area. Peace Park and Dowse Lagoon along with the Deagon Wetlands are nice places to wander through as is the parklands around Einbunpin Lagoon.
I should also mention Arthur Davies Park includes Sandgate Pool, which has a great lap pool and fun wading pool.
What would a day trip to Sandgate be like
I am an early riser, but not too early, so I would be looking to have breakfast or lunch at Deagon Market in the morning and then going for a walk along the beach front. After which I would grab some fish and chips and eat them by the seaside.
Of course I don't always get out of bed so early, so perhaps it would be better to go in the afternoon and then head to a pub for drinks, a meal and entertainment.
If I am looking to be a little more active I would either cycle out to Sandgate (a great place to start is at Toombul) or take my bicycle to Shorncliffe and ride along the shore up to Brighton and maybe even across the Bridge to Woody Point. After which, I would jump in the pool for a swim.
Of course, you could combine all these activity for a complete day out in one lovely location.