With temperate climes year-round, it’s no surprise that residents of Brisbane enjoy partaking of outdoor activities. And the result of their love of nature is that the city has set aside plenty of parkland for locals and visitors alike to appreciate and take advantage of. The Brisbane River, running through the centre of the city, provides for all kinds of water activities, not to mention long stretches of river walks. And it’s no surprise that plenty of prime parkland borders the water. There are all kinds of botanical gems and protected parklands that visitors will surely want to get acquainted with when they visit this trove of outdoor treasures. Here are just a few spots where you might want to soak up some sun and take in the sights.
City Botanic Gardens Formerly known as the Brisbane Botanic Gardens, this lush, triangular-shaped parkland is bordered on one side by the Brisbane River, it abuts the Queensland Parliament and the Central Business District (CBD) on its other two sides, and it provides excellent views of the Kangaroo Point Cliffs across the river. But in addition to offering scads of natural beauty to drink in, thanks to leafy palms, towering bamboo, and a wide variety of rare and exotic flora and fauna, visitors will also enjoy water features like the Walter Hill Fountain, art installations like Jon Barlow Hudson’s “Morning Star II”, and even a nibble at the City Gardens Cafe, which was previously the home of the curator. This park has been called “the premier public park” of Queensland by the Queensland Government Heritage Register, and you’ll understand why when you visit.
South Bank Parklands Located across the river from the City Botanic Gardens, the South Bank Parklands is perhaps slightly less impressive when it comes to exotic plant life, but it makes up for this minor shortcoming with plenty of activities for the whole family. The well-known lagoon features soft, sandy beaches that beckon eager swimmers, the rainforest walks are vibrant and beautiful, and the virtual forest of bougainvillea that curls up the steel columns of the Arbour is a treat for the senses. But you can also visit the Nepal Peace Pagoda, partake of the many events at the Suncorp Piazza amphitheatre, take a spin on the Wheel of Brisbane, and visit some of the many restaurants and cafes that dot this expansive riverfront park.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary Approximately 20 minutes from the Brisbane CBD, The Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Fig Tree Pocket, is an absolute must for visitors keen to see some of the many species that populate down under. The Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is the largest sanctuary for Koalas and has also been rated amongst the top zoos in the world. Fancy a hug with a Koala? Well, you can! Just pop along anytime between 9am and 4:30pm to purchase your ticket. The sanctuary boasts 130+ koalas as well as a diverse array of Australian wildlife including the famous Australian platypus. It’s a great day out for the whole family.
Mount Coot-tha Reserve This state forest houses not only the prominent namesake peak, which is the highest point in Brisbane, but it also contains several other attractions for visitors to enjoy. Of particular interest is what is now known as the Brisbane Botanic Gardens (formerly the Mount Coot-tha Botanic Gardens), which include points of interest such as the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium and the “tsuki-yama-chisen” (or mountain-pond-stream) Japanese Garden, amongst other attractions. But of course, you won’t want to miss the remainder of the reserve, which offers nearly 4,000 acres of largely unspoiled bushland that houses plenty of native wildlife and a beatific waterfall. The Mount Coot-tha Reserve also borders Brisbane Forest Park, a gorgeous nature reserve nestled on over 60,000 acres of land.
Roma Street Parkland Noted as the largest subtropical garden to exist within the centre of a city (covering close to 40 acres), this massive greenbelt boasts natural features like waterways and rocky outcroppings alongside themed gardens. The amphitheatre and installations by more than a dozen local artists offer entertainment for visitors. The difficulty with tourism of any stripe lies in trying to narrow down options when it comes to seeing the sights. But when you plan a trip to Brisbane, it behoves you to visit at least some of the many outdoor attractions that dot the city. And the ones on this list are a great place to start.