On the banks of Brisbane
Fling, fly and float your way around Brisbane, as the Sunshine City offers up its best family attractions – and some of them might surprise you.
There’s nowhere quite like Brisbane on a relaxing mid-afternoon, as the winking river and mighty fig trees seem larger than life, providing a perfect backdrop for this music-filled city. So what should you do in this fabulous city on a day with the kids?
Take it to the extreme
Let’s start by jumping off a cliff... connected to a safety harness, of course! Kangaroo Point has many things going for it, and one of the best is undoubtedly a perfect rock face for abseiling down. Combine the sense of adventure with a panoramic view and you’ve got a perfect complement to the wafting music from buskers across the way.
At the base of the cliff you’ll find The Riverlife Adventure Centre, a one-stop shop for action activities from abseiling and kayaking to stand-up paddle boarding, the latest craze sweeping the country. It’s also a fun spot to kickstart the weekend with regular Friday night Family Paddle and Prawns tours down the grand waterway (suitable for children over 12).
If your sense of adventure is sparked by soaring high, dare to complete the iconic Story Bridge Climb and see the scale of this meandering river city from a bird’s-eye view. Safely buckled to a series of cables which run along the side of the bridge, you’ll ascend towards the heavens along the steel face of the structure while traffic whooshes beneath. It’s an exhilarating climb, with a wholly rewarding 360-degree view at the summit.
If you still want the sights but the kids aren’t too keen for a climb, rediscover the fun of Ferris wheels with a trip on The Wheel of Brisbane. Situated in the South Bank Parklands, this 60-metre-high ride is a great option with an audio commentary guiding you through three rotations in a safe, air-conditioned cabin. It’s particularly striking at night time.
Peer hard enough from the Wheel’s peak and you’ll see the Queensland Museum, where dinosaurs stalk their prey within a new exhibition called Lost Creatures. Awaken your inner palaeontologist and excite the kids by gazing upon ancient fossils, full-size skeleton replicas and 3D renderings that seem so real they could eat you. Kids more into bugs than dinosaurs will love the Sciencentre on Level One of the museum, where you can learn about snakes, spiders and all sorts of creepy crawlies in the interactive Discovery Centre.
A quick stroll across Kurilpa Bridge will then lead you to the South Bank Cultural Precinct, where art lovers immerse their senses at the Queensland Art Gallery or the acclaimed Gallery of Modern Art. Brisbane is known for blockbuster displays of visual and performing arts (it isn’t called ‘Brisvegas’ for nothing) so check out what’s on at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre. South Bank is also host to some of Brisbane’s best restaurants and even has a city beach for a cool down after all that artistic heat.
Getting an education
After your hunger for art has been sated, travel back in time as you head to the Royal Australian Air Force Aviation Heritage Centre in Amberley, open to the public every third Sunday of the month. With old fighter jets, bombers and Iroquois helicopters galore, your family will be bombarded with excitement. Breathe in the history first-hand as you sit in the cockpit of an F-111, and sample the on-site café to calm the kids down after the rush of exhilaration.
Take a breather and treat your kids to a session at the LEGO Educational Centre, where they can get crazy with creativity and learn to build their own architectural creations. With Sunday Fundays at only $5 a session, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better programme for your youngsters. Use the 45 minutes to relax and unwind because after all, you’ve still got plenty of adventure to come in Brisbane and you’ll need your energy.
Breathe in deep and get your sneakers ready because D’Aguilar National Park is the real deal – a 36,000ha expanse of pristine wilderness in the middle of a city of 2.1 million. A walker’s paradise, this forest oasis is a perfect blend of lakes, bushwalking trails, secluded picnic spots and great stands of eucalypt. If you’re worried young ones will be too tired to make it back to your hotel, rest easy knowing that the Information Centre is located on Mt Nebo Road at The Gap, just 12km from the city centre, and a bus service from the city stops right at the door.
If you’re after something a little more challenging and want to keep the kids occupied, the Walkabout Creek Visitor Centre at the park’s entrance has an information and education centre, a large walk-through aviary, aquariums and wildlife enclosures for animals (including nocturnal natives). If you’re feeling super fit, take up the challenge of the Corymbia Circuit, a truly steep 1.5-kilometre walking track that winds down through a wet eucalypt forest gully and climbs back to the information centre, taking approximately 45 minutes.
Once your legs have been thoroughly exercised, make your way back through the city by a cruise upon the Brisbane River. The lifeblood of the city, many believe that the best angle to explore the city is from the water, with a number of cruise operators to choose from including Mirimar Cruises, River City Cruises and Brisbane Cruises.
Once you disembark from your choice of river cruise, head to Gardens Point, where physics is manipulated and technology is abuzz at the Science and Engineering Centre at the Queensland University of Technology campus. At the heart of the centre lies the Cube, a state-of-the-art hub of scientific discovery for students and visitors alike. Experiment with gravity, velocity and mass in the Physics Playroom, where a multifaceted interface allows you to simultaneously create and experiment beside your kids on a tactile display wall.
And Brisbane isn’t done with its surprises, with a plethora of great attractions further afield. Clutch a koala in your arms at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, feed dolphins at Tangalooma Resort, or head west to the Scenic Rim and get the blood pumping with some hiking, sky-diving or 4WD adventures.
So what’s the perfect end to such a jam-packed trip? Ascending back up the cliff with a spot of rock climbing, of course!