Day and night, there is always something amazing happening at Brisbane’s South Bank. On the Brisbane River sits an awe-inspiring place for people of all ages to gather, eat, swim, play and immerse themselves in some of the finest cultural offerings from around Australia and the world.
What makes it even better, is so many activities are free. Over the holidays we spent a few days at South Bank testing out what it has to offer boys and their families. Here is what we found.
Making the most of the outdoors
With 17 hectares of parklands, South Bank certainly has plenty of space for boys to run around. Not many parks can match the new Riverside Green Playground with its state-of-the-art equipment for two-year-olds to pre-teens.
If the weather is too hot for you, then go for a swim at the man-made beach or in the pool. If you visit on a weekend or during the school holidays, you can also have a go at the interactive water-play park, Aquativity.
Make sure you don’t miss the Brisbane sign which provides great photo opportunities and the kids just love climbing on the letters.
Curious and cultured
For all those curious boys out there, the Queensland Museum is the place to go. With free admission and so much to see and touch, they’ll have a great time learning.
For the readers and the reluctant readers in the family, you’re sure to find something on at the Queensland State Library nearly every day. They even have special activities during the school holidays.
For art lovers young and old there is plenty to do at the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA). Although I admit feeling like a nervous wreck every time I take the boys through the art exhibitions, it is worth it just to get to the Children’s Art Centre. This place is absolutely amazing (and free). Its ever-changing programs are full of different interactive activities which keep the kids preoccupied for at least an hour.
Fireworks, music and more
South Bank is renowned for its events, especially the hugely popular Brisbane Festival (3-24 September 2016) which culminates in Riverfire on the final night. Riverfire is one of the most celebrated fireworks displays in Australia.
All throughout the year, South Bank also puts on countless free concerts, events and markets. Visit Brisbane have the details.
If you need a little music, theatre and dance in your life, the Queensland Performing Arts Complex (QPAC) is the place to be. QPAC put on some free events each year such as the Friday night Green Jam Sessions. The biggest offering of free events is during the Out of the Box Festival. If your boys are eight years and under, make some time for the Festival which is being held from 21 to 28 June 2016. The Festival also has a large number of paid events.
If you are looking for more, QPAC offers a line up of top class artists in productions like The Sound of Music, Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvellous Medicine, Bangarra Dance Theatre and The Nutcracker Ballet, all with paid seating. You are sure to find something to enjoy.
Little Days Out
If you have little ones, South Bank runs the Little Days Out program with arts, craft, music, games and gardening activities typically on Thursdays.
You will certainly be spoilt for choice at South Bank, with everything on offer from cheap eats to fine dining, great coffee to delectable desserts. If you want to bring along a picnic then there is plenty of space to lay out your picnic rug, cook on the free barbecues or take a seat at one of the many picnic tables. Visit Eat South Bank to get your taste buds waterings.
If you have a few dollars to spare, we highly recommend you try out some of these.
Children ask thousands of questions and a great way to answer some of these is to head along to the Sciencentre. On our recent trip our boys learnt about using fire extinguishers, rescuing people, movement, speed, electricity and sound. And that was just the start. There is an admission fee but we felt it was worth it for the few hours we were there. I was really pleased I took my brother with me so the boys could go off individually and explore what they were interested in. It was also great to have some sibling time of my own. The Sciencentre’s new exhibition Measure Island opens on 26 March 2016.
Tickets are available for pre-purchase online so you don’t have to queue when you get there, or from the ticket counter on Level 2 of the Museum.
Lego Education Centre
A short walk from South Bank you will find the Lego Education Centre which holds school holiday programs for 4 to 10+ year olds, as well as hosting birthday parties and school excursions. Our boys spent a morning there a while ago and had a great time. But be aware there isn’t much room to move around in.
- The Wheel of Brisbane
- Cineplex cinemas
- Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre
- Brisbane’s CBD is a short walk over the bridge
How to get there
With South Bank being in the city and on the river you have a lot of transport options. Bus, train, CityCat (ferry), cycling, walking and the cool new Green Cabs are all options to get to South Bank.
We often drive, as the parking is quite reasonable if you go at the right time, to the right place (try parking at the cultural precinct). However you need to know on days of big events or performances, the carparks fill very early.
If you are looking for further information, take a look at South Bank Visitor’s Information.
We hope you have a great time at South Bank.
Tag us #travelswithboys on Instagram with photos of your family at South Bank and we’ll share our favourites.