Recently the commissioning editor over at Australia and New Zealand magazine asked me if I could write a few articles about the nightlife and entertainment in and around Brisbane. That’s why last month I wrote about Brisbane’s Music Scene and next month I’ll be writing about… oh, well I think you can wait until next month for that one.
For this month though, here’s my article which appeared in their November edition of last year, it’s about…
South Bank Parklands
Sydney has Bondi, Perth has Cottesloe, Melbourne has St Kilda Beach and Brisbane has the Brisbane River and mangrove where most people like to see golden sand. I get chastised by some people when I claim that Brisbane doesn’t have a beach, because we do have one or two places that boast a little bit of sand, it’s just not that golden.
What we do have though, is South Bank Parklands.
South Bank Parklands has quite some history; the site was selected for World Expo 88 and 18 million people turned up for that during the 6 month event. The area has been extensively developed ever since and now boasts a lagoon good enough to swim in with a surrounding golden sandy beach.
It has gardens and a rainforest walk, picnic and barbecue areas and more restaurants than you can shake a chef’s wooden spoon at. Nearby, you’ll find the Queensland Museum, Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC), Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, Queensland Art Gallery as well as Queensland Gallery of Modern Art and a pub called The Plough.
In 2008, the ‘Wheel of Brisbane’ was added to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the above-mentioned World Expo and also to mark the 150th anniversary of the State of Queensland. The Ferris wheel, which stands almost 60 metres tall, offers fantastic views of the city and surrounding areas.
Every weekend, South Bank Parklands buzzes with buskers, bizarre street entertainers…
I’ve lost count of the amount of times we’ve visited the area for any one of the many events they host. One of the biggest, I imagine, is Brisbane Riverfire, a spectacular and free fireworks display that opens our annual three-week cultural arts event, the Brisbane Festival.
More recently they had two culinary events running at the same time; ‘Regional Flavours’ showcased food and wine produced in regional areas around Australia and the ‘Night Noodle Markets’ was an Asian foodie fans delight; both were free events as well.
There is even an amphitheatre on the site with a 5×4 metre screen. It has seating for over 2000 people and additional standing space for 750 more. This open air venue hosts a variety of events and performances throughout the year and again, many of them are free.
Recently they had a ‘Hip Hop Dance Workshop for Kids’ which was free; you can go there to watch the big game, ‘State of Origin’ (Rugby League), for free and I watched ‘Tropfest’, the world’s biggest short film festival there, again, for free. They were even handing out free Lipton’s iced teas and Cornetto ice creams!
South Bank Parklands suffered badly during the floods of 2011, but work started almost immediately to restore the area, and not just to its former glory. Today, the 17 hectare park looks better than ever and I’m told they now get something like 11 million people visit every year.
That doesn’t surprise me at all, South Bank is just a stone throws walk from Brisbane City Centre, ideally located on the southern banks of the river and with so much going on all the time, it’s got something for everybody.
Who needs Bondi Beach?