Saturday, November 24, 2012

South Bank - an oasis in the middle of Brisbane

South Bank Parklands is one of Brisbane's most popular cultural and social locales, with around 11 million people visiting the precinct each year.

(This post is heavily photo-based, so we'll get the written part out of the way first)

Located on a 16 hectare/40acre site (parklands map) South Bank is, as the name suggests, situated on the southern bank of the Brisbane River opposite the Brisbane CBD (about a 10-15 minute walk). The site houses, among other things, Australia's only beach in the middle of the city (complete with lifeguards), cafes, restaurants and pubs, a Nepalese Pagoda and acres of parklands where you can enjoy a picnic or BBQ. And on Fri - Sun the South Bank Markets take place. The parklands are open on all sides and are, in effect, accessible 24 hours.

The east and west end of South Bank are mentioned several times. To save confusion (on a map they are more like north and south), when you are facing the river, the east end of South Bank is to the right and west is to the left.

The suburb of South Brisbane surrounds the parklands and here you can find more cafes, restaurants and pubs, hotels, the Brisbane Convention Centre, the Cineplex South Bank cinemas and the likes of the Qld Centre for Photography (QCP). At the east end of the parklands you will also find the Qld Maritime Museum, while at the west end there is the Wheel of Brisbane (see photo above).

Slightly further afield and in either direction are more parklands by the rivers edge, including those at the bottom of the scenic Kangaroo Point cliffs. In the same direction as the aforementioned cliffs you will find The Gabba (you're bound to's located in the suburb of Woolloongabba), the home of cricket in Queensland and also the Brisbane Lions AFL team. Head a few blocks south and you'll end up in Brisbane's West End.

Culturally, South Bank contains Griffith University's South Bank Campus, which encompasses the  Queensland College of Art, Griffith Film School and the Queensland Conservatorium, as well as the Qld headquarters of the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), all of which are located on the edge of the parklands. And within minutes walk are the Qld Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), the Qld Museum and Science Centre, the Qld Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) and the State Library of Queensland.

The parklands can be reached by foot, bicycle, bustrainferry/CityCat and car (there are several underground carparks, as well as some metered street parking). If you don't want to pay for parking, you can park outside the 'Brisbane Central Traffic Area' and walk to South Bank. CityCycle stations surround South Bank but are not located in the parklands and it is also one of the stops on the City Sights bus tour.

The free CityHopper ferry service - that travels along the Brisbane River from New Farm (Sydney Street ferry terminal) to North Quay, stopping at Dockside, Holman Street, Eagle Street Pier, Thornton Street, and the Maritime Museum - stops at the South Bank 3 ferry terminal located at the east end of the parklands (and, so you know, the CityCat departs from terminals 1&2, located towards the east end of the parklands).

At either end of the parklands are two bridges, the Victoria Bridge (west) and the pedestrian-only Goodwill Bridge (east). The Victoria Bridge leads to the centre of the CBD, while the Goodwill Bridge leads to the Qld University of Technology (QUT) and the Brisbane Botanical Gardens.

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A potted (recent) history of South Bank...

In 1988 the site South Bank is located on was home to the World Expo 88. The Qld Government planned on developing the site for commercial interests but a successful public campaign saw the site redeveloped as parkland. On June 20, 1992, the site was officially opened to the public.

*Despite Brisbane's population in 1988 - around 750,000 - it had the reputation of being a big country town before Expo. Everything, it seemed, was closed by 7pm. The Expo ran for six months and was open until 10pm (or a little later) every night. Its proximity to the heart of the city meant it became the focal point of 'Brisbane-ites' for its duration and Brisbane as a whole wined, dined and partied during this time - the city and its inhabitants came of age. When it was all over, there was a noticeable 'let down' and Brisbane's present day cafe culture began, as locals had developed a taste for this lifestyle during the Expo. It wasn't surprising that there was a public campaign to get the site redeveloped as parkland. As much as anything, people wanted to preserve the memory and, for those who attended Expo88 (Nat and I included), walking around South Bank always brings back happy memories.

I have discovered that this post runs slowly if viewed on Internet Explorer. It's best viewed on Google Chrome or Firefox (not as fast as Chrome).

Expo88, circa 1988.
This photo and the first photo were taken from the Victoria Bridge in almost the same spot.
(Photo: Wikimedia)
Entering South Bank from its main entrance (at its western end), you will be greeted by the sight
of the Wheel of Brisbane.
Stretching the length of South Bank is the Grand Arbour, one of
the main walkways through the parklands, consisting over 400 curling steel columns 
covered in bouganvilleas (see next photo), which flower throughout the year.
Some of the bouganvilleas covering the length of the Grand Arbour.
The inverted 'yellow brick road'? Part of the  Grand Arbour
(comes in handy when it's raining).
The Grand Arbour passes by the the Suncorp Piazza (seating capacity over 2,000).
One of the main attractions is Australia's only beach in the middle of the city - that's the Brisbane River in the distance (it was
late morning on a Brisbane winter's the winter day warms up it gets busier. In summer it's 'chockas').

The beach's hours are 7am-7pm from Feb 1 to Mar 31 and 9am-5pm from April 1 to Aug 31.

The beach looking a bit busier, with the lifeguard stand, left, and Rydges Hotel in the distance, sitting one street off the parklands.
And, for the kids, there's the Aquativity. Hot, cold, rain, hail or shine, this is ALWAYS busy!
The 'other' main walkway through South Bank, running along the river's edge for the length of the parklands,
 is the Clem Jones Promenade (Clem Jones was a former Lord Mayor of Brisbane).
The Clem Jones Promenade.
The promenade gets extremely busy, so, if you're on a bike or rollerblades, best to slow down.
There are ice cream carts along the promenade that are always busy
(they also sell water and 'powerade'-type drinks).
It's not called the town centre but, in effect, that's what it is (located directly behind the beach). 
Expo88 was full of buskers, so it's always nice
to see one performing in the 'town centre'.

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If you like the photography in my blogs, it's because I am a professional photographer. My photos don't merely show something, they tell a story. And visual stories i.e. photos, are more interesting than pictures that merely show something. 

If you'd like to know how to turn your images into visual stories, I've published a book that takes a whole new slant on photography and 'translates' the art of taking photos into a language we all understand.

To read more about my book and see some of its 100+ visual examples, please click HERE.

***I use all the tips and hints from my book in every photo I take, including those in Travel With Giulio.

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The 'town centre' transforms on Fri - Sun to become the South Bank Markets.
Friday 5pm-10pm, Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 9am-5pm.
The markets spread throughout South Bank and are extremely popular year round.
The markets help add to the business of the many cafes and restaurants scattered
throughout South Bank (next two photos, too).
People wander through some of the outdoor dining venues.

More outdoor dining.
After lunch, you can walk off any excesses in the Rainforest Walk...
...which leads through to the Nepalese Pagoda.
Or you can find somewhere to sit and relax.
Park the bike or let the kids loose in a playground (through the trees - we're always wary of photographing kids)
Sit and chat in the sun.
You're never far from water anywhere in South Bank.
Plenty of places to relax...this is the east end of the parklands - cafes line the edge of this
grassy ampitheatre (minus the theatre) by the river's edge. At left in the distance is the
Goodwill Bridge, with apartments overlooking South Bank at right behind the cafes.
While we are down at the east end of South Bank, this is where you will find the Qld Maritime Museum
bordering the parklands.
In keeping with the nautical theme, the CityHopper ferry stops at South Bank (along with the CityCats).
At the end of your time at South Bank, why not sit back,
relax, and have a cool drink.

Enjoy your time at South Bank. I always do!


*If you visited South Bank as a result of this post, please tell me -

*To see more posts about accommodation, dining, and/or things to do in Brisbane and SE Qld, visit HERE.

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Photos & text by Giulio Saggin (unless otherwise stated)
© Use of photos/text must be via written permission

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