Brisbane has a lot of sun. An average 283 days per year, to be exact. In other words, it’s a city made for living outside. And right now – before the summer temps climb too high – it’s the perfect time to grab a couple of mates, pack a blanket, a basket of snacks and head to one of these eight scenic spots to relax and enjoy the great outdoors.
Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park, Kangaroo Point
Whether you decide to head to the top of the cliffs on River Terrace or their base, the views of the city are spectacular. There’s a bunch of parks to choose from along the river, all of which offer off-water breezes and views of Brisbane’s City Cats flotilla gliding up and down the river. The Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park is a strip of green stretching from the base of the cliff face down to the river, with electric barbecues, covered tables and bench seats, and an assortment of colourful sculptures. There’s ample space for you to throw down a rug and laze back while catching the daring feats of abseilers scaling the 18-metre-high cliffs. If you’re ready to release some energy, try running up (or down) the 107 steps located at the eastern end of the cliffs. This jagged bluff is especially pretty at night, with floodlights casting an ethereal glow.
City Botanic Gardens, Brisbane CBD
Brisbane’s original, riverside botanic gardens (which shouldn’t be confused with Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens) are heritage-listed, with a rare collection of cycads, palms, figs and bamboo. Take a walk down Weeping Fig Avenue, a row of trees planted in the late 1870s, which connects the riverside with the main entrance on Alice Street. Inside the park are two ornamental ponds – an upper pond designed by a landscape architect and a lower pond formed by the original creek system – and many shady spots to throw down a blanket. There’s also an open, grassy picnic area with a sheltered pavilion at the rear of the gardens, opposite QUT, and plenty of picnic tables throughout the gardens and along the riverbank.
Roma Street Parklands, Brisbane CBD
Adjacent to the Brisbane Transit Centre is a 16-hectare oasis of designer gardens dubbed the city’s “biggest subtropical backyard”. Divided into sections, each showcasing a different type of subtropical flora, you’ll forget the city is only a short skip away. For those seeking solitude with a view over water, head to the Lake Precinct with snacks in hand and enjoy a picnic at Forest or Lakeside Meadow. If you prefer a hot meal, barbeque amenities are dotted throughout the park. With gardens filled with flowering botanicals, a convenient location (a 10-minute walk from Brisbane’s Queen Street Mall) and the fact they’re open all day, every day (except the Spectacle Garden and Rainforest Walk, which are open daily from dawn until dusk), these parklands are very popular. Plus, they’re dog-friendly – provided your pooch stays on a leash and away from the Spectacle Garden.
New Farm Park, New Farm
This grand 37-acre park is a spectacle when the jacaranda trees lining its circular roadway are in flower in late spring. Only three ferry stops from the CBD, it ticks the box for convenience (and there’s space for parking too). This park is a goodie for families with young kids. Most flock to the cleverly designed playground beneath the large branches of old fig trees, where energetic kids scramble along the expansive network of timber boardwalks built around, and sometimes through, the fig trees. There are swings, slides and merry-go-rounds as well. If you prefer to skip the picnic, there are restaurants at the neighbouring Brisbane Powerhouse, and a farmer’s market on Saturdays from 6am til noon.
South Bank Parklands, South Bank
Another good one for families. In a previous life, this was the site of the 1988 World Expo, but now it’s 17 hectares of parklands, restaurants and cultural institutions. Our favourite spot is Streets Beach, a man-made swimming beach overlooking the river and the CBD. There’s plenty of space for splashing, with enough chlorinated water to fill five Olympic-sized pools. The kids can cool off in the patrolled lagoon while mum and dad lounge on the white sand. The park’s walking tracks include the kilometre-long arbour, whose curved steel posts are covered with magenta bougainvillea. Nearby, alongside QPAC performing arts complex is the towering Wheel of Brisbane. Climb inside one of its climate-controlled gondolas for 360-degree views of South Bank and the city.
The Wynnum Foreshore
This pathway, 30 minutes out of Brisbane, stretches for six kilometres from Wynnum Mangrove Boardwalk to the Manly Boat Harbour and marina – and every bit provides stunning vistas out to Moreton Bay. Pull up stumps at Elanora Park, Greene Park or the popular Pandanus Beach, next to Wynnum Jetty on the esplanade, and settle in for an hour or three. Kids will love the water park playground in front of the beach, with a large wading pool that fills with seawater at high tide. When it’s time for lunch, stop into Fish n Chip Co or Sea Vibes for topnotch fish and chips by the water – a popular choice for local picnickers.
Minnippi Parklands, Carina
Head to Brisbane’s south-east for hectares of open meadowlands, where a flat cycle path skirts around a lagoon covered in lotus flowers. Hold onto your bread scraps to feed the many waterbirds from the duck-feeding platform. Kids love the aviation-themed playground at the top of the hill. On weekends they can watch model aircraft flown by local enthusiasts, jamming the airspace above a fenced-off section of the parklands known as Porter’s Paddock. The park is accessible via Stanton Road West in Tingalpa, with car parking areas and plenty of barbeques and picnic tables.
Mt Coot-tha and JC Slaughter Falls
Mt Coot-tha is the highest peak within the city’s urban perimeter. The summit lookout provides a panoramic view of the snaking Brisbane River wrapping its watery body around a cluster of skyscrapers below, before journeying under the iconic Story Bridge and out to Moreton Bay. Located inside Mt Coot-tha Reserve, JC Slaughter Falls picnic area is often used as a base for peaceful bushwalks. (Note the falls only flow after heavy rainfall.) There are plenty of open, grassy spaces to enjoy a picnic lunch or kick a soccer ball. The explorers in your group can wander along East Ithaca Creek, which runs through the picnic area. The creek bed may be dry, depending on the season; following heavy rains, people cool their feet in the shallow waters.