Duration: 1-2 hours
Price Guide: $0
South Bank – Brisbane’s number-one tourist destination – attracts a staggering 11 million visitors with its unique cosmopolitan mix of both entertainment and culture. It is located just beyond the city centre, over Victoria Bridge, and can be reached by walking or by ferry.
If the weather is warm and you’d like to swim, this tour will take you to a swimming spot at Streets Beach.
Start at Central Train Station. (If you’re already in the city centre, go from Queen Street Mall – directions 3)
Exit the station via the main entrance and turn left down Edward Street.
Edward Street is host to some of Australia’s most renowned designers, including menswear stores, high-end fashion and, for those who need pampering after shopping, day spas!
Continue walking downhill for about five minutes; then turn right onto Queen Street Mall (after Adelaide Street)
Queen Street Mall – originally part of Queen Street and named after Queen Victoria – is said to be Brisbane’s ‘premier shopping destination’. It was closed to traffic in 1982 and since then has become home to over 700 specialty stores and six centres, including: Broadway on the Mall, MacArthur Central, Queens Plaza and The Myer Centre – all of which are home to highly sought after fashion retailers, from high street stores to exclusive designers. Whether it’s banking, boutiques, film, entertainment, fashion, food or shopping you’re after – look no further.
Continue straight up Queen Street Mall until you reach the end, on George Street. Cross the road. You are now standing in Brisbane Square.
The Brisbane Square consists of the Treasury Casino, the City Council Library and the Brisbane Square building. It is also home to various artworks, which look like giant metal spheres. The ‘Brisbane Square’ building, is a new addition to Brisbane’s high-rise buildings and is home to Brisbane City Council. It was completed in late 2006, after long construction delays. It has 38 floors and rises to 151 metres. Its use is not particularly exciting, as it mainly used for office space and retail. It is, however, the largest commercial office building in Australia to have won a 5-star Green rating. FDirectly beneath it lies the new Brisbane City Council central library. There is one hour of free internet access per day per person to be had here, but only if you sign up (proof of address needed). There is also a large selection of magazines (vintage and new) to be read, if you can’t afford to keep buying your trashy (but much loved) gossip magazines.
Cross Brisbane Square and cross the road onto Victoria Bridge (keeping to the left hand side)
Victoria Bridge is the fifth crossing of the Brisbane River, and Brisbane’s first permanent bridge. It connects the Brisbane central business district (CBD) to South Bank. It can be walked, driven or cycled across. The original bridge, built here in 1865, lived an extraordinarily short life of two years before collapsing due to a marine wood worm infestation. A replacement was built in 1874, lasting slightly longer before being washed away in the floods of 1893. A third bridge was built in in 1897 and lasted until 1969, when the current bridge was opened. The stone abutments at each end were designed by Arthur Midson. On the southern side of the arch there is a marble memorial tablet, placed in remembrance of 11-year-old Hector Vasyli, who was tragically killed in a road traffic accident on the site in 1918 when welcoming returning soldiers.
The Brisbane River flows right through the city and empties itself into Moreton Bay. It is dammed by the Wivenhoe Dam, which forms the main water supply for Brisbane. Sea Cat passenger ferries and boat cruises operate daily along the river and are undoubtedly a superb way to see the city’s sights.
At the end of Victoria Bridge, turn left. The Performing Arts Centre is to your right, which makes up part of the Queenland Cultural Centre.
Queensland Cultural Centre consists of: the Queensland Museum, the Queensland Art Gallery, the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, the State Library of Queensland and the Performing Arts Centre. The Centre itself was established in 1974. Its aim is to keep all the city’s major cultural buildings in close proximity. The newest addition is the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, which opened in 2006. Established in 1862, the Queenland Museum is the oldest, but has had many homes and has only been at South Bank since 1986.
The Grand Arbour runs centrally through South Bank and takes you to the other side; however if you continue straight along any of the paths they all lead to the same point, so it’s near impossible to get lost!
Both Stanley Street Plaza and Little Stanley Street run parallel through the centre of South Bank, hosting lively bars, restaurants and cafes.
At the far end of South Bank is the Goodwill Bridge, which takes you over to the Queensland University of Technology campus and Botanical Gardens.
The Goodwill Bridge is a pedestrian/cyclist bridge that was opened by former Premier Peter Beattie on 21st October 2001. Although its construction was straightforward and quick (three months) it still managed to cost a whopping $23 million in government funds. It’s a short walk (less than 500m) but is an enjoyable way to see views of both the city and South Bank without the disturbance of traffic. The Maritime Museum, which is on the South Bank side of the bridge on the right hand side – is interesting, but not free. So if you’re feeling stingy, you can have a good look from the bridge – its main attraction is the HMAS Diamantina, a restored 1945 naval frigate, which you can see perfectly.
The main path through the Botanic Gardens will take you to Albert St which, followed all the way up to Ann St, will allow you to turn right and get back to Central Station where you began.