The riverside capital of the Sunshine State is packed full of fun that makes the most of both its natural and cultural attributes.
Children can participate in hands-on activities that will fire up their imagination at Sparklab, Queensland Museum. Creating these transformative experiences is about fostering a positive and innovative learning space for children aged six to 13 to see how science, technology, engineering and maths affect our everyday life. Families can observe live science experiments and demonstrations at the Science Bar and imagine and design solutions to challenges in the Maker Space (Cost: Adult $15.50; Child 5-15: $12.50).
You don’t need nerves of steel to climb Brisbane’s Story Bridge: in fact, it feels very safe and secure to be attached via harness to a bridge cable for the duration of the climb up the south-eastern cantilever of the bridge. Check the website for special offers to climb the Story Bridge where on a clear day you can see beyond the city’s soaring buildings and as far as the Glass House Mountains and Moreton Bay. You will also see key landmarks from the top of the bridge, which stretches out above Brisbane River, glimmering 80 metres below. (For kids six and up; family pass for a day climb from $399.)
Get an unmatched perspective on the night sky above the Queensland capital in the Cosmic Skydome at the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium, located in the Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha, some five kilometres from the city’s centre. Children can learn about the solar system through the eyes of a family of aliens visiting Earth on vacation in Perfect Little Planet and take a tour of the observable universe with an astronomer who will point out planets, stars and constellations (Cost: Adult: from $10; Child 3–14 from $6).
The Wheel of Brisbane has become a fixture on the landscape in the Queensland capital. Rising 60 metres off the ground, the white wheel of steel and glass sits right next to Brisbane River and adjacent to the city’s acclaimed cultural precinct in South Bank Parklands. Despite being a slow journey to nowhere, doing a giant loop of the sky in the Wheel of Brisbane is a real thrill: you can see the roads that spaghetti around the CBD, the curves of Mt Coot-tha in the distance and ferry boats leaving their feathered trails down the river. Savour the shifting panorama of sky with a sunset tour. A family pass for two adults and two children aged 4–11 is $60.80.
5. Be immersed in local Aboriginal culture
The best way to learn about Indigenous Australia is from Indigenous Australians. Spirits of the Red Sand is an immersion in the rich, vibrant culture of our First Nations people, with everything from didgeridoo lessons to cultural awareness workshops. The Evening Experience includes dinner and a roving theatre experience that transports the audience from the Dreamtime to 1800s Australia. The visually stimulating production will get your children asking important questions about this tumultuous time in Australian history (Cost: A family ticket for two adults, two children is $320.00).
Visitors can help protect threatened Australian species by sponsoring a koala, dingo or wombat at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. The Fig Tree Pocket property, just 15 minutes from Brisbane CBD, has been instrumental in the conservation of Australian wildlife since it was established in 1927 as a safe refuge for sick, injured and orphaned koalas. Today, Lone Pine Sanctuary has expanded to include other endangered species whose numbers have also been severely depleted over the years (Cost: Adult: $42; Child: $25; Family of two adults, two children: $88.00; Sponsorships: $20). Feed the lorikeets and then enjoy lunch at the Lone Pine Riverside Café, which includes a kid-friendly zone complete with wombat holes to crawl through.
Hire a GoBoat and join a small flotilla of eco-friendly picnic boats that pootle up and down the Brisbane River for fun under those big, bright Queensland skies. With no boat license required, watch the comings and goings of commuter ferries, and look out for birds of prey in the safe environs of the river, which you can explore at a pace slow enough to enjoy your picnic. The boats are super easy to steer and perfect for families who will see a different perspective of the riverside city (Cost: $109 for one hour; $189 for two hours).
A wild dolphin feeding experience is included when you enjoy a day trip or overnight stay at the family-friendly Tangalooma Island Resort on Moreton Island.
Bottlenose dolphins belonging to two tight-knit pods visit the shores of the island most evenings around sunset, where the feeding program is led by eco rangers who are part of a dedicated Dolphin Care Team, ensuring the dolphins are only given 10 to 20 per cent of their daily food requirement so they don’t rely on humans to survive. To get to Tangalooma, catch a launch transfer from Holt Street Wharf, Pinkenba in Brisbane. Enjoy the resort’s new night-time Illuminated Wrecks glass-bottom boat tour of 15 illuminated shipwrecks (Cost: Adult: $59; Child: $45).
The Kids Trail at the Children’s Art Centre at Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) invites children to discover all the animals hiding within the Australian Art Collection. It’s an interactive activity that beckons little visitors to stand before a range of different works and examine the content closely in order to better engage with it. Don’t miss Roy and Matilda, an interactive installation based on the adventures of two friendly mice who live behind a tiny door in the gallery. Children will better understand Roy and Matilda’s perspective after giving the giant hamster wheel a whirl at nearby Riverside Green. The popular playground also has giant slides and skywalk and is a top spot for a picnic.
The Cube at QUT is a hands-on centre that is one of the largest digital interactive learning and display spaces on the planet. Laid out over two expansive floors in QUT’s Science And Engineering Centre, The Cube makes science fun for all the family with interactive exhibits such as Code-A-Bot, (where you get to program a robot) and the Plasma Wall, where mini games such as Lava Lamp deliver abstract light and movement diversions for the entire family. The Cube is committed to inspiring the next generation of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) leaders. Perhaps your child will be one of them.