Brisbane combines the genuine friendliness of a country town with big-city attractions and weather that’s as warm as the locals’ smiles, making a great recipe for a family holiday. Here’s four places with plenty for mum, dad and, oh, the kids too.
Get to the heart of it
If you want to get to know the people and the spirit of Brisbane, venture into the heart of the CBD, where you’ll find the grand sandstone City Hall and the Museum of Brisbane, both of which celebrate Brisbane’s living history.
Watch the short film Beauty: a journey down the Brisbane River – a lively look at the river with plenty of jumping and splashing – and check out exhibitions by local artists, which tend to be cutting edge rather than stuffy.
Pick up a free ticket at the information desk and ride 100 metres to the top of City Hall in the oldest hand-operated lift in Australia to see the clock’s four bells, which weigh over three tonnes collectively.
Older kids will enjoy the free City Hall tour, which takes you behind the scenes for a sneak peek at the $5-million pipe organ, and secret messages scrawled on the walls of the hidden lower-ground floor.
See the sights at South Bank
Slip on your swimmers and hit the beach at South Bank’s attractive manmade lagoon, which has palm trees overhanging a white sandy beach, deep and shallow swimming areas, shady spots to relax and a fun interactive play area for kids. Lifeguards patrol the beach seven days a week.
There are also plenty of activities at South Bank for those who prefer to stay dry.
The Gallery of Modern Art, or GOMA as it is affectionately known, has a fantastic interactive kids’ area on the lower-ground floor.
Down the road, you’ll find the Queensland Museum, which is filled with natural history exhibits and has an outdoor dinosaur garden.
The adjoining Sciencentre offers high-tech installations and plenty of hands-on science fun.
Here, classic ship models sit alongside marine memorabilia, lighthouse equipment and other relics, and your kids won’t get in trouble for touching things at this hands-on museum, where visitors are encouraged to ‘feel’ the history.
Explore the city by ferry
If you want to take to the water without getting wet, the CityCats are public ferries offering a relaxing cruise along the Brisbane River.
You can look up at the Story Bridge and perhaps spy some bridge-climbers, enjoying views of the city and beyond as they cross the sweeping span.
Hop off at New Farm Park, where almost 20,000 visitors come each week to enjoy the 18 hectares of grassy lawns, pretty rose gardens and gracious old trees and, most importantly, one of the best children’s playgrounds in Brisbane.
Watch the kids clamber through the playground’s fortress-like maze winding through ancient Moreton Bay fig trees while you kick back on a park bench and sip organic juice from the Saturday morning farmers’ market.
Head for the hills
You’ll find plenty of country charm in the Scenic Rim, a picturesque rural area located two hours south of Brisbane.
Visit Canungra Valley Vineyards, and picnic by the creek after a spot of wine tasting before you tackle the drive up the mountain.
There are two roads to choose from, both stunning in their own way.
Narrow switchbacks offer plenty of white-knuckle thrills on the way to O’Reilly’s Plateau, whereas the drive along the winding road to Binna Burra is a little more sedate and filled with beautiful views.
Buy a bag of bird feed and watch parrots of every colour of the rainbow flock to you at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, then hit the trails or bounce your way along the treetop canopy walk and – if you’re game – climb to the top of the 30-metre-high observation deck for stellar views of the national park.
Meanwhile, Binna Burra is easier and quicker to reach, and also has some truly spectacular walks. If you have time, why not visit both?