The only capital city to share a name with it’s river, Brisbane River is the highlight of any visit to the Queensland capital. We have the pleasure of seeing the Brisbane River every day, for us, these are the highlights.
But first, a quick Brisbane River history lesson
Brisbane’s River was an important food source for the Turrbal and Yuggera, the local indigenous people of Brisbane. However Brisbane’s 350km river proved very hard for the early explorers to locate, with James Cook surmising at it’s existence but not locating it, and Matthew Flinders completely unable to find it! It took three ticket of leave prisoners getting blown off course and stealing a canoe to find the river. This luck was capitalised on by John Oxley on his expedition to find a site for a prison for the very worst offenders from Sydney.
The history of Brisbane has long being tied to the river. Early settlers disputed the locations of the wharves, bridges and customs house, starting a long battle of the north versus the south side of the river. An an estuary it provides a unique habitat for a number of weird and wonderful fish species alongside commercial shipping. But more than this, it is the heart of Brisbane and exploring the river is an absolute highlight of any Brisbane visit!
Parks, Gardens and Trees
The sub-tropics makes for beautiful weather for most of the year, but let’s be frank, it can be a bit warm. Green spaces in Brisbane are a true highlight of the city, providing shade from which to enjoy the River’s cooling breezes. Brisbane has a number of truly awesome parks enjoying river frontage, from the City Botanic Gardens, to Southbank and of course the Kangaroo Point Cliffs.
Having remembered the joy of a picnic thanks to COVID, these green spaces provide a budget friendly option for a delightful weekend meal. If you time your visit right, which we do on our Saturday morning tour, you can always cater a morning tea picnic from a market. If it’s people watching you are after, the rock climbers at Kangaroos Point and the bubble blowers at West End provide free entertainment.
Need some views to go with your picnic? Enjoy Brisbane’s best sunset view from the top of either Kangaroo Point cliffs or the cliffs above Howard Smith Wharves. And if the heat really is getting to much for you, a dip in the man made beach at Southbank is refreshing at any time of day.
World Class Arts Precinct
Whether you prefer natural sciences or the modern arts, the Cultural Precinct lining Southbank’s riverside real estate sets Brisbane’s museums, library, art gallery and theatre within one easy to walk stretch.
This precinct caters for the young and the young at heart! Interactive art and science experiences are on offer for the kids at either the Museum or the Children’s Centre at GOMA (both are awesome fun!). For the young at heart there is the thought provoking visiting collections at the Gallery of Modern Art and Queensland Art Gallery. We enjoy the exhibitions so much we pop in each Friday to check them out on our morning tea break! If science is more your style, check out the rotating exhibitions at the Queensland Museum.
Bridges, Bridges and more Bridges
Brisbane currently has fifteen major bridges crossing the river and the architecture of these tells the story of the city’s development.
The oldest bridge, Victoria Bridge, is the site of Queensland’s worst maritime disaster. It is also the most replaced of Brisbane’s bridges, having being battered by floods at the end of the 19th century and again replaced when the tram network was decommissioned in the 1960s. The iconic Story Bridge tells the story of depression era Brisbane and a humble public servant. William Jolly, Greater Brisbane’s first Lord Mayor is honoured in the art deco bridge of the same name.
Brisbane is always looking to make a statement with a new bridge. Indeed there are currently five more in the works!
Brisbane’s dining precincts are clustered around the River providing fabulous meals to go with your views. If you would like to upgrade from a picnic to a table and chairs, any of the Riverside, Southbank and Howard Smith Wharves are a great option. Each precinct has a range of options in both expense and cuisine and we recommend visiting on an empty stomach.
Touring the Brisbane River Highlights
Brisbane City Cycling takes in the Brisbane River Highlights on our three hour city tours each Friday and Saturday morning. And the best part of touring Brisbane river highlights? It’s nice and flat ground along the river’s edge, saving your thighs from the mountains that make up the rest of the city!