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Read up-to-date tips and advice for expats based on my own experiences of expat life including our recent move to Australia.



20 things to do in South Bank Brisbane

20 things to do in South Bank Brisbane

 Are you visiting Brisbane in Queensland, Australia?

Brisbane is the capital of Queensland and has a year-round warm sub-tropical climate. With growing numbers of visitors both domestically and internationally Brisbane has plenty to offer in terms of food, wine, heritage, culture and outdoor activities. And South Bank has it all.

If you are visiting Brisbane one place that has to be on your itinerary is South Bank. South Bank is a fantastic place to visit for lots of reasons – it has a fabulous atmosphere and is on the banks of the river with a great view of the city skyline. But what else does this area of Brisbane offer?

I have come up with 20 things to do in South Bank Brisbane!

Take a photograph of the Brisbane sign

(more points if you can get it into a selfie!)

south bank brisbane and the brisbane sign just one of the things to do in south bank brisbane

Brisbane sign!

Who doesn’t want to take a picture of the Brisbane sign? Even better the sign is lit up at night so you can get that perfect shot of the skyline behind!

Take (or buy) a picnic or have a BBQ

We buy our box of treats from one of the many lovely restaurants at South Bank – we usually buy some chips too and a couple of drinks! You can take your own picnic of course – just remember to take a blanket, wear a hat and lots of sunscreen! There are lots of green spaces available and finding a great spot is easy.

There are also BBQ’s available for you to use so bring your own food and cook at South Bank!

This is a popular option for lots of people and there is free entertainment too every Sunday at River Quay Green so you can sit back enjoy some music and just relax.  For up-to-date information of what is on this month at South Bank check out the official website.

Picnic platter at South Bank Brisbane

Picnic platter

Take a stroll along the river and spot some of the local flora and fauna!

There are lots of birds and more exotic Australian animals to spot as you walk along the river!


lizard at South Bank Brisbane



How to see amazing Australian animals in Queensland


Take a ride on the Wheel of Brisbane!

These can be found  in every city around the globe these days – I prefer my feet firmly on the ground but for a view of Brisbane from a slightly higher viewpoint try the Wheel of Brisbane!

If you want to have a go on the wheel check out the official website!

Take a swim at Streets Beach!

One of the most popular of things to do in South Bank Brisbane is to go for a swim!!

South Bank Brisbane has the only man-made beach in a city centre in Australia. The facilities are excellent and the pool has lifeguards on duty – be sure to contact the South Bank Visitor Centre on (07) 3156 6366 to double check when they are there. And best of all it is free to use – yes you read that right – FREE!

At Christmas there was an open air cinema screen at the beach so you could enjoy the warm weather with a swim and a movie! One for next Christmas for us – this is a really unique experience!

Check out more things to do in Brisbane with children!

Brisbane streets beach

Take a swim in the Boat Pool

Another free pool to swim in and again this is patrolled by life guards though as mentioned above check before you go!

Brisbane's boat pool at South Bank

Have fun at aquativity

Aquativity is an interactive water-play park free for all to enjoy but the kids will love it! Again this is open daily and patrolled  by lifeguards.

If you are visiting Australia for the first time read all about the things NOT to do when you are here!

aquativity at South Bank Brisbane

Have the best milkshake on the planet!

I kid you not! I have tried both the banana and the peanut butter shakes. My husband is adamant he will stick to the AllSorts milkshake (liquorice). Buy these delicious delights from tapi. in the central cafes area.

Take a book and relax in the beautiful gardens

The parklands are a wonderful space to enjoy – a veritable oasis in the middle of the city. Take a stroll, get some shade, find a seat or somewhere to sit and enjoy the surroundings! You can even visit the Epicurious Garden and find out about some of the wonderful fruit and vegetables grown there!

If you are a nature lover and are looking for romantic getaways near Brisbane check out My Favourite Escapes for some great ideas of places to stay!

Stroll through the arbours

Beautiful bougainvillea surrounds you as you stroll through the arbours – and lights at Christmas make them extra pretty!

 Visit the the market

The Collective markets can be found at the Stanley Street plaza at South Bank and are open


12pm – 9pm


10am – 9pm


9am – 4pm

For more information about South Bank markets check out their website HERE

Catch the City Cat and take a boat ride along the river

Catch the City Cat and enjoy a ride along the river taking in the sights of the city (and the cooler breeze in the summer too!)

The City Cat in Brisbane


An unforgettable day with Brisbane Whale Watching


Visit the Nepalese temple

The Temple was brought to Brisbane by the Nepalese for the World Expo in 1988. It is only one of 3 Nepalese peace pagodas to be located outside Nepal! I loved looking around the pagoda and this carving caught my eye!

Listen to music

There is free entertainment every Sunday at River Quay Green so you can sit back enjoy some music and just relax.  For up-to-date information of what is on this month at South Bank check out the official website.

musicians play at south bank brisbane

Pick up a city bike and go for a cycle along the river

Bikes available to hire 24 hours a day – what a brilliant scheme! You can use the bike for half an hour for free and it has to be returned to one of the many stations at this point or you will be charged a usage fee. Stations are in close proximity to each other  and there are 150 across the city.

To find out more check out the City Cycle website!

Walk along to GOMA

If you are the arty type take a stroll along to the Queensland Art Gallery Of Modern Art. We recently visited to check out the art of YAYOI KUSAMA in the LIFE IS THE HEART OF A RAINBOW exhibition but check out what is happening on their website.

Watch a show/musical at QPAC

Check out events and shows at Queensland’s Performing Arts Centre!  

QPAC Brisbane

QPAC Credit Christopher Frederick Jones

Visit arguably the cheapest cinema in Brisbane

The cineplex South Bank is the cheapest cinema we have yet found in fact I double checked when told the price! We love heading to the cinema in the evening after a day at South Bank so check out what’s on and add it to your itinerary!


10 Australian movies to watch before you visit!


Take your dog for a walk!

Why not take your pooch for a walk along the river? This little beauty is called Cassie and is only 4 months old – so cute!

Let the kids play in the huge playground while you relax with a glass of something!

There are lots of little play areas in South Bank and this huge one! I know my daughter would have loved this when she was younger!

One of the many parks for children at South Bank Brisbane

Have a meal at one of the many restaurants!

There are so many restaurants to choose from and though I really want to try them all out my waistline dictates that I can’t! So far I can recommend a Sunday roast at the Hop and Pickle if that floats your boat. Otherwise there are so many other choices I will just say you will not have a problem finding one that satisfies your hunger!

Sunday roast at South Bank Brisbane


5 EASY steps to having a great time at South Bank!

  1. Bring your swimmers!
  2. Bring a blanket/towel to lie on.
  3. Don’t forget sun cream and a hat.
  4. Bring food/buy food.
  5. Relax!!!


15 photographs that will inspire you to visit Queensland


How to get to South Bank

Public transport

Bus – check out the Brisbane City Council website for information about buses that run in the city.

CityCat or CityHopper  – South Bank stops 1 and 2 are served by the CityCat and stop 3 by the CityHopper. Check out Translink for timetables and fare information.

Train – catch the train to South Bank station and it is a short 5 minute stroll to the riverside.

By car

If you decide to drive into the city there is an underground car park at South Bank with 800 spaces – RED HOT TIP check out this website for parking!

city cat brisbane

When is the best time of year to visit South Bank?

Brisbane has a sub-tropical climate with hot summers and dry warm winters. If you want to make use of the free bathing facilities they make be closed at times for cleaning so make sure to check!

Christmas is a great time to visit with fireworks, parades, festive markets and a cinema at the beach!

But to be honest ANY time of year is a wonderful time to visit Brisbane and South Bank!!

Where should I stay if I am visiting South Bank?

We have a favourite hotel to stay at when we are in the city and it is literally 2 minutes walk from South Bank! The Mantra Hotel South Bank is a fantastic hotel with excellent facilities (pool/gym/amazing breakfast). If you are planning a stay at South Bank I highly recommend the Mantra.

Review of Mantra Hotel South Bank Brisbane


Pin – 20 great things to do in South Bank Brisbane

South Bank Brisbane



Living Down Under - ONE YEAR IN!
Sharing stories about our expat life in Brisbane
Expat diary - Life in Brisbane Australia - Part 1
Living in Brisbane : expat diary part 2
Living in Brisbane : Expat diary part 3




  1. Linda Tallett
    February 19, 2018 / 12:33 pm

    Great post Tracy, loads of things to look forward to!!

    • TracyJane
      February 20, 2018 / 9:09 am

      There sure are I am sure you will love it!

  2. February 20, 2018 / 12:21 pm

    Wow that man-made beach looks amazing, and made every more awesome bc it’s in the city center! I could do with a beach right now! Brisbane never caught my eye before, but it certainly looks like a really cool city! #CityTripping
    California Globetrotter recently posted…3 Days of Debauchery at the Aalst Carnaval!!My Profile

    • TracyJane
      February 21, 2018 / 10:20 am

      It is fantastic – all free too!

  3. February 20, 2018 / 3:43 pm

    I went to Brisbane back in 2002, and while I waited for my coach north to Noosa, I swam in the free pool, it was heavenly! Brisbane is such a great city and I love its tropical vibe! #citytripping

    • TracyJane
      February 21, 2018 / 10:20 am

      We love it too! Have to visit Noosa soon!

  4. February 20, 2018 / 10:35 pm

    Never made it to Brisbane while I was visiting AU. Looks nice! #citytripping

  5. February 21, 2018 / 7:13 am

    The last time I visited Brisbane was in the mid 1990s, and honestly I don’t have much memories about the city compared to Sydney and Melbourne (and Adelaide – that’s where I had lived at that time). Just looking at your pics – my gosh, Brisbane is completely different, almost like a city that I have never been! Maybe it’s about time that I return to Brisbane and explore more of Queensland 🙂 #Citytripping

    • TracyJane
      February 21, 2018 / 10:19 am

      Yes it is really lovely – I highly recommend a visit to Queensland!

  6. February 21, 2018 / 10:58 pm

    I’ll be honest, I never really knew what there was to do in Brisbane compared to Australia’s other major cities so this has really opened my eyes. Sounds like such a laidback atmosphere too. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

    • TracyJane
      February 22, 2018 / 8:52 pm

      Glad you now have Brisbane and Queensland on your radar! The other cities are nice but Brisbane is nicer!!!

  7. February 23, 2018 / 4:09 am

    I love South Bank! …. and I love liquorice! I am going to have to visit South Bank again for one of those milkshakes!

  8. February 23, 2018 / 4:25 am

    I spent a year in Australia on a Working Holiday Visa and I absolutely loved it – and Brisbane was our very first stop! Such a beautiful and underrated city that I have such fond memories of exploring…Southbank included 🙂 #citytripping
    Caity Pfohl recently posted…Crushing on Caye Caulker, BelizeMy Profile

    • TracyJane
      February 23, 2018 / 8:51 am

      It is a great city we are loving it here too! South Bank is fab isn’t it!

  9. February 23, 2018 / 8:17 am

    I don’t think Southbank was finished last time I was in Brisbane. That’s how long it’s been. You guys seem to be fitting into the Qld vibe very nicely. Looking forward to more of your insights. 🙂

    • TracyJane
      February 23, 2018 / 8:50 am

      We totally love it here!

  10. February 23, 2018 / 2:49 pm

    I’m sat here reading this in Ukraine in the winter, and all the brightness has damaged my eyes I think!! So many colours. I also want to eat that roast dinner. Not got to Australia yet, but your posts are getting me closer!
    Kate and Kris recently posted…Expat Life in Kyiv – January 2018My Profile

    • TracyJane
      February 25, 2018 / 9:34 pm

      Ah yes it is very bright and colourful here! Come visit and leave winter behind!

    • TracyJane
      February 25, 2018 / 9:33 pm

      Definitely come and visit!

  11. February 24, 2018 / 8:48 am

    I haven’t made it to Brisbane, but I love your ideas! It certainly helps that the weather looks so wonderful! 🙂

    • TracyJane
      February 25, 2018 / 9:33 pm

      Thanks Samantha – the weather is (most of the time) absolutely lovely here!

  12. February 26, 2018 / 7:48 pm

    Running along the river through South Bank was one of my favourite things to do. It’s just one of the best places in the world. So much to see and do in such a relatively small area! If you go up a bit further towards Kangaroo Point Cliffs, there are some awesome sports for BBQs with incredible views of the CBD!
    Travel Lexx recently posted…Cycling in Seoul: Han Riverside and Yeouido Bike RideMy Profile

    • TracyJane
      February 26, 2018 / 10:17 pm

      Yes we went along on the City Cat – we love it – isn’t Brisbane a fabulous city!

    • TracyJane
      March 2, 2018 / 11:07 pm

      Thanks for that link Lance! Really helpful – I will add it into the main body of the post too!

  13. March 2, 2018 / 1:26 pm

    Brisbane really is quite a pleasant place to visit. Last time I was there, I had friends show me around southbank and we visited many of the spots you’ve included. Glad you’re enjoying Australia so much! #feetdotravel

  14. March 9, 2018 / 2:49 am

    I used to love South Bank, I thought the man-made beach was so original, got to keep up with the Gold Coast though eh haha. Things have developed a bit since I was there but the lovely flowered arches are still the same. Sometimes they have good exhibitions as well and I visited a quirky art one before. I can’t wait to return and do all these things again! #feetdotravel

  15. August 27, 2018 / 3:20 am

    Ah, South Bank! One of my favourite places! It holds a very special place in my heart. As kids moving up from Canberra, down south, we never had anything like it before and thought it was some kind of heaven on earth. Always an inexpensive day out: mum could pack a BBQ lunch and us kids could play at the beach for the afternoon and go water dragon spotting. Just fantastic. As a grown woman who worked in Brisbane City, I would jog through the beautiful gardens on my lunch break and a few years later, my now husband took me to South Bank for our first date. There are some gorgeous restaurants, and the Wheel of Brisbane is magical at night. Loved your list, it brought back some wonderful memories!

    • TracyJane
      August 27, 2018 / 8:48 am

      Thanks Rhiannon glad you liked it – my daughter has just moved to South Bank and loves it. So much to do – looking forward to picnics in the summer with her!

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Hello from Australia

Traveller, teacher, train lover, and milkshake connoisseur.Now living and working in my 7th country and experiencing life in Queensland, Australia.

I write to inspire others whatever their age to explore the world - near and far!

I have travelled for over 30 years including solo in my 20's , as a single parent in my 30's and now in my 40's and beyond with my husband. House sitter and aspiring grey nomad a life of location independence is my goal.

Over 40 years ago I dreamt of a life well travelled and that is the life I live!

Dream it, plan it, do it!!

Carpe Diem



“Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life”
-- Michael Palin