Brisbane with my weird little roommate.
June 27, 2019 5:30 PM   Subscribe

I am heading to Brisbane next week with my two year old. Its going to be rainy and I'll be without my other adult. Looking for can't miss locations as well as maybe indoor play spots for toddlers.

I will be in the CBD from Wednesday - Monday. It is unlikely I will be in Australia again in my lifetime, so I'd really like to do it right. My husband is away for work for an extended time and our original plan was just to meet up and have family time, so I really hadn't researched a ton to do. Now its not possible for him to join us and I just checked the weather and its going to be drizzly off and on the entire time.

I am determined we are still going to have a blast! Let me know any local insights you may have, we are comfortable taking transit everywhere, She can walk, but unless its a constrained path she takes forever (YAY TWO YEAR OLDS), so I have a small umbrellas stroller and a toddler sized carrier, so we can do hikes or walks too. Any interesting rain culture in Australia I should know about? (Like in Japan, a lot of folks very courtestly wipe down their umbrellas before embarking the train and leave umbrellas in commumunal umbrella stands without fear of them walking off.)

We generally like just cute/quirky neighborhoods, hiking to the top of a lookout, ferrys, waterfalls, casual food and street booths/art/parades/festival type things. Thank you so much for helping me come up with some good plans, this is my big vacation for this year and maybe next and its shaping up to not be what we expected, but that has to be ok.
posted by stormygrey to Travel & Transportation around Brisbane, Australia (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
- Take a ferry up to Eat Street, an evening street food market along the river. This only happens at weekends.

- Have a picnic in Roma St Parklands. It’s a public city park with native plantings and naturalistic water features. It’s also home to a big population of Eastern water dragons - you’ll see them just hanging out in the flower beds and sunning themselves on the pathways.

- Take a walk through the parklands along the river at Southbank. There is a free artificial beach - near the river but contained and with its own treated water - that would be a lovely place for a splash.

- If the kid’s attention span is up to it, visit GOMA - the Gallery of Modern Art.
posted by embrangled at 6:43 PM on June 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Get the bus or the boat to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
If you can swing it, go to this fabulous non-profit Eritrean restaurant
Try this gorgeous atmospheric old cafe with amazing cake
posted by runincircles at 7:22 PM on June 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

River cruise to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Not just koalas - kangaroos, emus, wombats etc.
posted by Tawita at 7:23 PM on June 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

embrangled picked most of my answers but if your girl likes trains, you can take an express to the Gold Coast, then a tram to Surfers Paradise where there are long boardwalks suitable for strollers (obviously dependent on the weather). Bus 700 (from the end of the tramline) use to map out your journey) and go to the Currumbin bird sanctuary that also has a bunch of other Australian wildlife just wandering around - kangaroos and emus, and others in enclosures, including crocodiles and cassowaries. They feed the rainbow lorikeets at specific times during the day and it's quite magnificent. You've got Seaworld as well, or you could take a ride in the AquaDuck, a boat that has wheels, and takes you out in the waters around here. It's whale migration time, so you could take a boat out to see them, Spirit of Gold Coast guarantees seeing whales or your money back.

Going north instead, there's Australia zoo (Steve Irwin's legacy), but it's a pretty long trip, or Lone Pine koala sanctuary.
posted by b33j at 7:31 PM on June 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Mt Coot-tha is worth a visit, too. Really not a mountain, but a nice-enough forested hill with a lookout at the top, some waterfalls after rain, and the city’s botanic gardens on the slopes.
posted by embrangled at 9:52 PM on June 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: So I'm going to limit my suggestions to things that are in the general Brisbane CBD area. I don't doubt you're good at transit, the both of you, but Brisbane isn't. I don't drive, have a two year old myself, and I tell you, it can be tricky to get around past a certain point if you aren't keen on major shopping centres and the like.

That said, your holiday period period is right at the start of the school holidays. There's going to be stacks of free entertainment around town that's often going to be just fine for toddlers. In the CBD your easiest options are going to be at the State Library, which is at the Cultural Centre precinct between the two galleries. They do songs and stories in their children's lounge, which is frankly amazing - a huge safe indoor play area full of books and low key crafts. Depending on where you are it may be as close as a fifteen minute walk, or a very short bus hop.

Brisbane City Council libraries have a branch at Brisbane Square that also has a good holiday program that a toddler could get quite a bit out of. They also run Toddler Time and First Fives song and story sessions.

Southbank Parklands are a really great place for kids. They do kids activities on a Thursday. There is, as mentioned, a sand lagoon, but this time of year and the weather being what it is I doubt you're going to want to swim. It's on the river so gets a lot of breeze and can be bracing even in summer. That said, both my kids used to lose their freaking minds at The Biggest Sandpit in the World, so we'd go to the lagoon with a bucket and spade and go nuts. They sell them at the convenience store near the lagoon so you're good to just roll up. There's also two great playgrounds, though you might find crowds on a sunny day it'll be much more chill if its grey.

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is definitely going to be worth the trip, and I say that knowing you're taking public transport. I believe there's a direct bus from the CBD. With a two year old I'd probably reluctantly skip Australia Zoo or a trip to either of the coasts, as it's a few hours either way, but Lone Pine is fairly straightforward to get to and is a great experience for a kid that age. They have hands on access to kangaroos and deer, and there's plenty of other things a toddler's going to get a fair bit out of.

Oh! for a close to base, low key animal experience, the Queensland Museum has really good displays of various animal mounts, and the Discovery Centre has snakes and a huge stick insect terrarium. They're just over the river at the Cultural Precinct too. People have mentioned Eastern Bearded Dragons, and while you can see them in on the boardwalk behind the Peace Pagoda at Southbank, you can see just as many at the Botanical Gardens, especially near the duck pond. The duck pond, I need not add, also has ducks, moorhens, ibis and other water birds. If you're lucky there's turtles too. Take a bag of peas or grapes and you'll probably not be short of attention.

I've mentioned the Cultural Precinct a couple of times, and you, a grown adult, would probably enjoy GOMA or the State Gallery. Both do kids programs, especially over the holidays, so you can space the kid things out with some grown up stuff.

As far as buses go, kids under five travel free. Outside of peak hour (8 till about 9.30 in the mornings on workdays and then from about 5 to 6.30) you can take a stroller on a bus with zero issue. I have a massive battle pram and we manage it just fine. Pretty much all city buses have pram bays. You'll need to get a GoCard, most newsagencies can set you up with one and the ticket office at any of the train stations can do it too - Central Station on Ann Street is the big train station, but depending on where you're staying Roma Street might be closer.

Brisbane also has heaps of public transport on the river itself - see if you can make one of your cross river hops a CityCat or ferry trip. Bulimba would be a good bet for you, I reckon - very cruisy arty sort of strip with again, lots of good food and boutiques. You might like Paddington, too. It's pretty hilly so wear good shoes.

I'd suggest you check out West End. It's our sort of quirky inner city area. Lots of interesting shops and cafes and little galleries, and the two eateriesrunincircles mentioned are there, basically right next door to each other. West End also has two separate markets, the Davies St Market and the Boundary Street Markets. It's worth noting that as far as parents rooms and the like go, West End is not so great, so you'll need to be prepared to do things like nappy changes and whatnot on the fly.

With regards to rain culture, Queenslanders are like, WHAT IS THIS WETNESS FALLING FROM THE SKY and we sort of lose our ability to function. Generally just try and be considerate the same way you would in the States and you'll be fine and try and be gentle with us for being completely useless. It's not actually like it doesn't rain that often, really, we're just easily confused by it all and it catches us off guard to have wet winters.

Feel free to drop me a PM if you need more info. I've hit you with a bit and don't mind any follow up questions you might have.
posted by Jilder at 6:03 AM on June 28, 2019 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I was just in Brisbane for a couple of days earlier this year (although did not have a toddler in tow). If the weather is at all nice, I would check out the Streets beach (aka pool) on Southbank. The Cube at Queensland University of Technology could be fun for a kid and is also indoors. It's this cool, interactive screen display. I did a free walking tour with a local volunteer (Brisbane Greeters), which I found really interesting. Each tour is a little different depending on the tour guide, so your experience might be variable. You do have to sign up in advance.

If you're taking public transit, I would get a go card. It'll make your fares cheaper. You have to pay a deposit, but you can get it back when you leave (there is a station at the airport).
posted by emsuro at 10:44 AM on June 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

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