The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - NEWS - MADURA MCCOR­MACK

IT HAS been a sweet 25 years since Bris­bane’s favourite back­yard South Bank of­fi­cially opened its doors, and lolly shop owner Donna Smith has been there since the be­gin­ning.

Con­structed on the site that housed World Expo ’88, South Bank was cre­ated in re­sponse to a pub­lic out­cry that the state cap­i­tal needed more open pub­lic space.

Then just 17ha, South Bank has grown into a Queens­land icon that put Bris­bane on the map and at­tracts an es­ti­mated 11 mil­lion vis­i­tors a year. Donna Smith’s Great Aussie Sweet Co, the long­est op­er­at­ing re­tail shop in the precinct, has watched the space trans­form.

Ms Smith in­her­ited the busi­ness from her fa­ther and has worked in the store since she was 16.

She said there was a large dirt carpark where restau­rants and bars now stand, and a green lawn where the in­for­ma­tion cen­tre has been built.

“The trans­for­ma­tion over that time­frame has been a re­ally lovely way for Bris­bane to come out of the big coun­try town men­tal­ity and move up along­side Mel­bourne and Syd­ney,” Ms Smith, 42, said. “Open­ing day (in 1992) was full on. There were peo­ple every­where. It was the big­gest thing since Expo ’88 re­ally.”

To mark to­day’s mile­stone, a free “Pic­nic in the Park­lands” event of per­for­mances and ac­tiv­i­ties is be­ing held from 10am to 4pm.

A draft Vi­sion South Bank re­port re­leased last month, as re­vealed by The Sun­day Mail, would see Bris­bane’s most pop­u­lar park grow by two-thirds.

Ms Smith said the im­pact of Queen’s Wharf across the Bris­bane River would be “un­be­liev­able” and “astronomical” for the area.

TASTY TREAT: Twins So­phie and Sonny Smith, 4, are set to cel­e­brate 25 years of South Bank to­day. Pic­ture: Nigel Hal­lett

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