South Bank Secrets
IT IS EARLY evening at South Bank and things are hotting up. The sound of people having fun mingles with soft jazz from a nearby restaurant and the heady scent of frangipani fills the air. Elegant fashionistas share the streets with tourists wearing t-shirts and there is no cut-off age limit for enjoying a night out.
South Bank has an excitement all its own and some of the best shopping, drinking, dining and entertainment options in Brisbane. With charming markets, excellent restaurants, alfresco bars and cultural activities galore, there has never been a better time to visit.
THINGS TO DO
South Bank is well known for its swimming lagoon Streets Beach, but there are plenty of alternative activities for those who prefer to stay dry.
The Gallery of Modern Art, or GOMA as it is affectionately known, has an international reputation for hosting exhibitions that are the envy of other galleries with the likes of Picasso, Matisse and Warhol drawing record crowds.
Culture aficionados can also explore the more traditional Queensland Art Gallery or the Queensland Museum and Sciencentre which continues to evolve with the addition of high-tech installations. The latter is a big hit with kids of all ages.
Across the road at South Bank Parklands you can take to the sky on The Wheel of Brisbane, a giant observation wheel which takes you high above the city. If you would prefer to take to the water, River City Cruises offer a range of relaxing tours which include a hop-off option so you can explore further afield.
Another popular attraction with a maritime theme can be found at the southern end of the Parklands. The Queensland Maritime Museum houses historical maritime artefacts, photographs and paintings in its collection, alongside numerous vessels which you can explore, such as the World War II frigate HMAS Diamantina and the powerful steam tug Forceful. It is a hands-on museum run by passionate volunteers, many of whom are retired ship masters, marine engineers and ex-naval personnel.
South Bank is home to a number of eclectic creative markets. If you have an appetite for the unusual and like to browse, visit the Collective Markets, which take place on Fridays at the Stanley Street Plaza from 5pm to 9pm, Saturdays from 10am to 9pm and Sundays from 9am to 4pm. Here you can pick up handmade fashion, vintage collectibles, jewellery, homewares and furniture at affordable prices.
Little Stanley Street plays host to the Young Designers Market on the first Sunday of every month from 10am to 4pm. Everything at this market is handmade by the stall holders. For many of these creative entrepreneurs, showing at the market is the first step towards the commercialisation of their designs so you will also be helping a talented up-and-comer get a head start in the industry. Chatting to the creators is one of the pleasures of shopping at this colourful market.
WHERE TO EAT
South Bank has a dazzling selection of restaurants and cafés, many of which capitalise on Queensland’s love of outdoor dining. South Bank Surf Club overlooks the famous swimming lagoon and gives an inner-city twist to the traditional Aussie surf club. It is a great spot for a drink and a bite to eat on a sunny afternoon.
Alongside the river there is River Quay, a collection of sleek dining options ranging from champagne breakfasts at River Quay Fish to rustic Italian share plates at Popolo and the steakhouse sophistication of Stokehouse Q. Fresh seafood, home-style favourites and an Indonesian influence can be found at The Jetty, while Francophiles will appreciate Aquitaine Brasserie, a charming alfresco diner offering a delicious taste of France with classic dishes such as Marseille bouillabaisse.
Nearby Grey Street offers an equally impressive choice of dining options. The vibe here tends to be more lively, especially at Olé, a Spanish restaurant with a dedicated sangria bar. Share plates are a feature here making this a great spot to visit with colleagues or friends.
Try The Spaghetti House Trattoria if you’re in the mood for traditional Italian favourites served in a stylish but homely space. Ahmet’s is the place to go for Turkish cuisine while Torba Restaurant & Lounge offers a contemporary take on Russia’s exotic opulence with velvet drapes, glittering chandeliers and a sultry purple colour scheme. Try a selection of European wines and a variety of Russian vodkas and vodka-based cocktails, such as Kalinka and Balalaika.
If you are planning a trip to South Bank, bring your appetite with you!
Picnic at River Quay Green, South Bank, Brisbane. Photo: Tourism Australia.