On a recent long haul trip from Dublin to Wellington we chose Brisbane as one of our stopovers and made it into a four day mini break. This broke up the journey and helped us adjust to the time zone and have the opportunity to explore a new city. Brisbane is such a beautiful place, even in ‘winter’. Although it was overcast on a couple of days, the temperature didn’t drop below 18 degrees (and that can be a summer’s day where we’re from!).
Here are our top 10 toddler-friendly things to do:
#1 Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Photo credit: Kaitphotography.com.au Insta: @kaitphotography
What an incredible daytrip for our active little toddler. We walked amongst kangaroos and fed them (Sophia actually ran after one!), cuddled a koala, watched a platypus swim, and saw a whole host of other animals including: cockatoos, dingoes, snakes and Tasmanian devils. You could easily spend a whole day here. It’s buggy friendly and there are loads of spaces for kids to run safely. Unlike a zoo it had a real rural feel to it, lots of bush and natural-style habitats in which the animals didn’t appear to be caged off behind bars. It was well worth the entrance free and under 2s go free.
#2 Southbank Parklands
There is so much to do on the Southbank, which consists of a rainforest walk, riverfront walkways, grassed areas, the Streets Beach (a manmade beach area and swimming pool on the edge of the river), the Grand Arbour, the Courier Mail Piazza, the Nepal Peace Pagoda, the Wheel of Brisbane, markets, restaurants, shops and fountains. We went straight to the Streets Beach when we arrived here and had the pool to ourselves on this chilly winter’s day (of 20 degrees!). The rainforest walk was lovely as was the Nepal Peace Pagoda. We didn’t go on the Wheel of Brisbane but hear that the views of the city from the top are incredible. All of these sights are situated within about 10 minutes walk of each other and are very close to the ferry terminal.
#3 Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park
Kangaroo Point is a lookout situated across the river from the Central Business District. It gives a lovely view of the city skyline and if you fancy a workout (not buggy friendly!) there are steep steps which lead down through the cliffs to a walkway below. The coffee shop at Kangaroo point serves amazing cold-press juices and beverages and the backdrop of the city is amazing. The coffee shop even has a resident lizard; I think his name was Lenny. Sophia chased after him as well!
#4 Mount Coot-tha Lookout
Not far from the Botanic Gardens, right up at the top of Mount Coot-tha is a lookout at which you can see the whole city. We went on our way to the Botanic Gardens for a quick look and could see for miles.
#5 City Cat Ferry/River taxi
You can take the City Cat ferry, which is basically a river taxi, to South bank where there is so much to see and do. An open return ticket on this hop on hop off service means you can travel to and from the city in a few hours for just a few dollars. Make sure you take cash or a travel card and you can’t pay by card. It was a lovely way to see the city and meant that instead of sitting in traffic and trying to find a carpark we could sit back and enjoy the wind in our hair as we cruised down the Brisbane river into the heart of the city.
#6 Byron Bay
On one of our daytrips near Brisbane we drove down through the Hinterlands to Byron Bay and visited a really quaint and quirky place called ‘The Farm’. Their motto is: ‘Grow. Feed. Educate. Give Back’ and basically they are a working farm with onsite farm shop, gift shop, café, restaurant and play area. They sell the local produce that has been grown on the farm. You can walk around the herb gardens, vegetable patches and animal enclosures and children can see exactly where the food has come from. It was totally up our street and we loved the whole experience!
#7 Macadamia Castle
Also near Byron Bay we visited Macadamia Castle where we sampled some of the local speciality: macadamia nuts! I had no idea that macadamias are indigenous to NSW and QLD, Australia. They tasted amazing! There is a really cool little petting zoo at the castle as well as a nut bar, gift shop and restaurant. A fun little day out for kiddies whatever the weather.
#8 The Gold Coast
On our way back from Byron Bay we also stopped on the Gold Coast for lunch and a quick paddle in the ocean, which was lovely and warm in comparison to icy Atlantic that I was used to growing up! The beaches, juice bars and fish and chip shops were plentiful and after an fun filled and jam-packed day we all enjoyed a little post-lunch kip on the way home!
#9 Brisbane Botanic Gardens
We had the choice to go to either Roma Street Parklands or the Botanic gardens and we chose the latter as it was closer to Mount Coot-tha Lookout. It was such a beautiful place to stroll around, filled with bamboo forests, duck ponds and a glass house of tropical plants and is a real sanctuary in the middle of this bustling city. There was plenty of space for Sophia to run around and stretch those little legs and she enjoyed chasing the ducks and Ibis birds!
#10 Open air cinema
Sadly we were out of season for this open air cinema event in central Brisbane but the next time we are back we will give it a go! Our friends went to a drive in cinema further down the coast after dropping us off to the airport and said it was amazing! Brisbane certainly has the weather for it. We’ll be back!