The Brisbane River winds through the city like a ribbon, slipping past suburbs and flowing through the city before it reaches the sparkling expanse of Moreton Bay. For those who live here, it has created many memories over the years. Lovers stroll hand-in-hand along the riverbank, ferry commuters watch sunrise bathe the water in a golden glow and joggers race alongside the dramatic rush of an outgoing tide. Here are some things to do along the Brisbane River. If you are from out of town, there are few better ways to get a feel for the city than joining the locals for a walk, run, ride, jog or bite to eat along the Brisbane River. One of the best places to do it is on the riverwalk near the Brisbane CBD, a state-of-the-art structure which is used by over 3,000 people daily for fun, fitness or simply getting from A to B. Whether you are a visitor or grew up here, there is plenty to see and do along the way.
While the riverwalk officially starts at the end of Boundary Street under the Story Bridge, the most popular place to access it is via the city. If you want to do this walk like a local, start with a coffee or something to eat at one of the restaurants or cafes overlooking the Brisbane River. For lunch and dinner, options include fine dining at Matt Moran’s Aria Brisbane, super-size schnitzel at the Bavarian Bier Café, classy Japanese at Sake Restaurant and Bar and Jellyfish Restaurant, a contemporary riverside restaurant specialising in Queensland’s famous seafood. See if you can find the painted flood line decorating the windows – it’s the only visible reminder of what happened in January 2011.
After you have fuelled up, it is an easy five-minute stroll to the official start of the riverwalk near the historic Howard Smith Wharves. As you walk along, look carefully at the base of the nearby cliffs and you will spy five World War II air raid shelters. From here, a wide concrete path travels alongside the water for a few hundred metres before the riverwalk heads out into the Brisbane River, offering water views in every direction. At the end of this riverside section, the walk continues along the shore towards its ultimate destination, picturesque New Farm Park. There are multiple stops along the riverwalk where you can catch a CityCat ferry back to the South Bank reach of the river or you can return the way you came and explore the botanical gardens and wooden walkways winding through mangroves along the way. After you’ve seen these areas, you can stroll across the Goodwill Bridge to South Bank Parklands. This is an especially good activity to do with kids.
Here you will find the pontoon for River City Cruises, a company with a range of tours, including a hop-on-hop-off option for exploring further afield. In front of the State Library, you can take one of the city’s most iconic excursions, a river cruise to see the native animals at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. This trip has been running for over 70 years and, even if you have seen a koala before, it’s worth it for the cruise alone.
If you feel like doing something active, you can take a Segway tour along the shoreline, go abseiling high above the river, or set off on a Brisbane River kayak tour. As you are paddling down the river, look up at the Story Bridge and you might spy bridge climbers enjoying views of the city and beyond as they traverse the sweeping span. If you want to give bridge climbing a try, the Story Bridge Adventure Climb is a good one to start with as it involves stairs rather than ladders and is not as high as the Sydney tour. From sunrise to sunset, the river and its surrounds offers a beautiful and unique glimpse of Brisbane.
Disclosure: The writer has lived in Brisbane all her life and loves the beautiful Brisbane River.