Nine Waterside Picnic Spots In and Around Brisbane That You Might Not Have Visited
Fill a basket with tasty treats and head to a hidden beach, suburban lagoon or scenic lake.
There are many ways to make the most of Brisbane's all-year-round sunshine, whether you're keen on going for a stroll with a scenic view, hitting the pedals or finding a refreshing swimming spot. One activity stands out, though, perhaps because you can do it at so many places around town — including before or after you take that walk, bike ride or splash.
We're talking about picnics, of course. And, in most cases, picnics with a watery view. Brisbane boasts many a patch of greenery adjacent to the river, including big hitters such as New Farm Park, the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens, Howard Smith Wharves and South Bank. If you're after a bite to eat by the coastline, you can head to the Wynnum-Manly foreshore and the Sandgate and Shorncliffe region, too. But if you've whiled away more than one afternoon at all of the obvious places — as every Brisbanite has — this city also features plenty of other great waterside picnic spots that you might not have visited.
SIR JOHN CHANDLER PARK
If you don't live nearby, it takes a little time to get to Sir John Chandler Park, even though it's just in Indooroopilly. As a suburb, Indro sprawls along the river, as do its roads — so you'll find yourself enjoying a suburban drive past the golf course before your picnic. Perhaps that's why this park is rarely crowded. It's tucked out of the way and, when you're there, it feels that way. As a result, it also feels particularly cruisy and laidback, which exactly the right atmosphere for a park overflowing with grass, boasting picnic tables and barbecues, and also right next to the river. If you like looking at rather expensive houses, you'll also spy a few across the water.
COLMSLIE BEACH RESERVE
Brisbanites, you don't need to head up or down the coast to enjoy a picnic on a beach. This city of ours is home to its own sandy spot, but it's hidden. Don't worry, you won't have to trek too far to find it, because it's actually less than ten kilometres out of the CBD. Head to the secret idyll that is the Colmslie Reserve, and you'll come across a tiny riverside beach — yes, sand and all — as well as tree-lined paths and a boardwalk that catches the cool water breeze. This southside oasis is a great place for a peaceful interlude and a lazy day in the Brissie sun. And if you fancy going fishing while you're there, don't forget to bring your rods.
WILSON OUTLOOK RESERVE
When the Howard Smith Wharves precinct opened in 2018, it gifted Brisbane one helluva picturesque inner-city riverside picnic spot. That said, it also stole a little of Wilson Outlook Reserve's thunder. Perched atop the cliffs next to HSW, this scenic space has been welcoming locals for years — but it's not so well-known that it's always jam-packed. Here, you'll take in the eye-popping vantage, which includes the Story Bridge and the CBD, while kicking back beneath jacarandas in New Farm. Fancy an evening picnic? Wilson Outlook serves up quite the sight when sunset rolls around. Just remember, unlike HSW below, you'll want to bring your food with you.
Beaches are great. Rivers, too. But there's just something extra special about lazing around by a lake. There's a peacefulness that emanates, and it's very much present at Lake Samsonvale in the Moreton Bay region. Thanks to the lake's dam, aka North Pine Dam, it's also a source of Brissie's drinking water. If you're fond of a nice walk, it's surrounded by tracks as well. But, if it's picnicking you're after — and you're reading this list, so you clearly are — then get cosy at Bullocky Rest. Just be prepared to have company, including of the tiny human kind thanks to the onsite play equipment.
ROCKS RIVERSIDE PARK
Before making the most of its riverside location, this spot in Seventeen Mile Rocks, in the city's west, was home to a cement and lime quarry. So, when you're wandering around, expect to see more than a few remnants of the site's industrial past. Expect plenty of trees and bushland as well, and a plethora of perfect places for picnicking with water views. The park's Great Lawn spans around 8000 square metres, so green is clearly the hue here. Also onsite: a market garden, pathways for that after-lunch stroll, a half-size basketball court and heaps of kids' play equipment — making it an ideal spot if someone in your crew has littlies in tow.
PORTER'S PADDOCK PARK
Located on Brisbane's eastside, Minnippi Parklands is comprised of several smaller parks throughout Tingalpa, Cannon Hill, Carina and Carindale. Only one of them boasts a lagoon, however, which instantly shoots Porter's Paddock Park to the top of the must-visit list. When you're not eating your way through your picnic basket, you can walk across the boardwalk, peer into the water, and look at both the birds and the plant life. That's a particularly relaxing way to digest all those cheese slices, crackers and sandwiches — or whatever other picnic feast you feel like bringing along.
This heritage-listed gem to the CBD's west has been welcoming the public and its picnics for nearly a century. Here, you'll sit under leafy trees — more than a thousand, in fact — while looking out over your choice of man-made freshwater wetlands or the Brisbane River. Whichever you choose, you're in for both a green and glistening sight — although the plant life is as much of a drawcard as the proximity to water. As the name makes plain, Sherwood Arboretum is all about amassing different species of trees (or collecting them, in a sense), so make time during your picnic to go for a wander.
BULIMBA RIVERSIDE PARK
It isn't the lengthiest walking track in Brisbane, but the paved path along the Bulimba stretch of the river is one of the nicest places to put one foot after the other while soaking in both the river breeze and the Brissie sun. Naturally, there's a park nearby — and while it's never empty thanks to the fact that it's surrounded by houses, it's still a mighty fine picnic spot. Peering out over the water to Newstead, Bulimba Riverside Park is also a great place for impromptu picnics given that Oxford Street and its shops and cafes are so close by. Stock up, walk down to the river and get munching. It's also just a quick stroll from the CityCat terminal.
There are beaches, and there are beaches. Yes, you can claim a sandy riverside spot as a beach (see: Colmslie Beach Reserve above), and that's all well and good. But if you want to picnic at a beach where you can actually go for a swim, then Bribie Island's Bongaree Beach is worth a visit. It features parklands on one side and water on the other, so you can pick between grassy and sandy sitting spots. You can also choose just to go for a dip in shallow water, or to hire a kayak or paddleboard. And, you can do the very Brisbane thing of saying you're heading away to an island, even though it's connected to the mainland by a bridge.
Top image: Brisbane City Council via Flickr
Published on June 04, 2021 by Sarah Ward