An Expanded Lagoon, a Rainforest Treetop Walk, No More Piazza: They're All Part of the Plan for South Bank

This inner-city precinct has been welcoming in Brisbanites for more than three decades — and this is how the 42-hectare space is set to evolve.
Sarah Ward
Published on May 17, 2024

If you have firm thoughts on South Bank's place and purpose in Brisbane, then you might've shared them with the Queensland Government back in 2022. That's when news of the precinct's upcoming revamp was revealed, complete with a draft proposal outlining how the 42-hectare patch of the River City's inner city could change — and it was also when the public was asked to comment on those ideas. More than 25,000 pieces of feedback were received.

Two years later, the new South Bank Master Plan has been unveiled. The riverside stretch has been part of Brissie since 1992, but it is about to look significantly different. With the location notching up more than three decades since it was turned into public parklands after Expo 88, the new plan focuses on how it can evolve for the people of Brisbane over the coming years.

Accordingly, a trip to South Bank in the future will involve hopping along a treetop walk, strolling along wider footpaths, shopping at a permanent handmade goods market and taking a longer promenade to Kangaroo Point. Many of these additions and expansions were in the blueprint initially, alongside refreshing Little Stanley Street's dining options, adding a beach plaza and enhancing the Queensland Performing Arts Centre cultural forecourt.

A key part of the overall concept, as announced by Queensland Minister for State Development and Infrastructure, Minister for Industrial Relations and Minister for Racing Grace Grace, is to focus on South Bank's southern and northern gateways — so where the Maritime Museum currently sits, and also the BRISBANE sign — plus Grey Street. One big aim: to make Grey Street "one of the world's most-recognisable subtropical people-centric streets".

Here's what's definitely staying the same: the arbor, the BRISBANE sign, the existing heritage buildings, the rainforest, the Rainforest Green, the Riverside Green and the River Quay lawn. But the plans from there are hefty, ranging from relocating the Epicurious Garden to Little Stanley Street and adding a busy tucker trail, through to removing the piazza and also Flowstate, and expanding the lagoon.

More riverside lawns, including one that peers over the beach and the city, and more riverside eateries are also on the list. Throw in temporary river stages, a potential water taxi from the Cultural Centre, more outdoor dining, laneways, a digital water wall, an island archipelago in the water play zone, an elevated lookout and a reflecting pool, and that's still only part of what's in store.

"We know that people want more greenery and shade, enhanced connections to surrounding areas like the CBD, Kangaroo Point Cliffs and Gabba, and more active transport opportunities — this plan delivers that and more," said Grace.

"South Bank is a lasting legacy of Expo 88 and its Master Plan envisions how South Bank can help create our next big legacy, including from the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games. We want to ensure the legacy of these investments is felt for residents and visitors for decades to come."

Susan Forrester AM, Chair South Bank Corporation, called the plan "a testament to the collective efforts of the community, who provided invaluable feedback and insights throughout the planning process and played a crucial role in shaping the future of South Bank.

"With 89 percent of respondents expressing support for the plan's vision, we are prioritising increased greening of the precinct, improved accessibility and travel connectivity improvements. We have a unique opportunity to reimagine South Bank and create an incredible legacy for future generations."

Given that this is a long-term blueprint, exactly what will be in place when — including ahead of the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games — hasn't been finalised. But Brisbane's Olympics transformation was never going to forget South Bank, which is also set to welcome QPAC's fifth theatre, the Neville Bonner Bridge connecting to the Queen's Wharf precinct, and the new Kangaroo Point green bridge with an overwater bar and restaurant.

For more information about South Bank's revamp, head to the South Bank Master Plan website.

Published on May 17, 2024 by Sarah Ward
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