Monday, February 3, 2014

South Bank, Grand Arbour, Wheel of Brisbane, Goodwill and Victoria Bridges

I love a good leisurely walk, and this is what you'll get when you're visiting Brisbane's South Bank described as the city's "cultural, educational and recreational precinct". The stretch is analogous to London's similarly named South Bank, the promenade beside the Thames which has the National Theatre and several cinema halls hosting films outside mainstream. But comparison stops there: Brisbane's is more scenic and welcoming... not to mention "warmer".

The parklands came into being during the World Expo of 1988, a singular event that helped move and change the city into what it is now. It has several sections that offer different experiences from its 11 million annual visitors. In this post, we're featuring the Grand Arbour (aka Arbour Walk), the Wheel of Brisbane, and the bridges that take us to and away from the South Bank.

Goodwill Bridge is unique because it looks like 2 different bridges connected to each other, spanning Gardens Point of QUT (at the CBD area) and the South Bank. These two parts are the pavilion and the arch. While the city approach is predicated by a geometric style, the other half has curves and arches. At particular spots, there are benches (which the Aussie's call "seating bays") and waiting sheds so people could just sit, contemplate, and relax while observing the riverine activities below. What's more important, Goodwill Bridge is a pedestrian, cyclist and skater's bridge. No motorized vehicles are allowed here.

Goodwill Bridge got its name from a public contest that eventually picked the most popular choice. It spans 1,480 feet (450 meters) with a 37-to-42 feet clearance from the river below. It took 3 months to construct to the tune of $20 million. It was opened on the 21st of October in 2001, and the modern design is quite distinct. Most tourists take this bridge to get to the South Bank.

Meanwhile, the modern-day Victoria Bridge is a vehicular, cyclist and pedestrian bridge which opened in 1969. It is made of concrete and spans 1,027 feet (313 meters). It is a busy bridge where you're prone to leave as fast as you could, unlike Goodwill Bridge. Originally named Brisbane Bridge, its historical past, dating back to 1861, is fraught with financial difficulties that, at one point, construction had to halt and eventually succumbed to marine wood worm - and collapsed. The modern bridge cost $3.2 million to construct.

Seating bay

The arch portion of Goodwill Bridge

The promenade from the South Bank provides some of the best views of Brisbane. I've said this before, and I'll say this again, if there's a single place to visit in Brisbane, it would be the South Bank. It has a Maritime Museum, a lighthouse, Streets Beach, Dinosaur Garden at the Queensland Museum, the Cinemas at Grey Street, Brisbane Exhibition and Convention Centre, Queensland Art Gallery, State Library, Science Centre, Performing Arts Centre, and a smattering of art works and sculptures scattered all over the district, essentially making the place an outdoors museum. Some of these artful displays are posted here.

A lovely part is the Grand Arbour (aka Arbour Walk). If you're not familiar with the term (I had to double check), "arbour" refers to a "leafy glade shaded by trees, shrubs, vines, etc. insinuating on trellis" which is the perfect description for this walkway shaded by pink-colored bougainvilleas. Along this path are shops and restaurants where I had to eventually buy lunch at Deck's Seafood Express - fish and chips at $7.50 (PhP300), plus $4 (PhP180, imagine that!) for a can of Coke. Some endemic, if a bit pesky avian creatures are found at the pond lining the shops.


Like many installations in Brissie, the Wheel of Brisbane came about during the World Expo of 88. This transportable Ferris wheel (a Bussink R60) stands 197 feet (60 meters) tall. As much as it helped transform the skyline, this leisure attraction doesn't seem to have much business going on. In fact, its two previous operators incurred huge debts and had to fold (World Tourist Attractions collapsed and owed 16.4 million British pounds in 2010; Great City Attractions collapsed in 2012 and owed 6 million pounds). People never seem to patronize it as much as we thought. Look what happened to the Wheel of Surfer's Paradise in the Gold Coast? Here in Brisbane, it's business as usual once again - for now. Adults pay $15, children pay $10, and there's a VIP cabin at $110 for a maximum of 4 persons. There's a family rate of $42 for 2 adults and 2 children. Each of the 42 air-conditioned capsules can seat up to six adults and two children providing a total passenger capacity of 336. The ride lasts for approximately 12 minutes and provides 360° views across the city.

If you have a day or two in the area, you'd find a lot in this charming city. 

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Grand Arbour

Check out those pesky endemic birds. they sometimes get bothersome when you're having your meal in one of those shaded stalls.

Fish and Chips from Deck's Seafood Express at $7.50

This statue came about when Lady Flo, the wife of then-Premier Sir John Bjelke-Petersen, commented at the inauguration of the new AMP Building that the structures "looked like a bronzed Aussieand his Blue Heeler dog". See what inspires artists to sculpt? 

The statue of Confucius (Qiu Zhong Ni) was donated to Brsibane by the Ji' Nan Municipal Government of Shandong Province, China on Queensland's 150th foundation festivities (December 22, 2009).   

Formal Gardens has this pond and nothing else. :)

"Memory Boxes and Suitcases" is a homage to the immigrants of Brisbane and convey "the stories, memories, hopes and dreams of the three refugee students who have undertaken remarkable journeys to become valued members of the community." This is an example of art promoting multi-culturalism in the parklands - and, obviously, all over Australia.

The Wheel of Brisbane

$15 for a 12-minute ride. No reservations required.

South Bank Cenotaph near Victoria Bridge.

Victoria Bridge

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