Up until the 1980’s Brisbane, the capital city of Queensland was considered an overgrown country town and to a large extent it was true. Outdoor dunnies were still in use up to the 70’s and people would say that when you go to Brisbane you step back into the 1960’s!
A photograph of South Brisbane before Expo 88
Well all that changed when in 1982, the Commonwealth Games were held in Brisbane. These games saw major infrastructure established all over the city and a huge building program that included a brand new sports arena, Olympic standard swimming arena and of course improved transport for the hundreds and thousands of visitors to the city.
The Expo 88 Site at South Brisbane
It is said that Brisbane came of age after the Commonwealth Games were over, and to top it all off in 1988, celebrating Australia’s Bicentennial, Brisbane was awarded the World Fair Expo. In what was an extremely run down, industrial and forgotten river bank opposite the central business district (called South Brisbane) , architects and landscapers worked tirelessly to produce the Expo 88 site, with its many pavilions and parklands. This site was called South Bank and is now one of the major attractions for visitors and residents in Brisbane.
South Bank Parklands today
Expo saw a rebirth for Brisbane, with more facilities and venues for celebrations, and it is considered to be the start of Brisbanites embracing al fresco dining. The climate in Brisbane is very conducive to eating outdoors during the day and night and Brisbane blossomed with footpath cafes and dining areas.
After Expo had finished and most of the temporary buildings and pavilions had been dismantled, the question was posed “What will we do with the site now?” Brisbane’s residents loudly let their councillors know that they wanted it to continue to be a public space, where people could meet and relax and enjoy a day out. The concept of South Bank as it is today was born.
Apparently, it is said that the redevelopment of the Expo site in Brisbane is the most successful post Expo redevelopment anywhere in the world. South Bank now boasts a huge swimming pool with sand and lifeguards, beautifully kept gardens and picnic areas, various outdoor stages and performance venues, a rainforest walk, and pagoda and one of the world’s best Bougainvillea Arbour.
The Bougainvillea Arbour at South Bank
There is a cinema complex, together with Conference Centre and the cultural precinct that houses the Gallery of Modern Art, the State Library, Queensland Art Gallery and the Queensland Museum. The performance precinct called QPAC (Queensland Performing Arts Centre) offers live theatre, concert and play venues and of course there are many, many cafes and dining restaurants.
The fantastic swimming pool and beach at South Bank
South Bank is an easy walk from the city centre, across the Victoria Bridge, or if you wish you can take a ferry across the river or public bus.
An arial view of the swimming pool at South Bank
There are so many activities one can participate in at this fabulous area, and we are so lucky here in Brisbane to have such a wonderful venue to enjoy when we go out to play.