My Best Three Family Friendly Destinations in Brisbane
Brisbane how I love thee. I love your coffeeshops and bookshops. I love your weather and access to beaches. I love your birds, creeks and parklands. I sing the praises of your libraries and art galleries. So many, many things to love.
Right now, Kidspot are running a #shareaustralia campaign and seeing as people comment all.the.time on Instagram about how much I am out and about (potentially I could slow down I suppose), it seemed only fitting that I add my favourite family friendly local places to the #shareaustralia hashtag. Clearly I also like to find a literary suggestion for every outing: books about the sea? check!; books about the park? check!; books about art galleries? check! I even have books about a family outing to the the dentist – here.
We’ve been out and about pretty much everyday these school holidays, but the three places below have been absolute stand-outs. I have included all of the information you will need to locate these destinations and contact them where possible – all place names hyperlink for further information. We will in fact be back at some of these places next week as there is still another week of holidays – not that I am counting. At all. As a teacher, school holidays pre-children were vastly different to how they are now. Not that I’m complaining. At all. Okay maybe a teeny tiny bit.
Destination One: A Bookshop we Swoon Over
(yes they really can be family friendly, you just have to choose the right one!)
Owner Fiona Stager, has an astounding knowledge of all things literary, knows everyone who is anyone in the literary scene in Australia and runs the two coolest bookshops in town. Only at Avid Reader do you regularly spy John Birmingham and Isobelle Carmody browsing and, if Australia’s literary elite shop there, it must be good. Avid Reader is the grown up bookshop and Where the Wild Things Are is the children’s/YA version – both sitting side by side in fabulous, eclectic, hasn’t-lost-its-soul West End. May West End never, ever lose its soul.
Entering both these stores is like entering literary heaven. I could lose myself in them for hours – and often do. Fortunately the Avid Reader café has the best baked beans around and the coffee is always strong and smooth, so a break can be taken in between book browsing and buying. We often hang out at the Avid Reader café on the weekends: I pick up books for work; find one of two I need for myself; Dan AKA #backboy (he with the dodgy spine) picks up a few new fantasy reads; PudStar parks herself with a hot chocolate and doesn’t talk to anyone while she reads; and Chickpea stares people down while eating the icing only from her cupcake.
Where the Wild Things Are has a very cool table which is well-stocked with pencils (which I think is brave in a bookshop) and this weekend there was a communal colouring sheet on the wall (which I think is both brave and insane in a bookshop). ChickPea was most impressed with her colouring and told everyone as much. There is also a book treehouse to read inside, an exceptionally cool light fitting which I just noticed for the first time this weekend, and the hot pink and purple mural on the wall is some of my favourite ever bookshop wall art. Actually Pud wanted me to take a photograph inside the Avid Reader toilets as she loves the wall art in there. I declined.
Both Avid and Where the Wild Things Are have a strong focus on community building and events – I’ll be there later this week for the QLA drinks actually! All adult events are here and children’s and YA events are here. I highly recommend you sign up for the email newsletter so that you never miss out. I clearly didn’t check emails recently and I missed a Peter Carnavas pirate party and Pip Lincolne, author of Craft for the Soul.
Destination Two: A Park We Love
Wittonga Park. 98 Hilder Road, The Gap. Facilities: barbecue (wood), basketball half court, bikeway/walkway, BMX track, cricket facility (Brisbane North Jr), dog off-leash area (including dog off-leash area for small dogs), picnic area, playground, restoration site (Wittonga Park Bushcare GP), tennis rebound wall, toilet.
With it’s beautiful weather, Brisbane City Council (BCC) parks are ridiculously popular, but there is so many and they are so vast that they rarely feel overcrowded. Our local and favourite is the Rocks Riverside Park but recently we’ve been to Wittonga Park at The Gap a few times and #backboy could not be happier. He grew up at The Gap and apparently once a Gap Boy, always a Gap Boy. Our neices now live near Wittonga Park and #backboy is just loving telling them all the things he got up to in this park (I censor. This is necessary).
This weekend we had a play in the park and it was darned beautiful. There was Twister on the grass, room for ChickPea AKA The Wild Thing to run with her cousins, bike tracks, trees to climb and places to read – PudStar unpacked her handbag to reveal three books. She also disappeared up a tree to read ‘Coco Banjo is Having a Yay Day’ when the party got too much for her.
There was even football kicking. See? Reliving his youth – now with added dodgy spine.
I’m sure you all have a favourite BCC park if you’re from Brisbane – if you do not, you can search by suburb here. My favourites apart from Wittonga are Rocks Riverside Park, Frew Park and The Woods at Ashgrove and the dog park down the road – don’t know its name! You can see all the BCC parks here.
Destination Three: A Library We Visit Weekly
Corinda BCC Library. 641 Oxley Road. Corinda library runs many events for children, young adults and adults. Facilities include: after hours chute, Photocopier, Toilet, Wheelchair accessible, Wi-fi, Word processing.
Like the parks, BCC libraries are popular places to hang out – they are community hubs, staffed by librarians who know their stuff and are full of books and other resources – online and in hard copy! The ‘What’s On’ brochures put out by BCC Library Services every few months is my ‘over-breakfast’ reading and I spend far too much time circling events for the small people to go to – and they are all free! The next ‘What’s On’ will include yours truly as I’m speaking at a number of BCC libraries in August – more here on those.
Our holidays are always full of BCC library workshops – from gardening to music to makerspacing-ing to worm farming to parties and events which celebrate books and reading.
Corinda Library holds a special place in our hearts as, last year when I was finishing my Masters, I would do school drop off every Thursday, then set myself up at ‘my’ table and write and research and write some more until PudStar was dropped off by the family she walks with in the afternoons. Instagram photo below – I took one every week – always the same photo! In the afternoons, PudStar would choose some books for the week, get out her treasured library card to scan them out and all was right with the world. I only allowed myself one break on those Thursdays – to stroll to Fundies and have my brown rice ball, salad and coffee – always coffee.
Last year PudStar did the Gold Star Reading Club for the first time, got her first medal, and so of course has just signed up again for this year’s event. Oh the power of a medal. The Gold Star Reading Club is a really great activity to do with young readers and the events around the challenge are always well worth being involved in. By reading just three books of their choice each month, completing a series of activities and recording the details in their activity book, children can collect nine gold stars and monthly incentives, go int the draw to win book vouchers and attend their local awards ceremony.
‘Home’ by Narelle Oliver is THE book I buy overseas or interstate guests as a memory of Brisbane – it is set here, but could be any large city and the story in universal. Based on the true story of two peregrine falcons named Frodo and Frieda, who built a nest on a Brisbane skyscraper. So many icons are pictured in this book: The Story Bridge, CBD, Brisbane River, New Farm Park, the rowing boats from my school (yes really!). It just beautiful, and the Brisbane Square Library commissioned Narelle Oliver to design the children’s area around this book. Well worth checking out.