The smell of incense and scented candles gently tickles my nose. Lemongrass, lavender and lime – a heady mixture conjuring thoughts of exotic locations and serene moments.
High above, the sun is shining, the sky blue. Chirping birds perched in the rich-green canopy of trees, and the steady hum of shoppers enjoying the first day of spring, create a blissful soundtrack. I’m strolling through the Young Designers Market (YDM), which takes over South Bank’s popular foodie hub, Little Stanley Street, on the first Sunday of each month to showcase some of Brisbane’s best up-and-coming designers.
A wall of quirky and colourful prints captures my attention. They are the works of Fox and Doll Baby’s De Shan – just one of the talented artists on show. The YDM is a visual feast of interesting characters, handcrafted jewellery and original art, and its vibe spills into the adjacent Stanley Street where the white tent stalls of the Collective Markets span the plaza.
These stallholders are South Bank regulars and take over the thriving centre each Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
From shopping to dining, there is so much to uncover at the popular parklands precinct and spring is the ideal time to make the drive south from the Sunshine Coast.
We base ourselves at the Mantra South Bank due to its central location and stylish rooms, many which offer views across to the river and city beyond. There is nothing quite like sitting on a balcony, champagne in hand, and taking in the bright city lights after a busy day of exploring.
And this is exactly what we plan to do on this weekend getaway – immerse ourselves in the many experiences on offer.
Mere metres from the glass doors of the Mantra building, we discover dozens of alfresco-style eateries and bars to enjoy long, relaxed lunches. The hotel also provides a gateway to Brisbane’s Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Queensland Museum, Maritime Museum and the green expanse of the parklands complete with beach-style lagoon.
It is the museum’s SparkLab that takes our fancy on this Sunday afternoon and we meander along the bougainvillea-lined walkway, taking in the beautiful sights and sunshine, towards our destination. We easily spend a couple of hours in the interactive science centre, my husband and I enjoying the experience as much as our five-year-old son. It is the ideal combination of learning and fun, and an affordable outing.
Exiting into the sunshine, we consider our options for the remainder of the day – swimming, a river cruise, picnic in the park or settling into one of the waterfront restaurants. With so much to do, a visit to South Bank will not disappoint.
If you go
STAYING THERE: Located on the Brisbane River, Mantra South Bank boasts water and city views, plus all the mod-cons you would expect including a bar, heated lap pool and spa, gym and secure parking. The hotel offers stylish hotel rooms, studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments. We opted for the one-bedroom city-view apartment, which sleeps three people and offers stunning views from the private balcony. South Bank’s alfresco cafes and bars are also located a short one-minute walk from the hotel. The stay and save package, valid until March 31, 2020, is a great way to experience all that the hotel and Brisbane has on offer – stay five nights or more and save up to 20 per cent.
PLAYING THERE: Located in the Queensland Museum, SparkLab is an interactive science, technology, engineering and maths space that the kids will love. With more than 40 exhibits, it will bring out the inner scientist in just about anyone. Admission is $15.50 for adults and $12.50 for children aged five to 15. Tip: SparkLab has timed entry and it’s best to pre-purchase your tickets online. Visit sparklab.qm.gov.au.
The Queensland Maritime Museum is staffed by a group of volunteers who live and breathe maritime history. Boat lovers will enjoy exploring the collection of vessels, marine engines and nautical equipment. Entry is $16 for adults and $7 for children. Visit maritimemuseum.com.au.
Streets Beach is a must during the warmer months. As Australia’s only inner-city man-made beach, it features a lagoon surrounded by white sand. The kids will also love the interactive water-play park, Aquativity.
EATING THERE: With dozens of stylish eateries scattered through South Bank, it can be difficult to narrow the choices down. Here are some of our favourites.
Italian foodie favourite Salt Meats Cheese is located at Mantra South Bank and offers alfresco dining. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and dishes up authentic Italian fare in beautiful, modern surrounds. There is also a stylish bar.
Tip: try the crab tagliolini – delish!
Sunshine Coast Asian street-food fave Junk has established itself along the popular Little Stanley Street and serves up a blend of Thai, Japanese and Korean flavours in a casual indoor/outdoor setting.
Stokehouse Q boasts unparalleled river views and contemporary fare. It’s located on Sidon Street.
For more visit visitsouthbank.com.au.