Friday, October 8, 2010

South Bank

South Bank in the heart of Brisbane is full of wonderful things to experience. There are shops and restaurants in the area, but with kids we head to the water. Providing awesome free entertainment, there's a great water play park and Australia's only beach in the middle of a city. The water is also channeled towards the play park in a man-made river complete with stones, which are great for building dams!
The area overlooks the Brisbane River so the setting is great. There are also wonderful areas to picnic as well as BBQ facilities and children's playgrounds.
Parking can be expensive, but if you park at the nearby library, museum or performing arts centre parking areas, it's $14 for the day. Street parking is limited. The South Bank train stop is conveniently located for access to the water park.

Interestingly, South Bank was originally the business heart of Brisbane, but following floods in 1893, the central business district was relocated to higher ground on the north side of the river. By 1930, South Bank had established itself as a busy river port and industrial zone with markets, wharves, dance halls and theatres.
The area declined and there was even little impact when the Queensland government decided to build the Performing Arts Centre there in 1977. The area was near-derelict when South Bank was selected in 1984 as the site for the World Expo '88. It consisted of a couple of old hotels and a few industrial buildings.
The Expo was the prime catalyst for the resurrection of South Bank and by the time the Expo came to an end, over 18 million people had visited South Bank.

Ipswich Workshops Rail Museum

Outings to the Workshops Rail Museum in Ipswich have always been a great hit with our family. Our first visit was to see Thomas the Tank Engine, who has recently been at the museum just after Christmas for about a month.
There are a range of themes during the school holidays. We've been to The Great Train Robbery, the model train display, which includes a visit by Bob the Builder, The Toyland Express, The Circus Train, as well as Easter and Christmas events.
The annual pass is great value for money as it costs the equivalent of two visits to the Museum, and gives you free entry for the year, as well as a discount at the restaurant and shop. The first time we went we upgraded to the annual pass after paying our entry fee and being there for part of the day. And by the end of that summer holiday we had returned again.
Slade and Kai have enjoyed every event that they've been to, and are really excited to hear about what's coming up next.
At each event there are a range of activities, most of which are included in the entry fee. These have included games to play, or creative activities, involving colouring in, cutting out, sticking and stapling and shows.
At some events the kids have played with toy train sets and lego trains. There was an animal petting experience at the Easter event and there are regular mini train rides and a jumping castle. The little train ride and on occasion the jumping castle are paid activities ($3 each), as was the making of a wooden train ($6.50 when we visited). During the circus experience there was ring and bean bag tossing, balancing beams and mini stilts.
In addition to the activities that are specifically related to the event, there are general activities and exhibits. There is also a Behind the Scenes tour of the working workshops. This is a 30 minute tour into the real working workshops. You get to see Queensland Railway's Heritage Rollingstock Maintenance and what is being work on at the time of your visit. There is also an opportunity to do into the Blacksmith Shop.
We've eaten at the restaurant once, but mostly just take our own picnic. There are a few tables and marquees for people to have picnics, and I've also read that you can order picnics from the restaurant.
The museum is also involved in organising steam train rides. There is a discount on these rides for annual pass members.

The very first train to run in Queensland steamed from the site of the Workshops to Bigges Camp, now Grandchester, over 140 years ago. For decades the site was the centre of rail construction, maintenance and technology for Queensland's burgeoning rail industry. Over 200 steam locomotives were constructed there.
The Workshops were at their peak during World War II and was the largest State employer at the time with over 3,000 people working on the site.
In addition to being a museum, The Workshops Rail Museum is also the oldest continually operating railway workshops in Australia.