New Blog

I’ve been writing four separate blogs and now they’ve melded into one called:

Please feel free to visit for information about Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, including Best Walks, History, What’s On and great places to visit.  Everything on this site has been copied to the new site.

Sunshine Coast Walks

For the last year or so, I’ve been working on a new book of walks for the Sunshine Coast. If you’re not familiar with the area, it’s about an hour’s drive north of the city of Brisbane in Australia and extends to the resort town of Noosa and beyond.

It would be hard to find a more beautiful area for walking and exploring than the Sunshine Coast. There are golden beaches, pretty hinterland and coastal villages, rainforests and spectacular volcanic mountains. And for those, like myself and my co-author Virginia Balfour, who like to end our walk with a visit to a cafe, there seems to be an extraordinarily large number of great French patisseries and cafes along the Sunshine Coast. We always stopped in for a coffee and cake – for professional reasons of course – to check walking path notes, maps and photos!

The book is at the printers at the moment and should be in book shops by the end of November 2010, certainly in time for Christmas. You can order from bookshops now – they’ll just need the title and authors’ name: “Best Village and Coastal Walks of the Sunshine Coast” by Dianne McLay & Virginia Balfour. If you’re not in Australia, it’s possible to order directly from the publisher Woodslane and they’ll ship overseas.

Best Village & Coastal Walks of the Sunshine Coast

Spring in Brisbane

I love this time of year in Brisbane. It’s just warm enough for swimming, but still a pleasant temperature for taking a walk along Brisbane’s many beautiful walking tracks. Spring flowers are starting to bloom and you’ll see frangipani flowers beginning to unfurl. 

Frangipani Flower Brisbane

One of my favourite Brisbane trees is the Mulberry because of its delicious fruit. You might see them leaning over fences, on spare allotments once occupied by old houses, or sometimes growing wild. The fruit is ripe when it’s a deep purple colour, almost black. Beware though, they do stain. If your fingers become stained with Mulberry juice, pick an unripe fruit (very pale red colour) and rub it on the stain. My backyard tree has been giving us fruit for a few weeks now, enough to make a yummy mulberry pie.


Wynnum to Manly Foreshore Walk

Manly Boat Harbour

With school holidays coming up, it’s always a good idea to have a few interesting walks planned, to get rid of all of that excess energy!

One of our favourites is the foreshore walk between Wynnum and Manly. It’s about 4.5km one way with a smooth path suitable for strollers and scooters. There are plenty of playgrounds on the way along with picnic shelters.

At the Wynnum end, the shady playground near the Wynnum Jetty is great for kids of all ages and there are cafes and takeaways opposite. It might still be a bit chilly, but the Wynnum wading pool is a great places to cool down if we get one of those hot mid-spring days.

Manly Playground

The Manly end of the walk has a public swimming pool, a big playground with picnic shelters and plenty of cafes along Cambridge Parade. There are also markets on Sundays. Children will enjoy a stroll out onto the William Gunn Jetty to see people trying their luck with a fishing line, and yachts coming and going from the marina. The cafe on the jetty has great views of the action.

Do you have any favourite walks for kids in Brisbane?

Gateway Bridge Walking Path

I received a question from keen Brisbane walker, Alayne, who asked about access to the walking path over the new Gateway Bridge (officially named the Sir Leo Hielscher Bridge).

Alayne, access from the south side of the bridge is from Lytton Road.  There is space for parking on the shoulder of Lytton Road on the east side of the bridge. At the moment, it looks like a bit of a construction site with the Lytton Road off ramp still being finished.  However, don’t be put off by the construction because there is pedestrian access beside the barriers. 

On the north side, parking is on Lavarack Avenue with access to the pedestrian path between Harvey Street North and French Street.

Late in 2010, new parkland with car parking, will open up under the south side of the bridge, and this will link up with the pedestrian pathway over the bridge. So this will be the best place to start a walk over the new Gateway Bridge. I’ll write up a walk description and map once it’s all completed.

In the meantime, below is a map which comes from an information sheet produced by the Gateway Upgrade Project information office. You can download a more printer-friendly information sheet with the map (on page 2 of the PDF) from their website.

By the way, the people who work in the Community Relations Team for the bridge upgrade (freecall 1800 700 525) are really friendly and helpful if you have any questions about walking or cycling access.

I’m a bit embarrassed to say that I have yet to walk the full length of the bridge (I only got 200 metres onto the bridge on the crowded open day). I’ve been busy writing my next walking guide book which is for the Sunshine Coast. So if anyone would like to give the bridge a ‘walking review’ please use the comments section or email me: editor (at)

Gateway Bridge Walking Path

Mt Coot-tha Walk

Mt Coot-tha Simpson Falls

Welcome to guest blogger Julie……..  On a cloudy and (dare I say it, coming from Melbourne!) wintry day in Brisbane, am up visiting friends over the school holidays, one of whom is Dianne McLay, the author of Brisbane’s Best Bush, Bay and City Walks.  Di and I have walked together over more years than we care to remember, in many countries and in all sorts of weather.  So a wander around one of her walks with all our kids in tow seemed a good way to burn some energy and warm up. 

We headed for one of her family’s favourite walks, the Mt Coot-tha – Simpson Falls circuit, which starts from the Grey Gum car park along the main Mt Coot-tha ridge.  This walk has a bit of everything – views, ups and downs along interesting paths, wildflowers, gullies, creeks and a strategically placed rock-strewn waterfall about two-thirds of the way along for a great rest and refreshment stop. 

It’s a wonderful feeling to be so close to the city yet truly feel like you are miles away in the bush.  After a fun, scrambly detour to explore the mostly dry, but beautiful water course below the waterfall, we headed back to the Summit for that panoramic view across the city as the sun was setting.  What a fantastic day!

Brisbane City Laneways

Burnett Lane

Melbourne is known for its inner city laneways and alleys. I love exploring the quirky shops and cosy cafes and bars you find in these secret side streets.

Until recently, some of Brisbane’s alleys and lanes have been neglected spaces – often a bit dirty and scary. But they’re going through a renaissance at the moment. During June, the Inhabit Fiesta (10 – 27 June 2010) has seen Brisbane’s CBD lanes transformed into performance and art spaces.

I took a walk around the city on the weekend and was surprised to see Burnett Lane, which runs behind the Queen Street Mall (walk in from Albert or George St), is in the middle of a face-lift. It’s all cleaned up and artworks and lighting are being installed. In the photo (left) you can see that even the road surface has been decorated.

I’m looking forward to taking a stroll through all of Brisbane’s refurbished laneways.

Do you have a favourite laneway or street that you like to stroll on in Brisbane?

New Gateway Bridge

Gateway Bridge Open Day

We joined an estimated 170,000 people to create the first traffic jam on the new Gateway Bridge on Sunday 16 May 2010.  We had intended to walk right across, but arrived just as the official opening ceremony started, which resulted in everyone stopping.  We decided to retreat and grab a coffee from one of the market stalls to wait for the foot traffic jam to clear.     

 Alas, after drinking our coffees, and then a plate of yummy Dutch pancakes, the crowd was still at a standstill.  We decided that in years to come, we could say we were amongst the first to walk on the bridge, even if it was only 200 metres of it.     

 But, if you weren’t there for the official opening, you’ll still be able to walk across the bridge, without the foot traffic jams, on the dedicated pedestrian and cycle path way.      

 Once they’ve joined all of the walking paths up on both sides of the river, I’ll write a walk description with distances, points of interest, public transport, parking and photos then post it all on this site. Eventually, it will be written up in Brisbane’s Best Bush, Bay and City Walks when a new edition is printed, but you’ll see it here first.     

 A few facts about the bridge:      

Gateway Bridge construction

 The first Gateway Bridge, which is mirrored by the new bridge, was opened 24 years ago on 11 January 1986. The bridge had to been constructed to allow shipping traffic underneath, yet be under 80 metres above sea level because of air traffic requirements.   

The Gateway Bridges, both of them, have been officially re-named after Sir Leo Hielscher, a public servant, who noted that he would still have to pay the toll when he crosses the bridges.     

For a live view of the traffic on the bridge, take a look at the webcam images on OurBrisbane.   

The new bridge, which will carry six lanes of southbound traffic, is 27 metres wide and 64.5 metres above river level with its main span being 260 metres long. The pedestrian and cycle way, built on the eastern side, is 4.25 metres wide and has four rest areas.  I’m looking forward to seeing the views over Moreton Bay.  

157,000 tonnes of concrete and 11,600 tonnes of steel were used in its construction and it’s designed to last for 300 years.

Walk from Regatta Hotel to City

I recently re-walked the Toowong (Regatta Hotel) to City route from my book, Brisbane’s Best Bush, Bay and City Walks.  There have been a few changes along the path including two new bridges and improvements to the riverside pathway. 

Walk - Toowong to City

 The first change I noticed was about one kilometre from the Regatta Ferry Terminal.  Oxley’s Restaurant which sits on poles over the water, has added a floating pontoon with tables sheltering under umbrellas.  I sat at a table right near the edge and it felt a little like being on a boat.  On a warm autumn afternoon with cooling river breezes, it’s very pleasant. I had a coffee  ($4) and bread with dips ($4).  If you prefer to travel by water, you can tie your boat or jet ski to the pontoon while you dine. 

Be warned, the pontoon does move, especially after a CityCat river ferry zooms past. The waiter told me that for those who prefer a more stable table, you can sit upstairs in the restaurant where the floor doesn’t move at all. 

The pathway has been upgraded and along the way there are shady shelters and drinking fountains. On one section, separate tracks for pedestrians and cyclists have been marked and it would be much safer if there was enough space for all paths to be like this. 

The Go-Between bridge (named after a popular Brisbane band) will be finished later in 2010 and will carry road traffic as well as cyclist and pedestrians.  

Path under Kurilpa Bridge

 The Kurilpa Bridge has already received a number of nicknames including the chopsticks, knitting needle and spiderweb bridge. Personally, it reminds me of ships’ masts. More about the Kurilpa Bridge and its solar panels and LED light display in the next blog entry. 

The walk from Toowong to the city is still as beautiful as ever, especially in the late afternoon when golden sunlight reflects off the bridges and city buildings. 

There’s plenty of wildlife to look at and this Eastern Water Dragon (pictured) relaxing in a mangrove tree didn’t seem at all bothered by all of the humans passing by. 

Eastern Water Dragon beside Brisbane River

To do this walk, start at the Regatta Ferry Terminal and follow the riverside path right into the city. After walking under the Kurilpa Bridge and the Riverside Expressway, you’ll reach North Quay Ferry Terminal where you can take a CityCat back to your starting point, or climb up to street level to explore the city. It’s about 3.5 kilometres of easy, flat walking.

Snakes in Brisbane

Brisbane Tree Snake

  I was reaching out to open the lid on my compost bin this morning and my hand stopped just 30 cm from this snake.  After leaping back about two metres I realised that with all the rain we’ve had, this snake was probably trying to warm up and a black plastic lid was the ideal place.  

I was able to grab my camera, with a long lens, so I could keep at a distance.  I know very little about snake behaviour, but this snake seemed to take a leisurely yawn, which I was able to photograph. Of course it could have been giving me a warning signal that it was about to attack so I moved well away.  

Brisbane Tree Snake Yawning

I’m pretty sure, after consulting the Queensland Museum’s excellent book Wildlife of Greater Brisbane, that this is a common tree snake which is not venomous, but as snakes can be very difficult to identify, it’s best to assume any snake you see is dangerous. Even if they are non-venomous, sharp teeth can give you a nasty bite.  

So if you’re taking a walk in Brisbane, remember there are snakes around, so stick to the track, make lots of noise (to give snakes a chance to move away before you get near them) and don’t let children run ahead. Most people who are bitten have tried to attack or touch the snake. The Queensland Museum has some good advice and reassurance and a link to first aid for bites. 

I think it’s wonderful that wildlife can survive in an urban environment, but I might put the scraps in my other compost bin, which is in a more open area, and open the lid with a long stick for a while.

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