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.

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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.

Brisbane Weather

Brisbane Lightning

Brisbane’s sub-tropical climate makes it a great place for walking all year round. Winter is the best time to visit the bush areas that are right on the city’s doorstep. In summer, Brisbane’s weather can change very quickly.  One moment it can be scorching hot and dry, then minutes later a tropical storm will hit with heavy downfalls, a welcome drop in temperature and the wonderful smell of rain.

If you’re planning a walk in Brisbane, particularly in bush areas or exposed coastal tracks, it’s a good idea to check the weather forecast before you go.  Storms can produce lightning, hail and strong winds. Be particularly careful in dry creek beds or beside waterways which can experience flash flooding. Here’s where to look for the latest on the weather in Brisbane:

Australian Bureau of Meteorology has Brisbane weather forecasts, radar images showing rainfall and wind, current conditions and severe weather warnings. There are also tips on what to do in a thunderstorm if you’re caught outdoors.

Our Brisbane has forecasts, warnings, sunrise and sunset times and tide times.

Weatherzone is a comprehensive site which also provides wind direction and speed, a UV light index and monthly weather stats.

If storms are expected, you can always take a walk in the CBD and explore the city’s historic buildings and quirky public artworks.  If a storm hits, pop into a riverside cafe and enjoy nature’s show from a safe vantage point.

Evening Walks

 

City Lights from South Bank

During the steamy Brisbane summer, it can be just too hot to walk during the day. If you’re an early bird, a walk just as the sun is rising is a great way beat the heat.  At this time of year, the sun rises at around 5:30am.  See the current sunrise time at Our Brisbane

Being more of an owl than an early bird, I love a stroll after dinner and one of my favourite walks is along the river at South Bank. It’s a popular spot and you’ll find lots of other people talking a walk. The lights of Brisbane’s CBD create colourful patterns on the river. South Bank also has free, lagoon style swimming pools along with a sandy beach and these are open right through the evening.  For an after-walk treat, there are plenty of cafes and restaurants nearby.

Gallery of Modern Art

  

Eastern Water Dragon - Gallery of Modern Art

After a walk along the river at South Bank, we stopped for a rest at the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA). We found this Eastern Water Dragon just near the gallery’s River Cafe.  Males have a red belly and we thought he was as beautiful as the art inside. 

If you happen to be taking a walk along the south side of the Brisbane River, GoMA’s current exhibition, the 6th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art is a great place for a break (and the air-conditioning is welcome on these hot days).  Admission is free and there’s something to interest everyone. Children are particularly well catered for with lots of hands-on activities. Don’t miss the ‘string room’ which is a unique, walk-through experience. Remember your email address because you can create artworks on touch screens and email them to yourself.

Kangaroo Point Walk

The riverside path at Kangaroo Point is a great spot for an easy walk for all ages. Most of the time the track is pretty smooth so it’s suitable for strollers and scooters.

There are views across the river to the city, and at the Kangaroo Point cliffs you might see climbers scaling the rock face. Keep an eye on the river for kayakers who’ve probably hired their boats from the Riverlife Centre not far from the cliffs.

Captain John Burke Park

Captain John Burke Park

At Captain John Burke park, right under the Story Bridge, there are picnic tables and a play ground. It’s a good spot to stop and enjoy the city views and CityCat ferries gliding along the river. The green-domed roof across the river belongs to historic Customs House. Look out for steps that drop down from the park to a little sandy beach. The path continues right under Story Bridge and you might see climbers doing the Story Bridge Adventure Climb.

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