One of my favourite ways to explore a new city is by bike, because I can take as much time as I like, and stop wherever something catches my eye.
Brisbane is a great city for cycling because the city centre is ringed with bike paths, and the bike hire scheme is pretty good for visitors too.
Bike Hire Day Pass
In preparation for the Brisbane trip, my first stop is the CityCycle website where I register for a day pass on the system.
A day pass on CityCycle costs $2.00 and like many European cities the first 30 minutes of hire is free. If you’d prefer not to pay usage fees, there is no penalty for checking a bike back in before the 30 minutes has expired and then check it out again straight away.
The online subscription requires a credit card, and sends an email with an account number I can use to check out a bike. We do this for each member of our team, and at $2 per person it’s pretty good value.
Many of the inner train stations have CityCycle stations nearby, including the Roma Street, Central Station and South Bank. If you’re staying close to the city then chances are there are CityCycle stations nearby, but since we’re a little further out we’ve decided to catch the train to Fortitude Valley to start our trip.
The Valley is most active at night, being the music and nightlife district of Brisbane. There’s a CityCycle station right outside the train station but since it’s Saturday the Valley Markets are on, so we mosey on through the mall to check out the wares and live music.
We finally start our CityCycle journey at Malt St which is a fair way past the mall, but right at the start of one of the bikeways.
Riding along the Brisbane River
From here’s we have the option to continue down to the boardwalk, or cross the Storey Bridge for a better view of the city. We decided to skip the bridge today, but it’s worth checking out for the views.
We head down to the boardwalk, which runs all the way along the river until the botanic gardens. It’s lined with apartments, restaurants, pubs and open spaces to explore. If you feel like stopping, each CityCycle comes with a bike lock so you can secure it nearby, but most of the stations are a short walk back up to the roadway if you wanted to check one back in.
After the boardwalk the bikeway runs through the botanic gardens, continuing on to the Queensland University of Technology Gardens Point campus. At this point we decide to veer left and head across the pedestrian Goodwill Bridge which leads to South Bank.
Riding through South Bank
South Bank is another of Brisbane’s cultural precincts, and is a popular destination for tourists. The precinct hosts a number of festivals and events, but is also home to restaurants, pubs, and shopping.
There’s a shared pedestrian and bike path that runs along the foreshore, but I recommend checking in your bike at the bottom of the Goodwill Bridge to give you the freedom to explore the area.
South Bank is about a kilometre to walk from one end to the other, but it’s a good spot to stop for lunch, catering every whim from take-away to fine dining. We decided to stop for fish and chips which we shared on a grassy hill overlooking the Brisbane River and city beyond.
This side of the river is also home to the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, art gallery, and museums which all host various attractions throughout the year and area a great way to get some air conditioning, but instead we checked out our CityCycles at the far end of South Bank and continued our journey along the river to West End.
West End is an inner-city suburb with a bit more Brisbane personality than the more tourist-oriented South Bank. The CityCycle network also runs throughout West End, so we had no problems checking in our bikes in order to explore the area.
West End has a big restaurant and cafe scene, but also has niche shopping for vintage clothes, books and gifts which we enjoyed.
Having explored West End up and down we found a craft beer boutique which enticed us in with the promise of cool beer and nibblies, which was a refreshing way to end our adventure.
The CityCycle network is a great way to explore a new city. You’ll need a credit card to sign up, but a day pass is a cheap way to get around.
Also make sure to take plenty of water and sunscreen as you can easily get burnt in the Australian sun, even on an overcast day.
Australian law requires you wear a helmet at all times while you ride a bicycle. There are occasionally public helmets provided at CityCycle stations, although the availability can vary so you may be caught out. You can buy a cheap helmet for under $20 from department stores like K-Mart and Big W.