Insider Kyla Sippel's tips on taking on Brisbane with the kids
Kyla Sippel, General Manager of Brisbane's Mantra on the Quay, believes Brisbane has plenty to offer families of all shapes and sizes, regardless of whether you've got spare cash coming out of your ears or you're saving every cent you can. Here, she shares her insider tips to help travel groups get a unique experience in the big city.
What are the best budget-friendly attractions for families?
"There really is so much to do here," says Kyla, "and you don't need to empty your savings account to do it".
Kyla's first tip on saving money while seeing the real Brisbane starts with the Sciencentre in the South Bank Parklands. This houses interactive exhibitions and gives kids the chance to get involved with experiments and other innovative education experiences. Admission costs $44.50 for two adults and up to four kids, which is worth it for the full day of fun your family will experience.
As for getting around the city, the CityCat bus service will be your saving grace. Take the kids on the CityHopper, a free ferry service that runs along the Brisbane River, stopping at key locations along the way. "My kids absolutely love the ferry," says Kyla, and you'll love the price.
For a movie theatre that is "always cheaper than any other cinemas in Brisbane", head to the South Bank Cineplex. Kyla says this is a fantastic cinema that consistently costs less than other venues, "no matter what day of the week you go".
Families looking for a slice of nature in the heart of Brisbane should head to Mount Coot-tha for a scenic nature walk with picturesque views and wildlife, right next to the similarly-beautiful Brisbane Botanic Gardens. Adventure lovers don't have to look far to get their fix - Kyla recommends indoor rock climbing at Rocksports in 'the Valley'.
And when the tiny terrors get hungry, set off to Eat Street Markets at Hamilton Wharf on Friday and Saturday nights. "The parking is terrible so take a cab," advises Kyla, but it's well worth it for the eclectic range of street food on offer at reasonable prices - all housed in quirky shipping containers that kids absolutely love.
"Take the kids on the CityHopper, a free ferry service that runs along the Brisbane River, stopping at key locations along the way."
Where should you go when money is no object?
Kyla points nature-loving families toward the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, which is the world's first and largest of its kind. Kids can cuddle koalas and hand feed kangaroos, while you learn all about the beautiful Australian wildlife. "It is priced for tourists," says Kyla, but the joy on your little ones' faces when they touch these beautiful animals will be worth every penny.
Riverlife is a company many travellers don't know about, but Kyla thinks it would make a great day out for older family groups. Try the Saturday night paddle and BBQ, where guests aged 12 and up can kayak down the river at night and finish with a barbecue on the banks of the Brisbane River.
Older families with big kids and teenagers can tackle the Story Bridge Adventure Climb, which Kyla describes as being "similar to the Sydney Harbour Bridge experience but on a smaller scale". Other recommendations from the Brisbane insider include QPAC, Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium and live sports games at the GABBA and Suncorp Stadium, some of which can cost a pretty penny but more than make up for it with their levels of sheer entertainment.
Where should you stay?
At the end of a long day exploring this vibrant, bustling city, head back to Mantra on the Quay for a CBD location with all the trimmings.
"The best thing about this property is that it's right in the middle of the CBD, but it's not like a regular hotel," says Kyla. This property boasts large, self-contained apartments perfect for the kids to sprawl out in, all with river and city views. It's one of only a few Brisbane CBD properties that has a heated swimming pool and tennis court, making it a great option for families who want a bit of extra space, plus plenty of additional perks, to keep everyone entertained.