THE Roma Street Parkland, formerly the unsightly Roma Street goods yards, are definitely one of my most favourite places in Brisbane.
It’s one of those places where you feel genuinely blessed to have them within walking distance and if you didn’t, once you’d visited once, you’d wish you did. It’s certainly somewhere that every visitor who comes to stay gets dragged off to see.
And this is not any misplaced civic pride – covering 16 hectares with a variety of gardens from herbs to rainforest, paths winding down the steep slopes or stepping stoned across a pond; sweeping lawns and water features, it’s the largest subtropical garden in a city centre anywhere in the world.
It was not always a showpiece. For years, it was an ugly abandoned railway yard near Roma Street station, which was the first in the settlement when it opened in 1875 for trains running west to Ipswich (coal) and Toowoomba (grazing).
From 1911-34, the area around the station was expanded to cater for the increasing number of trains and goods being hauled around Queensland. During World War II it was used as the marshalling area for arms and military personnel who were posted to north Queensland.
Eventually, with Roma Street still the main station (the starting and finishing point) for local and long distance trains, it was realised that the area just wasn’t going to be big enough and the goods yard was relocated to Acacia Ridge in 1991.
The area sat on the edge of the CBD looking barren and messy until finally the site was redeveloped and the parklands opened in 2001. As well as beautiful themed gardens, water features and rockeries, there’s an amphitheatre, a field to kick a ball around, playground , topiary and heaps of frilled neck lizards who are happy to pose in the sun.
There’s also a peaceful and tasteful war memorial section at the top of the hill. An oasis in the heart of the city, it’s a great place to just wander around – and discover something new each time or the Roma Street Parkland website has full information about what’s on offer.