The round-up: be a baller on a budget with these cheap and free things to do in Brisbane
It can be hard to make the most of your weekend without having to bring out the wallet a few times, but as Janet Jackson and Luther Vandross once said, ‘the best things in life are free’ and we still believe them! Here are some great cheap and free things to do in Brisbane so you can spend your time – not money – wisely this weekend.
Giggle and guffaw: Should you be in the mood for a laugh, Brisbane Powerhouse is a great spot to bust a gut. Every Friday Brisbane Powerhouse hosts Knockoff, a free comedy evening boasting local and national comedians. If you stop by on the last Friday of the month, ImproMafia takes the stage with its hilarious improvised comedy show – well worth checking out for a chuckle.
Pour over some pages: If you are after something a bit more subdued but equally stimulating, Avid Reader hosts dozens of events each month, including talks with authors, book launches and book clubs that are all free or cheap to attend.
Get jazzy: QPAC’s Melbourne Street Green is a great place to meet up with friends for an evening of free live music performed by local artists and jazz students from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music.
Explore Brisbane’s history: If you’re keen to glean some knowledge of the city (or even the world) around you, the Museum of Brisbane always has free exhibitions to take in. The gallery is open until 7:00 pm on Friday, meaning you can stroll at your leisure after sunset.
Check out a night market: The Boundary Street Markets take place every Friday night from 4:00–10:00 pm, chock-full of food stalls, live music, kids activities and more. Entry is free!
Get social in West End: Every second Friday night, Davies Park in West End plays host to The Sunset Social, an all-ages and pet-friendly food vendor party that also features plenty of children’s entertainment and live music.
Chase down a food truck: Brisbane’s food wagons prowl the streets every night of the week. If you’re keen for a Friday-night feed, track down your favourite food truck for a well-priced option.
Do a morning market crawl: We know that sleeping in is a great way to avoid spending money on the weekend, but it’s also a great way to miss out on everything the weekend has to offer. If you rise early, we suggest heading to the local farmers markets to browse the fresh (and cheap) produce. The Davies Park, Rocklea and Carseldine markets are always great spots to spend a morning wandering between stalls.
Hit the water: The CityHopper is a great way to explore Brisbane for free, as it ferries passengers from North Quay to Sydney Street every 30 minutes between 6:00 am and midnight. Pick a destination and go exploring!
Immerse yourself in art: If you catch the CityHopper to South Bank’s cultural precinct, you can make a beeline for one of many stimulating stops. The Queensland Museum, State Library of Queensland, Queensland Art Gallery or Gallery of Modern Art regularly host free exhibitions that are easy to lose hours examining.
Play a spot of bike polo: Yes, you read that right – bike polo. One of the fastest growing social sports in Brisbane regularly hosts fixtures around town, with games often taking place on the weekends. Check out the Brisbane Bike Polo Facebook page to find out how to participate.
Go stargazing: The Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium at the Mount Coot-tha Botanic Gardens is another great value-for-money resource, with free shows taking place from morning until evening.
Get loud and LIVE: Every month, Brisbane City Council’s LIVE program showcases a diverse and inclusive range of entertainment at Brisbane’s public spaces. Music, festivals, workshops, cultural activities and community projects are open to everyone on Saturday and Sunday, and what’s even better is that many of these events are free!
Join a society of sound: Similar to the LIVE program, The Sound Society also hosts free live music on the first weekend of each month. Music lovers can catch sessions at South Bank from 2:00–7:00 pm and at the Roma Street Parkland on Sundays from 9:00 am to midday.
Go big at Eat Street Northshore: Once the sun sets, it’s common for our stomachs to start grumbling. If you’ve worked up a fierce hunger after a day of sightseeing, why not opt for a bite at one of Brisbane’s great night markets. Eat Street Northshore boasts stacks of food vendors and live entertainment, with entry only costing $3.
Make tracks for a marketta: Another delightful night-time haunt, the Mt Gravatt Marketta also offers inexpensive bites, music and atmosphere from 4:00 pm afternoon until late. Entry is only $2, which is a deal you can’t pass up.
Hear the sounds of Brisbane: There are a bunch of chances to catch free live music around town on the weekend. The City Sounds program offers wanderers the chance to catch up-and-coming musicians performing on Queen Street Mall, while Livespark at Brisbane Powerhouse also hosts a range of musical performance from 3:30 pm onwards every Sunday afternoon. If you are south of the river, stop in for Sunday Sessions on the Green at South Bank’s River Quay Green to relax with some live music and one of the best views in town.
Get amongst nature: Brisbane boasts a bunch of nature trails that are perfect for hiking, bike paths for a leisurely cycle and watering holes for a quick dip. You can march up to the summit of Mount Coot-tha, put wheels to pathway along Kedron Brook or paddle around Enoggera Reservoir.
Gather the gang for a game: Board games are a great an inexpensive way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and Netherworld’s selection is top notch. Round up the crew, pick a game and order a few plant-based snacks on the side, and fill your afternoon with some friendly competition. If you’re after more gaming centres, 1UP Arcade, Pincadia and Southside Tea Room have a collection of arcade games and pinball machines to try out.
Catch a glimpse of some koalas: The Daisy Hill Koala Centre is a lush eucalyptus-adorned education facility that sits on 435 hectares of conservation park. Here, you can wander the boardwalks and see koalas in their habitat, learn about koala physiology and discover how you can contribute to koala conservation efforts.
Whack some balls: If you’ve got a bit of pent-up energy or want to sharpen up your swing, there’s nothing more satisfying that cracking a few golf balls at the driving range. Victoria Park’s range lets you go nuts with a 45-ball bucket for $13 (plus $6 club hire), while Golf Central out near the airport does 40 balls for $10.
Hit the green for some barefoot bowls: Sunday sessions are infinitely better when combined with a good-old game of barefoot bowls. Both Merthyr Road Bowls Club and Norman Park Bowls Club offers games of barefoot bowls for $10 per person. Combine that with bowls club prices for food and drink and you’ve got a great recipe for an afternoon well spent.
Head to the coast: If you want a quick dose of surf, salt and sun, then our pals on the Gold Coast have got a swag of suggestions for stuff to do when money’s tight.
Image two: Studio Impressions for Brisbane Powerhouse
Image three: Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, Iran b. 1924, Lightning for Neda 2009, Mirror mosaic, reverse-glass painting, plaster on wood. The artist dedicates this work to the loving memory of her late husband Dr Abolbashar Farmanfarmaian. Purchased 2009. Queensland Art Gallery Foundation Collection: Queensland Art Gallery, Photograph: Mark Sherwood, QAGOMA