Colmslie Beach Reserve

Brisbane, Queensland

Colmslie Beach Reserve: what was once a place of slaughter is now a public park providing fun for the whole family.

Love finding Brisbane secrets? Discover more on a CityDays adventure!

Read more

Discovering Colmslie Beach Reserve in Brisbane

Colmslie Beach Reserve on the banks of the Brisbane River, in Murarrie, off Lytton Road, just 9 km from Brisbane’s city centre, is a large parkland that’s fun for the whole family. It features a shady children’s playground filled with creative structures and activities designed to spark imagination and adventure. There is a climbing maze that combines rock climbing, monkey bars, stepping stones, and slides as well as a concrete fish embedded in the sandpit, into and out of which children can climb and crawl.

Nearby, a mock shipwreck doubles as a musical instrument, allowing children to create sounds by hitting the pedals. For older children there is a scooter track and zipline. In the fields beyond, families can let their dogs and children run wild (sensibly wild of course) with a game of football while they throw down blankets and enjoy some classic picnic tucker. All before seeking out the small beach and watching colourful fishing boats oscillating on the Brisbane River beyond.

The History of Colmslie Beach Reserve

Early Development

In the late 19th century, Cannon Hill was a rural enclave characterised by big open farms and limited transportation options. However, the landscape began to change significantly with the establishment of the Cleveland railway line in 1889, which made the area more accessible and spurred suburban development. This was accentuated in 1913 when the American company Swifts Meat Works purchased a large area of land beside the Brisbane River with the intention of building an abattoir. This industrial venture catalysed the area's growth, attracting workers and leading to the formation of a small village community.

Before the abattoir's construction, the land by the river was extensively quarried to remove a large hill. Once operational, the abattoir became a major exporter of frozen meat worldwide, establishing itself as one of Queensland's largest industrial facilities of the time. A wharf along the river facilitated efficient shipping of meat exports and stock delivery.

Colmslie Beach Reserve
- dogexplorer

To support the abattoir, a railway siding was constructed in 1913, connecting the Cannon Hill Railway Station to the Brisbane River. This siding was extended in 1915 to reach the abattoir wharf, providing additional transport for livestock and meat workers—becoming Brisbane's only passenger rail service exclusively for its employees.

Colmslie Beach Reserve is also in close proximity to the Heinz Smallgoods factory, which flanks the western side. Built in 1917 on the former site of the Bubonic Plague Hospital, this red brick factory and its gothic chimney stack are further reminders of the area's industrial past.

Government Intervention

In 1930, the Queensland State Government introduced legislation to de-privatise abattoirs in the Brisbane metropolitan area, leading to the creation of the Queensland Meat Industry Board. The board was tasked with establishing, maintaining, and conducting abattoirs to ensure safe meat production and export. This move was driven by concerns over deteriorating hygiene standards at various slaughterhouses.

Swifts Meat Works was taken over by the Queensland Meat Industry Board in 1931, with plans for significant improvements. Architect Richard Gailey Jr. was commissioned to oversee the project, which included constructing new facilities and the Cannon Hill saleyards and was officially opened on 24th November 1931.

Transition to Public Parkland

By the 1980s, the meat industry had moved to a new location further from the river, and in 1998, the original abattoir site was acquired by the Brisbane City Council. Throughout its industrial history, the abattoir was known for its beautifully maintained gardens. Lines of flowers, including roses, poppies, and sweet peas, lined the railway siding and entrance drive, while a Bougainvillea hedge graced the river wall. Swifts Meat Works also planted an avenue of mature Jacaranda and African Tulip trees along the front drive, which still stands today. In light of this the city council purchased the land with the intention that it could be easily transformed into public parkland. This motion marked the beginning of Colmslie Beach Reserve's new role as a community recreational area.

Colmslie Beach Reserve Today

Today, Colmslie Beach Reserve achieved the city’s desires for a beloved recreational area in Brisbane. Visitors can enjoy leisurely strolls along tree-lined paths, picnic on lush lawns, and explore the historical remnants that tell the story of Cannon Hill's transformation. The park's ample space makes it a perfect venue for birthday parties, large gatherings, or casual family outings. The long, winding driveway leading to the park offers ample parking and a sense of seclusion, enhancing the park's charm.

Playgrounds and Activities at Colmslie Beach Reserve

Sea Creature Sculptures and Water Play

At the heart of Colmslie Beach Reserve is a children’s playground featuring large sculptures of sea creatures, including a fish, octopus, crab, and submarine. These structures are perfect for climbing, helping to develop gross motor skills in young adventurers, interactive buttons around the sculptures activate splashy water play. In the sandpit, there’s even one structure children can climb inside of—a huge concrete fish. The sandpit also has diggers and tippers for an afternoon of excavating, sandcastle fun.

Nature-Inspired Play Areas

Despite its location amidst an industrial area, Colmslie Beach Reserve feels like an eden-like retreat. A dry creek bed filled with river stones, rocks, and plant life encourages children to invent nature-inspired games. The rickety rainbow-coloured bridge, another popular feature, challenges kids to climb and balance, promoting physical development and imaginative play.

Slides, Swings, and Obstacle Courses

For those seeking more excitement, the playground has fantastic slides, balancing beams, and a flying fox, which might be more suited to older or more adventurous children. An interesting musical boat allows kids to stretch their imagination and creativity, making music as they play.

Picnics and Open Spaces

If it's a relaxing afternoon by the river you’re after, Colmslie Beach Reserve has got you covered with numerous seating areas, BBQ hotplates, shaded spots, and beautiful trees. It's the perfect setting for a picnic. And while the adults snooze on the blanket, children can make use of the vast open area with a game of cricket or soccer.

Colmslie Beach Reserve 1
- Patricia Woods

Scooter and Bike Track

Adjacent to the playground, a new scooter and bike track invites kids to zoom around and practise their riding skills. The track has speed humps, road signs, line markings, bollards, and a bridge, creating a realistic road-like experience. A pit stop zone with a pump and pressure check for tires adds a playful twist to the role playing.

Accessibility and Facilities

The playground section of Colmslie Beach Reserve is semi-fenced and equipped with accessible toilets. Play equipment is set under shade sails and shady trees, ensuring comfort and safety. The area includes sand, concrete, and rubber bases, making it suitable for various activities and age groups. Facilities such as BBQs, picnic tables, and shelters make it super convenient for family outings.

Off-Leash Dog Area

The reserve has several open fields, perfect for kicking a ball around or letting your dog run free in designated areas. Further down the driveway, an off-leash dog area with an agility course allows furry friends to play and exercise. Dogs can also access the river, making it a perfect spot for pet owners. However, it's important to note that dogs are not permitted in the main playground area.

The Beach

Under the shade of towering old trees, wooden steps lead down to a sandy stretch of beach, where the river gently laps against the shore. It’s a popular spot for fishing and you can watch local anglers cast their lines into the Brisbane River. The beach stretches for about a hundred metres and is flanked by a mangrove forest. After playing in the park, families can walk towards the water, where they can enjoy fishing, splashing, and building sandcastles. Visitors are encouraged to keep the area clean by taking their rubbish with them.

A boardwalk extends from the steps to another small beach, providing views over the rivers, typically bobbing fishing boats and eager fishermen. At the other end of the beach, the Gateway Bridge towers overhead and the Royal Queensland Golf Club and Hamilton wharves perch on the horizon, low-flying planes dipping between them.

Interested in finding more places like this? Why not try one of our CityDays Scavenger Hunts - work as a team to overcome cryptic riddles and discover quirky places off the beaten track in Brisbane and around the world.


What you need to know

Colmslie Beach Reserve
152 Colmslie Road, Murarrie Queensland 4172
-27.450714, 153.091220
Tips before you visit