It's no surprise that a lot of people baulk at the cost of a family trip out. But it doesn't need to be that way. Sometimes you just need a little reminding of some of the great things you can do in and around Brisbane without having to pay. Try these for starters.
Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art
More colloquially known as QAGOMA, these two galleries sit next to one another in South Bank's Cultural Precinct. One of the many great things about them (apart from their freeness!), is that they present different types of work – the QAG is what you'd call 'traditional', while there's an evolving program of contemporary art from Australia and overseas at the GOMA. Note that while the galleries are free to enter, some special exhibitions may charge an entry fee.
West End Fire Festival
Held in Orleigh Park every full moon evening from 5-10pm, is this fabulous fire spinning festival. It's a family-friendly community night filled with music, arts and magic. The drums will be pounding again soon, so gather the tribe, a rug, some nibbles and head in for a free evening's entertainment.
Climb a nearby mountain
No need for Sherpas, oxygen or crampons on these ascents, but they're all well worth the effort. Head up Mt Coot-tha to take in the spectacular city views, then do one of the nearby bushwalks. South of the city is Mt Gravatt - the walk up is around an hour, or just drive up and take in the view. Or head north-west to the Moreton Bay region for walks around the Mt Nebo and the aptly-named Mt Glorious.
City Sounds Live Music
It's Australia's largest free live music program, and you'll find it in the Queen Street Mall, Post Office Square and other locations around Brisbane each week. Featuring local and touring artists, there's everything from marching bands to folk, jazz to electro (and plenty more). And with an entry price of… zero, it might just sound like the ideal family gig.
Yes, there are awesome pay-to exhibits, but the thing about the Queensland Museum is that there's always plenty to discover for free. It's the state's centre for cultural heritage, science, human achievement and natural history. Which means, among other things, it's a fantastic place to gain an understanding of the Australian wildlife from the present right back to prehistoric times (i.e. before you had kids).
For something that really gets everyone involved and thinking, take the kids on a high-tech treasure hunt around Brisbane. You will need to plan a little ahead as you'll need a GPS or smartphone (apple and android are fine). Go to Geocaching Australia to find a geocache near you. From there it's a matter of getting the team together and heading off to discover the Brisbane you never knew existed!
And keeping in the spirits of smart spending with the family, try these humble sandwiches for some easy but sensational lunch options. Either pack a picnic basket or prepare before you head off for a lunch that will satisfy even the fussiest foodies in your family.