Banks Street Reserve – An Inner City Oasis

I’m lucky enough to live about a 20-minute walk from Banks Street Reserve, and in the seven years I’ve lived in Brisbane I’ve been there many times. My son went there for a BMX birthday party, I often take my dog there and I enjoy exploring this little 34-hectare bushland retreat that’s just five kilometres from the city centre.

Bank Street Reserve
Banks Street Reserve

Flora and Fauna

Apart from dogs, which are a common sight at Banks Street Reserve, the place is home to wildlife such as boobook owls, sacred kingfishers, pale-headed rosellas, eastern water dragons, short-necked turtles and eastern whipbirds. It was also once largely rainforest, until the reserve was logged in 1910. Now, however, the reserve is dominated by open forest and you’ll walk past trees such as the Queensland brushbox and spotted gums, as well as ironbark and wattle trees.

One of the many trails in the reserve

Walking Around Banks Street Reserve

It’s certainly a pleasant place to explore. I love that when you’re wandering through the backstreets of Ashgrove, you suddenly arrive at the reserve (which is actually situated in Alderley). Then, not far into the reserve, is a large open space, which is a magic spot at sunset and a very popular spot with doggies. Dogs are to be kept on a leash in Banks Street Reserve to protect the local wildlife, but it’s kind of an unwritten rule that on the open field, people let their dogs have a supervised frolic.

Cookie, having a supervised sniff

Past this open field are wide dirt trails that circumnavigate and crisscross the reserve. It’s a popular spot with bike riders and as you wander around the many hills and dips, you’ll see why. It doesn’t take long to walk around all the paths in Banks Street Reserve. In fact, you could wander along every trail in less than a couple of hours.

Hannah, Simon and Murphy

Several days ago I returned for roughly my 20th visit with friends Simon and Hannah and their cocker spaniel Murphy. My cocker spaniel Cookie grew up with Murphy and that’s how I met these guys, so if you’ve got a dog and live in the area, this place is a bit of a no-brainer. Anyway, as we were chatting, Hannah mentioned how she’s walked along every trail in this reserve, many times, and I bet many locals have (me included). However, we keep returning, as it’s such a pleasant little place in proximity to the city.

A Brief History

As I’ve mentioned, the reserve used to be largely rainforest until it was logged in 1910, and now only patches of rainforest remain in the southern end of the park. In the late 1930s, the land was acquired by the council as a reserve and it was then leased to market gardeners for many years. That would have been pretty cool to see too. The gardens were obliterated in the 1974 floods and the large open space was then earmarked for a sports oval.

The field that was earmarked for a sports oval

However, in 1978, Brisbane’s Town Plan recognised the importance of the reserve for recreation and wildlife and the council abolished the oval idea. The reserve now has a strong community involved in its upkeep and rehabilitation (as it got nailed after the recent floods in 2021, which I witnessed) in events such as the ‘Two Million Trees’ program. Another common sight in the reserve is the bat nest boxes, which help sustain the local wildlife.

Evidence of the strong community involved in the upkeep of Banks Street Reserve

Things You’ll Find On Your Wanders

There are quite a few information plaques throughout the park, which inform you about the local environment, such as the edible black fruit on the native elms that apparently taste like ‘stewed apples’ and attract birds. Of course, don’t eat anything in the park if you’re not 100% sure of what you’re doing. Aborigines cleverly exploited the bushtucker in Banks Street Reserve, eating the roasted seeds of black beans after they removed the poison with running water.

Around the southern end of the park, closer to the creek, there’s a nice trail that hugs the edge of the reserve and appears a little lusher than the dry centre. Also, when there’s a bit of water in the park after rain there are a few stepping stones that help you cross a shallow creek. However, mostly it’s dry. Enoggera Creek, which runs along the southern boundary of the reserve, is also a nice spot to explore.

Enoggera Creek, which runs along the boundary of Banks Street Reserve
A bridge – a rare sight in Banks Street Reserve

There’s even a bridge in the depths of Banks Street Reserve when the place must really get some rain. Picnickers are another common sight, as the open field is an enticing spot for a civilised laze on a bright sunny afternoon. I’ll keep coming back to explore, that’s for sure.

I highly recommend a visit if you’re in the inner city.

I might see you there.

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