Four Around the World Family travel blog

Colleges Crossing – Alongside the Brisbane River

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Having kids means finding plenty of opportunities to get outdoors and explore local parks and nature reserves. We are lucky enough to live in a city with lots of great places to entertain the kids, and one of our favourites over the years has been Colleges Crossing.

Colleges Crossing Recreation Reserve is situated alongside Brisbane River, making it an easy day trip from Brisbane (or half-day trip, because it is that close) and located super conveniently near our current home city of Ipswich.


Colleges Crossing has been a popular picnic spot, playground and water recreation area for years, for the local area and beyond. It sits alongside the Brisbane River, with a shallow area suitable for paddling and non motorised water sports, such as kayaking or fishing. Luckily in Queensland, you can take advantage of water sports most of the year without it being too cold… although we haven’t really ventured into the water ourselves. One day!

When you visit Colleges Crossing now though, it is hard to imagine the whole area was completely destroyed twice during recent floods in Brisbane and Ipswich. In 2011 and 2013, Colleges Crossing was almost completely under water and had to be rebuilt. It took ages to be rebuilt both times but thankfully it has all be up and running for a couple of years without further issue and hopefully remains that way. It was devastating to see the same place destroyed in such a short space of time! But that is one of the unlucky parts of being along the river and along the river from Wivenhoe Dam.

For us the big appeal with Colleges Crossing these days is the expansive area so the kids can run free and enjoy some fresh air. It is also a perfect spot to go with bigger kids… or adults, to kick a football, throw a frisbee or just enjoy the big open spaces. Lots of large grassy areas and room to throw down a picnic rug without feeling like you are surrounded by other people doing the same thing.

And of course, when you have a 3 year old, it’s all about the playgrounds. Lily adores slides and this double slide used to scare the daylights out of her, but now that she is bigger, she adores it. Especially when her dad goes down beside her. Yes, we are just big kids. We both have fun in the park with the kids. Life’s too short not to! Plus our youngest may only be 10 months old, but she wants to get in there and enjoy the playground too… so we have to help her. Such determination that she is a big kid already! As you can see in the pic below…

The playground at Colleges Crossing is suitable for all ages though, with the bigger kids climbing frames and bridge in the bigger playground, but also the smaller kid suitable play zone on the other side of the path. And a mini playground on the other side of the jetty, closer to the bridge as well. Plenty of fun areas for kids to enjoy!

While we are big fans of a family picnic or picking up some local fish and chips from the Karalee Shopping Centre takeaway, we also love eating at the Colleges Crossing Cafe, which is popular for the tranquil river views and the great food and drinks.

They have a menu with the usual favourites – burgers, chips, wraps and toasted sandwiches etc, plus a big breakfast served all day long. They also have cakes and slices. But one of the standouts is their fruit soda drinks. Frozen fruits with a refreshing soda. They are perfect for hot weather, but we love them all year round!

Colleges Crossing recreation reserve

We often go to Colleges Crossing for our regular playgroup meet up. We throw down a picnic rug in one of the many covered gazebo areas, play games, sing songs and let the kids enjoy each others company. Then we head on up to the cafe for lunch. Always a lovely catch up!

Colleges Crossing recreation reserve

Colleges Crossing is a great location to visit with the family, or for a romantic picnic for two. It has everything you need for a relaxing day outdoors, or wide open spaces if you want to get active. And it is an easy drive from Brisbane!

While you’re in the area, check out the Workshops Rail Museum. Just one of the great places to visit in Ipswich.