History - Visit Brisbane



Stanley Street Plaza

South Bank has a rich and varied history. In the 1840s, European settlement saw it transform into Brisbane’s CBD. Then, in 1883, severe flooding prompted the settlers to relocate the CBD to where it is today, on the Brisbane River’s north banks. 

By 1930, South Bank had been re-established as a bustling river port and industrial zone that was buzzing with markets, wharves, dance halls and theatres. However, over time development slowed and the area gradually spiralled into disrepair. This all changed in 1984, when South Bank was selected as the site for World Expo 88.

World Expo 88 was immensely successful and breathed new life into South Bank – it attracted 18 million people to the precinct during its six month run and it also showcased the area’s potential as public space. Once World Expo 88 was over, the people of Brisbane were so enamoured with South Bank that they lobbied to keep it as public parkland. This was approved by the Queensland Government in 1989 and from there, South Bank continued to grow; the Parklands opened in 1992; Little Stanley Street opened in 1998; and River Quay opened in 2011. 

Today, South Bank is one of Brisbane’s most vibrant, busy and cherished spaces. It is continually growing and is fast becoming one of Australia’s most internationally recognisable spaces.