If it is nature, bush walks, environmental education and a playground you are after, then look no further than Raven Street Reserve and the Downfall Creek Bushland Centre. This tranquil bushland setting is nestled within McDowall, on Brisbane’s northside, and is guaranteed to keep you and your Brisbane Kids busy.
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Raven Street Reserve
Raven Street Reserve forms part of the Chermside Hills Reserve. Spending time at Raven Street Reserve is an outdoor adventure that will tick all the boxes, whether you are having fun in the playground or enjoying a visit at the Downfall Creek Bushland Centre.
Bring your binoculars and look for native wildlife resting and feeding within the reserve. If you are lucky, you may even spot a wallaby! If birds are more your thing, then enjoy a spot of bird watching, with more than 100 different species of birds having been spotted within the reserve. Don’t worry, if you can’t spot them you will certainly be able to hear them!
There are numerous picnic tables, shelters, gas barbeques and plenty of shady spots surrounding the playground, so make a day of it and bring supplies for an outdoor picnic.
Within the Raven Street Reserve area there are several spaces to explore, including a nature-themed playground, the Downfall Creek Bushland Centre and walking trails.
The Downfall Creek playground
In April 2022, the Downfall Creek playground underwent a massive transformation. The old playground was replaced with a brand new, wooden, nature-based playground fit for the coolest kid. There are several traditional fort-style structures, providing the ultimate in adventure and fun for preschoolers and primary school-aged children.
The playground is big enough to engage children of all ages, but not too big that you will lose them in the expanse. It features a variety of nets for climbing, ladders, a wobbly bridge, stepping logs and more. Toddlers haven’t been forgotten either, there are lots of activities low to the ground perfect for imaginative play.
Art has been playfully incorporated into the new playspace. There is a koala and her baby up high, totem poles filled with native animals, a green tree frog to sit on and lots of animals carved into the wooden structures throughout the playground.
Small woodchips cover the ground surrounding the play equipment, as well as a rubber base under the swings, so if kids have a tumble they will have a soft landing and their feet won’t turn brown from the tan bark.
Downfall Creek Bushland Centre
The Downfall Creek Bushland Centre is located within the Raven Street Reserve and is open Tuesday to Friday from 9am to 4pm, just near the main carpark.
Inside, you can sit and peruse the books in the reading nook, watch the fish swim about in the fish tank, learn about sustainable living, partake in some art and craft, or feel a snakeskin at the tactile table.
Live creatures are often on display and are fascinating to watch. On one such visit we got to see a water scorpion, a rainforest scorpion and a three-punctured diving beetle!
There is a native beehive box that sits outside at the front of the Downfall Creek Bushland Centre, which is always fun to show the kids, especially on a warm day when they are buzzing around. If your kids have more questions, they can ask the friendly staff all about the importance of bees! We have enjoyed pointing out the hive to the kids, trying to locate flowering natives on the site and then identifying one of their native bees gathering the pollen. It’s an important conversation to have, about how bees pollinate, and this is the perfect real-world way of making that happen.
Helpful staff are always on hand to answer any questions at the centre and to give you further information about the environment and the surrounding reserve.
School holiday workshops
Enjoy a range of free school holiday workshops including Nature Journaling, Night Adventures, Eco Photography, Pottery, & more! Holiday Workshops
Activities at Downfall Creek Bushland Centre
Downfall Creek Bushland Centre is a hive of activity and often hosts a variety of family-friendly activities throughout the year, many of which are held regularly and are free, though bookings are often required.
Activities range from the energetic to creative and include:
- Bush kindy
- Sustainable living workshops
- Art and craft activities
- Guided walks
- Agents of Discovery App
- Wildlife shows, and
- Bird watching.
Attending Bush Kindy among the trees at Downfall Creek Bushland Centre is a real treat for littles ones and their carers. Aimed at children 3-5 years old (accompanied by an adult carer), Bush Kindy will entertain and educate attendees through a variety of fun, nature-based play activities, bushwalks, story-time, art and craft and more.
Often sessions will be themed, which adds a fun element to Bush Kindy. Themes celebrated include World Frog Day, composting and bird watching, just to name a few.
Bush Kindy is a weekly event, held over an hour, during school term time only. It is a great way for children and their carers to make new friends, enjoy the great outdoors and bond while playing, learning and having fun.
As this is an outdoor activity, enclosed shoes, sun protection and insect repellent are recommended, as is water and a snack. Bookings are required and can be done via the Brisbane City Council website.
Agents of Discovery App
Download this augmented reality app (with an adult’s approval) to discover the Raven Street Reserve environment in a new and fun way. Select your mission (Downfall Creek) and accept the challenges to discover and learn about the great outdoors in a way that will have you moving and solving mysteries related to culture, nature and technology.
School Holiday Activities
Visiting Raven Street Reserve during the school holidays is a great way to entertain the family, burn off some energy and learn something new about the environment. Depending on your mood, perhaps you want to visit the Downfall Creek Bushland Centre, wander around the tracks soaking up nature, or attend an event or workshop.
Family-friendly activities and workshops are on offer during the school holiday and may include guided walks, wildlife encounters and more. Activities are FREE or low cost and there are no shops onsite, so you won’t have to be digging into your pocket to buy anything. As a bonus, if you bring along your own water and snacks, you can have a picnic too.
Detailed activity information and booking details for Downfall Creek Bushland Centre can be found by visiting the Brisbane City Council website. Many activities do require a booking, so please be mindful of this when wishing to attend an event.
Raven Street Reserve and the surrounding bushland is home to a variety of trails and tracks, used for both walking and cycling. On any given day you can find families walking, joggers jogging or nature explorers exploring.
Children are well catered for with the ‘Mountains to Mangroves Senses Trail’. The sense trail is an easy 200m walk and is suitable for toddlers, prams and wheelchairs. Along the path, you will find numbered plaques which explain the surroundings and invites visitors to listen, smell, see and touch. An audio guide is also available for hire from the Downfall Creek Bushland Centre. Bench seating can be found at regular intervals along the path, which is perfect for resting little (and big) legs.
As you are walking along the trails, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for wildlife, especially in the mornings and late afternoons. If you are quiet enough, you may even spot a wallaby grazing in the grass just like we did!
While you are at the Downfall Creek Bushland Centre, pick up a treasure hunt map or a ‘Hide ‘N’ Seek Children’s Trail’ checklist and have fun spotting various items as you explore the reserve.
Raven Street Reserve is a wonderful place to visit to give kids a snapshot of the bush. There are over 100 possible bird species to spot, as well as animals such as pademelons and wallabies. The fort playground is decorated with animals, birds and creek life that will encourage imaginative play in children.
Have your little ones come dressed as an explorer or ranger (making sure to pack the binoculars and magnifying glass) and explore all the flora and fauna that call the reserve home. Engage the senses and smell the scents wafting from the native trees, listen to the birds chirping, look at the variety of trees and bushes and keep an eye out for wildlife that may pop their heads up to greet you.
For those who love capturing nature and wildlife through a lens, bring the camera and your zoom lens, you just never know what you will find – butterflies, birdlife, wallabies or perhaps even a snake!
Accessing Raven Street Reserve and Downfall Creek Bushland Centre can be done easily via the main carpark off Rode Road. The carpark, which has an accessible parking bay, is connected to the bushland centre and playground via a concrete path. Beside the Downfall Creek Bushland Centre are accessible toilets, which also house a baby change table.
The ‘Mountains to Mangroves Senses Trail’ is suitable for wheelchairs and prams and includes a continuous handrail for those requiring additional support. Interpretive signs, including braille and raised text, are also positioned along the trail.
The major bike and walking tracks are also wheelchair accessible, though there are some parts with a relatively steep incline, so extra care should be taken within these sections.
The majority of outdoor areas and tracks at Raven Street Reserve are shaded by mature trees or shade sails.
A variety of seating options are dotted around the playground, in the picnic areas and even along the walking tracks, so there is always somewhere for tired legs to have a rest.
Raven Street Reserve features:
- Unfenced playground (away from the road)
- Swings (adult, toddler, nest swing)
- Climbing walls, nets and ladders
- Flying fox
- Game panels (Tic tac toe, I Spy, three in a row)
- Koala cutout
- Spinning pole
- Basketball half-court
- Walking tracks including a Senses Trail
- Multiple gas BBQs
- Picnic shelters
- Accessible toilet facilities
- Free native plants program nursery (Tues – Fri 9am – 4pm)
- Off-street parking
- Public transport – Multiple bus routes stopping at the entrance of Raven Street Reserve on Rode Road
- Downfall Creek Bushland Centre (open Tuesday to Friday 9am – 4pm)
- Raven Street Reserve open daily to the public from sunrise to sunset.
Raven Street Reserve is located at 815 Rode Road, McDowall.