Sensory-friendly things to do

18 JANUARY 2023

Brisbane is an exciting city and with so much going on, it can sometimes feel like a sensory overload to the system. Finding ways to escape is not always an easy task, especially for those who live with autism, sensory processing or sensory integration disorders. From films to museums and nature walks to swimming, check out this ever-growing list of sensory-friendly activities in Brisbane.

A hallway with green walls, archways and paintings hanging, with a check floor pattern.
Exhibition at QAGOMA, South Bank

Get arty at QAGOMA 

The Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) complex has dedicated dates throughout the year for those with autism and sensory sensitivity to experience the space in a relaxed environment with lowered volumes and designated quiet zones. A sensory floorplan is also available to help plan your visit. 

Keep it real at Queensland Museum and SparkLab 

With exciting permanent displays and activities and touring exhibits, Queensland Museum is a popular spot with kids of all ages. Queensland Museum runs regular Sensory Friendly Sessions, creating a sound-down and relaxed and supportive atmosphere to allow people on the autism spectrum or with sensory processing challenges to experience the museum and the wonder of Dinosaurs of Patagonia and SparkLab exhibits. There’s also a chillout zone and noise-cancelling headphones and sensory kits are available at the Cloakroom and SparkLab entry. 

Be mesmerised by dance at Queensland Ballet 

Queensland Ballet offers Relaxed Performances of its seasonal works to allow families with young kids and people with autism to enjoy the beauty of the ballet in a safe, accepting environment. With tailored performances of works such as The Little Mermaid and Christmas fave, The Nutcracker, in a dimmed, relaxed space, theatre-goers and families alike can experience a great day at the ballet. 

Watch a movie

Select Event Cinemas and Hoyts venues hold monthly and quarterly sensory-friendly Sunday screenings respectively with modified dimmed lighting and low-volume sound for sensitive ears. Children are free to get up, move around and express themselves in these screenings, allowing families to enjoy films in a supportive environment. 

Visit the Workshops Rail Museum  

The Workshops Rail Museum offers a sensory-friendly hands-on experience for the whole family during school holidays. Sessions include reduced noise and consistent lighting for activities that include a train driving simulator, adventure playground, railway workshops and more. If things become overwhelming, there are designated chillout zones and sensory kits with noise-cancelling headphones to help visitors feel more comfortable.  

Enjoy Sensory Story Time and Sensory Exploration in Logan

Marsden Library’s Sensory Space is a hands-on environment for families of all abilities. Two programs – Sensory Story Time and Sensory Exploration – are led by the library staff, while the space is open for immersive play and discovery from Monday to Saturday. Don't miss the super-relaxing bubble tube and wall projections.  

Horsing around at EquusTerra

Come and meet some equine friends at EquusTerra in Yeronga. With each lesson, participants can interact with horses while engaging in a range of activities such as grooming, feeding and riding. Working through these tasks together encourages a strong bond between the student and animal, while creating an environment of trust and support. This style of therapeutic horse riding is suitable for those with sensory and anxiety disorders and ideal for families and children to socialise.

A sensory picnic ground sign.

Get back to nature

Escape the noisy bustle and ground yourself in Brisbane’s many leafy parks and green spaces. Brisbane City Council has a comprehensive list of parks and environmental centres where you can devise your own exploration or walking experience with family and friends. Downfall Creek Bushland Centre in Chermside West has a great Mountains to Mangroves' Senses Trail with wheelchair access, continuous handrails and interpretive signs, including braille and raised text.  

Cool off in the pool with Treasures Swimming Program

Splash into action and get wet in the warm Brisbane weather. A collaborative effort between Hampton Swim School and Gateway Therapies, the program provides swimming lessons to children with autism and other sensory processing difficulties. An occupational therapist will assist with an initial consultation and help determine the right program and goals for your child.

A distant shot of a couple sitting on a tree trunk on a beach