Brisbane’s Cross River Rail Experience Centre opened in November 2019 to give visitors an insight into the new underground rail system – but it’s a lot more than just boring facts and figures. The Experience Centre is a hive of immersive and interactive activities to engage and inspire kids of all ages.

It’s air-conditioned, free to enter, and has heaps for kids to do, so we went along on a hot December day to check it out.

Here’s our review.

Address – Getting there

The Cross River Rail Experience Centre is at 151 Elizabeth Street, Brisbane. Look out for the sign on the awning, walk in past the restaurants, and take the lift up.

Looking into the future at the Cross River Rail Experience Centre

The aim of the Experience Centre is to inform visitors about the new stations and planned route of the Cross River Rail, and they really do give you a glimpse into the future. We took three children aged 8, 10 & 12 years old. These were their favourite experiences…

The Reality Theatre

This is screen time on a BIG scale! The Reality Theatre at the Cross River Rail Experience Centre is genuinely unique. Computer generated 270° projections mean you’re fully immersed as you fly through the Cross River Rail tunnels and precincts, and travel through time around Brisbane. Sit back and enjoy the journey or see what landmarks you can spot.

This was very popular with the children (and made me a bit giddy) – show me a child who doesn’t love screen time!

The VR Station

cross river rail experience centre

Visitors are invited to get comfortable in their seat at the station before donning their VR goggles and taking a virtual journey into the future – and past! Once inside the virtual world of the Cross River Rail, you can experience what it will be like when complete; how the stations will look, the trains and their carriages, and the journey. You can also go back in time to 1819, before Brisbane’s settlement as a convict colony. Those waiting their turn can see exactly what the virtual passenger sees projected on a screen above the chairs.

Kids love technology, so the VR experience is a big hit. If you take the journey as a virtual passenger, don’t forget to look EVERYWHERE – things are happening above, to the side of and behind you; there’s lots to see! The kids said it was a bit like ‘riding on a magic carpet’.

Interactive displays

There are many interactive displays to engage and educate. Older children will enjoy the touchscreens and models, while younger children might prefer the more hands-on activities.

The Maker Space

This was actually the surprise hit of the day. The kids had heaps of fun with all the technology and digital activities, but once they got settled into the Maker Space it was impossible to drag them away!

The Maker Space is a place of hands-on activity and creativity, with a variety of age-appropriate STEM activities to choose from. When we visited, the children were able to build their own balloon-craft vehicle and race them to see which would go the furthest along the digital train track on display. There was craft material and sticky tape a-plenty, and the kids were thoroughly immersed in their own STEM world.

Cross River Rail Experience Centre school holiday workshops

In January 2020 the Centre is hosting a variety of FREE STEM based workshops for kids. We visited in December and were advised that some are already 80% booked, so get in quick if you’d like tickets!

Planned school holiday workshops include:

  • “Reverse Garbage”, recycling waste products to create your own mode of transport;
  • “Robotics Playground” where you work in a team to build and program a robot to find hidden artefacts, and
  • “LEGO© Engineering”.

You can find the details of these on the Cross River Rails * Events Tab* of their Facebook page.

Cross River Rail Experience Centre opening hours and contact details

The Centre is open six days per week – closed Tuesdays – from 10am to 4pm on weekdays and 10am to 2pm on weekends.

You can find the Cross River Rail Experience Centre at 151 Elizabeth Street, Brisbane. If travelling in by car, there are several Secure Parking options nearby. Book online and apply the code FAMILIES to save 25% (not valid for Early Bird parking).

Click here to visit the Cross River Rail website. You can find further details about the Experience Centre under the “Connect With CRR” tab.

Our verdict on the Cross River Rail Experience Centre

If you have a couple of hours to spare in the city, you don’t have to be a train buff to enjoy the Cross River Rail Experience Centre. It was surprisingly fascinating and educational and we ended up staying a lot longer than we thought we would.

Who is the Cross River Rail Experience Centre for?

The centre is great for everyone!

  • If you love history, you will get a kick out of the archaeological finds;
  • if you love technology you will be in awe of the interactive and VR experiences;
  • if you are a commuter you can learn all about how the new underground rail system will improve your journey;
  • if you just want a break from the heat it’s perfect!!

See our Facebook live video here and read more about the Cross River Rail Experience Centre here.