Brisbane residents interacting with their parks via Story City projects.

While we are seeing the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, cities and city tourism departments need to find creative (and safe) ways to showcase outdoor spaces and their use all year round. Parks and Recreation Departments and other municipal councils need to tap into the beauty that makes each city unique. But how to do that with uncertainty around events, and the digital marketing avalanche that social media has become during the pandemic?

To date, almost a dozen municipalities across the world have used the Story City platform to create interactive experiences allowing over 25,000 users to interact with local stories and public spaces.

So how does it work?

We could tell you how it works, but let’s look at all the details about Creeks and Waterways Outdoor Reads (Outdoor Reads) – a project designed for Brisbane City Council on the Story City Platform.

The Details

  • Who: Brisbane City Council, Brisbane Botanic Gardens in Mt. Coot-tha, Creeks & Waterways department
  • City: Brisbane, Australia
  • Number of locations: 55 locations
  • 8 linear adventures

The Ask

After the success of the interactive Street Reads Festival, Brisbane City Council  was looking for new ways to encourage locals and visitors to explore some of the city’s outdoor beauty – the parks in the city and surrounding areas, particularly in the suburbs. They wanted a family-friendly experience that would encourage people of all ages to engage with the world around them while learning about the history of each park.

City Botanic Gardens. Brisbane City Council via Flickr. CC BY 2.0

The Challenges

It can be challenging for municipalities to find creative ways to engage both the local community and tourists. With so many factors affecting how people experience the city around them and how many tourists visit on any given day, it is important to build immersive experiences that can feel extremely personalized for visitors and locals alike.

In this case, Brisbane City Council wanted to find ways to:

  • Increase visitation to parks around the city’s creeks & waterways.
  • Teach families about the flora, fauna, and history of each park.
  • Encourage all ages to engage and play with park features and the world around them.

The Ultimate Plan

Highlight Flora in the parks.

At Story City, we know how important local storytelling is to building successful experiences. When you can tie a story to a specific location, it automatically makes it more memorable and more meaningful. Using locative storytelling and our GPS technology, Story City and Brisbane City Council developed Outdoor Reads, a custom, interactive, free-to-the-public experience featuring 55 different locations in three different parks as part of 8 linear adventures. Some of Brisbane’s most beautiful spaces were brought to life using cutting edge digital applications in a perfect balance of digital and real-world experience.

The storylines for each adventure focused on engaging and educating families on indigenous and WWI history and nature, and encouraging interaction with park facilities and equipment. Like all other Story City immersive experiences, the Story City GPS app unlocks the next step in the story once you arrive at the right location. Each step in the story involves some sort of activity, challenge, or puzzle to solve before you can move on to the next. And each activity, challenge, or puzzle involves interacting with the world around you so you can explore the surrounding area in a unique way that you would never find in a guidebook.

The Haunted Falls. Written by Nick Manning. Full credits in link


Unlike many other events of this nature, this Story City experience is completely self-guided and available 24/7, so locals and visitors can do it when it is convenient. Programming that is free to the public is often accompanied with a high price tag and is usually only available for limited periods of time.

Because Outdoor Reads was created using digital applications, it was incredibly economical to develop and run, while showcasing local creatives and the city’s beauty, culture, and rich history for over 12 months.

The three parks that were featured as part of Outdoor Reads are: 

  • 7th Brigade Park (Chermside)
  • JC Slaughter Falls (Mt Coot-tha)
  • Hanlon Park (Greenslopes)

The 8 linear fictional adventures are so different that visitors could easily return multiple times to have different experiences. Outdoor Reads managed to engage visitors while encouraging them to be active and get outside, using park installations and equipment. The storylines would also appeal to different age groups and interests.

The 8 adventures are as follows:

Puzzle Trails

Interactive adventures written by Nick Manning that require you to solve a puzzle before you can move on to the next part of the story.

  • SPY ACADEMY: by Nick Manning (Hanlon Park): G RATINGA covert spy agency has recruited you to join its rank – if you’re good enough. Can you pass the initiation tests at their top-secret training ground?
  • OPERATION: LAUNCH CODE! by Nick Manning (Kids – 7th Brigade Park): G RATINGYou are Brisbane’s last hope against alien invasion. Hidden under the park is a secret missile facility. Help decipher the launch codes and save Brisbane!
  • AGENT 82: by Nick Manning (Adults – 7th Brigade Park): PG RATINGYou are Brisbane’s last hope against alien invasion. Hidden under the park is a secret missile facility. Help decipher the launch codes and save Brisbane!

Historical Adventures

Historic trails packed with family friend action and adventure.

Written by Eileen O’Hely, these stories feature themes about indigenous culture and WWI history.

  • ALIEN ENCOUNTER (Indigenous History, J.C. Slaughter Falls): PG RATING Learn about Aboriginal art and culture as you help a marooned alien search for her spaceship!
  • WAR TIMES (Historical Fiction, 7th Brigade Park): G RATING You thought you were out for a day in 7th Brigade Park but instead you find yourself travelling through time to train as a soldier in World War II. Will you be able to navigate your way through these crazy time fluctuations, or will you get trapped in a military conflict far from home?
  • MONKEY BUSINESS: (Historical Fiction, Hanlon Park): G RATING — A group of circus monkeys have escaped the local vet! Or have they? Learn about Brisbane’s history whilst helping a rather crazy vet capture the escapees.

Children’s Flora & Fauna Trails

Creative community in Brisbane was upskilled and paid for their creation of the content for the project.

Written by Lee McGowan, these stories are full of information about the local flora and fauna disguised in a fun story line.

  • FRIEND OR FOE? AN EXPRESSS TRIP (Hanlon Park): G RATING — Join the woodland creatures on their way to the swing park, if you can make it without being eaten, obviously! If you live to tell it, you might learn about the native plants and animals.
  • SURF’S UP IN JC SLAUGHTER FALLS (JC Slaughter Falls): G RATING Join the woodland creatures for a surf – or a sail. There are some dangers though so be careful. If you make it, you might be able to build a boat and share what you learn about the native plants and animals.
  • WATCH OUT FOR THE WEED FEET (7th Brigade Park): G RATING Your peaceful walk with three woodland creatures isn’t completely ruined when two of them are kidnapped. During the rescue you’ll create your own wood creature and learn about the native plants and animals.

As a bonus, check out this Choose Your Adventure that takes you through the Botanical Gardens at Mt. Coot-tha.

The Infected (Mt. Coot-tha)

PG Rating, Written by: Ben Carey, Art by: Clare Neal, Music by: Schae

Brisbane has been infected with a deadly disease! It is up to you to find the ingredients to make the cure. Learn about the flora of the Brisbane Botanic Gardens while finding a cure for a deadly virus that has taken over Brisbane.

Ready to unlock the true power of interactive storytelling for your city? We’re happy to guide you through the process.

How can Story City Help You Unlock the Power of Interactive Storytelling for Your City?

Story City is an international leader in locative storytelling and cultural tourism. The GPS app is the only one of its kind that runs this type of interactive digital/real world experience.

If you’re a tourism or municipal organization that is looking for ways to promote foot traffic and help to increase overall engagement in your city’s public spaces, contact Story City to see how we can help you connect to locals and visitors in an interactive and entertaining way. 

Just email: info (at) storycity (dot) app

You can find more case studies here.