- last modified on January 21, 2022
Brisbane International Airport (IATA: BNE / ICAO: YBBN) is the third busiest Australian airport by aircraft movements with roughly 24 million passengers in 2019. Brisbane is a major hub for Virgin Australia and a secondary hub for both Qantas and its low cost Jetstar. The airport has international and domestic flights, a cargo, a general aviation terminal and three runways.
Why visiting Brisbane? You will have the chance to shots exotics airlines like (Air Niugini, Air Vanuatu, Air Calin, Fiji Airways, Nauru Airlines, Solomon Airlines and Air New Zealand). As almost main Australian airport, you will find also, Cathay Pacific Airways, China Southern Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Emirates, Etihad Airways, EVA Air, Korean Air, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways.
Written by James Baxter (Local spotter), Jeremy Denton, Jan Seba and Martin Rogosz. Last update January 2021
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3,300 m (10.827 ft) – Asphalt
3,560 m (11,680 ft) – Asphalt
Essential for various locations. Please note that the Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) enforce and police the policy of all ladders being approximately 3 metres behind perimeter fencing.
Car is required. The terminal spots 2-3 can be reached by the air train from the city center.
Available at publicly accessible locations on the east and south districts of the airport such as the International and Domestic Terminal, Skygate Shopping Complex and the BNE Service Centre.
Numerous fast food and sit-down dining options at the Domestic Terminal (BLD, Hungry Jacks, Krispy Krème, Red Rooster, Wok On Air and additional bars and café’s), Skygate Shopping Complex (Baker’s Club, Magical Rice, Woolworths and The Coffee Club), BNE Service Centre (Shell Coles Express, McDonald’s, Hungry Jack’s, KFC, The Coffee Club, Subway, Sushi Mi and Airport Kebabs) as well as the nearby Centro Toombul Shopping Centre.
There are only a few hotels in the vicinity of the airport. These include the Novotel Brisbane Airport and Hotel Ibis Budget Brisbane Airport. The Novotel offers a view of the 01L approach.
Queensland is regarded as Australia’s sunshine state and with Brisbane being its capital, spotting is usually unaffected throughout the cooler months (March-October). However, throughout the warmer months (November – February), temperatures can exceed 35 degree celcius with severe thunderstorms rolling over the city and airport some afternoons / evenings. It is to be noted that heat haze can be an issue at some spotting locations.
Major runway with mixed traffic (from general aviation to super-heavies). Used in both directions.
Open since July 2020
The Loop - 19L arrivals, 01R departures, taxiway alpha/bravo
Located past both the International and Domestic Terminals, the Acacia Street Spotting Loop is positioned just south of the General Aviation (GA) apron. The location can be accessed via Moreton Drive (the outbound road [towards airport] to the Domestic Terminal) by following the signed ‘General Aviation’ directions. For when the Loop is unfortunately closed, the Toll Carpark adds another location which has similar viewing to the Loop itself.
RWY19L arrivals, RWY01R departures, Bravo and Alpha taxiway operations.
The Loop is operated by the Brisbane Airport Cooperation (BAC) and is functional between 0600-1800 (AEST). Whilst the morning offers a close up view of numerous heavy international movements, the optimum photography time is after midday.
Heat haze can become an issue during the summer months. Green ants and mosquitoes can cause discomfort. And signposted SNAKE WARNINGS need to be taken into account as well; although, if you stick to the concrete slab, you should have no issues. Using a 3 step ladder is definitely recommended, due to the high fencing around all areas of the airport. (although it is possible to photograph between the fence)
Runway 01/19 – minimum of 150mm, maximum of 400mm, Taxiways Alpha & Bravo – minimum of 18mm, maximum of 200mm
Brisbane’s Domestic Terminal requires you to line up and pass through domestic security to access the gates. Although you do not require a boarding pass / passport, you will be subject to metal detectors / drug swabs. Best to miss this location unless you are boarding / disembarking a flight. The domestic terminal is splitted into three wings. The northern wing is for the Qantas flights and the southern wing for the Virgin Australia flights. All other flights are taking place from the middle wing.
Of course you can easily capture the ramp movements depending which wing your are. But it is also possible to potograph the aircraft taxiing past and aircraft arriving and departing on runway 01R/19L.
Best light conditions from 1200 onwards.
Terminal glass is tinted, although this can be rectified in Lightroom or by manually changing the white balance. In addition, the glass does create reflections during the morning, as well as bringing out fingerprints / additional marks.
RWY01/19 – minimum of 200mm, maximum of 400mm, Gate – minimum of 18mm, maximum of 200mm
The 9th floor of the domestic car park offers a 180 degree panoramic view of Brisbane Airport’s runway. To get to this vantage point, take the escalator from the drop off area onto the walkway above, and head towards the domestic car park. The left block of elevators (when facing the car carpark) can only be used to access the 9th level.
A ladder is not required for this location. BAC staff / security personnel are known to ask you to move on from this location, however it is regarded as an accepted photography area by the airport itself. Great for long exposures / time-lapses / panoramas. A monopod is recommended at large focal lengths.
Domestic Terminal Gates – minimum of 200mm, maximum of 400mm, Bravo Taxiway – minimum of 200mm, maximum of 500mm, Runway 01/19 – minimum of 250mm, maximum of 600mm
Located off Lomandra Drive at the end of Callistemon St on the Southern border of the Brisbane Airport perimeter. Find a suitable place at the fence to photograph the parked planes.
Papa 1-4B and Papa 7 Parking Bay. Parking Bays Papa 1-4B usually utilised by Virgin Australia B738 / Alliance Airlines F100/F70/F50. Parking Bay Papa 7 was usually utilised by Royal Australian Air Force A343 / Transpacific Heavylift DC8.
Sometimes other aircraft are parked in this area and can be photographed from the nearby hills which overlook the fence.
Mainly Evening or during the day depending on parking angle.
Yellow no-parking lines are down either side of this street, so get your photo and move on. Beware of snakes in the bushy areas. A ladder is recommended for this location.
Mainly small focal length (e.g. 18mm for the B737)
Located directly at the end of Eucalyptus Drive with a viewing straight up taxiway Lima which is to and from the logistic apron. Stay on the the huge madow to catch the arrivals on the new runway. Parking is availabe on the side at the end of the road.
This location allows for a fantastic angle of aircraft taxiing or being tugged to and from the Logistics apron. Furthermore 01L arrivals can bee photographed from there.
For the ramp Anytime of the day, depending on photographers angle, but most likely better in the evening. Arrivals on 01L are possible in the morning hours.
Nothing nearby. Ladder needed to photograph the ground stuff but you can shot through the mesh as well. Beware of snakes in the bushy areas.
Located on Da Vinci Boulevard, which links Leonardo Drive to Lomandra Drive we find out next position. Enough car spaces are available either side of the Boulevard, with a concrete path way and hard-mounted seats available. Looking to the east, the aircraft glide slope for runway 01R.
There is also an alternative location, where you will have a better angle at the cost of slightly higher focal length. Park your car in the large car park and walk away from the RWY line over the large empty field until you find the angle/distance that works best for you.
Runway 01R arrivals only
Best light conditions are in the afternoon.
No ladder required, with an open field for you to play around with.
250mm for a B738 and over 300mm for smaller aircraft like B717 or ATR72.
Lavarack Ave / Holt Street roundabout - 01R arrivals
located off Kingsford Smith Drive, accessed via Holt Street. Parking is available along both sides of the entire avenue. The eastern end of Lavarack is perfect for morning and night arrivals on runway 01R, and the western end of Lavarack is perfect for afternoon and night arrivals (due to lighting conditions). Note that the glide slope for runway 01R and the departure route for 19L is nearly directly up Holt street; thus if you prefer underside shots, stand close to the roundabout of Lavarack and Holt street to be directly under arriving or departing aircraft.
Perfect for runway 01R underside aircraft photography. PLUS: Lavarack Avenue in either direction from the roundabout, can offer fantastic side on shots for runway 01R arrivals.
Any time is suitable, with the eastern end of the avenue. Perfect for morning and the western side of the avenue perfect for afternoon. The glide slope for runway01 arrivals runs nearly perfectly down Holt Street, so staying close to the roundabout on either side of it is a great idea.
Shooting over head ans side on aircraft angles, be mindful of heavy vehicles and cares as this is a busy road 24/7.
Undersides 50mm minimum, 100mm maximum / Side on shots 200mm minimum, 400mm+ maximum
Located directly off Kingsford Smith Drive, this area resides at the end of the road where the last left hand drive way is to a business. Parking is available on either side of the road through its entirety. This area is profoundly good for runway 01 morning arrivals, as they come from left to right with nice angles in the morning light. Night photography can be good from this area as well.
Fantastic location for runway 01R arrival photography.
Best light conditions are in the morning.
Side on photography, can be a busy road with heavy vehicles frequenting the venue 24 / 7.
Located on the corner of Main Myrletown Road and Priors Road. Parking for a short amount of time on gravel on the side of the road is available. A ladder is a necessity to be able to photograph unrestricted by fence and be at apron height.
Allow you to photograph Qantas Aircraft parked on the Hangar 3 apron, or being worked on in the maintenance hangar
Mornings are perfect light wise.
Using a 3 step ladder to get up to the apron level.
Located at the end of Baeckea Street directly off Pandanus Avenue. An entire carpark is available by taking the second right hand turn and entering the first driveway on the left. A (3-step) ladder is necessary for photography at this location, but photographing through the fence is do-able as well.
One of the best locations to photograph aircraft departing and arriving. Both runway operations are available for photography; but runway 19L rotation shots, and runway 01R touch down shots are not available due to the fire station itself.
Best light is in the morning.
There is nothing nearby. Fence is very tricky to shoot thru, so ladder highly recommended! Security may pop up quickly though.
Be advised that it is difficult at this location to get good side-on shots. You will only have a clear line of at at exactly 90° angle, which is obstructed on both sides, so you will only get very few shots per movements, making it also difficult to track airplanes and choose the correct focal length. Furthermore you will have a few obstancles in signposts in your picture, however these can be easily removed durng editing. Be careful, there is one signpost right infront of the RWY, which might obstruct main gear if you are not careful.
A B747 is roughly 130mm and a B738 just above 200mm.
You can get there only by car. From the M1 follow Kingsford Smith Drive, Main Myrtletown Road and Main Beach Road to the end and turn left in front of tge sewage treatment plant. You can drive a dirt until you get to a grassy area. Walk through the grass until you get to the fence.
Aircraft approaching RWY 19L. The spot is pretty far away from the runway, so you can only get a 90° angle for your photos.
Best light is in the morning until ~10-11 o’clock.
There is nothing nearby. A ladder is required and heat haze can become a problem on hot days, although it’s mostly okay till 12 o’clock and then the sun is on the other side anyway.
Spot 10 is actually still accessible in the most part. There is a 10m wide grass section between the building fence and the airport fence which you can walk along.
I would be happy to provide updated info for RWY19R/01L too.
Thank you for your offer! Please contact us at ” firstname.lastname@example.org ” with the informations about the new runway at BNE and we will add it to the guide.
Some additional info that may help – Car is not required for all locations – public transport is available for spots 3-6 (Train from City and Suburbs, Free Shuttle Bus from Skygate/DFO), also Spots 7-11 Translink Bus 590 Operates 7 Days a week.
Location for New Runway 19R/01L – Kedron Brook Bikeway Opposite Schulz Canal, access by bike or on foot only. Nearest public carpark Nudgee Beach Boat Ramp. Sufficient space beside path for spotting. Light conditions as for Spot 1, best from late morning onwards. Runway itself isn’t visible due to trees, good for 01L approach and 19R departures. 135mm lens is ok for 19R departures, 200+ recommended for 01L arrivials due to distance. No seats or facilities here. Beware of snakes during summer, mosquitos present all year round.
In my view Brisbane Airport is the best spotter friendly airport in the country. It gets a great mix of airlines and aircraft, and busy enough to make for a rewarding spotting day. I make a number of trips there each year. One motel not mentioned above that I stay at, and highly recommend, is the Airport Hacienda Motel – 560 Kingsford Smith Drive, Hamilton. It is an 8km drive to ‘the loop’. The staff are very friendly and are happy for guests to use their ladder for spotting should you require one.