The Ekka is a hugely popular event on the Brisbane calendar, drawing big crowds from across the Greater Brisbane area each day. With so many visitors keen to sample a taste of the country and experience the thrill of the rides, it’s a huge area abuzz with activity. If you’ve bought tickets for your family, you’ll want to make sure everyone has the best and safest time possible.
Disclaimer: This article is not yet updated with the latest Ekka information for 2024. When it is, we will let you know! (Especially if you sign up to our emails!) 😉
Families Magazine are the recognised experts in providing trustworthy Ekka resources, as evidenced in our multitude of Channel 9 News appearances showing you all the tips you need to have a successful day at the Ekka!
This Ekka safety guide will show you how to keep your family safe at the Ekka.
- Plan ahead for Ekka safety
- The safest way to get to the Ekka
- What to do if you become separated at the Ekka
- How to find help at the Ekka
- Safety around animals at the Ekka
- Ride safety at the Ekka
- Firework safety at the Ekka
- When kids want to “go it alone” at the Ekka
- Health and hygiene at the Ekka
- Home safe!
- Looking for more EKKA fun?
Make sure you follow us on Facebook because I will be posting about my visit to the show on the first morning including where to get the cheapest coffee, where to find the cleanest bathrooms, where to park this year, the best value showbags and my favourite rides (and how to get discounts!).
Plan ahead for Ekka safety
There are so many things to see and do at the Ekka that you will want to spend the whole day there. We guarantee it’s going to be busy, noisy, and crowded, but by planning ahead you can help your day run smoothly and keep your nerves intact. Before you set off, make sure you have:
- A fully charged phone (or several) with plenty of credit.
- A back-up battery power pack and cables to recharge your phone on the go.
- Bank card and sufficient cash to meet your needs.
- Consider investing in an RFID wallet to prevent your card being scanned by scammers. You can even buy simple RFID card sleeves quite cheaply in the travel accessory section of stores like BigW and Kmart.
- Medicare card, private health card, or any other card you think you might need in the event of a medical emergency.
- Important medications (asthma inhaler, epipen, insulin, hayfever relief etc.).
- Hand sanitiser, sunscreen, face masks (if you prefer to use them), and wide-brimmed sun hats.
- Refillable water bottles (you often see them handed out at display stands by Seqwater and Urban Utilities, but it’s not guaranteed that they will have any so it’s best to be prepared).
- Primed your kids on all the Ekka safety aspects we cover in this article!
The safest way to get to the Ekka
There’s a subtle art to getting the timing right to avoid traffic congestion around the Ekka, but we haven’t figured it out yet! There is no parking within the Ekka showgrounds, so however you travel your journey to the Ekka will involve some walking.
While a taxi or rideshare will be able to drop you close to a gate, driving in or using public transport may necessitate crossing a busy road. Allow plenty of time to find and use designated pedestrian crossings if visiting with small children who may not be traffic aware.
It’s important to note that there will be no direct rail access into the showgrounds in 2023 due to the Cross River Rail works. Instead, travellers by rail will need to catch a train to Fortitude Valley and follow signs to the Ekka gates. Fortitude Valley Station is a 550 metre walk to the show.
You can find other public transport options at translink.com.au/ekka
Thankfully there are plenty of parking options for your Ekka day out. We’ve covered all the details in our Ekka Parking article, which details locations, prices, and lots of other useful tips. Read it here: https://www.familiesmagazine.com.au/ekka-parking/
What to do if you become separated at the Ekka
The first thing to do is not panic, but that depends on whom you have become separated from and what plans you have already put into place. If you’ve become separated from an adult partner, that’s irritating – especially if you’re the one left carrying all the bags – but easily fixed with a call to their mobile phone… hopefully. If not, they’re big enough to look out for themselves. Becoming separated from your kids is another kettle of fish.
Prime your children in advance by discussing what you will do if you become separated at the Ekka. Talk about safe places to seek help, safe people to approach, and safe places to meet (we cover all of these in this article). Revisit these discussions regularly in the run up to your day at the Ekka and check your child’s understanding by asking questions. This will give your child confidence to act according to your plan, should the need arise.
On the day
Take a little time when you arrive at the Ekka to point out key places to your child, and the right people in uniforms to approach for help. If your child can find and recognise Gregory Terrace, they’d be in the right place to find police, first aid, an information booth, and the “Keep Kids Safe” station for lost children.
The Keep Kids Safe station is part of the police marquee. Make it your first port of call if visiting with younger kids. From there, you can pick up a free wristband that you can write your phone number on so that you can be quickly contacted if you become separated from your child.
Tips for parents of younger kids:
- Reassure your child that you will be actively looking for them if you become separated, and that they should try not to be too scared or panic.
- Teach them to stop and remain where they are as soon as they realise they can no longer see you, so that they don’t accidentally wander even further away. If you don’t find them quickly, they should go to the nearest display stand and ask for help.
- Dress them in something really bright and instantly noticeable so that they stand out in the crowd, or treat them to a helium balloon that you can tie to their wrist to make them more visible.
- Take a photo of your child on the day so that you can show what they are wearing to anyone helping you search.
- Ask them to practice describing you (your hair colour and style, the clothes you will be wearing, whether you wear glasses etc.), and teach them your given names so that their helpers can identify you.
- Write your phone number on a wristband (available free from the police marquee on Gregory Terrace, near the main arena).
If your child has a phone
If your child has a phone, make sure it is fully charged, the ringer volume is set loud enough to be heard over multiple generators, and that they always keep it with them. Sounds simple, but what if they lose their phone, or don’t have one?
Designated meeting spots
Depending on your child’s age and ability, plan to regroup at a designated spot. This shouldn’t just be one spot – the Ekka is huge! Consider these tips:
- Decide a spot as you enter each area. As you head to the rides, pick out the tallest one and agree to meet there. If you are in a pavilion, pick a particular entrance or display stand. If you are visiting the farm animals, agree to meet at the Norco Shed, or by the chickens. Don’t pick horses – there are stables everywhere!
- Decide on an “if all else fails” spot. This is somewhere that is easy to find and well signposted, like the entrance to the RACQ Animal Nursery, the Woolworths Fresh Food Pavilion, or a particular stand at the Main Arena.
How to find help at the Ekka
Lost children, lost property, or an emergency – these Ekka safety tips are good for adults and children to know:
If you forgot to make plans for what to do if you became separated, and you haven’t been able to find your child quickly, head to the Lost Persons station at the police marquee on Gregory Terrace. It’s near the main arena directly opposite King Street. Google Maps can take you there if you search “Gregory Terrace & King Street”.
If you have an Ekka map, the Lost Persons station is marked with white male and female person symbols on a purple background.
Police will be patrolling at the Ekka, and you can find the police marquee on Gregory Terrace as described above.
The police marquee is marked with a white P on a dark blue background on the Ekka map.
Lost and found is located at Customer Relations on the lower level of the Royal International Convention Centre.
If you have an Ekka map, “Lost & Found” is marked with a white LF on a dark blue background.
There are three first aid stations operating daily from 8am to 11pm. These are run by St John Ambulance Queensland and can be found:
- Under the John MacDonald stand
- Near the Sushi Hub Canine Pavilion on Gregory Terrace
- Near the Large Animal Pavilion
If you have an Ekka map, first aid stations are marked with a large red cross on a white background.
An information booth can help with all other queries, includng locker locations for you to safely leave your bags and possessions. You can find them:
- Outside the Woolworths Fresh Food Pavilion on Gregory Terrace
- Near the Norco Shed
- Near the Woodchop Arena in Sideshow Alley
- In the Channel 7 Pavilion on the ground floor
If you have an Ekka map, information booths are marked with a white i on a blue background.
Safety around animals at the Ekka
Some people go to the Ekka for the rides and showbags. Other go to there for the displays and demonstrations. We go to the Ekka for the animals!
Like bees to the pollen, we head straight to the RACQ Animal Nursery. After patting, cuddling, and feeding all the animals we are allowed to get close to, we are then off to admire the livestock, horses, dogs, cats, and birds.
The RACQ Animal Nursery
It’s important to remember that all creatures have the potential to cause injury to you or your child, whether intentionally or by accident. The following tips will help your family stay safe around the animals in the RACQ Ekka Animal Nursery:
- Always be calm and gentle around the animals – no running, shouting, climbing on them, poking, prodding or pulling, or chasing them. Treat the animals with respect.
- Don’t approach an animal that is sleeping or resting – they need to recharge their social batteries to continue to be cute and playful.
- Be careful about approaching an animal from behind – animals have a blind spot, just like drivers do in cars. If the animal can’t see you approach, it may be startled and react by kicking or trampling.
- ALWAYS keep within arm’s reach of your little one so that you can scoop them up if they are about to be butted or trodden on.
- If your child is feeding an animal, place the food in your child’s palm and make sure they keep their hand flat, fingers close together, and thumb tucked in to prevent any little digits being mistaken for carrot sticks.
- Speaking of carrot sticks, do NOT be tempted to feed any foods you have brought from home to any of the animals. Only use food bought from the RACQ Animal Nursery appropriate to the animal’s dietary requirements.
- Only enter pens that you are invited into. Some pens are designated animal resting or feeding areas and are not for public access. Respect the signs and stay on the right side of the fence.
- Children have a fascination for animals’ eyes, and animals’ eyes are frequently poked by tiny fingers. Encourage your child to pat only the animal’s body and not its face to prevent injury and startled reactions.
Livestock and show animals
The animals brought to the Ekka for showing can be worth many thousands of dollars. It’s a case of “look but don’t touch” for any animal outside of the RACQ Animal Nursery. The ONLY exception to this is if the animal’s owner is present and invites you to interact with their animal. These rules are golden when it comes to animal safety at the Ekka:
- If an animal or bird is in a cage, crate, or behind a fence, do not put your fingers through the bars or attempt to reach in and pat it UNLESS you have received permission from the animal’s owner and the owner is present.
- Do not offer any food to any animal or bird at the Ekka or throw food into their enclosures. You might be offering food that can make them sick, and you will be putting yourself or your child at risk of being bitten or of getting arms and hands crushed against railings.
- Don’t touch an animal’s food supply or toys. An animal might respond aggressively if they think you are going to take their things away.
- Don’t touch an animal’s water. Bacteria and parasites can be deposited in the water from the animal’s saliva, and a water-borne infection is not the kind of souvenir you want to take home with you!
- Always maintain close supervision of children around animals and keep them within arm’s length.
- Always make sure everyone washes their hands before, after, and between any interaction with animals at the Ekka. If no handwashing facilities are nearby, use hand sanitiser.
Ride safety at the Ekka
From sedate merry-go-rounds to high-speed thrill rides, the Ekka has them all! Ride safety at state shows and festivals is stringently managed, but that doesn’t mean one should be complacent or take risks. When it comes to ride safety at the Ekka, it’s important to:
Follow the rules
Minimum and maximum height, age, and weight requirements exist to keep riders safe. Don’t be tempted to cheat the system with thick-soled shoes, high hats and hairstyles, or even threats and bribes (yes, that happens!). It is far better to handle the disappointment of having to wait out another year’s growth than risk serious injury through badly fitting ride restraints and harnesses.
- If the rules say keep your arms, hands and feet within the carriage at all times, do that.
- If the rules say leave all bags behind and empty your pockets, do that.
Wear appropriate clothing
That means closed-toe shoes that won’t fall off, and clothes that don’t flap or trail into moving machinery parts. Long pants and sleeves can help protect from friction burns on slides.
Take ownership of your own safety
We all have a responsibility to look out for the safety or ourselves and others. In addition to the above tips, you can improve your own safety on rides by:
- Tying back and securing long hair.
- Leaving jewellery and accessories at home (rings, necklaces and bracelets can get snagged on moving parts).
- Checking ride safety restraints and harnesses are securely fastened in place and alerting staff members if assistance is required before the ride moves.
- Keeping all harnesses and restraints fastened until instructed by operators to remove them.
- Using supplied safety equipment and holding on to safety rails while the ride is in motion.
- Being in the moment, not recording it – don’t be tempted to take photos or videos while you are on the ride.
Firework safety at the Ekka
Every day at the Ekka ends with a spectacular fireworks display as part of EkkaNITES. Carefully trained professionals follow strict safety guidelines when setting up the displays, but these are live fireworks and accidents can happen. Take any precautions you think necessary to keep your family safe, such as watching from a little further away, and go prepared with ear defenders for any family members with noise sensitivity issues.
There are more tips about safe firework viewing in our dedicated Ekka Fireworks article.
When kids want to “go it alone” at the Ekka
There comes a time when kids and teenagers want to explore the Ekka with their friends, not their family. That can be pretty daunting for parents, but with proper preparation you can give them the little bit of freedom they crave whilst keeping them as safe as possible.
Bear in mind that it’s not possible to plan for every possible contingency, so any “freedoms” you allow need to be within your comfort zone and based on your child’s sensibility and good judgement. Here are some good pointers for helping teenagers stay safe at the Ekka:
Safety in numbers
There’s a reason certain animals and birds flock together – safety in numbers! If your child is with a group of (trusted!) friends they:
- Are less likely to be approached by strangers or troublemakers.
- Will have someone to provide assistance or obtain help for them in an emergency.
- Will, by association, have even more parents looking out for their welfare and checking in on them. (Remember: “It takes a village to raise a child”!).
Set clear boundaries on appropriate behaviour. This can include:
- How you expect them to behave around members of the public.
- Minding their language (e.g., not swearing near little children, saying please and thank you when appropriate).
- Minding their manners: no queue jumping, spitting off rides, rough play (even the best of kids can act out of character sometimes!).
- Checking in with you at regular intervals.
- Always answering your call, or calling back within a certain timeframe if they are unable to take your call at the time.
Share contact details
If the children and their parents are comfortable with this, add your child’s friends’ phone numbers to your contact list. If your child loses or damages their phone, you can call a trusted friend when you need to check in, and they can contact you if any assistance is needed.
If you don’t already have this app, download it! This app is a godsend to our family of teenagers. It’s easy to use and allows users within a set ‘circle’ to see each other’s location. You can have multiple circles for different contacts depending on whom you might want to share your location with. We only have one circle, imaginatively called “kids and mum”.
Life 360 pinpoints the users’ location to within a few meters and shows when and how fast they are moving. By opening the app, you will be able to see if your child is in the rides area, buying showbags, or moving in a direction towards you.
This app can also help you:
- Locate a lost phone
- Get walking or driving directions to a circle member’s location
- Send an emergency alert to all members of the circle
- Get notifications when a circle member has completed a journey or arrived at a destination
- Review travel speeds and instances of harsh acceleration or braking – not particularly relevant to the Ekka, but fantastic peace of mind for parents of P-platers!
Mobile phone charging station
Teenagers can run down a phone battery at an incredible rate. Luckily there is a mobile phone charging station in the John Macdonald Stand at the Main Arena. It’s likely to be busy there, but very useful to add enough charge to make a quick call to check in with you.
Encourage your child to carry a mobile power pack in their bag so they can charge on the go.
Health and hygiene at the Ekka
The only souvenirs you should bring home from the Ekka are showbags and exhibitor samples and things you have bought. You certainly don’t want to bring home gastro, sunburn, dehydration, or the dreaded Ekka flu!
We’ve all heard of the Ekka flu; it’s so famous it’s even defined on Wiktionary!
(informal, Australia, Brisbane) Colds and influenza spread during, and possibly because of, the Royal Queensland Show.Wiktionary
People visit the Ekka from all over greater Brisbane and rural Queensland. The event can give immune systems a bit of a wild ride! It’s important to follow basic hygiene practices to avoid illness.
Wash your hands frequently (there are handwashing stations near many of the animal exhibits) and use hand sanitiser often. This is especially important if you have been in contact with any animals, before handling food and eating, and after going on rides. Wear a face mask if you are comfortable doing so – we’re all used to them now anyway – and cough and sneeze into your elbow, not your hand.
Be sun smart
We’re Queenslanders – we know how to do this!
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat, long sleeves, and apply sunscreen at regular intervals.
- Do the outside stuff early, and explore the pavilions and indoor displays during the hottest part of the day.
- Seek shade wherever possible when outdoors.
- Plan your day to avoid standing in long queues for rides when the UV Index is high and the queues are not in shade.
Food is a huge part of the Ekka. Exhibitors display their fresh produce for you to sample, the vendors in the Woolworths Pavilion sell everything from cheese toasties to gourmet mushrooms, and then there are the food trucks touting all the usual fairground fare such as dagwood dogs and fairy floss. And the Ekka isn’t the Ekka without the famous strawberry ice cream sundae!
Allergens may be listed on display, but if you are buying for someone with serious food allergies or intolerances, always ask. If you cannot be sure, don’t buy.
The temperature “danger zone” for foods is between 5 °C and 60 °C. If you can’t store any freshly prepared food you buy at the Ekka below 5 °C or above 60 °C, it should be eaten as soon as possible to prevent it spoiling.
The Ekka is a big day out involving lots of movement between areas and sun exposure. It’s vitally important to stay well hydrated so you can enjoy your day.
Hydration stations, where water bottles can be refilled free of charge, are located throughout the Ekka. If you have an Ekka map, hydration stations are marked with a white water drop on a blue background.
After such a fun-filled day you will likely be exhausted, but happy. Take care when travelling home after the show, especially if you are driving or crossing busy roads.
That’s it, our hot tips for Ekka safety is complete. We hope you have a fantastic day at the Brisbane Ekka!
Looking for more EKKA fun?
As the sun sets over Brisbane the EKKA excitement ramps up with a HUGE 1.5 hour EkkaNITES program sure to delight families. We’ve got the low down on Ekka fireworks!