Brisbane at Night, Qld. Photo credit: Tourism and Events Queensland
Poor, overlooked Brisbane. Australia’s 3rd largest city has, until relatively recently, been more of a base for exploring other areas (Gold Coast, Moreton Island) than a destination in its own right. Which means you’re in for a pleasant surprise.
With a climate to die for, a buzzing cultural scene and an easy sophistication, Brisbane is an easy city to like.
It feels more welcoming than you’ve any right to expect from a large centre, with a warm, friendly, sunny outlook that matches the weather.
There’s an al fresco dining culture in the city, especially along South Bank which overlooks the Brisbane River. Festivals are frequent. Galleries and shops are varied and plentiful.
Things to do in Brisbane
It may not be the most touristy of cities, but Brisbane still offers plenty:
Kangaroo Point Cliffs
Abseil, rock climb and kayak, or hire bikes and rollerblades.
Climb the city’s Story Bridge for a different perspective on Brisbane.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Ever held a koala? Or hand-fed a kangaroo? Time to put that right at the world’s largest koala sanctuary (although, outside of Australia, that’s a pretty small field). Reach the sanctuary in relaxed style by taking a cruise down the Brisbane River on the historic MV Mirimar. There’s a genuinely interesting captain’s commentary as Brisbane slips by.
Queensland Museum is always worth a visit with a healthy mix of permanent and feature exhibits. The art gallery is impressive too, and you can even swim at South Bank’s man-made beach. Lunch is easy, with a near infinite choice of cafés along the river.
Mount Coot-tha and botanic gardens
7km outside the central business district, Mt Coot-tha offers some amazing views of the city by day and night. The botanic gardens are peaceful and well-maintained with Japanese and themed gardens. You’ll also find the the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium within the gardens.
Possibly the most famous zoo in the country. It’s where Steve Irwin worked before he died, and where his family continue to work. The zoo is home to lots of native animals, but the crocodiles are the main attraction.
Watch them being fed in the 5,000 seat ‘Crocoseum’, and learn more about how these creatures live and behave in the wild.
Moreton Island is where Brisbane lets its hair down. We’d recommend at least a day-trip.
Try sand-boarding, quad-biking, snorkelling and diving. Helicopter flights give fantastic views of the island below. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a dugong from the air. Really, Google it.
The Tangalooma resort on Moreton Island offers dolphin feeding and runs whale-watching tours from June till October.
Ferries to Moreton run daily from the port at the mouth of the Brisbane River. Timetables are subject to change and you’ll need to book. Journey time is around 75 minutes.
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