Brisbane

Brisbane skyline at night, Courtesy of Tourism Queensland

The subtropical climate may be warm, but Brisbane is decidedly cool. The population has doubled in the last two decades to almost two million people and, as a result, Brisbane has been busily reinventing itself. There is a lively young arts scene and the city has been ranked among the hottest places in the world for new music. Its young fashion designers are making a name for themselves, and the Gallery of Modern Art is bringing blockbuster exhibitions down under. But while the CBD skyline may be spiked by glittering high-rise buildings, and the river lined with big boats, thankfully, the city has lost little of its friendliness in the make-over. Life is as relaxed as ever, and firmly focused on the outdoors.

Brisbane’s hilly terrain provides breathing space and a beautiful backdrop to the CBD. Step into the nearby suburbs and you will find stately Moreton Bay fig trees standing sentinel in the suburban streets and mango trees blooming in the backyards of those distinctive weatherboard houses on stilts known as ‘Queenslanders’. With their shady verandahs and tin roofs just made for the patter of summer rain, you can still find them within walking distance of the CBD.

From the coast to the suburbs, the year-round warm climate means that Brisbane is ideal for a holiday; whether you want city parks or national parks, markets or museums, nightlife or wildlife, you will find it all here.

Visitor information

Brisbane Visitor Information & Booking Centre

Brisbane Visitor Information & Booking Centre, Queen Street Mall (07) 3006 6290

www.visitbrisbane.com.au

Getting Around

Brisbane has well-signed, well-maintained roads, but it’s not an easy city for first-time visitors to negotiate. The region’s growth has resulted in a crisscrossing network of major motorways and some significant new roadwork projects. In the city centre itself, there are many one-way streets. To make matters more confusing, the Brisbane River twists its way through the city and suburbs. An up-to-date road map and some careful route planning at the beginning of each day is a good idea. As the city has grown more crowded, cycling has become a viable and healthy option for getting around and more locals are taking to their bikes. Brisbane boasts an ever-expanding network of picturesque bikeways and pedestrian paths. Purchase a subscription to CityCycle and you can pick up and drop off hired bikes from locations around the city. The Cycle2City facility under King George Square is a first for Australia and offers showers, lockers, laundry and bike security for local city workers and visitors alike.

Trains, buses and ferries cater for all needs and a couple of bus routes are designed specifically for visitors. A boat trip on the Brisbane River is a must. Plenty of tours are available to riverside tourist attractions (see Walks and tours, p. 386) and there is an excellent commuter ferry and catamaran (CityCat) service.The CityCats travel at high speed and standing on the deck and feeling the cool wind in your hair is the best way to see Brisbane. A Go Card is a cheaper alternative to buying paper tickets and can be used on all transport – ferries, trains and buses (see www.translink.com.au).

Public transport

Translink (bus, ferry, CityCat and rail) 13 1230.

Airport shuttle bus

Con-X-ion Airport Transfers (07) 5556 9888.

Bus tours

City Sights bus tours and free Loop buses circle the CBD and central suburbs 13 1230.

Motoring organisation

RACQ 13 1905, roadside assistance 13 1111.

Car rental

Avis 13 6333; Budget 1300 362 848; Europcar 13 1390; Hertz 13 3039; Thrifty 1300 367 227.

Taxis

Black and White Cabs 13 3222; Yellow Cabs 13 1924.

Airport rail service

Train from the airport to the city and Gold Coast 1800 119 091.

Bicycle hire

Bicycle Revolution (07) 3342 7829; CityCycle 1300 229 253.

Experience

City Botanic Gardens

A bike ride through the City Botanic Gardens


Brisbane Powerhouse

Cocktails by the river at the Powerhouse arts centre


James Street Precinct

People-watching on fashionable James Street


Mount Coot-tha Forest

City views from Mount Coot-tha


Queensland Art Gallery

The latest blockbuster at the Gallery of Modern Art


Riverside Centre and Eagle Street Pier

Riverside dining at Eagle Street Pier


Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Hugging a koala at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary


Streets Beach

A stroll along the Rainforest Walk and a swim at Streets Beach in South Bank


Shopping

Queen Street Mall, City

Brisbane’s premier shopping precinct, with major department stores and arcades including Queens Plaza, Myer Centre, Brisbane Arcade, Elizabeth Arcade, Broadway on the Mall and the Wintergarden. Nearby is MacArthur Central.


Fortitude Valley

For up-and-coming designer fashion, collectibles and books, antiques, art and trendy homewares, adventure gear and souvenirs. Markets on the weekend.


Emporium

More than 35 specialty retailers offering top-end fashion, jewellery, art, books wine and food.


Little Stanley Street, South Bank

Designer fashion, boutique homewares and gifts.


Paddington

For antiques, vintage fashion, eco and green products and homewares on Latrobe and Given terraces.


Logan Rd, South Brisbane

A quirky street with everything from antiques and vintage fashion to homewares.


Westfield Chermside Shopping Centre

Huge mall on Brisbane’s north side with 350 specialty stores, all the major department stores and a 16-cinema complex including 2 Gold Class theatres.


Indooroopilly Shopping Centre

Popular mall in Brisbane’s western suburbs is undergoing a massive redevelopment expected to be completed in mid-2015. More than 250 shops, major department stores, and 16 cinemas, but definitely a work in progress.


Direct Factory Outlet (DFO) Brisbane

Next to Brisbane Airport, this centre offers up to 120 discounted brands plus eateries.


The Barracks

A walk from Roma Street station in the old Petrie Terrace Army Barracks is this small shopping complex featuring boutique homewares, international eateries and a cinema.


Walks & Tours

Balloons Over Brisbane

See the sun rise over Brisbane city at dawn – take a hot-air balloon flight, followed by a gourmet champagne breakfast. Bookings on (07) 3844 6671.


Self Guided Walking Tours

Explore Brisbane’s heart on your choice of four self-guided walking tours that takes in the CBD’s highlights. Take a Historical Tour, River Loop, Art & Architecture Tour or City to South Bank walk. Pick up a free brochure from the visitor centre in the Queen Street Mall.


Brisbane's Living Heritage Network

Grab a copy of the Network's guide Cultural & Heritage Places of Greater Brisbane and take a trip back in time. Copies are available from the visitor centres in the Queen Street Mall and South Bank or online www.brisbanelivingheritage.org. (07) 3223 6606.


City Sights Bus Tours

Experience the cultural and historic highlights of Brisbane city in comfort. Set your own pace – you can hop off and on the clearly signed buses at any time. Brochure and tickets available from the visitor centre or call 13 1230 or (07) 3006 6290 for more information.


Ghost Tours

Scare yourself silly with a variety of serious ghost tours exploring Brisbane’s haunted history with local horror historian Jack Sim, including Toowong cemetery and Boggo Road Gaol. Bookings on 0401 666 441.


Gonewalking

Discover Brisbane on foot with the help of experienced Brisbane City Council volunteers, with more than 80 free walks on offer each week, or pick up a walking trails brochure from the visitor information centre. (07) 3403 8888.


Moreton Bay Cruises

Explore beautiful Moreton Bay on one of the many cruises on offer. Details from the visitor centre.


River Tours

Travel the river to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary with Mirimar Cruises (0412 749 426) or enjoy a meal with stunning views on a Kookaburra River Queen cruise (07) 3221 1300.


Story Bridge Adventure Climb

Take in spectacular 360-degree views of the city on this 2.5hr climb up Brisbane’s iconic Story Bridge. Bookings on 1300 254 627.


Wynnum Manly Heritage Trail

Once you’ve explored historic Brisbane city, do the same in the nautical bayside area. Brochures available from the Wynnum Manly visitor centre.


Sport

Brisbane’s weather is perfect for outdoor activities, and Brisbane’s sports stadiums are state of the art. If AFL (Australian Football League) is your passion, you can’t miss the Brisbane Lions at their home ground, the Gabba. The Gabba is also home to Qld cricket – watch the Bulls defend the state’s cricketing honour. You will find the Gabba (known formally as the Brisbane Cricket Ground) in the suburb of Woolloongabba, south of Kangaroo Point.

Rugby League is a way of life in Qld, culminating in State of Origin. You can watch the Brisbane Broncos, the city’s rugby league team, at Suncorp Stadium (also known fondly by locals by its former name Lang Park), a Brisbane sporting institution in Milton. Ticket-holders enjoy free public transport on match days. Or show your true colours by supporting the Reds, Qld’s Rugby Union team, at their matches, which are also at Suncorp Stadium. 

The Brisbane International tennis tournament attracts the world’s leading players in the first week of January. Matches are held at the Queensland Tennis Centre in Tennyson, opened in 2009.

If you prefer the sport of thoroughbreds, head to Brisbane’s horseracing venues at Doomben and Eagle Farm. Or for car racing at its loudest and most thrilling, head south for the Gold Coast 600 Supercars in October.

Entertainment

Major cinemas can be found at the Myer Centre in the city (an Event Cinemas complex) and at most of the big suburban malls. See the Courier-Mail for movie times. If you’re in town in November you can catch the Brisbane International Film Festival (BIFF). Brisbane is a city devoted to film festivals. Look out for them throughout the year.

Day Tours

Mount Glorious

The sleepy settlement of Mount Glorious lies to the north-west of the city in Brisbane Forest Park, a 28,500ha reserve of subtropical forests and hills. Mount Glorious is the base for a number of enjoyable walking tracks. Nearby Wivenhoe Lookout offers panoramic views of the surrounding country and Cedar Creek features natural falls and swimming holes.


Daisy Hill Conservation Park

Close to Brisbane’s south-eastern suburbs is Daisy Hill Conservation Park, best known for its large colony of koalas. The Daisy Hill Koala Centre has a variety of displays and, from a tower, you can see koalas in their favourite place – the treetops. (07) 3229 1032.


Bribie Island

Connected to the mainland by a bridge at Caboolture, Bribie is the most accessible of the Moreton Bay islands. Fishing, boating and crabbing are popular activities. For a quiet picnic and walk, visit Buckleys Hole Conservation Park at the southern end.


Moreton Island

This impossibly beautiful sand island is mostly national park, reached by passenger ferry from Pinkenba or vehicular ferry from the Port of Brisbane. Vehicle access is 4WD only, but guided tours are available. Walking, swimming, fishing and dolphin-watching are some of the activities on offer.


North Stradbroke Island

A favourite getaway for Brisbanites, Straddie, as it’s affectionately known, is the most developed of the Moreton Bay islands, with small townships at Point Lookout, Dunwich and Amity. Visit Blue Lake National Park at the centre of the island for swimming and walking (access by 4WD or a 45min walk), or enjoy ocean views along the North Gorge Headlands Walk. The island is reached by vehicular ferry from Cleveland.


The Gold Coast

An hour’s drive from Brisbane, the Gold Coast is arguably Australia’s most famous and busiest holiday region, with beautiful surf beaches and huge theme parks – perfect for kids of all ages. All activities on offer, from deep-sea fishing and golf to dining and shopping, are of international-resort standard.


Gold Coast Hinterland

Dubbed the ‘green behind the gold’, the region offers a peaceful retreat from the bustle of the coast. Follow the winding scenic road up to Lamington National Park, part of a World Heritage area and Qld’s most visited park. It preserves a rainforest environment and a large wildlife population with many bird species, including bowerbirds and lyrebirds.


Toowoomba

Travel to Toowoomba from Brisbane and you will find yourself climbing the Great Dividing Range. This grand old lady of the Darling Downs is perched on the edge of the escarpment at 800m above sea level. It’s not dubbed the ‘Garden City’ for nothing – Toowoomba is famous for its parks, gardens and tree-lined streets, and each September it celebrates the Carnival of the Flowers. The city has also long been known for its antique shops and tea parlours, and these days also offers good coffee and innovative restaurants.


Cafes & restaurants around town

Ahmet's Turkish Restaurant

This family-owned-and-operated restaurant is one of Brisbane’s most entertaining, offering good food presented in a spirit of fun and with belly dancing on Friday and Saturday nights. It has interesting wines from... Find out more


Anise Bistro & Wine Bar 1 km

If you love an exciting small bar and equally exciting food, then this tiny French treasure with room for only 21 people is for you. There are about 20 wines you can try by the glass, and you’d have to be a very... Find out more


ARIA Restaurant

Matt Moran’s Brisbane restaurant is the northern equivalent of its Sydney stablemate, so you can expect fine dining, fine service and top-quality food with prices to match. The $105 steak is a piece of wagyu cooked... Find out more


Baguette

A Brisbane icon, Baguette was established by the Domenech family in 1976 and they have kept it at the top of the city’s restaurant scene ever since. If you really want to know what the current trends are, check out what... Find out more


Breakfast Creek Hotel

Known by the locals as ‘The Brekkie Creek’, this hotel should have had an identity crisis from birth, being built in French Renaissance style in 1889 and achieving culinary status in the 1960s with its... Find out more


Cinco Bistro

Owner Peter Stubbs spent 15 years as a private chef aboard the yachts of the extremely rich, famous and powerful in Europe and the Caribbean. For five years he was private chef in Mexico City to one of the world’s... Find out more


e’cco 1 km

In the mid-1990s, chef Philip Johnson opened a bistro at the grungy end of the CBD and turned the town that cuisine forgot into a chef’s special. These days the area is no longer grungy, e’cco is noisy and... Find out more


Icon Bar & Bistro

This relaxed restaurant serves generously proportioned and interesting entrées and mains, covering the spectrum from seafood to steak. It has a huge cocktail bar and plenty of outdoor and indoor seating, making it a good... Find out more


Ipoh Laksa

Run by the Chow family, former residents of the Malaysian state of Ipoh, this is a friendly, unfussy restaurant. The generous serves of Malaysian food will appeal to those who love hot and fiery sambals and laksas. For... Find out more


Lefkas Greek Taverna 3 km

Cheerful local crowds, students and families flock here for hearty servings of traditional Greek food at low prices. Along with the expected spanakopita (spinach pie), souvlaki and moussaka, you’ll find superb... Find out more


Merthyr Bowls Club

You don’t have to be a fan of lawn bowls to love this riverside club, where barefoot bowls is a big drawcard most days. There are several barbecue options plus light meals and snacks, including oysters, burgers and... Find out more


Moda Restaurant 1 km

With the owners also the chef and the sommelier, you can expect an exciting and constantly changing European-style menu at Moda. Chef Javier Codina uses local seasonal food to perfection, and the extensive international... Find out more


Mondo Organics

Good beef is like good wine, reflecting its terroir, or origins. When your steak is from cattle that have roamed free range over the uncontaminated Mitchell grasses of central Queensland, and been handled humanely, you... Find out more


Montrachet 2 km

Montrachet is very French, like its enthusiastic owner Thierry Galichet, and fun and relaxed. Given this is Queensland, where seafood reigns supreme, the bouillabaisse with reef fish, Queensland scallops, fresh green... Find out more


Restaurant Lurleen’s

Attached to the Sirromet Winery, Lurleen’s regularly wins awards for Queensland’s best winery restaurant. Executive chef and TV cooking star Andrew Mirosch is one of Brisbane’s favourite chefs. Here he... Find out more


Tank Restaurant and Bar 1 km

Located on the ground floor of the impressive Santos Building, Tank Bar and Restaurant is an architectural marvel as much as it is an esteemed eatery. Designed by local firm Donovan Hill using sustainable marble and... Find out more


Thai Wi-Rat 1 km

Known affectionately as The Rat – the name is a combination of the three owners’ names – this is Thai street food at its best, without having to take a flight to Bangkok. In 2000 The Rat was a... Find out more


Urbane

The Urbane dynasty extends over three restaurants, but for the original Urbane experience, visit their freshly renovated restaurant on Mary Street. Cutting-edge, contemporary cooking is counterposed by classic dishes to... Find out more


Watt Restaurant + Bar

Shows at the Powerhouse are always contemporary and so is the food at its restaurant, Watt. Eat at dusk from a set-price menu offering limited but nevertheless interesting choices, or dine later with full à la... Find out more


Nearby breweries

Castlemaine Perkins (Fourex) Brewery 2 km

The pages of Australian brewing history are littered with take-overs and acquisitions, and while Castlemaine Perkins sounds like a merger, it was, in reality, yet another buy-out. As the name suggests, the Castlemaine... Find out more


Foster's Group (Yatala Brewery) 38 km

This brewery site, located at Yatala, midway between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, was established by the Power Brewing Company, which launched Powers Bitter in 1988. Four years later a joint venture between Powers and... Find out more


Mt Tamborine Brewery 54 km

One of Queensland’s more ambitious craft-brewing operations is at Mount Tamborine, in the Gold Coast hinterland. The 24-hectolitre microbrewery is the original plant used by the Bluetongue Brewery in Newcastle and... Find out more


Burleigh Brewing Company 80 km

Queensland has generally suffered from a dearth of craft breweries so the Burleigh Brewing Company is a welcome and relatively recent addition. Co-owner/brewer Brennan Fielding boasts considerable experience as a... Find out more


Sunshine Coast Brewery 89 km

Queensland’s longest-running microbrewery has been operating from an industrial estate on the outskirts of Maroochydore since 1998. It was established by Jim Robinson and Queensland craft-beer pioneer Graham Howard... Find out more


Stone and Wood Brewing 140 km

The popular coastal holiday destination of Byron Bay is the location for one of the country’s newest and most exciting craft breweries – Stone & Wood. The partners behind the venture include a trio of... Find out more


Eagle Heights Brewery 53 km

Located a few hundred metres from the more substantial MT Tamborine Brewery, this tiny brewery opened in October 2008. New Zealand–born mechanical engineer turned brewer Frank Safi operates the 5-hectolitre... Find out more


Hotels, motels & B&Bs around town

Emporium

You know you’re somewhere special when you walk into the lobby of this modern and luxurious boutique hotel. The backlit red glass walls glow behind silver filigree panels, and the same attention to design applies... Find out more


Limes Hotel 2 km

Limes is the hotel you choose when you don’t want to go to a boring establishment. With only 21 rooms, you can mix with other guests and perhaps a few locals, who get the nod of approval from the door dudes, at the... Find out more


One Thornbury 1 km

Boutique hotel meets B&B here with high-quality furnishings and ensuites, a private entrance for guests and a shady courtyard in a home built in 1886, in a precinct filled with similar listed ‘character’... Find out more


Sofitel Brisbane

This is Brisbane’s best hotel location in terms of views combined with proximity to the CBD and fast access to Brisbane’s international and domestic airports via the adjacent Central Railway Station Air... Find out more


Popular events around town

Brisbane Comedy Festival at the Powerhouse

Some of the world’s most acclaimed comedians perform stand-up routines. February-March.... Find out more


Queensland Winter Racing Carnival

Excitement on and off the racecourse. April–July.... Find out more


Paniyiri Greek Festival

Enjoy Greek food, dance, music, cooking classes and live entertainment as Musgrave Park, South Brisbane, is transformed with markets, tavernas and all things Greek. May.... Find out more


Ekka (Royal Queensland Show)

A Brisbane institution where the city meets the country for ten days. Farm animals, fireworks, side-shows and the iconic Ekka Strawberry Sundae. August.... Find out more


Brisbane Festival

Queensland’s largest celebration of the performing and visual arts. Food, live music and theatre in pop-up locations around the city, closing with the Riverfire fireworks. September.... Find out more


Brisbane International Film Festival

Superb showcase of the latest in Australian and overseas film, with an international atmosphere. November.... Find out more


Woodford Folk Festival

Huge award-winning folk festival held annually just out of Brisbane. Local, national and international musicians and artists, lots of markets and good food. December.... Find out more


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