Brisbane, the bustling capital of
Queensland, occupies an unusual position for many visitors. As the
city is a focal point of domestic and international flights as well
as rail and bus services, many arriving visitors are tempted to
head directly to the Gold Coast to the south or the Sunshine Coast
to the north, missing out on its varied urban attractions.
central business district nestles in a U-shaped bend of the
Brisbane River, which snakes its way through the city from its
mouth in Moreton Bay. The city is compact and laid out in a grid
system, with streets named for male British royals at right angles
to streets named after their female counterparts.
buildings remain from Brisbane's earliest days of settlement as a
convict colony -- it was founded by John Oxley in 1824 -- but the
town still boasts a number of lovely Victorian and Edwardian
sandstone buildings. However, some are now used for quite different
purposes than originally constructed.
The two oldest
remaining buildings from the early days are the Old Windmill in
Wickham Terrace, which is closed to the public, and the Old
Commissariat Store on William Street. Close to Victoria Bridge, a
main crossing of the river, are the imposing former Treasury and
Land Administration Buildings that now house Conrad Treasury Casino
and Conrad Treasury Hotel, a five star establishment.
Along the Brisbane
In 1988, the
World Expo was held on a run-down stretch on the south bank of the
Brisbane River. In the years since, the area has been transformed
into a modern living space complete with parks, a convention
center, theatres, art galleries, the Queensland state library,
modern apartment blocks, shops and restaurants. There is even a
popular man-made beach and lagoon, called Streets Beach.
A great way to
sightsee is via CityCat ferries, which regularly ply the river from
Bretts Wharf, near the airport, to the University of Queensland and
farther west, providing fantastic views of the skyline, life along
the river and the riverside homes and gardens of Brisbane's most
The City Botanic
Gardens are located on a bend of the river only a couple of blocks
south of the city center. Busy with pedestrians and bike riders
during the day, the gardens are strewn with Moreton Bay fig trees
and bunya pines, creating shady spots among sweeping lawns and
A storied span
cantilevered Story Bridge -- designed by John Bradfield, who also
was responsible for the more famous Sydney Harbour Bridge -- opened
in 1940, no one could have imagined that it would become a tourist
attraction. However, since October 2005, hundreds of locals and
visitors have experienced the adrenaline rush of climbing the
southern half of the bridge with Story Bridge Adventure Climb.
After a pre-climb
briefing -- which includes a Breathalyzer test, metal detector scan
and getting decked out in unflattering climbing gear -- small
groups of up to 12 visitors are led to the top of the bridge,
secured to a specially constructed rail by a continuous static
Some 260 feet
above the river, the summit offers stunning views of the city,
river and surrounding areas.
A thriving cultural hub
cultural landscape, long distinguished by plenty of theaters and
galleries, in recent years has been augmented by the completion of
the Brisbane Convention and Cultural Centre, Queensland Cultural
Centre, Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Queensland Museum and
Sciencentre, Art Gallery and State Library.
All are within
walking distance of the city center across Victoria Bridge and
comprise a superb arts and cultural precinct. Farther along the
river, close to the Goodwill Bridge, the Maritime Museum is a great
hands-on venue for young and old tracing the maritime history of
One of the most
enduring and endearing places to visit is the Lone Pine Koala
Sanctuary, founded in 1927 and one of the oldest animal sanctuaries
in the world. Many native Australian animals are found here but the
big attraction, especially for visitors, are the koalas and the
chance to have a photo taken cuddling one. Visitors can get to the
sanctuary by bus or via the 1930s ferry the MV Miramar from North
known for their beer consumption, and XXXX ("Four X") is definitely
the iconic beer. The XXXX Alehouse Brewery Tour covers the heritage
and workings of the famous brewery, ending with samples of its
leveraged its ideal climate in developing a keen outdoor-dining
scene. Restaurants, many of top international standard, are now
found in all corners of the city; the choice is quite
The major hotels
all have excellent restaurants, and in recent years, new places
have opened in and around the South Bank Parklands and at the
Waterfront Plaza and Eagle Street Pier area.
Boundary Street on the edge of the city center, is a restaurant
consistently rated among the best in town. It features
Mediterranean- and Asian-inspired dishes using the best local
that come highly recommended are Lot 27, Pier Nine, Cha Cha Char,
Restaurant II, Michael's Riverside Restaurant, Seasalt and Siggi's
at the Port Office. For a leisurely breakfast, try the Gunshop Cafe
in the West End or depot Emporium in Fortitude Valley.
Brisbane is well
endowed with accommodation options for all budgets. All the major
chains are represented. Increasingly popular are apartment- and
suite-style hotels that are an attractive option, especially if
guests are staying for a few days.
For example, the
Sebel Suites Brisbane offers well-appointed suites with kitchen and
laundry facilities. It is situated near all tourist attractions,
right in the heart of the business and shopping areas.
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