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Travel Guide: Brisbane

Brisbane is also known as Brissy or Brisvegas, perhaps to ironically mock its party scene. It’s the capital city of the state of Queensland and the third most populous in Australia.

In a nutshell, the weather is nice year round, the CBD is not chaotic as in a normal big city and there are plenty of good spots to visit.
Most backpackers will tell you it’s just a dull city and not worth a visit, and if you are looking for an ongoing party scene this is definitely not the place. However there are a few bars and clubs in the CBD and the suburb where you can find thriving nightlife is Fortitude Valley where, especially on Saturday nights, there’s hard partying. Despite the mild nights out, a room can cost as little as $150 per week and depending on the time of the year it can be quite easy to get one or more jobs, making it an ideal place to top up that bank account.

Downtown Brisbane – The Highlights

Visiting Brisbane’s city centre and getting to know the town is a rather easy and fast task. The CBD is only composed of a few skyscrapers, which resemble a nano New York. Its similarities with the North American city were recently availed to shoot the new Thor movie (they still had to find American taxies to use in the movie though as they look different in Australia). The main downtown street is Queen Street, a carless mall with all the major shops including a big shopping centre – The Myer Centre Brisbane – and plenty of live music, which gives a great atmosphere to the whole street. Depending on the day of the week you can find the city markets either in King George Square or at the upper end of Queen Street. In the markets you can find local farmers’ products as well as food stalls from all over the world including a Portuguese custard tart stall selling the best tarts you can find in the southern hemisphere. There are plenty more markets happening around town on specific days of the week – find out more about the farmer’s markets here.

Just a short walk from the upper end of Queen Street sits the Botanical Gardens. It is the perfect spot for a walk by the riverside and has a good view of the Story Bridge and Kangaroo Point, which are lit up at night time. The colour of the lights on the Story Bridge always has some kind of meaning. After the terrorist attacks in France, for instance, the bridge was lit in the colours of the French flag. To find out more about what the colours of the lights on the Story Bridge represent have a look here.

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One of the greatest tourist attractions is South Bank Parklands sitting on the southern margin of the Brisbane River. The place itself was built for the World Expo ‘88 and today is fully integrated in the city. Here you can find a few museums and galleries including the Gallery of Modern Art and Queensland Museum & Sciencentre. Other main attractions include a man-made beach and the Wheel of Brisbane where one can have a bird’s eye view of the city. Of course around the area there are plenty of restaurants to feed your hungry tummy.

Just a quick bus ride out of the city centre takes you to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. This is a place were you can come very close to koalas, even take a picture with one and get to know more about these marsupials. There are multiple other native animals and you can come really close to kangaroos and even feed them.

Brisbane Suburbs

Brisbane has almost 450 suburbs. The city has been growing considerably for the last few years and suburbs that were once regarded as commuting towns have turned into hip and trendy spots to go for coffee or brunch.

Teneriffe and Newstead are probably two of the trendiest suburbs to go in Brisbane these days. Once industrial areas by the river, they are now beautifully revamped zones where some of the old industrial buildings were transformed into expensive and semi-luxurious apartments. The wool store apartments for instance are proof of this as well as the Gasworks complex. The industrial atmosphere is still present though and you can find local beer breweries open to the public, which make a perfect afternoon spot to hang out.

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The riverside by New Farm Park

Throughout the city there are multiple grassy parks fully equipped with electric barbecues. One of my favourites is New Farm park just by the Brisbane River. Bring your food and have a picnic in this chilled spot without the need to mess around with charcoal.
Feel like a lazy Saturday morning? There are plenty of outstanding places in Brisbane to have a delicious breakfast. The suburb Paddington , for example, becomes filled with people looking for the best brunches on weekends.

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Brekky in New Farm Deli

If you are fed up with city life and need a quick break just head to Nudgee Beach. Check when the tide is out and stroll on the wet sand for hours. The city seems far away from this beach although it’s less than a half hour drive from the city centre. Check out the pelicans fishing or if you are into it, bring your own rod and catch some fish yourself.

To get a panoramic view of Brisbane, head to Mount Coot-tha, the highest peak in Brisbane at less than 300m. Aboriginals used to head to this mountain to collect honey, hence the name, which is an indigenous term for the product. Here you can get a good perspective of the city, check out the skyscrapers from a distance and see how the city spreads around the river’s curves. The summit is reachable by car and there are buses stopping there too. If you feel like walking in the bush there are trails that take you to the top.

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Brisbane seen from Mount Coot-tha

Brisbane Getaways

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One of the greatest perks about Brisbane is its location making it a perfect base to travel from. There are multiple destinations you can go within a two-hour drive (grey area in map) – the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and even Byron Bay. Here is a list of my favourite getaways around Brisbane:

North of Brisbane

  • Noosa
  • Buderim Falls
  • Sunshine Coast
  • Mount Glorious

South of Brisbane

  • Wyaralong Dam
  • Gold Coast
  • Springbrook National Park
  • Minyon Falls
  • Byron Bay

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