Brisbane has a number of art museums, many centrally located in or around the city’s Cultural Centre. The oldest museum, the Queensland Art Gallery, houses some of the finest Australian art up to and including the twentieth century. The Gallery of Modern Art is attached to the main building and houses the Queensland Art Gallery’s collection from the later twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
Heading up and down the Brisbane River on a cruise is a great way to see the city. There are many companies operating special lunch and dinner cruises on the Brisbane River. Another great option is to use the CityCats and CityFerries that are used as public transportation by many Brisbanites getting around the city.
Located just north of the city centre, Chinatown has become a hub of Asian commercial and cultural activity, ever since it opened in 1987. Walking through the Mall’s gates and the stone lions – a gift from China – guarding them, you’ll be able to see many shops and restaurants around. Definitely check out Chinatown on a weekend; Chinatown Mall’s weekend markets offer a myriad of interesting trinkets, while on Sunday regular Tai Chi classes are held.
Brisbane plays host to a variety of festivals throughout the year. The largest festival in the city is the Royal Queensland Show, commonly called Ekka, which takes place at the Exhibition Ground every August. Other events and festivals include Riverfestival, a celebration of everything Brisbane occurring every September at the South Bank Parklands, the Brisbane International Film Festival in July and August, and the Bridge to Brisbane fun run, also in August.
A suburb located just north of the CBD, Fortitude Valley is a loud, proud place where Brisbanites and tourists alike come to party all night. Coffee shops open during the day give way to bars alive with music from live bands or DJs at the Brunswick Street Mall, the Valley’s centre. Music is so important here that the suburb was zoned as a “special entertainment precinct” in 2006, the first of its kind in all of Australia.
In addition to the art museums that call Brisbane home, the city has a number of history museums that examine the events that took place throughout the state. The Queensland Museum has a number of natural history exhibits, including a Dinosaur Garden with its life-side dinosaur models, as well as human history including a German tank from the First World War. The Museum of Brisbane features exhibits a little bit closer to home, examining the history of this fine city.
The popular recreation spot of Kangaroo Point is located right across the river from the CBD. There, you can find places to picnic, but the biggest draw is its rock climbing and abseiling sites on the cliffs that make this park a crowd-pleasing place. At night, numerous floodlights light up the cliff, making it a worthwhile attraction to see no matter what time of the day.
About 7km west of Brisbane city centre is the Mt Coot-tha Reserve, home to picnic spots and trails surrounded by bushland. It’s a great place to go to in order to get away from the urban jungle, but the best part about it is the lookout at the top of the mountain. From there, you’re able to see all over Brisbane, and all the way to Moreton Bay and the Glass House Mountains.
Home to the Port of Brisbane and a regional destination for anglers, this spot of paradise is also one of the world’s best whale-watching spots. Only 25km from the inner city, Moreton Bay also has a big restaurant scene especially around the suburb of Manly, as well as the ability to hand-feed wild dolphins on one of the many lagoon islands and to cycle along the foreshore.
A fashionable suburb just next to Kangaroo Point, New Farm is a trendy scene full of coffee shops, wine bars, and great restaurants. It’s also the home of the Brisbane Powerhouse, a former power station that is now a contemporary arts centre, housing lots of exhibits and performances. It’s worth it just to see the building, but if you can swing it, see if you can get tickets to a show.
Brisbane is sprinkled with parks and gardens throughout its environs, many of them either created for, or rehabilitated for, the 1988 World Expo. The South Bank Parklands are located where the expo grounds once stood, housing the Wheel of Brisbane that was built specifically for the event but still in place today, and the Nepal Peace Pagoda, which draws in people just as much as it did many years ago. Other parks in the city include the Roma Street Parkland, the world’s largest subtropical city garden, the City Botanic Gardens, and the enormous Brisbane Forest Park.
For a different kind of art, visit the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, which hosts performing arts shows from all across the globe. Located at the Cultural Centre not far from the Queensland Art Gallery, the performing arts centre consists of four different venues hosting musicals, operas, ballets and orchestra performances, just to name a few. Definitely check out a performance there if you have the opportunity.
The Roma Street transit centre is the most important in the city of Brisbane; from there you can catch a CityTrain to any suburbs in the area as well as an express train to the Gold Coast. In addition, long-distance trains to Sydney and throughout Queensland leave from the station, and the city’s major bus and coach terminal is as well. No matter where you’re heading to, getting to Roma Street is a first good step.
Brisbane is the place to go in Queensland for fantastic shopping. There are no less than eight shopping centres inside the city, many among them being located along the Queen Street pedestrian mall. Fortitude Valley and New Farm are also great suburbs for shopping, as well as the Indooroopilly Shopping Centre, the largest in the western suburbs. The Westfield Group also has an influence on Brisbane shopping; they have three centres in Chermside, Mount Gravatt and Carindale.
Public transportation in Brisbane is an incredible mix of rail, buses, ferries and taxis. Rail services are provided by CityTrain and connect the CBD with the suburbs on twelve different lines, including one to the airport and an express train to the Gold Coast. Both Queensland Rail, servicing destinations all over the state, and CountryLink, which links Brisbane to Sydney, operate long-distance services. Buses run all over the city, with two busways providing even faster service in and out. CityCats and CityFerries round out the public transportation options, shuttling people up and down the Brisbane River.
There are many promenades around the city you can take – Brisbane places an emphasis on walkable trails – but chief among them is the Riverwalk, a network of pavements along the banks of the Brisbane River, often skirting into the river as floating walkways (a prime example of this is the floating walkway between Story Bridge and New Farm.
There are a number of zoos sprinkled in and around the city. The world’s first koala sanctuary is located in the Brisbane suburb of Fig Tree Pocket, called the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, which is also home to kangaroos, Tasmanian devils, wombats, various species of reptiles, and a platypus which came in 2010 from Melbourne. Another major draw is the Alma Park Zoo, a smaller park that is both filled with Australian and exotic animals. If you’re looking for a real zoological thrill, head up towards the Sunshine Coast for the Australia Zoo, which is owned by American-born naturalist Terri Irwin, the widow of Steve Irwin.
Shrine of Remembrance ANZAC Square Manly Harbour Portside Wharf Brisbane Botanic Gardens Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium Japanese Garden Story Bridge Conrad Treasury Casino City Hall Direct Factory Outlets Queen Street Mall Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre Brisbane Tramway Museum Newstead House Nudgee Beach Manly Scarborough Wynnum Shorncliffe Sandgate Kondalilla Falls National Park Jacob’s Ladder Spring Hill Baths City Farmers Markets Griffith University
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