It might not be as big as it's fellow capital cities down south, but quiet achieving Brisbane still stands tall as a city to rival the others. With sunny weather to beat Sydney's and a burgeoning culinary scene that's snapping at the toes of Melbourne, the secrets of Queensland's capital are slowly spreading and those keen to experience it for themselves are coming in droves. Families are well catered for with animal attractions, playgrounds and a man–made beach, while Brisbane's cultural attractions, shopping and dining options will keep even the most discerning travellers interested and dreaming of a sea–change to the Sunshine State city.
On any given day, particularly when the sun is out (which is most of the time), locals and tourists alike take to the Southbank Parklands for a day of leisure. A playground for both kids and adults, this sprawling precinct is home to all that you need to enjoy a day of fun – whatever that may be for you. Barbeque areas, playgrounds, water fountains and a wildlife sanctuary are ideal for family holidays, while wine bars, pubs, restaurants, boutiques and a cinema mean that adults can have their fun here too. Take a dip while overlooking the city skyline at the man–made beach or hire a bike and ride along the river to Kangaroo Point. With the Goodwill Bridge linking the Botanical Gardens to the precinct, as well as CityCat, public bus and train services located close by, a day at Southbank is hard to beat.
Where to Eat and Drink
If you travel to Brisbane hoping for a barbeque or meat pie – you may be disappointed. The days of park barbeques and pies at the footy still exist, yet for the most part, Brisbane has become a city that loves to wine and dine. Words like gourmet, organic and fusion have popped up on the menus of Brisbane's restaurants, and the city can't get enough of it. To sample some of the culinary offerings, make a reservation at one of the restaurants at Woolloongabba's trendy antiques precinct, or wander down one of the city's made–over laneways and discover a dining scene to rival Melbourne's. For a drink, most of Brisbane's nightlife can be found around the Brunswick Street Mall in Fortitude Valley.
Where to Stay
Brisbane accommodation is mainly concentrated in the city centre, with some of the city's high–rise hotels and apartments overlooking the Botanical Gardens, Story Bridge or Brisbane River. Generally speaking, the closer the hotel is to Eagle Street and the Brisbane River, the better the view and the higher the star rating. For a more boutique experience, or if you plan on exploring Brisbane's nightlife to its fullest, consider staying at one of the boutique hotels in Fortitude Valley or New Farm. These hotels offer a more intimate experience and are still only a short distance away from the city centre.
Shopaholics will be in their element in Brisbane, with plenty of places to snap up a bargain. The Queen Street Mall itself, located in the middle of the city, is completely lined with stores and major shopping centres, with the Myer Centre at the top and the Wintergarden and Queens Plaza at the bottom housing a wide range of chain stores, department stores and international designer boutiques. For something more unique and home–grown, explore the popular James Street Precinct in New Farm where designer furniture, homewares and fashion line the street. Fashion in particular is a crowd pleaser here with stores ranging from emerging designers right through to leading labels and even a Sass & Bide flagship store.
Brisbane like a Local
When you hear a local waxing lyrical about their day at 'GOMA,' they are referring to the beloved Queensland Gallery Of Modern Art. Since its inception in 2006, GOMA has gained a reputation for being one of the best galleries in Australia, hosting a wide range of leading international exhibitions by artists such as Andy Warhol, Picasso and Valentino. Far from stuffy or pretentious, the gallery has a number of interactive exhibits, inspiring talks, popular events as well as dedicated areas where children can engage with art and play games. Even if you know nothing about art, a day at GOMA will be an inspiring visual feast.