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  • Brisbane River
    Best Of Brisbane
    Although it was dubbed “a big country town”, and regarded by many as a little “sleepy” for a ...

Best Of Brisbane

By:
Ben Hall
 

Although it was dubbed “a big country town”, and regarded by many as a little “sleepy” for a major city, in the past 20 years Brisbane has undergone a major transformation. Today, it’s a lively and cosmopolitan place with more than a few surprises for its visitors, especially anyone seeking a romantic getaway. Here’s Our top ways for everyone to get to know the “new Brissie”.

Cruise The River

No trip to Brisbane is complete without a ride on the River Cat or City Ferry (www.translink.com.au), along the Brisbane River. This meandering waterway is the heart and soul of the city, and cruising the river is an inexpensive and relaxing way to get your bearings and appreciate the physical beauty of the place. Near the city centre majestic colonial era buildings sit comfortably among modern glass skyscrapers, and further out the metropolis gives way to leafy suburban areas where you can watch the Brisbane-ites at play as they cycle, walk and rollerblade along the river’s edge.  

On Two Wheels  

Thanks to a comprehensive system of cycle-paths stretching for around 400 kilometres, Brisbane is a bike rider’s dream come true. With traffic congestion in the CBD a major problem, locals have embraced cycling not just for recreation, but as a fast and eco-friendly way to get to work and move around the city. One of the best rides is from the City Botanic Gardens to the University of Queensland - a distance of around 10 kilometres. There are a number of bike rental options, including CityCycle (www.citycycle.com.au) which has 150 stations available across Brisbane’s city centre; once you purchase a Membership or Casual Pass, you can hire and return a bike at any CityCycle station within the network.

The South Bank 

It’s hard to imagine Brisbane without the South Bank, and this two kilometre stretch of river front opposite CBD has been largely responsible for the city’s vibrant growth - or at the very least is a reflection of the changes that have taken place. With its river front walking and cycling paths, grassy picnic areas, playgrounds, cafés, restaurants, live entertainment venues, and a man-made “beach” for kids and sun lovers alike, the South Bank is the pride and joy of Brisbane, and fun for all the family.      

Queensland Cultural Centre 

Also located on the South Bank, the Queensland Cultural Centre (www.arts.qld.gov.au) has become a major tourist attraction in its own right, and is the focal point of the state’s many festivals and exhibitions. The centre houses four of Brisbane’s major cultural venues; the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, the State Library of Queensland the Queensland Museum and Sciencentre, and the Queensland Performing Arts Centre. Across the river in the CBD, the Museum of Brisbane (www.museumofbrisbane.com.au)offers a fascinating snapshot of the city’s heritage, history, and contemporary culture.

On Foot 

Once you’ve cruised the river and cycled its banks, it makes sense to pull on your walking shoes and see the city on foot. Despite the overzealous development boom of the 1970’s and 1980’s, which resulted in a lot of historic buildings being torn down, there’s still enough colonial charm remaining in the CBD to make a day’s walking worthwhile - and experience some of Brisbane’s history. Landmarks along the way include City Hall, the Treasury Brisbane (which is now a casino, dining and drinking venue), Queens Park with its statue of Queen Victoria, Parliament House and Customs House.   

Get Caffeinated

Boasting a subtropical climate and balmy evenings, it’s no real surprise that Brisbane’s café scene has become one of the city’s major draw cards. The CBD itself provides a myriad of opportunities to sit outdoors and watch the world go by while sitting in front of a coffee, but for the real deal in Brisbane the inner suburbs are where the local café crew head for a caffeine fix. The Gun Shop Café in West End (www.thegunshotcafe.com) is a a brunch hotspot and a great place to mix with the locals, as is John Mills Himself (www.johnmillshimself.com.au) in the city, which doubles up as an uber cool bar at night.

Shop ‘Til You Drop

It takes a lot of stamina - and planning - to do some serious shopping in Brisbane. From mega-department stores like Myer and David Jones and the pedestrian precincts and charming arcades in the CBD, to the shopping centres, boutiques, and markets in the suburbs, this is a place where you can truly shop ‘til you drop. Each place has something different, but in Fortitude Valley (or just “the Valley” to the locals) enterprising retailers have fused fashion with art and created a market atmosphere with a creative edge.  

Go Gourmet 

A multicultural city, Brisbane’s emergence as a “foodie” haven in recent years shouldn’t be a surprise, but a common refrain from interstate and overseas visitors is: “I didn’t know the restaurants were that good”. It’s impossible to know where to start - from low key noodle joints in the Valley to refined and innovative cuisine served alfresco on the river - and every local has a different opinion on which is best in each price range and style. A few established outlets to put on your list to consider include Aria at Eagle Street Wharf (www.ariarestaurant.com/brisbane), which has offered fine dining with a river view for almost a decade now, and Otto on Queen Street (www.ottoristorante.com.au/brisbane), which has a jaw-dropping decor, and the landmark Story Bridge as a backdrop.

Step Out At Night

After a day of sightseeing, shopping and eating, the easy option is a quiet night in, but after dark is when Brisbane really comes to life, especially at weekends. In this city people follow the philosophy of “work to live, don’t live for work” and it’s hard not to get caught up in their enthusiasm. Cocktails and clubbing has taken off in a big way and the number of stylish bars is increasing rapidly. Family in Fortitude Valley (www.thefamily.com.au) has won numerous national clubbing awards, then disappeared for a while, but is now back in a new form. Meanwhile, the three-storey The Met (www.themet.com.au), also in Fortitude Valley, remains one of the hottest, established nightclubs in the city.

Feeling Adventurous?

Not to be outdone by Sydney Harbour’s bridge climb, Brisbane’s own Story Bridge Adventure Climb (www.storybridgeadventureclimb.com.au) has been popular with visitors since it started up back in October 2005. The two-and-a-half-hour journey starts on the corner of Wharf and Main Streets at Kangaroo Point, and takes climbers up to the top of one of Brisbane’s most historic landmarks. For a different perspective of the city, abseiling down the Kangaroo Point Cliffs will no doubt get the pulse racing. Riverlife Adventure Centre at Kangaroo Point (www.riverlife.com.au) is the place to head.

Visit Brisbane #brisbaneanyday 01:01

Casually cool Brisbane is a city like no other: a cultural hotspot with a trailblazing food scene, vibrant entertainment precincts, world-class shopping, edgy arts scene and more. Full of delightful possibilities and surprises for the modern-day urban explorer it has an unmatched natural beauty. Edged by pristine Moreton Bay, Brisbane is defined by a gently meandering river and surrounded by region attractions such as world-famous beaches, wildlife, waterfalls, wineries and rugged mountains. Find out why everyone’s talking about Brisbane.

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