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Brisbane is the capital and most populous city in the Australian state of Queensland, and the third most populous city in Australia. Brisbane's metropolitan area has a population of 2.3 million, and the South East Queensland urban conurbation, centred on Brisbane, encompasses a population of more than 3.4 million. The Brisbane central business district stands on the original European settlement and is situated inside a bend of the Brisbane River, about 15 kilometres (9 miles) from its mouth at Moreton Bay. The metropolitan area extends in all directions along the floodplain of the Brisbane River Valley between Moreton Bay and the Great Dividing Range, sprawling across several of Australia's most populous local government areas(LGAs), most centrally the City of Brisbane, which is by far the most populous LGA in the nation. The demonym of Brisbane is Brisbanite.
One of the oldest cities in Australia, Brisbane was founded upon the ancient homelands of the indigenous Turrbal and Jagera peoples. Named after the Brisbane River on which it is located – which in turn was named after Scotsman Sir Thomas Brisbane, the Governor of New South Walesfrom 1821 to 1825 – the area was chosen as a place for secondary offenders from the Sydney Colony. A penal settlement was founded in 1824 at Redcliffe, 28 kilometres (17 mi) north of the central business district, but was soon abandoned and moved to North Quay in 1825, opening to free settlement in 1842. The city was marred by the Australian frontier warsbetween 1843 and 1855, and development was partly set back by the Great Fire of Brisbane, and the Great Brisbane Flood. Brisbane was chosen as the capital when Queensland was proclaimed a separate colony from New South Wales in 1859. During World War II, Brisbane played a central role in the Allied campaign and served as the South West Pacific headquarters for General Douglas MacArthur.
Today, Brisbane is well known for its distinct Queenslander architecture which forms much of the city's built heritage. It also receives attention for its damaging flood events, most notably in 1974 and 2011. The city is a popular tourist destination, serving as a gateway for visitors to the state of Queensland, particularly to the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast, popular resort towns immediately south and north of Brisbane, respectively. Several large cultural, international and sporting events have been held at Brisbane, including the 1982 Commonwealth Games, World Expo '88, the final Goodwill Games in 2001, and the 2014 G-20 summit.
|FOUNDED :||13 May 1825|
|TIME ZONE :||AEST (UTC+10:00)|
|AREA :||15,826 km2 (6,110.5 sq mi)|
|COORDINATES :||27°28′S 153°02′E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 49.9%|
• Female: 50.1%
|AREA CODE :||7|
|POSTAL CODE :|
|DIALING CODE :||+61 7|
Large enough to be cosmopolitan yet small enough to be friendly and accessible, Brisbane is a 'garden metropolis' famous for its leafy, open spaces and the pleasant pace of life that unfolds between the zig-zags of its iconic river. Gaining international exposure during the 1982 Commonwealth Games, the 1988 World Expo, the 2001 Goodwill Games, and the 2014 G20 Summit, Brisbane's year-round warm climate, spectacular scenery, pleasant locals and world-class facilities have been the draw-cards for many domestic and international visitors, making Brisbane the fastest-growing city in Australia. Despite this rapid development, it maintains a youthful enthusiasm and has what is arguably one of the most laid-back and forward-thinking of any Australian capital city.
Tourism plays a major role in Brisbane's economy, being the third-most popular destination for international tourists after Sydney and Melbourne. Popular tourist and recreation areas in Brisbane include the South Bank Parklands,Roma Street Parkland, the City Botanic Gardens, Brisbane Forest Park and Portside Wharf. The Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary opened in 1927 and was the world's first koala sanctuary. The suburb of Mount Coot-tha is home to a popular state forest, and the Brisbane Botanic Gardens which houses the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium and the "Tsuki-yama-chisen" Japanese Garden (formerly of the Japanese Government Pavilion of Brisbane's World Expo '88).
Brisbane has over 27 km (17 mi) of bicycle pathways, mostly surrounding the Brisbane river and city centre, extending to the west of the city. The river itself was popular with bathers, and it permitted boating excursions to Moreton Bay when the main port was in the city reaches. Today fishing and boating are more common. Other popular recreation activities include the Story Bridge adventure climb and rock climbing at the Kangaroo Point Cliffs. The nearby Australia Zoo, made famous by Steve Irwin, also encourages many tourists to visit Brisbane.
In 2015, a competition by travel guidebook Rough Guides saw Brisbane elected as one of the top ten most beautiful cities in the world, citing reasons such as "its winning combination of high-rise modern architecture, lush green spaces and the enormous Brisbane River that snakes its way through the centre before emptying itself into the azure Moreton Bay."
The Brisbane Visitor Information Centre and Booking Centre on the Queen Street Mall is open M–Th 09:00–17:30, F 09:00–19:00, Sa 09:00–17:09, Su and public holidays 09:30–16:30 but closed Good Friday and 25 Dec. +61 7 3006-6290.
For many thousands of years prior to European settlement, the Brisbane area was inhabited by the Turrbal and Jagera Aboriginal people. They knew the area that is now the central business district as Mian-jin, meaning "place shaped as a spike". The Australian English phrase "hard yakka" – meaning "hard work" – comes from the Jagera people, and is certainly what the European settlers faced in Brisbane's humid sub-tropical climate.
The Moreton Bay area was initially explored by English navigator Matthew Flinders. On 17 July 1799, Flinders landed at what is now known as Woody Point, which he named "Red Cliff Point" - now Redcliffe - after the red-coloured cliffs visible from the bay. In 1823 Governor of New South Wales Sir Thomas Brisbane instructed that a new northern penal settlement be developed, intended to house dangerous prisoners in a remote location, and an exploration party led by John Oxley further explored Moreton Bay. The original penal settlement was established in Redcliffe but was later moved to a location further down the bay where freshwater supplies were more reliable. Oxley named this new settlement "Brisbane" in honour of the Governor.
A series of major immigration events took place in the following decades which brought with it strong industry and commercial development in the region. In 1838, non-convict free settlers moved to the area and pushed to close the jail and to release the land in the area. In 1859, a gold rush led to the establishment of the colony of Queensland with Brisbane as its capital, even though Brisbane was not incorporated as a city until 1902. In 1925, the Queensland State Parliament created the City of Brisbane Act that set up a single government for the city of Brisbane, still the largest metropolitan authority in Australia, and one of the largest in the world by area. Over twenty small municipalities and shires were amalgamated to form the City of Brisbane. 1930 was a significant year for Brisbane with the completion of Brisbane City Hall, then the city's tallest building and the Shrine of Remembrance, in ANZAC Square, which has since become Brisbane's main war memorial. These historic buildings, along with the Story Bridge which opened in 1940, are key landmarks that help define the architectural character of the city.
During World War II, Brisbane became central to the Allied campaign when the AMP Building - now MacArthur Central - was used as the South West Pacific headquarters for General Douglas MacArthur, chief of the Allied Pacific forces. In 1942, Brisbane was the site of a violent clash between visiting US military personnel and Australian servicemen and civilians which resulted in one death and several injuries. This incident became known colloquially as the Battle of Brisbane.
Postwar Brisbane had developed a "big country town" stigma, an image the city's politicians and marketers were very keen to remove, but despite steady growth, Brisbane's development was punctuated by infrastructure problems. The State Government began a major program of change and urban renewal, beginning with the central business district and inner suburbs. Trams in Brisbane were a popular mode of public transport until the network was closed in 1969, leaving Melbourne as the last Australian city to operate a tram network.
The 1974 Brisbane flood was a major disaster which temporarily crippled the city. During this era, Brisbane grew and modernised rapidly becoming a destination of interstate migration. Some of Brisbane's popular landmarks were lost, sometimes demolished in controversial circumstances with much media coverage and public protest. Major public works included the Riverside Expressway, the Gateway Bridge, and later, the redevelopment of South Bank after the city hosted World Expo '88, starting with the Queensland Art Gallery and Performing Arts Centre.
Subsequent years saw strong immigration into Brisbane and the surrounding region, both domestically and internationally, with large influxes from Asia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Polynesia. This was driven by cheaper house prices than in other Australian cities, a pleasant climate and good employment opportunities, especially within the mining and tourism sectors. Brisbane's population growth has exceeded the national average every year since 1990 at an average rate of around 2.2% per year.
Post-2000s Brisbane has seen the city go from drought to flooding rains. In the mid-2000s, lower dam levels led to severe water restrictions for residents. The campaign to lower water usage was so successful that the city now boasts some of the lowest average water use per resident of any developed city in the world. These days you're not likely to find the tap dry or see any visible signs of the shortage. However, out of respect for the locals, keep your showers relatively brief, try your best to conserve water and expect the locals to be horrified if you walk away from a running tap.
A number of extremely wet summers broke the drought and culminated in the January 2011 Flood which devastated the city. In typical Queensland fashion, one of the largest volunteer workforces ever amassed - over 100,000 Brisbane locals and Queensland volunteers - descended on the city to aid in the clean-up, earning the nickname the "Mud Army" and allowing the city to return to business just a week after the flood. The Mud Army were honoured with the naming of a new CityCat Ferry, the "Spirit of Brisbane", and then Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, described Brisbane residents as "the best of humankind", gifting a monument to the city to honour the volunteers.
When the wet season hits the northern Australian tropics, Brisbane experiences hot and clear summer days with stunning afternoon thunderstorms. When winter arrives towards the southern capital cities, temperatures are sent into the low teens (°C), while Brisbane's climate stays mostly dry and sunny, with daytime temperatures usually remaining above 20°C.
- Summer (December–February) humidity is high and daytime temperatures frequently exceed 30°C, with night temperatures rarely dropping below 20°C. Occasional heat waves can raise the temperature in excess of 40°C, however these are not common. Just about any outdoor activity you do at the height of a regular summer day in Brisbane will leave you bathed in sweat. Loose-fitting clothing that protects you from the sun is appropriate attire for most casual activities, and air-conditioning will assure you a comfortable night's sleep or ride on public transport. Summer storms with hail and heavy rainfall are common in afternoons on hot, humid days. They usually pass quickly and often put on a good lightning show.
- Autumn (March–May) sees a cool change in Brisbane with average daytime temperatures between 20-30°C. Most tourists not used to a humid climate will find this the best time to visit Brisbane, as the humidity lowers and the region shifts into a more comfortable, dry and sunny weather pattern, perfect for outdoor activities. Night-time temperatures usually drop to 10-20°C, with ambient heat from the day still radiating from the ground, keeping the early evening still warm and comfortable, though a light jacket may be required later at night.
- Winter (June–August) signals the region's dry season, with Brisbane experiencing cool, sunny, cloudless days. Temperatures typically go up to 25°C during the day with night-time temperatures rarely dropping below 5°C. The early-morning chill usually disappears by mid-morning and most of the daylight hours are relatively warm, however it is still recommended to have something warm to wear as this is not always the case. The eastern suburbs tend to be cooler as sea breezes blow in from the bay.
- Spring (September–November) sees the revitalisation of the city with warmer days and fresh sea breezes coming in from the bay. Weather is similar to Autumn months, with increasing humidity as summer draws closer.
Climate data for Brisbane
|Record high °C (°F)||40.0|
|Average high °C (°F)||30.2|
|Average low °C (°F)||21.4|
|Record low °C (°F)||17.0|
|Source: Bureau of Meteorology.|
Brisbane is in the southeast corner of Queensland. The city is centred along the Brisbane River, and its eastern suburbs line the shores of Moreton Bay. The greater Brisbane region is on the coastal plain east of the Great Dividing Range. Brisbane's metropolitan area sprawls along the Moreton Bay floodplain from Caboolture in the north to Beenleigh in the south, and across to Ipswich in the south west.
The city of Brisbane is hilly. The urban area, including the central business district, are partially elevated by spurs of the Herbert Taylor Range, such as the summit of Mount Coot-tha, reaching up to 300 metres (980 ft) and the smaller Enoggera Hill. Other prominent rises in Brisbane are Mount Gravatt and nearby Toohey Mountain. Mount Petrie at 170 m (560 ft) and the lower rises of Highgate Hill, Mount Ommaney, Stephens Mountain and Whites Hill are dotted across the city. Also, on the west, are the higher Mount Glorious, (680 m), and Mount Nebo (550 m).
The city is on a low-lying floodplain. Many suburban creeks criss-cross the city, increasing the risk of flooding. The city has suffered three major floods since colonisation, in February 1893, January 1974, and January 2011. The 1974 Brisbane Flood occurred partly as a result of "Cyclone Wanda". Heavy rain had fallen continuously for three weeks before theAustralia Day weekend flood (26–27 January 1974). The flood damaged many parts of the city, especially the suburbs of Oxley, Bulimba, Rocklea,Coorparoo, Toowong and New Farm. The City Botanic Gardens were inundated, leading to a new colony of mangroves forming in the City Reach of the Brisbane River.
White-collar industries include information technology, financial services, higher education and public sector administration generally concentrated in and around the central business district and recently established office areas in the inner suburbs. Blue-collar industries, including petroleum refining, stevedoring, paper milling, metalworking and QR railway workshops, tend to be located on the lower reaches of the Brisbane River and in new industrial zones on the urban fringe. Tourism is an important part of the Brisbane economy, both in its own right and as a gateway to other areas of Queensland.
Since the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Queensland State Government has been developing technology and science industries in Queensland as a whole, and Brisbane in particular, as part of its "Smart State" initiative. The government has invested in several biotechnology and research facilities at several universities in Brisbane. The Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland (UQ) Saint Lucia Campus is a large CSIRO and Queensland state government initiative for research and innovation that is currently being emulated at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Campus at Kelvin Grove with the establishment of the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI).
Brisbane is one of the major business hubs in Australia. Most major Australian companies, as well as numerous international companies, have contact offices in Brisbane, while numerous electronics businesses have distribution hubs in and around the city. DHL Global's Oceanic distribution warehouse is located in Brisbane, as is Asia Pacific Aerospace's headquarters. Home grown major companies include Suncorp-Metway Limited, Flight Centre, Sunsuper, Orrcon, Credit Union Australia, Boeing Australia, Donut King, Wotif.com, WebCentral, PIPE Networks, Krome Studios, Mincom Limited, TechnologyOne, Thiess Pty Ltdand Virgin Australia. Brisbane has the fourth highest median household income of the Australian capital cities at AUD 57,772.
Port of Brisbane
The Port of Brisbane is on the lower reaches of the Brisbane River and on Fisherman's Island at the rivers mouth, and is the 3rd most important port in Australia for value of goods. Container freight, sugar, grain, coal and bulk liquids are the major exports. Most of the port facilities are less than three decades old and some are built on reclaimed mangroves and wetlands.
The Port is a part of the Australia TradeCoast, the country's fastest-growing economic development area. Geographically, Australia TradeCoast occupies a large swathe of land around the airport and port. Commercially, the area has attracted a mix of companies from throughout the Asia Pacific region.
There are numerous internet cafes around the CBD. Check this webpage for the closest one. Expect to pay around $2–3 per hour, although most places will offer you a discount if you pre-pay a certain number of hours.
There are also alternatives to internet cafes:
- Free Internet access is available at the Brisbane City Council library, although you might need to book your session in advance.
- State Library of Queensland, Cultural Precinct, Stanley Place, South Bank, . M–Th 10AM–8PM, F–Su 10AM–5 PM.Free Internet (including Wi-Fi) access is available at the Queensland State Library, in selected areas. The main Infocentre area is quite large and has a number of 30 minute (no booking) and 60 minute (booking required) computers. The 60 minute computers are booked using a queuing system upon arriving at the library (no library card required). The Infocentre also has a very large lounge and desk area for those with their own laptops wishing to use the free Wi-Fi. Printing is $0.10 per page, but requires the purchase of a $2 copy card in addition to the per page cost. The library is also air-conditioned (as one might expect) so is a good place to spend some time during the scorching mid-day heat.
- Many cafes and hotels provide free Wi-Fi access to patrons. Keep an eye out for signage and use the internet city guide.
- Most McDonald's restaurants have free Wi-Fi (limited to 50MB per session, no time limit).
- Starbucks offers free 30 minute access to Wi-Fi with a purchase of any drink.
- Queensland Rail has installed free Wi-Fi (20MB, resets after 4 hours) on 64 of its trains. They are identified by large stickers near doors, billboards or small stickers on the inside edge of doors.
Payphones are abundant in the downtown area. For Australia wide contact options, such a mobile phones and calling cards, see the entry in Australia
Prices in Brisbane
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$3.80|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||$11.50|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||$40.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||$60.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||$95.00|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||$7.50|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||$5.80|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$4.50|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||$12.00|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||$|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||$0.56|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||$18.00|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||$1.85|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||$73.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||$48.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||$98.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||$|
67 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
237 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
Brisbane International Airport (IATA: BNE) is 20 km (12 mi) north-east of the city centre at Eagle Farm, north of the river.
There are direct flights from all Australian capitals and numerous regional centres. Major domestic carriers include Virgin Australia, Jetstar, and Qantas. The airport is serviced by many regional airlines and it is possible to fly daily to most Asian centres (and on to Europe), the United States and New Zealand, without flying via Sydney or Melbourne.
Transferring between terminals
Allow sufficient time for the transfer between terminals. The terminals are 3km apart and it is not possible to walk between them; the main road that connects them has no pedestrian walkway and is very busy.
Transfers between the airport terminals can be made on the Airtrain service. It offers connections during the day with a train every 15-30min. The train fare is $5, $4.50 if you book a ticket online beforehand, and the trip is 2min long. The Airtrain fare is included by Virgin Australia and by Qantas when connecting between their flights; just present your boarding pass to the Airtrain station staff.
- Domestic to International Transfers operate M-F 05:40–21:59, Sa Su 06:00-21:59 (last service).
- International to Domestic Transfers operate M-F 05:30–20:56, Sa Su 05:30–20:57.
Another option is the TBus service. Services operate every 20 minutes and bus stops are located outside the Qantas and Virgin Australia arrivals hall at the Domestic Terminal, and outside the arrivals hall at the International Terminal. All trips are $5, children under 4 are free. This bus also services Airport Village, which is close to the Direct Factory Outlet (DFO) [www], a small shopping centre that specialises in clothing and homewares stores, but also contains a food court. It's expensive, but worth checking out if you've got more than a few hours between flights. Be careful though, as the last bus back to the airport terminals is at 18:20.
There is a way to transfer between the terminals for free. The TBus actually costs $5 to transfer between terminals, but non-express services offer a free drop off at Airport Village (Skygate). Thus you can take the TBus for free to Skygate, get off, wait for the next bus (20m later), and then go to domestic/int'l for free.
Outside of Airtrain hours or if you have a limited connection time, a taxi is your only option.
From the airport to the city
- Airtrain connects to the city from the airport every fifteen minutes during peak times and stops at Central, South Bank, Fortitude Valley and Roma Street stations. An adult fare to the city stations is $17.50 and a return ticket is $33 and can be purchased at Airtrain stations. Fares can also be paid with a Go Card Smart Card via the card readers at the station although Go Card fares aren't eligible for discounts. Discounts are available when purchasing tickets online at the Airtrain website. The amount of the discount varies depending on how far in advance of travel the ticket is booked, with tickets booked more than 7 days before travel receiving the largest discount. Other discounts are also available for 2 adults travelling together, groups and in some instances children under 14. Travel time to the city stations can be up to 30min. Trains start running about 05:00. The last trains leave the city around 21:00 and the airport before 22:00. It is possible to take the Airtrain direct to the Gold Coast, although it is necessary to connect to a bus service at Nerang Station to reach Surfers Paradise, or at Robina Station to reach Coolangatta.
- Con-X-Ion also provides transfers via shuttle bus to Brisbane City accommodation and to the Gold Coast. Adult fare (one way) to Brisbane City is $20, and an adult fare (one way) to the Gold Coast is $49. Fares are cheaper if you buy a return ticket. You can end up waiting up to an hour if you try to book when you arrive at the airport, so pre-booking is a must and no refunds are allowed. Travel time varies depending on the number of passengers on the bus and traffic; it could be anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes.
- Public transportation Using public transportation, you can get to town for around $4 only. From the airport, ride the free of charge T-bus to Skygate (Airport Village). Note that the T-bus stops near the terminal building and not at the bus stop for other buses and vans (very easy to find though, or ask at the information counter), and only some of the T-buses go to the Airport Village (express buses only go between domestic and int'l whereas regular ones also go to Skygate every 20 minutes). From Skygate, wait at the place you got off the bus and take Translink bus 590 to Toombul Shopping Centre (only 2 stops). From there you can catch a train to the city. This costs under $4 with a go card, off peak. You can also buy single tickets, however that will be more expensive. You can purchase a go card at the Airtrain station for $30 ($10 deposit and $20 usable), but you cannot purchase the go card at the Airport Village or from a driver. Thus for the cheapest way of getting to town, first go to the Airtrain terminal to buy a go card but don't go through the turnstile and instead backtrack to the T-bus stop.
- A taxi from the airport to Brisbane central costs approximately $35. A good option for getting into the City can therefore be for two or more travellers to share the cost of a taxi to Brisbane Central. All taxis are metered, and it is possible to share a cab (either officially, where each group pays 75% of the fare), or by informal agreement with the passengers before boarding (with multiple drop-off points, and a fare paid at the final destination). From Brisbane Central or Roma Street station a traveller can get to just about anywhere else in Brisbane.
The airport hosts all major car rental companies.
From the Gold Coast
Surfside buses regularly ply the route from Tweed Heads all the way along the Gold Coast, with connections to the train to Brisbane at Robina. You can buy a single ticket to cover the trip, costing around $17.
The Gold Coast Airport (IATA: OOL) a.k.a. Coolangatta Airport is a low-cost carrier hub, serviced by AirAsia X, Jetstar, Pacific Blue and others. It is NOT a 24hr airport and closes at night, so don't plan on spending the night before an early morning flight. It is around 30 minutes drive to Surfers Paradise. There is a shuttle bus connecting the airport to the main Surfside buses route on the Gold Coast Highway between Tweed Heads and Surfers Paradise.
Long distance rail services both arrive and depart from Roma Street Station in the inner city. Services to New South Wales operated by NSW TrainLink depart from Platform 2 and all other Long Distance Services depart from Platform 10.
- NSW Trainlink operates a daily return rail service from Sydney, with onward connections to Melbourne and Canberra.
- Queensland Rail has services return most centres in Queensland
Visitors from southern states can reach Brisbane by either the New England and Cunningham or Pacific Highways.
- The Bruce Highway (A1) connects the northern coast of Queensland to Brisbane.
- The Pacific Motorway (M1) connects Brisbane to the Gold Coast continues south along the New South Wales coast.
- The Ipswich Motorway (M2) connects to Ipswich and surrounding Western Brisbane areas.
- The Warrego Highway (A2) links Brisbane to the west through the Lockyer Valley, Toowoomba and the Darling Downs.
- The Cunningham Highway (A15) links Brisbane to Southern Queensland and Central western New South Wales.
Most long distance bus services operate from level 3 of the Brisbane Transit Centre near Roma Street Station in the inner city.
- Premier Motor Service offers services between Sydney and Brisbane and Brisbane and Cairns.
- Greyhound Australia link other interstate capitals to Brisbane via their extensive national network. In particular they operate regular services between Brisbane and Sydney, Brisbane and Toowoomba then onward to Roma and between Brisbane and Cairns. Pick-up is available from the Brisbane Airport on some services.
- Murrays Coaches operate services between Brisbane and Toowoomba and onwards to the small town of Miles, west of Toowoomba. Pick up is available from the Brisbane Airport on some services.
- Bus Queensland operate services under Government contract between Brisbane and many rural and remote areas. Key routes serviced by this company include services between Brisbane and Charleville via Toowoomba and between Brisbane and Mt Isa.
Brisbane is home to an international cruise terminal titled Portside Wharf.
Transportation - Get Around
Getting anywhere in Brisbane is extremely easy. The CBD is relatively flat and condensed, which makes it perfect for walking or cycling and virtually all other areas can be reached by public transport.
However, some areas can be difficult to navigate through a combination of dead ends, winding roads and steep slopes. This applies to some inner-city suburbs, but especially outer suburbs. If you find yourself lost, it's advisable to head to the nearest main road as more than likely it will be serviced by buses or trains. If you are driving, a street directory or GPS unit is an essential addition to your car. Locals are generally friendly and more than willing to help you out if you are lost, so don't be afraid to ask.
Brisbane is an excellent city for walking and you should have no problems getting around the CBD. Within minutes of walking in virtually any direction you will be able to find a bus, train or ferry station. Maps can be purchased from bookstores such as QBD (Queensland Books Depot), Dymocks, any tourist information centre or viewed online.
Beyond the CBD and inner-suburbs however, sights can become very spread out, so you might want to consider other modes of getting around.
Getting around the city and the surrounding areas is easy thanks to the many cycle paths along the river. Bicycles can be rented in the centre of the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens.
The Brisbane City Council has recently introduced a scheme known as CityCycle, which offers bicycles for hire at different stations around the city. Tourists can register for a 24-hour period for $2 or for a week for $11 [www]. The bikes are free to use after that, as long as you return the bike to a station within 30 minutes (afterwards usage rates apply). Helmets are required by law (and this is enforced with on-the-spot fines), but some free yellow helmets can be unreliably found at the bike-hire stations.
Cycling on footpaths is legal in the Brisbane City Council area (maximum speed 10 km/h), however pedestrians have right of way. Keep left and take special care when riding through South Bank Parklands as the shared (and quite wide) foot and cycle path is often clogged with large groups taking up the whole path, pedestrians stopping unexpectedly for photos and playing children running heedlessly in front of you. It is often too noisy here to use your bell, so out of courtesy and safety, you're strongly urged to dismount and push your bicycle through crowded areas.
Maps showing bikeways in the Brisbane City Council area are available on the BCC website [www].
Some areas of Brisbane are very hilly. If your street map shows a tangle of winding streets close together that is a sign of steep roads. A short trip can quickly become a lot of work, especially if you are using the heavy CityCycle bikes. Stick to the river when possible, it's where you get the best views and it is almost entirely flat.
If you leave the cycle paths, footpaths, and minor streets you should be prepared to contend with busy urban traffic. Feel free to ignore any Brisbane motorists that may have resentment toward cyclists and ignorance of the road rules applying to cyclists; cyclists are permitted to travel on just about all roads in Brisbane. Special "bicycle lanes" on Brisbane's roads are becoming increasingly common and are often denoted by a narrow green-coloured strip of road adjacent to the curb.
Wearing a safety helmet is law in Brisbane (and the rest of Australia). The police issue a $120 fine for cycling without a safety helmet which is heavily enforced.
Green Cabs are one of the latest additions to the city and growing in popularity. Essentially a rickshaw, they are a novel way of getting around the inner-city areas. Able to accommodate up to 2 adults and 2 small children (though it can vary - talk to the rider and see what you can arrange), they mostly operate between West End, South Bank, the CBD, Fortitude Valley and along the river where it's mostly flat, although you can arrange to be taken elsewhere. Prices start at $5 and tours are available.
Currently Green Cabs operate on weekends and during special events. During the day operators who are ready to go are usually based at South Bank at the Wheel of Brisbane. At night, you will find Green Cabs at South Bank and throughout the CBD.
Many of the roads in Brisbane Central Business District (CBD) are one-way, making driving in this area complicated for people not familiar with the layout. Drivers used to city driving should not find Brisbane too much of a challenge, and parking is readily available in parking stations in the city, albeit it at a steep cost, around $40 to casually park for a day. $15 parking is generally available with early-bird deals (arrive before 09:00, leave after 16:00.),
CBD roads become clearways at 16:00, and any cars parked on the side of the road will be fined, towed or both. You have to pay for the towing to get your car back, and then they expect a fine to follow in the mail. Check for signs when parking, or just play it safe and find a parking station.
If you are looking to visit the areas surrounding the city, then generally a car will be as quick as any other way of getting around, with the possible exception of the height of peak hour. Brisbane is notorious for having roads that bottle-neck and what would normally be a 15 minute trip could easily turn into well over an hour during peak.
There are several toll roads in and around Brisbane, including the Gateway Bridge which crosses the river near the airport, the Clem-7 tunnel as well as the Go-Between Bridge. Cash is not accepted, toll users must have a prepaid transponder or post-pay via a website. Check the go-via website for more details. [www]
By motorcycle / motorbike / scooter
Brisbane Central Business District (CBD) is not the friendliest of places when it comes to finding a parking spot for your car. Leaving your car for an hour could cost you in excess of $25 or a few parking fines. The best way to get around the CBD is either by scooter or motorbike. Motorbike and scooter parking is free and there are plenty of areas designated for parking of both motorbikes and scooters.
Scooters, however, are not allowed on major highways. Even though they can be ridden by just about anyone who holds a car drivers license, it is difficult to see all of Brisbane on a scooter as most major streets are zoned as 60–80 km/hr and the standard 50cc scooters are limited to 55 km/hr.
North of Brisbane you will find many beautiful scenic drives for motorbike enthusiasts. The North side is surrounded by many windy roads and great mountain roads on which any motorbike rider can enjoy a full day out on the motorbike of just about any size.
There are services available throughout Brisbane and the Gold Coast which deliver both scooters and motorbikes right to your door-step. Some will even provide all the necessary gear as well. Take a look at a few rental companies below to find a perfect motorbike/scooter for your trip.
Most major car hire companies have offices at Brisbane Airport and in the city centre. As is common with many hire car companies, you will often pay a premium to pick up or return at the airport location. While most car rental companies hire to people 25 years of age and over, some all age car rental companies do hire to younger drivers over 18 years of age (there are surcharges involved for under-age drivers).
Taxis are numerous throughout Brisbane and can take you anywhere. The major companies are Yellow Cabs and Black & White Cabs . All cabs can be hailed down no matter where you are, provided their roof light is on, though in some areas they might not be able to stop, so it might be best to book one in advance. All cabs accept cash, credit and debit cards. Despite cabs being fitted with GPS units, you'll find it wise to check with the driver about your destination before departing and make sure they are willing to go there.
In the outer-suburban areas, cabs will pull over if you hail them down from the side of the road and can be found in designated taxi ranks in shopping centres, or near bars and pubs. The same can be said for the inner-city, however taxi ranks are more common and it's usually best to catch a cab from there. At night though, especially on Friday and Saturday, taxis exclusively pick up passengers from these ranks and you'd be extremely lucky if you get one elsewhere. These ranks are usually monitored by security and have ushers at night. From midnight-5:30AM on Friday and Saturday nights, all taxis from the CBD and Fortitude Valley become "FlatFare", meaning that there is a fixed price for any given destination and you will have to pay before entering the taxi.
Taxis can be expensive in Brisbane; a trip between the airport and the city can be in excess of $50–60 and can easily run to over $100 if you go beyond the central Brisbane region.
By Public transport
The three main public transport options of Brisbane (ferries, buses and trains) are run by a single provider, known as TransLink. This allows free transfers to be made between the three different transport modes, providing relevant time and zone restrictions are met. The TransLink website [www] (13 12 30) is handy for researching public transport options between destinations, and is essential for Brisbane visitors planning their commute.
Single tickets for travel in Brisbane start at over $4 for a one way trip, the most expensive of any city within Australia and the third-most expensive globally (behind Oslo and London). A paper ticket is valid for travel only in the zones you ask for and is only valid for one way trips, so make sure you buy a ticket that covers all the zones you'll need to travel in. Paper tickets are being phased out in favour of the competitively cheaper Go Card (see below).
Travellers should ensure they have a valid ticket as ticket inspectors make frequent appearances and fines can be significant. You may also be required to display a valid student/senior card if you are travelling on a concession ticket type.
TransLink has integrated ticketing called the go card, a contactless smart card which you purchase before travelling and you top-up with funds. The fare is deducted as you touch-on and touch-off as you board and leave public transport. Buses and CityCats/Ferries are fitted with go card machines that are apparent when you board, whilst train stations have external panels located on the platform or nearby. A deposit of $5 applies when purchasing a go card. Go cards can be purchased and topped up from staff at train stations, some ticket vending machines and selected newsagents and convenience stores, which there are many of in the city centre.
Buying a go card removes the hassle of figuring out zones. Fares are discounted by 30% and once you have paid for 9 journeys within a week (Monday to Sunday), all journeys for the remainder of the week are free. Translink uses the word "journey" to mean end-to-end journey including any required transfers, and the word "trip" to mean a single point-to-point trip. A journey can be made up of one or more trips. When making a number of trips to get to your destination it is still one journey if you touch on within 60 minutes of touching off on your previous trip.
Getting a go-card will save you around 50c to $1 on the average journey. However, getting a refund for the unused money and $5 deposit can be a hassle. If you have paid by credit card you need apply and have the money returned by cheque or by transfer to an Australian bank account. If you have paid by cash you can get a refund at a train station, including the airport train station.
If you are going to be doing short-term extensive travel or using the Airtrain, you can buy a 3-day or 5-day unlimited travel SEEQ Card for $79 and $129 respectively. SEEQ cards work like regular go cards however provide additional discounts at various tourist attractions around South-East Queensland. You don't have to worry about topping up and refunds, but you'll struggle to get value out of it unless you are catching the Airtrain. Remember a standard go card only charges you for 9 journeys in a week, so to justify $129 for 5-days, your average journey would have to cost over $14. This equates to 16 zones of travel on-peak, or 19 zones off-peak, which you are unlikely to use.
The fare you pay will depend on public transport "zones". The 23 zones form concentric rings and propagate outwards from the CBD (zone 1). All official public transport maps clearly mark the zones and zone boundaries. Generally speaking, most major attractions around the inner-city are within zones 1 or 2. Your fare is determined by how many zones you travel through. Travelling between zones 2 and 3 will cost you the same fare as travelling between zones 7 and 8. You must observe the time restrictions for transfers to avoid having to pay for another journey.
Often, major stops like shopping centres and busway stops are used as zone boundaries. Stops that form part of the zone boundary are considered part of both zones, so you may travel to them on a valid ticket that covers either zone.
If buying a paper ticket, say which zones you wish for it to be valid for, although all operators generally know what to give you if you tell them your destination. Ensuring your ticket is valid for your current journey is important as bus drivers may make you pay for another ticket or not allow you on at all, and officers on trains and ferries may fine you.
If you are using a Go Card, then fares are calculated automatically.
CityFerry and CityCat
CityFerries and CityCats have become an icon of the city and are fantastic ways to tour Brisbane along the river. The CityCats are high-speed catamarans with stops at South Bank and the city centre as well as many riverside suburbs, and are a very popular method of getting around for tourists. CityFerries are more traditional ferries which generally operate shorter routes with more frequent stops; you may end up on one if you must use one of the smaller terminals, but in practice, most riverside destinations are accessible from the faster and more modern CityCats.
Trains in greater Brisbane run along radial lines. Most train services in Brisbane are through-running, travelling from one end of the suburbs to the other, however all trains service Roma Street, Central, Fortitude Valley and Bowen Hills regardless of their ultimate destination. Interurban services can also be caught to the Gold Coast (using connecting bus services at Nerang and Robina) and Sunshine Coast (using connecting bus services at Landsborough and Nambour) as well as Australia Zoo (connecting bus at Beerwah). Trains generally run from 6AM to midnight, though there are some variations such as running later on Friday and Saturday nights, and finishing earlier on Sundays.
Brisbane has a large network of bus routes. Virtually all buses have a digital display of their route number and destination(s). The inner city areas are very well serviced by buses, with the most popular routes running from 6AM to 11PM as a minimum, and most routes ultimately terminating at Queen St Bus Station, Fortitude Valley (via Adelaide St or Elizabeth St) or on the busway. In some of Brisbane's notoriously dispersed outer suburbs, services may be much less frequent or have reduced running hours, so it is advisable to check timetables if making these trips. Due to Brisbane traffic, buses are occasionally up to 10 minutes late during peak hour.
Brisbane's dedicated busway runs from a corridor in the southern or northern suburbs, through South Bank and the central business district. Due to the large number of buses in the central business district, a number of other routes use stops scattered across the city streets, so if you are unfamiliar with the geography of Brisbane, use of the busway is recommended where possible. The busway and rail network meet at Roma Street station, and the two combined provide very good coverage of the key inner city areas.
Drivers do carry notes with them, but not always many or of high value. If you must pay cash, try to pay the correct amount and with coins where possible. Note that some services, especially in peak hour, do not sell tickets on board at all and only accept pre-purchased tickets or go cards. These are signed with the letter 'P' before the route number. As with many cities, Brisbane has a large number of express buses, so it should not be assumed that all buses observe every stop along the roads they travel. In peak hour there are even more express routes ("rockets" and "bullets") for commuters which make very few stops at all. Ask the driver if you are unsure.
Brisbane also has all-night bus services on Friday and Saturday nights on selected routes; this is branded 'NightLink'.
- The 'Brisbane City Loop' is a free and convenient bus service travelling in both directions around the CBD. Operating Mon-Fri 7AM until 5:50PM every 10 minutes from any distinctive bright red CBD bus stop.
- The 'Spring Hill Loop' free bus operates around the Spring Hill area just north of the CBD and is an easy way to avoid walking the steep hills in the area. The bus runs service runs Mon-Fri approximately every 30 minutes between 6:50AM and 8:25AM then every 10 minutes until 6:05PM
- The 'CityGlider' bus operates as a prepaid service for quick north-south cross-city travel between West End and the Teneriffe Ferry at Newstead, stopping at any distinctive light blue bus stop. It runs every 5 minutes during peak hour (weekdays from 7-9AM and 4-6PM), and every 10 to 15 minutes between all other hours of operation. It operates from 5:30AM until 11:30PM Sunday to Thursday, and 24 hours Friday and Saturday.
- The 'Maroon Glider' bus operates as a prepaid service for quick east-west cross-city travel between Woolloongabba and Ashgrove, stopping at distinctive maroon (dark red) bus stops. The service operates Mon-Sun 5:30AM until 11:30PM every 10 minutes in peak periods (weekdays from 7-9AM and 4-6PM) and every 15 minutes in off-peak periods. Services will also operate throughout Friday and Saturday nights (excluding public holidays unless otherwise advertised) at 30 minute intervals between Midnight until 5AM.
- BEST RATED -
- BEST VALUE -
- Queen Street Mall. Main shopping mall in Brisbane, large variety of shops, contains several shopping centres.
- The Myer Centre. Runs the gamut from jeans shops to specialty knife stores. Internet kiosks are available.
- The Wintergarden. A fashion centre connected to the foot of the Hilton Hotel. Also contains a licensed day or night bowling alley.
- QueensPlaza. Brisbane's newest fashion centre, with more expensive, big brand stores.
- Broadway on the Mall. Many formal wear, evening wear and bridal stores. Also some stores that stock well known Brisbane fashion designers such as Gail Sorronda. Features a downstairs food court and upstairs electrical and appliance retailer.
- Brisbane Arcade. A secluded narrow shopping strip which acts as a pass way between Adelaide and Queen St. It contains many unique stores. It is one of the few remaining heritage shopping arcades in Brisbane.
- Queen Adelaide Building. One of Brisbane’s oldest buildings is home to Queensland’s flagship Sportsgirl store, Adidas and Rebel Sport.
- The Conrad Treasury Casino (located at the George Street end of the mall).
- Adelaide Street.Downtown's dress circle
- Elizabeth Street Arcade. Arcade that spans between Elizabeth and Charlotte streets. Lots of independent boutiques to suit various prices, and lots of cheap Asian food.
- Albert Street. Has many adventure and sports-type retailers, lots of bookstores.
- Eagle Street. The centre of law and finance in Queensland, holds the Eagle Street and Riverside markets.
- Edward Street. Mostly covered by Queens Plaza, Macarthur Centre and Wintergarden street fashion stores. There are also a couple of jewellery, take-away restaurants, bars and night clubs. Edward St. has recently been transformed into a luxury brands precinct, with stores such as MaxMara, Tiffany & Co., Bally, Mont Blanc, Chanel, Gucci Hugo Boss, Oroton, Ralph Lauren, and L'Occitane. Hermes opened a store on Edward St in late 2010. Apple is reportedly set to open a flagship store on Edward St, which will be the largest in Australia, and one of the largest in the world.
- South Bank markets. Held at the South Bank Parklands every Sunday.
- Brunswick Street Mall. Located in the heart of China Town, there are many Chinese retailers, fast food restaurants, cafes and bars. Markets are run on Sundays.
- Indooroopilly Shopping Centre (322 Moggill Road), , e-mail: [email protected]. Large shopping centre sprawled over three massive levels. Large variety of retailers.
- Westfield Garden City, Corner of Logan and Kessels Roads, Upper Mt Gravatt, . Large shopping centre with two levels. Contains a large variety of fashion retailers and book stores.
- Westfield Chermside, Corner of Gympie and Hamilton Roads, Chermside, . Brisbane's largest shopping centre. Popular among youth culture for its Megaplex Movie Cinema.
- Westfield Carindale, 1151 Creek Road, Carindale, . The largest shopping centre in the Eastern Suburbs.
- Northside Flower Market, Unit 3, 27 Windorah St, Stafford. M-Sa.
- Davies Park Market, Montague Rd, West End. Sa 6AM-2PM. An expansive farmers-style market with an alternative vibe that sells fruit and vegetables, as well as meats, cheese, and handicrafts. Also has food vendors, including a crêperie.
- James Street, Fortitude Valley. Small strip with high end fashion, furniture and electronics retail, plus a couple of nice bars and cafes.
- Valley Markets. Sa Su 8AM-4PM. A shopping must for locals and tourists. Operating every weekend, find jewellery, fabulous handmade accessories and artwork. Home to emerging fashion designers.
- Ann St. Along Ann Street in the Valley there are many independent fashion boutiques for mid-range shopping. Some of them are spread out around the corner of Brunswick Street too.
Brisbane City and Spring Hill
- Beach House, . Located on the corner of Albert and Elizabeth St, Myer Centre, 2F. Licensed bar, large meals and live entertainment at value for money.
- Bar Merlo. Various outlets throughout the city, their first being opened in the QUT Gardens Point campus. Regarded as one of the leaders in the Brisbane café society boom since the 90s, their coffee is served at countless cafes and restaurants throughout Brisbane.
- Hanaichi, Wintergarden, Macarthur Central. Cheap Japanese takeaway. Try the Katsu Curry. About $7.
- MOS Burger (Albert Street, just off the Queen St Mall in the direction of King George Square.). The second largest fast food chain in Japan offering interesting and tasty Japanese style burgers, including "rice burgers" that have buns made of rice and interesting filings not found in your usual western burgers. One of only 4 Mos Burger restaurants in Australia, another one is in Sunnybank, and the other two are in the Gold Coast (Surfers Paradise and Southport)
- German Sausage Hut, Burnett Ln. Excellent and authentic German food. Take away available. They offer currywurst, wurst in a roll, wurst on a plate with potato salad and sauerkraut.
- Pancake Manor, Charlotte St (just down from George Street). A Brisbane institution, open 24 hours. Tends to fill up with nightclub revellers on their way home after about 3AM on a Saturday or Sunday morning.
- Pane e Vino, . Albert St. Italian restaurant with pastas and mains $18–34. Not a lot of authentic Italian ambiance as found in more typical restaurants further south in Melbourne.
- Sono, . Queen Street Mall. Authentic Japanese food. Has a second outlet in the new Portside precinct in Hamilton.
- Le Bon Choix, 379 Queen St, . Near the golden triangle, p. Great French bakery. Sells a good variety of sandwiches, cakes, tortes, macarons, fresh bread, croquettes, quiches and coffee. Trading Hrs: Mon-Fri 7AM - 6PM, Sat-Sun 7AM - 5PM
- ARIA Brisbane, 1 Eagle St, . The sister restaurant to the famed ARIA Sydney, ARIA Brisbane is no less impressive, with a commanding view of the River and the Story Bridge. Located in the Eagle St Pier precinct, it specialises in the freshest Australian produce.
- Alchemy, . Located in a little hideaway on Eagle St, this restaurant has one of the most impressive views in Brisbane, looking across the river to the Story Bridge. Well known for its "liquid nitrogen nibbles", Alchemy lives up to its name.
- Cha Cha Char, . Pier Ave. Famous award-winning steakhouse located at the Eagle St Pier precinct. Their steaks are considered one of Australia's best. Recently opened is Organic Char, the sister restaurant to Cha Cha Char which serves organic produce.
- E'cco Bistro, 100 Boundary St, . Founded and run by the internationally renowned and acclaimed chef Philip Johnson, it is one of the best restaurants in Brisbane and Australia-wide.
- Esquire, 145 Eagle St, . Recently opened by executive chef Ryan Squires, who trained at Noma in Copenhagen, this restaurant is famed for its degustation menu. An immediate hit in Brisbane. Don't go dressed in shorts and a t-shirt. Many an unsuspecting Brisbanite has attempted to get in, yet even in the height of summer the still have a strict dress rule.
- Il Centro, 1 Pier Ave, . Located in the Eagle St Pier precinct, along with other notable neighbours. Famed for its signature sand crab lasagne, it is one of the most popular Italian restaurants in Brisbane and also among the priciest.
- Moda, 12 Edward St, . Huge selection of wines and a varied menu including seafood, duck, rabbit and pork cheeks. By no means cheap but amazing food.
- Restaurant Two, . Corner of Edward and George St, (across the street from the Botanic Gardens), [www]. Headed by executive chef David Pugh, it is widely regarded as one of Brisbane's best restaurants.
- Sake. Eagle St Pier. Recently the recipient of an Australian Gourmet Traveller star, and selected as one of Australia's 100 Top Restaurants, Sake is one of the hot newcomers to the Brisbane restaurant scene. Serves Japanese Cuisine.
- Tank, . Tank St. Another member of the top 100 Restaurants in Australia, Tank also served Japanese-Australian cuisine in a tucked away spot in a little laneway off Tank St, in the North Quarter of the Brisbane CBD.
- Urbane, . Mary St, (Short walk from Stamford Plaza). One of the best fine dining restaurants in Brisbane, serving unconventional but innovative food.
- Vintaged, Elizabeth St (Hilton Brisbane). Serving carefully aged meat within luxe surroundings, this is one of better hotel restaurants in Brisbane.
Fortitude Valley and New Farm
- Continental Cafe, 21 Barker St, . Good food, nice atmosphere across several rooms, surprisingly good children's menu. Open for dinner 364 days a year. Watch out for the offal specials on Tuesdays. Reliable high quality.
- Enjoy Inn, 167 Wickham St (corner of Duncan St in Chinatown), . One of the longest established restaurants in Brisbane, good Chinese food.
- Fatboys Cafe, 323 Brunswick St, . The cafe portion of Ric's Bar, on Brunswick St Mall. Serves some of the best value for money breakfasts in Brisbane from $4.
- Green Tea Restaurant, 31 Duncan St (Duncan St in Chinatown mall), . Good authentic Vietnamese food at a reasonable price.
- Harvey's (James St precinct), . Very popular cafe restaurant and deli. It is located a short walk from James St market.
- Hunan Chinese Restaurant (Chinatown Mall). Unpretentious eatery serving exotic regional Chinese fare from the Hunan province, as well as Chinese takeaway staples at cheap and reasonable prices.
- James Street Market. Not a restaurant, but a yuppie grocery where you will find all the food and drink you need to bring with you in the bush. Includes a small sushi bar at furthest end from James St.
- King of Kings, . Wickham St, (Chinatown precinct). A Brisbane institution for yum cha, decent food and prices.
- Mecca Bah, 1000 Ann St (Emporium precinct), . Popular restaurant that serves modern Middle Eastern food, part of an Australian interstate franchise that originated in Melbourne.
- Re Del Gelato, . Beautifully made Italian gelato, a perfect cap after a nice meal at one of the close by restaurants on Brunswick Street.
- Taj Mahal, 722 Brunswick St (opposite Village Twin Cinemas), . Amazing Indian cuisine. Caterers to the Indian Cricket Team when in Brisbane.
- Thai Wi-Rat, 20 Duncan St (on Chinatown Mall), . Cheap and cheerful authentic regional Thai-Laotian cuisine.
South Bank and Woolloongabba
- Ahmet's Turkish Restaurant, . Little Stanley St. Turkish restaurant, features belly dancers on weekends. One of the most popular and busiest restaurants in the South Bank precinct, though the painstaking quality of the kitchen means a longer than usual wait for food. Do not expect to be in and out in less than an hour.
- Brisbane German Club, 416 Vulture St (opposite The Gabba stadium), . Located directly, this restaurant/bar offers a wonderful range of authentic German cuisine and beer for very reasonable prices.
- Green Papaya, 898 Stanley St, . Formerly a French-influenced Northern Vietnamese fine dining restaurant founded by renowned chef Lien Yeomans, it is now run by the Mons Ban Sabai management and serves Thai and Indonesian food.
- Norman Hotel, 102 Ipswich Rd, . Woolloongabba. Along with the Breakfast Creek Hotel, possibly the best steaks in town, it's slogan is "Brisbane's worst vegetarian restaurant".
Milton and Park Road
- China Sea, 60 Park Rd (on the Coronation Drive end of Park Road), . Excellent Chinese food at upper-range prices.
- La Dolce Vita, 20 Park Rd (next to Rue de Paris), . Great Italian cafe
- Rue de Paris, 30 Park Rd, . Brisbane's Eiffel Tower, another great cafe
- Gambaro's, 33 Caxton St, . Has both a seafood restaurant and a long-established seafood takeaway. A Brisbane institution.
- Kookaburra Cafe, . 280 Given Tce. Good pizza in a relaxed atmosphere
- Montrachet. 224 Given Terrace. French bistro specializing in Lyonnaise specialties, regarded as one of Brisbane's best restaurants.
- Sultans Kitchen, . 163 Given Ter. Among the best Indian food in the city. Fresh and tasty and good service. Usually fills quickly and does a roaring take-away trade, so get in early.
- Tomato Brothers, 19 Nash St (Rosalie shops in Paddington), . Renowned for their wood fired pizzas, with several franchises in several Brisbane suburbs such as Wilston and Clayfield.
- Sol, 20 Latrobe Ter. Vegetarian and all organic café warm in winter and cool in summer and the coffee is great.
University of Queensland
The university and its surrounds provide many quality eateries if you happen to be in the area or on a CityCat ferry and caters to a cheaper market.
- Main Refectory. In the main eatery on Campus, found in building 21. This is also known as The Refec, not be confused with the Physiology Refectory. Food is usually reasonably priced, to cater to students. Apart from the main section of the refectory (Main Course), there is a sushi bar, noodle bar, Souvlaki Hut, Subway, Boost Juice, bakery and a Mr. Beans Coffee.
- Physiology Refectory. An eatery known as The Physiology Refec, located in building 63, it is designed to allow students to eat without having to travel to the opposite side of campus.
- A Salt 'n Battery, Hawken Drive, Hawken Village. Quality fish and chip shop-cum-seafood restaurant with a wide variety of foods and decent prices. Approx 5-10 min walk from the University.
- The Pizza Caffe, . Fantastic pizzas with really different ingredients
South Brisbane and West End
- Huong's, 83a Vulture St. Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese food. BYO and Takeaway available.
- Lefkas Taverna, 170 Hardgrave Rd, . West End. Brisbane's most famous Greek takeaway and restaurant.
- Makanan Indonesia, 59 Hardgrave Rd, . Authentic Indonesian fare at unbeatable value.
- Mondo Organics, 166 Hardgrave Rd, . West End. Considered to be Brisbane's premier organic food restaurant. Also have a cooking school.
- Gandhi Indian Kitchen & Laneway Stall, 10 Little Stanley St, . S South Brisbane. Brisbane's signature Indian restaurant, celebrating 10 years of service in South Bank.
- The Forest Cafe, Boundary St. Vegan food. The indoors area can get quite warm during the summer months, however.
- Tukka, . 145b Boundary St. Unique and innovative modern native Australian cuisine. Pricing is at the upper range, but worth a visit.
- Trang, 2/59 Hardgrave Road West. End. Did someone say Pho? Head here for possibly the best Pho is Brisbane. Give the Chinese menu a miss.
Restaurants in other areas/precincts
- Baguette, 150 Racecourse Rd (Ascot precinct), . Modern-Australian restaurant that is owned and operated by the Domenech family for over 30 years.
- Blue Lotus. Kelvin Grove Urban Village precinct. Gourmet and exotic ice-creams that change according to the seasons.
- Breakfast Creek Hotel, . 2 Kingsford Smith Drv, (in the Newstead area)., -. Famous for its steaks, a Brisbane institution.
- The Courthouse Restaurant, 1 Paxton St, Cleveland, . A Redlands institution, situated in an 1850's Courthouse, this restaurant offers quality food in a stunning heritage building with beautiful views of Moreton Bay.
- Earth 'n' Sea. Oxford St, Bulimba +61 7 3899-5988 or 377 Cavendish Rd, Coorparoo +61 7 3847-7780. BYO family restaurant serving up delicious pasta dishes and pizzas with unusual toppings, all with the freshest ingredients, great atmosphere and strange Aussie decor. Expensive, but you're guaranteed to leave satisfied.
- Efes One Turkish Restaurant, 293 Sandgate Rd (off Sandgate Road at Albion), . Brisbane's first Turkish restaurant. Without a doubt the most popular destination for traditional Turkish cuisine and a friendly atmosphere in Brisbane. Belly dancers on Friday and Saturday nights.
- Landmark, 101 Cnr mains Rd, . Shop/ (Sunnybank Plaza business precinct). One of the most renowned and popular Chinese restaurants in Brisbane, notably for its well done authentic yum cha.
- Sakura. Franchises located in Coorparoo and Highgate Hill. Excellent authentic Japanese food at reasonable prices.
- Sitar (next to Bespoke in the Albion area). Indian restaurant that has franchises in suburbs like West End and New Farm.
- Tosakan Thai Restaurant, 23 Playfield St, .11AM10:30PM. Tosakan Thai Restaurant serves authentic Thai food for dining in or takeaway. $7-35.
Coffe & Drink
- The Gunshop Cafe, 53 Mollison St, . Possibly the best French toast in the city. Always busy so be prepared to queue and not open on Sunday. Fantastic coffee.
- Paladar (Cnr Fish Lane & Merivale St). Devised by connoisseur Filip Pilioras, Paladar Fumior Salon is a must for lovers of Cuban coffee, culture and cigars. Despite having a small street frontage and being tucked away off a main street (Merivale St on the corner of Fish Lane) the bright red exterior makes it easy to find once you are in the area.
- Three Monkeys, 58 Mollison St. Throughout the ground floor and garden of a converted house, this eclectic cafe is an enchanting maze of exotic furniture, fabrics and nooks. A Brisbane icon for over 20 years, you can enjoy meals, desserts and of course, tea and coffee, here 7 days a week.
- The Fox Hotel, Melbourne St, . Has a number of wonderful art deco bars and a signature restaurant serving true Italian ristorante style cuisine, luxurious banquet seating, opening roof and euro-style street side dining.
- Lychee Lounge, 94 Boundary St. Inspired by the neighbourhoods pre- and post-war housing and vibrant art sub-culture. Asian-inspired snacks and cocktails.
- West End Coffee House, 80 Vulture St., West End (Corner Vulture St. and Boundary St.). 6AM-4PM. Organic coffee, Thai food for lunch, relaxed atmosphere and occasional exhibitions. $3 coffee.
- Desmond and Molly Jones, 615 Stanley St, . Café with exposed brick walls, a hodge-podge of vintage seating, and excellent iced chocolates.
- Salon, 110 Macquarie St. Intimate Euro-chic ambience, delicious food and an extensive international wine list with over 20 available by the glass.
- Blowfly, 110 Macquarie St. Quirky and intimate. Modern take on the traditional Australian BBQ with a large alfresco dining area.
- London Club, 38 Vernon Terrace. Contemporary food and a young, casual vibe.
- Bean, 181 George St. Entrance via driveway. A quiet, hidden bunker-style café that provides an escape from the noise of the city. Friendly staff serving excellent coffee, Bean turns into a boutique cafe-bar in the afternoon and evening.
- Brew, Lower Burnett Ln. Creative and relaxed café off the Albert St Mall. Great coffee, food and boutique beer and cider in an intimate location.
- Coffee Anthology, 126 Margaret St. The brainchild of passionate coffee doyen Adam Wang, this café showcases specialty beans from Australia's premier coffee roasters, while maintaining Brisbane's laidback vibe. A must-do destination for serious coffee lovers.
- John Mills Himself, 55 Elizabeth St. Entrance via driveway. Tucked away in an old garage in the eponymous John Mills building, this funky café boasts knowledgeable baristas serving a variety of espresso and filter coffees using high quality beans that are regularly rotated. Also stocks cold brewed iced coffees and iced chocolates which are perfect for those hot Brisbane days. Turns into a boutique beer and cocktail bar after 3:30PM.
- Campos, 11 Wandoo St, . Sydney-based café/roastery. Located behind the popular Fresh on James Street markets. But please note that you cannot access this directly from James St Market you need to go around the complex to get there is a sign that points you the way.
- Anouk, 212 Given Tce, . Open daily 07:00-14:30.Sophisticated atmosphere and the perfect place for brunch. On weekends you may have to queue for seating.
- Jetty Kiosk, William Gunn Jetty, Manly Esplanade (behind the Manly Baths swimming pool). Cafe owned by the Port of Brisbane. Open 7 days, from 9AM-4PM, Sit over the water enjoying a drink, dessert or meal and admire Moreton Bay. Peaceful.
- Cafe da Vinci, 50 Cambridge Parade, Manly, . Sit on the wooden deck of this bayside cafe and admire the harbour. Serves drinks, meals, great breakfasts, and desserts. Open 7 days, dinner only on Thu, Fri and Sat. Not the best breakfat in Manly.
Sights & Landmarks
Buildings and Landmarks
- Brisbane City Hall and King George Square.Located between Adelaide and Ann Streets, this is the city's most significant historical landmark. This area has free public Wi-Fi.
- University Of Queensland (St Lucia), St Lucia, Brisbane QLD 4072, . One of Australia's oldest and most prestigious institutions situated on a bend of the Brisbane River. Its majestic sandstone buildings are surrounded by ornamental lakes, Jacaranda lined boulevards and some of the finest architecture. Visitor attractions include the Great Court, the UQ Art Museum at the James and Mary Emelia Mayne Centre, the Eleanor Schonell Bridge, the Schonell Theatre and the UQ lakes. The university can be reached by bus from George St on bus numbers 411, 412 and 109 or via the CityCat.
- Wheel of Brisbane (at South Bank), Russel Street, South Brisbane QLD 4101. A ferris wheel that allows you to observe the city from 60 m with views across the Brisbane River. The trip is a 15 minute ride in an enclosed, climate controlled gondola. 10AM-10PM daily, $15, $10 children 12 years and under, $2 children aged between one and three.
Nature and Wildlife
- City Botanic Gardens(10-15min walk from the city centre and Central or Roma Street railway stations).24/7. Free 1h guided tours M-Sa 11:00 & 13:00 (No need to book ahead). Walking and cycling tracks. Exhibits. Free tours are a mix of the history of the gardens and the city whereas the garden tours at Mt Coot-tha are more focused on the wide variety of plants. Free.
- Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, 708 Jesmond Road, Fig Tree Pocket (via the Western Freeway), , e-mail: [email protected]. 9am - 5pm. Reduced hours April 25.. World's first and largest koala sanctuary, with over 130 koalas. Cuddle a koala, hand feed kangaroos and see some other Aussie wildlife. Admission $32 adults, $21 children 3-13yr, with discounts for families and students. Alternate transport options include: Catch the hourly 445 or 430 buses from the city or the Mirimar boat cruise from South Bank at 10:20. +61 7 3378-1366. Adults $36, Child $22, Concession $24. Family rates available. Discounts if purchased online in advance.
- Mt Coot-tha, Sir Samuel Griffiths Drive. Brisbane's tallest mountain. A popular make-out spot with a great view and good but overpriced cafe and restaurant. Large TV and radio antennas lining some of its broad peak. You can take a scenic drive through the heavily forested Mount Coot-tha Reserve to the peak to see the almost-360° views of Brisbane and the surrounding region. The mountain is 287 m (941 ft) above sea level and forms the eastern extent of the Taylor Range. It is the most northern part of Australia to record snow. It is a prominent landmark approximately 6 km (4 mi) to the west of the Brisbane central business district and is visible from much of the city. Before the Moreton Bay penal settlement, Mount Coot-tha was the home of the Turrbal Aboriginal people. Early Brisbane people called it One Tree Hill when bush at the top of the mountain was cleared except for one large eucalypt tree. The Aboriginal people of the area used to come to the mountain to collect ‘ku-ta’ (honey) that was produced by the native stingless bee. Mount Coot-tha (Place of Honey), a derivative of (the indigenous term), replaced the former title ‘One Tree Hill' in 1880 when the area was declared a Public Recreation Reserve. Car is the most effective way to enjoy Mount Cootha at your own pace. There is ample parking at the peak. One can also hike the marked trail from the mountain's foot. See one of the best views of Brisbane. It is best to arrive just before dusk or dawn so you can enjoy the transition from day to night. Drive to the peak for a picnic dinner and admire the views. There are several walking tracks through the forests that surround the summit; some are difficult. It is a great place from which to watch the Riverfire fireworks in Sep.
- New Farm Park. This historic park is famous for the long line of jacaranda trees, shady picnic areas and its large rose gardens that contain hundreds of variety of roses, and over 40,000 individual plants.
- Roma Street Parklands. Is the world's largest subtropical garden in a city centre and home to 1,800 unique species of plants. Experience the theme gardens such as the topiary maze, rain forest walk, lake, celebration law and amphitheatre with many public artworks to admire. Free.
- Brisbane Botanic Gardens, Mt Coot-tha Road. 8:00am - 5:30pm (September - March) 8:00am - 5:00pm (April - August). Free.
Other Points of Interest
- Manly Boat Harbour. Manly Boat Harbour is the nearest access point from Brisbane city to Moreton Bay. Nestled beside the Manly Harbour Village, it is Brisbane's gateway to the Moreton Bay Marine Park with its pristine waterways and fascinating islands. Manly Harbour Village has a great range of dining and shopping options overlooking the marina.
- South Bank and Cultural Precinct. South Bank Formerly the site of World Expo '88 this relatively recent development is across the Brisbane River from the heart of the city and features an artificial beach surrounded by extensive parklands. Also in South Bank are the shops, cafés, restaurants and cinemas of the Grey Street precinct. A great place to hang out on a hot day and swim for free. Adjacent to South Bank the Cultural Precinct the site includes the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Queensland Museum and Sciencentre, Queensland Art Gallery, Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) and State Library of Queensland. Griffith University's South Bank Campus incorporating The Queensland Conservatorium and the Queensland College of Art are also located on Grey St.
- Suncorp Piazza. Within South Bank often hosts free live events and movies.
Museums & Galleries
- Commissariat Store Museum, 115 William Street, , e-mail: [email protected]. 10am - 4pm Tuesday-Friday.Occupying the oldest habitable building in Queensland the Commissariat Store Museum highlights both the building and various aspects of Brisbane and Queensland's convict, colonial and more recent history. Run by The Royal Historical Society of Queensland. Audio tour can be downloaded from website in advance. Adults $7, Concession $5.
- The Cube, Queensland University of Technology (QUT) (Gardens Point), 2 George St, e-mail: [email protected]. 10:00-16:00. The Cube is one of the world's largest digital interactive learning and display spaces dedicated to providing an inspiring, explorative and participatory experience of QUT's Science and Engineering research. Here you will find one of the world's largest digital interactive and learning environments in the new $230 million Science and Engineering Centre at the QUT gardens point campus. You can view research-inspired projects across science, engineering, maths and technology displayed on more than 40 multi-touch screens and 14 high-definition projectors. The Cube is inspiring and engaging the next generation of thinkers and doers with its extensive outreach to schools, including their hands-on and interactive workshops and public programs for high school students and QUT undergraduate and postgraduate students. Free.
- MacArthur Museum, Level 8, MacArthur Chambers, 201 Edward Street, . 10am - 3pm Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday. This Museum occupies what was during the 2nd World War the Office of General Douglas MacArthur. Travel back in time to the early 1940's in this niche Brisbane museum. Adults $8, Seniors $5, Child $4.
- Museum of Brisbane, Ground Floor, 157 Ann St. Daily 10:00-17:00.Features one floor of exhibits about the history of the city, and another floor for exhibitions of local artists. Free.
- Queensland Maritime Museum, Cnr Stanley and Sidon Streets, South Brisbane, , e-mail: [email protected]. Daily 9:30am to 4:30pm. The Queensland Maritime Museum hosts a range of exhibitions and vessels in their Museum at South Bank. Step aboard the HMAS Diamantina and experience life as a Navy Sailor. Also be sure to see Ella's Pink Lady, the yacht Queenslander Jessica Watson sailed solo unassisted during her record-breaking journey to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world. Adult $16, Concession $14, Child $7.
- Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium, Brisbane Botanic Gardens - Mt Coot-tha, . Varies. From 10am weekdays, Frnm 11am weekends. Located in the beautiful subtropical Brisbane Botanic Gardens, Mt Coot-tha Road, Toowong. Open Tu-Su with free admission to astronomy and space displays and a mini theatre. Admission fees (generally $15.40 per adult, with discounts for families) apply to the Cosmic Skydome which features a wide variety of astronomy and space programs. All shows feature a "live" segment recreating the current Brisbane night sky. On weekdays (closed M and public holidays), the doors open at 10AM with school shows at 10:30AM and noon. Members of the public are welcome to attend the earlier school shows when space permits (children must be school age). The 1:30PM and 3PM sessions (Tu-F) are public programs, although the 1:30PM program may be booked for dedicated school programs (please check with the Planetarium's Booking Office). During Queensland school holidays there are extra public shows on weekdays. On weekends, the Planetarium opens at 11AM and shows are also presented on Saturday night with "Saturday Night Live" at 6PM being a very popular show. There is a shop with a wide variety of astronomical/science merchandise and souvenirs. There is free parking, an adjacent bus stop and a separate cafe/restaurant. The Botanic Gardens has many walks. Adult $15.40, Child $9.40, Concession $13.
- Queensland Museum, Corner of Grey and Melbourne Streets, South Bank, . 9:30am - 5:00pm. The Queensland Museum is a large museum featuring several exhibitions that generally focus on Natural History and Queensland History. Free, except for some special exhibitions.
- Sciencentre, Corner of Grey and Melbourne Streets, South Bank, . 9:30am - 5:00pm. Forming part of the Cultural Precinct and housed in the lower levels of the Queensland Museum building the Sciencentre is a hands on, interactive science facility particularly popular with families and children. Adult $14.50, Concession $12.50, Child $11.50.
- Queensland Art Gallery, Stanley Place, South Bank, , e-mail: [email protected]. 10:00am - 5:00pm. The Queensland Art Gallery is housed in two buildings within Brisbane's Cultural Precinct at South Bank. Free, except for some special exhibitions.
- Gallery of Modern Art. The Gallery of Modern Art forms part of the Queensland Art Gallery and is a short walk from the Main Gallery. Opened in 2006 the gallery regularly hosts exhibitions featuring internationally famous artists (such as Warhol and Picasso) as well as many local contemporary artists.
Things to do
Activities and trips
- Kangaroo Point. The walls along the Brisbane River are a popular spot for rock climbers and give an excellent view of the CBD skyline just across the river. Activities carry on after dark, when the walls are well-lit. Abseiling and rock climbing classes on the cliffs with an instructor are available from Riverlife Adventures, as well as kayak, kick-bike, rollerblade and bicycle hire. There are also barbecue and picnic spots in the area.
- Story Bridge Adventure Climb. Offers the opportunity to scale the top of Brisbane's iconic bridge. You can enjoy 360° views of Brisbane, the mountain ranges and Moreton Bay Islands at dawn, afternoon or night.
- Jan Powers Farmers Markets. Buy fresh fruit, vegetables and cuts of meat from one of the many farmers markets across Brisbane including the Powerhouse at New Farm, Manly, Mitchelton and the newest market at Reddacliff Place at the top of the Queen Street Mall.
- Balloons over Brisbane, . You can gain an aerial perspective as you float over Brisbane in a hot air balloon. It's often possible to see as far off as the magnificent Glasshouse Mountains, to the Gold Coast and out to the islands of Moreton Bay.
- Kookaburra Queen River Cruises. Kookaburra Queen's two Mississippi-style paddle steamers are a common sight travelling up and down the Brisbane river with lunch and dinner cruises. Both ships were originally built for the 1988 World Expo and have been working ever since. Cruises leave from the Eagle Street pier in the CBD, and are a relaxing way to enjoy the sights of the city.
- Cruise the Brisbane River. There are various companies offering a range of river cruises and tours to take in the sights. These include cruises to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, and the BrisVegas floating nightclub.
- Explore Brisbane's Moreton Bay and Islands. 25 km (16 mi) from the Brisbane's CBD and stretches from Bribie Island to the Southern Bay Islands. Enjoy sand tobogganing, 4wheel driving, diving or snorkelling or go marine watching and spot turtles, dolphins, dugongs and even whales.
- Day Trip to Wivenhoe Dam. Spot Koala's, swim, sail or kayak on Lake Wivenhoe. There are BBQ facilities, playgrounds and plenty of parking.
- Woorim Beach. Drive across the bridge from the mainland to see a beautiful Australian national park. Hire a boat for fishing, visit the secluded Woorim Beach with views to Moreton Island or go on one of the several hikes available.
- Explore Greater Brisbane Country. Take a day trip to the surrounding regions around an hour from Brisbane and discover wineries, national parks, lakes and country living. The Scenic Rim including Ipswich, Beaudesert and Boonah is a vast region of mountains, rainforest and valleys embracing the World Heritage wilderness of the McPherson Range. The Lockyer Valley provides a perfect blend of town and country living, with experiences ranging from guided tours and bush camping to hot air ballooning and sky-diving.
- The Scenic Rim. This describes the large arc of mountains, to a height of 1,375 m (4,511 ft), from the Mistake Ranges (south of Gatton) across the Main (Great Dividing) Range to the MacPherson Range that terminates at Currumbin on the Gold Coast. Apart from some well known locations on the Rim, such as Binna Burra and O'Reilleys guesthouses, Springbrook and Cunningham’s Gap, the largest proportion of these ranges are unspoilt and much of it near-wilderness. Many forest areas were previously logged, but the forest recovery has been excellent, and virtually all the logging tracks have disappeared except for those still used for foot access. At the previously mentioned sites, graded paths offer a taste, but for the more adventurous there are many hiking possibilities from day trips to sustained multi-day exercises. More information can be found on the web. Parties should be properly prepared and conversant with navigation in difficult country and the rules of National Parks.
- Riverlife Adventure Centre. Brisbane's riverside adventures. Kayaking, Abseiling the Kangaroo Cliffs, a rollerblade session and bike rentals. They also organise evening activities such as Kayak paddle and prawns.
Festivals and events
Thanks to Brisbane's year-round wonderful climate, it's the perfect city to host outdoor events. The city often plays host to cultural and historic celebrations, music festivals and family entertainment, particularly in the Summer holiday months of December, January and February.
Cultural and historic
By far the largest and most popular event in Brisbane is the annual Brisbane Festival occurring at the end of September. This festival, which originally started as a celebration of the Brisbane River, now incorporates a number of smaller events at various places around South Bank Parklands, the Cultural Centre and the CBD as a celebration to Brisbane itself. Notably, the 'Riverfire' event which is held in South Bank every September draws the largest crowd. It offers free family entertainment all day and the city's biggest Fireworks display at night.
The annual Royal Queensland Show or The Ekka as it's almost exclusively called by the locals is a staple event in Brisbane's history and culture, held every August dating back to 1876. It is hosted at the RNA Showgrounds in the inner-suburb of Bowen Hills and runs for a week, where the Wednesday is a public holiday (so expect large crowds on this day). Primarily marketed toward families, attractions at the Ekka include fairground rides, a Side Show Alley, animal parades, wood chopping competitions, agricultural displays, equestrian events and Showbags, usually containing food items (such as confectionery) and novelty items. If you are in Brissy at the time, it really is not to be missed!
In Musgrave Park, the Greek Paniyiri Festival is another popular family entertainment event. Brisbane has a large Greek population who come out in force to celebrate Greek culture. Offers authentic Greek foods and entertainment.
The Brisbane Asia Pacific Film Festival (BAPFF) [www] (formerly the Brisbane International Film Festival (BIFF)) begins in November and is hosted in a variety of cinema venues around Brisbane. The festival features new films and retrospectives by domestic and international filmmakers along with seminars and awards.
Each year, Brisbane also hosts several parades through the central city. These can make great photo opportunities, and include:
- St Patrick's Day. Parade on Saturday closest to March 17
- ANZAC Day. Parade starts 10AM on April 25.
- May Day March. Large parade with participants from local trade unions. First Sunday in May.
- Zombie Walk. Annual event raising funds and awareness for the Brain Foundation. First Sunday in October.
- Christmas Parade and Pantomime. Each evening from early December until Christmas, the central city's Queen Street pedestrian mall gets taken over by elves, sugerplum fairies, live camels and a giant teddy bear. It's a popular event for families, particularly on weekends.
Brisbane's Fortitude Valley has the highest concentration of bars, pubs and clubs anywhere in Australia and in 2005, was given Australia's first and only "Special Entertainment Precinct" zoning, which protects and promotes the live music scene. In 2007, influential US entertainment Billboard magazine named Brisbane in the world's top 5 hotspots for live music. And in 2010 the city opened the Go-Between Bridge, named after the popular Brisbane indie rock band The Go-Betweens. There is no doubt that the locals love their music and a night out in Brisbane is not complete without experiencing some of the live music on offer. If you are looking for what's happening in Brisbane, most music and entertainment stores as well as some restaurants and cafés offer free entertainment magazines that list what's coming up within the next month or so.
Though you might find most musicians playing in the numerous bars and clubs around the CBD, West End and The Valley, there are some venues which are geared specifically toward hosting bands or artists that are on official tours. Some events allows under 18s in, but not all, so it's best to check beforehand.
- Max Watt's House of Music, 125 Boundary St, e-mail:[email protected]. Funky, purpose-built live show venue located in the heart of West End.
- The Tivoli, 52 Costin St. Has a very relaxed, noir-styled interior with sizable floor space and a mezzanine. Highly rated venue among locals and only a 10 minute walk from The Valley.
- The Zoo, 711 Ann St. – Located in The Valley, this live music venue is almost more Brisbane than the river. Indie rock, hipsters and that alternative vibe.
The Valley Fiesta is an annual three-day event. It was launched by Brisbane Marketing in 2002 to promote Fortitude Valley as a hub for arts and youth culture. It features free live music, market stalls, food and drink from many local restaurants and cafés, and other entertainment.
Brisbane and the Gold Coast also play host to a number of nationwide electronic and rock music festivals, mostly geared toward the younger crowd.
Whether watching or participating, Brisbane has a great range of sporting events. Voted as one of the best stadiums in Australia, Suncorp Stadium is host to the Brisbane Broncos NRL and Queensland Reds Rugby Union teams in the winter, and Brisbane Roar Football (Soccer) Club in the summer. Other events such as the NRL State of Origin are also a very big draw-card. Most matches cost between $25–40 for an adult.
On the south side of city at Woolloongabba is the Brisbane Cricket Ground, or commonly known as the 'Gabba. Here, the Brisbane Lions AFL team plays in the winter, and all forms of cricket can be viewed in the summer.
Brisbane's drinking and nightlife scene is separated into some distinct areas. Anyone planning a night on the town should be aware that after 3AM, no more patrons are allowed into pubs and clubs. This is a safety measure, coupled with increased security presence at taxi ranks. Additionally, smokers should beware of strict anti-smoking regulations. Smoking is now banned in "all areas where food & drink are served", both indoors and outdoors. This means that smoking is banned in all hotels, clubs, and cafés except in designated smoking areas.
The drinking age in Australia is 18 and only an Australian driver's license, 18+ card or a foreign passport is accepted as proof of age. Other forms of ID such as a student card are not accepted. These regulations are strictly enforced - for nightclubs in particular, your ID will always be checked at the door, and while venues serving food may let you in, most are very prudent in checking ID if you wish to purchase alcohol.
- Regatta (adjacent to the Regatta CityCat terminal), 543 Coronation Drive, Toowong, . Expect a wait to get in on Thur, Fri and Sat nights, but a must-go for the best sessions on Wed and Sun nights when the venue is completely taken by students
- Royal Exchange (RE) Hotel, 10 High St, , e-mail:[email protected]. Generally a good, down-to-earth pub, more so than the Regatta, which tends to cater to a slightly trendier crowd
Both Regatta and the RE have reputations (which they more than live up) as student haunts, being located reasonably close to the St Lucia campus of the University of Queensland.
Catch a citycat to Bulimba for some trendy shopping on popular Oxford Street, great cafes, hip bars or for a picnic in the park.
- Belgian Beer Cafe, 169 Mary St. – Caters for a slightly more upmarket clientele, with a "gourmet" or "boutique" style to its all-Belgian-sourced beers, also serves meals, with a particular favourite being traditional Belgian mussels.
- Brew, Lower Burnett Ln. This alleyway joint is a relaxed, bohemian cafe by day and a trendy boutique bar by night. Brew serves some of the best coffee in Brisbane, as well as a wide range of micro-brewed beers, in a welcoming, creative environment. Down an alleyway off the Albert St Mall heading to King George Square, next to the Rocking Horse.
- Treasury Casino, 130 William St. Brisbane's casino has a number of bars, from quiet lounges to dance floors. Known for its well-priced daiquiris. Open 24 hours a day (no lockout), though the individual bars vary.
- Criterion Tavern, 239 George St. A newly renovated bar, recommended for those who are looking for a quick beer and some country music.
- Down Under Bar, 308 Edward St. A well known haunt for travellers, with a number of pool tables, dance floor and unashamedly little class. Messages left by visitors from all over the world adorn the walls. If you are studying in Brisbane or just backpacking, this is perfect bar for meeting people of other nationalities.
- Exchange Hotel, 131 Edward St. – Somewhat popular with a wide, although decidedly young, demographic, including students, young professionals and tourists, who all stream in later in the night after cheap drinks finish at the other hotels nearby. Newly renovated with stylish interior and 2nd floor open roof bar.
- Fridays, 123 Eagle St. A very popular nightclub which also features dining (not recommended after 10PM). Especially popular with the Friday after-work crowd. Smart dress code (business style shoes and shirts for the guys), always enforced.
- Gilhooleys, 124 Albert St. Possibly the liveliest of Brisbane's Irish pubs, you can still get a quiet pint over a hearty lunch.
- Irish Murphy's, 175 George St. Good food, a lively atmosphere and a great pint at this Irish pub on George St.
- Mick O'Malley's Irish Pub, 171-209 Queen St. One of the many Irish pubs in Brisbane. Has a reasonable selection of food to enjoy with your pint of Guinness.
- The Port Office Hotel, 38 Edward St. Trendy bar downstairs dance floor upstairs popular spot in Brisbane. Crowded with students on Thursday.
- Sportsman Hotel, 130 Leichhardt St. Commonly called "Sporty's", this gay and lesbian pub has two bars upstairs and one private members bar downstairs. Lunch and dinner are served. Drag shows and karaoke on certain nights.
The Fortitude Valley is a unique area of Brisbane catering to the live music scene. A large number of Brisbane's hippest clubs are located here. Through the 1960s and 70s it was seen as Brisbane's bohemian hub and has maintained a certain degree of that reputation. More recently, it is sometimes thought of as being one of the more dangerous areas of the city but this attitude is changing as the area becomes more popular and hence, safer. This attitude, however, has had an adverse affect on the area's creative vibe, as locals turn their back on the area, forcing the creative epicentre of Brisbane to shift towards other areas of the city such as West End and Paddington. As with anywhere, simple common sense, caution and courtesy will keep you out of harm's way.
- Anise, 697 Brunswick St. Promotional price range from $5 to $10. Near the corner of Barker and Brunswick St in New Farm - this great restaurant has an extensive range of French, Spanish and Swiss absinthe available
- Brunswick and Ann. Ann St - Party Bar, OK atmosphere, recently renovated, the Vault Lounge is perfect for functions. Outdoor seating available, woodfire pizza and pasta.
- The Beat, 677 Ann St. Downstairs has three dance areas dedicated to hardcore/rave, electro and popular music, upstairs is gay (generally a younger crowd than the Wickham) & has two dance floors & a beer garden
- Birdee Num Num, 608 Ann St. OK atmosphere, mainly student (popular with this crowd because of the lack of cover charge) and backpacker clientele. Commercial dance music.
- Bowery Bar, 676 Ann St. A small & chic New York inspired bar. Formal/Smart dress code. Amazing cocktails.
- Cloudland, 641 Ann St. Recently opened cocktail lounge on Ann Street with a retractable roof, 10 metre waterfall, 5,000 plants and a glass bar made from 17,000 glass balls threaded by hand. Caters to a very upmarket, sophisticated crowd. Smart dress code which is strictly enforced on busy nights.
- The Empire, 339 Brunswick St. Alternative dance club, nice long balcony overlooking busy Brunswick Street, a few levels, less pretentious but darker than other dance clubs in Brisbane although no less expensive.
- Elixir Rooftop Bar, 646-648 Ann St. A sophisticated style roof top bar situated above the hustle and bustle of Ann St. This is an atmospheric cocktail bar open to the public seven days a week and provides live entertainment Thursday through to Sunday. Great atmosphere, great drinks and great food.
- The Family, 8 McLachlan St. – A bit pricey to get in, but it's one of the biggest clubs in Brisbane and has great music and atmosphere. Decor is now outdated to other clubs but still attracts large crowds; Sunday nights (fluffy) are gay.
- GPO, 740 Ann St. Bar and nightclub situated in a former Post Office on Ann Street; trendy spot with great tunes.
- Limes Hotel, 142 Constance St. Rooftop bar and cinema situated above a boutique hotel. Gets busy on weekends with young-professional crowd. Try the mojitos!
- The Met, 256 Wickham St. – The biggest club in Brisbane. Host to many international DJs. Amazing decor with great attention to detail. Many different rooms to explore. Although a bit expensive, a huge variety of different types of people inside.
- The Press Club, 339 Brunswick St. Small club with large lounges to stretch out on. Host to funky Jazz blended with dance music.
- Rics, 321 Brunswick St. Live music most nights. The Valley's hipster institution. Venue also includes "Fatboys Cafe", which is a popular restaurant serving breakfast, steaks, pizza and pasta.
- Royal George (RG) Hotel, 327 Brunswick St. Large Beer garden in the Brunswick St Mall, great atmosphere, great food deals most nights.
- Toro Bravo, 455 Brunswick St. The only authentic Spanish Restaurant in Brisbane that embraces the Spanish food and Culture. The Sangria is excellent.
- The Wickham, 308 Wickham St. A gay & lesbian dance club with outdoor seating, drag shows most nights
- xy2, 648 Ann St. One of the least pretentious venues in The Valley. There is no strict clothing policy and you're likely to get in so long as you're wearing shoes, long pants and a shirt. Has a variety of music from live bands, DJs and special events.
- Zuri, 367 Brunswick St. Upmarket ambience, strict door entry conditions regarding clothing and shoes. Male to Female ratio strictly enforced. Quite expensive drinks.
Less crowded than 'the valley' or the city, this bohemian district popular with locals offers a few hip clubs, intimate restaurants and a very laid back atmosphere.
- Lychee Lounge, 94 Boundary St. Intimate setting, sensual cocktails, beautiful crowd
- Archive Beer Boutique, 100 Boundary St. Located at street level beneath Uber, Archive stocks over 200 different craft beers, primarily Australian. The food is generally excellent, although the menu is in no way as extensive as the beverage list. Prices are reasonable, particularly on Sunday "Beer O'Clock" where the price on the majority of bottled beers are reduced to $5.
- The Boundary Hotel, 137 Boundary St. West Ends oldest pub has recently (2011) completed extensive renovations. This is perhaps the largest drinking establishment in West End, with two bars downstairs and a beer garden & deck on the upper floor. The food is fairly plain but well priced, and the drinks menu is about the same. Excellent live blues acts Sunday afternoon and evenings from Wednesday to Saturday are the main reason to visit.
- Rumpus Room, 56 Russell St. Great cocktails, and a good selection of spirits and bottled drinks. The music here is primarily funk and hip-hop, with live DJs on the weekend and during the latter half of the week. The beer garden out the front is a great spot to relax in the shade on a hot day and meet some locals. The crowd tends to be a lot thicker and drunker on Saturday nights, however.
- Lock n Load, 142 Boundary St. Friendly staff, live music most evenings and a decent array of cocktails. The beer garden at the back is a nice spot to relax, but is often crowded. Excellent spot for a light meal.
- The End, 73 Vulture St. Calls itself a "boutique bar for everyone". Quite small inside, so if you're not there early you will probably miss out on a seat to 'hipper than thou' types. Decent selection of beers at the average price, ever-changing seasonal cocktail menu.
Things to know
Several universities call Brisbane home and there are significant opportunities for international students to enrol in degree programs. Many of them have exchange agreements with several foreign universities.
- The University of Queensland (UQ) is the oldest university in Queensland and arguably the most prestigious, being a member of the Group of Eight, a coalition of leading Australian universities, intensive in research and comprehensive in general and professional education. UQ has it's main campus in the Brisbane suburb of St. Lucia, with other smaller campuses at Ipswich, Gatton and Herston, and satellite facilities scattered around Queensland.
- Queensland University of Technology (QUT) is another major university located in Brisbane, with a strong focus on both research and practical teaching, formed as an amalgamation of a number of various technical colleges. It also ranks very highly amongst Australian universities. The main campus is located at Gardens Point, right in the heart of the Brisbane CBD, with other campuses at Kelvin Grove, Carseldine and Caboolture.
- Griffith University (simply referred to as Griffith by the locals) is the other major university in Brisbane, with a focus on more creative degrees, but it does offer many of the same degrees you can undertake at other universities. The university has a number of campuses in Brisbane suburbs including South Bank, Mount Gravatt and Nathan, with another two campuses in Logan City and the Gold Coast.
Safety in Brisbane
Brisbane has a relatively low crime rate in comparison to other cities of such size. In most cases being aware of your environment and using common sense will keep you safe. Like Sydney and other large cities, trains and train stations are usually considered a common crime zone throughout the afternoons and nights, however trains and stations are patrolled by Police, Transit Officers, railway personnel and private security guards. Cameras are also used to increase security. It is advised to exercise caution when travelling on trains and buses during these periods of the day.
Here are some particular areas of note:
- Outer Suburbs: Tend to have a higher crime rate than inner suburbs which should be taken into account when visiting these areas.
- Days: Very safe during the day, but using common sense goes a long way. Avoid gangs of people, especially if they seem trashy or obnoxious and be mindful if a questionable person approaches you.
- Nights: Like most other places, outer suburbs to get more dangerous. Most suburban streets are poorly lit or have no lighting at all. It is recommended that individuals walking in these areas at night take precaution or venture within a group.
- City Central/CBD: Usually very safe at all hours.
- Days: Very safe during the day thanks to a good police presence and most people only being there for work. Though during school holidays groups of youths can congregate, especially around Queen St and South Bank and can get rather rowdy, but they usually mind their own business.
- Nights: Still relatively safe at night. Police presence isn't as strong, except on Friday and Saturday nights, but you're still urged to travel with others. Be careful if catching a train at night, even though the train stations and trains are well patrolled and watched by CCTV. Treasury Casino patrons often gather outside and unwanted attention can be received late at night due to drunks. However, security is tight and the entire area around the Casino is monitored by CCTV. Take extra caution if in South Bank at night due to groups of youths congregating there.
- Fortitude Valley: Police presence very strong here due to the concentration of bars.
- Days: Just as safe as the CBD during the day.
- Nights (especially Friday and Saturday): Taxi ranks in particular can be a little dangerous due to many frustrated drunks having to wait for cabs. Wait only at ranks that have a security guard. Stay to the well-lit busy streets and never venture off alone, especially down back-streets or far away from a crowd. Especially for females, it is recommended to travel in pairs or groups to avoid any unwanted attention from drunken revellers, especially in the early hours of the morning.
- Suburban pubs: generally less safe than inner-city pubs, bars and clubs due to less police and security. Drunks can be a hassle when in the vicinity of suburban pubs, especially around closing times. Fights in these venues are common.
Throughout Australia, the number for emergency services (Police, Fire and Ambulance) is 000. When using a mobile or cell phone, the numbers 000 and 112 are free of charge, and connect using any of the available networks.
Emergency numbers such as 911 and 999 do not work within Australia.
Probably the worst thing that can befall your trip to Brisbane is sunburn and other heat-related issues. The local UV Index is almost always in theextreme rating during the day (10AM-3PM) and precautions should always be taken. Do not be fooled though, even in the cooler months or when it is overcast you can still be affected by UV rays or the heat. Sunscreen, shirts, sunglasses and lots of water are essential.