Brisbane, Australia

Brisbane River ferries and City aerial photo, Queensland, Australia

Brisbane River and city centre.

Why visit Brisbane

Like its mates Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, this is a spacious and comfortable river-city with plenty of art, green places to play or relax in and or grub stops to keep the people fuelled, though is it’s still just a bit short of spectacular inner-city sights though in fact Brisbane is the third-most popular Australian destination for international tourists after Sydney and Melbourne.

Brisbane Streets Beach lagoon, Queensland, Australia

Part of Brisbane’s superb South Bank development, Streets Beach, with a sliver of the Brisbane River visible below the city’s ‘scrapers.

Brisbane used to be right-wing, conservative and fundamentally dull. Three decades later and the capital of Queensland is an alternate universe, buzzing with entrepreneurial energy, a cosmopolitan lifestyle, strange art forms, exotic nightclubs and brilliant restaurants, a city known to locals – tongue in cheek – as BrisVegas. Popular recreation areas include the South Bank Parklands, Roma Street Parkland, the Botanic Gardens, Brisbane Forest Park and Portside Wharf.

Main attractions

The Museum of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

The Museum of Brisbane fronted by a statue of George V.

George V was the royal hero who helped Bugbog with its name. As he lay dying, one of his aides talked about the favoured royal seaside resort at that time, Bognor Regis. Georgie’s famous last words were “Bu**er Bognor! “

• Stroll the South Bank and its cultural offerings: Performing Arts Centre, Queensland Museum, the State Library, Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA). When you’ve had enough of that chill out at the free South Beach lagoon (photo above), ethnic restaurants, cafés, and riverside promenades.

• Visit the Queensland Museum and Science Centre, a modern and interesting collection of exhibits and information on local natural history, culture, science and more.

• Head out to the Lone Pine koala sanctuary, a natural home for the little furry morons (yes, really, they expend all their energy on digesting eucalyptus leaves and very little on intellectual endeavour). You can cuddle the little porkers if you wish, or feed parrots. The place also houses other Australian wildlife such as kangaroos, dingoes and wombats.

• Take a Tangalooma day cruise to watch whales, hand feed wild dolphins, or just flake out on a magnificent beach at the Tangalooma Resort.

• Do some activities like biking alongside the 27 kms (17 miles) of dedicated cycle tracks – mainly beside the river, kayaking down the river or climbing up/abseiling down Kangaroo Point Cliffs.

• Climb the The Story Bridge, a pretty, old bridge across the Brisbane River. Not quite up to the heights of Sydney’s Harbour Bridge but still offers a thrill.

• Check the panoramic view at Mt Coot-tha Lookout, along with the Botanic Gardens, the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium and the Tsuki yama chisen Japanese Garden.
Mt Coot-tha has many hiking and cycling tracks and a scenic drive up to the summit where sweaty riders will find not only spectacular views but also the essential cold beers and grub.

• Hear live music at Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley entertainment centre.

• If the family needs animal time then Australia Zoo is a good option. Originated by the late lamented Steve Irwin it’s now run by his widow Lyn. The zoo has won several major awards.
Visitors can see a wide variety of birds, mammals, and reptiles and have hands-on animal encounters.

• Take a river cruise. If you’re desperate.

brisbane botanic gardens, Australia

The Botanic Gardens.

More attractions

Aboriginal rock art in Mt. Coot-tha Forest, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Aboriginal rock art in Mt. Coot-tha Forest. Photo by Lyle Radford

Where Brisbane wins out in the tourist stakes is the sunny, moderately tropical climate that drags as many chilled southern Australians up here as it does foreign tourists. Of course it’s also en route from Sydney to Cairns if you’re on a road trip, not to mention being not far from Gold Coast attractions.

The South Bank (aka Southbank) recreation area development is magnificent, especially the free Streets Beach lagoon on the banks of the unswimmable Brisbane River.

There is easy access to the beaches and other natural delights of North Stradbroke Island at the end of the river, a 30 minute ferry from Cleveland, 30 kms from Brisbane. NSI is great for snorkelling, surfing, fishing, bushwalking and camping.

Then of course just over an hour away there glitters the unnatural delights of The Gold Coast, with its theme parks, outrageous LOz Vegas glitz and massive sandy beaches lined with towering glass infernos (well they would be infernos if they didn’t have air conditioning.

Dream of the See, big art on the William Jolly Bridge, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Big Art. Dream of the See, on the William Jolly Bridge.

Riverside greenery and attractions, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Riverside greenery and other attractions.

North Stradbroke Island Beach 30 kms from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

North Stradbroke Island Beach 30 kms from Brisbane, a 30 minute ferry ride from Cleveland. Photo by Iorek85.

Brisbane best seasons

Winter (June-August) is the dry, cool season and thus arguably the best for tourism, with average highs of around 22C (72F) and lows of 10C (50F).
Brisbane’s climate is sub tropical, with hot, humid summers that tourists would do better to avoid. Summer (December-February) temperatures have average highs of around 30C (86F) and lows of 21C (70F), seemingly not too hot but it’s the oppressive humidity that gets to tourists. That and the low grey clouds, even lower mosquito clouds, not to mention the torrential outbursts. So, to be avoided if possible, though the difficulty for travelers is that summer is probably the best time in Sydney while winter is the best time in Cairns, both prime tourist targets and Brisbane is between the two.