The Coastal Capital of Queensland
Sydney? Been there, done that. Perth? Boring. Melbourne? What’s new?
Known as the gateway to Queensland, the coastal city of Brisbane has some of the best tastes, sights and sounds in the country. There’s more that meets the eye to the capital of the state.
Most of Brisbane city sits along the Brisbane River, housing museums and science centres, not forgetting Australian wildlife that’s found in every nook and cranny of Down Under.
Here are 20 reasons why you should visit Brisbane at least once in your life.
1. Feed WILD Dolphins
Just 14km away from central Brisbane, Moreton Bay is home to one of the richest marine life along the coast. Within the migration season between July and November, you may just witness marine life such as dolphins, turtles, stingrays and other sea creatures.
Moreton Island is also home to Tangalooma, a popular site to whale-watch but to also feed wild dolphins. One of the few places in the world that offers visitors this exclusive treat, you will be reaching out to the bottlenose mammals that visit the shores each sunset and simultaneously learn about their diet and living habitats.
2. Explore shipwrecks at Moreton Bay
These plenty to do at Moreton Bay – from exploring gigantic fig trees to sandboarding to venturing on the walking trails that lead to breathtaking views of the Cape Moreton Lighthouse and Honeymoon Bay.
You can also indulge in the many sea-sports from scuba-diving to snorkeling to kayaking around mysterious shipwrecks.
Address: 26 Nautilus Drive, Moreton Island, 4025, Queensland, Australia
Website: Tangalooma Island Resort
Price: Packages start from AUD211/night
3. Hug a koala, feed a kangaroo
Cuddle one of Australia’s favourite furry marsupials at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, the world’s first koala sanctuary. The only legal state that allows visitors to hold koalas legally, the touristy snapshot that comes with makes for a koala-ty experience. Keep the photograph inside the pocket of your ripped jeans, Ed Sheeran style.
Located 12km from the city, the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is a mini-zoo that also plays host to other Australian critters such as wombats, kangaroos and possums to name a few. There’s a large Kangaroo enclosure where visitors can walk into and go around feeding friendly Kangaroos.
With a country that is basically an entire zoo, these Australian natives are the pets you wished you could have.
Address: Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary – 708 Jesmond Road, Fig Tree Pocket QLD 4069, Australia
4. Go on a river cruise
In Singapore, only tourists go on ferries. In Brisbane, travelling along the river that runs through the city is a way of life. The CityCat ferries are super cheap so hop aboard and treat yourself the sights along the river with the fresh Brisbane air caressing your face.
Credit: Richard Grainger
Travel to the last ferry stop, the picturesque University of Queensland, for some #OOTD shots and a glimpse of student life before heading back to South Bank. It’s only a 20 minute ride and some couples come here just to have their wedding shots.
5. Skydive for the best view of Brisbane City
You’d never think of skydiving in the city but in Brisbane, it happens! Sign up for a tandem dive and take a leap of faith to enjoy the aerial views of the Brisbane’s best landmarks with an adrenaline rush.
Rates: From AUD299
6. Do everything imaginable in South Bank
With all the hip restaurants, cafes and Wheel of Brisbane lining South Bank, this is where you want to be seen. The artsy fartsy area is home to the Gallery of Modern Art whose façade alone is an art in itself. To pile on the vibe, South Bank’s Collective Markets is host to more than 100 local set-up shops which is every hippie’s haven. Get lost within the myriad of stalls as you walk out with braids, a bandana and maybe even a feather in your hair.
The place is a thriving arts and leisure zone, kinda like Singapore’s Haji Lane and Esplanade rolled into one. Only that they have a man-made lagoon called Streets Beach smack right in the middle of the city. Sure, it may be odd facing a skyscraper but it’s not everyday you get to sunbathe that close to a metropolis.
Address: Stanley Street Plaza, Stanley Street, South Brisbane QLD 4104, Australia
7. Get all cultured up at the Customs House – for free
The Customs House hosts free orchestral concerts every Sunday morning. Take your weekend brunch up a classier notch through an eargasm of classical tunes before taking your leave to dine at the restaurant, in architecture so rich whilst looking over the balcony towards the Brisbane River. Much class.
Address: 399 Queen St, Brisbane QLD 4001, Australia
8. Visit the insanely fun Ekka Festival
Credit: Le Petit Champignon
The biggest annual show to happen in all of Queensland, Ekka is packed full of fairground rides, animal parades, performances, food and festivities.
The stars of the show are supposed to be Queensland’s best seasonal produce, termed the Gourmet Harvest, from fresh seafood to homemade cheese. But everyone really goes here for the amazing rides and games.
Date: 7-16 August 2015
Address: 600 Gregory Terrace, Bowen Hills, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 4006
9. Check out the two Chinatowns
Fortitude Valley is where most Westerners think Brisbane’s Chinatown is. This once historical site is a mix of the Orient and Western world. While you can get authentic food here, they mostly cater to the taste of Westerners. Take the train right to Fortitude Valley station and start exploring.
Address: Fortitude Valley, QLD 4006, Australia
Credit: Ken Hodge
Everyone knows the real chinatown is really at Sunnybank though – it’s like a mini-Asia. Just 30 minutes from Brisbane CBD, Sunnybank has heaps of Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, Taiwanese, Malaysians and Singaporeans all living together.
They even have a Little Singapore at market square, which was a welcome sight for overseas Singaporeans who missed local food.
10. You can fish for real catches
Count your lucky stars that this charming city sits along the coast. With open waters all around, you’re bound to get a decent catch. Steal away to the jetty on a weekend and have the freshest dinner you’ll ever have obtained from your fingertips. Towards the mouth of Pine River entering Bramble Bay, amateur and professional anglers can try their luck at Tinchi Tamba Reserve Wetlands which is a natural myriad of earth meets water.
Address: Griffin QLD 4503, Australia
Alternatively, you can charter a boat and fish for more adventurous catches in deeper parts of the cerulean. If you’ve always wanted to be pictured with a monster catch in your arms like how the real folks do on Discovery Channel, here’s your chance. In the meantime, get a load of this guy. Can eat?
Website: Frenzy Charters
11. Street markets happen day and night
Markets in twilight are amping you up for all things indie. It’s a galore of crafts, flowers, craft beer, clothes and live music that makes for a perfect night of winding down. Hit Brisstyle Indie Markets that takes over the piazza of King George Square. Located in the city district, mingle and browse handmade goods with live music resounding in the laid-back atmosphere.
Get your palm read or be entertained by street performers as you weave in and out of stalls with dreamcatchers and a patterned bandana in your hair.
When: Once a month on Friday nights, 5-9pm
Address: King George Square, Brisbane
12. Brunch happens all the time
And that’s only because of the multitude of cafes and bistros in the city. Even in the suburbs such as New Farm, Milton and West End, it’s a hearty feast of bagels, sourdough, eggs benedict, ham, coffee and basically all-day breakfasts.
But where do real Brisbanites go for brekky? Grab a corn fritter or two at Pawpaw Cafe which is also dubbed as an photogenic spot worthy to be Instagrammed.
898 Stanley Street, Woolloongabba QLD 4102, Australia
Or for Brisbane’s best kept breakfast enclave in the city business district, have your eggs any way you like them in the charming woody interior of The Lab Bar + Restaurant as you watch George Street through an arched window.
The Lab Bar + Restaurant
Treasury Hotel, 130 William Street, Brisbane
13. Visit mountains bigger than life
Brisbane’s most interesting landmarks are located just an hour’s drive outside the city, making it a quick getaway for the weekend. Retreat to the Glasshouse Mountains National Park where the natural, majestic creations tower above the forested hills, easily seen from Mountain View Road Maleny, dubbed as the one of the best spots for a picturesque snapshot.
After all that cardio, slip into a rejuvenating cafe at Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve which will leave you sated with a view of the coast below.
Address: Glass House Mountains QLD 4518, Australia
14. Eat ALL of the city’s desserts
If you’re a sweet tooth, then you’re in for a sugary treat. In South Bank, a dessert tour is organised for those who love a spoonful (or two) of sugar. Foodi organises a two-hour tour that brings dessert enthusiasts to the sweetest spots in town, devouring creamy toppings, sugary coatings and licking off chocolate drizzles.
Website: South Bank Dessert Walking Tour
15. Its scenic terrains are worth the hike
You wouldn’t want to pass up fresh air and scenic views that’s not Bukit Timah Hill. With numerous parks around Brisbane, challenge those quads and tackle terrain of varying difficulty. For starters, trek D’Aguilar National Park right at Brisbane’s doorstep, which is home to a rainforest and a waterfall.
But if you’re looking for a Lord of the Rings-like equivalent, I suggest hiking at Sunshine Coast Hinterland – but only if you dare. The 58-kilometre hike will take a crazy 4 to 6 days. That’s right, pack all kinds of sandwiches and an extra pair of legs if you want to survive this. But what awaits you at the peak is nothing to disappoint.
Address: Mount Nebo Road, The Gap QLD 4306, Australia
16. Go caffeine crazy on Brisbane’s streets
Brisbane’s a big city to hit and you’ll need a full energy bar to hit all the stops. With over 10 coffee places, any one would be a good place to start. Get your first hot of cuppa at the BarMelo where the Italian-style espresso bars serve the freshest coffees which are roasted daily.
344 Queen Street and 239 George Street, Brisbane City
Another coffee hotspot to check out would be this new kid on the block that runs 24/7. If the excitement of the city is keeping you from sleeping, this coffee joint is your home to make in the twilight. How aptly named too.
Death Before Decaf
3/760 Brunswick Street, New Farm
17. Watch a True-Blue Aussie rugby match
Rugby is to Australians what soccer is to Singaporeans and it’s a huge part of Queenslander culture. It is at the 74 500-seater Suncorp Stadium right in the city where it all happens.
You may not understand much about Rugby, but after attending a match filled with the roars and cheers for the Queensland Reds, rugby will all suddenly make sense to you. And it will be beautiful.
Address: 40 Castlemaine St Milton QLD 4064 Australia
18. Explore Brisbane inside and out on two wheels
If you pride yourself in not being the typical tourist that gets swindled by every street vendor you run into, then squeeze your way in with the in-crowd and explore the city on two wheels. Weave in and out of Brisbane’s best spots with a guided bike tour that takes you to worthwhile spots from cultural museums to hole-in-the-wall eateries.
Think you know Brisbane? Try exploring this bike-friendly city again on two wheels.
19. Shop til you drop at James Street
I can’t say it any better – James Street is cool, hip, eclectic, hipster, fancy … you get it. From fancy homeware such as St Barts and fashion boutique stores from Australian homegrown labels such as Easton Pearson and sass & bide, this street will serve as your muse to being the next fashion icon.
Besides the fancy jewellery, shoes and sharp suits you’re dying to buy, the stylish enclave is brimming with the most trendy restaurants and bars brimming with Aussie cuisine – we’re talking ribs, burgers, cocktails, pasta, cured ham … and the list goes on. James Street Market also brings you the best gourmet produce in the city from stores such as Fresh Fish Co. and Cru Bar & Cellar.
Address: James Street, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane QLD
20. The city skyline always looks perfect
Credit: Sam Petherbridge
The perfect summit spot that overlooks Brisbane is go to the top of Mount Coot-tha which provides a panoramic view spanning from the heart of the city out into Moreton Bay. It’s not surprising then that this lookout point makes for a perfect backdrop that screams “happily ever after” for newly weds.
No matter how you look at it at different times of the day, the merged landscape of skyscrapers and the Brisbane River, the shine of greens in the day and sprinkle of lights in twilight will make you go, “wow.”
Address: 1012 Sir Samuel Griffith Drive, Brisbane Lookout, Mount Coot-tha
Getting To Brisbane
Australia’s national carrier Qantas is your best bet to jet off to this exciting city along the coast. With the revamps they’ve made in flight A330, you’ll be travelling in the most comfortable and stylish of flights.
Read why you should fly with Qantas here and it’s not just because the koalas already did it. They are also having a sale right now!
Check out their latest ticket sale here!
This post was brought to you by Tourism and Events Queensland and Qantas.