An Insider’s Guide to Brisbane

Fiona Soper gives us an insider’s guide to Brisbane. For the record, I didn’t say I hated it, just that it had nothing on Sydney. Let’s see if she can win me over. Read on…

A certain someone recently told me that he’d visited Brisbane on his way up the east coast of Australia…and that he’d hated it. Say what?! Clearly what he’d needed was someone to tell him where to go and what to do in the awesome tropical city affectionately known as ‘Bris-vegas’….

Brisbane can be far more than just a jumping off point for backpackers headed to the Whitsundays or Fraser Island. Schedule in a few days and see what you think of this:

Go night climbing at the Kangaroo Point cliffs

At night, these stunning volcanic-rock cliffs bordering the Brisbane River are lit by floodlights and you can take in the vista over the city while you get physical. Try the abseiling-only option if you want the view and ambience without too much sweat! Several companies can get you started, including Pinnacle Sports.

Cuddle a koala at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Koalas are grumpy, they smell weird and they have pointy claws. Despite this, every person I have ever taken to cuddle a koala has LOVED it. Foreigners! Personally, my vote for the best experience at this great wildlife sanctuary is having flocks of hundreds of colorful, chattering parakeets descending on you at feeding time, eating from your hands and perching happily on your head!

Take the City Cat down the river at dusk

On a balmy evening (and Brisbane is nothing, if not balmy), jump on a City Cat and cruise down the river past the city lights, parks and bridges and watch the sunset over the Kangaroo Point cliffs. As these bright blue catamarans are part of the city’s public transport system, they run regularly and are dirt cheap. Jump off at the New Farm Park stop and….

Picnic in New Farm Park

You want the authentic Aussie experience? Make the most of a place with 300+ sunny days a year with a BBQ picnic and impromptu cricket game under the giant fig trees by the river. When you’re done, head to the Powerhouse next door for FREE indie bands and comedy shows on a Sunday afternoon.

Take in a summer music festival

The biggest events of the summer festival scene, Splendor in the Grass and Big Day Out, happen outside the city limits but the parks and great weather make for plenty of boutique festivals in the heart of the city. Parklife, Sunset Sounds and the Laneway Festival are all favorites. Bring sunscreen, a camera and your flip flops (you’ll look less like a tourist if you call them ‘thongs’!).

Bond with the locals

Hot tip: The Valley (Fortitude Valley) and surrounds is where the cool kids hang out. Avoid the usual backpacker haunts in the CBD and head somewhere with some local flavor. What better way to make friends with some real live Australians than to bond over $2 Tacos, great cocktails and music at New Farm hotspot The Alibi Room on Tuesday nights?

Or you could also…

– Hit up the markets at West End, Fortitude Valley or Eagle Street Pier.

– Bushwalk at Mt. Coot-tha.

– Get an ice-cream, stroll along the river and check out free museums and galleries at Southbank.

– Have a gourmet breakfast and the best coffee in town in leafy Paddington.

– Head up the coast for an hour or so to the beaches of Mooloolaba.

Fiona Soper is proud to be (sort-of) from Brisbane. She’s left it behind for a little while, while she travels the world in search of adventure, a PhD and a good falafel. But she’ll no doubt be back soon.

7 Comments

  • Matt

    January 5, 2011

    There are so many places I want to go back to in Australia, and ol’ Brizzy is one of them for sure. Assuming I go back to NZ, and assuming the Kiwis let me leave, I’ll for sure head to Brisban for a weekend away. Great tips, and love the changes to the theme.

  • Fraser

    January 5, 2011

    Really like this article. I’m a bit of a Brisbane fan, it offers something different to the feverish rush of Sydney life. The man made lagoon is a nice touch, too.

  • WanderingTrader

    January 5, 2011

    Everyone tells me that Australia is THE PLACE TO BE!

  • Lindsay aka @_thetraveller_

    January 5, 2011

    I heart Brisbane, but all I did there was sleep and drink at the hostel bar… surprised? haha… I was tired of doing travelie things.

  • Kenan Lucas

    January 8, 2011

    I am from Melbourne, Australia, and have yet to visit Brisbane but must say after seeing their latest tourism ads I have been meaning to go:

  • Lauren

    January 9, 2011

    I studied abroad in Brisbane and loved it. However, I would always tell people that Brisbane is a great place to live, but not necessarily to visit–however, you listed my favorites: Lone Pine, City Cat, West End (where I lived!) I would also add the man-made beach and the Brisbane Botanical Gardens.

    Awesome post–thanks for reminding me of my wonderful time spend in Brissie!

  • Fiona Soper

    January 10, 2011

    Thanks Lauren!

    I do miss the lifestyle in Brissie- I just moved to the US and I’ve been reading your blog and enjoying your perspective on going the opposite direction. It’s certainly been an experience.

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