Brisbane is the state capaital of Queensland and the third largest city in Australia (behind Sydney and Melbourne). In the past Brisbane’s bigger city cousins felt the city couldn’t compete with the bigger cities for culture, dining and nightlife but that is all changing. Brisbane is now growing faster than any other capital city and with that the city is constantly adding more for entertainment, fantastic dining and a great live music scene in the inner city area of Fortitude Valley. It also has one of the best climate of any capital city in Australia. The sub-tropical climate means it is warm throughout the year with mild, dry winters. The city enjoys over three hundred days of sunshine a year and as a result the city makes good use of the outdoors and the river that wraps around the city.
Getting there: From within Australia you can easily reach Brisbane by air or road. Brisbane airport is well served by all the major domestic airlines such as Qantas, Virgin Blue and Jetstar. It’s about a ninety minute flight from Sydney to Brisbane and around two hours from Melbourne. If you’re travelling by road then it’s a good ten hours on the road from Sydney so best to break it up if possible and explore some of the coast on the way up such as Byron Bay or Coffs Harbour. If you’re coming to Brisbane from overseas then the airport is well served with direct flights from Asia and connections from other parts of the world such as Europe and the US. Airlines that fly into Brisbane include Singapore airlines, Emirates, Qantas and Cathay Pacific. Once you land you can either get the Air train into the city or catch a taxi which will take around 20-25 minutes to get into the city.
Getting Around: Once your in Brisbane then it’s easy to get around the central areas by foot or public transport. The public transport is operated under the name of TransLink and allows the use of a single ticket for bus, rail and ferry. Make sure you explore the river using the fast and smooth City Cat catamaran ferries. If you’re staying in the CBD itself or near the river precinct of Southbank then you will be able to explore much of the centre easily by foot. The CBD area of the city is fairly compact. However, if you need to get further away from the centre then Brisbane sprawls out a long way and you may find car rental a good option. There are many Brisbane car rental companies to choose from including all the big names and a number of local low cost operators. A word of warning. If you choose a low cost car rental firm then read the small print in detail. A couple of the firms charge admin and other fees in the event you cause damage to the car and hide this in reams of small print on the contract.
What to do: Brisbane has plenty to do but here are a few suggestions to get you started.
* Explore the river via the Citycat ferries. Stand on the front or rear outside sections to get the best views of the multi-million dollar riverfront homes and apartments along the river. Places to stop include New Farm Park where you can enjoy the large park, go for a game of ‘bare foot bowls’ at the local club or visit the famous farmers markets (2nd & 4th Saturdays each month). Towards the end of the trip down river hop off at the Bretts Wharf stop and take the ten minute riverside walk to Portside Wharf the new cruise ship terminal which also has some excellent riverside restaurants and a Dendy cinema.
* Visit Southbank Parklands on the other side of the river to the city. Stretching along the river for over a kilometre this area is home to great cafes and restaurants, Streets beach which is an artificial beach and lagoon which is free all year round and is home to the cultural heart of Brisbane with the performing arts centre, galleries and museums.
* Visit the eat street areas of the inner city suburbs of West End, Paddington and Oxford Street in Bulimba.
* Shop on the Queen Street Mall in the CBD which features a great range of stores including department stores Myer and David Jones.
* Play a game of bare foot bowls at Merthyr Bowls Club on Oxlade Drive in New Farm. Access is easy via the Citycat ferry using the New Farm Parklands stop.
* Head east to Moreton Bay and take a ferry over to North Stradbroke Island, one of the largest sand islands in the world and home to some great beaches.
* Use Brisbane as a base for nearby destinations such as the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast and Australia Zoo which is one hour north of Brisbane by road.
Where to stay: There is a wide range of Brisbane accommodation on offer. The good news is that much of the Brisbane accommodation on offer is of a very good standard and good value.
At the more expensive end of the spectrum are the big hotel chains in the city centre such as the Hilton, Marriot and Sofitel. These have the advantages of good location and facilities though value for money is sometimes not as good as the alternatives.
One of the best Brisbane accommodation options is the use of self contained holiday accommodation such as holiday apartments for rent. There are a good number of serviced apartments available in the city centre and nearby areas such as South bank parklands. If your a family and might need more than one hotel room then serviced apartments with 2 or 3 bedrooms tend to offer excellent value. The apartments offer bedrooms, separate living areas with a full kitchen. As well as getting much more space than a hotel room you can also save money by cooking some of your meals in the kitchen rather than having to east every meal out.
When to go: Almost any time of the year is good for a visit to Brisbane as it has a warm sub-tropical climate and over three hundred days of sunshine per year. If you are used to colder climates then you may find the summer months of December to February a little hot. The temperatures during these months often range between 28c and 34c as well as being humid. These summer months are also the wettest. You don’t tend to get many dull and dreary days with rain though. Typically they come in the form of thunderstorms that build up during the day and are short but sharp!
Personally my favourite times of the year for Brisbane are the in between seasons of Spring and Autumn which are still nice and warm but not too hot or humid. Winter in Brisbane is not exactly cold either. Winter is the driest time in Brisbane so expect a good number of sunny days. Temperatures drop to single digits at night in winter but still often reach the low twenties by the middle of the day.
Brisbane is increasingly a popular destination for Australian and international travellers so make sure you make it part of your trip.