I’ll be honest, I didn’t like Brisbane…..to start with. Having spent time in Melbourne and touring the Great Ocean Road I found Brisbane completely different and it took me a day or so to get to grips with this city but once I had I loved every minute. We arrived in Brisbane mid-afternoon and checked into our accommodation – the Meriton Serviced Apartments on Herschel Street. Fantastic apartments with a washing machine and dryer (which were very much needed). It is also the tallest building in Brisbane which is great if you venture out without a map as you can always find your way back! Brisbane is a small city and easy to get around on foot. In fact, the first afternoon we arrived we walked across the city from our apartment to Eagle Pier on the banks of the Brisbane River which has numerous bars (my favourite being the Pig n Whistle – Riverside) and restaurants and overlooks the Story Bridge. This took approx 20 minutes.
My Top 5 Brisbane
1. South Bank Parklands – The Parklands are, as the name suggests, on the South Bank of the Brisbane River joined to the City by the Goodwill (pedestrians and cyclists only) and Victoria Bridges. The Parklands is home to a number of attractions including:-
- The Arbour
- The Courier-Mail Piazza
- Wheel of Brisbane
- Nepal Peace Pagoda
- Restaurants and Cafes
- Streets Beach
I spent a full day here relaxing on the man-made beach and dipping in the lagoon at Streets Beach, wandering around the many shops and having lunch in one of the numerous restaurants. A great place to chill out for the day especially if your schedule whilst in Brisbane is hectic. Obviously, you need good weather to take full advantage.
2. Brisbane River Dinner Cruise – booked via Viator. This was a 3 hour evening dinner cruise on an old-fashioned paddlewheeler boat (Kookaburra Queen II) along the Brisbane River. It cost around £42 per person which in my opinion was great value for money especially because an all you can eat buffet was included in the price – I myself don’t eat seafood but my husband does and he was in his element with the amount and quality of it on offer. The views of the Brisbane skyline by night and sailing under the lit up Story Bridge were brilliant – we even went up on deck for a chat with the Captain. N.B. drinks are not included in the price.
3. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary – it might just be me but one of the first things I think about when I think of Australia are koalas so where better to go than a koala sanctuary if you want to come face to face with over 130 of them. Entrance fee applies. For an optional additional $20 you can cuddle a koala, under the supervision of one of the handlers, and receive a souvenir photograph of the experience. Unfortunately, the koala I had the (mis) fortune of cuddling was not the most well behaved. He did not want to sit still and kept trying to pull my necklace (maybe my own fault for wearing one). With many kangaroos that you can feed and pet, together with lizards wandering freely this is a great day out if you are an animal lover.
4. Mt Coot-tha Summit – we jumped on Brisbane’s Hop on Hop off bus (I find that these are great tours especially if you do not have much time in a city and want to see all of the main attractions) and it took us up to Mt Coot-tha. With a restaurant, cafe (I recommend trying a chocolate milkshake) and well-stocked gift shop you can happily spend a couple of hours at the summit. The views over Brisbane are stunning, especially on a clear day. Next to the summit are the Botanical Gardens which we, unfortunately, did not have time to visit but a visit came highly recommended – maybe next time(?).
5. XXXX Brewery Tour and Tasting – a great way to spend a morning (or afternoon) in Brisbane. I’m not going to lie, I like to partake in an alcoholic beverage now and again so when I saw that you could take a brewery tour – tickets were booked instantly! Our friendly and comedic tour leader Hoff took a group of us around the working brewery allowing us to see how various types of Castlemaine XXXX are brewed and bottled ready for distribution. At the end of the informative tour came the best part – the tasting! We got to try each different beer that is produced on site. We were also given a card for 2 pots of our choice. We chose to have our pots alongside lunch which was worth the additional cost. This tour was $48 each (approx £25) which also included a 1-hour visit and tour around the Suncorp Stadium (a must if you are a rugby league fan) and a souvenir trucker cap!
Brisbane is an enjoyable city with quite a relaxed atmosphere. I spent 5 nights there which in my opinion was just the right amount of time for its size and amount of attractions to visit. Surely a definite stop on an Australian tour.