Destination Guide: Brisbane
As Queensland's capital city, Brisbane is abuzz with culture and activities. Its blend of modern city living and hidden nature retreats make this a great choice for families, couples, singles and friends to spend a holiday, with plenty of accommodation to make your stay all the more comfortable.
Brisbane is based around the Brisbane River, which curves its way through this densely populated city. The city dates back to 1823, before the state of Queensland was even established. It's one of Australia's fastest-growing capital cities, and is the third-most populous city in the whole country. Not only that, but its vast size makes it one of the largest cities geographically in the world, meaning there is plenty for you to explore during your holiday.
Its climate is subtropical, with lots of sunshine and an annual average high temperature of 26.4 degrees Celsius. It can, however, fall victim to thunderstorms, hail and heavy rain during the hot, humid summer months, with the rest of the year typically quite dry. There are more than 300 days of sunshine per year in Brisbane, making it ideal for getting out and about in the outdoors.
Spot more than 130 koalas at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, the world's largest - and first - of its kind. You and your little ones can get the chance to cuddle one of these gorgeous animals, hand feed kangaroos and see all sorts of other Australian wildlife amongst a lush natural setting. There are concessions for families and groups, with special prices for children and pensioners. Be sure to check out the list of daily animal encounters, which occur in 15-30 minute intervals throughout the day. These encounters include things such as wild lorikeet feeding, sheep dog and sheep shearing, and a Tasmanian Devil feeding and presentation. Go the extra mile with a VIP experience, such as being a keeper for a day or taking a special behind-the-scenes tour to get up close and personal with the inner workings of the sanctuary.
Climb the city's iconic Story Bridge and see Brisbane from a whole new perspective. There are even options for family and romantic climbs, meaning you can tailor your experience to suit your needs. From your vantage point at the top of the bridge, 80 metres above sea level, you can catch a glimpse of Moreton Bay in the east and the Scenic Rim in the west. The climb is safe, guided and there are plenty of opportunities for photos, not to mention you'll get a huge rush of adrenalin upon completing it. There is also an abseil option for adventure-seekers, with a 30 metre abseil down the anchor pier once you've finished the climb. You'll receive a full safety briefing and preparation before you set off.
Take the kids along to the Queensland Museum, located in South Bank. It's open every day from 9:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., and general admission is free. You can purchase Sciencentre tickets once you're there. There are plenty of permanent displays and exhibitions and some that come and go seasonally. The Discover Queensland exhibition is particularly interesting, as it tells the story of Queensland through objects, photographs and stories. There are interactive displays and state-of-the-art technology throughout this exhibition.
Enter a tropical oasis in the City Botanic Gardens, which is Brisbane's oldest park, planted by convicts in 1825. City workers and visitors alike treat this park as their own inner-city sanctuary, with ancient trees and rainforest glades to explore along the full length of Alice Street. Enjoy a guided walk for free on Monday to Saturday between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., or simply roam the space at your leisure. You could also take part in one of the tai chi, pilates and fitness classes that take part here regularly. Make sure to check out Bamboo Grove, which features 23 beautiful bamboo species, and take a sip from the historic Walter Hill fountain.
Head to the CBD's northern side to explore Roma Street Parkland and Spring Hill. The former is one of the city's best parks, and is one of the premier examples of contemporary display gardens in all of Australia. The parkland features microclimates representative of subtropical Queensland and even has a 1,200 seat ampitheatre for concerts and performances. Meander through the Spectacle Garden at Colin Campbell Place to see vivid colours all year round, including herbs, flowers, water features and art works. Watch out for water dragons!
Wander through the Rainforest and Fern Gully to experience a subtropical misty rainforest right in the heart of Brisbane. Spot lush ferns and flowing creeks, and take a gently winding walkway up to the tree tops for a spectacular view.
Spring Hill houses the Old Windmill and Spring Hill Baths, plus plenty of cafes and restaurants.
Tuck in to traditional Italian food at Bucci in Fortitude Valley, which has a seasonally-driven modern menu that is designed to be shared. Enjoy pasta, desserts and an expert wine selection, all amongst a vibrant atmosphere. The innovative menu is constantly changing, and if you ask to sit under the 'little men' at the chef's table you can see the masters at work in the brilliant open kitchen. Try the house made parmesan gnocchi with crushed cherry tomatoes, chilli, basil and smoked ricotta, followed by an exquisite chocolate cake with vanilla mascarpone and crushed frozen raspberries.
Have a night cap at Lychee Lounge, a cocktail bar that has impressed locals and visitors for 15 years. Its quirky surrounds include fish-scale walls, Barbie doll chandeliers and plenty of unique atmosphere. One particularly impressive-sounding drink is 'Hey Shorty!', a combination of Lychee Lounge Spiced Rum Blend, toasted coconut, coffee, bitters and smoke. There are also plenty of bar snacks and larger food items to satisfy your cravings as you sample the range of expertly-blended cocktails.