Brisbane Travel Information

Mother Earth Travel > Australia > Brisbane > History

Cutting dramatically through lush coastal plains, the Brisbane River coils like a snake around the cosmopolitan chic of Queensland's unique sub-tropical capital. Developed as a penal colony in 1824, the city spent years in the shadow of its southern neighbours. However, following the Commonwealth Games and Expo in the 1980s, investment skyrocketed, cementing Brisbane's future as a place of wealth, beauty and excitement.

Brisbane's architecture is a mix of the modern and the old with impressive Renaissance style and timber 'Queenslander' dwellings sharing a berth with the modern giants. Despite being close to the ocean, this is very much a river city, and the footpaths and waterways are a delightful way to explore this majestic metropolis.

Central Business District
Dominated by the impressive City Hall, Brisbane's business centre is a remarkable dichotomy of style. Unlike other Australian cities, the life of the central area does not fade with the sunset, but thrives on the change of shift. Bars and clubs are swollen with numbers, attracting large crowds with entertainment each night. The spectacular Conrad Treasury Casino looms proudly over the river, whilst Queen Street Mall's garnished modern decor greets shoppers, diners and people-watchers with outstretched arms. Built in 1828, the Old
Windmill and Observatory are some of Brisbane's oldest buildings and Parliament House, built to French Renaissance style in 1868, is a classic example of the city's historical prowess.

South Bank Parklands
If you cannot go to the beach, then the beach must come to you. The South Bank is a true wonder of ambitious modern design. With a large swimming area and sandy beach, the city 'escape' is literally only a 30-second ferry ride away! The 16 hectares of parkland include some of Brisbane's finest restaurants and cafes, and contains its own rainforest boardwalk. The popular South Bank Markets are held on Friday evenings, Saturdays and Sundays. The newly-constructed atrium snakes its way through the Parklands from the Queensland Cultural Centre, which houses the Performing Arts Complex, Queensland Museum, Queensland Art Gallery and State Library.

Riverside Precinct
Mirroring the diversity of the South Bank, this city side complex is dissected by a lazy walkway, curving its way past the City Botanical Gardens and hugging the foreshore with its traditional timber jetties and visiting touring yachts. Eagle Street Pier is the wining and dining centre, whilst the Riverside Centre hosts a huge Sunday Market. Standing proud among its modern neighbours Customs House is a glorious building, providing a timely reminder of the area's vibrant heritage.

Fortitude Valley and Chinatown
Depart the river at the engaging New Farm Park and the walk toward Fortitude Valley could take you an age if you choose to wine, dine and shop your way through the broad spectrum of styles. In Brisbane's vibrant Chinatown a bewildering selection of Asian cuisine swamps the senses, with local shopkeepers contributing to the enchantment of this true Asian hideaway.

'The Valley', proffers similar diversity, but does it with a brash energetic style for funloving, nightlife seekers. Originally tarred with an unfortunate 'bad area' tag, this is now Brisbane's alternative Mecca. For a one-location night out, Dooley's Hotel has become a 'cult' favourite.

Kangaroo Point and Woolloongabba
The elder statesman of Brisbane suburbs, Kangaroo Point is the place to wonder at the city's dramatic views. Cast in the shadow of the imposing Story Bridge, the Point's impressive sandstone cliffs dominate the foreshore. As the area is transformed into a dynamic living area, the demand for cafes and restaurants has grown rapidly, rivalling South Bank for style as it strives to become the south side's new home of fine dining.

'The Gabba', gateway to the Gold Coast and south-east, has earned an international reputation as the location of the Brisbane Cricket Ground, home to the Queensland Bulls Cricket Team and the Brisbane Lions Football Team.

Milton, Paddington and Rosalie
These west side suburbs offer a change of pace from the frenetic energy of 'The Valley'. In Milton, Park Road's mock Eiffel Tower calls the discerning visitor to the city's most fashionable pavement café precinct. Rosalie Village, nestled in the western hills conjures up visions of a small European community, with fine dining or relaxed, inexpensive fare available alfresco throughout the year. For the eccentric or exotic, Paddington's Latrobe Street has a selection of hidden gem restaurants, galleries and boutiques encased in colourful Queenslander cottages.

Around the Bay
Within an hour's drive of Brisbane's centre, the wonders of Moreton Bay provide the day-tripper with unequalled delights. Prior to leaving the mainland, a visit to the charming Manly Harbour is a must. A mix of the new and traditional, this is the East Coast's largest pleasure boat marina, and home to good food and shopping surprises.

A short trip ferry trip to Moreton Island reveals a realm of sand dunes (the world's highest coastal dunes), dolphins and four-wheel drive adventure. Whether you choose to stay at the plush Tangalooma Wild Dolphin Resort, or just camp along the beach, Moreton Island is a kaleidoscope of natural wonder.

North Stradbrooke Island, or 'Straddie' to the locals, a stone's throw from the mainland, is a Queensland treasure, providing an escape to paradise without the long-haul flight. Within the National Park, Tortoise Lagoon and the 'Window' Blue Lake are spectacular.

With a bridge connecting Bribie Island with the mainland, this is the most accessible destination to see the fauna-rich waters of the Bay without getting your feet wet. Diving, fishing and relaxing are the order of the day on this lively, well-populated island, and a visit to the wonderful Abbey Museum is essential.

Brisbane's self-promotion as Australia's 'most liveable city' may have been used before, but it is absolutely true. Spending time wandering Brisbane's districts will cement the realisation that this city is Australia's true capital of leisure, of jaunty style and of good living.