|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.
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
'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'
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
'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
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
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.