I love Brisbane. I’ve been living for a bit more than a year and I’ve already managed to take quite a shine to it. Possibly because it’s such a picturesque city, that it’s got a slower pace than many of the other cities I’ve lived in, and that for most of the year the weather is pretty pleasant. I think I also like it a lot because it feels like the whole city is on the verge of greatness, something big is about to happen, and I was here first to witness it.
A good friend of mine is coming up for a visit for the week and it got me thinking about where I could take him, and what some of my favourite Brisbane activities and sights are. I thought I might as well compile them, just in case it inspires someone else to come for a visit too!
1. See the City by River
I live in the suburb of Hamilton, which isn’t too far from the main CBD, and my favourite way to get from home to the city is by City Cat, Brisbane’s ferry service. These sleek catamarans are a little more expensive than a bus, and take a little longer, but they’re the best way to ‘meet Brisbane’. As you sail (with some speed) around the curves of the Brisbane River you get ever changing views of the majestic city sky line, as well as plenty of mansions, converted warehouses and the many Brisbane Bridges.
Whilst the City Cat is one way to see Brisbane by river, there are also some smaller free ferry services that potter around the river, as well as party boats, the two Kookaburra Queen paddle boats, and various tour boats.
You can even catch a ferry to my next top thing to do…
2. Talk to the Animals at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
This is a great one if you’ve got international guests. We trekked out to Lone Pine because Australia Zoo was FAR too expensive, and were really pleasantly surprised at how amazing the Koala Sanctuary is.
With it’s title, as expected, there are a lot of koalas, and you can learn a lot about them in their amphitheatre shows that occur throughout the day, after which you can get up close and meet one. For a little extra you can even cuddle a koala and get a photo.
But the great thing about Lone Pine is all the classic Aussie animals are there, from the vicious Tasmanian Devil to emus, wombats, and of course Kangaroos, which you feed!
There are various shows throughout the day from sheep shearing demonstrations to birds of prey, plus they hold lots of regular movie nights and other events. So check out LONE PINE KOALA SANCTUARY for a fantastic day out.
3. Grab A Cold Pressed Coffee from The Lost Bean
Generally located in the South Bank parklands is one of my favourite coffee spots in Brisbane. A dashing blue VW Kombi decked out as a roving cafe!
My favourite creation is their cold pressed coffee, it’s perfect on a warm Brisbane day, whilst sitting by the river and watching the joggers and tourists meander by. Plus service is always super friendly!
4. Discover the Convict History of Brisbane
I really had no idea that modern Brisbane began as the Moreton Bay Penal Colony and was a 100% convict town, that was until I stumbled on The Commissariat Store, one of the best hidden gem museums Brisbane has to offer!
Housed in second oldest building in Brisbane, built by convicts, the collection includes fascinating artefacts from Brisbane’s convict past, along with scale models of the original settlement’s buildings.
Entry is a mere $6, and you even get a guided tour from incredibly knowledgable volunteers! Plus how can you pass up the opportunity to lock your partner up in original convict leg shackles!
5. Grab Some Amazing Street Food
On Friday and Saturday nights by Portside in Hamilton are the Eat Street Markets, a street food institution! Scattered in and throughout large shipping containers, these pop up food stalls have something delicious to offer every taste bud, from Brazilian BBQ to Japanese curries, Potato slinkies to candy apples.
There are foods from all over the world, and some amazing creations that are making their first appearance right in this very market! You can’t go past fresh wood fired pizza, Milky Buns (warm donut with ice cream in the middle and a Nutella shot), and the most amazing Iced Tea (from the stand located at the back where a litre costs $7. Trust me, that’s the one you want. Aztec Blood is my favourite flavour on offer.)
Plus keep an eye out for all sorts of little gifts too.
It’s always packed, but that’s for a reason!
Find out more about the Eat Street markets including opening times here.
6. Cheer on the Brisbane Roar play at Suncorp Stadium
I’d never been to a soccer match before living in Brisbane and now I’m in love with the beautiful game, and my wardrobe is full of orange!
Although this year has been a bit rocky for the team, after last years premiership win, the fans are always passionate, and rise to their feet chanting for the entire match, making it a fun and very different experience to seeing an AFL match.
Suncorp Stadium isn’t too far from the CBD, there are buses that regularly service the stadium or you could walk! And there’s always a school doing a sausage sizzle before the match, which makes for a great (decent priced) snack, because it only gets more expensive inside.
7. Experience the buzz of the Brisbane Powerhouse.
One of the most exciting arts locations in Brisbane is housed inside an old, graffiti covered, renovated Powerhouse. What once supplied power to Brisbane now gives a whole lot of energy to the regions growing arts community.
You can see all sorts of live theatre, cabaret, comedy and more within their multiple spaces, plus there’s often various different artists adoring the gallery style areas of the venue too.
A popular site for weddings, wedding photos and receptions, the site is always popular on weekends, especially when you add in a farmers market every so often too. But there’s always a whir of activity, day or night, and the onsite bars and restaurants offer some great fare. I personally think Bar Alto does the best chips in Brisbane.
And may I recommend if you’re around in June seeing my production of ‘5 Lesbians Eating A Quiche’? Check out more about that and the Brisbane Powerhouse here.
8. Admire the view from the Kangaroo Point Cliffs
Whilst the views from the City Cat winding down the river are great, there’s another fantastic spot to see all the amazing Brisbane Skyline, and that’s from atop the Kangaroo Point Cliffs.
Cross the enormous Story Bridge and soon you’ll be standing atop the cliff face, with all of Brisbane spanning out below you. There’s a cafe from which you can sit, nibble and admire the city, as well as a bunch of parking if you’ve brought your car. There’s also a little bit of park atop the cliffs if you’ve brought a picnic, or head down the (admittedly very steep) stairs to enjoy a picnic in one of the many parks below.
Watch as people rock climb and abseil the cliffs, and if you’re feeling energetic rent a City Cycle from the bottom of the cliffs to enjoy the long winding bike paths that span the South Bank of the Brisbane River.
Out near the airport (and Brisbane’s own DFO) is Golf Central Brisbane, a travelling golfers paradise. With a driving range, mini golf course, and practise putting and chipping areas, plus a shop and cafe, this is the perfect place to chillax and hit a few balls before your flight.
Especially as there’s a free T bus service that operates from the complex to the airport terminals, along with arrival and departure boards located around the cafe, and their opening hours are from early in the morning until 10pm at night!
A bucket of balls is very decently priced and you can rent drivers and irons if you didn’t bring your own. Distance is measured by the flags of different countries which is also a nice touch.
What I thought was nicest though is the relaxed atmosphere. Despite being close to the airport, there’s plenty of green grass, couches to kick your feet up on, and a well stocked bar and food menu to keep you satisfied.
Well worth a visit for a bit of fun or to work on your swing. Check out Golf Central Brisbane’s website for more information.
Held at various points throughout the year, Green Jam is the perfect way to wind down on a Friday night. Grab a bit to eat from the food stall or one of the restaurants, and then laze the night away.
Plus QPAC is a licensed venue, so you can sip on something alcoholic as the dusk settles around you.
And with Brisbane’s weather being mighty fine for most of the year, it’s always nice to spend time outdoors.
So those are my Top 10 things to do in Brisbane, I’m sure my visiting friend will get to experience a few of these over the coming week. Have you been to Brisbane before? What were some of your favourite things to do? Let me know in a comment below and I’ll be sure to check them out.