The sun always shines on Brisbane, the beer always tastes better, the wine more mellow, the food fresher and the girls? I will leave that statement from one of my colleagues who lives down in Melbourne hanging. Brisbane has almost everything to make it the perfect city for a 24 hour visit. Combine food, entertainment, the glorious weather, beautiful beaches and some sights to see both in the city centre and within easy striking distance and you can understand why. However, Queensland in general has taken a bit of a battering in recent years when it comes to visitors numbers which is hard to explain. Lonely Planet voted Brisbane the “Hippest City” in 2014, whilst the climate is surely enough to win over any frosty heart.
Arriving in the city centre is relatively straight forward. The AirTrain runs every fifteen minutes and costs AU$32 return for Adults. A taxi will cost around AU$50 into the city centre, depending on traffic. One useful little tip for you is to download the Airport’s excellent App which allows you to complete your departure card on your smartphone then simply print it off and airport, saving significant time.
If you have only one night in Brisbane you have an issue. Which are do you head to? Across the William Jolly Bridge you will find the Barracks Complex and Caxton Street which runs down to the Suncorp Stadium and is the place to be when there is a rugby (either the Queensland Reds or Brisbane Broncos depending on your favourite flavour) match on, certainly one of the must-do things if calendars synchronise, especially if it’s in one of the highly passionate State of Origin series games against New South Wales. Tickets for matches here or across town at The Gabba (home for cricket and AFL) can be bought online from Ticketek or Ticketmaster.Highly recommended restaurants in this area include the Hog’s Breath with its superb steaks and local beers, Statler & Waldorf and the outstanding German sausage bar, Brathaus Express. Be warned though – don’t fall into the honey trap, or should I say the Honey B’s trap, at the top of Caxton Street!
If you are on the south of the curve of the river then Grey Street and South Bank is the place to head. The Charming Squire (which has its own micro brewery onsite), Obsession and the Live Fire Steak Bar on South Bank Parkland beach are all great spots. From here you also get the superb views of the city centre skyline, especially mesmerizing at night. This was the site of the 1988 a World Expo, now an entertainment precinct boasting entertainment, cafes, restaurants, man-made beaches, lagoons, playgrounds and the 60m high Wheel of Brisbane. The South Bank area is also where you will find the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art and Museum, worth a couple of hours of your time. Not far from here along Montague Road and under the Go Between Bridge you will find dozens of fantastic murals on the walls and supports of the bridge.
On the inside bend of the river there’s the City Reach Boardwalk opposite the famous Story Bridge (which for the adventurous you can walk across the cantilevered structure) which is one of the most historic parts of the relatively young city, named after Sir Thomas Brisbane, and originally part of New South Wales. In 1859 the city ceded from the state and formed Queensland. Here you will find the Custom House as well as decent dining experiences such as The Bavarian Bier Cafe, The Blackbird Bar and Grill and Mr and Mrs G’s Riverside Bar – all with superb views of the river. Back from the river front is the hedonistic Fortitude Valley where the casinos and nightclubs can be found.
Many tourists land in Brisbane before heading south to the beautiful beaches of the Gold Coast, a strip of urban areas and beaches located about 50 miles or about an hour’s travel by car or train. Main points of interest here include the suburb sandy beaches of Surfers Paradise, Mermaid Paradise and Coolangatta. Also in the area you will find the major attractions on the east coast of Australia such as Sea World, Wet ‘n’ Wild and Dreamworld, the latter being a theme park and a wildlife sanctuary all in one. Other attractions within easy reach include the world’s first Koala sanctuary, The Lone Pine Sanctuary located in Fig Tree Pocket.
Need a bed for the night? Well Brisbane has it all, from 5 star luxury at Rydges South Bank with its superb terrace and pool bar, Hotel Jen with its cool interiors and good city centre location to the more budget apartment hotel at The Riverside just south of the William Jolly Bridge. Prices depend on time of year although it is worth saying Brisbane isn’t a particularly cheap city. That being said, it is certainly worth at least 24 hours of your time.