Brisbane is Australia’s third-largest city with a population of approximately 2.4 million. But it offers a lot more than tall buildings and a cosmopolitan atmosphere. Situated on the “bump” of Australia’s eastern coastline in the southeastern portion of the state of Queensland, Brisbane has a different vibe.
Explore the city’s shops and boutiques, art galleries and museums, enjoy the beat at any number of live music venues, including Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall that features American country sounds, or head out to the hinterlands.
From Nutella ice cream to Scotch eggs, you’ll want to try some of Brisbane’s specialties: Kentucky fried duck and sand crab lasagna will give you some stories to tell back home. But with fresh seafood, craft breweries, winery tours, local fresh markets and Eat Street Markets on the North Shore, you’ll never be left wanting for food, drinks and fun.
It’s a constant celebration of gastronomic delights, and nothing disappoints, especially not the endless supply of both funky cafes and fine restaurants.
Check out Mooloolaba, with one of the 10 safest beaches in Australia. You can swim with seals or just use the friendly creatures for a great photo op.
Visit the underwater world without getting wet at Sea Life, or visit the Spit to watch local fishing trawlers arrive with the daily fresh catch. Then find a waterside restaurant to soak up the view and sample some of the freshest seafood you will ever eat.
Fraser Island is listed as the world’s largest sand island, stretching over 75-miles, it’s been listed as a world’s best beach by Discovery’s Travel Channel. Which is no surprise once you see the streams spilling into the ocean, mighty sand blows, colored sands and even a shipwreck.
Spend a day enjoying eco-adventures through the untouched beauty of this area, then pull out your tent for a night of sleeping under the stars. Or for those feeling a little less rustic, enjoy the renowned Kingfisher Bay resort. From pools, to spas, to world class cuisine, you’ll get both your fill of nature and luxury.
A 70-minute ride will take you to the world’s third largest sand island and a world so different from the city that you’ll feel transported to another planet.
Only about 100 people live on the island, but it’s home to the famed Tangalooma Wrecks, popular diving and snorkeling destinations. There are also sandy beaches and isolated lagoons. For another island experience, Straddie as its known by locals, boasts three inviting towns, Dunwich, Amity and Point Lookout, and North Stadbroke Island is only a 40-minute ferry ride from Cleveland on Moreton Bay.
Set your own speed on the Brisbane River: Rent a stand-up paddleboard, or paddle a kayak; enjoy a leisurely lunch or dinner cruise or climb aboard the Citycat for a quick trip to another destination.
Survey the entire area from the Kangaroo Point Cliffs, go cycling or rollerblading along the water or do the Story Bridge Adventure Climb. You can also go rock climbing or abseiling at the Riverlife Adventure Center.
If quiet is more to your liking, enjoy a riverside picnic. But do check the special events calendar: The river is home to Australia’s largest “rubber ducky race,” usually held in October, as well as the Brisbane Festival each September, which ends with a spectacular fireworks display.
Yes, you can easily get to the southern portion of the iconic Great Barrier Reef from Brisbane or from Coolangatta on the Gold Coast. Fly to Lady Elliott Island, a coral cay that is a protected “green zone.”
Daily tours also depart from Bundaberg and Hervey Bay, on the Fraser Coast. Take a glass bottom boat ride, snorkel with sea stars, fish, dolphins, manta rays and reef sharks, watch migrating humpback whales or visit turtle egg sites and watch hatchlings head to the sea in season. It’s as unforgettable from the air as it is during an underwater snorkeling trip.
No matter what rattles your cage, you’re sure to find it in or not far away from Brisbane. The city is also a great home base for exploring the rest of Queensland. Just remember that the state is huge, and plan ample time both in the city and beyond to slow your pace and simply enjoy life. That’s what a good vacation is all about!