Dominated by the mighty Brisbane River, Queensland’s vibrant capital, Brisbane, is a laid-back city with a cheeky attitude.
Thanks to its balmy climate and rich cultural scene, ‘Brisvegas’, as locals have it, is as popular with Australians as it is with international travellers, which makes it a pleasingly cosmopolitan place to visit.
One of Australia’s oldest cities, pre-colonial Brisbane was known to the Turrbal and Jagera people as Mian-jin (‘the place shaped like spike’) due to its unique geography.
Today, the city is still growing, and is thought to be the fastest expanding Australian conurbation on the East Coast. Less frenetic than Sydney but more vibrant than Adelaide, Brisbane boasts a bustling cultural scene and plenty of picturesque suburbs. The centre, dominated by the business district, is peppered with parks, nearly all of which are crammed with sunbathing locals on the weekends.
The South Bank is particularly loved thanks to the presence of the South Bank Parklands, which is home to Streets Beach, a public swimming area and a rabbit warren of quaint streets. Nearby is the striking glass and steel Museum of Modern Art, which is worth visiting for the architecture alone, and the magnificent Maritime Museum.
For boutique shopping, Paddington and Rosalie are key areas, particularly around LaTrobe Terrace. Some great fashion stores can be found in Fortitude Valley, while Stones Corner has a number of factory outlets.
Wonderful though Brisbane is, it’s the surrounding countryside that is the real icing on the cake. Barren peaks, a protected forest and a koala sanctuary are all within striking distance, as is the magnificent Queensland coastline – including Moreton Bay where the English cartographer, Captain Flinders, first came ashore.
If that wasn’t enough, the city is also the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the famous Australia Zoo, so skip onto Sydney if you like, but you’ll only be cheating yourself.