My first visit to Brisbane Australia was in 1991 and as cliche as it sounds alot has changed in the city since then!
Back then it took 2 to 2½ hours to drive to the Gold Coast on the single lane highway with all the roadworks!
Now, in 45 minutes to a hour we can be at Gold Coast theme parks. That’s progress.
Brisbane has changed in many ways not just the transport options, so this page is dedicated to giving an introduction to Brisbane from our family’s perspective.
NOTE ABOUT HOW TO USE THIS PAGE
You can read down this page as a general introduction to Brisbane Australia or skip directly to areas of interest:
First a little perspective…
Often people like to get a feeling for a place by seeing how it has developed over time. I confess to not knowing much about the history of Brisbane until I started doing some research for this website. There seem to be long periods with mostly unremarkable change, it is the reading between the lines that makes it quite interesting.
As a visitor you may prefer to learn about Brisbane’s past and development as you tour around the city and surrounding areas, or you can read my brief summary of Brisbane’s history and past as I see it.
Brisbane is the capital city of Queensland, Australia. It is located on the Brisbane River on the eastern coast of Australia and has a resident population estimated to be just over 2 million (2010 estimate). Brisbane is the third largest city in Australia, behind Sydney (1st) and Melbourne (2nd largest city in Australia).
Queensland is one of 5 states and 2 territories within Australia and is governed by a State Government which sits in the Queensland Parliament. The Australian Federal Government which sits in Australian Parliament in Canberra provides a further layer of government.
Brisbane enjoys a subtropical climate with hot, humid and rainy summers and cool to warm, dry winters often with clear blue skies and a little crisp in the mornings and evenings. Average Brisbane Summer temperatures in January are: 21C to 30C (min to max). Average Brisbane Winter temperatures in July are: 10C to 21C (min to max). Check out the latest Brisbane weather forecast information.
Brisbane city centre is surprisingly far from Moreton Bay. Unlike the Gold and Sunshine Coasts it does NOT boast acres of beaches, but a few good beaches in the northern bayside suburbs such as Clontarf and Redcliff and Woody Point.
Moreton Bay on the otherhand has some truly stunning beaches located on islands such as Peel Island, North Stradbroke Island and Moreton Island (Tangalooma). Here the sand is white, the water turquoise and the marine life amazing. Moreton Bay provides a playground for sailing, jet skiing, snorkelling, diving and leisure boating.
Being the state capital, Brisbane hosts some amazing annual and one off events. For example each year the Brisbane EKKA show at the RNA Showgrounds in Bowen Hills is a large crowd pleaser and visitor attraction. The largest annual event in Queensland it is also known as the Royal Queensland show. The term Ekka is a terrible Australian shortening for Brisbane Exhibition the original name of the show!
Brisbane is a popular location for visiting international artists, if they are touring Australia, chances they will stop for at least a night in Brisbane and play the Brisbane Entertainment Centre.
Life in Brisbane is not as fast paced as Sydney or Melbourne. In this city, there is definitely a focus on lifestyle. Activity is often centred on or around the river or bayside areas and every year the Brisbane Festival or RiverFest which includes the famous Riverfire.
Brisbane is a popular place for families to settle, with a great balance between the old and the new, high quality education (schools and universities), employment opportunities, warm climate and the promise of lifestyle. Brisbane is part of the fast growing south east corner of Queensland.
Brisbane time zone is Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST) which is 10 hours ahead of GMT (UMT) + 10 hours. Brisbane does NOT observe daylight savings or summertime (unlike other states and territories in Australia).
Brisbane uses Australian Currency – Australian Dollars (AUD). Currency can be converted or Travellers Cheques cashed at banks and Bureau de Change. Retailers and restaurants clearly advertise with signage which credit cards they will accept. In Australia the most accepted credit cards are Visa and Mastercard, with American Express and Diners Cards accepted in many but not all establishments.
In Australia, we drive on the left hand side of the road in right hand drive cars. It is always wise to check the driving rules before hiring a car and driving in Australia. Just to completely confuse you, each state has slightly different rules so you will need to check the road rules for each state you plan to drive in!
Cars can be hired from various locations around Brisbane or at Brisbane Airport on arrival.
You can fly directly from overseas or local airports to Brisbane Airport – International and Domestic Terminals. But there are other ways to get to Brisbane.
- International Cruise Ship Terminal at Hamilton – which means you can cruise to Brisbane or cruise from Brisbane!
- Train or Rail connections both interstate and country (within the state)
- M1 Pacific Motorway connecting Brisbane to: Gold Coast (approximately 1 hour to the south) and ultimately Sydney in NSW, Sunshine Coast (approximately 1½ hours to the north) and beyond to major Queensland towns including: Hervey Bay, Rockhampton, Gladstone, Bundaberg, Townsville and Cairns in far north Queensland.
- Regional and Interstate Buses
Local transport options include an extensive network of city buses, trains and ferries and more recently a CityCycle service.
That was a really quick introduction to Brisbane, I have created a Brisbane Travel Guide which is a quick reference for many of these points and others that you may find interesting too.
There are many different accommodation options in Brisbane. The most popular options are hotels, backpackers motels and serviced apartments.
You will find the highest concentration of accommodation in Brisbane CBD areas, Spring Hill, Fortitude Valley, South Bank and Kangaroo Point as well close to Brisbane Airport.
Resort and holiday accommodation and holiday rental houses can be found in the bayside suburbs and on the islands such as North Stradbroke Island and Moreton Island.
- South Bank Precinct – some alfresco cafes and restaurants. Just about any style you can think of.
- West End – multicultural, vegetarian and organic are the themes here. Some amazing Greek Taverna’s, my favourite coffee spot with Italian flair – Alberto’s Shot on Montague Street and one of my favourite bakeries – Flour Power Gladstone Road, Highgate Hill (just up from West End).
- Fortitude Valley – houses Brisbane’s China Town with many different Asian cuisines to choose from.
- Oxford Street, Bulimba – what a street of cafes and restaurants. Fabulous for breakfasts, , lunches, afternoon tea or dinners. I don’t think I could ever go hungry on this street and you can can catch a CityCat to the Bulimba terminal and walk to many of these great eateries.
- Eagle Street Pier, Brisbane City – A mixture of styles and tastes catered to with a great view of the river.
- Park Road, Milton – a few fabulous restaurants with a distinctly french and european feel.
- 1930’s City Hall
- Treasury Building (now Treasury Casino)
- Old GPO
- Old Parliament House
- Customs House
- Kangaroo Point
- Fortitude Valley (The Valley) including Chinatown
- Newstead House (oldest surviving grand house style residence) at Newstead
- Powerhouse – a 1920’s converted factory in New Farm which hosts contemporary arts and theatrical performances.
- Queensland Museum
- Art Gallery of Queensland
- Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA)
- Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) for Opera, Ballet, Theatrical and other performances
- Queensland State Library
- Queensland Maritime Museum
- Wheel of Brisbane
- South Bank Parklands area including cafes, restaurants and leisure areas.
- Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
- Daisy Hill Koala Sanctuary
- Alma Park Zoo
- Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo – 1½ hour drive north to Sunshine Coast hinterland.
- North Stradbroke Island
- Moreton Island including Tangalooma
- Moreton Bay
- Manly (bayside suburb with marina)
- Redcliffe (Marina, beach and Jetty)
- Woody Point (bayside beach and park area)
- Bribie Island.
- Gold Coast
- Sunshine Coast
- Ipswich (Railway Museum)
- Stanthorpe (apple growing and wineries)
- Mt Cotton (winery)
- Toowoomba on Darling Downs.
- Brisbane City Botanical Gardens (original botanical gardens)
- Mt Coot-Tha Botanical Gardens
- Roma Street Park
- Mt Gravatt Lookout
- Mt Coot-Tha Lookout
Now you have read about some of the amazing things you can do and see in Brisbane, I hope you are ready to explore this website more. Use the navigation on the left hand side to look up the main topics you are interested in or try the search box found below or at the top of the navigation bar to pinpoint exactly what you are looking for.
Not quite what found what you were looking for? Make sure you are very specific with what you are searching for. For example: Queensland Maritime Museum should help narrow the search with suggestions from Brisbane Australia Travel Tips.