After enduring Melbourne’s cold weather, and the slightly warmer (but still cold) Sydney during August, I was ready to finally catch some sunshine in Brisbane.
I have to admit the warm weather brought to me by Brisbane made everything so much better. For this reason, and I know it’s not a good reason, I had considerably more fun in Brisbane than I did in Melbourne and Sydney. Not because it’s a ‘better’ or more exciting city but rather because it was suited to my lack of appropriate clothing (I need lessons on how to pack properly for different climates. So what I’m trying to say is Brisbane trumps Melbourne and Sydney by default – it’s not fun staying in youth hostels when you’re freezing cold.
So without further ado, let me introduce Brisbane’s MUST-SEE places.
1. Get a Water Taxi to Stradbroke Island
North Stradbroke Island is the second largest sand island in the world after Fraser Island and can be accessed by water taxi. My brother and I arrived at 6pm as dark was fast approaching (as it does when its winter), we hadn’t booked anywhere to stay and didn’t have a torch. Bats swamped above our heads and we were hungry; we contemplated sleeping on the beach but after a few wrong turns, then right turns, our spirits were saved as we found the only place within our budget – the YHA hostel.
The next day, we explored the island and the stunning scenery bleached away any frustration that remained from the previous night (brother and sister bickering at its finest). Whatever you’re looking for – hiking, wildlife watching, sheer lazing and culinary indulging, Stradbroke provides it easily, and all within a setting that is the perfect image of nature. I was lucky enough to see whales from the cliffs at Point Lookout, but this is supposedly no surprise since the island boasts a prime location for whale watching. If you’re planning a trip to Queensland, then I assure you, Stradbroke Island has it all!
2. Head to the Gold Coast
You can get to the Gold Coast in under an hours drive from Brisbane and people from all around the world head here to experience the surfing beaches, lively nightlife, subtropical climate and now that it will host the 2018 Commonwealth Games, it’s going to get even more visitors. The city stretches along the southern coast of Queensland and features 70 kilometres of coastline from South Stradbroke Island in the north, to beautiful Rainbow Bay in the south. The beach is stunning, especially at sunset as the moon transforms gold to give prominence to it’s name – The Gold Coast.
Stupidly giving myself a challenge I walked from Surfer’s Paradise to Coolangatta at the New South Wales border, and once there, I crashed at the Coolangatta Youth Hostel. It took me about 7 hours, and speaking from experience, I don’t recommend doing it – hopping on a bus is approximately 6 hours faster, and a million times wiser!
3. Go to the Harbour
High-rise dominated skyline, colourful reflections and great restaurants make Brisbane harbour the perfect place to hang out. If you head to Story Bridge you can get exceptional views of the skyline, a bleak but interesting note to mention is that recently the bridge has become notorious for being a suicide hotspot so plans to install suicide prevention hotlines are underway (I told you it was bleak).
4. Visit the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA)
I love GOMA designed by architect Robin Gibson; it has beautiful clean spaces with a wonderful curation. Unlike art galleries in other major cities, Brisbane doesn’t suffer from a high population so you can really enjoy the whole gallery without having your eye-line disrupted. Because space and time are integral to the overall experience of enjoying art this makes Australia one of the best places in the world to view the offerings that museums have on display. This really gives Australia extra brownie points… It’s you in a room with Picasso and Renoir without anyone else pressurising you to move on to the next painting, sculpture, drawing and so fourth.
5. Meet the Animals at Alma Park and Zoo