Brisbane/Brissie/Brisvegas is capital city of the state of Queensland, it has grown a lot in the past decade and has a lot offer gastro and arts wise.
A few of my Aussie friends thought it was strange choice but then I remind then I'm European and city breaks is definitely one of our things!
It's an amazingly pedestrian and cycle friendly city, access to the water is refreshing and the use of the river for public transport is great.
WHEN TO GO?
I am told August is an ideal month to visit the Sunshine State, with an average top temperature of 24C in Brisbane; but we went in June because we had a benevolent grandmother who wanted to take her grand-children off our hands! (We did try in go in February as part of a family road trip but a cyclone turned us back in far north NSW). The temperature in June was high teens and weather showery but not as wet as NSW on our return.
We flew from Newcastle with Qantas (amazingly on points, first time in 26 years of flying!) but I noticed there was good deals to be had with Jetstar in February (I set up a price watch and noted it rose anywhere from $228 to $365 for 2 return flights, but then with Jetstar there's all the hidden extra costs, so who knows.) The Qantas flight allowed us each 23kg checked baggage! Not that we needed that for 3 nights. Qantas also served a free snack and non-alcoholic beverage.
As most people know it's all about the online check in now, but bag drop in Newcastle in fact means queuing at normal check in desk and giving it to a human, who also told me not worry about those online boarding passes I had in the passbook app on my phone and to take a printed boarding card from her. (Ryanair would've charged us 60 euro!)
The bar in the Newcastle airport gate lounge (i.e. past security) is completely defunct! So if you want a cup of coffee do it before security.
Strangely even people without boarding passes could seemingly go through security too, which seems weird but kinda quaint in this security mad world of ours.
Parking Newcastle airport is more expensive than Sydney and there are no pre-book facilities.
Flight was less than 90 mins and Brisbane airport is 15km north-east of the city centre and has an Airtrain to the city (www.airtrain.com.au).
We were staying in a boutique B&B not far from the airport and apparently a cab would set us back around A$40 to go 10 mins, so we arranged pick-up in advance with our host for $25.
Bag drop on exit at Brisbane airport is torture as the many of the touch screens don't work, the baggage carousel is slow to clock in the weight of a bag once a tray is added and exactly what barcode they want scanned is ambiguous.
There are a handful or more of areas a tourist would want to see.
<ul><li>The centre of the city occupies a loop of the Brisbane River. Downtown (aka CBD), the streets follow a grid pattern, with names drawing on royalty: north-south streets are kings, and east-west streets are queens.</li><li>The night time area is Fortitude Valley ("The Valley"😉, 1km north-east of the futuristic looking central business district.</li><li>The Powerhouse events/arts/entertainment is in area called New Farm.</li><li>The West End has the funky ethnic eateries, second hand book shops, good bars and the Boundary street markets on weekends.</li><li>The Southbank has the galleries, museums, university, botanical gardens, cafes and bars.</li><li>In the souh Eagle St. Pier has eateries/bars and good night views of the Story Bridge.</li><li>In the north Brett's Wharf gives access to the Eat Street Markets.</li><li>Newstead (near the valley) has Gasworks Plaza lit up 7-9pm on Fri/Sat.</li><li>Paddington is home to XXXX Brewery, Merlo coffee and antique shops.</li></ul> PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Brisbane's buses, trains and ferries are run by TRANSlink (www.translink.com.au). Fares are based on a zone system; a 'go' card seems to be the way to pay 30%!l(MISSING)ess than paper ticket price but as tourist for 3 nights that seems a bit too much to pre-organise!
Our chosen transport was cruising along the Brisbane River by CityCat ferry. Sleek catamarans run from just beyond the University of Queensland in the south-west to just beyond Brett's Wharf in the north-east. A ticket good for 2 hours cost A$5.20.
Obviously there's all manner of accommodation in Brisbane and there's all the big name hotel chains (and for that matter many big name companies in the CBD) but I found Scobie's boutique B&B in Ascot on booking.com and get this… they don't take children. Hurray for sanctuary!
It's website www.scobiesbnb.com describes itself: "…an eclectic mix of charming European and Balinese decor, Scobie's offers a premium and innovative accommodation experience with subtle luxuries and thoughtful extras for the discerning corporate or leisure traveller."
The king suite we had was $200 on a week night and $220 a weekend night and included light gourmet breakfast. Also available are some lovely dinner options for $55 a head.
(For my Dublin friends Scobie doesn't mean what it means in Dublin: it's a surname of an Anglo-American jockey who seems dear to our quirky host's heart but I forgot to ask why!)
Like Sydney you can climb the cities bridge but in fairness it seems a bit small in comparison! So I dunno if you'd want to had you done the Sydney one. (www.sbac.net.au)
According to wikipedia: The Story Bridge is a heritage-listed steel cantilever bridge spanning the Brisbane River that carries vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian traffic between the northern and the southern suburbs. It is the longest cantilever bridge in Australia.
Downtown Brisbane's main shopping street is the pedestrianised Queen Street Mall, lined with five shopping centres and two department stores. The big named designers are on adjoining Edward Street; else I am assured the funky boutiques are in the other neighbourhoods I mention, although sadly I can't say I stumbled on anything noteworthy. Although I believe Sass & Bide (www.jamesst.com.au/directory/sass-bide) are in the valley I just never made it in the daytime!
A food, art and fashion market takes place in Boundary Street every Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday.
We walked 65km in 72 hours (95k steps in case you were wondering!) but obviously that was personal choice.
We arrived on a Saturday afternoon and being on the north side hit the Eat Street Markets in Hamilton first (www.eatstreetmarkets.com). While it's a good lively market there was an abysmal selection of vegetarian food which seems unusual as it was otherwise akin to a music festival. We did manage to have some palatable gozleme though. The market is made up of 60 shipping containers housing the stalls, which is a very cool idea. Beer was music festival price too! Bring cash though as it's $2 entry per person and “eftpos” is not in many stalls. There is an Atm on site though which charges $3 per transaction.
From there we headed to Fortitude Valley by walking along the river (on a narrow shared bike/pedestrian path perilously near a major road, but still better than Sydney where most waterfront is private!) around to Newstead which houses, an Australian version of, a stately home, with a great aspect.
Further along are gasworks which are lit up beautifully on a Friday and Saturday night, which is a lovely surprise when you are walking along on a drizzly night.
First pitstop: The Waterloo hotel (www.waterloohotel.com.au), Ann Street, which bills itself as the valley's original pub and has a beautiful art deco façade. Inside is your usual Australian pub.
Next stop and real destination: The Bowery (www.thebowery.com.au), 676 Ann Street, a really gorgeous cocktail bar that's been around since 2003. The staff were excellent, the ingredients perfect including the correct huge ice cube for Negroni's, the décor and ambiance just right and the people watching was awesome, the dj was good too but should have adjusted the bass! Let's just say we were there a few hours.
Third stop (nightcap): The Mill on Constance (website not up yet but see www.mustdobrisbane.com/eat-drink-bars-inner-city-fortitude-valley/mill-on-constance-fortitude-valley), which was nice for a craft beer place but the staff certainly were no Bowery standard staff!
We were actually on our way to a bar 10 doors up Constance & Alfred (www.alfredandconstance.com.au) but never actually made it. But it's a gastropub that sounded interesting in my research.
We did break our Uber cherry though and got our first ever uber taxi back to base but not before a midnight snack on Brunswick street of falafel from a Greek place.
A LITTLE BIT OF CULTURE
After a long (child free) sleep on day 2 and a beautiful granola, yogurt and fruit breakfast we had crepes for lunch at Portside wharf, then we hit the river we CityCatted to South Bank 2 and what a lovely river ride it was. Along the way we passed: the powerhouse at New Farm; The Ferris wheel which is under maintenance so looks weird with no seats; And we sailed right under the Story Bridge.
When we jumped off at South Bank2 we walked south along the promenade passing the Nepalese Pagoda and headed to the gallery of modern art GoMA (www.qagoma.qld.gov.au). It's a lovely space and free admission to boot. The exhibition we saw was MICHAEL PAREKOWHAI: THE PROMISED LAND which we loved.
Also and naturally there's some interesting Aboriginal art and there was an amazing array of art-school type stuff on display from high-schoolers. They didn't do art like that when I was in school! After this we checked out the state library.
GoMA is just 150 metres from the Queensland Art Gallery (www.qag.qld.gov.au). Backing on to the QAG is the innovative and stimulating Queensland Museum (www.qm.qld.gov.au) which is supposed to have very child-friendly science centre, not that we cared this time!
In the evening we walked across the pedestrianised Victoria bridge to the CBD where we had an aperitif in a funky little craft beer bar “Super Whatnot” on Burnett Lane (www.superwhatnot.com).
Then we ambled up to Eagle street pier for food – where there's everything from Grill'd to Aria. Being a tad hungover you can guess what we went for.
After which we were served by excellent staff in ‘Mr & Mrs G Riverbar' (www.mrandmrsg.com.au) overlooking the lit up Story Bridge, where we had very good Bloody Mary.
From here it was easy to get a CityCat back to Brett's Wharf.
WEST END HIKE
Day 3 started with poached eggs on sour dough with avocado. Fuelled up we did another 8000 steps via Newstead to Teneriffe port. From here it was over an hour on the CityCat to the West End port.
Word to the wise, to get to the main drag of the West End (Boundary Street) there's no need to get the CityCat to the West End stop, as then you need to walk back through burbs to actually get to Boundary Street. A much better way is to get off at South Bank and walk up!
Never the less I think I could live in the West End where we saw a number of vegetarian places amongst the Greek and other eclectic places.
We had the best pub lunch in a long time in Archive Beer Boutique (www.archivebeerboutique.com.au) on 100 Boundary Street which had really lovely food and lunch deal with a ‘pot' (midi) of beer included for $15. The bar itself is made of books which its website does not do justice to!
If it was cocktail time then - but we thought after lunch could be over-doing it – we would have gone to the recommended and exotic sounding Lychee Lounge at 94 Boundary Street (www.lycheelounge.com.au).
From Boundary Street we walked back to weave in and out of the South Bank Parklands, passing the artificial beach, the currently seat-less ferris wheel and arbour view cafes. We were going to try the Maritime Museum which gets a good rating (http://maritimemuseum.com.au) but at 4:30pm and $16 admission each with a 5pm close we thought better of it.
The nearby Tomahawk craft beer bar, 182 Grey Street, was also recommended to us (www.tomahawkbar.com.au) but sadly a quick google told us it was closed on Mondays.
We walked over another pedestrianised bridge called the Goodwill Bridge to the University of Technology CityCat stop (this is where the botanic gardens are too) and thought we might try the powerhouse in New Farm on the way home but it closes at 5 pm too – and it's bar is under renovation.
So back at Brett's wharf we had a swift one at the Hamilton Hotel which was nice in a sports bar kind of way, its website (www.hamiltonhotel.com.au) tells me it's one of Brisbane's iconic hotels but I am not exactly sure why!
That night we dined at Scobies with Zafolly catering and had a beautiful 3 course vegetarian meal with some fellow guests: one of whom was also vegetarian and the other had just done a marathon – so our 95k steps/65km paled into insignificance!
Later that night we went to cinema for the first time in a loooong time together (we think 6 years) at The Dendy Portside to see “Mad Max Fury Road”, where we had the cinema, akin to Tony Soprano's theatre room, to ourselves. Great movie to see on a big screen incidentally.
Our Last morning after Asian eggs, on the veranda, for breakfast was completed with a last 6k step walk and a coffee & very yum raspberry and coconut cake at ‘Deer Sir' in Portside wharf (www.deersir.com.au) and view of a huge ship that had just come in.
Finally the most expensive beer of all award goes to… Brisbane airport.
So we are tourists who love to travel
Unlike other tourists we (the adults) have been to 55 countries (many counties more than once) but we don't claim to be travellers
We have done all manner of travels from shoe string to 6 star
We moved to Australia 10 years ago so that put a pause on our number of new countries count
Naturally road tripping around Australia has been a big part of lives for the last decade to all 8 states/territories
We now have 2 kids aged 5 & 7 and since #1 was born we have been on 25 trips both around Australia & to the ... full info