Five things to see and do in Brisbane

My head is overflowing with university assignments at the moment.  My blog therefore is suffering in my lack of time and effort to think up yet another new and adventurous idea to write about.  So for today I am sticking close to home.  My advice for anyone visiting Brisbane or who lives in Brisbane (but thinks there is nothing to do) on my five favourite things to see and do…

1. Chill out in an inner city park

Brisbane city at night from South Bank

Brisbane is home to some fantastic parks.  Along the Brisbane River you will find New Farm Park, City Botanical Gardens, Kangaroo Point Cliffs and South Bank, to name the major ones.  All are easily accessible by public transport.  Check out the farmers markets at New Farm and West End for fresh organic produce, South Bank and the Botanical Gardens hold free moonlight cinema events and concerts, while Kangaroo Point cliffs offer a great view across the river to the city at night.  Pack a picnic or have a BBQ before going for an abseil or rock climb on the cliffs at Kangaroo Point.  University and social-climbing groups meet weekly with opportunities to learn sometimes available.  South Bank is also the spot to go for a sunbake and swim, if you don’t have the time to make it up or down the coast to a real beach.  The man-made lagoons are surrounded by beaches, cafes and parklands, so makes for a perfect place to chill out with a book or cool off with a dip in the water.

2. Take a trip to Moreton Island

An hour and a bit ferry ride from Brisbane is the jewel of Moreton Island, in beautiful Moreton Bay.  Whether you have a four-wheel drive, join a tour or opt to rough it, it’s a destination well worth checking out.  From camping beach side to renting a house or staying at Tangalooma Resort, there is an option to suit all budgets.  Explore the Tangalooma shipwrecks just a short swim from the beach.  Snorkelling is just one of the highlights of visiting Moreton.  Bush walkers can follow trails that cross the island to reach Blue Lagoon or inland to climb Mt Tempest.  The island has some great fishing on either side, be sure to check out the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services website information on designated fishing areas, camping and walks.  My favourite place to visit on Moreton Island is definitely the Big Sand Hills.  The walk up is not fun, but once you get to the top the view is spectacular.  Make sure you carry a piece of cardboard, a body board or esky lid with you, as the ride down is awesome.  Just remember to keep your mouth shut to avoid swallowing a heap of sand as you go hurtling down the dunes.

3. A night out in ‘The Valley”

Fortitude Valley is the heart of Brisbane’s night scene.  Whatever music you are into, chances are there is a bar, club, pub, venue that will have you tapping your toes or raging until the early hours of the morning in the Valley.  From tiny indie hideouts, to four level clubs featuring the latest in Trance, House and Electronic Dance Music, the beats get cranking.  Friday night is the pick of the week to go.

Tips for making the most of your Valley experience:

– Get in before 10pm to pay a cheaper entry fee, collect your entry stamp and then head to somewhere like RG’s to enjoy cheaper drinks and a chat with your mates or anyone else in the beer garden;

– Forfeit one drink during the night to get a slice of New York pizza, it’s great for soaking up some alcohol.  Which helps with re-entry into clubs as stumbling and staggering in line is a guaranteed way to be refused entry.

– Check online for any international touring DJ’s or special events at clubs, tickets can usually be pre-purchased online for a cheaper rate and it means you won’t miss out.

My favourite part of a night out in the Valley would have to be the drunken friends and conversations at the end of the night.  Whether it’s the guy who has lost all his mates in the taxi line or sitting on a bench seat in the mall stuffing your face with an early morning kebab (or another slice of pizza), this is where the magic happens.  Those drunken conversations that start off about how your night was and end in debating the current state of the ozone layer, to collectively solve the problem by the last mouthful of pizza.  It’s this connection with other reveller’s that is the icing on any Valley adventure.

4. Creative river journeys

Bulimba ferry jetty

You could check out GOMA (Gallery of Modern Art) and the Queensland Art Gallery at South Bank for the big-ticket exhibitions.  Or explore the countless smaller boutique galleries/cafes/shops spread from Teneriffe and Bulimba, to the Powerhouse at New Farm and continuing upstream to West End, Toowong, Milton and Paddington.

For a full day river journey:

Start at Teneriffe checking out the old Wool Shed buildings with boutique shops and cafes then catch a ferry across the river to Bulimba.  Take a stroll up Oxford St to Riverbend Books for morning tea and a hunt for a new book to read.

Next travel up river on the City Cat ferry to New Farm and check out the Powerhouse Museum.  Before winding your way up the river to South Bank.  After visiting a museum, you can cross the river on the Goodwill Bridge or Victoria Bridge to get to the city.  Enjoy lunch in Brisbane city and then check out the Museum of Brisbane or some shopping.

Back to North Quay ferry terminal to continue up the river.  At Toowong jump off and head across Coronation Drive to the Regatta and spend the after relaxing over a cold beer.

5. West End

If there is one place you go to while in Brisbane, make sure it is West End.  Music, food, markets, clothes, art, books and atmosphere West End has it all.  Step back in time with the markets on a Saturday morning in Davies Park.  Get a coffee from the gypsy caravan then sit back on hessian bags spread around up turned milk crates under the century old fig trees and watch the world go by.

Next drop into Avid Reader as they regularly have book and poetry readings at the store or wander through the quirky clothing stores or thrift shops to trade in your travel wardrobe.

When it’s time to eat you are spoilt for choice in West End.  Choose from Vietnamese, Greek, Malay, Indian, Nepalese and any other number of cafes and pubs that all serve up delicious meals and snacks.  I have too many favourites in West End to name, so it really depends on what you are in the mood for!

Finish off at the Music Kafe to listen to local artists performing or rack up a game of pool.  Alternatively, head down the road to the Hifi later in the evening if you want to catch some well-known bands or DJ’s.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Nic Freeman
    Mar 15, 2012 @ 01:16:39

    Thanks for sharing Emma. After reading this, I’m feeling a little homesick for Brissy’s green grass, warm air and amazing cafe/bars. It’s going on 3 months now since I left for 9 months of travelling in Europe and I’m starting to crave little bits of home… like West End and the Botanic Gardens and Paddington coffee. If you’re interested I’ve got a few Brisbane articles on my blog too (tagged under Brisbane) . Hope the uni assignments go well.


    • Emma
      Mar 15, 2012 @ 01:22:36

      Thanks for taking the time to read it. I can relate to the homesick feeling too, the grass is always greener… but travelling is far more exciting than being stuck at home. Enjoy Europe, it’s somewhere I definitely have on my list of places to explore. I’ll definitely check out your blog, I’m keen for a distraction from the modern day version of a Shakespearean sonnet I am attempting to write for uni at the moment!!


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