Brisbane Halal Travel Guide
Covid-19 Situation in Australia
Brisbane is the state capital of Queensland. The Greater Brisbane region has a population of about 2.2 million people, making it the third-largest city in Australia.
Introduction to Brisbane
Large enough to be cosmopolitan yet small enough to be friendly and accessible, Brisbane is a ‘garden metropolis’ famous for its leafy, open spaces and the pleasant pace of life that unfolds between the zig-zags of its iconic river. Gaining international exposure during the 1982 Commonwealth Games, the 1988 World Expo, the 2001 Goodwill Games and the 2014 G20 Summit, Brisbane’s year-round warm climate, spectacular scenery, pleasant locals and world-class facilities have been the draw-cards for many domestic and international visitors, making Brisbane the fastest-growing city in Australia. Despite this rapid development, it maintains a youthful enthusiasm and is arguably one of the most laid-back and forward-thinking of any Australian capital city.
History of Brisbane
For many thousands of years prior to European settlement, the Brisbane area was inhabited by the Turrbal and Jagera Aboriginal people. They knew the area that is now the central business district as Mian-jin, meaning “place shaped as a spike”. The Australian English phrase “hard yakka” – meaning “hard work” – comes from the Jagera people, and is certainly what the European settlers faced in Brisbane’s humid sub-tropical climate.
The South East Queensland area was explored by English navigator Matthew Flinders. On 17 July 1799, Flinders landed at what is now known as Woody Point which he named “Red Cliff Point” – now Redcliffe after the red-coloured cliffs visible from the bay. In 1823 Governor of New South Wales Sir Thomas Brisbane instructed that a new northern penal settlement be developed, intended to house dangerous prisoners in a remote location and an exploration party led by John Oxley further explored Moreton Bay. The original penal settlement was established in Redcliffe but was later moved to a location further down the bay where freshwater supplies were more reliable. Oxley named this new settlement “Brisbane” in honour of the Governor.
A series of major immigration events took place in the following decades which brought with it strong industry and commercial development in the region. In 1838, non-convict free settlers moved to the area and pushed to close the jail and to release the land in the area. In 1859, a gold rush led to the establishment of the colony of Queensland with Brisbane as its capital even though Brisbane was not incorporated as a city until 1902. In 1925, the Queensland State Parliament created the City of Brisbane Act that set up a single government for the city of Brisbane, still the largest metropolitan authority in Australia and one of the largest in the world by area. Over twenty small municipalities and shires were amalgamated to form the City of Brisbane. 1930 was a significant year for Brisbane with the completion of Brisbane City Hall, then the city’s tallest building and the Shrine of Remembrance in ANZAC Square which has since become Brisbane’s main war memorial. These historic buildings along with the Story Bridge which opened in 1940 are key landmarks that help define the architectural character of the city.
During World War II, Brisbane became central to the Allied campaign when the AMP Building – now MacArthur Central was used as the South West Pacific headquarters for General Douglas MacArthur, chief of the Allied Pacific forces. In 1942, Brisbane was the site of a violent clash between visiting US military personnel, Australian servicemen and civilians which resulted in one death and several injuries. This incident became known colloquially as the Battle of Brisbane.
Postwar Brisbane had developed a “big country town” stigma, an image the city’s politicians and marketers were very keen to remove but despite steady growth, Brisbane’s development was punctuated by infrastructure problems. The State Government began a major program of change and urban renewal beginning with the central business district and inner suburbs. Trams in Brisbane were a popular mode of public transport until the network was closed in 1969 leaving Melbourne as the last Australian city to operate a tram network.
The 1974 Brisbane flood was a major disaster which temporarily crippled the city. During this era, Brisbane grew and modernised rapidly becoming a destination of interstate migration. Some of Brisbane’s popular landmarks were lost sometimes demolished in controversial circumstances with much media coverage and public protest. Major public works included the Riverside Expressway, the Gateway Bridge and later the redevelopment of South Bank after the city hosted World Expo ’88 starting with the Queensland Art Gallery and Performing Arts Centre.
In subsequent years there has been strong immigration into Brisbane and the surrounding region, both domestically and internationally with large influxes from Asia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Polynesia. This was driven by cheaper house prices than in other Australian cities, a pleasant climate and good employment opportunities, especially within the mining and tourism sectors. Brisbane’s population growth has exceeded the national average every year since 1990 at an average rate of around 2.2% per year.
Since 2000, Brisbane has gone from drought to flooding rains. In the mid-2000s, lower dam levels led to severe water restrictions for residents. The campaign to lower water usage was so successful that the city now boasts some of the lowest average water use per resident of any developed city in the world. These days you’re not likely to find the tap dry or see any visible signs of the shortage. However out of respect for the locals, keep your showers relatively brief, try your best to conserve water and expect the locals to be horrified if you walk away from a running tap.
A number of extremely wet summers broke the drought and culminated in the January 2011 flood which devastated the city. In typical Queensland fashion, one of the largest volunteer workforces ever amassed – over 100,000 Brisbane locals and Queensland volunteers descended on the city to aid in the clean-up, earning the nickname the “Mud Army” and allowing the city to return to business just a week after the flood. The Mud Army were honoured with the naming of a new CityCat Ferry, the “Spirit of Brisbane” and then Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard described Brisbane residents as “the best of humankind”, gifting a monument to the city to honour the volunteers.
When the wet season hits the northern Australian tropics, Brisbane experiences hot and clear summer days with stunning afternoon thunderstorms. When winter arrives towards the southern capital cities, temperatures are sent into the low teens (°C), while Brisbane’s climate stays mostly dry and sunny, with daytime temperatures usually remaining above 20°C, comparable to that of Miami.
- Summer (December–February) humidity is high and daytime temperatures frequently exceed 30°C, with night temperatures rarely dropping below 20°C. Occasional heat waves can raise the temperature in excess of 40°C, however these are not common. Just about any outdoor activity you do at the height of a regular summer day in Brisbane will leave you bathed in sweat. Loose-fitting clothing that protects you from the sun is appropriate attire for most casual activities, and air-conditioning will assure you a comfortable night’s sleep or ride on public transport. Summer storms with hail and heavy rainfall are common in afternoons on hot, humid days. They usually pass quickly and often put on a good lightning show.
- Autumn (March–May) sees a cool change in Brisbane with average daytime temperatures between 20 and 30°C. Most tourists not used to a humid climate will find this the best time to visit Brisbane, as the humidity lowers and the region shifts into a more comfortable, dry and sunny weather pattern, perfect for outdoor activities. Night-time temperatures usually drop to 10-20°C, with ambient heat from the day still radiating from the ground, keeping the early evening still warm and comfortable, though a light jacket may be required later at night.
- Winter (June–August) signals the region’s dry season, with Brisbane experiencing cool, sunny, cloudless days. Temperatures typically go up to 25°C during the day with night-time temperatures rarely dropping below 5°C. The early-morning chill usually disappears by mid-morning and most of the daylight hours are relatively warm, however it is still recommended to have something warm to wear as this is not always the case. The eastern suburbs tend to be cooler as sea breezes blow in from the bay.
- Spring (September–November) sees the revitalisation of the city with warmer days and fresh sea breezes coming in from the bay. Weather is similar to Autumn months, with increasing humidity as summer draws closer.
More detailed information on Brisbane climate and weather is available online at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
The damaging effects of the Queensland sun should not be underestimated. The state has the highest per-capita rate of skin cancer in the world and tourists often come unprepared. On a sunny day in Brisbane, it is common to be sunburnt after as few as 15 minutes under the midday sun, but sunburn can also occur on overcast days. This is not exclusive to summer, but can happen all year round, even in winter.
If you are planning a long day outdoors, always cover up with sunscreen, loose clothing, a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself. Limit your outdoor physical activity in the summer until you are used to the heat. Immediately seek shade or an air-conditioned area and drink plenty of water if you are feeling the effects of heat exhaustion, including headache, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, confusion or fainting.
Brisbane Tourism Office
The Brisbane Visitor Information Centre and Booking Centre on the Queen Street Mall is open M–Th 09:00–17:30, F 09:00–19:00, Sa 09:00–17:09, Su and public holidays 09:30–16:30 but closed Good Friday and 25 Dec. ☎ +61 7 3006-6290.
Fly to Brisbane
Brisbane can be accessed by plane via the main Brisbane Airport, or by the less convenient but often cheaper Gold Coast Airport.
Brisbane Airport has direct flights from all Australian capitals and many Queensland centres. Major domestic carriers include Virgin Australia, Jetstar, and Qantas. The airport is serviced by many regional airlines and it is possible to fly daily to most Asian centres (and on to Europe), the United States of America and New Zealand, without flying via Sydney or Melbourne.
You can get a bus and train from the Gold Coast Airport to Brisbane, by using the Surfside buses to Robina and transferring to the train. A single fare costs around $17, and you can buy a single ticket or use a Go Card.
Both airports have a full range of rental car options.
Travel by train to Brisbane
Long distance rail services both arrive and depart from Roma Street Station in the inner city. Services to New South Wales operated by NSW TrainLink depart from Platform 2 and all other Long Distance Services depart from Platform 10.
- NSW Trainlink operates a daily return rail service from Sydney, with onward connections to Melbourne and Canberra.
- Queensland Rail has services to most centres in Queensland
Travel to Brisbane by car
Visitors from southern states can reach Brisbane by either the New England and Cunningham or Pacific Highways.
- The Bruce Highway (A1) connects the northern coast of Queensland to Brisbane.
- The Pacific Motorway (M1) connects Brisbane to the Gold Coast continues south along the New South Wales coast.
- The Ipswich Motorway (M2) connects to Ipswich and surrounding Western Brisbane areas.
- The Warrego Highway (A2) links Brisbane to the west through the Lockyer Valley, Toowoomba and the Darling Downs.
- The Cunningham Highway (A15) links Brisbane to Southern Queensland and Central western New South Wales.
Most long distance bus services operate from level 3 of the Brisbane Transit Centre near Roma Street Station in the inner city.
- Premier Motor Service offers services between Sydney and Brisbane and Brisbane and Cairns.
- Greyhound Australia link other interstate capitals to Brisbane via their extensive national network. In particular they operate regular services between Brisbane and Sydney, Brisbane and Toowoomba then onward to Roma and between Brisbane and Cairns. Pick-up is available from the Brisbane Airport on some services.
- Murrays Coaches operate services between Brisbane and Toowoomba and onwards to the small town of Miles, west of Toowoomba. Pick up is available from the Brisbane Airport on some services.
- Bus Queensland operate services under Government contract between Brisbane and many rural and remote areas. Key routes serviced by this company include services between Brisbane and Charleville via Toowoomba and between Brisbane and Mt Isa.
Travel by ship/cruise to Brisbane
Brisbane is home to an international cruise terminal next to Portside Wharf
Getting anywhere in Brisbane is reasonably easy. The CBD (Central Business District) is relatively flat and condensed, which makes it perfect for walking or cycling and virtually all other areas can be reached by public transport.
However, some areas can be difficult to navigate through a combination of dead ends, winding roads and steep slopes. This applies to some inner-city suburbs, but especially outer suburbs. If you find yourself lost, it’s advisable to head to the nearest main road as more than likely it will be serviced by buses or trains. If you are driving, a street directory or GPS unit is an essential addition to your car. Locals are generally friendly and more than willing to help you out if you are lost, so don’t be afraid to ask.
Brisbane is an excellent city for walking and you should have no problems getting around the CBD. Within minutes of walking in virtually any direction you will be able to find a bus, train or ferry station. Maps can be purchased from bookstores such as QBD (Queensland Books Depot), Dymocks, any tourist information centre or viewed online. There are also a number of shared pathways that offer relaxed walking/jogging routes away from roads and traffic. Detailed maps and a route planner are available.
Beyond the CBD and inner-suburbs however, sights can become very spread out, so you might want to consider other modes of getting around.
Travel by bicycle in Brisbane
Getting around the town and Southbank is easy thanks to the many cycle paths along the river.
The Brisbane City Council operates a scheme known as CityCycle, which offers bicycles for hire at different CityCycle stations located around the town, however, you must be at least 17 years old to join. Anyone (including visitors) can register for a 24-hour period for $2 which provides access to the entire CityCycle network, an unlimited number of journeys and the first half hour of every journey is free. You can register online at link your GoCard, or tap your credit card at a CityCycle station. . Once you pay the daily or monthly fee, the bikes are free to use, as long as you return the bike to any CityCycle station within 30 minutes. Costs increase steeply after the 30 minutes, and there is no leeway given by the stations. Helmets are mandatory as required by law (and this is enforced with on-the-spot fines), but some free yellow helmets can be unreliably found at the bike-hire stations. Download the AllBikes app to check the location of hire points with bike and return capacity.
Cycling on footpaths is legal in the Brisbane City Council area (maximum speed 10 km/h), however pedestrians have right of way. Keep left and take special care when riding through South Bank Parklands as the shared (and quite wide) foot and cycle path is often clogged with large groups taking up the whole path, pedestrians stopping unexpectedly for photos and playing children running heedlessly in front of you. It is often too noisy here to use your bell, so use your common sense, and dismount and push your bike through crowded pedestrian areas.
Maps showing extensive dedicated bikeways and shared paths in the Brisbane City Council area are available on the BCC website and a journey planner is available here or using Google maps with the bicycle mode selected. These bikeways offer a pleasant way to explore and enjoy Brisbane.
Some areas of Brisbane are very hilly. If your street map shows a tangle of winding streets close together that is a sign of steep roads. A short trip can quickly become a lot of work, especially if you are using the heavy CityCycle bikes. Stick to the river when possible, it’s where you get the best views and it is almost entirely flat. Also, the a nearby CityCycle station is little use for returning your bike when you are at the top of the cliff, and it is at the bottom.
If you leave the cycle paths, footpaths, and minor streets you should be prepared to contend with busy urban traffic. Feel free to ignore any Brisbane motorists that may have resentment toward cyclists and ignorance of the road rules applying to cyclists; cyclists are permitted to travel on just about all roads in Brisbane. Special “bicycle lanes” on Brisbane’s roads are becoming increasingly common and are often denoted by a narrow green-coloured strip of road adjacent to the curb.
Green Cabs are one of the latest additions to the city and growing in popularity. Essentially a rickshaw, they are a novel way of getting around the inner-city areas. Able to accommodate up to 2 adults and 2 small children (though it can vary – talk to the rider and see what you can arrange), they mostly operate between West End, South Bank, the CBD, Fortitude Valley and along the river where it’s mostly flat, although you can arrange to be taken elsewhere. Prices start from $5 and tours are available.
Green Cabs operate on weekends and during special events. During the day operators who are ready to go are usually based at South Bank at the Wheel of Brisbane. At night, you will find Green Cabs at South Bank and throughout the CBD.
Travel to Brisbane by car
Many of the roads in Brisbane Central Business District (CBD) are one-way, making driving in this area complicated for people not familiar with the layout. Drivers used to city driving should not find Brisbane too much of a challenge, and parking is readily available in parking stations in the city, albeit often at a steep cost, around $40 to casually park for a day. $15 parking is generally available with early-bird deals (arrive before 9:00, leave after 16:00.) Brisbane’s Central Business District (CBD) has limited street parking for your car and issues parking infringements for illegally parked vehicles. All inner-city street parking is metered and signed and costs about $4 per hour. Avoid parking fines by only parking in designated parking bays marked by white lines. A yellow painted line along the kerbside indicates no standing and no parking.
Most CBD roads become clearways at 16:00 (unless signed otherwise), and any cars parked on the side of the road will be fined, towed or both. You have to pay for the towing to get your car back, and then expect a fine to follow in the mail. Check for signs and line marking when parking, or just play it safe and find a parking station.
If you are looking to visit the areas surrounding the city, then generally a car will be as quick as any other way of getting around, with the possible exception of the height of peak hour. Brisbane is notorious for having roads that bottle-neck and what would normally be a 15 minute trip could easily turn into well over an hour during peak times.
There are several toll roads in and around Brisbane (clearly signed and marked for approaching motorists), including the Gateway Bridge which crosses the river near the airport, the Clem-7 tunnel as well as the Go-Between Bridge. Cash is not accepted, toll users must have a prepaid transponder or post-pay via a website. Check the go-via website for more details.
By motorcycle, motorbike or scooter
With limited street parking, and often-expensive off-street parking, the best way to get around the CBD is either by scooter or motorbike. Motorbike and scooter parking is free and there are plenty of areas designated for parking of both motorbikes and scooters.
Scooters, however, are not allowed on major highways. Even though they can be ridden by just about anyone who holds a car driver’s licence, it is difficult to see all of Brisbane on a scooter as most major streets are zoned as 60–80 km/hr and the standard 50cc scooters are limited to 55 km/hr.
North of Brisbane you will find many beautiful scenic drives for motorbike enthusiasts. The North side is surrounded by many windy roads and great mountain roads on which any motorbike rider can enjoy a full day out on the motorbike of just about any size.
There are services available throughout Brisbane and the Gold Coast which deliver both scooters and motorbikes right to your door-step. Some will even provide all the necessary gear as well. Take a look at a few rental companies below to find a perfect motorbike/scooter for your trip.
Most major car hire companies have offices at Brisbane Airport and in the city centre. As is common with many hire car companies, you will often pay a premium to pick up or return at the airport location. If you are looking to cover a long distance by car, ensure your rental policy includes unlimited mileage – most economy to standard sized car rental include this already. Most car rental companies hire to people 25 years of age and over, some all age car rental companies do hire to younger drivers over 18 years of age (there are extra charges involved for under-age drivers).
Taxis are numerous throughout Brisbane and can take you anywhere. The major companies are Yellow Cabs and Black & White Cabs. All cabs can be hailed down no matter where you are, provided their roof light is on, though in some areas they might not be able to stop, so it might be best to book one in advance. All cabs accept cash, credit and debit cards. Despite cabs being fitted with GPS units, you’ll find it wise to check with the driver about your destination before departing and make sure they are willing to go there.
In the outer-suburban areas, cabs will pull over if you hail them down from the side of the road and can be found in designated taxi ranks in shopping centres, or near bars and pubs. The same can be said for the inner-city, however taxi ranks are more common and it’s usually best to catch a cab from there. At night though, especially on Friday and Saturday, taxis exclusively pick up passengers from these ranks and you’d be extremely lucky if you get one elsewhere. These ranks are usually monitored by security and have ushers at night. From midnight-5:30AM on Friday and Saturday nights, all taxis from the CBD and Fortitude Valley become “FlatFare”, meaning that there is a fixed price for any given destination and you will have to pay before entering the taxi.
Taxis can be expensive in Brisbane; a trip between the airport and the city can be in excess of $50–60 and can easily run to over $100 if you go beyond the metropolitan Brisbane region.
Public transportation in Brisbane
Brisbane’s three main public transport options (ferries, buses and trains) are run by a single provider, known as TransLink. This allows free transfers to be made between the three different transport modes, providing relevant time and zone restrictions are met. The TransLink website (Phone: 13 12 30 or download the ‘MyTranslink’ app) is handy for researching public transport options between destinations. Google Maps also offers full public transport navigation, with real-time updated information across all three modes.
TransLink has integrated ticketing called the go card, a contactless smart card purchased before travelling that you top-up with funds. The fare is deducted as you touch-on and touch-off as you board and leave public transport. You must touch both on and off for all Go-card journeys regardless of the mode of transport. A failure to touch off will result in a fixed fare of up to $30 being charged to the card. Buses and CityCats/Ferries are fitted with go card machines as you board. Train stations have fare gates or distinctive yellow readers located on the platform. A deposit of $10 applies when purchasing a go card. Go cards can be purchased and topped up from staff at train stations, ticket vending machines at major stations and bus stops, and selected newsagents and convenience stores, which there are many of in the city centre.
Buying a go card removes the hassle of figuring out zones. Fares are discounted by 30% and once you have paid for 8 journeys within a week (Monday to Sunday). Translink uses the word “journey” to mean end-to-end journey including any required transfers, and the word “trip” to mean a single point-to-point trip. A journey can be made up of one or more trips. When making a number of trips to get to your destination it is still one journey if you touch on within 60 minutes of touching off on your previous trip.
You can buy paper single tickets for journeys to travel all the zones you need to travel in. Operators generally know what zones to give you if you tell them your destination. They are only valid for one way journeys, and come at a premium – starting at over $4 for a one way trip. A few services (like the City Glider, and some peak hour services on the busways) are pre-paid only, and you must have a Go-card to ride.
Getting a go-card will save you at least 30% over paper tickets for equivalent journeys. However, getting a refund for the unused money and $10 deposit can be a hassle. If you have paid by credit card you need apply and have the money returned by cheque or by transfer to an Australian bank account. If you have paid by cash you can get a refund at a train station, including the airport train station.
If you are going to be doing short-term extensive travel or using the Airtrain, you can buy a 3-day or 5-day unlimited travel SEEQ Card for $79 and $129 respectively. SEEQ cards work like regular go cards however provide additional discounts at various tourism attractions around South-East Queensland. You don’t have to worry about topping up and refunds, but you’ll struggle to get value out of it unless you are catching the Airtrain.
You can be fined $261 for travelling without a valid ticket.
If you are using a Go Card, then all fares are calculated automatically based on where you touch-on and touch-off.
The fare depends on public transport “zones”. The 8 zones form concentric rings and propagate outwards from the CBD (zone 1) and cover the whole of South East Queensland. All official public transport maps clearly mark the zones and zone boundaries. Most of Brisbane is covered by zones 1 and 2. Your fare is determined by how many zones you travel through. Travelling between zones 2 and 3 will cost you the same fare as travelling between zones 7 and 8. In addition if you are using a paper ticket, you must observe the time restrictions for transfers to avoid having to pay for another journey.
Often, major stops like shopping centres and busway stops are used as zone boundaries. Stops that form part of the zone boundary are considered part of both zones.
CityFerry and CityCat
CityFerries and CityCats have become an icon of the city and are fantastic ways to tour Brisbane along the river. The CityCats are high-speed catamarans with stops at South Bank and the city centre as well as many riverside suburbs, and are a very popular method of getting around for tourists. CityFerries are more traditional ferries which generally operate shorter routes with more frequent stops; you may end up on one if you must use one of the smaller terminals, but in practice, most riverside destinations are accessible from the faster and more modern CityCats.
Cross-river ferries, such as the Bulimba to Teneriffe Cross River Ferry link the transport facilities on the opposite sides of the river.
Trains in greater Brisbane run along radial lines. Most train services in Brisbane are through-running, travelling from one end of the suburbs to the other, however all trains service Roma Street, Central, Fortitude Valley and Bowen Hills regardless of their ultimate destination. Interurban services can also be caught to the Gold Coast (using connecting tram services at Helensvale and buses at several other stops) and Sunshine Coast (using connecting bus services at Landsborough and Nambour) as well as Australia Zoo (connecting bus at Beerwah). Trains generally run from 6AM to midnight, though there are some variations such as running later on Friday and Saturday nights, and finishing earlier on Sundays.
Brisbane has a large network of bus routes. Virtually all buses have a digital display of their route number and destinations. The inner city areas are very well served by buses, with the most popular routes running from 6AM to 11PM as a minimum, and most routes ultimately terminating at Queen St Bus Station, Fortitude Valley (via Adelaide St or Elizabeth St) or on the busway. In some of Brisbane’s notoriously dispersed outer suburbs, services may be much less frequent or have reduced running hours, so it is advisable to check timetables if making these trips. Due to Brisbane traffic, buses are occasionally up to 10 minutes late during peak hour.
Brisbane’s dedicated busway runs from a corridor in the southern or northern suburbs, through South Bank and the central business district. Due to the large number of buses in the central business district, a number of other routes use stops scattered across the city streets, so if you are unfamiliar with the geography of Brisbane, use of the busway is recommended where possible. The busway and train network meet at Roma Street station, and the two combined provide very good coverage of the key inner city areas.
Drivers do carry notes with them, but not always many or of high value. If you must pay cash, try to pay the correct amount and with coins where possible. Some services, especially in peak hour, do not sell tickets on board at all and only accept pre-purchased tickets or go cards. These are signed with the letter ‘P’ before the route number. As with many cities, Brisbane has a large number of express buses, so it should not be assumed that all buses observe every stop along the roads they travel. In peak hour there are even more express routes (“rockets” and “bullets”) for commuters which make very few stops at all. Ask the driver if you are unsure.
Brisbane also has all-night bus services on Friday and Saturday nights on selected routes; this is branded ‘NightLink’.
- The ‘Brisbane City Loop’ is a free and convenient bus service travelling in both directions around the CBD. Operating Monday to Friday 7AM-5:50PM every 10 minutes from any distinctive bright red CBD bus stop.
- The ‘Spring Hill Loop’ free bus operates around the Spring Hill area just north of the CBD and is an easy way to avoid walking the steep hills in the area. This bus service runs Monday to Friday approximately every 30 minutes between 6:50AM and 8:25AM then every 10 minutes until 6:05PM
- The ‘CityGlider’ bus operates as a prepaid service for quick north-south cross-city travel between West End and the Teneriffe Ferry at Newstead, stopping at any distinctive light blue bus stop. It runs every 5 minutes during peak hour (weekdays from 7-9AM and 4-6PM), and every 10 to 15 minutes between all other hours of operation. It operates Su-Th 5:30AM-11:30PM, and F-Sa 24 hours.
- The ‘Maroon Glider’ bus operates as a prepaid service for quick east-west cross-city travel between Woolloongabba and Ashgrove, stopping at distinctive maroon (dark red) bus stops. The service operates M-Su 5:30AM-11:30PM every 10 minutes in peak periods (weekdays from 7-9AM and 4-6PM) and every 15 minutes in off-peak periods. Services will also operate throughout Friday and Saturday nights (excluding public holidays unless otherwise advertised) at 30 minute intervals midnight-5AM.
- Routes ‘599’ and ‘598’ form the Great Circle Line which circles the city in clockwise and counter-clockwise direction, respectively. They are a great way of exploring the outer suburbs and stop at some of Brisbane’s premier shopping centres.
Sightseeing in Brisbane
Buildings and landmarks in Brisbane
- Brisbane City Hall and King George Square. Located between Adelaide and Ann Streets, this is the city’s most significant historical landmark. This area has free public Wi-Fi. Museum of Brisbane within this building.
- University Of Queensland (St Lucia), St Lucia, Brisbane QLD 4072, . One of Australia’s oldest and most prestigious institutions situated on a bend of the Brisbane River. Its majestic sandstone buildings are surrounded by ornamental lakes, Jacaranda lined boulevards and some of the finest architecture. Visitor attractions include the Great Court, the UQ Art Museum at the James and Mary Emelia Mayne Centre, the Eleanor Schonell Bridge, the Schonell Theatre and the UQ lakes. The university can be reached by bus from George St on bus numbers 411, 412 and 109 or via the CityCat.
- Wheel of Brisbane (at South Bank), Russel Street, South Brisbane QLD 4101. A ferris wheel that allows you to observe the city from 60 m with views across the Brisbane River. The trip is a 15-minute ride in an enclosed, climate controlled gondola. 10AM-10PM daily, $20, $14 children 12 years and under, $2 children aged between one and three.
Museums and galleries in Brisbane
- Commissariat Store Museum, 115 William Street, . Tu-F 10AM-4PM. Occupying the oldest habitable building in Queensland the Commissariat Store Museum highlights both the building and various aspects of Brisbane and Queensland’s convict, colonial and more recent history. Run by The Royal Historical Society of Queensland. Audio tour can be downloaded from website in advance. Adults $7, concession $5.
- The Cube, Queensland University of Technology (QUT) (Gardens Point), 2 George St. 10AM-4PM. The Cube is one of the world’s largest digital interactive learning and display spaces dedicated to providing an inspiring, explorative and participatory experience of QUT’s Science and Engineering research. Here you will find one of the world’s largest digital interactive and learning environments in the new $230-million Science and Engineering Centre at the QUT gardens point campus. You can view research-inspired projects across science, engineering, maths and technology displayed on more than 40 multi-touch screens and 14 high-definition projectors. The Cube is inspiring and engaging the next generation of thinkers and doers with its extensive outreach to schools, including their hands-on and interactive workshops and public programs for high school students and QUT undergraduate and postgraduate students. Free.
- MacArthur Museum, Level 8, MacArthur Chambers, 201 Edward Street, . Tu Th Su 10AM-3PM. This museum occupies what was during the Second World War the Office of General Douglas MacArthur. Travel back in time to the early 1940s in this niche Brisbane museum. Adults $8, Seniors $5, Child $4.
- Museum of Brisbane, Level 3, Brisbane City Hall. Daily 10AM-5PM. Features one floor of exhibits about the history of the city, and another floor for exhibitions of local artists. Free.
- Queensland Maritime Museum, Cnr Stanley and Sidon Streets, South Brisbane, . Daily 9:30AM to 4:30PM. The Queensland Maritime Museum hosts a range of exhibitions and vessels in their Museum at South Bank. Step aboard the HMAS Diamantina and experience life as a Navy Sailor. Also be sure to see Ella’s Pink Lady, the yacht Queenslander Jessica Watson sailed solo unassisted during her record-breaking journey to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world. Adult $16, Concession $14, Child $7.
- Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium, Brisbane Botanic Gardens – Mt Coot-tha, . Varies. From 10AM weekdays, from 11AM weekends. Located in the beautiful subtropical Brisbane Botanic Gardens, Mt Coot-tha Road, Toowong. Open Tu-Su with free admission to astronomy and space displays and a mini theatre. Admission fees (generally $15.40 per adult, with discounts for families) apply to the Cosmic Skydome which features a wide variety of astronomy and space programs. All shows feature a “live” segment recreating the current Brisbane night sky. On weekdays (closed M and public holidays), the doors open at 10AM with school shows at 10:30AM and noon. Members of the public are welcome to attend the earlier school shows when space permits (children must be school age). The 1:30PM and 3PM sessions (Tu-F) are public programs, although the 1:30PM program may be booked for dedicated school programs (please check with the Planetarium’s Booking Office). During Queensland school holidays there are extra public shows on weekdays. On weekends, the Planetarium opens at 11AM and shows are also presented on Saturday night with “Saturday Night Live” at 6PM being a very popular show. There is a shop with a wide variety of astronomical/science merchandise and souvenirs. There is free parking, an adjacent bus stop and a separate cafe/restaurant. The Botanic Gardens has many walks. Adult $15.40, Child $9.40, Concession $13.
- Queensland Museum, Corner of Grey and Melbourne Streets, South Bank, . 9:30AM – 5:00PM. The Queensland Museum is a large museum featuring several exhibitions that generally focus on Natural History and Queensland History. Free, except for some special exhibitions.
- Sciencentre, Corner of Grey and Melbourne Streets, South Bank, . 9:30AM – 5:00PM. Forming part of the Cultural Precinct and housed in the lower levels of the Queensland Museum building the Sciencentre is a hands on, interactive science facility particularly popular with families and children. Adult $14.50, Concession $12.50, Child $11.50.
- Queensland Art Gallery, Stanley Place, South Bank, . 10:00AM – 5:00PM. The Queensland Art Gallery is housed in two buildings within Brisbane’s Cultural Precinct at South Bank. Free, except for some special exhibitions.
- Gallery of Modern Art. The Gallery of Modern Art forms part of the Queensland Art Gallery and is a short walk from the Main Gallery. Opened in 2006 the gallery regularly hosts exhibitions featuring internationally famous artists (such as Warhol and Picasso) as well as many local contemporary artists.
Nature and wildlife in Brisbane
- City Botanic Gardens (10-15min walk from the city centre and Central or Roma Street railway stations). 24/7. Free 1-hr guided tours M-Sa 11AM and 1PM (no need to book ahead). Walking and cycling tracks. Exhibits. Free tours are a mix of the history of the gardens and the city whereas the garden tours at Mt Coot-tha are more focused on the wide variety of plants. Free.
- Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, 708 Jesmond Road, Fig Tree Pocket (via the Western Freeway), . 9AM-5PM. Reduced hours April 25.. World’s first and largest koala sanctuary, with over 130 koalas. Cuddle a koala, hand feed kangaroos and see some other Aussie wildlife. Admission $32 adults, $21 children 3-13yr, with discounts for families and students. Alternate transport options include: Catch the hourly 445 or 430 buses from the city or the Mirimar boat cruise from South Bank at 10:20. Adults $36, Child $22, Concession $24. Family rates available. Discounts if purchased online in advance.
- Mt Coot-tha, Sir Samuel Griffiths Drive. Brisbane’s tallest mountain. A popular make-out spot with a great view and good but overpriced cafe and restaurant. Large TV and radio antennas lining some of its broad peak. You can take a scenic drive through the heavily forested Mount Coot-tha Reserve to the peak to see the almost-360° views of Brisbane and the surrounding region. The mountain is 287 m (941 ft) above sea level and forms the eastern extent of the Taylor Range, and is the most northern part of Australia to record snow. It is a prominent landmark approximately 6 km (4 mi) to the west of the Brisbane central business district and is visible from much of the city. Before the Moreton Bay penal settlement, Mount Coot-tha was the home of the Turrbal Aboriginal people. Early Brisbane people called it One Tree Hill when bush at the top of the mountain was cleared except for one large eucalypt tree. The Aboriginal people of the area used to come to the mountain to collect ‘ku-ta’ (honey) that was produced by the native stingless bee. Mount Coot-tha (Place of Honey), a derivative of (the indigenous term), replaced the former title ‘One Tree Hill’ in 1880 when the area was declared a Public Recreation Reserve. Car is the most effective way to enjoy Mount Cootha at your own pace. There is ample parking at the peak. One can also hike the marked trail from the mountain’s foot. See one of the best views of Brisbane. It is best to arrive just before dusk or dawn so you can enjoy the transition from day to night. Drive to the peak for a picnic dinner and admire the views. There are several walking tracks through the forests that surround the summit; some are difficult. It is a great place from which to watch the Riverfire fireworks in Sep.
- New Farm Park. This historic park is famous for the long line of jacaranda trees, shady picnic areas and its large rose gardens that contain hundreds of varieties of roses, and over 40,000 plants.
- Roma Street Parklands. Is the world’s largest subtropical garden in a city centre and home to 1,800 unique species of plants. Experience the theme gardens such as the topiary maze, rain forest walk, lake, celebration law and amphitheatre with many public artworks to admire. Free.
- Brisbane Botanic Gardens, Mt Coot-tha Road. 8:00AM – 5:30PM (September – March); 8:00AM – 5:00PM (April – August). Free.
Other points of interest
- Manly Boat Harbour. Manly Boat Harbour is the nearest access point to Moreton Bay Marine Park with its pristine waterways and fascinating islands. Next to the harbour is Manly Harbour Village, with a great range of dining and shopping options overlooking the marina.
- South Bank and Cultural Precinct. Formerly the site of World Expo ’88, this relatively recent development is across the Brisbane River from the heart of the city and features an artificial beach surrounded by extensive parklands. Also in South Bank are the shops, cafés, restaurants and cinemas of the Grey Street precinct. A great place to hang out on a hot day and swim for free. Adjacent to South Bank the Cultural Precinct the site includes the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Queensland Museum and Sciencentre, Queensland Art Gallery, Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) and State Library of Queensland. Griffith University’s South Bank Campus incorporating The Queensland Conservatorium and the Queensland College of Art are also located on Grey St.
- Suncorp Piazza. Within South Bank often hosts free live events and movies.
Activities and trips
- Kangaroo Point. The walls along the Brisbane River are a popular spot for rock climbers and give an excellent view of the CBD skyline just across the river. Activities carry on after dark, when the walls are well-lit. Abseiling and rock climbing classes on the cliffs with an instructor are available from Riverlife Adventures, as well as kayak, kick-bike, rollerblade and bicycle hire. There are also barbecue and picnic spots in the area.
- Story Bridge Adventure Climb, toll-free: 1300 254 627. Offers the opportunity to scale the top of Brisbane’s iconic bridge. You can enjoy 360° views of Brisbane, the mountain ranges and Moreton Bay Islands at dawn, afternoon or night.
- Jan Powers Farmers Markets. Buy fresh fruit, vegetables and cuts of meat from one of the many farmers markets across Brisbane including the Powerhouse at New Farm, Manly, Mitchelton and the newest market at Reddacliff Place at the top of the Queen Street Mall.
- Balloons over Brisbane, . You can gain an aerial perspective as you float over Brisbane in a hot air balloon. It’s often possible to see as far off as the magnificent Glasshouse Mountains, to the Gold Coast and out to the islands of Moreton Bay.
- Kookaburra Queen River Cruises. Kookaburra Queen’s two Mississippi-style paddle steamers are a common sight travelling up and down the Brisbane river with lunch and dinner cruises. Both ships were built for the 1988 World Expo. Cruises leave from the Eagle Street pier in the CBD, and are a relaxing way to enjoy the sights of the city.
- Cruise the Brisbane River. There are various companies offering a range of river cruises and tours to take in the sights. These include cruises to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, and the BrisVegas floating nightclub.
- Explore Brisbane’s Moreton Bay and Islands. 25 km (16 mi) from the Brisbane’s CBD and stretches from Bribie Island to the Southern Bay Islands. Enjoy sand tobogganing, 4-wheel driving, diving or snorkelling or go marine watching and spot turtles, dolphins, dugongs and whales.
- Wivenhoe Dam. Spot koalas, swim, sail or kayak on Lake Wivenhoe. There are BBQ facilities, playgrounds and plenty of parking.
- Woorim Beach. Drive across the bridge from the mainland to see a beautiful Australian national park. Hire a boat for fishing, visit the secluded Woorim Beach with views to Moreton Island or go on one of the several hikes available.
- Explore Greater Brisbane Country. Take a day trip to the surrounding regions around an hour from Brisbane and discover wineries, national parks, lakes and country living. The Scenic Rim including Ipswich, Beaudesert and Boonah is a vast region of mountains, rainforest and valleys embracing the World Heritage wilderness of the McPherson Range. The Lockyer Valley provides a perfect blend of town and country living, with experiences ranging from guided tours and bush camping to hot air ballooning and sky-diving.
- The Scenic Rim. This describes the large arc of mountains, to a height of 1,375 m (4,511 ft), from the Mistake Ranges (south of Gatton) across the Main (Great Dividing) Range to the MacPherson Range that terminates at Currumbin on the Gold Coast. Apart from some well known locations on the Rim, such as Binna Burra and O’Reilleys guesthouses, Springbrook and Cunningham’s Gap, the largest proportion of these ranges are unspoilt and much of it near-wilderness. Many forest areas were previously logged, but the forest recovery has been excellent, and virtually all the logging tracks have disappeared except for those still used for foot access. At the previously mentioned sites, graded paths offer a taste, but for the more adventurous there are many hiking possibilities from day trips to sustained multi-day exercises. More information can be found on the web. Hikers should be properly prepared and conversant with navigation in difficult country and the rules of National Parks.
- Riverlife Adventure Centre. Brisbane’s riverside adventures. Kayaking, abseiling the Kangaroo Cliffs, a rollerblade session and bike rentals. They also organise evening activities such as Kayak paddle and prawns.
- Treasury Casino, 130 William St, . 24/7. Full featured casino with a wide variety of slots and table games, in a striking 19th-century building.
Thanks to Brisbane’s year-round wonderful climate, it’s the perfect city to host outdoor events. The city often plays host to cultural and historic celebrations, music festivals and family entertainment, particularly in the Summer holiday months of December, January and February.
Cultural and historic
- Brisbane Festival. By far the largest and most popular event in Brisbane. Held annually at the end of September. This festival, which started as a celebration of the Brisbane River, now incorporates a number of smaller events at various places around South Bank Parklands, the Cultural Centre and the CBD as a celebration to Brisbane itself. Notably, the ‘Riverfire’ event which is held in South Bank every September draws the largest crowd. It offers free family entertainment all day and the city’s biggest Fireworks display at night.
- The Ekka (Royal Queensland Show). A staple event in Brisbane’s history and culture, held every August dating back to 1876. It is hosted at the RNA Showgrounds in the inner-suburb of Bowen Hills and runs for a week, where the Wednesday is a public holiday (so expect large crowds on this day). Primarily marketed toward families, attractions at the Ekka include fairground rides, a Side Show Alley, animal parades, wood chopping competitions, agricultural displays, equestrian events and Showbags, usually containing food items (such as confectionery) and novelty items. If you are in Brissy at the time, it really is not to be missed!
- Paniyiri Festival. A Greek cultural celebration held by Brisbane’s large Greek population. A popular family entertainment event, offering authentic Greek foods and entertainment. In Musgrave Park.
- Brisbane Asia Pacific Film Festival (BAPFF) (Formerly known as the Brisbane International Film Festival (BIFF)). Begins in November and is hosted in a variety of cinema venues around Brisbane. The festival features new films and retrospectives by domestic and international filmmakers along with seminars and awards.
Each year, Brisbane also hosts several parades through the central city. These can make great photo opportunities, and include:
- St Patrick’s Day. Parade on Saturday closest to March 17
- ANZAC Day. Parade starts 10AM on April 25.
- May Day March. Large parade with participants from local trade unions. First Sunday in May.
- Zombie Walk. Annual event raising funds and awareness for the Brain Foundation. First Sunday in October.
- Christmas Parade and Pantomime. Each evening from early December until Christmas, the central city’s Queen Street pedestrian mall gets taken over by elves, sugerplum fairies, live camels and a giant teddy bear. It’s a popular event for families, particularly on weekends.
Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley has the highest concentration of bars, pubs and clubs anywhere in Australia and in 2005, was given Australia’s first and only “Special Entertainment Precinct” zoning, which protects and promotes the live music scene. In 2007, influential US entertainment Billboard magazine named Brisbane in the world’s top 5 hotspots for live music. And in 2010 the city opened the Go-Between Bridge, named after the popular Brisbane indie rock band The Go-Betweens. There is no doubt that the locals love their music and a night out in Brisbane is not complete without experiencing some of the live music on offer. If you are looking for what’s happening in Brisbane, most music and entertainment stores as well as some restaurants and cafés offer free entertainment magazines that list what’s coming up within the next month or so.
Though you might find most musicians playing in the numerous bars and clubs around the CBD, West End and the Valley, there are some venues which are geared specifically toward hosting bands or artists that are on official tours. Some events allows under-18s in, but not all, so it’s best to check beforehand.
- Max Watt’s House of Music, 125 Boundary St. Funky, purpose-built live show venue located in the heart of West End.
- The Tivoli, 52 Costin St. Has a very relaxed, noir-styled interior with sizable floor space and a mezzanine. Highly rated venue among locals and only a 10-minute walk from The Valley.
- The Zoo, 711 Ann St. – Located in the Valley, this live music venue is almost more Brisbane than the river. Indie rock, hipsters and that alternative vibe.
The Valley Fiesta is an annual three-day event. It was launched by Brisbane Marketing to promote Fortitude Valley as a hub for arts and youth culture. It features free live music, market stalls, food and drink from many local restaurants and cafés, and other entertainment.
Brisbane and the Gold Coast also play host to a number of nationwide electronic and rock music festivals, mostly geared toward the younger crowd.
Whether watching or participating, Brisbane has a great range of sporting events. Voted as one of the best stadiums in Australia, Suncorp Stadium is host to the Brisbane Broncos NRL and Queensland Reds Rugby Union teams in the winter, and Brisbane Roar Football (Soccer) Club in the summer. Other events such as the NRL State of Origin are also a very big draw-card. Most matches cost between $25–40 for an adult.
On the south side of city at Woolloongabba is the Brisbane Cricket Ground, commonly known as The Gabba. Here, the Brisbane Lions AFL team plays in the winter, and all forms of cricket can be viewed in the summer.
Several universities call Brisbane home and there are significant opportunities for international students to enrol in degree programs. Many of them have exchange agreements with several foreign universities.
- The University of Queensland (UQ) is the oldest university in Queensland and arguably the most prestigious, being a member of the Group of Eight, a coalition of leading Australian universities, intensive in research and comprehensive in general and professional education. UQ has its main campus in the Brisbane suburb of St. Lucia, with other smaller campuses at Ipswich, Gatton and Herston, and satellite facilities scattered around Queensland.
- Queensland University of Technology (QUT) is another major university located in Brisbane, with a strong focus on research and practical teaching, formed as an amalgamation of a number of various technical colleges. It also ranks very highly amongst Australian universities. The main campus is located at Gardens Point, right in the heart of the Brisbane CBD, with other campuses at Kelvin Grove, Carseldine and Caboolture.
- Griffith University (simply referred to as Griffith by the locals) is the other major university in Brisbane, with a focus on more creative degrees, but it does offer many of the same degrees you can undertake at other universities. The university has a number of campuses in Brisbane suburbs including South Bank, Mount Gravatt and Nathan, with another two campuses in Logan City and the Gold Coast.
Take a note of Brisbane’s shopping hours before venturing out shopping in the City. Late night shopping is Thursday evenings in the suburbs, and Friday evening in the Sydney centre. Other nights, expect most shops to close at 5PM.
- Queen Street Mall. Main shopping mall in Brisbane, large variety of shops, contains several shopping centres.
- The Myer Centre. Runs the gamut from jeans shops to specialty knife stores. Internet kiosks are available.
- The Wintergarden. A fashion centre connected to the foot of the Hilton Hotel. Also contains a licensed day or night bowling alley.
- QueensPlaza. Brisbane’s newest fashion centre, with more expensive, big brand stores.
- Broadway on the Mall. Many formal wear, evening wear and bridal stores. Also some stores that stock well-known Brisbane fashion designers such as Gail Sorronda. Features a downstairs food court and upstairs electrical and appliance retailer.
- Brisbane Arcade. A secluded narrow shopping strip which acts as a pass way between Adelaide and Queen St. It contains many unique stores. It is one of the few remaining heritage shopping arcades in Brisbane.
- Queen Adelaide Building. One of Brisbane’s oldest buildings is home to Queensland’s flagship Sportsgirl store, Adidas and Rebel Sport.
- Treasury Brisbane (The Conrad Treasury Casino) (located at the George Street end of the mall).
- Adelaide Street. Downtown’s dress circle
- Elizabeth Street Arcade. Arcade that spans between Elizabeth and Charlotte streets. Lots of independent boutiques to suit various prices, and lots of cheap Asian food.
- Albert Street. Has many adventure and sports-type retailers, lots of bookstores.
- Eagle Street. The centre of law and finance in Queensland, holds the Eagle Street and Riverside markets.
- Edward Street. Mostly covered by Queens Plaza, MacArthur Central and Wintergarden street fashion stores. There are also a couple of jewellery, take-away restaurants, bars and night clubs. Edward St. has been transformed into a luxury brands precinct, with stores such as MaxMara, Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Bulgari, Bally, Mont Blanc, Chanel, Gucci, Hugo Boss, Oroton, Ralph Lauren, L’Occitane, and Hermes. Apple opened its Brisbane flagship store in the heritage-style MacArthur Chambers building, (which acted as U.S. General Douglas MacArthur’s regional headquarters in World War II), and is similar to Apple’s other heritage building refurbishments in London, Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin. Brisbane’s MacArthur Chambers store was ranked among the best.
- South Bank markets. Held at the South Bank Parklands every Sunday.
- Brunswick Street Mall. Located in the heart of China Town, there are many Chinese retailers, fast food restaurants, cafes and bars. Markets are run on Sundays.
- Indooroopilly Shopping Centre (322 Moggill Road), . Large shopping centre sprawled over three massive levels. Large variety of retailers.
- Westfield Garden City, Corner of Logan and Kessels Roads, Upper Mt Gravatt, . Large shopping centre with two levels. Contains a large variety of fashion retailers and book stores. Outdoor food section based around a water feature, that’s busy into the evening.
- Westfield Chermside, Corner of Gympie and Hamilton Roads, Chermside, . Brisbane’s largest shopping centre. Popular among youth culture for its Megaplex Movie Cinema.
- Westfield Carindale, 1151 Creek Road, Carindale, . The largest shopping centre in the Eastern Suburbs.
- Northside Flower Market, Unit 3, 27 Windorah St, Stafford. M-Sa.
- Davies Park Market, Montague Road, West End. Sa 6AM-2PM. An expansive farmers-style market with an alternative vibe that sells fruit and vegetables, meats, cheese, and handicrafts. Also has food vendors, including a crêperie.
- James Street, Fortitude Valley. Small strip with high-end fashion, furniture and electronics retail, plus a couple of nice bars and cafes.
- Valley Markets. Sa Su 8AM-4PM. A shopping must for locals and tourists. Operating every weekend, find jewellery, fabulous handmade accessories and artwork. Home to emerging fashion designers.
- Ann St. Along Ann Street in the Valley there are many independent fashion boutiques for mid-range shopping. Some of them are spread out around the corner of Brunswick Street too.
Where to stay in Brisbane
- Banana Bender Backpackers (Banana Benders), 118 Petrie Terrace, Brisbane (500m from Roma St Transit Centre), . Check-in: 11AM, check-out: 10AM. A small, clean & friendly hostel on the fringe of Brisbane CBD. 10 minutes walk from Brisbane Transit centre and an easy walk to South Bank & CBD. Can be a little quiet but a great place to relax and meet new people. $25-75.
- Base Brisbane Central, 308 Edward St, . A large hostel right across the street from Central Station. It’s on the older side, but has a very fun, vibrant and young atmosphere. And it’s right over the Down Under Bar, so you haven’t far to stumble home. Can be loud and very party-oriented, but it’s a great spot to meet people.
- Base Brisbane Uptown (Tinbilly), 466 George St (cnr Herschel St; opposite Roma St Transit Centre), . Big ensuite rooms, and good lounge/TV facilities.
- Brisbane Backpackers Resort, 110 Vulture St, West End, . Free pick-up from transit centre or airport, and free bus to and from the city every hour.
- Brisbane City Backpackers, 380 Upper Roma St (400m from Roma St Transit Centre), . Clean, relaxed hostel with a pool and friendly staff.
- Brisbane City YHA, 392 Upper Roma St (600m from Roma St Transit Centre), . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. From $29.
- Bunk Backpackers, 11 Gipps St, Fortitude Valley, . Check-in: 1PM, check-out: 10AM. Modern, clean, very popular, swimming pool, and one of Brisbane’s popular (but more expensive) night clubs, Birdee Num Num.
- Cloud 9 Backpackers Resort, 350 Upper Roma St, . New, modern, industrial-space conversion.
- ibis budget Brisbane Airport, 18 Navigator Place, Cnr. Nudgee Road, . From $89.
- ibis budget Windsor, 159 Lutwyche Road, . From $74.
- Kingsford Riverside Inn, 114 Kingsford Smith Drive, Hamilton, , toll-free: 1800 777 590. Close to the airport. A few minutes’ walk from the Breakfast Creek Hotel. The accommodation can be accessed via door-to-door transport services. From $99.
- Manly Harbour Backpackers, 45 Cambridge Parade, Manly, . Situated next to the ocean, in a bayside suburb. 20 min train ride from the Brisbane CBD. Can organise activities like surfing, sailing, fishing and diving. Dorms and private rooms, internet access, airport and train transfers.
- Somewhere to Stay Backpackers Hostel, 47 Brighton Road, Highgate Hill, , toll-free: 1800 812 398.
Brisbane hotels are listed in alphabetical order.
- Adina Apartment Hotel Brisbane Anzac Square, 255 Ann St, . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11PM. Adina Hotel Brisbane Anzac Square is a modern hotel that overlooks the Anzac Square memorial gardens. From $104.
- Albion Manor Apartments and Motel, 402 Sandgate Road (Cnr Sandgate Road & Camden Street), Albion, , toll-free: 1800 247 447. Spacious and comfortable studio apartment. From $105.
- Central Brunswick Hotel, 455 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley, , fax: . Spacious apartments close to Chinatown and nearby to CBD area of downtown Brisbane.
- Choice Hotels – Brisbane Properties. Many locations in Brisbane outside of the immediate CBD area serving quality accommodation at affordable prices under the brands EcnoLodge, Ascend, Quality Inn and Comfort Inn.
- Four Points by Sheraton, 99 Mary Street, . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. From $129.
- Greenslopes Motor Inn in Brisbane (Greenslopes), 389 Cornwall Street (Cnr Dansie St), Greenslopes, , toll-free: 1 800 441 144, fax: . 18 rooms, easy access off the Pacific Highway, plenty of off-street parking. From $99.
- Hilton, 190 Elizabeth St, . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. Overlooks Queen Street Mall. From $206.
- Hotel Grand Chancellor, 23 Leichhardt Street, . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. From approx $160.
- Hotel Jen, 159 Roma Street, . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. From approx $160.
- ibis Brisbane, 27-35 Turbot Street, . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. From $139.
- Limes Hotel, 142 Constance St, Fortitude Valley, . Contemporary designed boutique hotel in Fortitude Valley with a roof top bar and cinema. 21 balcony or courtyard (complete with hammock) rooms. Kitchenette with working bench space, freewifi or broadband access, iPod dock, 32inch LCD televisions and L’Occitane toiletries. Daily newspaper service and complimentary beverage on the roof top. From approx $150.
- Mantra South Bank, 161 Grey St, South Bank, . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. New, modern, brash and very stylish. From approx $159.
- Marriott Hotel, 515 Queen St, . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. Comfortable hotel with lovely staff. From $163.
- Mercure Brisbane, 85-87 North Quay, . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. From $159.
- Mercure Brisbane King George Square, Corner Ann & Roma Streets, . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10:30AM. Walking distance to the Queen St Mall shopping precinct. From $143.
- Novotel Brisbane Airport, 6-8 The Circuit, Brisbane Airport (Follow signs to SkyGate), . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. From $229.
- Novotel Brisbane, 200 Creek Street, . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. From $159.
- Pullman Brisbane King George Square, Corner Ann & Roma Sts, . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10:30AM. Within walking distance of the Queen St Mall shopping precinct. From $175.
- Raceways Motel in Brisbane (Hamilton), 66 Kent St, . Check-in: noon. Family run accommodation close to Brisbane City Centre and Brisbane International Airport. From $129.
- The Great Southern Hotel, 103 George St, . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. From $62.
- Ridge on Leichhardt Hotel, 189 Leichhardt St, Spring Hill, . From $89.
- Rydges South Bank Brisbane, 9 Glenelg St, South Bank, , toll-free: 1300 857 922. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. In the heart of Brisbane’s arts and entertainment precinct, it is the closest hotel to the Queensland Performing Arts Centre. The Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre is instantly adjacent to the hotel and downtown Brisbane and the bohemian village of West End are a 10 min stroll away. From $169.
- The Sebel Brisbane, Corner Charlotte and Albert St, . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. Distinctive refurbished boutique style rooms. From $159.
- Story Apartments, 89 Lambert St, Kangaroo Point, . Offers both short-stay and long-stay accommodation, and is just a few min ferry ride from the CBD. From $209.
- iStay River City, 79 Albert St, . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. This hotel offers free Wi-Fi, swimming pool access and gym facilities along with 1 and 2 bedroom apartments with views.
- Capri by Fraser Brisbane, 80 Albert Street, . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. From approx $180.
- The Valley, 1000 Ann St, . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. One of Brisbane’s best, but at high end prices. Part of the emporium complex, the hotel has some of the best rooms and spa and gyms in Brisbane.
- Quay West Suites Brisbane, 132 Alice St, . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. Opposite the Brisbane Botantic Gardens, close to QUT and the Queensland Parliament. From $209.
- Royal on the Park Hotel, Corner Alice and Albert Streets (corner of Alice and Albert Streets), . Check-out: 11AM. Best Brisbane City accommodation overlooking the Botanic City Gardens and only a short walk to Brisbane’s arts and entertainment precinct. From $169.
- Sofitel Brisbane Central, 249 Turbot Street, . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. A luxury hotel above Brisbane Central Station, overlooking ANZAC Square. From $194.
- Next Hotel Brisbane, 72 Queen Street, . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Refurbished in late 2014 this high end hotel is located on Queen Street Mall From approx. $190.
- The New Inchcolm Hotel And Suites Brisbane, 73 Wickham Terrace, . Check-out: 11AM. From $209.
- Treasury Heritage Hotel, 130 William Street, . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. Large rooms in an old colonial building in the centre of the CBD. From approx $250.
- Stamford Plaza Brisbane, Corner of Margaret & Edward Streets, . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. From $250.
Serviced apartments in Brisbane
- Bridgewater Terraces. Wharf Street, Kangaroo Point. Within a few minutes’ walk of Holman Street ferry terminal, Bridgewater Terraces consist of one, two and three bedroom self-contained apartments. Large lagoon pool, spa, sauna, gym and barbeque facilities.
- Quest on Story Bridge, 85 Deakin Street, . Kangaroo Point. Studio, one, two and three bedroom serviced apartments.
- Oaks Lexicon Apartments, toll-free: 1300 663 385. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. Ann Street, Brisbane City. In the heart of the CBD, is in a contemporary building with 1 and 2 bedroom apartments. Facilities and service of a modern hotel but providing a self-contained apartment. Minutes to the Queen Street Mall, Riverside and the Brisbane Convention Centre.
- Evolution Apartments, Evolution Apartments, 18 Tank St (close to Shinjuku Station), . In Brisbane CBD, fully serviced and provide a media room, swimming pool, deck with BBQs and a business centre.
- Quest Woolloongabba, 130 Logan Road, . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. Apartment style hotel that was newly built and opened in 2014 From $140.
- Oaks Aurora Tower, 420 Queen Street, . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. This hotel offers 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments with river and city views, located close to Queens Street Mall and Eagles St Piers precinct.Consists of recreation deck, 25m lap pool.
Telecommunications in Brisbane
Internet Cafe’s in Brisbane
Brisbane City Council now offers free wireless internet (Wi-Fi) access in 22 parks and public spaces across Brisbane, as well as the locations around the CBD including Queen Street Mall, Reddacliff Place, Victoria Bridge, South Bank Parklands, Valley Malls, Mt Coot-tha Summit Lookout, Brisbane Libraries and on CityCats. It can be useful to do a quick email, or lookup some info – but the performance can be challenging.
Many cafes and hotels provide free Wi-Fi access to patrons, as do many shopping malls. Keep an eye out for signage (or do a scan for hotspots). McDonald’s restaurants have free Wi-Fi, and Starbucks offers free 30-minute access to Wi-Fi with a purchase of any drink.
There are also alternatives to cafes:
- Free Internet access is available at the Brisbane City Council library, although you might need to book your session in advance.
- State Library of Queensland, Cultural Precinct, Stanley Place, South Bank, . M–Th 10AM–8PM, F–Su 10AM–5PM. Free Internet (including Wi-Fi) access is available at the Queensland State Library, in selected areas. The main Infocentre area is quite large and has 30-minute (no booking) and 60-minute (booking required) computers. The 60-minute computers are booked using a queuing system upon arriving at the library (no library card required). The Infocentre also has a very large lounge and desk area for those with their own laptops wishing to use the free Wi-Fi. Printing is $0.10 per page, but requires the purchase of a $2 copy card in addition to the per page cost. The library is also air-conditioned (as one might expect) so is a good place to spend some time during the scorching mid-day heat.
- Queensland Rail has free Wi-Fi (20MB, resets after 4 hours) on 64 of its trains. They are identified by large stickers near doors, billboards or small stickers on the inside edge of doors. Be careful you don’t have updates turned on, or your usage will last a few minutes.
Payphones are abundant in the downtown area. For Australia wide contact options, such as mobile phones and calling cards, see the entry in Australia
Stay safe and avoid Scams in Brisbane
Brisbane has a relatively low crime rate in comparison to other cities of such size. In most cases being aware of your environment and using common sense will keep you safe. Like Sydney and other large cities, trains and train stations are usually considered a common crime zone throughout the afternoons and nights, however trains and stations are patrolled by Police, Transit Officers, railway personnel and private security guards. Cameras are also used to increase security. It is advised to exercise caution when travelling on trains and buses during these periods of the day.
Here are some particular areas of note:
- Outer Suburbs: Tend to have a higher crime rate than inner suburbs which should be taken into account when visiting these areas.
- Days: Very safe during the day, but using common sense goes a long way. Avoid gangs of people, especially if they seem trashy or obnoxious and be mindful if a questionable person approaches you.
- Nights: Like most other places, outer suburbs to get more dangerous. Most suburban streets are poorly lit or have no lighting at all. It is recommended that individuals walking in these areas at night take precaution or venture within a group.
- City Central/CBD: Usually very safe at all hours.
- Days: Very safe during the day thanks to a good police presence and most people only being there for work. Though during school holidays groups of youths can congregate, especially around Queen St and South Bank and can get rather rowdy, but they usually mind their own business.
- Nights: Still relatively safe at night. Police presence isn’t as strong, except on Friday and Saturday nights, but you’re still urged to travel with others. Be careful if catching a train at night, even though the train stations and trains are well patrolled and watched by CCTV. Treasury Casino patrons often gather outside and unwanted attention can be received late at night due to drunks. However, security is tight and the entire area around the Casino is monitored by CCTV. Take extra caution if in South Bank at night due to groups of youths congregating there.
- Fortitude Valley: Police presence very strong here due to the concentration of bars.
- Days: Just as safe as the CBD during the day.
- Nights (especially Friday and Saturday): Taxi ranks in particular can be a little dangerous due to many frustrated drunks having to wait for cabs. Wait only at ranks that have a security guard. Stay to the well-lit busy streets and never venture off alone, especially down back-streets or far away from a crowd. Especially for females, it is recommended to travel in pairs or groups to avoid any unwanted attention from drunken revellers, especially in the early hours of the morning.
- Suburban pubs: generally less safe than inner-city pubs, bars and clubs due to less police and security. Drunks can be a hassle when in the vicinity of suburban pubs, especially around closing times. Fights in these venues are common.
Emergency numbers in Brisbane
Throughout Australia, the number for emergency services (Police, Fire and Ambulance) is 000. When using a mobile or cell phone, the numbers 000 and 112 are free of charge, and connect using any of the available networks.
Emergency numbers such as 911 and 999 do not work within Australia.
Probably the worst thing that can befall your trip to Brisbane is sunburn and other heat-related issues. The local UV Index is almost always in the extreme rating during the day (10AM-3PM) and precautions should always be taken. Do not be fooled though, even in the cooler months or when it is overcast you can still be affected by UV rays or the heat. Sunscreen, shirts, sunglasses and lots of water are essential.
Many visitors to Brisbane take day trips to enjoy the very popular nearby beaches at the Gold Coast (south) or the Sunshine Coast (north). Beaches can be great fun and very enjoyable when safe. It is important to know that most of the coastal beaches are Pacific ocean beaches with little to no protection that coves and bays provide. They can become dangerous to swim in due to strong currents, rough or powerfully-breaking waves, and various harmful marine life. Ensure you only swim at beaches where and when lifeguards are on duty and between the flags displayed in front of lifeguard observers. Check with lifeguards for any present, or potential undercurrents, rips, tows, or for the presence of bluebottles, stinging jellyfish, or other potential dangers prior to swimming. Advise the on-duty lifeguards if you are inexperienced in swimming at a beach so they can give you more attention. Avoid going past waist-deep if you are not a strong swimmer. Parents should accompany their children while they swim as rips, undertows, strong currents, and rough breaking waves can cause extreme difficulty. Sadly there have been tourists who have drowned due to inexperience with swimming in an ocean setting. Do not swim after consuming alcohol as it can affect your ability to swim and has been a contributing factor in some drowning fatalities. Avoid swimming near anyone using equipment such as surfboards, windsurfers, parasails, sailing craft or power craft such as jetskis, and motorboats.
Where to go next after Brisbane
Brisbane provides a base for day trips to explore the southeast of Queensland. The North Coast of New South Wales can also be reached in an hour if traffic is light, but allow up to two hours travel if traffic is heavy or there is an accident on the Pacific Motorway. Queensland Rail also provides extensive services out of Brisbane to the north and south of the city and to the Gold Coast.
North West of Brisbane:
- Samford Valley – about 30 mins drive north west of Brisbane CBD. A beautiful rural valley with a historic hamlet, Samford Village. A great day trip for the family.
North of Brisbane:
- Glass House Mountains National Park – about an hour north of Brisbane. There is a scenic drive through the mountains with a couple of lookouts, or you can go for a hike – easy or difficult, depending on the mountain. (Mt. Beerwah offers a stern but quick scramble and a good view of the area.) There are a few small roadside shops in the area that sell homemade jams and varieties of macadamia nuts.
- Beerwah – home of the Australia Zoo, run by the family of the late “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin. Admission is $57 for adults.
- Sunshine Coast – 90 minutes north of Brisbane, suitable for surfers without the clutter of the more famous beaches to the south. The city of Noosa and several derivatively-named cities (e.g., Noosa Heads, Noosaville) offer short and long-term accommodation, some restaurants and a few stretches of shops aimed at tourists with and without a budget.
- Sunshine Coast Hinterland – 90 minutes north of Brisbane. Crafts and galleries and cafés and lots of bushwalks and scenic views in the Blackall Ranges at Maleny, Montville, Flaxton and Mapleton.
- Nambour – famous markets on Wednesday and Saturday.
- North Stradbroke Island and South Stradbroke Island – amazing beaches, 4WD and fishing, accommodation, all very close to Brisbane.
- Moreton Island – Holiday destination very close to Brisbane. Dive and snorkel Tangalooma Wrecks, go sand tobogganing, 4wd.
- Fraser Island – World Heritage listed site, offering pristine, unspoiled lakes, dunes, forests and wildlife. Camping is possible, or day-trips can be arranged from Noosa. World’s largest sand island.
- Redcliffe This peninsula located 45 minutes north is famous for its long stretch of beach, friendly locals and excellent food, shops and climate.
South of Brisbane:
- Gold Coast – famous for being a tourist town, approximately 70 km south of Brisbane on the Pacific Motorway.
- Dreamworld and Whitewater World – Theme park in the western Gold Coast suburb of Coomera, on the Pacific Motorway. Many large thrill rides including the ‘Tower of Terror’ and the ‘Giant Drop’ and roller coasters. There are also child-friendly rides and Australian animal attractions and shows, as well as a Tiger exhibit. Whitewater World is a water park adjacent to Dreamworld and offers the newest technology in water rides. It costs extra to get into, but you can buy a pass that gets you into both parks for a discounted price.
- Movieworld – Another theme park near ‘Dreamworld’ and ‘Wet ‘n’ Wild Water World.’ Generally longer, more cinematic and atmospheric rides, shows and attractions.
- Seaworld – aquatically-themed park sandwiched on a peninsula between the Gold Coast Seaway and the Pacific Ocean, located in Southport (just north of the Gold Coast.) A few rides, but popular for its impressive animal shows and exhibits.
- Wet ‘n’ Wild Water World – Water park on the Gold Coast, with heated rides and pools for winter. Large number of thrill rides and also mellow relaxation areas.
- Mt. Tamborine National Park – extensive areas of National Park plus arts, crafts, galleries and the like, near several forest hikes. There are some excellent fudge shops at the top of Mt. Tamborine that offer generous free samples and a staggering variety of flavours.
- Gold Coast/Surfers Paradise – tourist Mecca, and arguably the most upmarket area on the Gold Coast. Located on a life-guarded beach front, host to Caville Avenue, and several shopping malls.
- Lower Moreton Bay
- South East Queensland – includes places like Moreton Island (where Scooby Doo was filmed) and St. Helena Island (a former maximum security prison for convicts.)
West of Brisbane:
- Ipswich – is located 40 km west of Brisbane. 45 minutes by road from Brisbane City.
- Brisbane Skydiving Centre – offers tandem skydiving and advanced freefall courses. Willowbank.
- Workshops Rail Museum – The whole family will enjoy the birthplace of Queensland Rail and enjoy the interactive exhibits at this award-winning museum. North Street, North Ipswich.
- Brookwater Golf Club – An 18 hole Greg Norman championship golf course and Australia’s No. 2 public access course.
- Queensland Raceway – Queensland’s premier race circuit. This is the only location near Brisbane where members of the public can drive on the same racetrack as professional drivers. Champions Way, Willowbank.
- Bunya Mountains National Park – Three hours west of Brisbane. One of the oldest national parks in Queensland. Home of the ancient bunya pine and many other species of plants, birds and other animals. Stay at least three nights to have time to hike in the park.