Brisbane - The Sunshine City that is putting itself on the map

Brisbane is unique because of the fact that you can find such a tropical and deserted island so close to a big city

Brisbane skyline
Brisbane skyline

Now we have all heard of the big cities like Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. About how lovely they are and how each one has its own unique culture to offer. However we don’t really hear about Brisbane. It’s only recently that this city is starting to finally make itself stand out and be noticed, and rightly so in my opinion. 

This is a city that has been around for as long as the other big cities, if not longer. However unlike them it was primarily used as a base to export wool for the squatter class. Before this, it was yet another penal colony known as the ‘Moreton Bay Settlement’, and most of the convicts were kept on Moreton island, which is just east of Brisbane. 

Speaking of which, Moreton Island would definitely top the list of must do’s within the vicinity of Brisbane. It’s the third largest sandy island in Australia after Frasier and Stradbroke, and is unique for the number of activities that can be found there and needless to say it has a rich underwater bio-diversity.

What makes it unique though is the fact that you can find such a tropical and deserted island so close to a big city. It takes only around 40 minutes from the city centre to get to the ferry, which will then take another hour to cross over. In just a day, you can reach the island by 8am, go sand boarding or off-roading on the sand dunes, take a kayak around the shipwrecks and down to the sandy patch south of the wreck to get a glimpse of the Australian Dudong. 

You might then like to rent diving equipment and dive the shipwrecks on the west coast, hop back in the 4x4 and head around the island to the many lakes located in different areas. 

Once done with that, drive up to the viewpoint for sunset and then back down to Tangalooma bay, where dolphins come right up onto the beach and can be patted and played with. Sounds like a good day out, wouldn’t you say? 

Back in Brisbane city, I wouldn’t really call it a city at all. It’s more like a gigantic town since it is spread out over such a large area. The Brisbane central business district (CBD) itself is tiny and can be walked around in a very short time, traffic is minimal and therefore city road stress is near non-existent. 

Air pollution is well under control and the prospective outlook of the community is to keep the place a clean, energy friendly and culturally diverse city. One thing many will notice once spending a bit of time here is that the city is striving to make a name for itself in the cultural sector and is looking for ways to make it more distinctive. 

During the day it’s a highly energised and fresh place, the many gardens are bustling with people and the cafes are packed whilst the CBD is well, the CBD. At night, things generally switch off though and the only places you can find life are Eagle Street Pier, Southbank and Fortitude Valley a.k.a ‘The Valley’. 

Eagle Street and Southbank are the prime areas for some top fine dining and other exquisite restaurants, flanked by some very cool concept bars. Ahmet’s in Southbank and Mr & Mrs G Riverbar are two highly recommended places to dine. 

Then you have the Valley, let’s just call it Paceville and I think you’ll get the point. If there is anywhere going to be open till late, and Brisbane late means 2am, then this is the place. Filled with Latin, techno, house, rock and the most stylish strip clubs, this area is definitely worth a visit for those who can’t sleep early and want a bit of fun. 

There is by no means a shortage of bars in this city. The coolest of the lot would be in the Valley or in West End. Brisbane’s once notoriously dodgy area, West End has transformed itself into a trendy hub for the youthful and holds one of the city’s best Friday night food markets, the biggest of them being at Newfarm.

So apart from all the trendy bars and restaurants that Brisbane’s food culture boasts, this city also has a theatre that is always packed with new shows to watch, including productions that boast some of the best talent and people behind the curtains, from all over the country. If you do buy some tickets to watch a show, do think about going early so that you could pop over to the Queensland Museum and Science centre. 

Those of you who love a bit of wildlife, koalas most of all, must head to the largest koala sanctuary in the country, which is found at Lone Pine. Here you will be able to see most of Australia’s wildlife, plus you get to lie down and hang with the wallabies and kangaroos at your feet. To see them in the wild however, you will need to go into the bush, which is all around Brisbane. If all this is too much, then I would suggest just heading up to Mount Kuta, grab yourself a beverage and hang out whilst overlooking the cityscape and outer reaches. 

Those who love wildlife are able to see most of Australia's wildlife
Those who love wildlife are able to see most of Australia's wildlife

Getting around the Brisbane CBD and the inner areas is probably the easiest thing to do. The public buses run everywhere and frequently whilst the trains bypass all traffic and get you to your destination in full comfort of air-conditioning. They are also your best option to visit the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast if you do not have your own transport. Flying into Brisbane is also not a problem as flights come in from all over the country and from most major cities close to the colossal island of Australia. 

As for weather, well, brace yourself. Brisbane has had some of the most extreme conditions I have come across, apart from the cold. The region suffers a lot from flooding and gets a lot of torrential rain that can last from an hour to three days straight. Thereafter it will be a steady 35 degrees Celsius for days on end until a different pressure system comes in and you find yourself witnessing some of the most magical lightning storms of your life. 

Brisbane has put itself on the map and is a city that runs on its own merit. Definitely a place to check out once in Queensland and a good place to base yourself if you plan to do the islands, Sunshine or Gold Coasts.

Getting there

Emirates offer regular flights between Malta and Brisbane with a stopover in Dubai. Flights departing from Malta on 4 August and returning on 18 August were priced at €1,501 including tax at the time of going to print.

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