Long-term travel can be tricky. On one hand, you’re excited to be in a new place for the first time but on another, you’re getting settled into being a place for a few months or more and you may not want to rush into things. When I first arrived in Brisbane, admittedly, I hadn’t done a lot of research. I knew Australia Zoo was nearby, and I’d read about Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, but that was pretty much it. Now, this wasn’t a huge problem because I was going to spend a year in Queensland’s capital, but it did leave me a little puzzled for where to start my exploring. Here are five things I loved doing when I first arrived in Brisbane, and I think make anyone’s Brisbane experience worthwhile, no matter how long you’re here.
1. South Bank Parklands.
South Bank is a beautiful manicured parkland and recreation area in South Brisbane. You can get to South Bank by walking across from the inner city CBD, taking a ferry or the bus/train terminal… or of course by car (though parking in Brisbane is expensive!). One of the best things about South Bank is it has something for everyone. If you like tourist attractions, check out the Wheel of Brisbane for beautiful sky views of the city. If you like art, GOMA is beautiful. I went there briefly on my first day in Brisbane, along with talking a walk around the river. If you fancy a swim, Streets Beach is a lovely man-made inner city beach along the river. It’s perfect for kids, plus there’s a large pool that would suit anyone. South Bank is also home to the Queensland Museum, another art gallery and numerous restaurants. One of my favorites for a quick bite is Burger Urge. Great burgers, great fries and delicious specials such as the Mrs. Clinton fried chicken sandwich. If you want to spend a bit longer, or are around in the evening or on the weekend and fancy some live music outdoors – The Plough Inn is a great pub right in the center of South Bank. They have specials almost every night on food and drink too if you are looking to save some money! Most of South Bank’s attractions are free as well, with the exception of the Wheel.
2. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
My host dad called the koala viewing at this sanctuary “the best he’d ever experienced” which I think is really saying something for an Australian native! It is truly an amazing place that does great conservation work and treatment for these sick aussie mascots! As you can see from the photos I took – you truly can just watch them eating, moving around, interacting, and yes of course sleeping as well, with your view completely unobscured! There isn’t even a pane of glass between you and the koalas! In addition to the koalas, there is a cassowary, platypus, wombats and of course, kangaroos that you can even hand feed! It’s really a special place, great for a picnic and a day’s outing. One of my favorite parts was visiting the mum koalas who were holding their babies on their backs or in their pouches! How cute is that?!
3. New Farm Park and Powerhouse
New Farm is a trendy suburb in Brisbane along the river. Also right along the river is New Farm Park, a massive park bustling with different activities. Since I had just arrived in Brisbane, I ended up signing up for some workout groups that met in the park on the weekends, which was a great way to get out! On the weekend, New Farm is packed with families, cafe visitors (there’s a stand at the park!), workout groups, tennis players – you name it! The park itself is full of giant fig trees unlike anything I’d ever seen before. On the weekend, there is a large market held on Saturdays at the park with food stalls, groceries and one of a kind clothing, jewelry, household products, etc. Brisbane Powerhouse, an old power house-turned-theatre/venue also holds art exhibits, theatre productions and comedy shows, often for quite a bargain! I definitely recommend checking it out for those who are here longer than a few days.
4. Eat Street Markets
Speaking of something for everyone – Eat Street is one of my absolute favorite things in Brisbane. Portland, where I’m from, has heaps of food carts and lots full of street vendors offering a variety of authentic cuisine. Australia hasn’t really jumped on the food cart trend as much (though sometimes the markets around town have some) but Eat Street is it’s own twist. At Eat Street, all of the vendors are operating out of shipping containers! There is a HUGE variety – so many kinds of desserts, cuisine, drinks, bars, truly anything. I’ve had Thai, Chinese, cheesecake, macaroons, ice cream, a waffle-mac-and-cheese sandwich, Mexican, cannolis and the Brisbane famous doughcones! Can it really get better than a doughnut filled with ice cream? Even better, Eat Street also offers live music entertainment, movies and a few fun shops. It’s only open on the weekends, but I absolutely advocate for making it a priority. Sunday evenings are a great time to go, as it is a bit less crowded.
5. Stradbroke Island
A short train and ferry trip from Brisbane, CBD, Stradbroke Island is one of my favorite daytrips from Brisbane. It was the first trip I took on my own, and I strongly recommend it for those who enjoy nature, beaches and a good relax! The ferry is a bit spendy, but its worth it if you pack a lunch and spend the entire day at the beach! The sand at Stradbroke is so squeaky and white. You can take a hike around the south end of the island and enjoy incredible views of gorgeous blue water – even spotting some whales, dolphins or turtles if you are lucky! This was the first beach I swam at in Australia, so it holds a special place in my heart. If you are looking to go to the beach while in Brisbane, I recommend this trip rather than something up or down the coast. Sure, the Gold Coast is famous and awesome in its own right, but Stradbroke is more out-of-the-ordinary and natural. I am eager to go back before I leave!
I hope this has helped you find some things to do here in Brisvegas! It truly is a gorgeous city and I am so lucky to have gotten to spend a year here. If you ever have any questions, I’m your girl! What is the first thing you usually try to do when arriving in a new city?