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A Brisbane city guide – a laid-back city offering heat, high-end shopping, and a home-from-home experience

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Brisbane's something of a conundrum, managing to offer the sleek, fashionable, and culturally cutting-edge while still feeling like a laid-back sub-tropical paradise. As well as enjoying the benefits of its sunny climate and the active, water-going life which surrounds Brisbane River, you’ll also be in for plenty of fine dining, live-music sampling and boutique shopping. From catching the rays in its wide open spaces, to flexing your plastic in the mall, Brisbane’s got it all.

Arts and culture


There’s something for every culture vulture in Brisbane, but to get a sense of how the city was born head to the Queensland Maritime Museum on the historic docks and get up close to the seafaring past. At the Old Museum Brisbane you’re more likely to find world class events than ancient relics these days, with ballet and orchestral music a regular feature. The Queensland Gallery of Modern Art is home to some of the most exciting pieces in the country, while La Boite Theatre Company plays in the round to packed houses.

Where to eat


You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to eating out in Brisbane, with most places offering the al fresco option and the many riverside views available are appetising in themselves. Some of the best dining options are to be found in the West End, but if you head to the river on the South Bank, or just stay in the city center, you’ll find a host of places offering their take on Modern Australian cuisine, packed with meat, seafood, and unexpected twists on old reliables. For seafood heaven, Manly is often the place to be.


What to see and do


A visit to Brisbane gives you a huge mix of sights, activities, and adventures, but one must-visit is the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary for a close encounter of the furry kind, in parkland about 30 minutes by bus from the city. For something a little more cerebral, the Queensland Cultural Centre is home to arts, sciences, and performing arts in its complex of facilities. Getting back to nature, and exploiting Brisbane’s climate, the Roma Street Parkland is a subtropical garden complete with lake, forest paths, and varied wildlife.


Where to shop


If you’ve come to Brisbane looking to splash out on designer outfits, then Edward Street is the place to head to. Home to some luxurious high-end brands and haute couture, you’ll find plenty to admire. If you’re hoping to spot the next big thing in fashion, you may want to head to Fortitude Valley, where a number of the brightest and best of the next generation of fashionistas ply their trade and earn their craft. For a more convenient, under-one-roof experience, the Queen Street Mall has more shops and styles than you can shake a stylish stick at.


Travel tips


Because of its subtropical weather conditions, perhaps the biggest thing to remember when in Brisbane is to take precautions to avoid sunburn. Even if the day looks cloudy, wear a high factor sunscreen, drink lots of water, and cover your head to avoid spoiling your trip with heatstroke. Brisbane’s a massive place, so one convenient way of exploring is to take a hop-on, hop-off tour of the main sights. CitySights is run by the Brisbane City Council and offers reasonably priced, reliable tours of the best attractions, plus they’re air-conditioned.