In this blog post, we will see how a tourist should tour Brisbane, What are the best things to do in Brisbane and how your Brisbane tour can be exciting. As you can see, it is part of Queensland, one of the states of Australia. Brisbane is the capital of that state. It is located on Australia’s east coast, facing the South Pacific Ocean that hosts hundreds of exotic islands including Tahiti and Fiji.
It is a big city in the world. So, there is no dearth of flight connections from just about every part of the world.
The travel time varies depending on your departing city.
I am in Bangalore. For me, the flying duration is 16 hours with one stop at Sydney.
Food in Brisbane:
Your Brisbane tour will not leave you craving for some particular cuisine as you get to eat anything you are used to. It is truly city of multi cuisine.
21 Best Things to Do in Brisbane
List of attractions in Brisbane to see and the list of things to do in Brisbane.
Brisbane River is flowing through the city. So, the city’s culture, events, festivals etc are happening around the river, Generally, civilizations that developed around a river, grew well.
Brisbane River Cruise
I am sure there will be several boat docks along the Brisbane River from where, you can hop on to a boat and go cruising the river.
I think there are as many as 25 boat stations from where small boats called ‘cats’ and big ferries take tourists for short and long cruises.
Just like city tour buses that offer hop on and hop off facility, you can hop on a boat, embark at some terminal and get on board another boat. It is one of the fun-filled way to tour Brisbane. This is called City Hopper in Brisbane and the service begins very early at 6 pm and closes at midnight.
An evening dinner cruise in Brisbane River is highly recommended as one of the things to do in Brisbane.
I remember reading somewhere that the city hopper is free!
The host of the ferry will point out at all the city’s important landmarks with pride. City tour through boat is one of the romantic things to do,
The river’s south and north banks are creatively landscaped adding to the beauty of the city. Once, the river was used to carry passengers from Brisbane to Ipswich, located 40 km away.
Other ways of touring a city is by bus, usually a double decker one with the upper deck open to the sky.
Kangaroo Point Cliffs
They look quite imposing. Looking up at it might cause neck pain to the elders. The Kangaroo Point Cliffs are visible during the Brisbane River ride. It is one of the popular attractions in Brisbane.
Mountaineering adventure is indulged throughout the year. Abseiling (climbing down a rocky cliff) is available here.
If you take a late evening cruise, you will appreciate the lights that decorate the cliffs.
Creeks and tributaries
Brisbane River marries several tributary river during its course that stretches up to 345 km before all the brides along with their groom marry the Coral Sea, which itself is a tributary sea of the mighty South Pacific Ocean.
The rivers form several creeks in Brisbane and they are are all listed in the natural attractions in Brisbane.
Here are the names of the creeks.
- Breakfast Creek
- Cressbrook Creek
- Moggil Creek
- Goodna Creek
- Woogaroo Creek
- Bulimba Creek
- Oxley Creek
- Pullen Pullen Creek
- Six Mile Creek
- Wolston Creek
- Cooyar Creek
Apart from these creeks, there is Stanley River, one of the tributary rivers that joins the Brisbane River.
We will look into some of the creeks that are pleasing to the eyes and they are nice spots for peacefulness.
A creek is a naturally formed water body. It is normally an inlet of sea into the mainland.
Moggill are large water lizards that were caught to be eaten by the aborigines of Australia. These small creeks in Brisbane are the sites of marine creatures and avifauna that prey on the small insects and reptiles in the water and on the banks of the creeks.
For a change, the Bulimba Creek is not caused by the sea but it is a tributary of Brisbane River.
As its mother, Bulimba Creek runs perennially. It is a scene of a few endangered wildlife including a fish called, “Tilapia”. Other rare wildlife include”
- Whites Hill-am owl
- Grey-headed Bat
- Grey Goshawk
- Velvet Gecko-a lizard
Bulimba Creek is usually thronged by students who like the silent atmosphere.
Breakfast Creek is another perennial stream of Brisbane River that flourishes the outskirts of Brisbane City.
There is a hotel in the vicinity of the creek bearing the name “Breakfast Hotel”. The creek was named after the hotel.
The Breakfast Creek is rather wide when compared to the earlier two creeks that are listed as the natural attractions in Brisbane.
This picturesque water body is again a tributary of Brisbane River. The dense green coverage on either side of the Oxley Creek acts as ideal habitat for snakes and birds.
You can see water throughout the year in this river which again is a branch of Brisbane River. It seems the Brisbane River is ubiquitous in the city and a site of happening place.
A wetland is as the bane suggests; a land that is always wet, making the land into marsh. These are highly valuable for the eco-systems to any country. Geographically, wetlands are always a subject of never-ending research.
Wetlands are great sites for diverse flora and fauna. They are habitats for countless creatures that live in the water and in the marshes. They become delicious food to myriad ground and water birds.
Wetlands are also called marshes and swamps.
Wetlands are always protected under Ramsar Concvention and hence are called Ramsar Sites. Boondall Wetland is surrounded by several creeks that have become somewhat iconic of Brisbane and visiting them is one of the prime things to do in Brisbane.
Since a wetland is a habitat for numerous reptiles, insects, and worms, they are visited by several species of migratory birds.
Boondall Wetlands attract:
- Far Eastern Curlew
- Mongolian Plover
- Bar-tailed Godwit
- Oyster Catchers
Do the Oyster lovers use these birds as their pets and train them to fetch fresh oysters for them? Ha, ha, just a wild thought!
- Black Cormorants-they usually are the stars of migratory birds.
- Several species of Kites including Brahminy Kites.
Boondall Wetlands are one of the foremost attractions in Brisbane.
A big city such as Brisbane is sure to have a botanical garden as one of the prime tourist attractions. I wonder why a ‘garden’ in a campus is always mentioned as ‘gardens’!
Nonetheless, the City Botanic Gardens as it is called a center piece of tourism. As per the norms, a city tour usually starts with a botanical garden and ends just before lunch time. I noticed this feature in several cities.
It is conveniently located in the center of city of Brisbane. The gardens’ prestigious collection of flora includes bamboo trees, and ‘cycads’.
South Bank Parklands
Generally, the south side of any city is well developed, where affluent residential localities thrive and where the shopping area is neighbors’ envy. Brisbane is no exception as proved by the existence of South Bank Parklands, a public mark of immense beauty.
The South Bank Parklands are located on the south bank of Brisbane River and in the southern suburb of City, Queensland, Australia,
The park comprises 49 acres of land in which exists even a manmade rainforest, meadows, and water bodies for recreation purposes. The city’s governing body hosts city’s and national events of importance within the park.
Some of the main places of sightseeing within the prkland include:
- An arbour of steel pillars that are covered with perennial flowering plants. Do you know there are as many as 440+ steel towers in the arbour? That must be quite an attraction-eh?
- There is a piazza with an amphitheatre.
- A giant Ferris Wheel which is an all-time attraction for all the age groups. The top most height to which a seat(gondola) reaches is a staggering 200 feet, approximately. The city view from such a height is truly breathtaking.
- An artificial beach is developed as one of the major sites of recreation within the parklands.
- Such a sprawling public park will surely have several eateries and bars.
Yeronga Memorial Park
Another important place for public watching in Brisbane is the Yeronga Memorial Park. It is located in the attractive Ipswich Road. It is a very large park comprising nearly 225k sq. mts.
One of star attractions of this park is an avenue of trees that belong to the species of “weeping figs”. What a name for a tree!
The facilities include a swimming pool, a tennis court, and a volleyball court.
Post Office Square
As you can see, it is a place of gathering throughout the day and is part any itinerary of Brisbane tour. It also serves as a major shopping district in Brisbane.
Not only the kangaroos are famous in Australia but the cute and furry koalas also draw big crowds.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is one of the prime tourist attractions in Brisbane.
Koalas are cute and adorable. They are always found on trees, nibbling at the leaves. Their claws are really sharp and strong.
If you want to cuddle a koala, you can do so for a small fee. Apart from koalas, there are kangaroos and wombats. You can freely feed the kangaroos that recognize human’s sign of beckoning and come near, hoping to get something to eat.
The brilliantly-colored “Rainbow Parakeets” are also preserved in the Koala Sanctuary.
You can watch several more birds including the laughing Kookaburra during the “Birds of Prey” show. Find out its time and go to the sanctuary accordingly. The sanctuary is located in the heart of the City.
Hear is the laughing sound of Kookaburra.
It is an exclusive Aussie bird.
Visiting this small zoo with your children is one of the best things to do in Brisbane. Your family will thank you for taking them to the wildlife sanctuary.
Strolling through the landmark Story Bridge is one of the awesome things to do in Brisbane. The bridge is built over the Brisbane River. The pedestrian traffic is shockingly equal to motor traffic on the Story Bridge. Its length is almost 800 meters!
Here is another view of the Story Bridge:
Sometimes, you can witness a stunning show of fireworks in the vicinity of the bridge. See a video of “RiverFire” below.
Cycle tour of Brisbane
Brisbane City is too large to cover every nook and corner and hidden gems through car or bus. Naturally, you can’t walk around also.
The city officials offer cycles for hire. You can hop on a bicycle and tour. Some of the places from where you can go cycling include:
- South Bank
- Grey Street
- Maritime Museum
There are cycle stations located at several places from where you can hire and leave the cycles.
Would you consider cycling as one of the fun things to do in Brisbane?
Hot air Balloon Ride
I think most of us always have an itching for going up in the air powered by a hot air balloon. We rarely get an opportunity in our home town.
When you tour, you can fulfill your yearning. A four-hour hot air balloon ride can be enjoyed in Ipswich city that is located about 30 km only from Brisbane.
The aerial view of Ipswich and Brisbane will be embedded in your memory. The experience of the balloon ride is something special and cherishable.
Queen street Mall
This mall is one of the biggest attractions. Which tourist to Brisbane can forego shopping? There are 700 shops that imply, you are sure to find several souvenirs and edible gifts.
Queen Street Mall
As you can see from the absence of cars, only pedestrians are allowed. While this is a good idea, it is not convenient when you come out of the shops with your arms loaded with purchases. You have to walk up to the parking lot, carrying your shopped items.
Apart from shops, you can find some show or others going on such as music performances, modeling shows, etc on a stage built right on the Queen Street.
Arriving at the Queen Street Mall is easy by local buses that are parked right beneath the mall. It is a very big underground bus terminus.
Of course, you will find street food stalls, regular restaurants, and restobars in Queen Street.
Indoor skydiving show
You might have seen in films that show stuntmen dive headlong from a moving plane. Free skydiving is an exhilarating adventure that not everyone can do.
In Brisbane, there is such a skydiving show without a sky or a plane. The performers enact the sky diving act in an indoor stadium.
Watching them is one of the ‘musts’ in Brisbane. You will surely find it in the itinerary of Brisbane tour, provided you join a tour operator who includes the indoor skydiving show in his program.
Asian Experience in Brisbane, Australia
Among the tourists to the city, I think the Asians outnumber tourists from any other country. Asians generally crave for their food and long to interact with other Asians in Australia.
During your tour of Brisbane, if you are an Asian, you can either stroll in the lively China Town that is full of shops, drink-holes, and small street cafes.
Similarly, there is an area called “Sunnybank” in Brisbane where you can taste the Asian food such as juicy and succulent pastries, hot cardamom tea, and eat hot and spicy chicken that will make you forget other types of chicken-based food.
Roma Street Parkland
Visiting Roma Street Parkland is one of the things to do in Brisbane. It is usually a part of your tour.
The park comprises a subtropical garden, a few recreational zones, and a couple of themed gardens.
A large parkland means, it is a habitat for some wildlife that include the lovely koala, a rare water dragon, Common Bushtail Possum, pitch-dark bats, and some pythons.
An open stadium is also seen but I don’t know for what purpose it was built.
Go to St. Helena
This legendary island is located just 25 km east of Brisbane’s coast. The island belongs to the British and it is one of the important islands once, for the seafarers who were bent on doing with business with India.
Some of the top sights in St. Helena Island
- Jacob’s Ladder
There are 700 steps that lead you to a fort atop Jacob Hill.
- Diana’s Peak
It is a terrific sight and best for taking a selfie of you looking at the eerie size of a hill.
The summit is at an altitude of around 3000 feet. Walking trails are many that lead you to Diana’s Peak. It is actually a national park in which some of the flora is rare and endemic.
Unique market to buy useful items
Whenever we tour any foreign city, we keep asking our tour organizer about when the shopping is scheduled. We are rather impatient to shop, especially, when our tourist bus pass-by open shopping malls, displaying myriad things.
In South Bank of Brisbane River is the Collective Markets. It stays open until 10 pm. There are several outlets to buy handicrafts, gift items, fashion fabrics, blinds and furnishings, and numerous designer articles that we keep on our living-room shelves.
Edible gifts from Brisbane
If you are in the habit of gifting expensive edible gifts, Brisbane will empty your wallet and credit card balance. There are numerous wine gifts you can think of buying and taking them back to your home.
Similarly, choosing great valuable chocolate gifts will be time consuming because, there are just hundreds of varieties. If chocolates attract you, look for gift hampers that contain triple chocolate cookies and Brown Split. Another recommendation is “New York Style Cookies:. Chocolate based snacks and even drinking chocolates always make wonderful edible souvenirs.
Imagine giving such a gift-an edible bouquet to your mother back home and think of her beaming smile.
Edible Blooms are Aussie specials for which you should not say, “I ran out of money”. Now that you know about it, stash some cash away, exclusively to buy edible blooms.
Go to their website to choose your best gourmet gifts and the site delivers the same day.
View Brisbane at night
This is how the city of Brisbane looks at night. To get such an aerial view, you have to go to Mount Coot-tha, located in the outskirts.
A visit to the Mount Coot-tha (peculiar name) is one of the primary attractions.
Apart from the viewing platform, you can enjoy seeing around a botanical garden and a planetarium.
Once on the mountain, you can explore the flora and fauna of the hill by taking a long stroll in one of the many trails.
You are likely to stumble onto a hidden waterfall. A mountain without such a waterfall or gurgling mountain stream is not a mountain at all, in my opinion.
There is a scenic restaurant at the summit.
Make it a point to go there in the daytime to appreciate the scenery.
The mountain’s maximum altitude is little less than 1000 feet and you can reach the base in about 15 minutes from your hotels.
Include this agenda in your bucket list of things to do in Brisbane.
Streets to visit for pure entertainment
Some streets in every big cosmopolitan city are known to attract only the youth with high-end apparels shops, cafes, street food stalls and bars (especially tapas bar).
It is no exception. City tour itineraries should include visits to Fortitude Valley, and Caxton Street. They are like the Brigade Road and the M.G. Road in Bangalore, that are bustling with traffic until midnight.
Here is a scene in Caxtion Street.
People are seen enjoying with drinks on hand and dancing to no tunes or just shouting along in the cacophony. Anyway, it is merry everywhere.
The Caxton Street is the venue of several festivals that include a ‘seafood’ festival and wine festivals.
You need to allocate a full week to enjoy the trip to the hilt.
With so many things to in Brisbane, I would say, “Brisbane Bustles”.