Blessed with an abundance of sunshine and spectacular waterways, Brisbane is surging forward as a modern metropolis with a new air of confidence and style. Rapid inner-city development, a swelling population and a cosmopolitan upswing have given it greater stature in recent times, yet it retains the friendliness and relaxed attitude it has always been praised for.
Australia's third-largest city enjoys a dazzling riverside location. Sleek catamaran ferries glide up and down the Brisbane River, which snakes its way around shiny CBD buildings and sprawling subtropical park lands, under the mighty Story Bridge, past colossal rock faces at Kangaroo Point, and out to magical Moreton Bay.
For a city with less than two million inhabitants, Brisbane punches well above its weight for cosmopolitan offerings: world-class art galleries, rocking live-music venues and a thriving restaurant scene with year-round outdoor dining. Its laid-back lifestyle and temperate climate mean it's a consistent front runner in the 'Australia's fastest growing city' stakes with up to 900 people moving there every week.
Recommended things to do & see
Our top picks for Brisbane
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
A 35-minute bus ride south of the city centre, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is set in attractive parklands beside the river. It is home to 130 or so koalas, as well as kangaroos, possums and wombats. The koalas are undeniably cute and most visitors readily cough up the $16 to have their picture taken hugging one.To get here catch bus 430 ($4.70, 43 minutes, hourly), which leaves from the Queen St bus station. Alternatively, Mirimar II cruises to the sanctuary along the Brisbane River from North Quay, next to Victoria Bridge. It departs daily at 10am, returning from Lone Pine at 1.45pm.
Mt Coot-tha Reserve
A short drive or bus ride from the city, this huge bush reserve and parkland has an excellent botanic garden, a planetarium, eateries and a superb lookout over the city. On a clear day you can see the Moreton Bay islands. The lookout is accessed via Samuel Griffith Dr and has wheelchair access.Just north of the road to the lookout, on Samuel Griffith Dr, is the turn-off to JC Slaughter Falls, reached by a short walking track, plus a 1.5km Aboriginal Art Trail, which takes you past eight art sites with works by local Aboriginal artists.The pleasant Brisbane Botanic Gardens has a plethora of mini ecologies, which include cactus, Japanese and herb gardens, rainforests, and arid zones, making you feel like you're traversing the globe's landscape in all its vegetated splendour.Also within the gardens, the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium is Australia's largest planetarium. There's a great observatory here and the shows inside the Cosmic Skydome will make you feel like you've stepped on board the Enterprise. Outside of show times, you can explore the small space museum.To get here via public transport, take bus 471 from Adelaide St, opposite King George Sq ($3.90, 25 minutes, hourly Monday to Friday, five services Saturday and Sunday). The bus drops you off in the lookout car park and stops outside the Brisbane Botanic Gardens en route.
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