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Gaining international exposure during the 1982 Commonwealth Games, the 1988 World Expo and the 2001 Goodwill Games, Brisbane's year-round warm climate, spectacular scenery and pleasant locals has been the draw-card for many domestic and international visitors, making Brisbane the fastest-growing city in Australia. In November 2014 the city hosted the G-20 summit, attracting thousands of media, delegates and security staff.
View of Brisbane from Kangaroo Point.
Like most Australian capital cities, Brisbane features a large urban sprawl with many different areas having their own unique features and characteristics.
The CBD (locally referred to as "The City") is where Brisbane's major businesses are interspersed with several shopping malls, cinemas, parks and many of Brisbane's historical tourist sites. Queen Street Mall in the heart of the CBD is Queensland's premier shopping destination and a must see for all visitors.
South Bank (often misspelled as 'Southbank') has ethnic restaurants, edgy cafes, riverside boardwalks and an inner-city beach. Located at South Bank is Queensland’s Cultural Precinct, which includes the Performing Arts Centre, Queensland Museum, the State Library, Queensland Art Gallery and the spectacular Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA). The term South Bank is also commonly used to refer to South Bank Parklands, which was the site of World Expo 88.
Fortitude Valley (or "The Valley") combines Brisbane's Chinatown, alternative shopping and vibrant nightlife. Eclectic bars with emerging and innovative DJs and world-class super clubs have brought a larger than life feel to the Valley precinct. Home to the best live music and entertainment scene in Australia.
West End, located just behind South Bank, is an edgy, bohemian district with artsy shops and cafes. West End is where you’ll find alternative books, cult video stores and organic produce and quirky locals.
New Farm, located next to The Valley, features upmarket shopping and trendy dining places. A confirmed favourite of the locals, New Farm is high up on the hot list of places to be and to be seen.
Portside Wharf, located at Hamilton, is where the cruise ships dock on the Brisbane River. This area was formerly known as Brett’s Wharf and offers fine dining, cinemas and specialty shopping. A great place to wander and have a meal.
Paddington / Rosalie / Milton. Paddington is quickly becoming the place to shop with many little, unique boutiques full of local designs and hard to find fashion gems. Rosalie is home to many quaint bars, markets and restaurants. Milton has two of Brisbane’s most famous icons placed side by side - the Castlemaine (XXXX) brewery and Suncorp Stadium.
Mount Coot-tha, a suburb as well as a mountain (more accurately, a large hill) approximately 6 km (4 mi) west of the CBD, easily recognised by the large TV and radio antennae that line its peak. The bushland area has numerous walking and cycle tracks. There is a scenic drive through the Mount Coot-tha Reserve which climbs to the Summit, which has a restaurant and cafe, and offers majestic 360° views of Brisbane and the surrounding region. Mount Coot-tha also features at its base the Brisbane Botanic Gardens and the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium.
Sunnybank, a suburb that has a large Asian population. A great destination for authentic Asian food. Head to Market Square.
Bulimba, a suburb located east of the CBD just across the river from New Farm, boasts some of Brisbane's best restaurants, easily accessible by ferry from New Farm Park and the CBD.
Most inner-city suburbs have their own style and offer some small, unique attractions, notably cafés, restaurants, historical sites or artistic ventures. Some of the other major districts are Spring Hill, Indooroopilly, Manly Harbour, Toowong, St Lucia and South Brisbane.
What to see
Brisbane City Hall and King George Square, Located between Adelaide and Ann Streets, this is the city's most significant historical landmark.
Museum of Brisbane. Ground Floor, 157 Ann St. 10AM-5PM daily, free. Features one floor of exhibits about the history of the city, and another floor for exhibitions of local artists.
Churches and Cathedrals, St Stephen's Cathedral (neo-Gothic, Elizabeth Street), St Stephen's Chapel (adjacent to the cathedral, Queensland's oldest church), St John's Cathedral (Gothic revival, 373 Ann Street), Albert St Uniting Church (decorative red and white building, Cnr Ann/Albert Streets)
City Botanic Gardens, 10-15 minute walk from the city centre and Central or Roma Street railway stations. Walking and cycling tracks. Exhibits. Open 24 hours. Free. Free guided tours M-Sa 11AM and 1PM, 1 hour. No need to book ahead. These tours are a mix of the history of the gardens and the city whereas the garden tours at Mt Coot-tha are more focused on the wide variety of plants.
Commissariat Store, one of Brisbane's oldest buildings, showing exhibitions about the city's history. 115 William Street.
Queensland Cultural Centre, Adjacent to South Bank, the site includes The Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Queensland Museum, Queensland Art Gallery, Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) and State Library of Queensland - located on Grey St in South Brisbane. The Queensland Conservatorium and the Queensland College of Art are also located on Grey St. The recently opened GoMA regularly hosts exhibitions featuring internationally famous artists (such as Warhol and Picasso) as well as many local contemporary artists. The Cultural Centre has its own busway stop and can be accessed by a large number of different routes.
What to do
Activities and trips
Cruise the Brisbane River, There are many tours available that cruise the Brisbane River and will help you take in the sights of the city.
Explore Brisbane's Moreton Bay and Islands, 25 km (16 mi) from the Brisbane's CBD and stretches from Bribie Island to the Southern Bay Islands. Enjoy sand tobogganing, 4wheel driving, diving or snorkeling or go marine watching and spot turtles, dolphins, dugongs and even whales.
Explore Greater Brisbane Country. Take a day trip to the surrounding regions around an hour from Brisbane and discover wineries, national parks, lakes and country living. The Scenic Rim including Ipswich, Beaudesert and Boonah is a vast region of mountains, rainforest and valleys embracing the World Heritage wilderness of the McPherson Range. The Lockyer Valley provides a perfect blend of town and country living, with experiences ranging from guided tours and bush camping to hot air ballooning and sky-diving.