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Brisbane, the capital city of Queensland and Australia's third largest capital city is located on the River Brisbane near Moreton Bay. Brisbane is an ideal place for an Australian holiday and a popular port of call for many cruise ships. Brisbane was named after Sir Thomas Brisbane, who was the governor of New South Wales at the time of the settlement. Brisbane was originally settled in 1824, however it took over 100 years before several municipalities were incorporated into the city that you now see today. In spite of the slow beginning, Brisbane has been making up for lost time. It is the fourth-largest of Australia's state capitals. Located between the Gold Coast on the south and the Sunshine Coast on the north, the somewhat laid-back Brisbane is home to the magnificent beaches. Stroll through the lush Botanical Gardens, shop in the Queen Street Mall, or enjoy the many cafes and restaurants along the banks of the Brisbane River.
The Brisbane City Hall is a modern building, however one would never know it. Built in the English style, it uses local materials with remarkable skill to achieve Old World charm on an impressive scale. And the Customs House, is prominent on the river, and boasts solid Corinthian columns with an imposing green copper dome, magnificently Victorian. To round out your historical overview, the Queensland Maritime Museum offers displays of charts, model ships, engines, and a true water display of the World War II vessels. One of the six provinces that make up Australia. The city lies on the easternmost point of the continent, and is home to 1.3 million people, making it the third largest city in Australia, trailing only Sydney and Melbourne. Brisbane is a city best enjoyed outdoors. The weather is perpetually mild, with the exception of the sometimes sultry summer days. There are over 200 miles of bike paths in Brisbane, and the main tourist attractions are a koala sanctuary and a beautiful botanical garden at the base of a mountain. Brisbane's layout is incredibly simple. Streets that run east and west are named after female British royalty, with north and south streets named after the males. You should have no problems finding your way around the symmetrical layout of the city. You'll most likely spend the majority of your time in the City Center, in and around the Queen Street Mall. You'll want to make it out of here to explore the surrounding areas, but even if you never make it out of the city center, you will leave happy.
Where You are Docked
Cruise ships dock at the Port of Brisbane. There is road access available directly from the port. Local Transportation in Brisbane Buses and ferries are the best ways to get around Brisbane. Buses depart from King George Square.
If a shuttle is not provided at Portside Wharf, you can take bus 300 from the Bretts Wharf bus stop (200m from east of the cruise terminal) to Adelaide St by City Hall to get into the CBD. An alternative is to take the CityCat ferry to/from Bretts Wharf (just west of the cruise terminal) to Riverside Pier. You can use this service for an inexpensive river cruise. Fare is $4.60 one way, 2 zones (Dec 2011) for ferry or bus. The Loop is a free bus service that does a loop around the CBD. http://translink.com.au
A city circle bus travels in a loop around the city, stopping at most points of interest in Brisbane. Ferries are operated by City Cats, with most running at least twice an hour. Train travel is another option, as the suburbs are connected to the city in an efficient manner. As always, taxis are an excellent option. You should have no trouble hailing a cab, but if none are available, just call Yellow Cabs (tel. 07/131-924).
Getting Around
From Portside Wharf: Cruise lines will likely offer shuttle bus transportation to the city center. In addition, those that dock at Portside have the option of using the CityCat, a Brisbane city-operated fast ferry that leaves on a regular schedule every 13 minutes (more frequent at peak hours) from Bretts Wharf -- a 10-minute walk from the ship. Transit time to the city center is 30 to 45 minutes, depending on your destination, and the fares that you pay onboard are the same as they are for the local transit bus.
Sightseeing from the ferry's forward or aft deck is a delight, and the route passes commercial, residential and cultural districts, and travels through the city as far upstream as the University of Queensland at St. Lucia. A complete roundtrip takes about two hours and 20 minutes, and the service is heavily used by visitors and local residents. A single ticket lasts two hours and includes transfers to buses. An all-day ticket is also available, cheaper after rush hours and on weekends.
From the Freight Terminal: There is no public transportation. The options are taxis, cruise line shuttles or excursion transportation.
On Foot: City center streets are named after female British royalty (Adelaide, Elizabeth, Mary and the like) in the east-west direction and after males (Albert, Edward, George) in the north-south direction. A heritage walking tour guide takes you past some three dozen notable structures, including the old customs house, former port office, naval offices, immigration depot (when the ships dock next to the city center), Parliament House and the Queensland Club
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
There's nothing quite like cuddling a koala. As the largest sanctuary in the world for Australia's iconic marsupials, a visit to Lone Pine makes for a memorable experience. Other Australian animals such as kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, dingoes, snakes, and even crocodiles live in this compact sanctuary nestled on the Brisbane River. Daily encounters and experiences include bird of prey flight demonstrations, platypus feeding, sheep dog and shearing shows, Tasmanian devil feeding, and barn animal encounters. In addition to the ultimate 'cuddling a koala' photograph, visitors can also have a holiday snap holding a snake or baby crocodile.
Address: 708 Jesmond Road, Fig Tree Pocket -- Official site: http://www.koala.net/

Cultural Centre
Located on the banks of the river, in the heart of central Brisbane, this precinct is a mecca for cultural experiences. Incorporating Queensland Art Gallery, State Library of Queensland, Gallery of Modern Art, Queensland Performing Arts Centre, and Queensland Theatre Company, the area is a hub of activity during the day and night. Location: Grey Street, South Brisbane -- Official site: http://www.arts.qld.gov.au/arts/culturalcentre.html
Mount Coot-tha Botanic Gardens
With panoramic views of Brisbane, the Mount Coot-tha Botanic Gardens is a favorite attraction with locals and visitors alike. Located seven kilometers from the city, the various themed gardens take visitors on a journey through 52 hectares of horticulture. Housing the largest collection of Australian rainforest trees in the world, the gardens are also dedicated to fragrant plants, bamboo, cactus, wetland plants, indigenous plants, ferns, and bonsai. Location: Mount Coot-tha Road, Toowong
Official site: http://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/facilities-recreation/parks-and-venues/parks/brisbane-botanic-gardens-mt-coot-tha/index.htm

South Bank
The original site of World Expo in 1988, South Bank is filled with parklands, plazas, and promenades. Located directly opposite the CBD, Streets Beach is at the center of this riverside paradise. A swim in the human-made lagoon is a popular choice on a warm Brisbane day.
To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the state of Queensland, the Wheel of Brisbane was opened in 2009. The giant Ferris wheel offers an exciting 60-minute bird's eye view over the river and city during the day or night.
Customs House
Owned by the University of Queensland, this magnificent 19th-century building offers a cultural and educational experience. Although operating as a function center, Customs House includes plenty of public spaces, including an indoor/outdoor restaurant offering unparalleled river and Story Bridge views. Free guided tours of the building are available on Sundays.
Address: 399 Queen Street, Brisbane -- Official site: http://www.customshouse.com.au/

Ride a CityCat
The most scenic and exciting way to get around Brisbane is by CityCat. Gliding the twists and turns of the Brisbane River seven days a week, the fleet of CityCats and City Ferries with 24 hop-on, hop-off terminals highlights the history and beauty of the city. From the magnificent University of Queensland to the North Shore, the route takes in redeveloped industrial sites, riverside mansions, bridges, and parklands.

Story Bridge Adventure Climb
Constructed during Australia's Great Depression in the 1930s, the attractive steel Story Bridge is a much-loved Brisbane landmark. As one of only three bridge climbs in the world (after Sydney and Auckland), this one also offers something totally unique - the choice to abseil the descent. Catering to people of all fitness levels and those older than 10 years of age, the two-hour experience takes visitors 80 meters above the Brisbane River for uninterrupted views of the city.
Address: 170 Main Street, Kangaroo Point -- Official site: http://www.sbac.net.au/

Moreton Island
Located 58 kilometers from Brisbane and easily accessible via ferry, Moreton Island is the perfect day trip. As the world's third largest sand island, it's a taste of tropical paradise without needing to travel further north. Rich vegetation frames the azure water gently lapping the pure-white sandy beaches. With very little development and 98 percent of the island designated as National Park, Moreton Island is one of Queensland's best kept secrets.
Museum of Brisbane
Housed in one of Brisbane's premier heritage buildings, the museum was redeveloped and reopened in 2013. Occupying the top level of City Hall, this 'small in size, big in stories' museum brings the history of Brisbane to life through a series of state-of-the-art exhibitions. Adding to the experience are the sweeping views of the city and the City Hall's magnificent clock tower and copper dome. Address: Level 3, Brisbane City Hall, Adelaide Street, Brisbane -- Official site: http://www.museumofbrisbane.com.au/
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary:
Lone Pine is also famous for its beautiful natural landscapes. Walk through lush tropical Australian rainforests and bush woodland areas. You'll have fond memories of meeting Australia's most unique animals. All that natural Australia has to offer is here at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. (Jesmond Road, tel. 07/3378-1366) is another top attraction while in Brisbane. The koalas here are very tame, and the chance to cuddle a koala simply cannot be passed up. Besides koalas, there are kangaroos, Tasmanian devils, emus, and more.
Mount Coot-tha:
offers up panoramic views of the city. The gardens at Mt Coot-tha are the largest tropical and subtropical gardens in Australia incorporating 52 hectares. Located just 4 miles from the city center, the gardens feature plants from around the world. Enjoy a stroll through the Japanese Garden, the Australian Rainforest, the Fragrant Plants and Herb Garden and the Cactus and Bromeliad House.

City Centre:
Follow the golden arrows set into the footpath for a walking tour of Brisbane's remaining early buildings. The best old buildings, notably the Mansions and Harris Terrace, line George St. Also on the same street are the Old Government House and Parliament House, both dating from the 1860s. The Old Windmill & Observatory on Wickham Terrace dates from 1828. It was originally built to grind grain for the early convict colony but, due to a fundamental design error, failed to work properly. It was converted to a signal post and later to a meteorological observatory.

Brisbane Botanic Gardens:
(Mt. Coot-tha Road, tel. 07/3403-2535).This is a great spot for picnic lunches. Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium (tel. 07/3403-2578) is on the garden grounds, and the planetarium recreates Brisbane's night sky. If that doesn't satisfy your scientific curiosity, satiate it at the Queensland Sciencentre (110 George Street, tel. 07/3220-0166). An interactive science museum, it was originally designed for children, but you'll find yourself having as much fun as any ten-year-old. Lone Pine Koala
The Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is home to a wide variety of Australian wildlife, including kangaroos, possums, wombats, emus and lyrebirds. The star attractions are the 130 or so koalas. They're undeniably cute and for a price you can be photographed in their embrace. You can also picnic with kangaroos and take a turn feeding them. Just a half-hour bus ride south from the city centre, the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is an easy half-day trip. The sanctuary is set in attractive parklands beside the river. Talks are given on the animals at set times throughout the day.

The popular South Bank markets, which feature craft and clothing stalls, are open every Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday. Every Sunday, the carnival-style Eagle St Pier markets have 150 stalls featuring glass-blowing, weaving and other crafts. The small Fortitude Valley market, held on Saturdays in Brunswick St Mall, has a diverse array of junk, crafts and clothes.

Mt Coot-tha:
The best place to get a view of the city is from the lookout on Mt Coot-tha, 8km (5mi) from the city centre. On a clear day, you can see the distant line of Moreton and Stradbroke Islands, the Glass House Mountains to the north, the mountains behind the Gold Coast to the south and Brisbane at your feet. There are some good walks around Mt Coot-tha and its foothills, such as the one to JC Slaughter Falls on Simpson's Rd. The Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens, at the foot of the mountain, have an enclosed tropical dome, an arid zone, rainforests and a Japanese garden. You'll also find the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium, the largest in Australia, here.

The Queensland Cultural Centre:
Established in 1895 and situated within on the South Bank of the Brisbane River since 1982, the Gallery receives national and international acclaim not only for its collections, exhibitions and other programs, but for its dramatic, ambient yet flexible architectural design. Winner of several architectural awards, the design features of the Gallery include gallery spaces ranging from the intimate to the monumental, soaring sky-lit ceilings and magnificent Water Mall running throughout to the Sculpture Courtyard. Queensland Cultural CentreThis superb complex spans two blocks either side of Melbourne St in South
Brisbane, just across Victoria Bridge. It houses the Queensland Art Gallery, the Queensland Museum, the State Library and the Performing Arts Complex. The museum has a dinosaur garden and a worthwhile exhibition on whales, while the art gallery has an impressive permanent Australian collection and plenty of temporary exhibits. There are cafés in the Performing Arts Complex, the gallery and library.

South Bank:
South Bank, formerly the site of Expo '88, has been redeveloped and is now one of the city's liveliest areas. Covering 16 hectares (40 acres), its attractions include restaurants and cafes, parklands and bike paths, market stalls and even a sandy swimming beach.

Australian Woolshed:
The Australian Woolshed is an impressive set-up celebrating the 'outback experience'. Beyond a large souvenir shop specialising in Australiana, the Woolshed is a spacious and attractive park with free picnic and barbecue facilities, a small fauna park with koalas (huggable) and kangaroos (feedable), as well as Aussie attractions such as sheep shearing and wool spinning. If that's not enough excitement for you, stick around for the 'ram show'; marvel as eight trained rams get put through their paces by a bunch of canny sheepdogs. The Woolshed is 15km (9mi) northwest of the city centre. You can drive, or catch a train to the nearest station, which is about 800m (870yd) from the 'shed. Many tour companies also include the Woolshed on their itinerary.

Brisbane Forest Park:
The Brisbane Forest Park is a 285 sq km (110 sq mi) reserve of natural bushland in the D'Aguilar Range. The park starts on the outskirts of Brisbane and stretches for more than 50km (30mi) to the north and west. It's a great area for bushwalks, cycling, horse riding, camping and scenic drives.The park has its own information centre and Walkabout Creek, a freshwater study centre where you can see fish, lizards, pythons and turtles at close quarters. There are a number of good walking trails throughout the park, and you can camp here overnight. You really need your own car to get to the best walking trails, so it's worth driving here, or you can get a bus from Brisbane which stops a short walk from the information centre.

North Stradbroke Island:
Most people come to Straddie for the beaches. Brisbane itself has no beaches, and the beaches of its eastern suburbs are rather sad, muddy affairs. North Stradbroke is about 20km (12mi) off the coast from Cleveland, which is about 25km (15mi) south-east of Brisbane's city centre. Straddie is a sand island and, despite some heavy sand-mining, it has plenty of vegetation and beautiful scenery. Outside of school holidays it's also pretty quiet and peaceful.The best beaches are around Point Lookout, at the northeast tip of the island. There are good walks around here and you can often see porpoises, dolphins and manta rays from the headland. You can swim in the freshwater Blue Lake in the centre of the island, or walk along tracks and watch for snakes, goannas, wallabies and birds. To get to Straddie you need to take a bus or train to Cleveland to connect with the ferry - some ferries will take vehicles.

Outdoor Pursuits:
(tel. 07/3397-7779) offers all kinds of activities, including rock climbing at Kangaroo Point, horseback riding, and white-water rafting. Brisbane is a great city for biking, with over 200 miles of bike paths. Brisbane Bicycle Sales and Hire (87 Albert Street, tel. 07/3229-2433) rents bikes and equipment by the hour or by the day.
Eating Out
With Brisbane's location on the Queensland Coast, seafood is abundant and fresh. Favorite choices are wild barramundi (reef fish), clams, mussels, mud crabs and Moreton Bay bugs (crustaceans with a strong flavor). Favorite dishes, direct from the Outback, include farm-raised kangaroo and, of course, steak. Queensland is farm country, so expect plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit. With the recent influx of immigrants from around the world, many ethnic cuisines -- especially Italian, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese and Indonesian -- are now available in Brisbane.
Australian wines are varied and excellent; they range from inexpensive to some of the best in the world. When looking at Australian menus, entrees or small plates means first courses or appetizers, and main courses or big plates are just that.
In Brisbane, a good destination for lunch is Riverside, a CityCat stop adjacent to the city center. It has numerous restaurants on tiered levels, most of which face the Brisbane River. Some have outdoor cafe seating. In Australia, the price of food includes the tax, and at informal restaurants and cafes, gratuities are not expected. In the better restaurants, 10 percent is generous.
The Coffee Club, opposite the Eagle Street Pier, is an inexpensive choice for light meals. You order your battered fish and seasoned chips, lemon pepper calamari and chicken, or filet burger with a salad garnish at a counter, and it will be delivered to your table, which will likely be overlooking the river. It's open all day. (Shop 10, Waterfront Place, 1 Eagle St.)
Watt Restaurant & Bar is located at the Brisbane Powerhouse. This popular location, directly on the Brisbane River, used to house the power plant that ran Brisbane's trams. It's now a multi-use arts center and restaurant complex. Watt is on the ground floor facing the river with both indoor and outdoor seating. Small plates feature braised duck spring rolls with plum sauce and smoked kingfish, fried capers, egg and lemon oil, while large plates offer confit of duck leg, bean cassoulet, Toulouse sausage, Cone Bay barramundi, and bean and snow peas stir fry in a ginger and soy butter sauce. Take the CityCat to New Farm Park and walk five minutes downstream along the riverside to the restaurant. (119 Lamington Street, New Farm. 07 3358 5464. Lunch is offered daily from noon to 3 p.m. Dinner is served from 5:30 p.m. daily, except Sundays.)
The Summit, located at the Mt. Coot-tha Lookout (see above) in Toowong, is a contemporary Australian restaurant, housed in a rambling bungalow with modern additions and outstanding views of Brisbane and Moreton Bay. Try seared deep-sea scallops, grilled saltwater barramundi, grilled Queensland Hereford beef or Moreton Bay bugs. Take bus 471 from the city center. (073769 9922. Lunch is available from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., extended to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Dinner is served daily from 5:30 p.m. Try Sunday breakfast from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.)

Brisbane's inner-city shopping centers on Queen Street Mall (www.queenstreetmall.com.au), which has around 500 stores. Fronting the mall at 171-209 Queen St., under the Hilton, is the three-level Wintergarden shopping complex (tel. 07/3229 9755; www.wgarden.com.au), housing upscale jewelers and Aussie fashion designers. Farther up the mall at 91 Queen St. (at Albert St.) is the Myer Centre (tel. 07/3223 6900; www.myercentreshopping.com.au), which has Brisbane's biggest department store and five levels of moderately priced stores, mostly fashion. The Brisbane Arcade, 160 Queen St. Mall (tel. 07/3831 2711; www.brisbanearcade.com.au), abounds with the boutiques of local Queensland designers. Just down the mall from it is the Broadway on the Mall arcade (tel. 07/3229 5233; www.broadwayonthemall.com.au), which stocks affordable fashion, gifts, and accessories on two levels. Across from the Edward Street end of the mall is a smart fashion and lifestyle shopping precinct, MacArthur Central (tel. 07/3007 2300; www.macarthurcentral.com), right next door to the GPO on the block between Queen and Elizabeth streets. This is where you'll find top- name designer labels, Swiss watches, galleries, and accessory shops. On Edward and Adelaide streets, you'll find more hot shopping at QueensPlaza (tel. 07/3234 3906; www.queensplaza.com.au).
In Fortitude Valley, on the city center fringe, the Emporium precinct (www.emporium.com.au) at the bottom of Ann St., is the place for designer labels (including shoes), gourmet food and wine, a couple of good bookshops, and other luxuries. James Street is home to some of the top Australian designers, including Scanlan & Theodore and Sass & Bide.
The trendy suburb of Paddington, just a couple of miles from the city by cab (or take the no. 144 bus to Bardon), is the place for antiques, books, art, crafts, one-of-a-kind clothing designs, and unusual gifts. The shops -- housed in colorfully painted Queenslander cottages -- line the main street, Given Terrace, which becomes Latrobe Terrace. Don't miss the second wave of shops around the bend.
Shopping Hours -- Brisbane shops are open Monday through Thursday from 9am to 6pm, Friday 9am to 9pm, Saturday 9am to 5:30pm, and Sunday 10am to 6pm. On Friday evening in the city, the Queen Street Mall is abuzz with cinemagoers and revelers; the late (until 9pm) shopping night in Paddington is Thursday.
Authentic retro '50s and '60s fashion, offbeat stuff such as old LPs, secondhand crafts, fashion by up-and-coming young designers, and all kinds of junk and treasure, are for sale at Brisbane's only alternative market, Valley Markets, Brunswick Street and Chinatown malls, Fortitude Valley. Hang around in one of the many coffee shops and listen to live music. It's open Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 4pm.
The buzzing outdoor South Bank Lifestyle Market, Stanley Street Plaza, South Bank Parklands, is illuminated by fairy lights at night. The market is open Friday from 5 to 10pm, Saturday 10am to 5pm, and Sunday 9am to 5pm. On the first Sunday of the month, you'll find the Young Designers section of the market, showcasing Brisbane's next hot young things.
Brisbane folk like trawling the Riverside at the Pier Markets at the Riverside Centre, 123 Eagle St., for housewares, hand-crafted furniture, glassware, leather work, jewelry, fashion, alternative therapies, stained glass, food, art, handmade toys, sculpture, and more. The markets are open on Sunday from around 7am to 4pm.
For an authentic taste of Queensland's best produce, the Powerhouse Farmers Markets (www.janpowersfarmersmarkets.com.au) operate on the second and fourth Saturday of each month, from 6am to noon, in the grounds of the Brisbane Powerhouse, Lamington Street, New Farm. Here you'll find much to tempt your palate in about 100 stalls, selling everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to homemade chutneys, quail, fresh seafood, free-range eggs, and pâtés. There are even cooking classes. Foodies will be in heaven. There are also weekly farmers markets in the Queen Street Mall (at the Victoria Bridge end) on Wednesdays from 10am to 6pm.
Fireworks for Your Wall
If the Aboriginal art you see in the usual tourist outlets doesn't do it for you, what you'll see at Brisbane's Fire-Works Gallery, 52a Doggett St., Newstead (tel. 07/3216 1250; www.fireworksgallery.com.au), might. This renowned gallery shows art by established and emerging artists from all over Australia. You may pale at some of the prices, but the range is wide and you may find something you can't live without -- it's that kind of place. The staff will get your new acquisition shipped home for you. Open Tuesday to Friday 10am to 6pm, Saturday 10am to 4pm, or by appointment.


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