A Travellerspoint blog

What's not to like about Brisbane?

Well I bought an Explorer city bus tour but, honestly, it was a waste of money. Everywhere you want to go and see in Brisbane centres around the river and is easily accessible by walking if you are reasonably fit. 52D4B06AD559D785E876752A00474558.jpgThe Explorer tour takes you out of the city centre in a big loop for no good reason that I could see except to extend the ride and at $35 for an adult ticket it is not good value. My top tips for travelling anywhere in SE Queensland are to 1) buy a go card (available at all 7-11s and lots of newsagents) and 2) travel by public transport whenever you can. The transport links are fantastic and the go card is accepted on all buses, trains and ferries with a simple tap-on, tap-off. It will also charge fares at around 30% less than a paper ticket and if you travel etween 8.30am and 3.30pm fares are even cheaper.
One interesting thing we did learn from the tour bus commentary was when we stopped under some beautiful sail canopies for a few minutes and were informed that they had not been installed to provide shade, as it appeared, but to catch the windows from the buiding they were attached to. It seems these keep 'popping out', some from as high as the 19th floor, so they are actually a safety measure.
The tour finished too late for me to join the Information Centre guided walk but, armed with the map they provided, I made my own way around the city. 52D18D6199AD7307C37DF7A39BEDC8B4.jpgI don't know what I expected from Brisbane but it has impressed me on so many levels. It is easy to get around, ALL the people I have encountered have been friendly and it feels like a city that has been created for the prople who live in it. There is a big 'cafe culture' and at all times of the day you will see 'suits' having meetings over coffee or a meal and although there is energy here it is not the frenetic atmosphere of, say, Sydney. Of course it is a much smaller city but there is definitely a different mind set among the people who have time for each other and for strangers.
I got off the bus at the Anzac Square war memorial with it's lovely garden 53440681DD6F542AA38F67C25D627B79.jpg5345999DF4414D9CDDA4CBD50D0D238F.jpgand walked back to St Stephens Cathedral 5347756AE35CFA6B5548034F5332547A.jpg5348E91E9B046B11EBA7677EB08A44FF.jpgand then down to the river and through the Botanic Gardens 546913530830079AD05AB4F176282311.jpg and on over Goodwill Bridge to the South Bank. The South Bank is amazing and has been developed with families and entertainment in mind. There are plenty of restaurants and cool garden areas to sit away from the sun 546AF966E15E08A6B622E934DFB52211.jpgand there is a man-made beach actually on the embankment and lots of water slides and play areas for children. 53800AB7E91BE8648F55105610AC9D56.jpg538209E6DD85075E06A25543F6CA0FBD.jpg53844C0FBD44C2F5F7928B9E45E24B95.jpg On Friday evenings there is a 'Twilight Market' from 5pm-7pm within this area and there are an enormous variety of different food stalls and styles to choose from. Actually these 'Twighlight Markets' occur in many of the suburbs as well as the normal Saturday/Sunday markets that take place around the area.
There are also music venues everywhere, quite apart from the theatres of the Performing Arts Centre (and there are five of those) and it is easy to find something going on pretty much wherever you are particularly at the weekends and a lot in the open air. I atended two free lunch time recitals by a gifted young English organist in the City Hall and if you have an opportunity to attend any of his performances definitely take it. 52D2F32E0E42AB2B6515F416C93441C8.jpgHe can make the organ sound like an orchestra. During 'Baroque Week' the Hall also played host to a series of free early evening concerts by different artists and later evening concerts billed as 'Five for $5'. Before I came to Brisbane someone had commented to me that it was a city lacking in art and culture but that has definitely not been my experience.
The third floor of City Hall is given over to the city museum and there a is a permanent display of the history of the River, and , ergo, the history of the city, including many historic photographs. There was also a quite magnificent exhibition of 'Costumes of the Golden Age of Hollywood'. This exhibition features over 70 original costumes, plus accessories, props, photographs and sketches from films between 1920s and the 1960s. It runs until May 25th and it is FREE as were the other exhibitions in the museum. I was able to join a small group tour up into the clock toweer by way of Australia's oldest manually operated lift but whilst there were some fine views of the surrounding buildings you are not able to see the river or any extended distance. 52CEC628E1076F77C8E094D846F6506C.jpg52CD0827B3AB094089D4D846549DAAF7.jpg Again this is a free tour that departs every 15 minutes but it gets booked very early in the morning and is not, in my opinion, worth waiting around for several hours to do. Fortunately, because I was going to the recital downstairs it was not an issue for me.
The best way to see the city is from the river and the City Cats criss cross it to some of the furthest Precincts. I got on this one afternoon and went for quite a distance down river then got off at one of the stops and caught the City Cat that was going back. It's a heck of a lot cheaper than a river tour and allows some magnificent views of the city plus it's always great to be out on the water especially when it's hot.
On another day I caught the bus in to the Cultural Centre and walked along the South Bank to the Maritime Museum and then on along the cliff boardwalk to the 110 steps leading up to the lookout at Kangaroo Point. This walk only took about thirty minutes and if you can manage the steps it is well worth it. 53864CF3BEDD1A8F4F9C98C94ACAF7F1.jpg There is a cafe at the top that will feed you anything from coffee to a fully cooked meal (including breakfast) for a very reasonabe price and all while you are sitting at outdoor tables with stunning views of the river and city. 540D7643B9B0AD0F257F073E3B4D18B4.jpg540EE547D5D4162C0051A71AF024EA38.jpg Back at the bottom of the cliff I carried on along the boardwalk to 'Riverlife' a business that sells all kinds of activities including day and night kayaking, stand up paddle boarding (also day and night) rock climbing and abseiling (no I wasn't tempted). I had a coffee on their river side boarded balcony and spent some time chatting to one of the young ladies working there. I had read that the Brisbane river is 'teeming' with bull sharks and that you shouldn't swim in it particularly as it is very silty and completely opaque. I mentioned this to her and asked how this worked especially as they offer paddle boarding to beginners. She explained that the big sharks are further down river closer to it's mouth and that most of those caught around there were ONLY 80cms or so in length. She also said that they didn't like the sound of boat engines and that because of there being so much activity on the river they tended to stay away. Apparently she has fallen in the river about 50 times and has never had a problem. Whilst I certainly don't know enough to argue with any of this I would not be prepared to try it myself.
The City Cat did not call at the wharf nearest to me but where this is the case a City Ferry boat takes passengers across the river to the side that the Cat does stop on so I caught this across to Riverside Quay, where there are myriad restaurants of varied cuisine and expense, 5410AEA807A29B0E3900BC3B36FE5B0C.jpg and then walked back through the Botanic Gardens to have a look round Old Government House. 53BEA6F4F54068C6BDA7CEC898477767.jpg This is a beautiful National Trust listed building that was erected for the first governer of the colony and there is a good exhibition about the it's history and it's first few governers.
The Commisariat Store on William Street was built by convicts in 1828/9 5387F88FB5FF863D9041C34A7842D45E.jpg and has lots of information about the original penal colony and what life was like in it. There is also some (but not a lot of) information about the indigenous people who inhabited this area and, according to Wikipedia between 35% and 39% of the total Australian Aboriginal population lived in Queensland pre Western contact beacause the region was such a good source of food. I must say that two things that are conspicuously absent from this area are 1) the signs on or outside pubic buidings, notable in other cities in Australia, acknowledging the Aboriginal tribe that originally inhabited the land and 2) aboriginal faces but that is not a debate I want to get into here.
On a lighter note, and for those whose lives are not complete without retail therapy, there are acres of opportunities to spend your money ranging from the pavement level stores, and every designer of note is represented here, to the multi story malls hidden within one small entrance. The beautiful Brisbane Arcade 52CB549DF2D88C8DF585D7D51668C4FE.jpg is a heritage example but it's shops are not for the faint hearted or those with less loaded bank accounts.
I will have more time to spend in this city before I fly back to Sydney and it will defiitely include another trip on the river but perhaps this time in the opposite direction. Meanwhile the latest offering from MX 52D00417976FA09015619A204DF60B04.jpg

Posted by busyboots 21:40

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