Brisbane, affectionately dubbed BrisVegas, is the center of the South-East Queensland corridor that runs from the Sunshine Coast to the New South Wales border of Australia. Brisbane feels young and laid back, with a growing live music scene.
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The home base of this itinerary is situated in two of the oldest and grandest buildings in Brisbane. Formerly the Treasury Building and the Lands Administration Building, these historical structures have been restored and converted into the 5-star Treasury Hotel & Casino. In addition to packaged deals on the hotel’s website, I found A$185/night on wotif.com.
The first stop on this itinerary is the Brisbane City Hall located by the King George Square. City Hall’s 92-meter (~300-ft) clock tower was once Brisbane’s highest point, complete with an observation platform offering a panoramic view of the city. Access to the observation platform is open to public daily from 10:00a to 3:00p. Before leaving the City Hall, take a tour through the Art Gallery & Museum (now Museum of Brisbane) and brush up on Brisbane’s history. Admissions to the Clock Tower & the Museum are free.
Next we’ll head to the Queen Street Mall. Considered the center fashion and retail in Queensland, this pedestrian mall houses over 700 retailers and sees over 26 million visitors each year. On Wednesdays a Farmer’s Market is open on Reddacliff Place, where Queen Street meets the river. As you stroll down Queen Street, stop at one of the many open air cafes for lunch. From your perch, make sure to take note of the victorian-era building facades along Queen Street. Many of these buildings were preserved and restored during the development and construction of the mall.
After lunch we’ll cross the Brisbane River and make our way to The Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA). GoMA is Australia’s largest gallery of modern and contemporary art, and focuses on the art of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Here you’ll also find the Australian Cinematheque, where film screenings are held. Admission to the GoMA is free though certain exhibitions may require an entry fee.
A great way to take in Brisbane’s South Bank water front is a stroll the Clem Jones Promenade. Along the promenade one finds the Wheel of Brisbane, the South Bank Arbour, and a swimming lagoon with a man-made sandy beach. The sand surrounding the beach is sourced from Moreton Bay and topped up each year in order to maintain its pristine condition.
Cross the river toward the Botanic Gardens. The gardens is open daily (closes at 5p during winter months from April – August), with free guided tours daily at 11a & 1p. Follow the main path that leads through the center of the gardens to Albert Street at the northern end of the gardens. Here you’ll find many tall palm trees, a lily pond, shaded pagodas and benches, tropical plants and flowers.
Restaurant II awaits as you exit the gardens. Cozy up in one of the lounge seats and select a wine to unwind with. One of the top 10 dining establishments in Brisbane, Restaurant II’s wine list offers selections from all over Australia and New Zealand as well as wines from abroad. While they don’t offer tasting flights, feel free to ask for a sample pour if you are unsure what to order.
A visit to Brisbane would not be complete without visiting a live music venue. Take a taxi to Fortitude Valley, a neighborhood known for its night life. Tonight we’ll end the evening at The Troubadour. Opened in 2003, this boutique music venue presents local, interstate and international acts regularly. The venue is open Tuesday – Sunday. Be sure to check its events calendar and purchase tickets in advance as featured acts can sell out.