It's Australia's third-largest city, but while other capitals compete loudly in their endeavour to reach top billing in the status stakes, Brisbane quietly executes its evolution in true, casual Queensland style. There's no need to advertise the virtues – locals already know it's one of the most desirable places in Australia to live. For visitors, the city is an outstanding summary of Australia; the big-city package exists here but the pretensions and speed are refreshingly absent.

Start with a metropolis that reclines over a tropical landscape. Dissect it with the winding Brisbane River and mix in a climate that attracts southerners by the chilly town-load every winter. Weave throughout a smorgasbord of cultural flavours, simmering in cafes, theatres, art-house cinemas, concert halls, galleries, museums and live music venues. Pepper the vista with subtropical gardens and views from lookouts or river boats. Add to this a calendar stocked with festivals and an abundance of eateries and you'll realise what all the low-key fuss is about.

Brisbane's city centre is bound by a U-shaped loop of the Brisbane River. The action is centred on pedestrianised Queen St Mall, which runs down to the former Treasury Building (now a casino) and Victoria Bridge to South Bank. Across Victoria Bridge is South Brisbane and the South Bank Parklands; further south is the hip West End. Ann St runs northeast of the city centre into trendy Fortitude Valley.


Temperatures in Brisbane, in the south of the state, rarely drop below 20°C and while it doesn't suffer the stifling humidity you'll find further north, it's still most pleasant in winter (June to August). However, this is also the time everyone from Sydney and Melbourne heads north to escape the cold, so expect a crowd.


Brisbane has gotten rid of its reputation as being a backward and unsophisticated place and emerged as one of the country's most progressive centres. It has several interesting districts, a good street cafe scene, a great riverside park, a busy cultural calendar and a thriving nightlife. Known locally as Bris Vegas, the city is renowned for its sun and the showy hordes that follow it, but it's also the arts capital of Queensland, with dozens of theatres, cinemas, concert halls, galleries and museums. A climate this good and culture too? It must be paradise.


Most of Brisbane's major sights can be found in the city centre or within easy walking distance of it. Sandstone architecture revealing Brisbane's colonial history is scattered throughout the city and South Bank is just a short ferry ride across the river. Fortitude Valley, with its cafes, culture, food and shopping, is a popular area for locals and visitors, as is the West End. The free brochure Brisbane's Living Heritage, available from visitor information centres, highlights many of the sights Brisbane has to offer.

Jump into a (free) cultural smorgasbord at the Queensland Cultural Centre in South Bank, where you'll find the Queensland Museum, with its excellent Sciencentre, the Queensland Art Gallery and the soon-to-be-opened Queensland Gallery of Modern Art.

Update your wardrobe or pick up some souvenirs at one of the weekend city markets, such as the funky Brunswick St Markets (Fortitude Valley) or the Crafts Village Market (Stanley St Plaza, South Bank).

Cool down with a swim at Streets Beach, an artificial swimming hole that curls its way through the South Bank Parklands before opening up into a lagoon. Also check out the Suncorp Piazza, an outdoor theatre that screens international sporting events and free movies during school holidays.
Streets Beach

Wander about the city admiring the traffic signal boxes (TSBs). The what?! It's a street-side art gallery dreamt up by the city council whose members were tired of unimaginative TSBs, so they formed a project to recruit volunteer artists to lovingly paint all 700 or so of them!

Cruise up the Brisbane River to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, where you can cuddle one of the cute, fuzzy koalas, and also hand-feed tame kangaroos and see dingoes and wombats.


There's usually something happening somewhere in Brisbane whatever the time of year. Information on festivals and events in the city can be found at the visitor information centres
Brisbane What's On

Cockroach Races – This bizarre ritual takes place at the Story Bridge Hotel on Australia Day, 26 January.

Tropfest – This nationwide short film festival is telecast live at South Bank in late February.

Valley Fiesta – Taking place in Fortitude Valley's Chinatown and Brunswick St Mall, this food and music festival happens in mid-July.

Brisbane Riverfestival – Held in September, this is the city's major festival of the arts, with buskers, performances, music and concerts.

Source of information: Study in Australia