Visiting Brisbane, Australia. Hotels, restaurants and activities guide

All about Brisbane..

Brisbane, Australia is the state capital of Queensland and the fastest growing city in Australia. With it's sub tropical climate, vast open spaces and the highest per capita arts spending in the world what was once a sleepy market town is fast becoming a thriving hub of fantastic cuisine and cutting edge culture.

Whilst the CBD is cutting edge gloss, the suburbs are awash with sleepy Queenslanders, the beautiful wooden houses that Queensland is so renowned for. Many of them surviving from the 1920's, they range from huge sprawling estates to tiny higgledy piggledy cottages.

The central focus of Brisbane is it's river. With the CBD perched along the riverbanks, the view from the majestic Story Bridge is reminiscent of Manhattan, but the river is not just renowned for providing Brisbane with much of it's beauty. One of the cities major forms of public transport- the City Cat, a catamaran service that operates from the suburbs to the major tourist and business centres is arguably the most civilised commute in the world.

Every year the river provides the focus for one of the cities most spectacular events- riverfire, an extravaganza of dining, fireworks and the fly past at night of two low level f111 Fighters in a "dump and burn" that sets the night sky on fire.

The Parks

For visitors the best park to begin with is the South Bank Parklands. Home of the City Beach a huge sandy man made lagoon and children's water play area, you can dig with a bucket and spade, have an ice cream and watch the talented street entertainers. South bank parklands are also home to numerous restaurants and cafe's as well as suncorp plaza an outdoor auditorium that hosts numerous cultural events and parties. There is also a cinema, South Bank markets, QPAC and numerous other entertainment options. A giant air conditioned ferris wheel offers views over the river and all of Brisbane.South Bank is easily accessible by City Cat.

Neew Farm park is another wonderful family spot for a picnic. An enormous children's play area built into the roots of ancient Moreton Bay FIg trees is a wonderland for children. The park itself lies next to the river providing endless beautiful places to while away the day.

Throughout Brisbane are numerous other playgrounds and parks, each of them well maintained and safe for all ages.

Where to eat?

One of the things that surprised me the most when I arrived in Brisbane was how fantastic the food is. There are restaurants to suit every budget and taste and the vast majority of them are great value and even better quality. Here are a few of my favourites:

Pearl at Woolloongabba. Bare bricks, great food and reasonable prices in a funky up and coming part of town.Phone: (07) 3392 3300

Crosstown Dining Rooms: Opposite Pearl they have an unusual menu of sharing plates, but it works. Don't miss the chocolate pear pots. Bookings not taken but a seat is almost always available. Woolloongabba phone: (07) 3162 3839

CInco at Camp Hill: Upmarket bistro with great food phone (07) 3843 6666

Piaf: At South Bank they do the best and possibly the cheapest steak in Brisbane. A local french bistro, this is my favourite restaurant in the whole city. Phone: (07) 3846 5026

Liquorish: Bulimba. Style, but not at the expense of substance. Great tapas at the front and a more formal but still funky dining room at the back. Great bar for those who just fancy a drink. Phone: (07) 3399 1520

Where to stay

Mantra South Bank for apartment style hotel ph 1300 987 604

Brisbane cottages for a Queenslander experience:Ph: (07) 3397 0223

Bridgewater Terraces for riverfront family, resort style accomodation (07) 3435 5216

Tongue in cheek Brisbane Commercial..

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