Australia’s third most populous city after Sydney and Melbourne, Brisbane is the capital of Queensland. Initially inhabited by the indigenous tribes of Jagera and Turrbal, the first European settlement was established in Brisbane during 19th century.
- I History of Brisbane
- II Climate
- III Get in
- IV.I By foot
- IV.II Travel by bicycle in Brisbane
- IV.III By motorcycle, motorbike or scooter
- IV.IV By taxi
- IV.V Public transportation in Brisbane
- V The top-5 things to see and do in Brisbane
- VI Stay safe in Brisbane
- VII Where to go next
- VIII Where to stay in Brisbane after the Reopening of Hotels
Since then the city has grown into a dynamic metropolis with modern architecture, large zones of greenery, fascinating museums and lively nightlife. The locals are considered to be some of the country’s most friendly and laid-back residents.
Large enough to be cosmopolitan yet small enough to be friendly and accessible, Brisbane is a ‘garden metropolis’ famous for its leafy, open spaces and the pleasant pace of life that unfolds between the zig-zags of its iconic river. Gaining international exposure during the 1982 Commonwealth Games, the 1988 World Expo, the 2001 Goodwill Games and the 2014 G20 Summit, Brisbane’s year-round warm climate, spectacular scenery, pleasant locals and world-class facilities have been the draw-cards for many domestic and international visitors, making Brisbane the fastest-growing city in Australia. Despite this rapid development, it maintains a youthful enthusiasm and is arguably one of the most laid-back and forward-thinking of any Australian capital city.
History of Brisbane
For many thousands of years prior to European settlement, the Brisbane area was inhabited by the Turrbal and Jagera Aboriginal people. They knew the area that is now the central business district as Mian-jin, meaning “place shaped as a spike”. The Australian English phrase “hard yakka” – meaning “hard work” – comes from the Jagera people, and is certainly what the European settlers faced in Brisbane’s humid sub-tropical climate.
The Moreton Bay area was explored by English navigator Matthew Flinders. On 17 July 1799, Flinders landed at what is now known as Woody Point which he named “Red Cliff Point” – now Redcliffe after the red-coloured cliffs visible from the bay. In 1823 Governor of New South Wales Sir Thomas Brisbane instructed that a new northern penal settlement be developed, intended to house dangerous prisoners in a remote location and an exploration party led by John Oxley further explored Moreton Bay. The original penal settlement was established in Redcliffe but was later moved to a location further down the bay where freshwater supplies were more reliable. Oxley named this new settlement “Brisbane” in honour of the Governor.
A series of major immigration events took place in the following decades which brought with it strong industry and commercial development in the region. In 1838, non-convict free settlers moved to the area and pushed to close the jail and to release the land in the area. In 1859, a gold rush led to the establishment of the colony of Queensland with Brisbane as its capital even though Brisbane was not incorporated as a city until 1902. In 1925, the Queensland State Parliament created the City of Brisbane Act that set up a single government for the city of Brisbane, still the largest metropolitan authority in Australia and one of the largest in the world by area. Over twenty small municipalities and shires were amalgamated to form the City of Brisbane. 1930 was a significant year for Brisbane with the completion of Brisbane City Hall, then the city’s tallest building and the Shrine of Remembrance in ANZAC Square which has since become Brisbane’s main war memorial. These historic buildings along with the Story Bridge which opened in 1940 are key landmarks that help define the architectural character of the city.
During World War II, Brisbane became central to the Allied campaign when the AMP Building – now MacArthur Central was used as the South West Pacific headquarters for General Douglas MacArthur, chief of the Allied Pacific forces. In 1942, Brisbane was the site of a violent clash between visiting US military personnel, Australian servicemen and civilians which resulted in one death and several injuries. This incident became known colloquially as the Battle of Brisbane.
Postwar Brisbane had developed a “big country town” stigma, an image the city’s politicians and marketers were very keen to remove but despite steady growth, Brisbane’s development was punctuated by infrastructure problems. The State Government began a major program of change and urban renewal beginning with the central business district and inner suburbs. Trams in Brisbane were a popular mode of public transport until the network was closed in 1969 leaving Melbourne as the last Australian city to operate a tram network.
The 1974 Brisbane flood was a major disaster which temporarily crippled the city. During this era, Brisbane grew and modernised rapidly becoming a destination of interstate migration. Some of Brisbane’s popular landmarks were lost sometimes demolished in controversial circumstances with much media coverage and public protest. Major public works included the Riverside Expressway, the Gateway Bridge and later the redevelopment of South Bank after the city hosted World Expo ’88 starting with the Queensland Art Gallery and Performing Arts Centre.
In subsequent years there has been strong immigration into Brisbane and the surrounding region, both domestically and internationally with large influxes from Asia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Polynesia. This was driven by cheaper house prices than in other Australian cities, a pleasant climate and good employment opportunities, especially within the mining and tourism sectors. Brisbane’s population growth has exceeded the national average every year since 1990 at an average rate of around 2.2% per year.
Since 2000, Brisbane has gone from drought to flooding rains. In the mid-2000s, lower dam levels led to severe water restrictions for residents. The campaign to lower water usage was so successful that the city now boasts some of the lowest average water use per resident of any developed city in the world. These days you’re not likely to find the tap dry or see any visible signs of the shortage. However out of respect for the locals, keep your showers relatively brief, try your best to conserve water and expect the locals to be horrified if you walk away from a running tap.
A number of extremely wet summers broke the drought and culminated in the January 2011 flood which devastated the city. In typical Queensland fashion, one of the largest volunteer workforces ever amassed – over 100,000 Brisbane locals and Queensland volunteers descended on the city to aid in the clean-up, earning the nickname the “Mud Army” and allowing the city to return to business just a week after the flood. The Mud Army were honoured with the naming of a new CityCat Ferry, the “Spirit of Brisbane” and then Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard described Brisbane residents as “the best of humankind”, gifting a monument to the city to honour the volunteers.
When the wet season hits the northern Australian tropics, Brisbane experiences hot and clear summer days with stunning afternoon thunderstorms. When winter arrives towards the southern capital cities, temperatures are sent into the low teens (°C), while Brisbane’s climate stays mostly dry and sunny, with daytime temperatures usually remaining above 20°C, comparable to that of Miami.
- Summer (December–February) humidity is high and daytime temperatures frequently exceed 30°C, with night temperatures rarely dropping below 20°C. Occasional heat waves can raise the temperature in excess of 40°C, however these are not common. Just about any outdoor activity you do at the height of a regular summer day in Brisbane will leave you bathed in sweat. Loose-fitting clothing that protects you from the sun is appropriate attire for most casual activities, and air-conditioning will assure you a comfortable night’s sleep or ride on public transport. Summer storms with hail and heavy rainfall are common in afternoons on hot, humid days. They usually pass quickly and often put on a good lightning show.
- Autumn (March–May) sees a cool change in Brisbane with average daytime temperatures between 20 and 30°C. Most tourists not used to a humid climate will find this the best time to visit Brisbane, as the humidity lowers and the region shifts into a more comfortable, dry and sunny weather pattern, perfect for outdoor activities. Night-time temperatures usually drop to 10-20°C, with ambient heat from the day still radiating from the ground, keeping the early evening still warm and comfortable, though a light jacket may be required later at night.
- Winter (June–August) signals the region’s dry season, with Brisbane experiencing cool, sunny, cloudless days. Temperatures typically go up to 25°C during the day with night-time temperatures rarely dropping below 5°C. The early-morning chill usually disappears by mid-morning and most of the daylight hours are relatively warm, however it is still recommended to have something warm to wear as this is not always the case. The eastern suburbs tend to be cooler as sea breezes blow in from the bay.
- Spring (September–November) sees the revitalisation of the city with warmer days and fresh sea breezes coming in from the bay. Weather is similar to Autumn months, with increasing humidity as summer draws closer.
The damaging effects of the Queensland sun should not be underestimated. The state has the highest per-capita rate of skin cancer in the world and tourists often come unprepared. On a sunny day in Brisbane, it is common to be sunburnt after as few as 15 minutes under the midday sun, but sunburn can also occur on overcast days. This is not exclusive to summer, but can happen all year round, even in winter.
If you are planning a long day outdoors, always cover up with sunscreen, loose clothing, a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself. Limit your outdoor physical activity in the summer until you are used to the heat. Immediately seek shade or an air-conditioned area and drink plenty of water if you are feeling the effects of heat exhaustion, including headache, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, confusion or fainting.
Fly to Brisbane
Cheap Flights from Brisbane
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Brisbane can be accessed by plane via the main Brisbane Airport, or by the less convenient but often cheaper Gold Coast Airport.
Brisbane Airport has direct flights from all Australian capitals and many Queensland centres. Major domestic carriers include Virgin Australia, Jetstar, and Qantas. The airport is serviced by many regional airlines and it is possible to fly daily to most Asian centres (and on to Europe), the United States and New Zealand, without flying via Sydney or Melbourne.
You can get a bus and train from the Gold Coast Airport to Brisbane, by using the Surfside buses to Robina and transferring to the train. A single fare costs around $17, and you can buy a single ticket or use a Go Card.
Both airports have a full range of rental car options.
Travel by train to Brisbane
Long distance rail services both arrive and depart from Roma Street Station in the inner city. Services to New South Wales operated by NSW TrainLink depart from Platform 2 and all other Long Distance Services depart from Platform 10.
- NSW Trainlink operates a daily return rail service from Sydney, with onward connections to Melbourne and Canberra.
- Queensland Rail has services to most centres in Queensland
Travel to Brisbane by car
Visitors from southern states can reach Brisbane by either the New England and Cunningham or Pacific Highways.
- The Bruce Highway (A1) connects the northern coast of Queensland to Brisbane.
- The Pacific Motorway (M1) connects Brisbane to the Gold Coast continues south along the New South Wales coast.
- The Ipswich Motorway (M2) connects to Ipswich and surrounding Western Brisbane areas.
- The Warrego Highway (A2) links Brisbane to the west through the Lockyer Valley, Toowoomba and the Darling Downs.
- The Cunningham Highway (A15) links Brisbane to Southern Queensland and Central western New South Wales.
Travel by bus to Brisbane
Most long distance bus services operate from level 3 of the Brisbane Transit Centre near Roma Street Station in the inner city.
- Premier Motor Service offers services between Sydney and Brisbane and Brisbane and Cairns.
- Greyhound Australia link other interstate capitals to Brisbane via their extensive national network. In particular they operate regular services between Brisbane and Sydney, Brisbane and Toowoomba then onward to Roma and between Brisbane and Cairns. Pick-up is available from the Brisbane Airport on some services.
- Murrays Coaches operate services between Brisbane and Toowoomba and onwards to the small town of Miles, west of Toowoomba. Pick up is available from the Brisbane Airport on some services.
- Bus Queensland operate services under Government contract between Brisbane and many rural and remote areas. Key routes serviced by this company include services between Brisbane and Charleville via Toowoomba and between Brisbane and Mt Isa.
Brisbane features an excellent public transport network, which includes train, bus and ferry routes. Tickets of all means of transport are zone oriented, but most of the city’s attractions are located within the first zone, which includes the city centre and nearby suburbs.
If you plan to take more than one rides per day, it is worth purchasing a daily ticket, which comes with the same price of two single tickets and allows unlimited travel for the whole day. Children pay a half reduced ticket.
Getting anywhere in Brisbane is reasonably easy. The CBD (Central Business District) is relatively flat and condensed, which makes it perfect for walking or cycling and virtually all other areas can be reached by public transport.
However, some areas can be difficult to navigate through a combination of dead ends, winding roads and steep slopes. This applies to some inner-city suburbs, but especially outer suburbs. If you find yourself lost, it’s advisable to head to the nearest main road as more than likely it will be serviced by buses or trains. If you are driving, a street directory or GPS unit is an essential addition to your car. Locals are generally friendly and more than willing to help you out if you are lost, so don’t be afraid to ask.
Brisbane is an excellent city for walking and you should have no problems getting around the CBD. Within minutes of walking in virtually any direction you will be able to find a bus, train or ferry station. Maps can be purchased from bookstores such as QBD (Queensland Books Depot), Dymocks, any tourist information centre or viewed online. There are also a number of shared pathways that offer relaxed walking/jogging routes away from roads and traffic. Detailed maps and a route planner are available.
Beyond the CBD and inner-suburbs however, sights can become very spread out, so you might want to consider other modes of getting around.
Travel by bicycle in Brisbane
Getting around the town and Southbank is easy thanks to the many cycle paths along the river.
The Brisbane City Council operates a scheme known as CityCycle, which offers bicycles for hire at different CityCycle stations located around the town, however, you must be at least 17 years old to join. Anyone (including visitors) can register for a 24-hour period for $2 which provides access to the entire CityCycle network, an unlimited number of journeys and the first half hour of every journey is free. You can register online at link your GoCard, or tap your credit card at a CityCycle station. . Once you pay the daily or monthly fee, the bikes are free to use, as long as you return the bike to any CityCycle station within 30 minutes. Costs increase steeply after the 30 minutes, and there is no leeway given by the stations. Helmets are mandatory as required by law (and this is enforced with on-the-spot fines), but some free yellow helmets can be unreliably found at the bike-hire stations. Download the AllBikes app to check the location of hire points with bike and return capacity.
Cycling on footpaths is legal in the Brisbane City Council area (maximum speed 10 km/h), however pedestrians have right of way. Keep left and take special care when riding through South Bank Parklands as the shared (and quite wide) foot and cycle path is often clogged with large groups taking up the whole path, pedestrians stopping unexpectedly for photos and playing children running heedlessly in front of you. It is often too noisy here to use your bell, so use your common sense, and dismount and push your bike through crowded pedestrian areas.
Maps showing extensive dedicated bikeways and shared paths in the Brisbane City Council area are available on the BCC website  and a journey planner is available here or using Google maps with the bicycle mode selected. These bikeways offer a pleasant way to explore and enjoy Brisbane.
Some areas of Brisbane are very hilly. If your street map shows a tangle of winding streets close together that is a sign of steep roads. A short trip can quickly become a lot of work, especially if you are using the heavy CityCycle bikes. Stick to the river when possible, it’s where you get the best views and it is almost entirely flat. Also, the a nearby CityCycle station is little use for returning your bike when you are at the top of the cliff, and it is at the bottom.
If you leave the cycle paths, footpaths, and minor streets you should be prepared to contend with busy urban traffic. Feel free to ignore any Brisbane motorists that may have resentment toward cyclists and ignorance of the road rules applying to cyclists; cyclists are permitted to travel on just about all roads in Brisbane. Special “bicycle lanes” on Brisbane’s roads are becoming increasingly common and are often denoted by a narrow green-coloured strip of road adjacent to the curb.
Green Cabs are one of the latest additions to the city and growing in popularity. Essentially a rickshaw, they are a novel way of getting around the inner-city areas. Able to accommodate up to 2 adults and 2 small children (though it can vary – talk to the rider and see what you can arrange), they mostly operate between West End, South Bank, the CBD, Fortitude Valley and along the river where it’s mostly flat, although you can arrange to be taken elsewhere. Prices start from $5 and tours are available.
Green Cabs operate on weekends and during special events. During the day operators who are ready to go are usually based at South Bank at the Wheel of Brisbane. At night, you will find Green Cabs at South Bank and throughout the CBD.
Travel to Brisbane by car
Many of the roads in Brisbane Central Business District (CBD) are one-way, making driving in this area complicated for people not familiar with the layout. Drivers used to city driving should not find Brisbane too much of a challenge, and parking is readily available in parking stations in the city, albeit often at a steep cost, around $40 to casually park for a day. $15 parking is generally available with early-bird deals (arrive before 9:00, leave after 16:00.) Brisbane’s Central Business District (CBD) has limited street parking for your car and issues parking infringements for illegally parked vehicles. All inner-city street parking is metered and signed and costs about $4 per hour. Avoid parking fines by only parking in designated parking bays marked by white lines. A yellow painted line along the kerbside indicates no standing and no parking.
Most CBD roads become clearways at 16:00 (unless signed otherwise), and any cars parked on the side of the road will be fined, towed or both. You have to pay for the towing to get your car back, and then expect a fine to follow in the mail. Check for signs and line marking when parking, or just play it safe and find a parking station.
If you are looking to visit the areas surrounding the city, then generally a car will be as quick as any other way of getting around, with the possible exception of the height of peak hour. Brisbane is notorious for having roads that bottle-neck and what would normally be a 15 minute trip could easily turn into well over an hour during peak times.
There are several toll roads in and around Brisbane (clearly signed and marked for approaching motorists), including the Gateway Bridge which crosses the river near the airport, the Clem-7 tunnel as well as the Go-Between Bridge. Cash is not accepted, toll users must have a prepaid transponder or post-pay via a website. Check the go-via website for more details. 
By motorcycle, motorbike or scooter
With limited street parking, and often-expensive off-street parking, the best way to get around the CBD is either by scooter or motorbike. Motorbike and scooter parking is free and there are plenty of areas designated for parking of both motorbikes and scooters.
Scooters, however, are not allowed on major highways. Even though they can be ridden by just about anyone who holds a car driver’s licence, it is difficult to see all of Brisbane on a scooter as most major streets are zoned as 60–80 km/hr and the standard 50cc scooters are limited to 55 km/hr.
North of Brisbane you will find many beautiful scenic drives for motorbike enthusiasts. The North side is surrounded by many windy roads and great mountain roads on which any motorbike rider can enjoy a full day out on the motorbike of just about any size.
There are services available throughout Brisbane and the Gold Coast which deliver both scooters and motorbikes right to your door-step. Some will even provide all the necessary gear as well. Take a look at a few rental companies below to find a perfect motorbike/scooter for your trip.
Most major car hire companies have offices at Brisbane Airport and in the city centre. As is common with many hire car companies, you will often pay a premium to pick up or return at the airport location. If you are looking to cover a long distance by car, ensure your rental policy includes unlimited mileage – most economy to standard sized car rental include this already. Most car rental companies hire to people 25 years of age and over, some all age car rental companies do hire to younger drivers over 18 years of age (there are extra charges involved for under-age drivers).
Taxis are numerous throughout Brisbane and can take you anywhere. The major companies are Yellow Cabs and Black & White Cabs. All cabs can be hailed down no matter where you are, provided their roof light is on, though in some areas they might not be able to stop, so it might be best to book one in advance. All cabs accept cash, credit and debit cards. Despite cabs being fitted with GPS units, you’ll find it wise to check with the driver about your destination before departing and make sure they are willing to go there.
In the outer-suburban areas, cabs will pull over if you hail them down from the side of the road and can be found in designated taxi ranks in shopping centres, or near bars and pubs. The same can be said for the inner-city, however taxi ranks are more common and it’s usually best to catch a cab from there. At night though, especially on Friday and Saturday, taxis exclusively pick up passengers from these ranks and you’d be extremely lucky if you get one elsewhere. These ranks are usually monitored by security and have ushers at night. From midnight-5:30AM on Friday and Saturday nights, all taxis from the CBD and Fortitude Valley become “FlatFare”, meaning that there is a fixed price for any given destination and you will have to pay before entering the taxi.
Taxis can be expensive in Brisbane; a trip between the airport and the city can be in excess of $50–60 and can easily run to over $100 if you go beyond the metropolitan Brisbane region.
Public transportation in Brisbane
Brisbane is well serviced by public transport, with a large network of buses, trains and ferries. These are all integrated with the city’s Go Card smartcard ticketing system.
Brisbane’s three main public transport options (ferries, buses and trains) are run by a single provider, known as TransLink. This allows free transfers to be made between the three different transport modes, providing relevant time and zone restrictions are met. The TransLink website (Phone: 13 12 30 or download the ‘MyTranslink’ app) is handy for researching public transport options between destinations. Google Maps also offers full public transport navigation, with real-time updated information across all three modes.
TransLink has integrated ticketing called the go card, a contactless smart card purchased before travelling that you top-up with funds. The fare is deducted as you touch-on and touch-off as you board and leave public transport. You must touch both on and off for all Go-card journeys regardless of the mode of transport. A failure to touch off will result in a fixed fare of up to $30 being charged to the card. Buses and CityCats/Ferries are fitted with go card machines as you board. Train stations have fare gates or distinctive yellow readers located on the platform. A deposit of $10 applies when purchasing a go card. Go cards can be purchased and topped up from staff at train stations, ticket vending machines at major stations and bus stops, and selected newsagents and convenience stores, which there are many of in the city centre.
Buying a go card removes the hassle of figuring out zones. Fares are discounted by 30% and once you have paid for 8 journeys within a week (Monday to Sunday). Translink uses the word “journey” to mean end-to-end journey including any required transfers, and the word “trip” to mean a single point-to-point trip. A journey can be made up of one or more trips. When making a number of trips to get to your destination it is still one journey if you touch on within 60 minutes of touching off on your previous trip.
You can buy paper single tickets for journeys to travel all the zones you need to travel in. Operators generally know what zones to give you if you tell them your destination. They are only valid for one way journeys, and come at a premium – starting at over $4 for a one way trip. A few services (like the City Glider, and some peak hour services on the busways) are pre-paid only, and you must have a Go-card to ride.
Getting a go-card will save you at least 30% over paper tickets for equivalent journeys. However, getting a refund for the unused money and $10 deposit can be a hassle. If you have paid by credit card you need apply and have the money returned by cheque or by transfer to an Australian bank account. If you have paid by cash you can get a refund at a train station, including the airport train station.
If you are going to be doing short-term extensive travel or using the Airtrain, you can buy a 3-day or 5-day unlimited travel SEEQ Card for $79 and $129 respectively. SEEQ cards work like regular go cards however provide additional discounts at various tourism attractions around South-East Queensland. You don’t have to worry about topping up and refunds, but you’ll struggle to get value out of it unless you are catching the Airtrain.
You can be fined $261 for travelling without a valid ticket.
If you are using a Go Card, then all fares are calculated automatically based on where you touch-on and touch-off.
The fare depends on public transport “zones”. The 8 zones form concentric rings and propagate outwards from the CBD (zone 1) and cover the whole of South East Queensland. All official public transport maps clearly mark the zones and zone boundaries. Most of Brisbane is covered by zones 1 and 2. Your fare is determined by how many zones you travel through. Travelling between zones 2 and 3 will cost you the same fare as travelling between zones 7 and 8. In addition if you are using a paper ticket, you must observe the time restrictions for transfers to avoid having to pay for another journey.
Often, major stops like shopping centres and busway stops are used as zone boundaries. Stops that form part of the zone boundary are considered part of both zones.
CityFerry and CityCat
CityFerries and CityCats have become an icon of the city and are fantastic ways to tour Brisbane along the river. The CityCats are high-speed catamarans with stops at South Bank and the city centre as well as many riverside suburbs, and are a very popular method of getting around for tourists. CityFerries are more traditional ferries which generally operate shorter routes with more frequent stops; you may end up on one if you must use one of the smaller terminals, but in practice, most riverside destinations are accessible from the faster and more modern CityCats.
Cross-river ferries, such as the Bulimba to Teneriffe Cross River Ferry link the transport facilities on the opposite sides of the river.
Trains in greater Brisbane run along radial lines. Most train services in Brisbane are through-running, travelling from one end of the suburbs to the other, however all trains service Roma Street, Central, Fortitude Valley and Bowen Hills regardless of their ultimate destination. Interurban services can also be caught to the Gold Coast (using connecting tram services at Helensvale and buses at several other stops) and Sunshine Coast (using connecting bus services at Landsborough and Nambour) as well as Australia Zoo (connecting bus at Beerwah). Trains generally run from 6AM to midnight, though there are some variations such as running later on Friday and Saturday nights, and finishing earlier on Sundays.
Brisbane has a large network of bus routes. Virtually all buses have a digital display of their route number and destinations. The inner city areas are very well served by buses, with the most popular routes running from 6AM to 11PM as a minimum, and most routes ultimately terminating at Queen St Bus Station, Fortitude Valley (via Adelaide St or Elizabeth St) or on the busway. In some of Brisbane’s notoriously dispersed outer suburbs, services may be much less frequent or have reduced running hours, so it is advisable to check timetables if making these trips. Due to Brisbane traffic, buses are occasionally up to 10 minutes late during peak hour.
Brisbane’s dedicated busway runs from a corridor in the southern or northern suburbs, through South Bank and the central business district. Due to the large number of buses in the central business district, a number of other routes use stops scattered across the city streets, so if you are unfamiliar with the geography of Brisbane, use of the busway is recommended where possible. The busway and train network meet at Roma Street station, and the two combined provide very good coverage of the key inner city areas.
Drivers do carry notes with them, but not always many or of high value. If you must pay cash, try to pay the correct amount and with coins where possible. Some services, especially in peak hour, do not sell tickets on board at all and only accept pre-purchased tickets or go cards. These are signed with the letter ‘P’ before the route number. As with many cities, Brisbane has a large number of express buses, so it should not be assumed that all buses observe every stop along the roads they travel. In peak hour there are even more express routes (“rockets” and “bullets”) for commuters which make very few stops at all. Ask the driver if you are unsure.
Brisbane also has all-night bus services on Friday and Saturday nights on selected routes; this is branded ‘NightLink’.
- The ‘Brisbane City Loop’ is a free and convenient bus service travelling in both directions around the CBD. Operating Monday to Friday 7AM-5:50PM every 10 minutes from any distinctive bright red CBD bus stop.
- The ‘Spring Hill Loop’ free bus operates around the Spring Hill area just north of the CBD and is an easy way to avoid walking the steep hills in the area. This bus service runs Monday to Friday approximately every 30 minutes between 6:50AM and 8:25AM then every 10 minutes until 6:05PM
- The ‘CityGlider’ bus operates as a prepaid service for quick north-south cross-city travel between West End and the Teneriffe Ferry at Newstead, stopping at any distinctive light blue bus stop. It runs every 5 minutes during peak hour (weekdays from 7-9AM and 4-6PM), and every 10 to 15 minutes between all other hours of operation. It operates Su-Th 5:30AM-11:30PM, and F-Sa 24 hours.
- The ‘Maroon Glider’ bus operates as a prepaid service for quick east-west cross-city travel between Woolloongabba and Ashgrove, stopping at distinctive maroon (dark red) bus stops. The service operates M-Su 5:30AM-11:30PM every 10 minutes in peak periods (weekdays from 7-9AM and 4-6PM) and every 15 minutes in off-peak periods. Services will also operate throughout Friday and Saturday nights (excluding public holidays unless otherwise advertised) at 30 minute intervals midnight-5AM.
- Routes ‘599’ and ‘598‘ form the Great Circle Line which circles the city in clockwise and counter-clockwise direction, respectively. They are a great way of exploring the outer suburbs and stop at some of Brisbane’s premier shopping centres.
The top-5 things to see and do in Brisbane
Visit Queensland Cultural Centre
Located on South Bank, Queensland Cultural Centre is a fascinating complex, which houses three of the city’s museums, concert halls, conference facilities and the state library.
Queensland Museum is the most visited out of the complex’s attractions. The museum focuses on Queensland’s history, from prehistoric age to modern times. Among the most popular exhibits you will find the skeleton of a domestic dinosaur and the airplane which first completed the route from England to Australia.
Queensland Art Gallery hosts some interesting collections of both European and Australian artists. Undeniably more interesting than Queensland Art Gallery is the nearby Gallery of Modern Art, which is also a part of Queensland Cultural Centre. Works by Australian artists are on display, including paintings, sculptures, photography, video art and contemporary installations.
Spend a day at one of the city’s outstanding parklands
Brisbane offers several large parklands, where locals come to relax, jog, play or have a bite among lush greenery. Located by the river, South Bank Parkland is a great place to spend the day, especially if you are travelling kids. Take a refreshing waterside walk or dip in the artificial lake, which also features its own artificial beach!
Roma Street Parkland, on the other hand, is the largest subtropical garden around the globe, presenting coffee plantations, colourful flower gardens and beautifully arranged stone gardens. Bring your own supplies and take advantage of the public barbeques to enjoy a lovely pick-nick.
Take an up-close look at lazy koalas at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Situated a few kilometres away from the city centre of Brisbane, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is home to more than 130 cute koalas, which makes it the largest koala sanctuary in the world. Apart from the lovely lazy bears, you also have a chance to interact with other Australian animals, such as kangaroos, Tasmanian devils and dingoes.
Climb up Story Bridge
Australia’s longest cantilever bridge, Story Bridge also offers another unique feature. It is one of the three bridges worldwide (two in Australia and one in New Zealand), where climbing is allowed.
Of course you can only do that as part of an organised tour, but it is still a very extraordinary experience. The fee to join is not cheap, but you can enjoy the best river and city views from the top of the bridge.
Take a cruise down Brisbane River
One of the most popular tourist attractions, Brisbane river cruising is a nice way to meet with the city and enjoy some lovely views.
Several different companies organise such tours, some them also offering combined tickets which also include other activities, such as riding the riverside Ferris wheel.
Brisbane has a relatively low crime rate in comparison to other cities of such size. In most cases being aware of your environment and using common sense will keep you safe. Like Sydney and other large cities, trains and train stations are usually considered a common crime zone throughout the afternoons and nights, however trains and stations are patrolled by Police, Transit Officers, railway personnel and private security guards. Cameras are also used to increase security. It is advised to exercise caution when travelling on trains and buses during these periods of the day.
Here are some particular areas of note:
- Outer Suburbs: Tend to have a higher crime rate than inner suburbs which should be taken into account when visiting these areas.
- Days: Very safe during the day, but using common sense goes a long way. Avoid gangs of people, especially if they seem trashy or obnoxious and be mindful if a questionable person approaches you.
- Nights: Like most other places, outer suburbs to get more dangerous. Most suburban streets are poorly lit or have no lighting at all. It is recommended that individuals walking in these areas at night take precaution or venture within a group.
- City Central/CBD: Usually very safe at all hours.
- Days: Very safe during the day thanks to a good police presence and most people only being there for work. Though during school holidays groups of youths can congregate, especially around Queen St and South Bank and can get rather rowdy, but they usually mind their own business.
- Nights: Still relatively safe at night. Police presence isn’t as strong, except on Friday and Saturday nights, but you’re still urged to travel with others. Be careful if catching a train at night, even though the train stations and trains are well patrolled and watched by CCTV. Treasury Casino patrons often gather outside and unwanted attention can be received late at night due to drunks. However, security is tight and the entire area around the Casino is monitored by CCTV. Take extra caution if in South Bank at night due to groups of youths congregating there.
- Fortitude Valley: Police presence very strong here due to the concentration of bars.
- Days: Just as safe as the CBD during the day.
- Nights (especially Friday and Saturday): Taxi ranks in particular can be a little dangerous due to many frustrated drunks having to wait for cabs. Wait only at ranks that have a security guard. Stay to the well-lit busy streets and never venture off alone, especially down back-streets or far away from a crowd. Especially for females, it is recommended to travel in pairs or groups to avoid any unwanted attention from drunken revellers, especially in the early hours of the morning.
- Suburban pubs: generally less safe than inner-city pubs, bars and clubs due to less police and security. Drunks can be a hassle when in the vicinity of suburban pubs, especially around closing times. Fights in these venues are common.
Throughout Australia, the number for emergency services (Police, Fire and Ambulance) is 000. When using a mobile or cell phone, the numbers 000 and 112 are free of charge, and connect using any of the available networks.
Emergency numbers such as 911 and 999 do not work within Australia.
Probably the worst thing that can befall your trip to Brisbane is sunburn and other heat-related issues. The local UV Index is almost always in the extreme rating during the day (10AM-3PM) and precautions should always be taken. Do not be fooled though, even in the cooler months or when it is overcast you can still be affected by UV rays or the heat. Sunscreen, shirts, sunglasses and lots of water are essential.
Many visitors to Brisbane take day trips to enjoy the very popular nearby beaches at the Gold Coast (south) or the Sunshine Coast (north). Beaches can be great fun and very enjoyable when safe. It is important to know that most of the coastal beaches are Pacific ocean beaches with little to no protection that coves and bays provide. They can become dangerous to swim in due to strong currents, rough or powerfully-breaking waves, and various harmful marine life. Ensure you only swim at beaches where and when lifeguards are on duty and between the flags displayed in front of lifeguard observers. Check with lifeguards for any present, or potential undercurrents, rips, tows, or for the presence of bluebottles, stinging jellyfish, or other potential dangers prior to swimming. Advise the on-duty lifeguards if you are inexperienced in swimming at a beach so they can give you more attention. Avoid going past waist-deep if you are not a strong swimmer. Parents should accompany their children while they swim as rips, undertows, strong currents, and rough breaking waves can cause extreme difficulty. Sadly there have been tourists who have drowned due to inexperience with swimming in an ocean setting. Do not swim after consuming alcohol as it can affect your ability to swim and has been a contributing factor in some drowning fatalities. Avoid swimming near anyone using equipment such as surfboards, windsurfers, parasails, sailing craft or power craft such as jetskis, and motorboats.
Where to go next
Brisbane provides a base for day trips to explore the southeast of Queensland. The North Coast of New South Wales can also be reached in an hour if traffic is light, but allow up to two hours travel if traffic is heavy or there is an accident on the Pacific Motorway. Queensland Rail also provides extensive services out of Brisbane to the north and south of the city and to the Gold Coast.
North West of Brisbane:
- Samford Valley – about 30 mins drive north west of Brisbane CBD. A beautiful rural valley with a historic hamlet, Samford Village. A great day trip for the family.
North of Brisbane:
- Glass House Mountains National Park – about an hour north of Brisbane. There is a scenic drive through the mountains with a couple of lookouts, or you can go for a hike – easy or difficult, depending on the mountain. (Mt. Beerwah offers a stern but quick scramble and a good view of the area.) There are a few small roadside shops in the area that sell homemade jams and varieties of macadamia nuts.
- Beerwah – home of the Australia Zoo, run by the family of the late “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin. Admission is $57 for adults.
- Sunshine Coast – 90 minutes north of Brisbane, suitable for surfers without the clutter of the more famous beaches to the south. The city of Noosa and several derivatively-named cities (e.g., Noosa Heads, Noosaville) offer short and long-term accommodation, some restaurants and a few stretches of shops aimed at tourists with and without a budget.
- Sunshine Coast Hinterland – 90 minutes north of Brisbane. Crafts and galleries and cafés and lots of bushwalks and scenic views in the Blackall Ranges at Maleny, Montville, Flaxton and Mapleton.
- Eumundi – famous markets on Wednesday and Saturday.
- North Stradbroke Island and South Stradbroke Island – amazing beaches, 4WD and fishing, accommodation, all very close to Brisbane.
- Moreton Island – Holiday destination very close to Brisbane. Dive and snorkel Tangalooma Wrecks, go sand tobogganing, 4wd.
- Fraser Island – World Heritage listed site, offering pristine, unspoiled lakes, dunes, forests and wildlife. Camping is possible, or day-trips can be arranged from Noosa. World’s largest sand island.
- Redcliffe This peninsula located 45 minutes north is famous for its long stretch of beach, friendly locals and excellent food, shops and climate.
South of Brisbane:
- Gold Coast – famous for being a tourist town, approximately 70 km south of Brisbane on the Pacific Motorway.
- Dreamworld and Whitewater World – Theme park in the western Gold Coast suburb of Coomera, on the Pacific Motorway. Many large thrill rides including the ‘Tower of Terror’ and the ‘Giant Drop’ and roller coasters. There are also child-friendly rides and Australian animal attractions and shows, as well as a Tiger exhibit. Whitewater World is a water park adjacent to Dreamworld and offers the newest technology in water rides. It costs extra to get into, but you can buy a pass that gets you into both parks for a discounted price.
- Movieworld – Another theme park near ‘Dreamworld’ and ‘Wet ‘n’ Wild Water World.’ Generally longer, more cinematic and atmospheric rides, shows and attractions.
- Seaworld – aquatically-themed park sandwiched on a peninsula between the Gold Coast Seaway and the Pacific Ocean, located in Southport (just north of the Gold Coast.) A few rides, but popular for its impressive animal shows and exhibits.
- Wet ‘n’ Wild Water World – Water park on the Gold Coast, with heated rides and pools for winter. Large number of thrill rides and also mellow relaxation areas.
- Mt. Tamborine National Park – extensive areas of National Park plus arts, crafts, galleries and the like, near several forest hikes. There are some excellent fudge shops at the top of Mt. Tamborine that offer generous free samples and a staggering variety of flavours.
- Surfers Paradise – tourist Mecca, and arguably the most upmarket area on the Gold Coast. Located on a life-guarded beach front, host to Caville Avenue, and several shopping malls.
- Lower Moreton Bay
- Moreton Bay – includes places like Moreton Island (where Scooby Doo was filmed) and St. Helena Island (a former maximum security prison for convicts.)
West of Brisbane:
- Ipswich – is located 40 km west of Brisbane. 45 minutes by road from Brisbane City.
- Brisbane Skydiving Centre – offers tandem skydiving and advanced freefall courses. Willowbank.
- Workshops Rail Museum – The whole family will enjoy the birthplace of Queensland Rail and enjoy the interactive exhibits at this award-winning museum. North Street, North Ipswich.
- Brookwater Golf Club – An 18 hole Greg Norman championship golf course and Australia’s No. 2 public access course.
- Queensland Raceway – Queensland’s premier race circuit. This is the only location near Brisbane where members of the public can drive on the same racetrack as professional drivers. Champions Way, Willowbank.
- Bunya Mountains National Park – Three hours west of Brisbane. One of the oldest national parks in Queensland. Home of the ancient bunya pine and many other species of plants, birds and other animals. Stay at least three nights to have time to hike in the park.
Where to stay in Brisbane after the Reopening of Hotels
Hotels Brisbane: Popularity
|Hotel||Stars||Discount||Price per night, from||Choose dates|
ibis Styles Brisbane Elizabeth Street
Capri by Fraser Brisbane
Meriton Suites Adelaide Street
Next Hotel Brisbane
Novotel Brisbane South Bank
Rydges Fortitude Valley
Royal On The Park
The Sebel Brisbane
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