The Brisbane River weaves around the city’s peninsulas as freely as the friendly vibes float along the undulating streets. Brisbane is one of those cities which embraces its visitors immediately on arrival. Ask any local for recommendations and they’ll probably be able to list enough activities to keep you entertained for much longer than your intended stay; which in my case is just 24 hours.
I flew out of Perth early with Virgin Australia ensuring I have the maximum amount of exploration time. Given the rules on using electronic devices on board has recently been relaxed it was novel to write, listen to music, play games and read gate-to-gate.
I’m staying at the ibis Brisbane on Turbot St and the location is superb. From here I’m within close proximity to many attractions like the bustling Queen Street Mall, the South Bank promenade, Brisbane City Hall, the Treasury Casino, parklands, Brisbane River and also within walking distance (or a short cab ride) to the Roma Street station where the Airtrain can deliver you from the domestic airport in just 27 minutes for $16.00 one way. Oh, and we mustn’t forget the Chocolate Soldiers café across the street.
I resist the temptation to slip in between the cocooning sheets, fluffy pillows and honeycombe mattress which are part of the “Sweet Bed by ibis” range. I remember the comfortable bed and linen well from my Perth ibis stay last month. (Read more about my Perth stay here).
The view from the 15th floor beckons me to linger too. It’s a rainy day and everyone dashes about below avoiding raindrops; even the usually lazy river seems to hurry. The skyline is littered with cranes and there is a buzz of progress and opportunity in the air. I later discover some of the activity is attributed to rebuilding after the floods of 2011, and looking at the angry river now it’s easy to envision its banks breaking.
A few minutes away by taxi and I’m at the Eagle St Pier to meet family for dinner who have driven down from the Sunshine Coast. I love Brisbane’s proximity to other destinations like the Gold Coast, the hinterlands, islands, national parks, wineries and of course some of the best beaches in the country. But back to the important stuff like food, which is something you’ll be in no shortage of in Brisbane. There’s plenty of options at the Eagle Street Pier like the low-key Guzman Y Gomez right up to one of Australia’s best restaurants, Aria. We all agree on Cha Cha Char’s premium steaks and sweeping views of the Brisbane River and Story Bridge.
Next time I’m in town I’ll have to check out the Eat Streets Markets at Hamilton Wharf which open from 4.00pm until 10.00pm every Friday to Sunday and can be reached by the CityCat. The pop-up markets are a series of converted shipping containers peddling a multi-cultural range of cuisines, wares and live entertainment.
The following day I save my feet and the environment with a carbon free rickshaw tour with Green Cabs. They treat me to their Grand Riverside Tour which takes about an hour. From the ibis we fly along Kurilpa Bridge and the South bank promenade which requires a full day just to explore the pretty parklands and the cultural precinct which includes the Gallery of Modern Art, Queensland Art Gallery, the pop-up circus tent compliments of the Brisbane Festival which runs every September, the Big Wheel, a range of eateries and of course, amazing views of the skyline.
The rickshaw joins the passing parade on Goodwill Bridge and whizzes past the lush Botanical Gardens with wonderful views of the Kangaroo Point cliffs (and home to the Brisbane Jazz Club) and the Story Bridge which you can climb with Story Bridge Adventure Climb. We continue onto Eagle Street Pier where the rickshaw is hijacked for a photo shoot; a crowd gathers as the model drapes herself and the bag she’s selling over the rickshaw and my bemused driver Darcy.
Gliding past the city’s grand architecture, I’m deposited at the Queen Street Mall with over 700 shops ranging from the high-end Queens Plaza and Wintergarden, to the charming Brisbane Arcade and Tattersall’s Arcade and of course the Myer Centre. The Queen Street Mall is a constant hub of activity as city workers, locals and visitors congregate to socialise, shop and eat. On Wednesdays at the top of the Queen Street Mall at Raddacliff Place, there are over 200 farmers’ market stalls.
In just a few minutes walk and I’m back at the ibis Hotel. The clouds have parted and the city is abuzz; I can’t wait to return.
I was a guest of ibis Brisbane, Virgin Australia and Green Cabs. Thank you for your hospitality.