Brisbane Australia

Sightseeing and Things to Do

Ana Alarcon / TripSavvy

Brisbane (pronounced BRIS'bn) is Australia's third largest city and the capital of the state of Queensland. It is located in the southeast section of the state with the city's eastern suburbs facing the Pacific Ocean.

The city of Brisbane took its name from the Brisbane River which runs through the city. Brisbane River is named after Sir Thomas Brisbane, Governor of New South Wales from 1821 to 1825, while the state — Queensland — is named after Queen Victoria (1819-1901).

Because Brisbane lies between the more popular Queensland tourist destinations of the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, and the Great Barrier Reef lies along the state's northeastern seaboard, Brisbane tends to lose out as a primary Queensland tourist destination.

Yet Brisbane has its own unique attractions: a well-sited and comprehensive cultural center, heritage buildings more than a hundred years old, and an unhurried lifestyle more in keeping with the country than that of a modern, vibrant metropolis.

Surprisingly, Brisbane has no sister city relationship with any place in North and South America, Africa and Europe. Its seven sister cities are Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; Auckland, New Zealand; Chongqing and Shenzhen, China; Daejeon, South Korea; Kobe, Japan; and Semarang, Indonesia.

Brisbane's Learned to Swing

In years past Queensland has gained the reputation of being a conservative state and not as progressive or forward-looking as the cities of Sydney and Melbourne.

That Queensland is a conservative wowser area is belied by the swinging Gold Coast and Brisbane's own restaurant and entertainment precincts as well as by its nightlife.

But, somehow, the air of a country town continues to pervade the Brisbane region, enhanced no doubt by the look of the Queenslander, a dwelling with wide verandas and built on stilts, which exists in large numbers just outside the city's more populous residential areas.

It's in the city center with its tall and more modern buildings standing cheek by jowl with structures from its colonial past that Brisbane exudes the feel of a more vibrant metropolis. The city has been built on the banks of the Brisbane River which snakes through the city center.

Queensland Art Gallery and Museum

Cross Victoria Bridge from the central business district, or take the newer pedestrian Kurilpa Bridge, and you can, if you wish, start your tour of Brisbane at the Queensland Cultural Centre.

In the center are the Queensland Art Gallery and the Queensland Museum adjacent to each other with the Queensland Performing Arts Centre across Melbourne St. at the foot of the southern end of Victoria Bridge.

The performing arts complex, with its Lyric Theatre, Concert Hall and a small studio theatre, is the city's premier venue for music concerts and the staging of plays and popular musicals and highlights a peak in the culture of the city.

A pedestrian bridge links the Queensland Museum and the Queensland Art Gallery to the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, and also to lifts to platforms at the Cultural Centre Busway Station.

What to See and Do

Just east of the Performing Arts Complex is the South Bank Visitor Information Centre which is a treasure-trove of information on what to see and do in Brisbane.

The cultural center and the Brisbane parklands at South Bank can quite easily take the better part of a sightseeing day with a break for lunch.

Try the Ferry

In mid-afternoon, you may want to head back over Victoria Bridge, if you came by car, or jump on a ferry to North Quay at the northern end of the bridge. If you felt like a flutter, the Treasury Casino is just across the street.

From here you can then travel east to visit some of Queensland's historic buildings such as the Parliament House, built in 1868, and the Old Government House, which dates back to 1862, before crossing the street to the Brisbane Botanic Gardens.

If there's time for it, you may want to proceed to the Eagle St pier and take a cruise on the Brisbane River. There are evening dinner cruises which, unfortunately, don't leave much for sightseeing unless you can see in the dark.

But there's always tomorrow and there's much more to discover.

 Ana Alarcon / TripSavvy

Heritage Buildings

If you have an interest in Brisbane heritage buildings, you would, of course, have already visited Parliament House and Old Government House.

George St, in fact, is lined with a number of old heritage buildings. From the Victorian terraces close to Parliament House, walk west on George to view other heritage buildings built in the early 1800s.

You may also want to duck into the Gothic-style Old St Stephen's on Elizabeth St, view the Brisbane City Hall between Ann and Adelaide Sts, visit the Commissariat Stores on William St, or wonder at the Italian Renaissance building which now houses the National Bank on Queen St.

And there's the Old Windmill and Observatory on Wickham St which was built in 1828.

Culturally Diverse

Brisbane is now as culturally diverse as Sydney or Melbourne and the influence of other nations is seen in the Brisbane lifestyle, its cuisine and its many entertainment venues.

You will not want for good hotels and good restaurants, and Brisbane's city attractions are close by.

Travel destinations are mainly a matter of what you're looking for, and Brisbane with its many moods more than fills the bill for exploring an Australian city that is both new and old, and with an unhurried easy-going lifestyle close to fabled beaches.

Noosa and the Gold Coast

With the Gold Coast just south of it and Noosa and the Sunshine Coast in the north, Brisbane can be not only a haven between go-go partying on both these Queensland tourist coasts but a gateway to these coasts as well.

Or if you wanted more adventure in the tropical north, you could jump on a plane in Brisbane (or drive, or take a train) and head to Cairns for a trek into rainforests. And there's always diving and snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef. It really all depends on what you want to do!

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