I would like to introduce you to one of Australia’s most vibrant and culturally diverse cities and my home since 2014. Brisbane is a hub of music, sport, art and many other aspects of Australia’s rich history.
Visitors to Australia often find it difficult to experience the country as a whole due to its sheer size. Brisbane manages to contain a huge amount within the city’s limits and surrounding areas. This allows tourists to have a taste of much of what Australia has to offer without having to travel far and wide.
Even public transport doubles as sightseeing with the CIty Cat water taxi! Explore Brisbane from the beautiful river that characterises this city.
One of the best things about Brisbane is its proximity to Queensland's incredible beaches and mountains. While Fraser and North Stradbroke Island are popular weekend getaways, less than two hours away Moreton Island is less frequented and a bit of a local secret. There you can snorkel amongst magnificent coral, fish and sea turtles at the ship-wrecks, feed wild dolphins, and sandboard down the huge sand dunes with the kids.
North of Brisbane you will find a whole range of places to see and do. For an action-packed day, visit Eumundi Markets on a Saturday morning to pick up some quirky, locally made artisan treasures. Hike up Mt Coolum for panoramic sea views, and afterwards my kids always beg me to take them to the Coolum Aqua Park. For a lazy afternoon, Noosa Heads has a beautiful beach and great shopping along Hastings St.
If you can squeeze it in, stop at Australia zoo (owned by the famous Irwin family) on your way back to Brisbane to see its spectacular snake, crocodile and bird shows.
Less than an hour South you'll get to Mount Tamborine and Springbrook National Park, which has stunning waterfalls and rainforest walks. A little bit further and you'll also find the famous Gold Coast and Surfers Paradise, which is a little bit Miami-meets-Vegas, so fun for a night out on the town.
While I don't go out West too often as it quite of a drive, there you can get a real taste of country Australian culture. The Granite Belt is known for its beautiful scenery and wineries. Closer to home you'll find “Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary”, the first and largest sanctuary of its type boasting over 130 koalas, among other native animals.
The all-year outdoor climate means that dining al-fresco is always an option. The Regatta Hotel & The Boatshed is local and one of our family favourites; described as Brisbane’s ultimate bar experience it is also combined with high-end riverside dining. Eagle Street Pier has other family favorites including Sake and Cha Char, and James Street Harvey's do a great lunch.
For a romantic date Montrachet and Aria are a standout. Many restaurants at Southbank and along the river offer many other choices, not least for breakfast or brunch. You'll always have a great restaurant to hand. If you like seafood be sure to also try our local Moreton Bay bugs while in town.
For a unique, night-time food fix the Eat Street markets at Hamilton are second to none and perfect for the whole family.
Some of my personal shopping destinations include Calexico (for both men & women) and Brisbane's very own jewellery designer Natasha Schweitzer, both in James Street. At James Street you'll also find a whole range of other lifestyle and homeware stores. South Bank is bustling with outdoor food and craft markets.
Even if the weather incurs some days of rain the innumerable theatres, cinemas, museums and galleries will mean that you’ll always be able to find something to do! We especially love the Blue Room Cinebar in Rosalie for family nights out.
In short, if you are looking for a place to experience the best of Australia, while cutting out all the travel, you couldn’t do much better than Brisbane! But do remember it is the sunshine state so "screen" up well and travel safe.