Most people probably know Brisbane as the huge tourist destination it is in Australia, where all kinds of theme and water parks can be visited and fun can be had by the entire family. That wasn’t what I wanted to do in Brisbane and even though I found a lot of things to do, there was so much more I could have done. And none of those things I did were theme or water parks.
I was in Brisbane for a week and unfortunately I was just starting to get sick and my body was in pain so I didn’t get a chance to fully enjoy everything the area had to offer. What I did do though was visit several museums, hold a koala and get my picture taken, eat chocolate, and buy myself a beautiful tote bag from Country Road. I also rented a car for a day and drove down to the Gold Coast.
GETTING AROUND BRISBANE
Getting Around Brisbane
You can rent a car while in Brisbane but I found using the public transportation system quite easy and it got me everywhere I chose to go. Also, there are tolls on some of the roads. I did learn how to use Uber when I was there though so that and taxis are also an option (Vancouver still doesn’t have ride share as of the end of 2018).
One thing that completely impressed me about travelling via the public bus system in several Australian cities, including Brisbane, is there are areas where the bus doesn’t travel along busy city streets. Instead, there are these busways. Busways are really kind of like highways solely for the public buses to travel along. It means you have to get to a station so the stops aren’t as convenient, but it also means you don’t sit in traffic which allows you to reach your destination much quicker.
Brisbane uses the tap-on tap-off method of payment with the Go Card travel card that you can conveniently replenish using machines at different stations, online, over the phone, or at select shops. The Go Card can be used on all trains, buses, and ferries in South East Queensland. I never took advantage of it but there is also a free service for the bus and ferry. The City Loop and Spring Hill Loop free inner city bus runs from 7am to 6pm on weekdays. Also traveling between North Quay and Sydney St New Farm, is the free CityHopper ferry service.
CBD (CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT)
I spent a few hours in Brisbane’s CBD. I visited City Hall and the Museum of Brisbane, and I walked around a bit checking out the historical building facades of Queen Street Mall, while I did some shopping. It’s where I found the Noosa Chocolate Factory as well as what was quickly becoming my favourite Australian shop, Country Road. I didn’t do a lot of shopping because I had more travelling to do and I couldn’t add to my luggage but I did get a large, stunning, tote bag on an amazing sale at Country Road. I could fold it to fit in my suitcase and I had been drooling over it since I first saw it in Adelaide, so of course I had to purchase it. Really that was my day in the CBD but there was more shopping to explore if you wanted. Especially the Gold Coast.
Noosa Chocolate Factory
I was in the CBD and knew I had to catch the public bus on Adelaide Street to get to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary (link below to read about that experience) but I had time before the bus arrived so I walked a bit. I’m so happy I did too because I found Noosa Chocolate Factory (website). They had all sorts of chocolate covered items as well as beverages. Here is what I tried.
Chocolate Covered Macadamia Nuts
For me chocolate covered nuts are almost always going to be a winner. You just can’t go wrong with them. Plus, I tell myself it’s protein so it makes them healthy. I find macadamia nuts delicious so covering them in chocolate was a big win for me.
Chocolate Covered Freeze Dried Strawberries
Strawberries are my favourite fruit and when you freeze dry them, it amplifies the flavour. Makes them much more strawberry-y. Cover those super charged strawberry pieces of goodness in chocolate and yeah, you have a yummy, flavourful treat.
Chocolate Covered Honeycomb
Have you ever had a Crunchie chocolate bar? This is what these pieces tasted like. Honey comb is a sweet, crunchy, melt in your mouth treat, all covered in chocolate. So again, it was good.
Iced 72% Chocolate Drink
Because I apparently need to try all chocolate drinks, I picked up the iced one offered at Noosa. It was made with soy milk, ice, and 72% chocolate. Not chocolate powder or chocolate sauce but actual chocolate. I enjoyed my cold, chocolate drink on the nice warm day that’s for sure. Cooling down with chocolate is kinda perfect really.
MUSEUMS IN BRISBANE
Queensland Art Gallery
Queensland Art Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art (website for both) are conveniently located across from each other. It’s wonderful, you get to enjoy all types of art in one day. The Queensland Art Gallery displays a wide range of Australian and local artists in many mediums. I myself really enjoyed the wall of painted portraits, but there were so many wonderful pieces to see in the gallery.
You can enjoy the permanent exhibits of the Australian Art Collection, the Indigenous Art Collection, and the International Art Collection. As well as the short term exhibits showcasing individual artists, shown throughout the year.
Admission to the Queensland Art Gallery is free except for some exhibits and events which have an admission fee. The gallery is open daily 10 am – 5 pm except for some holidays.
Gallery of Modern Art
What a wonderful art gallery (website above). I really enjoyed visiting and seeing the exhibits they had on display. I ran out of time before I could visit everything but what I saw was worth it. There was even an interactive, enclosed slide for people to slide down from an upper level.
Normally I prefer more traditional and historical art to the modern stuff but I really loved what I saw at GOMA. I’m not sure if it’s the way they had it all exhibited or just the art they chose to display but whatever it was, it worked. I really enjoyed myself and my time spent here.
Admission to the Gallery of Modern Art is free. Some exhibits and special events do have an entry fee though. They are also open daily 10 am – 5 pm except for some holidays. Wanna see something after hours? There is a light installation on the exterior of the building that runs from sunset to midnight.
Brisbane City Hall
I didn’t have a chance to tour around the Brisbane City Hall (website) too much, I only went there to visit the Museum of Brisbane. I do wish I would have seen more of City Hall though. It has so much history. It was in the process of renovations while I visited but it was still open to the public.
Museum of Brisbane
The Museum of Brisbane (website) is a smaller museum located on level 3 of the Brisbane City Hall. It’s open daily and admission is free. There were quite a few awesome collections to see but for me, I really enjoyed the permanent Perspectives of Brisbane exhibit. Using historic photographs, film, facts and stories, it shares the history of the area for us to learn. It really was a great exhibit and a wonderful experience. I learned quite a bit about the history of the area. From the first colony to local flooding, it told it all.
Queensland Museum and Sciencentre
This museum had a lot to offer but I enjoyed being shown the history of dinosaurs and animals in the area as well as the special experience of learning about the Hadron Collider. I had to buy a ticket for it at an additional cost but it was such a great learning experience.
I’m not a big nerd or anything, I mean I like some sci-fi but just some, just the popular mainstream stuff. But even I was super excited with the Hadron Collider exhibit. It is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator. Squueee! That’s pretty cool sci-fi stuff right there but this is real life. Don’t ask me to get all scientific on you and explain what I learned because I can’t but I can tell you it is a 27-km long tunnel made mostly out of superconducting magnets.
I liked the Queensland Museum and Sciencentre (website) and how it mixed several different things together in one place. It’s also another place where you can get a hands-on, interactive experience.
The Queensland Art Gallery, the Gallery of Modern Art, and the Queensland Museum and Sciencentre are all located in the Queensland Cultural Centre in South Brisbane. Just across the bridge from the CBD. The Cultural Centre also contains the Queensland Performing Arts Centre and the State Library of Queensland.
MORE IN BRISBANE
Streets Beach – A Beach in the City
Other than the Queensland Cultural Centre, South Brisbane is also where you will find Streets Beach. Australia’s only inner-city, man-made beach. A beautiful lagoon surrounded by sandy beaches and various plants, it’s free and has lifeguards.
Tourist and locals use this beach so it does get quite busy. There is free Wi-Fi to use, public toilets, and there is even a picnic area. It’s a great place to relax in the sun and swim in the water, all without leaving the city.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is another great option to visit while you’re in Brisbane. You can read all about it here.
I really wanted to see more of the area than just Brisbane so I decided to rent a car for a day and drive down to the Gold Coast. I had chosen to rent the car from the airport so I could return it when I was leaving. It meant I wouldn’t have to walk as much or travel on the public transportation system with my luggage. But Brisbane has a lot of roads with tolls on them plus it costs a bit more to take the train to the airport so you should be aware of these additional costs if you decide to rent from the airport.
Shopping and a Beach in Gold Coast
The drive was lovely even though most of it was inland on a big highway. It did take me past all the theme parks though and that was kinda reminiscent of California. Because I didn’t have a goal in mind, I ended up just doing a bit of driving around, seeing the different areas, and getting a feel of it all. It was nice seeing all the different homes and buildings. Then I came upon the Pacific Fair Shopping Centre (website) so I had to stop. This shopping centre was amazing. Parts of it were outdoors, there were comfy chairs to sit on, and a lot of the shops were very high-end. It was quite the experience.
I drove a little further south and unfortunately I’m not sure where it was exactly but it was so quant. It looked like the quintessential definition of what most of us tourists think of as Australian. I watched so many people walk around in their swimsuits, barefoot, and some carrying surfboards while I was parked on a one way street of shops and restaurants. I went up the road a few blocks and there was the beach. There were so many cars around it was hard to find parking so I drove up a residential street where there were houses on one side and a park overlooking the beach and ocean on the other. On the day I roamed around there was some sort of maybe festival going on with music and even some vendors.
All in all, it was a great way to spend a day out of Brisbane and see a bit more of what the area has to offer. It has a lot to offer by the way.
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