Action, adventure, art, relaxation, nightlife – Brisbane serves up a high octane mix on a 3 night/4 day visit, writes Shane Boocock.
It was with great anticipation that we chose Brisbane for a short break holiday to reacquaint ourselves with this easy going, sub-tropical city. We’d heard this super borough had undergone a metamorphic change and that nowadays it was a sophisticated metropolis to rival other big cities – we were not to be disappointed. There was a time in the not too distant past when Queensland’s capital city of 1.8 million was known for falling asleep early and, in some cases, not waking up – well, how things have changed!
Today’s Brisbane has transformed itself into a revitalised urban playground, a vibrant city that is bristling with wildlife, nightlife and some afterburner life. Brissy, as Aussies love to call it, also teems with inner city adventures, culture, street sculptures, arts, entertainment, culinary delights and a touch of quirkiness. On our first night out we made the short journey to Ann Street in the suburb of Fortitude Valley. Once synonymous with houses of ill repute, gambling dens and unsavoury characters, nowadays the ‘Valley’ is one of the central hubs of Brisbane’s nightlife. This area attracts chic Brisbane urbanities to its renowned bars, classy cafes and restaurants and late night club action.
The Emporium is the place many people sway to the Brisbane beat, with flash new restaurants such as Freestyle Tout and The Depot that serve tasty tapas and fancy drinks. A wee bit further down Ann St., we were poured sassy new cocktails at a joint called The Bowery. Taking its name from a street in New York once infamous for its speakeasies and gin joints, the owners have created a cocktail bar reminiscent of the prohibition era. This place pulsates with live jazz during the week and some of Brisbane’s finest DJs on the weekend.
The next day we hopped on a river ferry for the five minute trip to Story Bridge Adventure Climb. Dressed in oversized jump suits, we climbed the girders as part of a group, all clipped together on a static line. The climb lasted 2½ hours and once on top you’ll be rewarded with the breathtaking panorama of Brisbane and the far off Glasshouse Mountains. It’s a great experience that’s ideal for all levels of fitness. Get in on the celebrations – this year the Story Bridge will host its 70th birthday – it was first opened on July 6, 1940.
Twenty four hours later we followed the scent of malted hops drifting in the air at the home of XXXX.
Established in 1878 as Castlemaine Perkins Brewery, Brisbane’s landmark Fourex Brewery has tours which include, of course, free beer. Lasting 75 minutes, our beer journey started in the Visitor Centre where we learnt the origins of beer (brewed since 1924) and brewing, and the colourful story of XXXX.
It’s not surprising to find Brisbane has a strong cultural heartbeat. Entities such as Brisbane’s Maritime Museum, the Queensland Museum, the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, the Brisbane Powerhouse and GoMA, the city’s new Gallery of Modern Art, feature major exhibitions – think Warhol and Picasso, as well as indigenous and ethnic artwork.
Fly direct to Brisbane with:
• Air New Zealand from Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch or Dunedin, http:www.airnewzealand.co.nz
• Pacific Blue from Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch, http://www.flypacificblue.co.nz
• Qantas from Auckland or wellington, www.qantas.co.nz
• Jetstar from Christchurch, http://www.jetstar.co.nz
• Emirates from Auckland, http://www.emirates.com/nz
• Royal Brunei from Auckland, http://www.bruneiair.com
Arriving at Brisbane International Airport, there are a number of easy options for getting to the city:
• For more information on the Brisbane Airport go to: http://www.brisbaneairport.com.au
• By Rail: Airtrain services depart every 30 minutes from Brisbane Airport and stop at five stations in central Brisbane, http://www.airtrain.com.au
• By taxi: taxi ranks are located outside the International terminal. the journey from Brisbane International Airport to the central city costs approximately Aud$35, http://www.yellowcab.com.au or http://www.blackandwhitecabs.com.au
• By coach: Coachtrans is Brisbane Airport’s licensed coach operator, operating a fleet of air-conditioned coaches, 7 days a week, and meeting all major flights into Brisbane’s domestic and international airports, http://www.coachtrans.com.au
• Brisbane has a comprehensive network of buses including a hop-on-hop-off service called “city sights tour”, plus rail and river ferry services to help you discover the city, http://www.translink.com.au
• Citycat – Metrolink Queensland, http://transinfo.qld.gov.au
• The XXXX Brewery tour, south Brisbane, http://www.xxxxalehouse.com.au
• Suncorp Stadium, across the street from the XXXX Brewery, http://www.suncorpstadium.com.au
• Painting traffic signal boxes, http://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au
• The Bowery, http://www.thebowery.com.au
• GOMA Gallery of Modern Art, http://www.qag.qld.gov.au
• Queensland Performing Arts centre, http://www.qpac.com.au
• Brisbane Powerhouse, www.brisbanepowerhouse.org
• Queensland Museum, http://www.qm.qld.gov.au
• Queensland Maritime Museum, http://www.maritimemuseum.com.au
• Story Bridge Climb, headquarters at Kangaroo Point. (Minimum age 10), http://www.sbac.net.au
• Riverlife Adventure centre, http://www.riverlife.com.au
• Biking around the city is another great way to see Brisbane, http://www.gardens-cycle-hire.com