Last updated on 3rd April 2020
Gateway to Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast
Brisbane is the capital of Queensland at the Australian East Coast. It felt to me like a little Sydney. Brisbane River is zigzagging through the city centre and is therefore used for public transport. Many ferries provide their services here: private ones and the public City Hopper, which is free of charge. And so, that’s what I did to start with in Brisbane and let the ferry carry me all around the CBD. It takes some time as the ferry is not exactly fast but provides the best views onto the skyline and the Story Bridge, but you will also see the Brisbane City Botanical Garden along the riverbanks and opposite site the climbing rocks at Kangaroo Point.
The Story Bridge is named after John Douglas Story, a politician. The bridge was designed by the same architect as the Sydney harbor bridge. The bridge can be climbed, like in Sydney, but also can be just crossed, which I did, and then walk along the southern side of the river called Southbank. This is also a great path for jogging, with the skyline of Brisbane on the other side, very nice.
On Southbank one finds the huge swimming pool, the Brisbane City Council Pool. As all other pools along the coastline it is free to use, and just a wonderful playground on a hot day. Further down there is the university and the library.
The CBD on the other side of the river is dominated by huge skyscrapers built close to each other, creating a New-York like feeling. It’s a bit too close and narrow if you ask me. The second most important part of CBD is the Casino with all its facilities, it’s a massive business in Brisbane. And certainly, there is a huge shopping area, and a few churches.
The best way to explore the CBD is to take a Free City Tour, provided by the Tourist Information every day at 10:30. Even in the pouring rain, as on the day I happened to do the tour. But no worries, there are shelters aplenty along the way. The tour is run by volunteers who are locals and will give another perspective. They also show some parts that a tourist might not easily find and recommend some cafes and places to go. One I remember, a highlight of the tour to me, was going inside the City Hall, seeing the event hall with its huge organ, and the sweet little café at its entrance, the Shingle Inn. It is also possible to climb the Clock Tower, but it is by far not the tallest building anymore. And by the way, the Tourist Information itself is worth a visit as it is a stunning office: they reside in the remains of a former grand theatre!
Unfortunately, the north side of the river is flanked by at least two main roads with several lanes in each direction. It can only be crossed at certain points. The path for pedestrians and cyclists stretches underneath the roads, hovering over the river. It also can be accessed only at certain points. A very annoying concept, and noisy too. Further up in that direction is a second beautiful Botanical Garden, the Roma Street Parkland and the railway & bus station. From here I chose to escape the buzz of the city and caught a tour bus to explore Moreton Island and another one to Fraser Island, and eventually moved further south by train to the Gold Coast, namely Surfers Paradise.