An outdoorsy city year-round
Some often overlook Brisbane as just a good waypoint on the road to better things, such as the tropics of northern Queensland, or days of sun and fun on the Gold Coast.
But just below the surface is BrisVegas and hundreds of backpackers and unassuming locals happy to go about their day making the most of this often unrecognised city.
With such a large meandering river, there isn’t an obvious central point in which to start exploring, though it is obvious where you must go first but more of that later.
It is likely you might start at the Roma Street train station having caught the train in however it is clear from the many ferries that make their way down the Brisbane River that getting around town will be not only reasonably easy but also quite fun and relaxing, two words not often associated with public transport in Australia.
We shall start with the CityCats. These are express ferries that go up and down the river and there will be on at a dock near you every 15 minutes.
They are fast and a great way to travel quickly from A to B.
But who said we were in a hurry?
The CityHopper is a more attractive proposition for backpackers. It is free.
Not only that, it goes at a more leisurely pace that allows for more fabulous sightseeing and appreciation of the riverside landscape.
Before you inevitably skip from the North Bank and head to Southbank check out King George Square which often hosts some significant events including bands, indie markets and the monthly games night which is a must-attend night while you’re in town.
With huge board games and giant versions of Jenga and Connect Four, have a little bit of unadulterated fun before you head out into town.
Nearby are also Brisbane’s best gardens and parks including the Botanic Gardens and the Roma Street Parklands which is the world’s largest sub-tropical park.
Pass some time by roaming the gardens and if the suns out (wait, it’s pretty much guaranteed the sun will be out), soak in some rays and relax by the ponds or the riverbank.
While you’re there head to the Queens Street Mall for a great shopping experience as well as excellent bars and restaurants.
Although busy, it offers up a great vibe and will keep you busy for a while yet.
OK, ok you’ve been patient it is time to head across and make ourselves at home on Southbank.
Southbank is Brisbane’s best attraction, and if you don’t go anywhere else in the city, you’ll be fine if you spend a lot of time here, which believe me is easy.
Whether you walk around or ride around, it is easy to see everything in a day, yet there is enough to keep you coming back for more.
So you’re wandering the lagoon area when bam you see a beach!
Good thing you brought your bathers because you were expecting to see an inner-city beach, the only one in the world!
Now you start to feel a little sad that you were led to believe Brisbane was just a waypoint.
Nearby is also Picnic Island a great human-made tropical island fitted with BBQs and a huge fig tree great for a little escape with your fellow backpackers.
A short walk back west along the tree-lined walkways will lead you to the Nepalese Peace Pagoda and the State Library of Queensland.
I know libraries aren’t for backpackers.
It would be like dressing up in ski gear and going to the beach, it just doesn’t work, but hey we have learnt perception isn’t reality in this city.
This library is full of free events, markets, movie screenings and live bands, definitely not as nerdy as it sounded at first and it is well worth checking out!
On top of that follow the Public Art Trail that runs through Southbank for one of the more quirky walks you will have around Brisbane.
The sun is slowly coming down, and the beauty of the city lights are finally getting the chance to show off.
As much as we backpackers love exploring the city during the day, learning the culture and mixing in with the town’s vibe is what travel is all about.
Let’s be honest, night time is where it’s at.
So you have traded clear and picturesque daytime views for dark, but with the river lit up and the atmosphere lifting in Southern Brisbane it is an incredible place to take it all in.
And the view ain’t that bad.
Also if you are in town in October and November don’t forget to go to the Open-air Cinema at night alongside some of the best music acts in the city.
But here is where it gets tricky, bummer.
There are two great nightlife areas in the city, the West End which is close if you are in Southbank, or Fortitude Valley which is a ten minute taxi drive on the northern side of the city.
Picking is the hardest part.
If you choose the West End check out The Hi Fi, a great live music venue and the Lychee Lounge.
If you head to the Valley, head to the Empire Hotel or Family.
Wherever you’re staying there is always something close by though these two areas are where you want to be every Friday and Saturday night.
The sun is rising and you’re not really keen to get out of bed, much less get out of town but as good as the city is there are also great options nearby.
Moreton Bay and the Gold Coast are literally just around the corner along with great tropical regions in the north.
But live a little in the town they call BrisVegas for a while and it will become the centre of your view of Queensland not just a simple waypoint.