For as long as I can remember, I have always had this insatiable urge to pack a suitcase, board a plane to an unknown destination and experience the many wonders of this place. As someone who grew up in a household being told of the wonderous tales of modern-day pirates lurking in the jungle of an unidentifiable Asian destination to the sloping mountains of New Zealand; my need to travel and explore the hidden depths of different cultures, religions and ethnicities alongside languages is a blessed trait gained from my Mother, Lois.
My ever-growing need to experience new cultures and languages originated one morning during a health lecture at my Queensland University, when talking to an Islamic woman. Having always been fascinated about Islamic women and their clothing attire, I found myself admiring the intricate folding of her hajib when this woman glanced up from her book and caught me openly staring. Instead of being ashamed of being caught, I merely smiled and asked her various questions about the jewelled pin she had used for her hijab, what her beliefs were regarding religion and if she had any recommendations for cheap but excellent coffee.
With my university days spent on a shoestring budget, I started looking at the surrounding world around me. Having lived in Brisbane for a majority of my life and opting to study the remaining years of my Bachelor of Nursing within the skyscrapers of the concrete jungle, I soon discovered Brisbane had an array of interesting places to visit. This is a list of my favourite places to visit, Brisbane edition.
1. Queensland Performing Arts Centre
Speaking of Queensland’s Performing Arts Centre, this is a destination to add to your places of visiting. Reason being: from a very young age, I have always been in love with the idea of world-acclaimed musicals being performed by extremely talented actors and musicians on Broadway. This is turn has spurned my love for one woman shows featuring yours truly at the ages of 8-12 performing live on the Royal Botanical Gardens stage.
From high kicks, jazz songs and made up comedy routines featuring my Grandparents that left you clutching your sides and praying to the big man upstairs that you wouldn’t wet your pants; my love for theatre, drama and singing continued developing as the years went on. Instead of performing one woman shows and settling for stand-up comedy featuring witty and smart comments based on the truth, I have turned my attention to professionals singing the songs whilst standing on stage.
If you are fortunate enough to be in Brisbane when QPAC has your favourite show or musical playing, I would highly recommend you jumping online or popping down to the centre in person and buying your tickets. Whilst I’m partially in favour of booking seats four rows back from the stage so it feels like I’m performing alongside the professionals, I’ve sat up the back of the theatre and haven’t found my nose bleeding at all.
If you aren’t still convinced about pulling out those glad rags, last year was spent venturing into the world of Mama Mia and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert with Lois and Kaffy. This year, we are planning on celebrating the new year with more musicals and shows. You can find out what’s happening at QPAC by clicking this link.
2. Queensland Performing Arts Centre & Gallery Of Modern Art (GOMA) Bridge
In need a break to relax that tired feet of yours before you go on your next adventure? One of the places I found myself resting after walking a few blocks of Brisbane would be the bridge between QPAC and GOMA. Not only do you get to take in the sight of Brisbane, in all of her/his glory while perched on the edge of a planter box, but you people watch. All without feeling guilty.
3. Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA)
Occasionally skipping a few loathed university subject lectures for adventure and exploration of what Brisbane had to offer outside of a textbook and notes (as you can read here), I discovered GOMA by pure mistake. Like you, I boarded Translink’s 333 Bus to the Cultural Centre Station and disembarked at the end of it travel route. Having walked up the concrete steps and taking a few moments to stare out over the city as the buses and pedestrians went by under me, the concrete stairs to GOMA await you on the other side of the bridge.
The first thing that shall greet you near the entry steps made of concrete to GOMA is a gigantic dinosaur near the front sliding glass doors. Do not fear for Dino doesn’t bite and merely stands there, guarding the door and overseeing those who come and go. Upon entering GOMA, the first thing that’ll greet you is the cold air and two silver escalators. I’d recommend bringing a light cardigan during winter, merely for the fact that it can be a little on the cool side due to some of the exhibitions available. While in summer, I recommend spending as long as possible inside, exploring what is available for you to gaze at and out of Brisbane’s heat and humidity.
If you are wanting to see the free and paying exhibitions at GOMA, travel up the escalator and you are ready to explore to your heart’s content. However, if an exhibition that requires an entry fee has tickled your fancy than I would recommend walking over to the right side of the escalator and ask one of the friendly customer service assistants how to go about purchasing your ticket for said exhibition. But before you go up the escalators, I suggest looking up at the sky as they have a gigantic plane from the early 20th century suspended from wires and it is simply breath-taking. It really is a place that can take your breath away whilst educating you on the wonder and beauty of Queensland and Australia’s history.
4. Cruising Around South Bank
There is nothing more fun than popping on a helmet and going for a cruise around South Bank. If visiting Brisbane during the summer months, I recommend waiting until the bone melting heat from the sun has died down alongside the humidity before heading out for a late afternoon and early evening bike ride around Brisbane river.
If ringing a bicycle bell and whizzing past those strolling alongside the river, there’s a loop which you can do and it takes you through South Bank, up over the Goodwill Bridge and along the city river front. Not only is it an easy route for those who aren’t hardcore pedal pushers and it’s also a great way to immerse yourself amongst the life of Brisbane.
5. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner at Max Brenner, South Bank
For someone who has no sense of direction at all, can’t read a map (go figure) and easily gets lost in her parent’s town, there is one place in South Bank where I don’t need to ask for directions. Max Brenner is within a short walking distance from South Brisbane’s train station (best train station to hop off if you wish to go to South Bank) and is easily located within the bustling centre district catering to various restaurants. Due to its sleek glass windows, gorgeously dark little sign featuring a bald man and the indulging urge to put your hands against the windows and peer in like Charlie.
There are many reasons why I love popping into Max Brenner and one of them is the interior design. Having always had a champagne taste for interior designing on a beer budget, there is something glossy and decadent about walking into an establishment with polished timber floors, shiny chrome and big vats of glorious, silky smooth chocolate. If you plan on visiting, I cannot highly recommend going in the early hours of when the establishment opens as there’ll be fewer people waiting in line and more options to ponder over your chosen dessert. Speaking of dessert, my favourite Max Brenner’s delicacy is the chocolate soufflé with strawberries…. talk about mouth-watering.
You can find the address and phone number for Max Brenner, South Bank here.
6. Visiting Brisbane’s Inner City Beach, South Bank
It can be stated Brisbane has a beach located in the middle of the city. However, the only downside to this fabulous beach is that it’s man-made and not natural in any sense, apart from the sand and rocks lining the edge. Although I would like to claim the first thing that takes your breath away is how pretty it looks at night, when you’ve snuck in at midnight for a naughty little swim but I would be lying.
Instead, the first thing that takes your breath away would the smell of chlorine and after a few minutes, you sort of adjust to the smell and then the true picturesque site of the pool backing onto the twinkling lights of Brisbane City is fantastic. Would definitely recommend later at night for a swim as you’ll have fewer people, than that of the day and you’ll be able to take a moment or two to appreciate the scenery.
7. Kangaroo Point Cliff Sunsets
There has been a few times throughout my years of living in Brisbane, where I have been asked if Kangaroo Point was named after an Australian famous Kangaroo named Skippy. It’s safe to say that I don’t know if the cliffs were named after a pod of kangaroos but I do know, Kangaroo Point Cliffs is the perfect place to take a date. Having grabbed some takeaway food or shown your date the impressive kitchen skills you possess by packing a picnic, head on up to cliff.
Where you can sit on the ground with your blanket spread out underneath you and watching the sun set over Brisbane’s CBD. Not only is it a really pretty place to woo a date with some fabulous sky colours of oranges, blues and iridescent pinks; but it’s a great area to kick back after a hard day at work or university and simply take a breather.
8. Coffee Break & City Views, Mount Coot-Tha
One of the most iconic and scenic places to visit is Mount Coot-Tha lookout and if you’re feeling a bit peck-ish, Kuta Café is a great place to have a bite, while taking in those gorgeous views of Brisbane CBD and extending to Moreton Bay. With Mount Coot-Tha offering scenic views during the day and a breathtaking, romantic wonderland of glistening lights at night as far as the eye can see, Mount Coot-Tha is merely a twenty-eight minute drive from the airport or is seven kilometre’s from the CBD. However, if you wish to take a bus tour through Brisbane, you can board Translink’s 471 bus as it travels from Adelaide Street in Brisbane City to the lookout at Mount Coot-Tha.
If you are feeling peck-ish or need of an ice cream to go with the views, Kuta Café is situated right next door to the look out. With the atmosphere responsibly something bustling and relaxing at the same time, which is Australia and Brisbane altogether in one word, Kuta offers a chilled and laid back menu that varies with ever-popular food items.
Complete with the option of deliciously chilled beverages and coffee that’ll melt your heart-strings. However, due to being a popular place for locals, first dates and brunch with family and girlfriends as well as tourists, finding a table inside or in the sun can be rather difficult; so prepare to stalk people for their tables and quickly snag it when they leave.
9. Partying Down Under… Down Under Bar
Back in my hay days of having completed my university assignments and needing any excuse to celebrate, the Down Under Bar or DUB as it’s fondly called by locals is the place to go. DUB is a bar filled to the brim with different nationalities as backpackers tend to roam the floors alongside broke students from the campuses located in the CBD, who love the idea of 5 dollar drinks (depending on the occasion and time) and the introduction of waking up with some unmentionable memories and a hangover.
My favourite memory to date is the evening I spent dancing away the hours upon the dance floor, having conversations with backpackers and travellers and seeing the sun rise as I crept home. Saint Pattie’s Day is one of the best times to visit DUB because the Irish leprechaun’s can be spotted near and far.
10. Brisbane’s Royal Botanical Gardens
When the idea of attending a pharmacology lecture was appealing as dried lettuce salad sandwhich and GOMA wasn’t cutting it for me, there would be only place left to go. It would be a place filled with endless childhood memories of me skipping down the pathway, sniffing the wild array of different flower species, failed attempts at doing a cart-wheel and feeding the eels delicate bites of bread and in return, running my finger down their silky, wet backs.
Leaving the world of concrete stairs and lectures filled with tutors, who sounded as if they had emphysema and should be on oxygen, life within Brisbane City’s Botanical Gardens is completely different to that of my childhood memories. As an adult, it is a fantastic place to have a midday picnic under the bright beams of the sun whilst being amongst the rolling plains of lush, green grass and gorgeous flowers. But do be aware of Brisbane’s world famous Bin Chicken, as presented by Sir David Attenborough, for they have been known to steal a sandwhich or two from a human’s hand or picnic rug.
However, if a picnic for one doesn’t sound all the appealing to the mind, I suggest going for a stroll down the endless winding pathways and exploring what the acres of lushness have to provide. You can start off going for a walk along the Brisbane river and see more of the beautiful brown water before ending up at the open air theatre, where Ed Sheeran has performed a time or two. So definitely go up on stage and feel the power as you stare out to the imaginary crowd before you and if you’re game, why not belt out a few bars or lyrics of your favourite song.
Not only is it a crowd stopper and pleasure for those who are strolling by. However, if singing Priscilla Queen of the Desert songs or a French melody is not your cup of tea, the Botanical Gardens offers a wide array of different options. When entering the golden gates and by taking a moment to appreciate what greets you, you will no doubt found yourself pondering about hidden and missed opportunities, lie down amongst the green grass and read endless sonnets about love and the human relationship.
Or, indulge your senses with the odd chapter or two on how to find your Mr. or Mrs. Darcy as per Jane Austin’s guidelines or spice up your sex life with a hidden erotic book. Least to say, this is how I found my mojo when writing about sex and the ever revolving door to friendships, romantic relationship and my never-ending love for the Botanical Garden (which you can read here and here).
Lastly, it offers the ability to sneak into weddings that are held alongside the river bank. Or if it’s anything to go by, Lois and I happened to accidentally stumble upon a couple who had been wondering endlessly through the grounds until they found their magical spot to get married. Even to this day, Lois and I still talk about that couple who gave up trying to hide the fact they were getting married and allowed Lois and I to watch and be part of their ceremony, as witnesses. This memory is my utmost favourite of all time, besides hosting my own concerts for those who passed by.
If you have the desire to escape for a few hours or have a few days up your sleeve to travel and explore what Brisbane as to offer, these are just some of my favourite places to visit and consume. Whether you live in Brisbane or plan on visiting our city, what are your recommendations for places to explore as well as great little restaurants to grab a quick bite or a delicious martini. Be sure to leave them down in the comments and I look forward to hearing all about your travel adventures.