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First things fi rst... From the Great Barrier Reef – one of the seven wonders of the world – to the glitz of the Gold Coast and everything in between, there are many breathtaking sights in Queensland.

The Sunshine State has a population of 4.5 million, with 2 million living in Brisbane, the state capital.

Brisbane

Queensland’s capital has all the trappings of a big city, plus the laidback style which epitomises this state.

It’s the third-biggest city in the country, but a million miles away from Sydney and Melbourne in lifestyle.

Built along the Brisbane River, it’s a clean, attractive city, and is worth staying to explore for a few days.

It’s also a great base for touring south-east Queensland.

The holiday centres of the Gold Coast (80km south) and the Sunshine Coast (100km north) are accessible by bus or train.

Arriving in Brisbane

Brisbane’s international airport is only about 30 minutes from the city centre, so a cab isn’t too pricey. You can also catch the Airtrain, which runs every 30 minutes, or a shuttle bus.

Getting around Brisbane

The Brisbane Transit Centre on Roma Street has a helpful Backpackers Information Desk, which will provide you with information on transport and accommodation, If you’ve booked a hostel, call ahead as they may pick you up for free.

Things to do

More detailed information can be obtained from the Brisbane Visitors Information booth in the Queen Street Mall.

Abseiling: Take a leap of faith off Kangaroo Point on the south bank of the Brisbane River.

As you make your way down the cliffs, make sure you pause to take in the great view of the city behind you.

Castlemaine XXXX Brewery Tour: You’ve drunk the beer, now see with your own eyes just how XXXX is made. If you’re nice they might even let you try some of the amber nectar at the end. Woo hoo!

Queensland Cultural Centre: It has been suggested that Queensland is a little short on culture, but an
afternoon in here will set you straight.

Fortitude Valley markets: Open every Satuday and Sunday in Brunswick Street Mall is the Valley Markets, hosting talented young clothing and jewellery designers as well as racks full of stylish second-handwares.

Live music will help you fossick through the second-hand book and CD stalls.

South Bank: On the river, South Bank hosts a few pubs, restaurants and cinemas just a footbridge away from the city. Jump in the man-made lagoon nearby to cool down.

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary: The oldest and one of the best wildlife sanctuaries in Australia is just 11km south-west of the city and has more than 100 koalas and other native animals. Take a bus or river cruise to get over there.

Mt Coot-tha Park: Great for a stroll in the botanic gardens, Mt Coot-tha also has a lookout with stunning views to Moreton and Stradbroke Islands and mountain ranges to the north and south.

Out on the town

The free inner-city weekly newspaper, Time Off, publishes a “What’s On” guide, as does Saturday’s Courier Mail. Rave Magazine has details on the alternative live music scene.

Brisbane isn’t as big a party place as the Gold Coast but there is plenty to do and plenty of places to drink, dance and eat out.

Fortitude Valley is where you’ll fi nd most of the good pubs and bars to mix with the friendly locals.

The Valley is also the hub of Brisbane’s enviable live music scene.

 

Brisbane daytrips

East of the city, Moreton Island is a large sand island and great for the wilderness lover.

A bit like Fraser Island, except without the crowds, it’s a great place for 4WDing down the beach and giving sandboarding a go.

You can even feed the friendly dolphins. Once on the island and among the lakes, beaches and wildlife, it’s hard to imagine the city is only a couple of hours away.

South of Moreton, North Stradbroke Island is more populated and developed.

It has many great beaches and bays, providing opportunities for canoeing, diving, whale watching and some of the best surfing in the state.

There are camping sites as well as backpacker hostels on the island. Just below ‘Straddie’ is the virtually deserted South Stradbroke Island.

The southern end has a great surfbreak and is accessible from Southport, on the Gold Coast.

North of the city, along Steve Irwin Highway in Beerwah, is the Crocodile Hunter’s very own Australia Zoo. Make sure you catch a show at the Crocoseum.


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