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Brisbane, a playground for the culturally inclined, is an electric meld of old and new. Its cluster of colonial structures stand alongside modern skyscrapers stretching along the Brisbane River, earning the city its nickname of "New World City." It's home to 1.5 million people, making it the third largest city in Australia, trailing only Sydney and Melbourne.
Tucked between the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast on the eastern edge of Australia, Brisbane entertains its visitors from the moment they set foot on its cobblestone plazas. Museums, art galleries, churches, cozy parks and iconic landmarks all speak to the city's heritage.
Brisbane is a city best enjoyed outdoors. The weather is perpetually mild, with the exception of the sometimes sultry summer days in December to February. Brisbane offers more than 200 miles of bike paths, and the main tourist attractions are a koala sanctuary and a beautiful botanical garden at the base of a mountain.
Brisbane's layout is simple. Streets that run east and west are named after female British royalty, with north and south streets named after the males. For example, you may choose to meet someone at the corner of Ann Street and Edward Street. You should have no problems finding your way around the symmetrical layout of the city.
You may wind up spending the majority of your time in the City Center, in and around the Queen Street Mall, but be sure to explore the surrounding areas as well.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary (Jesmond Road, 07-3378-1366), a popular local top attraction, is the world's first and largest koala sanctuary, with more than 130 koalas. Cuddle a koala (they're quite tame), hand feed kangaroos and encounter a large variety of Aussie wildlife, including Tasmanian devils, emus and more.
Brisbane is a great city for biking. Brisbane Bicycle (87 Albert St., 07-3229-2433) rents bikes and equipment by the hour or by the day. Other shops let you rent equipment for rock climbing at Kangaroo Point, horseback riding and whitewater rafting.
The Queen Street Mall is your best bet for shopping. The Myer Centre offers five stories worth of shops and boutiques. Looking for jewelry? Try Quilpie Opals (68 Queen Street Mall, 07-3221-7369). Souvenir hunting? Get your boomerangs and didgeridoos at Queensland Aboriginal Creations (Little Stanley St., 07-3224-5730). Antiques hunters should try Paddington Antique Centre (167 Latrobe Terrace, 07/3369-8088). The Eagle Street Pier Market is another great spot for accomplishing lots of shopping in a short amount of time.
Brisbane's nightlife has enough variety to suit most tastes. Theater buffs can catch a show at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (corner of Grey and Melbourne, 07-3840-7444). Hear some live music at the Brisbane Jazz Club (1 Annie St., 07-3391-2006). If you just feel the need to cut loose, try Empire (339 Brunswick St., 07-3852-1216) or Fringe Bar (Ann Street, 07-3252-9833). If you're feeling lucky, stop by the Treasury Casino (Queen Street, 07-3306-8888).
Brisbane has a diverse dining scene. A cross-section of the city's demographics shows that a significant number of foreigners have chosen to make Brisbane their home, and they have brought different tastes with them. Brisbane has its own Chinatown in Fortitude Valley, and most European tastes are well represented here.
Some good dining choices include:
Cruise ships dock at the Port of Brisbane. There is road access available directly from the port.
Buses and ferries are the best ways to get around Brisbane. Buses depart from King George Square. A city bus known as the red loop bus travels around the city, stopping at most points of interest in Brisbane. Ferries are operated by CityCats (07-131-230), with most running at least twice an hour. Train travel is another option, as the suburbs are connected to the city in an efficient manner. As always, taxis are an excellent option. You should have no trouble hailing a cab, but if none are available, just call Yellow Cabs (07-131-924).
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