We arrived in Brisbane very excited to see what the city had to offer. We were staying in a suburb about 15 minutes drive away from the centre, called Windsor. We got to our apartment and were so happy with it – our favourite place so far! A really spacious and light apartment with a balcony, and a really homely feel to it.
Highlights of our time in Brisbane City
Wilson Outlook Reserve
We made our way to this spot after reading it was one of the best to see the sunset over the skyline of Brisbane. We got off the ferry at Sydney Street and walked there at about 5.30pm and waited for night to fall to get some great views and photos. In Brisbane the sunrise at this time of year is usually at 4:45am and sunset is around 6:00pm, so pretty early compared to the UK late Spring. It was well worth the wait.
We continue our unexpected tour of Australias Botanical Gardens visiting Brisbane’s one a few times to wander around and enjoy our lunch. It was a beautiful space with great walks and it was really interesting to see the contrast of big skyscrapers and all the foliage of the gardens together.
Cityhopper ferry service
Brisbane City Council offers a number of free transport services across the city. One of them is the Cityhopper which is a free ferry service that runs along the Brisbane River from North Quay to Sydney Street, near Story Bridge. The views from the ferry along the river were great and even better that it was a free ride along the river!
Open mic night
While exploring Windsor and Ludwyche (the areas we were living) we saw that our ‘local’ called the Crown Hotel had Open mic nights every Friday. We decided to spend a Friday evening there listening to lots of great performers and having a couple of schooners of beer – an Australian measurement we were very confused by but have now learnt is about 3/4 of a pint.
Elizabeth Picture Theatre
We were both very excited to go and see Fantastic Beasts The Crimes of Grindlewald. We decided to ‘up’ the experience and go and see it in the ‘Royal Rooms’ of a local theatre, where the chairs were fully reclining with a table and waiter service to your seat. We had mixed feelings about the film but absolutely loved the cinema!
After going to the summit and cafe at the top of Mount Coot-tha before, we wanted to head back again but this time to climb to the top. We set off on the trail completely unprepared for how tiring it would be. It was over 6km and (understandably) very steep! By the top we were completely knackered but stopped to take in the views and then enjoyed the easier walk back, now downhill.
Eat Street was somewhere we had been wanting to go to the whole time we’d been in Brisbane and finally managed it on our second to last night with two friends from back home, Grace and Mark. It was an awesome place with lots of market stalls, food stalls with cuisine from all around the world, bars and live music. There was almost too much choice with food and after the four of us wandered around for ages trying to decide we went for a Hungarian Langos, which was like a pastry pizza. A fun experience and great to spend time with friends from back home.
We spent a Sunday afternoon here walking through the boardwalk areas, along the river and gardens. After which, we stopped to enjoy a few hours on the grass with our books and some relaxing live music – a perfect Sunday afternoon. The Sunday Social is a weekly music event in Brisbane.
Streets Beach is Brisbane’s answer to the coast – a beach and pools in the city. The beach areas are gorgeous and the pools huge. We were first there on a Friday and it was packed, especially in the late afternoon with people finishing work and then coming to enjoy, we even saw someone jump in the pool in his work clothes! We spent a couple of days here on the beach and in the pool – an ideal way to relax and cool off in the city.
Southbank is host to a couple of art galleries (great news for Lauren); the Art Gallery of Modern Art and the Queensland Art Gallery. Unfortunately the Art Gallery of Modern Art was mostly closed off as they were setting up for their latest exhibition. This didn’t bother us as the Queensland Art Gallery was much better and we spent about an hour walking around the gallery. It had a really varied collection of artwork and Lauren found a painting she really loved.
The West End
The West End area is filled with cool restaurants and cafes and whilst there we stumbled across a vegan festival, where we stopped to enjoy lunch. We also visited a cool second hand book store called Bent Books. Spending lots of days outside on beaches, in gardens and parks we were getting through lots of books, which we were loving!
We couldn’t believe after hoping to enjoy a hot and sunny birthday for the first time in November, that on the day of Lauren’s birthday it was thunderstorms and rain all day! Luckily the rain did stop by the evening and we enjoyed a delicious Turkish dinner at Mado’s Turkish Restaurant on the Riverbank and some great live music and drinks at Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall.
As the weather was better the day after that’s when we went for the Brisbane Greeters Tour around the city and for the Escape room experience at Quest Room Brisbane.
Brisbane City Greeters
Brisbane City Greeters is a tour company run by enthusiastic volunteers in the area who give up their time to give you a free tour of the city. It was a great way to get to know the area and to learn about Brisbane’s history.
We learnt that Queensland did not actually become a state until 1859, which got its name as a condition from England’s Queen Victoria. The roads in the centre are also named after British royalty with the male streets running one way and the female the other. The history of the city was really interesting considering how young it is, for example, the oldest buildings in Brisbane are from 1828 and 1829 and in 2009 the city celebrated being only 150 years old.
We had been hearing about some of the extreme weather conditions Australia has to contend with since being here and learnt more about the floods that had affected Brisbane. The most recent being in 2011 where thousands were evacuated. The worst however being many years before in 1893 where the river rose over seven metres and the Victoria bridge and Indooroopilly bridge were even washed away.
We spent around three and a half hours wandering around the city, grabbing a coffee and taking a quick ferry ride on the City Hopper. Overall a worthwhile experience and one we’ll look to do in other cities.
We had enjoyed doing escape rooms back in the UK and loved this one too. It was a lost tomb experience and we had to make our way through the dark tomb with only hand held lamps working out lots of codes and puzzles to release a golden statue. It was lots of fun and we escaped, with six minutes to spare!
We were lucky enough to have two cousins and partners of Liz’s (Lauren’s Stepmum) living in Brisbane, Michael and Myra, and Des and Shunny.
Michael invited us round for lunch during one of our first days. Michael was kind enough to come and pick us up and bring us to his house and much to our surprise had invited Des and Shunny to join us. We enjoyed lunch and then a trip up Mount Coot-tha where we got to see across Brisbane and were treated to a drink in the cafe overlooking the city. We had a wonderful afternoon meeting and getting to know them.
We spent another couple of evenings out for dinners with Des and Shunny and also met their son Daniel and his partner Caroline. It was lovely spending time with them during our stay and hearing more of a locals guide to Brisbane and the surrounding areas.
On another day we were taken to Boonah, a country town about an hour from Brisbane City and met some of Michael and Myra’s friends and had a great day seeing some of the sights of Boonah including Karoomba Winery and Moogarah Lake.
Something we didn’t expect to be doing travelling – attending a children’s birthday party! Daniel has a cousin Matt, who lives in Manly, a coastal part of Brisbane and we were invited to his daughters fifth birthday party, who we had never met before. It was a gorgeous afternoon spent in an outside area of yacht club, having drinks, food and getting to meet all the family and their friends too.
We also spent our last day in Brisbane with them going to Manly Yacht Club and Manly swimming pool, which was lots of fun, followed by a BBQ back at the house.
We felt really lucky to have had some family time here in Brisbane and meeting so many great people we hadn’t before.
Brisbane is a fantastic city with lots going on. There are so many great places to eat and drink and loads to do. We used public transport a lot during our time and it was always so quick, on time, and cheap. We were really impressed!
The Southbank area near the river in particular was a highlight, with such a beautiful walk around, the restaurants, galleries, music and Streets Beach.
Lauren and Daniel’s favourite thing – spending time with family