48 Hours In: Brisbane

In association with Emirates

The capital of Queensland is known for its superb climate and laid-back lifestyle, and with the beaches of the Gold Coast just down the road it's a great place to spend a weekend. Joe Bindloss goes exploring.

WHY GO NOW?

The locals swear that Queensland's capital offers the highest quality of life in Australia. With near-perfect weather, a lively eating and drinking scene and the beaches of the Gold Coast just down the road, it's hard to argue.Catch it now before it turns into a teeming Sydney-style metropolis.

TOUCH DOWN

No airline flies direct from the UK to Brisbane. You can connect in a variety of cities, including Dubai on Emirates (0870 243 2 222; www.emirates.com), Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific (020-8834 8888; www.cathaypacific.com), Singapore on Singapore Airlines (0870 608 8 886; www.singaporeair.com) or Qantas (0845 7 747 767; www.qantas.com.au).

Brisbane airport is 15km north-east of the city centre. The Airtrain (00 61 7 3216 3308; www.airtrain.com.au) runs every 15 minutes, 6am-7.30pm, between the airport and the city's Roma Street (1) and Central (2) train stations. The 20-minute ride costs A$10 (£4). Coachtrans (00 61 7 3238 4700; www.coachtrans.com.au) runs a half-hourly shuttle bus from the airport to central Brisbane: A$9 (£3.70) to Roma Street (1), A$11 (£4.50) to your hotel. A cab will set you back around A$30 (£12.50).

GET YOUR BEARINGS

The centre of Brisbane occupies a loop of the Brisbane river. Downtown, the streets follow a grid pattern - north-south streets are named after kings and east-west streets after queens. The main tourist office (3) is in the Queen Street Mall (00 61 7 3006 6200; www.ourbrisbane.com). It opens 9am-6pm Monday to Thursday, to 8pm Friday, to 5pm Saturday and to 4.30pm Sunday. Buses and taxis circulate around central Brisbane, while CityCat catamaran ferries (00 61 7 3215 5000; www.translink.qld.gov.au) zigzag back and forth across the river.

CHECK IN

If you must stay downtown, head for the Conrad Treasury (4) on George Street (00 61 7 3306 8888; www.conrad.com.au/treasury), a fabulously ostentatious casino hotel in one of Brisbane's finest buildings. Double rooms cost from A$255 (£105) with breakfast, valet parking and casino chips.

Just north of the centre in the well-to-do suburb of Spring Hill, the Albert Park Hotel (5) at 551 Wickham Terrace (00 61 7 3831 3111; www.albertparkhotel.com.au) is a tidy boutique place that overlooks the Roma Street Parkland, the huge subtropical park in the centre of the city. All the rooms have tasteful details and rates drop as low as A$95 (£40) if you book in advance. Nearby, Thornbury House Bed and Breakfast (6) at 1 Thornbury Street (00 61 7 3839 5334; www.thornburyhouse.com.au) is a genteel B&B with bright, airy doubles from A$100 (£41).

TAKE A VIEW

For epic views over downtown, ride the 1920s-style elevator to the top of Brisbane's neoclassical City Hall (7) on Ann Street (00 61 7 3403 8888). Its clocktower soars above the city streets and entry costs A$2 (£1.60). The elevator runs 10am-3pm on weekdays and 10am-2pm on Saturday.

TAKE A HIKE

Start your tour at the Brisbane City Hall (7) on Ann Street and head south to the Queen Street Mall, which has some grand Art Deco frontages. Continue south along George Street to admire the Edwardian glory of the Conrad Treasury Casino (4) and cross the river by ferry to the South Bank Parklands to see the Nepali temple (8) and artificial beach. Next, hop back over the river to Queensland's imposing French Renaissance-style Parliament House (9) on Alice Street, built in 1868. End with a trip to the City Botanic Gardens (10).

LUNCH ON THE RUN

Circa (11) at 483 Adelaide Street (0061 7 3832 4722; www.circarestaurant.com.au) is one of Brisbane's most popular restaurants. Evenings can be booked solid for weeks, so it may be better to go for lunch. The menu includes Tasmanian salmon and braised belly pork, and three courses will set you back A$69 (£28.50).

WINDOW SHOPPING

The main shopping street downtown is the pedestrianised Queen Street Mall, which is lined with chintzy tourist shops selling boomerangs and didgeridoos. A more interesting choice is Australian Geographic, which sells scientific and educational gifts, from telescopes to platypus-shaped oven gloves and giant inflatable spiders. There are branches in the Wintergarden Centre (12) and Myer Centre (13) on the Queen Street Mall.

CULTURAL AFTERNOON

The South Bank Parklands are the cultural heart of Brisbane. At the Queensland Museum (14) on Grey Street (00 61 7 3840 7555; www.qmsouthbank.museum.qld.gov.au) you can see displays on Australian wildlife, relics from Aussie history and an impressively child-friendly science centre. It opens 9.30am-5pm daily and admission is free; entry to the science centre costs A$9 (£3.75) for adults and A$7 (£3) for children. Next door, the Queensland Art Gallery (15) (00 61 7 3840 7303; www.qag.qld.gov.au) has a thought-provoking collection of work by Aussie artists. Entry is free and the gallery opens 10am-5pm (from 9am on Saturday and Sunday).

AN APERITIF

Serious wine buffs start the weekend in New Farm, north-east of the city centre. There are dozens of wine bars to choose from - locals gather at Gertie's (16) at 699 Brunswick Street (00 617 3358 5088) and Anise next door at 697 Brunswick Street (00 61 7 3358 1558). Both offer dozens of wines by the glass and flavoursome, modern Aussie cuisine.

DINING WITH THE LOCALS

Book ahead for E'cco Bistro (17), north of the centre at 100 Boundary Road, (00 61 7 3831 8344; www.eccobistro.com) - long Brisbane's favourite restaurant. Expect a fusion of Asian and Mediterranean flavours, with plenty of game, red meat and seafood. It's open for dinner from Tuesday to Saturday; for lunch, Tuesday to Friday.

SUNDAY MORNING: GO TO CHURCH

St Stephen's Cathedral (18) on Elizabeth Street is Brisbane's main Catholic place of worship. The adjoining chapel was built in 1850 by Augustus Pugin, who designed the Gothic trim for the Houses of Parliament. It contains a shrine to St Mary Mackillop, Australia's first saint, who was canonised in 1995. Sunday massis at 8am, 10am, noon and 7.30pm.

OUT TO BRUNCH

Located in the Brisbane Powerhouse art centre (19) in the peaceful suburb of New Farm, Watt (00 61 7 3358 5464; www.watt.net.au) offers stylish modern Australian cuisine on a terrace over the river. It opens from 8am at weekends and the grilled Morton Bay Bug (rock lobster) is delicious.

A WALK IN THE PARK

On sunny days, joggers, picnickers and Rollerbladers congregate at Brisbane Botanic Gardens (10) on Albert Street (00 61 7 3403 0666), tucked inside a loop of the Brisbane river at the southern end of the city. Entry is free and the gardens are a cool respite from the summer heat. The gates are open round the clock and you stand a good chance of seeing tame possums after dark.

WRITE A POSTCARD

Write home over a cappuccino in the Brunswick Street Mall (20), north of the centre in Fortitude Valley. This is Brisbane's bohemian quarter and the mall is lined with coffee shops. Mellino's (00 61 7 3252 3551) at the Ann Street end of the mall is refreshingly laid back.

THE ICING ON THE CAKE

Cruise along the Brisbane River by CityCat ferry. Sleek catamarans run from the University of Queensland in the south-west to Bretts Wharf in the north-east. An all-day ticket costs just A$4.80 (£2). For a giant steak, take the CityCat to Bretts Wharf and go south along the riverbank to the Breakfast Creek Hotel at 2 Kingsford Smith Drive (00 61 7 3262 5988; www.breakfastcreekhotel.com) - carnivore heaven.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Sport
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
transfersColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn