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.

Arts and Entertainment
Masterchef cooks Tony Rodd (left), Emma Spitzer (second left) and
Simon Wood (right) posing with judges Gregg Wallace (centre) and John Torode (second right), as the three will be seen cooking their hearts out in the hopes of winning the show.
TVReview: Tired Geography teacher John Torode and shaved Scotch egg Gregg Wallace crown the champion
Voices
Ukip leader Nigel Farage in Tiny Tim’s tea shop while canvassing in Rochester this week
voices
Life and Style
life
News
The Grand Palais in Paris will be transformed into a 4,000-seat cinema, with 44 double beds at the front
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
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
  • Get to the point
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

    Guru Careers: MI Developer

    £35 - 45k: Guru Careers: An MI Developer is needed to join the leading provide...

    Recruitment Genius: Fitness Manager

    £20000 - £22500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leisure organisation manag...

    Recruitment Genius: Visitor Experience Manager

    £25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Delivering an inspiring, engagi...

    Recruitment Genius: Learning Team Administrator

    £17500 - £20500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for a great te...

    Day In a Page

    Major medical journal Lancet under attack for 'extremist hate propaganda' over its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

    Lancet accused of 'anti-Israel hate propaganda' over coverage of Gaza conflict

    Threat to free speech as publishers of renowned medical journal are accused of inciting hatred and violence
    General Election 2015: Tories and Lib Dems throw their star names west to grab votes

    All noisy on the Lib Dems' western front

    The party has deployed its big guns in Cornwall to save its seats there. Simon Usborne heads to the heart of the battle
    How Etsy became a crafty little earner: The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?

    How Etsy became a crafty little earner

    The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?
    Guy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle King Arthur - one of our most versatile heroes

    King Arthur is inspiring Guy Ritchie

    Raluca Radulescu explains why his many permutations - from folk hero to chick-lit hunk - never cease to fascinate
    Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations for the man or woman on the street?

    Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations?

    The Apple Watch has apparently sold millions even before its launch tomorrow
    Don't fear the artichoke: it's a good cook's staple, with more choice than you'd think

    Don't fear the artichoke

    Artichokes are scary - they've got spikes and hairy bits, and British cooks tend to give them a wide berth. But they're an essential and delicious part of Italian cuisine
    11 best men's socks

    11 best men's socks

    Make a statement with your accessories, starting from the bottom up
    Paul Scholes column: Eden Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo

    Paul Scholes column

    Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo
    Frank Warren: Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal
    London Marathon 2015: Kenya's brothers in arms Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto ready to take on world

    Kenya's brothers in arms take on world

    Last year Wilson Kipsang had his marathon record taken off him by training partner and friend Dennis Kimetto. They talk about facing off in the London Marathon
    Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad but it's not because I refuse to fly

    Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad

    Green leader prefers to stay clear of her 'painful' family memories but is more open about 'utterly unreasonable' personal attacks
    Syria conflict: Khorasan return with a fresh influx of fighters awaiting the order to start 'shooting the birds'

    Khorasan is back in Syria

    America said these al-Qaeda militants were bombed out of the country last year - but Kim Sengupta hears a different story
    General Election 2015: Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North for Ukip?

    On the campaign trail with Ukip

    Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North?
    Four rival Robin Hood movies get Hollywood go-head - and Friar Tuck will become a superhero

    Expect a rush on men's tights

    Studios line up four Robin Hoods productions
    Peter Kay's Car Share: BBC show is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade

    In the driving seat: Peter Kay

    Car Share is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade. The programme's co-creator Paul Coleman reveals the challenges of getting the show on the road