Brisbane, Queensland's capital, enjoys a warm climate, averaging around 21 degrees Celsius in winter and 30 degrees in the summer months.
It was a penal colony for only a short time between the years 1825 to 1842, and in 1859 became a separate colony from New South Wales. The city has experienced rapid economic growth since the 1950s after the state of Queensland itself experienced a boom in the mining industry. Classic 'Queenslander' houses sit among modern housing designs surrounded by tropical gardens and Brisbane's well-maintained streetscapes give a pleasant and relaxed feel.
The Brisbane River cuts a winding course through the capital, and is lined by a series of walks, reserves and BBQ and picnic spots. The CBD covers an area that is relatively flat and navigable by foot or by bicycle. Public transport is plentiful, with the choice of ferry, bus and train services, and the international airport is 16 kilometres from the CBD, the domestic airport 18 kilometres. The Airtrain connects the airports to the CBD, a journey taking a little over 20 minutes.
One of Brisbane's prominent and popular attractions is the South Bank Parklands area. This vast green expanse, built on the former World Expo '88 site, has a swimming lagoon with sandy beach, riverside promenades, landscaped gardens, BBQ areas, shady places for a picnic and plenty of cafes and restaurants. The Queensland Maritime Museum is situated here, as is the Performing Arts Centre, Queensland Museum and Queensland Art Gallery.
Brisbane attractions include:
- Queen St Mall - the perfect all weather destination, with open and covered spaces and a huge range of shops, restaurants and entertainment.
- Southbank Parklands - cafes, gardens, walks and a swimming lagoon.
- Queensland Museum - science, human achievement and social history. Exhibits include dinosaurs, the biplane that Bert Hinkler flew from England to Australia and a World War I German tank.
- Queensland Performing Arts Centre - Brisbane's premier venue for drama, dance, music and other shows.
- Queensland Art Gallery - with an extensive permanent collection, the gallery also hosts touring exhibitions. The gallery will be closed for refurbishment from August 2006, but will re-open (together with the newly constructed Gallery of Modern Art) in December 2006, to be the second largest public art gallery in Australia.
- Queensland Maritime Museum - situated at South Bank, with several ships on display in the dry dock, including the World War II frigate HMAS Diamantina. Other exhibits include maps, charts, models and photographs.
- Roma Street Parkland - sub-tropical gardens, play areas for kids, picnic areas and fabulous city views.
- Old Botanic Gardens - on the river in the heart of the city, with gardens, a cafe and a mangrove boardwalk.
- Treasury Casino - open 24 hours, housed in a beautiful heritage-listed building.
- Sciencentre - science and technology are presented in a fun, hands-on environment. There are activities for children of all ages, challenging their knowledge and understanding of the world around them.
- Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens - Just 15 minutes from the city, with over 1500 hectares of open eucalypt forest. Here you'll find the Thomas Brisbane Planetarium, picnic areas, BBQ facilities, walks and excellent views of the city from the Mount Coot-tha Lookout.
- Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary - the world's first and largest koala sanctuary. Cuddle a koala or feed the free ranging kangaroos. See many Australian animals and walk through 50 acres of bushland grounds.
- Alma Park Zoo - animals from all over the world, set in landscaped gardens.
- Moreton Island and North Stradbroke Island - just off the Brisbane coast in Moreton Bay. More than an aquatic playgound, these delightful islands offer 4WD, camping, wildlife, bushwalking and more.
For more ideas, see Brisbane's Top Spots.