With David’s family visiting us in Sydney, we took a quick detour up to Brisbane to check out the capital of Queensland that we’ve heard so much about.
We went to the Australia Zoo on it’s busiest day of the year (December 27th). Traffic was crazy, and we had to park in overflow parking while it was raining – an unpaved mess of grass and mud. Thank goodness by the time we got to the zoo itself, the rain had let up.
We were incredibly impressed by the size of the Australia Zoo. The park is almost 50 years old, and run by the Irwin family (yes, Steve Irwin the Crocodile Hunter). And it’s HUGE! We had just done a zoo outside of Sydney and it was very small compared to the Australia Zoo. You can also see that the Australia Zoo has conservation as a cornerstone. It would be very easy to spend an entire day here, watching all the animals in their habitats, even getting to meet some animals or do an animal experience.
Let me also point out that as a general rule, I’m not a huge fan of zoos. I don’t know that David and I had been to one together before the one in Sydney. What I DID like about this zoo is the focus on conservation and education. The space the animals had was certainly very generous. There’s kangaroos feeding, which is pretty chill – there are areas that you can not go into but the kangaroos can. Like a time out for them from all the people, which is pretty great.
We booked a tour on the water with River City Cruises. The Brisbane River flows straight through the heart of the city, and since we didn’t have Starry Horizons as our home base on the water, we thought we’d use a different boat for the waterfront view. Make sure to get there early to get a seat. We were in the stern of the boat, which was nice to be out in the fresh air but with the boat’s engines it was hard to hear the narration. The waterfront homes in Brisbane are absolutely stunning!
The Arbor is a trail that runs along the waterfront, meandering from the Wheel of Brisbane to the Maritime Museum. It’s mostly shaded thanks to the trellis and vines that grow along the path. Our day was nice and sunny, and there was a lot of activity along the walk. There are multiple pools and lawns for sunbathing.
The Queensland Maritime Museum has a fairly random collection of nautical artifacts and vessels, including The Pink Lady, Jessica Watson’s vessel as she became the youngest person to sail solo around the world in 2009/2010. The HMAS Diamantina is also in dry dock there, which is cool because you can walk down into the dry dock to see the under side of the vessel.
The highest point in Brisbane is just outside the city, giving a killer view of downtown. Bonus points, the Brisbane lookout is just west of the city, so for a spectacular sunrise over Brisbane, head here! The Summit Restaurant has a prix fixe 3-course set menu sunset dinner every night to watch the city go from bright to night.
This botanical garden in Mt Coot-tha is right next door to the lookout. Fun fact; there’s one down by the river too, but it kept flooding, so they built a second near the highest point of Brisbane. The calendar of events looks amazing – from free yoga and pilates, to lectures and kids activities. I (as usual) loved the Japanese garden with the bright coral hydrangeas and the edible garden with an outdoor kitchen for classes! The cafe is excellent.
Our tickets to the River Cruise got us a 10% discount at the Plough Inn, which is on the Arbor between the Wheel and the Maritime Museum. The inn has been in business since 1864, while the current heritage-listed building has only been around since 1885. The food is upscale pub fare, with a fantastic patio. Definitely a delicious choice.
We stopped for dessert at Cowch, a dessert cocktail bar on Grey Street. Holy cow (pun intended). David and I shared a banoffee pizza, which was super delicious and big!
We had a great time in Brisbane, and packed a lot into three days! We will be coming back to Brisbane, so tell us, what should we do the next time we come?