I am posting this series because there has been a lot of comment on how little there is to do in Brisbane.
GETTING AROUND (http://www.transinfo.qld.gov.au/)
Brisbane is an easy city to navigate, the inner city is set on a grid (it can be difficult driving as there are a lot of one way streets, but as long as you remember that usually if you hit a one way street going the wrong way, the next one will be going in the opposite direction) and most of the things to do are either within walking distance of the CBD or on a public transport route. Public transport in Brisbane is cheap, and with the new integrated ticketing systems, easier than ever before. If you are having difficulty figuring out where you need to go just ask the attendants at the stations and the drivers on the buses and they will be able to help you out.
Brisbane has a very extensive bus network that covers the entire city, plus a lot of places further a field.
In the CBD itself there is a free loop service that runs from 6am - 6pm weekdays (we are lobbying for weekends too) – just look for the red bus stops- which will take you from Adelaide street (opposite the Queen Street Mall) past central station, to riverside, back up past the gardens and back to the CBD again. It runs every 10mins and is a great way to get from the mall back to your hotel, particually if you are staying somewhere like the Stamford Plaza, Mariott, Quay West or the Royal Albert, all of which are very close to city loop stops.
The is also a service called the Great Circle line which runs between the major suburban shopping centres and connects with buses and trains running to the CBD.
The City Sights bus (run by the council) is a great way to get a feel for the layout of the city, and to see the principal sights in the CBD area. It covers anzac square, china town, southbank, suncorp stadium, kangaroo point, spring hill, roma street parklands etc… and has a handy hop on/off ticket which allows you to spend time at the places that interest you.
Route 471 leaving from outside city hall will take you through the suburbs to the Mt Cootha Lookout for spectacular city views (particularly in the evening), and route 385 leaving from Albert Street will take you to the Brisbane Forest Park headquarters (going via the Paddington shopping district) – but please remember to ask the driver, as not all buses on this route go all the way out.
Brisbane’s train network is fast and efficient (mostly) and is a great way to see things a bit further out with trains running to Ferny Grove (near the Tramways Museum), the bay side suburbs, and going all the way to both the gold and sunshine coasts (with bus transfers from the station to the beaches).
The main stations in the CBD are Central (just near the Queen Street Mall) and Roma Street (at the big transit centre). There are also stations at Vulture Street (near the maritime museum) and South Brisbane (at the cultural centre) as well as the Brunswick Street Station in the valley.
To get to Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo at Beerwah get the Nambour line train and disembark at Caboolture Railway Station then catch Route NACZ - Nambour to Caboolture Express bus to the zoo. Coming home again you simply reverse the journey.
-Ferries and Citycats
For travel in and around the river don’t go past using the ferries and the Citycats. They may not be as quick as the bus, but there is so much to see from the river. The Citycats run the length of the river (well the city and inner suburbs anyway) from UQ at st Lucia – beautiful campus and lovely place for a picnic- all the way down to Brett’s Wharf – where the industrial shipping docks start. The ferries tend to do the little cross-river routes connecting to the big city cat stops.
Catch a city cat from the city (under Victoria bridge at the top of queen street) and go across to southbank (spend some time looking around) then get back on the citycat and go down to riverside for the Sunday markets (perhaps get the ferry across to thornton street at kangaroo point and go for a walk).
Go to new farm park via citycat, and/or keep going to Bulimba and walk up to Oxford Street. Go all the way down to Brett’s wharf and cross over to racecourse rd (one of brisbanes upper crust eating and shopping precincts.) have high tea at Queenies or a meal at Brett’s.
Catch the cat up to the regatta for a drink (or a meal at the boatshed) before going on up to UQ.
Water taxi and barges run to the islands in Morton bay. The Stradbroke ferry runs from Cleveland every hour and drops you at Dunwich. The vehicle ferry does the same route but leaves half an hour later (if you want to take your car make sure you book). The Moreton Venture will take you to the Tangalooma wrecks (near the resort) - http://www.moretonventure.com/- and runs once a day on week days and twice on Saturdays. (they also offer day trips and tours of the island.)
Brisbane has a huge array of quality dining options that suit all budgets and tastes. There is no way I can cover all of the great places Brisbane has to offer so I will cover some of the ones I know (feel free to add any I miss).
TwoII a restaurant and wine bar - located near the botanic gardens this is an expensive, but lovely place.
Roses – café located in the top of the Brisbane Arcade on the Queen Street Mall, this place is beautifully appointed and the food is good, but it isn’t cheap. Personally I really like this one.
Circa – this is one of Brisbane’s staple establishments. Located on Adelaide street in the city it is a very popular lunch spot with Brisbane’s well heeled.
Jo-Jo’s – on the mall (at the intersection of Albert street) this place has been around as long as I can remember. It is a good place to go if you have fussy kids, but don’t want to do the fast food thing. They offer Asian, Italian, modern Australian, and a host of other styles of food. Moderately prices this is a good place to go if you don’t want to pay top dollar.
E'cco Bistro – internationally acclaimed bistro with a stunning menu
Marco Polo Dining Cellar Martini Bar – in the treasury casino this is also not a bad place, not my personal favourite, but lots of people love it
Lennons – on the queen street mall. They do a mean yum cha!!!!
Brasserie on the River – based in the Stamford Plaza hotel this restaurant has one of the best views in the city. It does lovely food, but at a price (plus they do a chocolate buffet!!!!!! Which is to die for) they also do a good high tea.
Cha Cha Char – another Brisbane staple that is very well known and very well patronised. They do a mean steak, but like most places at riverside they will cost you.
Kabuki teppanyaki bar – also located at the Stamford plaza this is perhaps Brisbane’s
premier Japanese restaurant. Great fun if you can afford it, especially when you have to catch rice in your bowl.
Pier Nine – this is one of my favourite places. It does some eof the best seafood in Brisbane. That said it is very expensive.
Il Centro Restaurant and Bar – like most of the others in the area good but expensive
Michael's Riverside – good but expensive. My little sister loved this place as a kid (they do small versions of the adult menu instead of the standard chicken and chips most places offer)
Siggi's – Stamford plaza. If you have the cash… go. It is great!!!!!
- RACECOURSE ROAD-
Baguette Restaurant and Gallery – this is a Brisbane staple and it does fantastic food!!!!
Bretts Wharf Restaurant – not strictly racecourse road, but not far away. This establishment has been around forever, and does a pretty good seafood meal (or they did last time I was there a few years ago). Once again they are a little on the pricey side, but when you add in the citycat ride down it is a nice night out.
Queenies Traditional Tea House – this is one of my favourite places ever. (although I prefer their p[lace at Nundah) have high tea at this beautiful establishment. There are levels of tea to suit all budgets from the princess tea party at under $20 per head to the all out Queenies royal which costs over $30.
- THE VALLEY / NEW FARM -
Isis Brasserie – (on Brunswick street) well known and rightly so this is a great place to eat offering an innovative modern Australian menu.
Enjoy Inn – located on the corner of the china town mall this is one of Brisbane’s best known chinese places (the peking duck is to die for)
Valley corner – walk back towards the city from the enjoy inn and you will hit the ‘valley corner’ on the corner of gibbs street. Cheaper than the enjoy inn this is also a great place to go (we go every fortnight)
Korean BBQ – on the valley mall this is a great place to take kids. You cook your own food over the BBQ in the middle of the table (many fond memories from when I was a child).
Harvey's Dining and Delicatessen – james street. This is a really good place to eat!! The food is lovely, the price is reasonable and it is located right in the middle of the james street shopping precinct.
Mecca Bah – emporium centre. Middle eastern food (at a premium price).
Tibetan Kitchen – Brunswick street. Great for something different and very child friendly.
Anise – French. On Brunswick Street very nice and a little pricey, but good. Not great for children.
Watt modern dining – at the powerhouse. This is a great but expensive place to eat.
The Mad Chinaman – great food and fantastic entertainment value… you’ll see what I mean
King of King’s Seafood – yum cha on the valley mall
-SOUTHBANK / WEST END-
River Canteen – located at the maritime museum end of the southbank boardwalk this is a lovely place to eat. It is moderately priced and the food is wonderful
Ahmets – Little Stanley street. Turkish complete with hookahs on the table and belly dancers.
Ginga – little Stanley street. nice little Japanese place, reasonably priced and has a ‘quick eats’ section which is much cheaper.
Poppies – little Stanley street. This is a gem of a deli and café. Great for lunches or early suppers.
Viet delites – little Stanley street. Fantastic Vietnamese food at a good price
Amici – southbank plaza. This is cheap Italian place. The food isn’t great but it doesn’t hurt the hip pocket.
Decks Seafood and Steak – southbank plaza. Cheap cheerful seafood
Kapsalis – southbank plaza. One of brisbane’s best greek restaurants. It is reasonably priced and does fantastic food.
Wang Dynasty – riverside cafes southbank. Asian and modern Australian including kangaroo and croc meat.
Three Monkey’s – westend. Been around forever but offers reasonable food at a good price in an interesting atmosphere. Also offers late night dining.
The Gun Shop Café – westend. Great food, good prices, good location
Café Meze – westend. Greek place that my parents can remember going to as uni students (now I go there as a student). Good food at a reasonable price.
-CAXTON STREET / PADDINGTON –
Gambaro’s Seafood Restaurant – caxton street. Been around forever, but it still does very good sea food!!!!!!
Casablanca – emu, kangaroo, croc… plus latin dancing at the bar downstairs. What’s not to like?
Harem – Turkish. Bit expensive, but good.
- OTHER -
Breakfast Creek Hotel- kingford smith drive (near newstead house) famous for steak and reef n beef. Good food at a good price.
The Summit – Mt Cootha. This is expensive but the menu is interesting the view incomparable.
Oxford 152 – oxford street bulimba. Perhaps the best known of the restaurants in the area. Good and the micro brewery is fun.
Pancho’s – oxford street bulimba. This place does the best garlic bread in the city, and you can eat for under $15 per head!!!!!!!!!!
Otello on Oxford – oxford street bulimba. Good Italian food
Le Classic – Cooparoo. Fantastic authentic French restaurant with a great little shop attached. One of the few places in Brisbane where you can get good escargot.