A Few Days In Brisbane
Before we arrived in Brisbane, I knew next to nothing about the city. I knew that it is one of the biggest cities in Australia and the capital of the state of Queensland... but that was the extent of it. Once Emmett and I ventured into the city, we were blown away by the variety of things to do there. Especially the things that were totally free - which we, as big cheapos, loved.
Exploring the CBD
Walking around the city center is definitely our mutual favorite way to get to know a new city. We took in the tall buildings, and endless busy shops. When we arrived, it was midday and the professional set of Brisbane were on their lunch break in full force. The Queen Street area was packed. We decided to join the lunch rush ourselves, and ended up at Harajuku Gyoza. In case you didn't know, gyoza are Japanese dumplings. We got cheese-filled gyoza, veggie gyoza, open-faced tofu, red cabbage, & edamame gyoza, and chocolate gyoza with vanilla ice cream. They were delectable and I wish I ate gyoza every day.
As if we weren't full already, we couldn't resist getting a donut to split from the trendily decorated hole-in-the-wall shop called Doughnut Time. Our doughnut of choice was called "It's Always a Gay Time" and was covered in toffee dust and filled with honey custard. It was a perfect (but messy) dessert.
City Botanic Gardens
Once we had stuffed our faces with delicious food, it was time to walk it off. We went for a stroll through the City Botanic Gardens, where we were delighted to see a ton of local bird life. There was an ibis or rainbow lorikeet in every tree.
Cruising the Brisbane River on the CityHopper
We left the Botanic Gardens and crossed the Brisbane River via pedestrian bridge. Our next plan was to make it to the nearest ferry stop so we could catch the free CityHopper boat and cruise around. It was a great way to spend an hour people-watching and getting unique views of the city from the river.
Exploring the South Bank
The South Bank of Brisbane is a really fantastic place - probably one of the best public park areas I've been to because there was so much to do. They have bike and pedestrian trails, an edible herb garden, Streets Beach, a Nepalese pagoda, tons of dining opportunities, and the Wheel of Brisbane. I could have spent hours there & if I were a Brisbane resident, I would totally make this my number one weekend destination
An Afternoon with Iconic Wildlife at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
This was definitely a huge highlight of our time in Brisbane. Check out more cuddly (and not-so-cuddly) creatures on my full post about the experience.
Museums & Galleries Galore at the Queensland Cultural Centre
Emmett and I both love art galleries and museums and were thrilled to find out that Brisbane's Cultural Centre includes two galleries and the extensive Queensland Museum. We first went to the Queensland Art Gallery, where we saw fantastic artwork by all sorts of international artists. My favorite exhibit was the one on Albert Namatjira, an Aboriginal artist who painted dreamy watercolors of Outback landscapes. Many of his children and grandchildren have kept up the tradition with just as much talent. A few months later on a flight to Melbourne, our Qantas in-flight entertainment app was showing a really great documentary about his legacy called The Namatjira Project. The film was about so much more than art. The Namatjira Project used Albert's example to highlight the seemingly unending lack of respect that White Australians have for Aboriginal people. Just one of the many examples in the film that hits the point home is that Namatjira's family weren't able to gain copyright of his internationally acclaimed work until 2017!
The natural history of Queensland is incredibly fascinating. As we toured the Queensland Museum, we learned so much about Queensland's fossils and artifacts, it's beautiful & diverse native wildlife, and native peoples. For instance, did you know that Queensland is home to 70% of Australia native mammals and 80% of it's native birds? Pretty cool. As many of the museum's signs boasted, "Queensland is megadiverse."
Birds, birds, birds... More birds.
I know that I just talked about how Queensland is home to nearly all of Australia's native bird population. But I didn't expect to see so many birds in urban Brisbane! The brave & begging ibis were Brisbane's answer to pigeons. You couldn't turn a corner without seeing one, it seemed. A big surprise to us, though, was the brush turkeys! These vibrantly colored turkeys were incredibly brazen compared to the wild turkeys we see back home in Virginia. On our last day in the city, we were sitting in a small park near the train station, surrounded by skyscrapers when we saw the turkey above. He was strutting his stuff just a few feet away from us like it was perfectly normal. And I guess it is - for Brisbane!
Brisbane Night Noodle Markets on the South Bank
We stumbled upon this food festival happening on the South Bank one evening and happily joined in. I mean, who doesn't love noodles? Am I right? We grabbed some noodles and then topped the night off with a fancy gelato with lychee marsmallows. It was delicious. Good food + perfect weather + the skyline at night = an evening well spent.
If you ever find yourself in Brisbane, I would highly recommend doing all of the above activities. Sure, they're probably super touristy BUT that's because they are worth it. :)