botanical-garden-1459264-640x480 Brisbane Australia

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Brisbane, Australia is the capital of Queensland, on the Gold Coast or Western coast of the country. It is renowned for its beauty, proximity to the Great Barrier Reef and its wildlife. It is a haven for nature enthusiast with several national parks, recreational island habitats, curious botanical gardens, waterfalls and pristine beaches.

 

Top Thing to Do and See

Brisbane is a beautiful and modern city built on the banks of the Brisbane River and nestled within the “outstretched arms” of the Moreton Bay. More than 10 bridges carry traffic across the horse show shaped river, including the Story Bridge, stage front in many photographs of the city. Other landmarks include the Wheel of Brisbane located in the Parklands and the unforgettable dominance of the Coot-tha Mountain peak, home of Brisbane Botanic Gardens, hiking trails and 360°panaramic view of the city below.

The Botanical Gardens are open 8am – 5:30pm from September to March and close down 30 minutes earlier from April to August. Tropical and sub-tropical plants and flowers fill the perfectly landscaped gardens. Interactive displays and sculptures will entertain both young and old. The lagoon lake area is very beautiful with lot of water birds in their natural habitat. And if that’s not enough, there is a planetarium next door for those thirsty for our place in the cosmic world, a bonsai house for those thirsty for the meaning of life, and a café for those that are just, well thirsty.

The gardens are free to everyone except dogs, which for some reason, aren’t permitted. You can get to the gardens by car (free parking), bus or bike. And if you still have energy, you can walk up to Mount Coot-tha after you see all the above.

Mount Coot-tha, in addition to having one of the coo-lest names is a great place to renew, refresh and revitalize the spirit and senses. Not one but two restaurants offer visitors a place to relax and enjoy a meal while taking in the breathtaking views of the city, Moreton Bay and islands in the bay that appear to have broken off from the mainland. Stradbroke Island and Moreton Island National Park look like the flippers of an old fashioned pinball machine, so be careful not to tilt the machine or you’ll have to leave Brisbane immediately.

 

What’s For Dinner?

The Summit is an upscale restaurant popular with the locals for weddings, while Kuta Café is popular with tourists for a quick bite after taking in the view from the lookout and heading back down the mountain into the city.

Looking for one of those Australian steaks you heard about at home? Go to Ric’s Bar in Fortitude Valley with your mate for live music and a beer while nibbling on their After Dark menu that includes $6 steak from 6-9pm every Sunday and Wednesday night. But take a date to Cha Cha Char Wine Bar & Grill for one of Brisbane’s “signature” cuts of beef and a glass of Chardonnay. Book in advance, for a seat with a view to the nonstop ebb and flow of the Brisbane River.

If you’re looking for more than a restaurant, then take your mate and your date to Cloudland in South Bank for a pan-Asian experience with shared plates, two bars, music and an energetic, yet playful atmosphere. Birdcages, tons of oversized foliage, and fanciful booth areas comprise the “over the top décor”. There’s even a cascading waterfall at the entrance that screams… you aren’t in Kansas anymore.

 

On the Outskirts

Lamington National Park is a wonder in biodiversity. It covers a vast area of land where hot, cold and tropic flora and fauna thrive. It’s a great place to hike, cycle or test the limits of your imagination through the lens of your digital camera. Most people come for the bird watching—for good reason. There are more than 160 species of sub-tropical birds making their nests in the rainforest. Guides, camping, a private lodge, and other amenities are available nearby. Consult the website for park fees and regulations prior to visiting. The park is a 2-hr drive from Brisbane’s city center and accessible by car and bus.

Finally, no visit to Brisbane is complete without seeing a koala bear. The best place to do this is the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, open daily from 9am-5pm except on Anzac Day (Australia and New Zealand Memorial Day celebrated on April 25) when the park is open from 1:30pm to 5:00pm.

The sanctuary is accessible by car or bus from Brisbane. It occupies a pretty piece of land near the river and is home to 130 It’s home to koalas, kangaroos, possums, wombats, and many native birds. But it’s the koalas that steal the show and they know it. I dare you to pick one up and not fork over the $16 it costs for a picture. I double dare you.

pinit_fg_en_rect_red_28 Brisbane Australia