A March 2003 trip
to Brisbane by thebigfella
Quote: As an ex-Brisbane boy I love to go home every couple of years to remind me why it's such a great place!
As the capital city of Queensland (the second largest of Australia's seven states), with a population of 1.3 million people, Brisbane is a true big city, but without the city feel. Other places like Sydney or Melbourne can make you feel a little hemmed in, or perhaps frantic, as they tend to move at pace; whereas Brisbane glides along like the great river that meanders its way through this slick city.
Brisbane's streets are laid out in a grid pattern with English Kings running east/west and Queens running north/south. With this in mind, it's quite easy to find your way around. As it is a river city, there are many attractive bridges crossing the mighty Brisbane River, with one to suit all tastes - the most grand being the Storey Bridge, which was built just before the Sydney Harbour Bridge and used as a kind of "guinea pig."
If you're partial to Victorian architecture, then you must see the City Hall on Adelaide Street and the old Treasury Building, though be warned--this old building is still taking the people's money, as it now houses a casino! As for shopping, the main street (Queen Street) is pedestrianised and has many boutiques and shopping arcades.
If you are in need of some solitude, then pop down to Alice Street, where the Botanical Gardens are waiting to ease tired bones under the cool of the Date and Alexandria palms. Look out for Traveller's Palms - so-called for their East to West fronds. These beautiful gardens stretch out to the river on three sides.
While you are on the riverside, look out for the CityCat, a catamaran river taxi which zig-zags its way up and down the river. For about , it will take you upriver to another botanical garden, Brisbane's newest, the Roma Street Parklands.
Hotel | "Sheraton Brisbane Hotel & Towers"
Queensland Railways and the Sheraton have cooperated in such a unique way that they have created a seamless blend of luxury hotel and urban transport system. There is even one of the Sheraton's bars on the station concourse!
Vehicular access is via Turbot Street, which has been very cleverly tucked off to one side - unusual, as many of these fine hotels tend make a showpiece of the pick-up/drop-off place! The lobby is comfortably laid out with a colonial-style cocktail lounge and lots of large comfy chairs.
Transport to your room is via the semi-glazed elevator, which affords stunning views out over the Brisbane River and on to the surrounding southern suburbs. If you don't have a head for heights, I suggest you watch the number panel at this time.
Your room is worth the wait - elegantly appointed in a minimalist style with all the usual amenities plus little extras like an iron and ironing board, complimentary newspaper and voice mail.
After a quick freshen-up, you will need to choose between a dip in the rooftop pool, a drink in one of the many bars or a stroll through the adjacent Anzac Square.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 7, 2004
Sheraton Brisbane Hotel
249 TURBOT ST
Brisbane, Australia 4000
61- 7- 3835- 3535
Restaurant | "The Breakfast Creek Hotel"
Across from this historic spot stands a grand old pub, which from the outside, appears to be no more than a popular watering-hole, but step inside and an aroma of barbequed steak fills your head and leads you in a trance-like state to the Spanish Garden.
Located at the back of this pub, the Spanish Garden has been serving up steaks grilled to perfection since 1969. The standard meal consists of either a Fillet, Rump, T-bone or Eye Fillet grilled precisely to your specifications and served with a jacket potato, coleslaw, bread roll and choice of Mushroom or Chili Sauce. There is also a Chicken and a Fish course available, but really this is a steak place.
Meat-eaters from all over Queensland and most of Australia have heard if not been to this award-winning establishment, and once you have enjoyed a meal here, you too will join the ranks of the faithful.
The magic of the Breakfast Creek does not stop there, as this is also a major destination for the beer drinker - the reason for this is "to have one off the wood!" The last remaining pub in Queensland to serve the amber nectar from wooden, not stainless steel, kegs.
This is a landmark hotel serving excellent food and drink and is a must for the weary traveller.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 15, 2003
Breakfast Creek Hotel
2 Kingsford Smith Drive
Brisbane, Australia 4010
+61 (0)7 3262 5988
Mt Coot-tha stands as the largest mountain in Brisbane and part of the Taylor range which skirts the western edge of the city. From here you have a panoramic view offering an uninterrupted 200 degree span of Brisbane's suburban sprawl. Unlike most Australian cities which are in fact a conglomerate of many cities, Brisbane has one hub and from it radiate suburbs for 20 kilometres in every direction.
At first this spectacular view is all everyone speaks of, that is of course until the food arrives. The entree menu predominately consists of seafood and as we are in Brisbane, Moreton Bay Bugs are featured. Don't be alarmed the bugs are not some form of Aboriginal delicacy, but simply a type of Horseshoe Crab indigenous to Moreton Bay. Every east coast city has a form of them, for instance in Sydney they are called Balmain Bugs!
The main course menu is a la carte and the style is "fusion food". This type of food is basically southeast Asian cooking but with a Western slant. Many restaurants around the Pacific Rim are choosing to cook in this way as it takes the best from many styles and brings it together. The menu changes regularly so ring them first if you have a special dietary requirement.
Apart from the restaurant there is also a bistro called Kuta Cafe offering lighter meals.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 30, 2003
The Summit Restaurant
Sir Samuel Griffiths Drive, Mt Coot-tha Lookout
07 3369 9922
From the entrance, the path takes you around a number of large cages with other native Australian animals, such as the fruit bat or flying fox, the sulphur-crested cockatoo, and the kookaburra.
Other animals in residence are Tasmanian devils, brushtail possums, wombats, goannas (a type of monitor), and several different species of kangaroo and wallaby.
Passing through a double-gated area brings you to a very large enclosure where the kangaroos and wallabies roam free. It is here that you are able to feed the animals with pellets purchased at the front gate. Most of these macropods behave themselves while being fed, though be on your guard, as the more clever ones will try to grab your entire stash of pellets, given half a chance! This area also has picnic tables and a covered gazebo in the unlikely event of rain.
As mentioned earlier, it is possible to be photographed holding a koala, and the cost of this is A$10.00 for a no-frills photo.
This outing is a definite all-day trip out and can be combined with a cruise up and down the Brisbane River. (For more info, contact Mirimar Cruises at North Quay.)
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 2, 2003
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Brisbane, Australia 4069
+61 (0)7 3378 1366
Attraction | "The Stanthorpe Wineries"
We headed west from Brisbane via Ipswich at 6am for Warwick and ultimately Stanthorpe. Stanthorpe is somewhat an oddity in the Queensland outback as it has a peculiar amount of rainfall, sunshine and mild temperatures which enable them to grow red wine grape varieties which rival the best in Australia and the world.
This is why we were determined to make this early morning pilgrimage approximately 180 kilometres south-west of Brisbane. As we entered Stanthorpe there were no tell-tale signs that you had entered a world famous wine growing area, indeed there were mainly signs selling stonefruit and vegetables.
Our driver and guide had been here several times previously and was therefore able to highlight the various wineries. This was lucky for us as most of them to us look like tin shacks or just private farmhouses; it was all very understated.
The vineyards (or wineries, as the Aussies call them) that we stopped at were Robinson's Family, Ballandean Estate, Summit Estate and Kominos Wines. At all the wineries we visited, we were greeted very pleasantly by the staff and were able to sample as many wines as we wanted. This was a real treat as wines from Stanthorpe can be either hard to find or very expensive or more usually, both.
The trip was well worth it even though we had to rise very early, get back very late and negotiate a back road allegedly called a highway.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 3, 2003
New England Highway
07 4683 2011
Situated directly behind the Breakfast Creek Hotel, Albion Park is the home of harness racing in Australia and boasts facilities second to none.
The main stand, which is air-conditioned throughout, has floor-to-ceiling windows that provide a panoramic view of the circuit below. There are several bars selling alcoholic beverages and bar snacks and these can be consumed in most areas of the main stand.
If all that winning has built up an appetite, head for Silks Restaurant in the main stand. Here you will be treated to a gourmet Specials Board and a la carte dining of the finest of Queensland’s delicacies. Wine, dine, and celebrate all with an excellent view of the racing.
I can thoroughly recommend Albion Park for a great night out.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 17, 2004
Albion Park Paceway
Amy Street, Breakfast Creek
Attraction | "Drive In Movies"
With so many drive-ins now gone and the few remaining to surely disappear soon, it's well worth the trip to experience this unique form of entertainment. I, as most Aussies do, remember their first movie and all the teething problems associated with that night. You needed to drive up to a stick with two speakers attached and get close enough to reach the speaker but not too close as to not be able to open the door. There was then the question of angle- - too far forward and you look over the screen, too far back and well you get the picture.
Modern advances have brought a clip that attaches to your aerial instead of speaker to your window. You just clip it on and spend a few frustrating minutes trying to locate the radio station which will provide you with your movie soundtrack.
The only thing left to do is a quick visit to the snack bar for a burger and thick shake. These snack bars are like museum pieces direct from the ‘50s.
I emphatically endorse the patronage of these dying establishments and the Beenleigh one is a shining example of days gone by.
Staplyton Road, Yatala
Just before dusk, drive to Chelmer and park up alongside a piece of open bank off Roseberry Street. This is an ideal location to witness a phenomenon that occurs every day just before nightfall. The flying fox lives on fruit, mainly mangoes, palm dates, and assorted berries and in an effort to find enough food, they must search everywhere in Brisbane.
With nightfall rapidly approaching, the chirping you noticed when you first stopped the car has been steadily increasing; as the noise reaches its crescendo, you should start to see the bats leave their camouflaged retreats. One, two, and another, until suddenly the sky is prematurely black with the combined wingspans of thousands of these majestic mammals, spanning out in all directions. This wondrous sight is being simultaneously performed throughout Brisbane mainly near the Brisbane River or the swamplands to the north of the city.
To get a closer look at these fascinating animals, visit the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary at Fig Tree Pocket.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 17, 2004
Fruit Bats at Dusk
Roseberry Street Chelmer
Kidderminster, United Kingdom