21 February 2014

Touring Brisbane? - A local's guide

One of the things that pisses me off when I travel to other countries is finding out about cool places I should've visited...after I'm already back home. And that plane flight from Aus isn't a cheap one, so once you're gone, you're not returning for a few years.

With that in mind - and after hearing of all the terrible restaurants people have taken touring bands to, and the general boredom they seem to suffer in Brisbane - I thought I'd put together this little guide suggesting a few places to eat, things to see etc while you're in town for a couple of days.

If you're after nightlife, you can pretty much wipe the inner Brisbane CBD off the map...unless tacky casinos in heritage-listed buildings are your scene. What you need to do is head into Fortitude Valley (10 min walk from the inner CBD) or over to West End (across the river at the top of the Queen Street mall).

Fortitude Valley is the part of town that used to be really seedy in the '80s and was a hotbed of corruption (prostitution, gambling etc). Now, it's home to most people under the age of 30 every Friday and Saturday night. It contains a very small Chinatown and lots of great places to have a drink or a spot to eat.

Favourite haunts in Fortitude Valley / New Farm

Bar Alto - A beautiful spot right on the river to have a drink and a light meal. Gorgeous at any time. Try the saffron arancini. The added bonus about having a drink here is that you can then explore what's on at...

The Brisbane Powerhouse - An awesome venue for music, comedy and the arts. There's always something interesting happening at this place, which is actually an old power station. Another lovely aspect of this place is that you can stroll outside and take a walk along the river, go for a jog or chill out in New Farm Park, or check out the local markets which are held outside the Powerhouse every second and fourth Saturday from 6am to midday.

Campos Coffee
 - One of those 'best kept secrets' type places in town, located at 11 Wandoo Street, just behind the James St Markets. Excellent coffee, tasty treats.

CityCat - The City Cat is what we call our ferries that travel along the river. You can catch a City Cat from New Farm Park all the way down river to the Port of Brisbane. Or you can catch it up river to the Brisbane CBD, SouthBank, the art gallery, or West End. It's a relaxing way to travel, especially on a sunny day. And if you only have a short amount of time to get around, it's the easiest way to get from one side of town to the other.

The Continental Cafe - My favourite Brisbane restaurant, is a little fancier and features French-style cuisine and an excellent wine list. The Continental is located in New Farm, which is around 30 min walk (very short cab ride) from the Valley mall toward the river.

James Street - A street full of cinema-bar-food-clothing goodness. Check it out. You won't be disappointed.

Kangaroo Point
 - No, it's not a point with kangaroos. It's a cliff-face on the Brisbane river where you can do abseiling, walk on balance ropes, go canoeing etc. The walk from Kangaroo Point along the river to the Story Bridge is also beautiful. And the Story Bridge itself is pretty neat. Then again, I'm a bridge buff.

New Farm Deli - Best place for breakfast in Brisbane. Also a great spot to buy some picnic goodies so you can then walk down to New Farm Park on the river, lie down in the sun, and read a good book. Mary Ryan's book store is located in New Farm Village, where the deli is located.

New Globe Theatre - Great spot for alternative live music and cult cinema.

The Palace Cinema Centro - Lush cinema featuring mostly foreign films. Located across the road from the James Street Markets. Has a few bars around it, as well as some eateries.

The Tivoli - The goddess of all live venues. If you get to see a gig in this venue while you're here, consider yourself lucky - she's divine. If you're thinking of touring Brisbane in future, check it out so you can consider it as somewhere you might perform one day.

The Zoo - One of my favourite live venues in Brisbane, always chock-full of goodness. Check out who's playing if you'd like to catch a local or visiting band.

Inner Brisbane CBD

Archive Books - Found at 40 Charlotte Street, this is one of those second-hand book shops you can get lost in. Has an incredible array of second-hand sheet music out the back.

Bonsai Botanika - My favourite coffee house in the CBD at the moment. Serve an interesting array of drinks - try a Green Tea Latte with Rosemary - as well as flourless chocolate cakes and Blue Cheese and Dark Chocolate ice-cream. Worth a visit. Found at 109 Elizabeth Street.

ChaTime - Never had bubble tea before? Try a Pearl Milk Tea or an Iced Lychee Green Tea with Lychee Jelly. Yum! Perfect solution to combat the Australian heat. There are bubble tea outlets all over the Brisbane CBD. My local is in the Myer Centre in the Queen Street Mall.

Folio Books - I can spend hours here, rummaging through art and sociology books. A beautiful little book store.

John Mills Himself - Every so often a place opens up in Brisbane that screams "HIPSTER!!" and this is one of them. However, I still find myself attracted to its lush, old brick interior and bottled iced coffee infusions. Hidden at the end of a driveway at 55 Elizabeth Street.

Kadoya - Okay, so maybe I go to this place every day for lunch, as I work in the city. Maybe my love of their Japanese curry is my version of a crack addiction. The tastiest Japanese curry in town. Found at 73 Mary Street.

Perfect Potion - This is a locally owned company that sells aromatherapy style beauty products, lotions, potions and other amazing smelly stuff!

Across the river, at Southbank / West End

You can easily walk to SouthBank and West End from the Brisbane CBD. Just walk to the top of the Queen St Mall and over the Victoria Bridge. Or over the Grey St Bridge if you're in Paddington. Or over the Kurilpa Bridge, which ends up at the Gallery of Modern Art.

Avid Reader - Best book store in town!

Caravenserai - My favourite local Turkish restaurant complete with belly dancer if you go on a Friday or Saturday night. Located in a beautiful old Queenslander-style house at the top of Highgate Hill, just above West End.

Lefkas Taverna - Great Greek food and seafood.

Lock'n'Load - Nice little bar where you can relax in the rear courtyard with some noms.

Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art - If you're an art buff like me, you like to catch some galleries while you're travelling. These two galleries have excellent collections, and as an added plus, GoMA has its own little cinema inside which features some very cool films. Check out the exhibitions, as there's usually a major one on display.

Sciencentre - Located downstairs from the Queensland Museum, the science centre is full of fun, interactive games and interesting info. Well worth a play :)

 - Not many locals bother anymore, but if you're a tourist it might be a novelty...there's a man made beach with views of the river, so if you're desperate and can't make it to the real beach...and it's got a big ferris wheel with great views of the city at night...

The Bearded Lady - Great alternative venue for live music, if you don't mind getting a bit squishy as it has a very small capacity.

Trang - The best Vietnamese in the CBD vicinity, in my opinion. Go there and have some pho for brekky. BYO

Inner CBD suburbs

Eat Street Markets is a new destination in Brisbane located on the river at Hamilton Wharf. It's held every Friday and Saturday night from 4 to 10pm, and although I haven't been to it yet, all my friends say it's absolutely fantastic.

A short cab fare/bus ride out of Brisbane CBD to Rosalie is the best Indian restaurant in town, Halim's. Across the road is my favourite wine shop, The Wine Experience.

If you're after a massage due to the stress of performing, I can highly recommend the therapists located up the road from Rosalie at Paddington Urban Retreat. Just down the road in Paddington is the Paddington Clinic if you're in need of acupuncture, naturopathy or remedial massage.

Also in Paddington you can find lots of cool vintage clothing stores dotted up and down Given Terrace / Latrobe Terrace.

If you like football, check out our local team, who are usually playing a game at Suncorp Stadium in Milton (one suburb toward the Brisbane CBD from Paddington).

If you're after spectacular night views of Brisbane city from afar, head to the Mount Coot-Tha Lookout, about 15min drive from the CBD. It'll be just you, tourists and kids making out ;)

My local - Shady Palms Cafe - is a great spot in Stones Corner for a mid-week cocktail. Very laidback.


If you're after some wildlife experiences, visit Lone Pine Sanctuary in Fig Tree Pocket (around 30 min drive from CBD) which features Australian animals or Australia Zoo (over an hour drive from CBD) which also features larger game animals and, of course, lots of crocs.

My favourite beach?

Greenmount Beach and Rainbow Bay at Coolangatta. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is also just a little drive up the highway toward Surfer's Paradise from Coolangatta and is lovely if you want to see some local animals.

Coolangatta esplanade also has a tasty sushi-train restaurant, O-Sushi, where you can eat raw tuna and watch waves, which ticks all my boxes.

So that's it, in a nutshell.

I hope this little list has been helpful. Just remember that Brisbane-ites are pretty friendly people so, if you're wandering around town lost for ideas, just ask a local where they like to go. There is also an information booth in the Queen St Mall in the Brisbane CBD to help you with public transport timetables, free maps, what's on etc.

Most of all, have fun while you're here.

Amanda xx

*Current as at 21 February 2014


daz said...

Great post!

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