"CITY OF SUN DAYS"
This modern state capital of Queensland is considered to be an overgrown country town. This is Australia's third largest city and may still be the largest city in the world in regards to size. It is renowned for its informality. There is an old saying about Brisbane, 'If you are a stranger arriving in Brisbane, someone in shorts and thongs will throw a sun-tanned arm around your shoulder and say, "Come and have a drink".' Brisbane has been called a "lazy town with its sleeves rolled up" and this is probably a result of its sub-tropical climate which tends to make those living there, slower moving in the perfect climate. Being just 768km south of the Tropic of Capricorn gives Brisbane a hot and humid climate in summer while it enjoys mild and sunny winters with temperatures around 15°C. This is Australias only sub- tropical capital city, a city that is young and vibrant.
Here are some statistics for Brisbane:
Location: 27°30S and 153°00E (approximately the same distance from the equator as Miami, Florida)
Population: 1.6 million
Founded: 1824 as a penal colony
Time Zone: GMT + 10hours
Climate: Sub-Tropical. Summer Temperatures average 30°C but can reach over 40°C (max) and 21°C (min). Winter temperatures average 19°C (max) and 8°C (min). The average rainfall is 1151ml and the wet season is January to March/April which is also cyclone season.
Brisbane has a vast range of landscapes and lifestyles. The inner-city and metropolitan suburbs offer residents a leafy and hilly area while the suburbs further out have the traditional Australian acreages and large blocks of land. This cosmopolitan city lies on the banks of the Brisbane River with parks and gardens even dotting the city centre. Just an hour drive north or south brings you to the fabulous Sunshine or Gold Coasts while just west of Brisbane is the Great Dividing Range and the rich plains of the Darling Downs. On the Darling Downs is the beautiful city of Toowoomba which hosts a carnival of flowers every Spring. Within a 2½ drive you can discover wilderness areas, secluded valleys, rainforest pockets, golden beaches, mountain ranges, freshwater lakes, magnificent waterfalls and picturesque towns.
Brisbane lies on Moreton Bay with its jewel blue waters and dozens of islands. St Helena Island offers a journey back in time to the days when Brisbane was a penal colony. You can take a walk through the convict ruins or enjoy the re-enactments. Beautiful Moreton Island has its luxurious resort and the chance to hand feed wild dolphins. 20km off the coast is North Stradbroke Island which is peaceful for the visitor and offers some beautiful scenery despite heavy sand mining. It has freshwater lakes, good walking tracks and some great beaches. Tiny Coochie Mudlo Island is a great spot to go for a picnic lunch. Moreton Bay is Brisbane's water playground and there is no shortage of things to see and do.
Brisbane itself has far too many sights and attractions to list here but I will try my best. There is a variety of early historic buildings which depict early Queensland history. There is Old Government House and Parliament House (1860's), the old windmill and observatory (1828), Newstead House (1846), MacArthur Chambers, the General Post Office (1870's), the Deanery (1853), St Johns Cathedral (1901), Customs House (1880's), St Stephens Cathedral (1850), the Mansions (1890's), and Victoria Barracks Military Museum (1860's). Another historic building to note is the sandstone Treasury building which now is home to the Brisbane Conrad Treasury Casino. Another piece of history to be found is the famous 'Southern Cross' plane flown by Charles Kingsford Smith in the first crossing of the Pacific Ocean in 1928. It was built by Fokker in Holland in 1926.
Brisbane hosted World Expo '88 and afterwards the site was redeveloped into one of the city's favourite areas. It covers 40 acres and includes an IMAX theatre, a butterfly house, bike paths, parklands, a man made sandy swimming beach, market stalls, a number of restaurants and cafes, and the Maritime Museum. Also around South Bank you will find the Queensland Art Gallery, State Library, Queensland Museum, and the Queensland Performing Arts Complex which are all part of the Cultural Centre. The site sits on the Brisbane River and with a short walk across Victoria Bridge, you are in the heart of the city centre. Brisbane markets are some of the best. The South Bank markets on Friday evenings, Saturdays, and Sundays are very popular while the Eagle Street Pier markets have a carnival style.
For nature lovers there is plenty to be had in and around Brisbane. There are two Botanical Gardens. The City Botanical Gardens cover more than 20 hectares and date back to the early days of settlement. They were formally laid out in 1855 with rows of bunya pines, poinciana, jacaranda, and weeping figs. The Mount Cootha Botanic Gardens is only ten minutes from the city centre and covers 57 hectares. It features Australia's largest sub-tropical flora display, a tropical dome indoor display, an exotic rainforest, Australian rainforest, Japanese Gardens, bunya forest, open eucalypt forest, melaleuca wetlands, and more. Set in the Gardens is the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium which is a must for star gazers. They put on a tremendous show for amateurs and professionals alike. At the top of Mount Cootha is one of my favourite spots with the lookout which is magical at night as you gaze at the lights of Brisbane. Brisbane Forest Park is a 265km² natural bushland reserve on the outskirts of Brisbane. It is great for bushwalking, scenic drives, camping, horse riding, and cycling.
The Australian Woolshed gives people the 'outback experience'. There are native animals, free BBQ and picnic facilities, sheep shearing, wool spinning, sheepdog displays, and it is only 15km from the city centre. Another wildlife sanctuary is Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. The koalas are the main attraction and you can have your photo taken cuddling one.
Brisbane also hosts a number of events and festivals. The Ekka (Royal National Agricultural Show) is in August and the Brisbane Festival runs for two weeks in mid September. The international festivals include a comedy festival in April, music festival every second June, film festival in August, and the Livid alternative rock festival in October.
It is not hard to see that I love my home town. If you plan on visiting my home town, the best time is May or September/October when the weather is not too hot and the crowds escaping the winter in the south, are gone.