Exploring the Brisbane River by kayak and then dining on barbecue prawns, catching a gig at a new venue with some excellent rock pedigree, or dining out with friends at a great new restaurant. There is so much to do in Brisbane you will just want to get out and about as soon as you hit the ground. It also has the great tropical weather that gives you few excuses not to get out explore the Queensland capital.
For a weekend of getting as much out of the city as you can you want a central base ideally in the CBD which is just a short walk to the Brisbane River and South Bank that is home to much of the city action. You will be minutes from shopping, dining and strolls along the river bank.
A river runs through it
The heart of the city is the Brisbane River and there are plenty of ways to explore it. Start at Qagoma – the combined name for the Queensland Art Gallery and the Gallery of Modern art (Stanley Place, South Brisbane; qagoma.qld.gov.au). These two buildings have revived the south bank area turning it into an arts precinct full of colour and excitement. Queensland Art Gallery is the more traditional museum while the Gallery of Modern Art is an eye-popping collection of cutting edge works with an emphasis on our regional neighbours in Asia.
The South Bank area that runs along the river is also full of great restaurants. Get some down-home Louisiana wings at Bourbon Street (182 Grey St, South Bank; bourbonstreet.net.au) that has a creole-inspired menu or sample some of the huge wine list at Bacchus (Corner Grey & Glenelg streets, South Bank; bacchussouthbank.com.au) a stylish, old-skool bar that mixes a mean cocktail.
For those after a bit more adventure, you can explore the river by kayak. The team at Riverlife (Naval Stores, Lower River Terrace, Kangaroo Point; riverlife.com.au) will set you up with a kayak, whether you are a first timer or an experienced kayaker. It is a totally different pace exploring the river by paddle; you have time to take in the beauty of the Brisbane River, the longest waterway in the south-east region of Queensland and the lifeblood of the city. Take your time exploring the tucked away sections of the river that you can only see by piloting a kayak, it is an intimate and unforgettable side of Brisbane life.
Given the warm evenings here one of the most popular kayaking options is to paddle the river in the evening as the lights in the city skyscapers start to come to life – or make a night of it with the Friday Night Paddle and Prawns a 90-minute kayak tour the ends with barbecued prawns and a cold beer. Riverlife also offers stand-up paddle boarding, a view of the river that requires a bit more balance than kayaking but is still a lot of fun.
Intrepid Travel’s Urban Adventures (291 Adelaide St, Brisbane; urbanadventures.com) offers walking tours with a difference where you can wander a city and see a side you would never find yourself. In Brisbane, try the Convicts and Crime tour that takes a look at the darker side of the city’s history. Follow a local guide around the city as they talk about the city’s sometimes-brutal convict history and visit convict-built landmarks like the Brisbane Arcade.
For a nocturnal excursion, Fortitude Valley is the party central of Brisbane and has had a makeover in recent years. You will find top-notch joints like Alquimia (702 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley; alquimia.bar), and upscale tequila joint serving excellent margaritas and The Apo (Bakery Lane, 690 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley; theapo.com.au) a former apothecary that is now selling award-winning food instead of aspirin.
Further afield is one of the best gig venues to open in recent years, The Triffid (7-9 Stratton St, Newstead). The owner is John “JC” Collins from Queensland rockers Powderfinger who knows a thing or two about live music and opened this venue with a huge beer garden and food that comes out of a couple of shipping containers.
In the heart of the Brisbane CBD is Pullman King George Square. It’s home base for the 21st century traveller, just around the corner from Brisbane’s transport hubs and coolest precincts, right on the pulse-point of the city.
Whatever your plans, Pullman King George Square offers 5-star luxury with 210 guestrooms. Enjoy dining at bar-cum-café, or at the sophisticated restaurant. Unwind at the rooftop pool, sauna and fitness centre on the recreation deck – or raise a glass at Sixteen Antlers rooftop bar to the views at of King George Square and City Hall.
Work, rest and play at Pullman Brisbane King George Square.