The capital of Queensland is the very epitome of what you might call a city on the way up. Founded on the banks of its namesake river, 'Brizzy' is a town that offers much to the intrepid explorer, both young and old.
That old cliche about there being something for everyone certainly rings trues about Brisbane: A burgeoning arts scene, a nightlife that rivals anywhere else in the country, fine parks and buildings of significant historical importance all make up the beating heart of brilliant Brisbane. If you only have a couple of days to spare, though, where should you seek out in Australia's third-most populous city?
South Bank Parklands
Start your Brisbane stay in a relaxing way by heading on out to the South Bank Parklands. As an area bathed in greenery, you'll feel instantly relaxed as you peruse the many attractions that reside throughout this sprawling, yet beautiful place. Flick a coin at the entertaining buskers as you take in the wide-open performance spaces, interesting sculptures, pergolas and secret lawns.
You won't be going without sustenance in the South Bank Parklands. If you've brought along your own food, you can cook up a storm in one of the numerous barbecue areas, but don't worry if you didn't, as there is a smattering of excellent restaurant and bars serving a great variety of fares.
Once you've eaten your fill, head to Streets Beach, a unique artificial seaside resort that offers an entirely convincing beach experience, especially if the weather keeps. You can swim, sunbathe or both at Streets, so remember to pack a towel and a pair of thongs in your hire car before making your way to this incredible inland beach.
Before you leave the Parklands, be sure to take a ride on the Wheel of Brisbane, a 60-metre high Ferris wheel that grants panoramic, 360-degree views of the entire cityscape.
Story Bridge Adventure Climb
If the Wheel of Brisbane has given you a taste for a spectacular view, then make your way to the iconic Story Bridge. Guided climbs regularly ascend the bridge, and, with the traffic rushing ceaselessly below, your sense of bravery will be tested as you make your way gradually skywards.
After an intriguing talk about the chequered history of the bridge, settle your nerves as you take the first steps up from street level. A relaxed, easy pace means that people of any age can enjoy the climb, and it isn't particularly strenuous on the body either. In fact, at the summit you may feel a great sense of achievement as well as being treated to views that rival those of the Wheel of Brisbane – and you did it all under your own steam.
Wind down your first day in Brisbane by taking a trip to the world-famous XXXX Brewery. You can take a tour of the facility where the iconic Australian tipple is brewed, taking in the 135-year journey that the beer took from humble origins to become one of the most popular brews on the planet.
You'll discover all about how XXXX is made, from traditional brewing methods through the use of only the best ingredients, and the all-important perfect pour. As an added bonus, the tour ends with a tasting session – why not follow it up with a sumptuous meal at the XXXX Brewery Alehouse?
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
On the morning of your second day, get your cuddly on by making for the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Found 12 kilometres south of the city centre, you'll need your hire car handy to make the short trip, but it will be worth it. This little patch of parkland that straddles the Brisbane river is in fact Australia's first and biggest koala sanctuary, and, with over 130 of the furry critters ambling about, there is no danger of you missing out on a great photo opportunity or giving one a hearty hug.
It's not just koalas that you'll find at the sanctuary, however. That icon of Australia, the kangaroo, is also hopping about, and you'll be given the chance to feed one in beautiful, natural surroundings. A raft of other native Australian wildlife is also at play in the sanctuary, including the unique duck-billed platypus.
Gallery of Modern Art
Brisbane's Gallery of Modern Art is just that – an avant-garde building in the style that matches perfectly to the pieces found in its angled walls. Housing a collection that has been growing since it opened in 2006 and with a constantly-changing range of exhibits, you'll be sure to discover something new with every visit to this establishment.
The artworks on display range from paintings, sculpture, photography, video, installation and film. Away from the galleries, you'll find a bookshop, activity room for the little ones, a cafe and free guided tours at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.
Finish your stay in Brisbane by paying a visit to Vespa, perhaps the city's finest pizza restaurant. Built into an old colonial building with an intimate, candlelit courtyard and booths adorned with vintage car seats, Vespa offers a great range of pizzas from all sides of the slicey scale.
Aside from the traditional toppings such as pepperoni, ham, and Nepoletana, Vespa also offers experimental examples such as sesame chicken with mango chutney, or pulled pork with cottage cheese. Whichever you choose, it's sure to delight your tastebuds!