Any city becomes more enjoyable if you can travel to some attractions outside of it. Brisbane is no exception. Its city center is full of things to do, but there are 3 places to see that will get you away from it for a while.
The Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is #1. A Mirimar boat leaves the Southbank Cultural Center Pontoon every day at 10 am and travels 7 miles up the Brisbane River to it. The cruise gives visitors a chance to see parts of the city that would otherwise not be observed, and the Sanctuary is far enough away from city center to create the illusion that you are far away from urban action. Lone Pine, the first and largest koala preserver Down Under, is very Australian. Because koalas destroy the eucalyptus trees they live in, their numbers have to be controlled; and Lone Pine has 129 koalas to see after you hold one. Lone Pine has 80 years of experience in raising them. The river cruise takes about 75 minutes.
Mt Coot-tha’s summit almost 1,000 feet above the city used to be a gold mining area. Now its the best place to see Brisbane from a distance. It’s only about a 20 minute drive from the CBD, or you can take a taxi up to it for about $37. Uber will cost from $17 to $23 to get you there. A city bus from Adelaide Street (Translink Route 471) is the cheapest way to the top. Mt Coot-tha’s Summit Restaurant has won awards and is a great place for lunch. Adelaide Street is in the heart of downtown. Ask anyone for directions to the bus because people are especially friendly in Brisbane.
The Australia Zoo made famous by Steve Irwin is about an hour’s drive north of Brisbane with views of the Great Dividing Range providing entertainment the closer you get to it. Four trains to Beerwah from the convenient downtown Roma Street Station in the morning take about 2 hours. At Beerwah station a shuttle takes you to the zoo rapidly. This will be an all-day and unforgettable experience.
While in Brisbane, the Queensland Art Gallery is a must-see. It’s across the Brisbane River via the Victoria Bridge from the CBD, which is not a long walk, and very close to the Queensland Museum and Science Center in a complex of buildings that includes this city’s main performing arts center. The range of the Queensland Art Gallery’s collection is stunning, and it offers quite a tribute to the whole Namatjira family. My favorite Australian artist is the controversial Outback interpreter Russell Drysdale. I was glad to see a couple of his works up, like “Man Feeding His Dogs”. I had never heard of Michael Zavros, a contemporary artist who practices exacting realism. He has updated the Narcissus legend in an interestingly named painting called “Bad Dad”.
Brisbane is near The Gold Coast, Australia’s version of Florida from Miami to Orlando, and is an exciting city to experience. Including both in your Australian itinerary won’t lead to disappointment.