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Brisbane is the rare city that creates a unique blend of high culture with none of the pretension attached. Perhaps it’s the perennially gorgeous weather and the constant presence of the Brisbane River ambling through the city center that relaxes the populace and makes it the charming destination it’s become. Its humble country roots color its temperament, but its emergence as the cultural capital of Queensland have created a unique vibe to the city. Though Australia’s other two premier cities will cast their northern contemporary as a sleepier city with a culture to match, Brisbane is shedding that reputation with a vibrant local art scene and thriving shopping and nightlife. Although, some of that reputation might be colored by the long and storied Rugby history between New South Wales’ Sydney and Queensland’s Brisbane – both regions vie for the State of Origin Shield in Australia’s biggest annual sporting event. Though the State of Origin is always a spirited affair, Queensland has been utterly dominant since 2006, much to Sydneysiders’ chagrin.
Brisbane stands out among its contemporaries, foregoing the usual beachfront foundation for its city, instead situated along the stout Brisbane River. The mighty Brisbane River snakes through the city center, driving daily life ever forward. Though it divides the city in two; its twin ferry services, the CityCat and CityHopper, provide scenic transportation for locals as well as the best sightseeing journey Brisbane has to offer. Most scenic river cruises come with a hefty price tag – the CityCat is free. While riverfront property may be at a premium, Brisbane has maximized the space provided to it. None more so than the brilliant Queensland Cultural Precinct, the heart of art and culture in the entire state. This multi-facility cultural juggernaut boasts the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (with 8 theaters and stage spaces within!), the Queensland Museum, the State Library of Queensland, and finally the dual facility art powerhouse known colloquially as QAGOMA; Queensland Art Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art. One could, and often does, spend days perusing Queensland’s highest culture all flanked by the flowing river circumventing the facility.
Those craving stunning beaches won’t be disappointed, however, as the nearby Moreton Island features picture perfect beaches in a rugged wilderness setting. You’ll want to make the most of the island’s ample camping grounds, beachfront bars and sandy beaches as Brisbane boasts some of Australia’s finest weather. Keep an eye out for playful dolphins – they frequent the waters off the coast of Moreton. With its sub-tropical climate and characteristically toasty weather, it foregoes the Australian winters found in the south for a manageable rainy season. Don’t fret if some tropical rain ushers you indoors – Brisbane has just as much to offer inside.
Visit the buzzing Fortitude Valley and grab a pint from one of the suburb’s many breweries or keep your ear to the ground for the newest “secret bar” – new bars often emerge with little fanfare, preferring to keep the buzz local and mysterious. For those hearty souls that aren’t satisfied with just the one cheeky pint, the Valley’s raucous nightlife and club scene will keep you thumping until the sun shines on the Brisbane River. Keep your eyes peeled for local art galleries or performance spaces, offering an insight into the life of local Brisbanites. Those looking for a taste of the good life should look no further than the Eagle Street Pier boardwalk. While the enchanting skyline view would be enough reason to visit, the scenic restaurants and bars that run along the river will provide ample reason to slow down and soak it all in.