Brisbane is my favourite Australian city. It’s beautiful, has great opportunities, is relatively safe, packed with great things to do, and has a laid back, country vibe to it. I never tire of Brisbane city. However! After over a year of navigating through the visa immigration process, I am finally in America. I am still in shock that once my actual visa arrived in the mail, everything was so quick. I had planned to make a last trip to all of my favourite places before I left, but I only had twelve days between receiving my visa and flying out, and that was a mammoth task. With moving out of my place, shipping everything to the US, trying to get all the paperwork I’d need so I could apply to leave the country, and having COVID swabs etc, I simply could not do anything other than pack up and leave. It took every ounce of strength I had to actually get onto that plane to fly out of the country I love, and I sobbed hysterically as I boarded the flight, nervous about what was to come, and sad about what and who I was leaving behind.
But rather than reflect on the sadness, I want to focus on the things I have loved most about living in such an incredible place. And because we all love lists (research proves it), here’s my list of favourite Brisbane (and beyond) things. These are not in order— I love them all the same.
- The Brisbane River: I lied. This is my favourite. There is nothing as wonderful as a trip into the city on the River Cat. Undoubtedly, every trip has brought me joy; even when I was lost and ended up a few stops away in the opposite direction, in the dead of night, waiting for a River Cat back to my stop. That did not lessen my joy one bit.
- Queen Street Mall: This is also my favourite. I love Queen Street Mall— so many hidden arcades, gorgeous shops, restaurants and cafes. After four years I still get lost in Queen Street Mall, but I love it so much I don’t care. Every time I go to Queen Street Mall I find a new shop or cafe I hadn’t noticed before. It’s like my birthday every time.
- Southbank: This is definitely my favourite. How could it not be? Shops, restaurants, parks, a man-made beach, and a board walk alongside the beautiful Brisbane River. There are markets, gift stores and so many places to eat. The Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art are there as well, and I’ve spent countless hours frequenting them. A quick trip on the River Cat from Milton takes you to Southbank and it’s quite easy to spend an exhausting, but fun day just at Southbank. Southbank at night is really special too; the colourful city lights reflecting on the water, fairy lights hanging from the bougainvillea vines and trees, kids swimming in the little beach area, and alfresco dining. Ah … so much lovely.
- Redcliffe: A lot of people in Brisbane would scoff at Redcliffe but I love it (it’s not my favourite but close). The council has done a brilliant job of transforming Redcliffe into a vibrant, beachside, tourist destination. Alfresco dining, beachside markets, live music, a gorgeous boardwalk that stretches from Scarborough to Margate, and an aqua blue, man-made lagoon with bbqs and picnic tables. Redcliffe is so family friendly and Sutton’s Beach or the lagoon are the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon in the heat of summer. I spent the first eighteen months in Brisbane living in Redcliffe by the beach, and I would start the day with a run from Margate to Scarborough. Doesn’t get much better than Redcliffe.
- Eat Street: Now this place is special. Eat Street is a massive market place that is everything food. Almost every kind of food truck and food stall you can imagine is at Eat Street. There’s live music, park benches and a dynamic vibe, with food vans stretching in every direction, by the Brisbane River. You can catch a River Cat there, or drive.
- Bribie Island : Bribie Island is north of Brisbane and is one of my favourite spots because of its sheer beauty. Aqua blue waters, lots of sunshine, white sands, and a permanent tourist vibe. The island is connected to the mainland by a long bridge, and pelicans sit perched on the street lights silently guarding it. There’s not much better than a fish and chips picnic at one of the many beaches on Bribie Island, and even in winter it’s a fantastic place to walk for miles on one of the sandy white beaches.
- The accessibility to the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and the hinterlands: Being so close to such gorgeous parts of the world is remarkable. The Gold Coast is more commercialised and touristy than the Sunshine Coast, but with so many fantastic restaurants and cafes, and spectacular beaches, it’s certainly worth the trip. The hinterlands of both the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast are simply stunning. Gorgeous cafes and markets and the scenery is amazing. So close to Brisbane, but a whole world away also.
- Sunnybank BBQ Duck: This is just a new thing for me. I really only discovered it recently, but as soon as I knew it was there, I was a regular. Sunnybank has a large Asian population and we all know what that means— great food! I’ve always loved Asian BBQ pork, but the crispy skin BBQ duck is utterly delicious. You can buy the whole duck with its cute little head intact, and although you find yourself apologising as you eat it, it doesn’t lessen the experience.
- The Story Bridge: The Story Bridge may not attract international tourists like the Sydney Harbour Bridge, but I love it. From Eagle Street Pier, with some of Brisbane’s best restaurants, the view of the bridge at night, all lit up, is iconic Brisbane. It’s actually breath-taking at night, and cruising under it on a River Cat is really special. There’s also a fantastic view of the bridge from the Howard Smith Wharves. I loved a lazy lunch at Felon’s Brewery, gazing out onto the water, admiring the beautiful Story Bridge, and I think it’s my favourite place.
- Indooroopilly Shopping Centre: Ah … this is everything retail. Designer boutiques, cafes, book stores, our favourite retail and food chains, and a glorious fresh food section. I love Indro Shopping Centre; in the heat of summer it’s a fantastic way to cool off and drink great coffee in comfort, and it’s also the ideal place to meet up with friends over lunch. I have spent so many lovely shopping hours (and unspeakable amounts of money) at Indro, and also eating at Betty’s Burgers. Apparently they are based on In-N-Out Burgers here in the US, so I will try them as soon as I can find one to relive the beautiful memories.
Realistically, with COVID having changed everything, I am unsure when, or if I’ll ever get back to Brisbane. I dream of moving back there one day, with my American love. There is so much to do and see in Queensland, and I have seen so little of it. But until then I’ll settle in here in the USA, and slowly discover new and exciting places to satisfy the travel bug. Stay posted …