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Brisbane - every day a sunny day

By Dominique White

An insider's view of where best to go and what to do in this city of sunny days!

One of the beauties about visiting Brisbane is that you can pretty much treat every day in this sub-tropical city like a leisurely Sunday! And in this city, Sunday does not mean the shops are closed and the streets empty.

On the contrary. Brisbane, seven days a week is full of vitality, colour, and plenty of options. Whether visitors are into shopping, art, dining out, soaking up the sun or simply enjoying the beautiful Brisbane River, our city has much to offer.

If art is your thing, there are a few places to check out. First port of call could be the Queensland Art Gallery at South Bank. Aside from the excellent exhibitions, including the permanent collection, the price-tag is also attractive: Free, unless there is a specially curated showing. Afterwards, be tempted by the ever-changing displays at the Queensland Museum right next door.

Also free and worth the time is a walk through the 16ha South Bank Parklands - next door to the Gallery - where there are plenty of places to enjoy a refreshing drink or go for a dip at the man-made beach.

For a mega-dose of art and culture, head to Fortitude valley or New Farm where there is a plethora of art galleries.

The best way to enjoy the day is to buy an off-peak saver ticket (at a newsagency), and get on and off the bus at your leisure: enjoy refreshments at near-by coffee shops, have lunch at one of the many restaurants, or browse in boutiques and bookshops before returning to the arts trail.

If you want to see a different side of the city, taking a high-speed City Cat is an excellent option. The cats cruise 19km from St Lucia to Hamilton on the Brisbane River, and, for just a few dollars per person off-peak, you can ride with the wind in your hair for as long as you like.

To find out some other impressions of the city, head down Albert Street from the Queen Street Mall and spot 32 pavement plaques which mark the Literary Trail. Read quotes by top authors writing about Brisbane.

A majestic spot in the heart of town is the City Botanic Gardens at Riverside. This is a serene oasis of 20ha in size, where you can laze on the grassy lawns with a good book, feed the ducks, or watch the world go by. If you feel like a snack, enjoy a leisurely lunch in the licensed cafe housed in the historic kiosk. Afterwards, if you have energy to burn, grab some rollerblades or hire a bike and get some exercise in the fresh air.

Brisbane is a green city by name and nature - almost 25 per cent of its area is bushland. In all, the city has 9,500ha of bush and 1,500 parks and public gardens - making Brisbane an easy city to find a shady place to sit and watch the world go by.

Something that costs little and yet entertains for hours, is a visit to the markets, and Brisbane is undoubtedly market-mad. On Friday nights, all day Saturday and Sunday, the South Bank Parklands Craft Markets in Stanley Street Plaza are certainly worth a browse. All goods are hand-made in Australia and you can usually browse to the sounds of nearby entertainment from the regular South Bank attractions.

On Saturdays and Sundays from 8am - 4pm the Brunswick Street Mall Markets are open. These markets feature more off-beat displays and are good if you are looking for a bargain in old records, revamped clothes and general trinkets.

Sunday is the day that the city comes alive, with the colourful, popular Riverside Markets - their craft, clothing, art and giftware terraced along the Brisbane River around the Riverside Centre and up to the Eagle Street Pier.

For a serious shop, you can't go by the Queen Street Mall with its 500 specialty stores. Myer alone has 200 shops and the biggest inner-city retail complex in Australia. Or, for something quirky or arty, try chic boutiques in Milton and Paddington or hunt for that fashion item in factory outlets in Stones Corner at East Brisbane.

After art, shopping, gardens and markets, you'll need something to revive you. Here, Brisbane has come of age with a modern metro cuisine.

Clusters of cafes have emerged in the city and surrounds, and among the most famous is Park Road, Milton, where people head for the miniature Eiffel Tower landmark and enjoy their coffee while being 'seen'.

A trademark of Brisbane is al fresco dining all year round. Even in cooler months, residents and visitors enjoy meals in fresh air and cafe style. Cosmopolitan and multi-cultural communities have led the creation of an individual new style of dining.

Places to try include Asian and European restaurants at West End, cafes and delis at New Farm, all styles at Racecourse Road at Hamilton and around Brunswick Street in Fortitude Valley, bars and grills in Caxton Street, Petrie Terrace, and restaurants created in quaint Queenslanders in Toowong, Indooroopilly, Red Hill and Paddington.

After dark, there is always plenty of entertainment in Brisbane, and a seemingly endless choice of things to do. Aside from the 24-hour Casino, there are night-clubs, pubs and wine bars to socialise in and meet some friendly Brisbane locals!

Ask around for the places to go - an intimate sidewalk jazz bar, a blues club in a restored church - just follow the sound of music and people enjoying the balmy evenings.

For staged performances, the Performing Arts Complex hosts theatre, opera and musical productions. The Suncorp Theatre in the city is home to the Queensland Ballet and regularly hosts the Queensland Theatre Company. Also, the La Boite Theatre offers some local performance highlights. Or, the old-style Tivoli Theatre in Bowen Hills is a majestic venue.

Brisbane city is not only a great destination in its own right: It is an ideal stepping-off point for a range of day tours - into the surrounding hinterland of South East Queensland Country or the vibrant coastal regions of Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast. Just ask a local to suggest where to begin.

Parc Guell


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