We only had a week in Queensland, and after our 3 day trip to Fraser Island, that left us with 3 or so days in Brisbane. The city was gearing up to host the G20 summit, and in fact the leaders were arriving the day we flew out. Surprisingly though this didn't impact us at all, and in fact probably made for a better visit. We stayed at a hostel, so the hotel availability wasn't an issue. None of the road closures seemed to be a problem as we were walking or taking transit, and pretty much everything seemed to be open still.
We walked over to Southbank the first day, and ended up coming back here again we liked it so much. It's the cultural heart of the city, just across the river from downtown (or the CBD - a bit of a foreign concept for us Canadians). Several big theatres, art galleries and museums line the river bank, and then there is a large riverfront park with restaurants and shops. There's even an awesome pool complete with sandy beach!
They had a large ferris wheel/eye ride, as every large city seems to these days, and since it was happy hour and half off, we took a ride to see the view.
We came back our last day and cycled all along the riverfront past here using the Brisbane cycle hire. Just like the city cycles we've seen in Paris, London, Washington DC, Montreal, etc. but here in Australia they have strict helmet laws, so even as a casual tourist you're supposed to be wearing a helmet. We didn't have too much trouble with this, as around a third of the bikes have helmets with them you can use. It was surprising they're not stolen or vandalised, but apparently the whole system has incredible low usage rates compared to other cities. Given the pretty good cycle trails and year-round nice weather, this is strange, but cycling culture can be hard to create. We're still waiting for our home city of Vancouver to get a cycle program, but it will struggle with the same helmet laws there as well.
Cycling past Southbank we rode around Kangaroo Point, a local climbing area and around into some local housing areas. As with the other programs we've used, you pay a fee to join the bike hire for 24 hours, but after that you can have unlimited 30 minute hires, with any hires longer than that costing money. The key here is to keep an eye on the time, and before you hit 30 minutes, drop the bike off at a station. You can always take it back out and continue on if you're riding a long way too!
Downtown Brisbane has a nice pedestrian mall filled with shops and people, with the main bus station for the city underneath the street! We had our first experience (of many, many to come) with the ubiquitous meat pie.
Some more pictures of the Southbank area. Nice bike path along the riverbank, the local ibis around the cafes rather than seagulls. They're less noisy but a little more scary looking with those beaks!
And the city by night was pretty as well.
If you haven't already seen it, we wrote a separate post on our daytrip out to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary