Brisbane, Australia - Stein Travel
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Brisbane

Australia's third largest city has a relaxed, easy-going ambience that is well suited to its moniker 'The City of Sundays'. As the capital of the state of Queensland, however, it has a serious side too and despite it's laid-back aura it is filled with the cosmopolitan hustle and bustle of a major urban hub. Brisbane has several interesting districts, a good street cafe vibe, a wonderful riverside park, a very full cultural calendar and a vibrant nightlife. Arts and culture vultures head for the South Bank, where one finds the Queensland Museum with its interactive displays; the Queensland Art Gallery with its magnificent collection of works; and the Performing Arts Centre, where international theatre companies and performing artists take to the stage.

There is plenty to keep shopaholics busy too, with the designer boutiques and department stores of Queens Street Mall ready to welcome visitors and numerous bustling markets dotted around the city. Sport, as everywhere in Australia, is also well catered for at the Gabba sports ground (cricket tests) and Suncorp Stadium, where the Wallabies often take on the world at rugby. The city is easy to explore on foot, and being at the centre of the region's favoured tourist attractions it provides the perfect base from which to make daytrips to surrounding areas.

Information & Facts

Climate

Brisbane has a sub-tropical climate with very hot humid summers and mild, dry, sunny winters. Most rain falls during the height of summer, between November and February.

Getting Around

There are three main types of public transport in Brisbane: buses, trains and ferries (CityCats). Bus routes may be somewhat complicated for visitors, but they do cover most of the city. Buses need to be flagged down and will not automatically stop at bus stops. A free bus service covers the Downtown Loop from 6am to 6pm, serviced by distinctive red buses. Trains are quick and efficient, covering most of the city and suburbs. Most popular with visitors is the 14-stop CityCat ferry system, which serves points along the Brisbane River. Ticketing for all forms of transport is cheap, and works on a zoning system. A variety of passes, including a Go card, day and ten-trip saver passes, are available. Cycling is a popular option, and the city has 311 miles (500km) of dedicated cycle-paths. Trains, buses and ferries are equipped to carry bicycles. Brisbane's taxicabs are either yellow or black & white, found in ranks in the city centre and near most major hotels. Taxis may be pre-booked or flagged and fares are around $1.40 per kilometre. Driving a car in the city centre can be confusing because it consists mainly of a grid of one-way streets. There are parkades available downtown.

The CityCat system sustained significant damage during the floods of January 2011. A rebuilding plan is underway, and is expected to be completed by mid-2012.

Kids Attractions

Visitors in Brisbane who are travelling with kids in tow will be pleased to know that besides being in one of the most naturally beautiful countries in the world, Brisbane itself offers plenty of activities, both outdoors and in.

Take the kids to the Children's Art Centre at the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art for a more cultural outing, while a trip to Sea World, Queensland's most popular attraction, is guaranteed to please with dolphins, penguins and even sharks to captivate and enthral kids of all ages. Pack a picnic, plenty of sunscreen and a Frisbee or ball and head to the New Farm Park where rolling green grass, fig trees and playgrounds will tire the little ones out while mum and dad relax under the shade of a tree.

Kids love animals and what could be better than a trip to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary where children can interact with cuddly koalas and even get to hold them or feed and pet them - a once in a lifetime experience for many since this is the only koala sanctuary in the world where this is permitted.

For those spending a day in the city, stop off at the South Bank Parklands where children can swim at the artificial beach, enjoy a ride on the Wheel of Brisbane, meet other kids in the playgrounds or even rollerblade or skateboard along the river's edge. Other parks which are perfect for kids include Marchant Park and Peace Park, which both feature excellent playground areas and other attractions for children on holiday in Brisbane.

Language

English is the official language of Australia.

Money

The Australian Dollar (AUD) is divided into 100 cents. Banks and bureaux de change exchange most foreign currencies. Travellers cheques are also welcome everywhere, but banks take a small commission and it is better to take cheques in major currencies (e.g. US dollars or Euros) to avoid additional charges. Credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs are freely available throughout the country. Banking hours are generally 9.30am to 4pm Monday to Thursday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Friday, but some banks offer extended hours and some are open on Saturday mornings.

Shopping

A shopping trip in Brisbane is nothing to turn your nose up at. With dozens of shopping malls, stalls and open air markets to browse, it may not be up there with Sydney when it comes to shopping, but Brisbane can definitely hold its own. The Central Business District is a good place to start where the Queen Street Mall, a pedestrian shopping mall that prides itself on being the 'one-stop-shop' for all your shopping needs in Brisbane, and attracts 26-million visitors a year. Located between Edward and George Streets, shoppers can stroll along the city's most popular shopping strip where centres such as Wintergarden, the Myer Centre and the lavish Queen's Plaza featuring Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co and Max Mara, can be found. Numerous hotels, restaurants, coffee shops, cinemas, clothing, music, jewellery and book stores also line the mall - what more could a shopaholic want? Shoppers wanting something a little more informal should visit the South Bank Art and Craft Markets from Friday to Sunday where they can pick up souvenirs such as didgeridoos, boomerangs and Aboriginal art works, as well as everything from clothing and leather goods to fresh produce and plants. The Sunday Discovery Market at Rocklea is another place to find trash and treasures, while Trendoids looking to keep up to date with the hottest fashion trends should visit the monthly South Bank Young Designers' Market which takes place on the first Sunday of every month.

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