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10 things you can only experience in Brisbane

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It’s no secret Brisbane marches to a creative beat. With a bustling craft beer scene, inventive food truck markets, an inner-city beach and world-class galleries just the beginning, we’ve wrapped up the top 10 things you can only experience in Brisbane.

1. Eat Street Markets

Eat Street Markets
Brisbane’s emerging street food scene is quirky and unlike most other cities. Food trucks in Brisbane are usually stationary and you need to know where to look to get the goods.

First, there’s the trendy Boundary Street Markets in West End, followed by The Collective art, craft and food markets in South Bank. But the largest newcomer to the scene is Eat Street Markets at Portside Wharf. Each week, over 60 shipping containers reconfigured as mini restaurants offer a selection of delicious international dishes, craft stores and lives bands playing it up to the night time crowds.

2. Sun, sand and Streets beach in the city

Streets Beach, South Bank
South Bank’s Streets Beach is a unique, man-made swimming beach right in the heart of the CBD action. The manicured beach is patrolled seven days a week till late by experienced, professional lifeguards.

You might think a man-made beach is a fancy name for a swimming pool, but Streets Beach is made of over 4,000 cubic metres of sand and each year it’s topped up with an additional 70 tonnes to ensure it’s kept in pristine condition.

The beach area looks like a lagoon with enough water to fill five Olympic swimming pools, with sand beaches, palm trees, rocky creeks and subtropical trees and exotic plantings instantly transporting you to paradise in the city.

3. Wandering Cooks

Wandering Cooks is Brisbane’s first incubator for food entrepreneurs. What’s this you ask? They’re market stall holders, caterers and gourmet food vans who all gather to create a community, aspiring to bring the best of the food world to Brisbane.

Every week in West End they congregate to host events like ‘Thank Truck It’s Thursday’ and ‘Friday Night Snackdown’ – a battle between different food styles every Friday night. Here you can enjoy dinner, drinks and some mighty fine tunes from 5pm until sold out.

4. The Brisbane Outdoor Art Gallery

Brisbane Outdoor Art Gallery

Pic by @ruselvis

Brisbane’s South Bank is home to a number of world-class cultural destinations including the Gallery of Modern Art, the State Library of Queensland and Queensland Museum. But did you know the culture has spilled out onto the streets?

The Pillars Project has transformed the massive underpass area of South Brisbane railway line into an outdoor art gallery. This amazing series of enormous pillar murals each stand over seven metres tall and are about 60 square metres each, with each artist needing to use a boom lift to finish the pieces. The artworks were all created by street artists originally from Brisbane and have now been recognised for their work throughout Australia and the world.

5. Art versus Food

[vimeo 113181072 w=691 h=461]

Brisbane is also a city where food meets art on a regular basis. One of the more lively examples is the Southside Tea Room. Owners Patience Hodgson and John Patterson of Brisbane band The Grates have been running the Morningside cafe since 2012.

Making the most of their suburban backyard, this year they will take over the shop next door to open Death Valley, an eight-keg tap house. After gathering community support via crowd funding site Pozible, the car park out back is now set to become the home of the Red Robin Supper Truck – a suburban beer garden with decking, greenery, lighting and Yogi Bear style picnic benches for eating truck treats on.

6. Hand feeding a family of wild dolphins at sunset

Moreton Island Dolphin Feeding
If a close encounter with sea creatures is on your bucket list, jump on a ferry over to Moreton Island National Park. A stone’s throw from Brisbane, this sand island is home to epic activities like hand-feeding bottlenose dolphins at Tangalooma Island Resort each evening at sunset.

The dolphins are actually part of two tight-knit family pods who have been visiting the island to be hand-fed since the first dolphin, named Beauty, arrived in the 1990s. They all have names and you can get to know their history and even their family tree during your visit.

7. A one of its kind ‘Paint and Sip’ studio

Let your inner Picasso, Dali and Warhol shine at Brisbane’s only paint and sip studio, Cork and Chroma. The concept is simple and the results are often surprising, such as BYO your favourite bottle of wine and follow the direction of the instructor until you create your very own artwork. Sounds fun!

Tackle the basic techniques of painting acrylics on canvas and by the end of the night even the self proclaimed ‘talentless’ will have created a masterpiece to take home.

8. Brisbane’s unbeatable Cold Pressed Coffee

Blackstar Cold Press Coffee, West End

Pic by Blackstar Coffee Roasters

Cold Pressed Coffee is iced coffee but not as you know it. Blackstar Coffee in West End can be credited for starting the trend of making their signature Cold Pressed Coffee directly from freshly roasted coffee, served chilled in a brown glass beer bottle.

Inspired by long Brisbane summer days, this liquid gold comes with a choice of Full Creamy, Soy Deluxe and Total Black.

Needing even more of a caffeine hit? Check out our Top 10 coffee experiences to boost your Olympic spirit here.

9. A boutique bar scene and ‘Brewsvegas’

The introduction of the small bar license in 2009 forever changed the rules after dark and inspired the growth of many boutique bars springing up in Brisbane’s inner-city suburbs. Trendsetters now avoid megaclubs and opt to explore the urban precincts to drink whisky in a Mermaid Lounge at Lefty’s in Petrie Terrace, play Guitar Hero in the video game-themed Mana Bar, or try cocktails in an old air raid shelter at Alfred and Constance in Fortitude Valley. Oh and don’t forget to head to West End to discover a live ‘ant farm’ at Habitat.

Nurturing a local beer scene already replete with passionate contributors, Brewsvegas is a grass roots, community-minded celebration of Brisbane’s burgeoning craft beer culture that’s celebrated in every city suburb. This event has nearly every suburb under its spell with the teams from Highgate Hill to Spring Hill, and West End to Woolloongabba all collaborating as boutique brewers to bring the best beer to Brisbane.

10. The big Brisbane welcome

When a city as friendly as Brisbane asks you to visit, you can be sure there will be someone to help teach you the ropes and show you the best the place has to offer.

Brisbane Greeters is a free public service available to everyone, where locals who love living here so much, volunteer their time to welcome and share their intimate knowledge of their home. Greeters will show you the Brisbane they love and know best or if you prefer something a little more tailored, they can help you out with that, too.

So tell us, what’s your favourite aspect of Brissie (as they locals call it)?




  • Zane Trow

    Five other things you can only experience in Brisbane:

    1…being given a number (or a little machine) when you order coffee…other cities remember your face.
    2…really expensive average food when you eat out…other cities set competitive prices
    3…being condescended to when you eat out….other cities aren’t so mindbogglingly pretentious
    4…being told Brisbane is just so cutting edge and has “come of age”..again, and again, and again
    5…the joy of leaving for a day trip to NSW…it’s like another country, the minute you cross the border you don’t need a number for your coffee

    just sayin’ ;-)

    • http://queensland.com/blog Queensland Blog

      Ouch, Zane! Sounds like you didn’t really feel the love in Brissy. Hopefully you’ll give it another shot one day and receive your coffee with a smile and someone calling you by name.

      • Zane Trow

        Errrr….I live here….I don’t want to “feel the love” I want decent, pleasant customer service and reasonable prices.

  • http://www.rockytravel.net/ Rocky Travel Blog

    The Paint and Sip Concept sounds fun and very “Australian” :-) I would like to try it out next time when I am in Brisbane!

    • http://queensland.com/blog Queensland Blog

      You’ll have to let us know what you think, Rocky Travel Blog! We love the idea too.

  • Marc Kean

    You forgot three major ones, they have the best motorway in the country, between Brisbane and the Gold Coast is flat wide 4 lanes each way and concrete, you can’t beat it. Also the best bus infrastructure, from the CBD under the Myer Center, as it weaves across the river, through south bank, then it along separate busway adjacent to the south East freeway. They have also doubled the massive gateway bridge, no where else I’ve seen a bridge the size of the two gateway bridges together, it’s massive.

  • Marc Kean

    Also, greater Brisbane (south east Queensland) has about the same population as Sydney. Sydney only has one airport, south east Queensland has 3 airports.