Shop? Yes. Eat? Yes. Dance? Also yes. But there’s much more to do than what meets the eye in Brisbane City. Go off the beaten track to discover these 10 things you probably didn’t know you could do in Brisbane’s CBD.
1. Have a drink at one of Australia’s best bars
Half way down Queen Street and situated in Brisbane’s old National Bank building is the state’s only heritage-listed bar, The Gresham. 2016 was a big year for this bar when it took out the Bar of the Year in the national Australian Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Awards. You can read about the history of the bar here, including how it’s preserved the original architecture.
2. Head up the clock tower at City Hall
The tallest building in the city at the time of building, the clock tower has been in operation since the opening of City Hall in 1930, and is 87.47 metres high with an observation platform at 64 metres. Free tours up the clock tower operate daily taking visitors up in an old, hand-operated lift for a bird’s-eye view of the city.
3. Shop for local treasures at Showroom Brisbane
You can shop the same mall strip in any city in the world. H&M, Zara, Uniqlo – they’re everywhere. But for unique, locally made treasures, you need to search a little harder. Brisbane’s Showroom is the place where you’ll find these treasures. Located upstairs on Edward Street, it stocks local artists’ creations.
4. Find the world’s first commercially grown macadamia tree
Did you know the world’s first commercially grown macadamia tree was propagated in Brisbane City Botanic Gardens? It was planted in 1858 and still stands there today, still producing nuts. Check out this map to note its location and head down to the gardens to see for yourself.
5. Go swimming in an Olympic-size swimming pool
True story, there’s an Olympic-size swimming pool in Brisbane City. If you’re up for some laps or perhaps want to learn to swim, you can do it at Healthstream at QUT Gardens Point. It’s the only Olympic standard, 50m indoor heated pool within the Brisbane CBD.
6. Overlook Queen Street Mall
Another pool in the city but certainly not one you’d just happen upon is four floors above Queen Street Mall and is conveniently situated in the vicinity of a rooftop bar. Next Hotel’s Pool Terrace and Bar opens daily from 11.30am to 10pm for drinks, eats and swims overlooking the mall. Find more hidden bars in the CBD here.
7. Go back in time at Old Government House
Discover Queensland’s early colonial life at the place where British settlers ruled the state in the early 1900s. Through the interpretive panels, video and multimedia installations, get to know the design and construction of the house and the stories of those who lived and worked here. Before you leave, head upstairs to find the William Robinson Gallery.
8. Discover public art on a Brisbane Greeter tour
Brisbane city is littered with public art, from King George Square to Brisbane City Botanic Gardens and the streets, laneways and sidewalks in between. Find out the meaning and back stories behind each installment on a free public art tour with a Brisbane Greeter – you’ll be surprised at what you find.
9. Find the enchanted garden at QUT Gardens Point
If you’ve seen those wonderful trees filled with fairy lights on Instagram, you are probably wondering where you can find them. While there are a few that pop up around the city, the largest and most enchanting cluster can be found on the QUT side of the the Goodwill Bridge. Go on twilight to see them light up.
10. Eat at any hour
Pulling an all-nighter to get an assessment in? Don’t do it hungry. While most places in the CBD shut up shop between 9pm and 11pm, there are a few Brisbane institutions that are open all hours to fill your stomach’s void. Check out Pancake Manor on Charlotte Street and Jimmy’s on the Mall for 24 hour eats.