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Brisbane, Queensland

Explore the sights and history of Brisbane, capital city of Queensland, and economic and cultural heart of the state. Odyssey offers small group tours for mature and senior travellers, couples, and solo travelers to Australia and Queensland.

12 Feb 21 · 6 mins read

Brisbane, Queensland

Located in the southeast corner of Queensland, Brisbane is Australia‘s third largest city, as well as Queensland’s capital. The state of Queensland will be easy to recognize for many travellers coming from abroad, being well known for its iconic destinations such as the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsunday Islands, the Gold Coast, as well as the far north rainforests near Cairns and Cape Tribulation. Brisbane city itself is better known as the state’s urban hub, with about 2 and a half million people calling the city home. The urban area of Brisbane is also incredibly large, being the largest of any Australian city, and the third largest of anywhere in the world. This sense of space is reflected in the city‘s architecture, with large detached houses with surrounding verandahs being one of the quintessential Brisbane styles, known locally as ‘Queenslanders’. Despite being an urban hub foremost, Brisbane has both an incredible built and natural heritage, with its humid subtropical climate making the city an attractive place for local wildlife, as well as being rich in flora, with a thriving marine ecology. Brisbane also occupies a unique position along the eastern coast of Australia, with the islands of Moreton Bay creating a sand bank that shelters the bay from the powerful swells of the pacific ocean. These islands, namely Stradbroke, Bribie, and Moreton Island, are also popular tourist destinations for visitors to the city, with the large sandy dunes of Moreton being popular for sand tobogganing, and the nearby Tangalooma wrecks for kayaking and snorkeling. With this in mind, no matter whether you’re visiting Brisbane for an urban escape, or an outdoors adventure, there will be something in the city for you.

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History

Brisbane and the Moreton Bay area has traditionally been inhabited by Australia‘s indigenous people, and more specifically the Jagera people, with a history of continued habitation in Australia, and Queensland dating back roughly 60,000 years, when Aboriginal Australians are thought to have arrived on the continent. Southeast Queensland’s Indigenous people, like the rest of Australia lived in a nomadic hunter gatherer society, with different areas of the Brisbane area yielding different valuable resources. One example is the Stephens area, being valuable for different woods, such as ironbark, stringy bark, and tallow wood, or Mt Gravatt, rich in Echidnas harvested for their quills, which could be used in sewing cloaks and clothing. First contact with Europeans in Queensland was in fact the first ever contact between Europeans and Aboriginal Australians, with Dutch explorer Willem Janszoon making first contact as early as the year 1606. Further contact between the two people would not come till much later however, with the first substantial engagement not occurring till after the establishment of the Moreton Bay penal settlement around 1825. Relations between settlers and the indigenous people were strained, with the encroaches of the settlers outwards from the colony often met with reprisals. Once the colony opened up to free settlement in addition to convicts, the Moreton Bay colony swelled even in size, with the colonists making an even more concerted claim upon the region. These early years saw large numbers of German settlers in particular, with a colonization effort from Prussian ‘Uckermark’, as well as other states being attracted by land grants and wage guarantees offered by the early colonial government.

Brisbane Australia and the East Coast of Australia on a world globe.

At this point in history much of the Queensland region was integrated into the greater British colony of New South Wales, which spanned across every major state and territory in both countries, save for Western Australia or the ‘Swan River Colony’ as it was known at the time. As the mid 19th century progressed many of these territories opted to separate from New South Wales and become their own self governing states, Queensland was one of these states, becoming formally independent in the year 1859, with Brisbane being named as Queensland’s capital. Brisbane‘s economy boomed in the later 19th century, which like New South Wales and Victoria, experienced a boom due to successive gold rushes, which brought an accompanying influx of migrants which aided in the growth of the state. The end of the century came with a disaster however, with the Brisbane river bursting its banks with heavy floods in 1893, destroying large parts of the city and leaving huge numbers of people homeless. The 20th Century saw the growth of Brisbane eclipse its large country town heritage as it grew into a city proper, with large infrastructure works and urban renewal projects radically reshaping the city‘s built heritage. The city also came to international note after serving as the allied southwest pacific headquarters during World War II, headed by the famous U.S. General Douglas MacArthur. Today Brisbane continues to grow, and at the fastest rate of any Australian capital, with continual development work thus far meeting the demands of the growing population of Queensland’s capital.

Brisbane Skyline Night Panorama with the famous illuminated Story Bridge, Botanical Garden and Whell, Queensland, Australia.

Travelling to Brisbane

Brisbane city is the natural start point for for many Queensland tours, whether you’re heading on to an outback adventure, or venturing up along the coast with the state’s famous white sand beaches along the way. With this in mind a tour of Brisbane is a good way to begin, or finish up your journey, with the city affording travellers a variety of speeds depending on your interests and time. As for Brisbane city itself, some of the more popular areas to visit would be Fortitude Valley, or South Bank. Fortitude Valley is just on the north side of the Story Bridge, and is where you can find much of Brisbane‘s entertainment and food scene, its proximity to the CBD in particular makes it a great place to walk around, ducking into cafes and experiencing some of Brisbane‘s laneway culture. As its name suggests, South Bank is located on the south bank of the Brisbane river, just opposite from Brisbane‘s CBD. The area is known for its upscale dining, as well as its cultural venues, which include the Brisbane convention and exhibition centre, the Queensland Cultural Centre, and the Maritime museum. The South Bank parklands are another highlight, which features a stunning modern design created for the World Expo 1988. Alternatively, for a closer brush with nature you could pay a visit to the Lone Pine koala sanctuary, where you can see Australia‘s fluffiest mascots up close and personal, as well as wombats, platypuses, crocodiles are more.

Brisbane on a sunny blue day, Queensland, Australia.

Venturing slightly farther from the city, it may be worth taking a day tour of Moreton Island, with its incredible rolling sand dunes and crystal clear waters. This is a fantastic spot to see some of Brisbane‘s marine wildlife, with the Tangalooma Wrecks in particular being a hotspot for huge varieties of fish, coral and colourful sea life. Heading further afield to the north of Brisbane, a day trip out to the Sunshine Coast is a great way to experience the fresh seaside life that characterizes many of Queensland’s towns. With seaside towns like Noosa, Mooloolaba, or Caloundra being popular holiday spots for residents coming from Brisbane. Just a little further inland is the Sunshine coast hinterland, which are full of amazing sights are charming towns, such as the Glasshouse Mountains, Maleny, or Montville. Further north, past the Sunshine Coast is the largest of the world’s sand islands, Fraser Island. Inscribed as a world heritage site since 1992, Fraser Island is home to a huge number of birds, amphibians and reptiles, even playing host to the occasional saltwater crocodile. It also contains over 100 freshwater lakes, which contain some of the cleanest fresh water found anywhere on earth. Alternatively, heading in the other direction, south from Brisbane, you can visit one of Queensland’s most famous tourist destinations, the world famous Gold Coast. A day trip to the gold coast will pretty much guarantee you’ll have a great day, with the seaside breeze and the relaxed beach atmosphere perfect for a fun getaway. For the more courageous amongst you, you could even book a surf lesson and go for a ride, though it’s never quite as easy as you’d think! Alternatively, head into Surfers Paradise and enjoy the town’s central entertainment, and cultural district. Odyssey visits Brisbane as part of our small group tour of Queensland, which begins and ends its circuit at Queensland’s capital. One of the best ways to experience what Brisbane has to offer is with a small group tour. Odyssey specialises in this kind of tour, offering and engaged, and intimate tour to Brisbane ideal for seniors, solo travellers, or couples heading to Brisbane and Queensland.

Aerial landscape view of Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

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