Brisbane, A.K.A. Brissie, is the bustling waterside capital of Queensland, Australia. Even with sites like Southbank and Brisbane’s CBD fueling the city’s social and cultural pulse, this contemporary metropolis still retains an unwavering connection with nature – apparent with spots like the city’s Botanic Gardens and Mt. Coot-Tha – and that laid-back Queensland lifestyle. Boyet Damot – a contracts and commercial management professional in the construction industry – gives us a glimpse of what it is to be like a local in Brisbane.
Before you go
Filipino passport holders require a valid tourist visa to visit Australia. Philippine Airlines operate non-stop direct flights from Manila-Brisbane four times weekly.
Bear in mind that because Australia in the southern hemisphere, seasons here are opposite to those in the northern hemisphere. December to February is summer; March to May is autumn; June to August is winter, and September to November is spring. So, make sure to bring the right clothes for the right season.
It doesn’t snow in Brisbane, but winters can be rather cold reaching as low as 9 degrees Celsius. Brisbane’s coldest temperature recorded in history was at 2.6 degrees Celsius. Brisbane summers can be scorching and humid like Manila weather.
Must do’s and must see’s
Australia is not just a country, but a continent! The must do’s and must see’s are varied and depend on which part of Australia you visit.
If you have only 2 days in Brisbane, be sure to visit Queen Street Mall at the CBD which has a collection of department stores, boutique shops, and restaurants that cater to a range of culinary preferences (traditional Australian, Mediterranean, and Asian). Also in the CBD is King George Square, which is the city’s premier public square, and the City Botanic Gardens.
A leisurely 15-minute walk from the CBD is Southbank, Brisbane’s premier cultural and lifestyle destination popular among tourists and locals. Southbank is located across the Brisbane River and can be reached via Victoria Bridge.
Aside from a waterfront cycling and walking track, Southbank has free public “beach style” swimming pools, cafes, casual and fine dining restaurants, pubs, as well as lush green spaces with free BBQ facilities. Southbank is also home to the Queensland Museum, the Gallery of Modern Art and the Queensland Performing Arts Centre. If you are visiting in November this year, catch Leah Salonga in concert at the QPAC. Southbank also has an IMAX Cinema if you want to catch the latest Hollywood movies.
If you have 3 days or more in Brisbane, be sure to visit Mount Coot-Tha (7 km west of Brisbane). You can take a taxi or uber to Mount Coot-Tha (the fare would be between $20-$35 depending on the time of day) or the public bus (Translink Bus 471).
The Lookout at Mount Cootha commands a panoramic view of the city. Enjoy the view while enjoying an espresso, a light snack, or lunch at either the Kuta Cafe or The Summit Restaurant.
Mount Coot-Tha has several hiking trails ranging from “easy” to “challenging.” A total of 20 kilometers of trails are designated for off-road cyclists with undisturbed trails for mountain bike riders. For the adventurous, there are even trails designated for horseback riding.
Before heading back to the city, visit the Sir Thomas Planetarium at the foot of Mount Coot-Tha and discover the secrets of the universe! Admission is free except for shows at the Cosmic SkyDome. Finish the day at the Botanical Gardens (different from the City Botanic Gardens in the CBD) – admission is also free.
If you still have some time during your stay, take a leisurely cruise around Brisbane River on board any of the CityCat or CityHopper boats and hop on/off at any of the stops to explore the area. Hop off at Kangaroo Point and try your hand at abseiling.
What to avoid
Brisbane, like any Australia city, is a relatively safe city with modern public transport and public services (including police support services).
If you intend to hire a car and drive around, note that Australia is a right-hand drive country. It may not be recommended if you are not familiar with right-hand drive cars and right-hand drive traffic rules. Australia is very strict on drunk driving, and violations attract a hefty fine.
In using public transport, be sure you have the correct single-trip tickets or better yet, get a tap on/off GoCard (go card | translink.com.au). GoCard is a smartcard that can be used on ALL public transports (buses, trains, ferries) that can be topped-up online or at any news agency (newspaper and magazine store). There is a heavy fine for riding public transport without a correct ticket.
Traveling on a budget
Depending on preference, accommodations can range from the five-star hotels in the city to backpacker hostels and AirBNBs.
The Brisbane City Council provides free Wi-Fi services within the CBD, or you can spend time at the Brisbane City Library (also in the CBD) where you can use computers with internet access for free, aside from free Wi-Fi. This helps reduce your data roaming bill.
Brisbane is home to several colleges and universities, the most popular of which are the University of Queensland and the Queensland University of Technology. The large number of international students have fueled a thriving variety of reasonably-priced restaurants for the budget-conscious. On a weekday, go to Post Office Square, and you will find that fast-food restaurants offer a variety of hot meals at budget prices popular among both students and office workers. Lunch meals are as affordable as $7 per set.
How to get around
The best way to explore Brisbane City CBD and the adjacent Southbank is on foot.
The Brisbane City Council offers free guided walking tours.
Best foods and places to eat
If you like steaks, check out Brisbane’s “Worst Vegetarian Restaurant” at The Norman Hotel https://normanhotel.com.au/.
Other personal favorite restaurants within the Brisbane CBD are as follows: Japanese ramen – Men Ya Go; Mediterranean/Greek – Jimmy’s on the Mall; British & Aussie fare: – Pig and Whistle; Korean – Maru, Madtongsan; Vietnamese – Fat Noodle by Celebrity Chef Luke Nguyen (located at the Treasury Casino on George Street)
There are heaps of public art around the CBD which you can discover on your own or by joining a walking tour dedicated to these public art installations.
Best time to visit
A popular time for tourists is during the cool winter and spring months (from June to November) and possibly up to the start of the summer season (in December). Brisbane can be very humid during the peak of the summer season but still draws a good number of tourists – both from other Aussie states or from overseas.
Spring and early summer are probably the best of the Queensland weather which earned it the moniker “Beautiful one Day, Glorious the Next!” as people begin to trek to the outdoors and the beach.
If you are visiting in September, be sure to catch the annual Sunsuper Riverfire which will be held on the 28th September 2019.
Riverfire is a well-attended festival where the Brisbane skyline is lit-up with fireworks for 20-30 minutes. There is also the pre-firework aerobatics show by the Australian Defense Force showcasing their superhornet fighter jets and attack helicopters.
Craving Filipino food and delicacies? Head out to Best Friends Kainan sa Valley at Fortitude Valley (just one train station away from the Brisbane City Central Station plus a 3-minute walk) and sample traditional Filipino fare at their turo-turo or carinderia style food stall. They also have a Filipino grocery store where you can find almost anything Pinoy – from danggit to Pampanga’s Best tocino to Magnolia ice cream.
Another favorite Filipino restaurant is Yes Please! Filipino Restaurant near The Gabba stadium at Woolloongabba (less than a 10 minute uber or taxi ride from the CBD). They serve all-time Filipino favorite dishes like crispy pata, sisig, all the silogs, dinuguan, sinigang, and many more. They are always stocked with ice-cold San Miguel Pale Pilsen. Be sure to try their halo-halo and leche flan.
Boyet Damot is a contracts and commercial management professional in Brisbane’s construction industry.
Read the full edition of Illustrado Work & Play 2019 on www.issuu.com
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