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Brisbane, capital of Queensland, Australia



Brisbane has ‘grown up’ since Expo 88, from what used to feel like an overgrown country town to a far more sophisticated city of ethnic variety and attractive landscaping. It is the state capital,  located in the south-east corner of Queensland, approximately a one-hour journey by train or car from the Gold Coast.
Southbank Parklands (pictured to the right) provide a pleasant area for families to spend a bit of time, a marketplace, and many restaurants (including the Ship Inn, with delicious meals including vegan and gluten-free, and using only free-range meats and sustainably-harvested fish). The Botanic Gardens, Queensland Museum, Brisbane Museum, the river (which you can stroll beside or ride down on the City Cat, or on a ferry to a koala sanctuary) and the main shopping mall (Queen Street) combine to make it a city worth spending a bit of time in. See
Things to do in Brisbane

Wildlife in the City

Brisbane's diversity of natural habitats and wildlife (e.g. more koalas and lizards than any other capital) is show-cased in ‘Wildlife of Greater Brisbane’ published by the Queensland Museum - a small book but packed with information on mammals, birds, frogs, insects, molluscs etc. and available in most book stores.
Lonely Planet dubbed Brisbane "Koala City" some years ago because its has more wild koalas in the city limits than any other city.  There are more lizard species than any other Australian capital (although Perth is a close second) and it has been said it probably has one of the highest diversities of frog species in the world for a city. Eastern water dragons stroll around Southbank Parklands and other venues. Wallabies are common in large bushland remnants, as are many bushland birds. Even in the CBD and inner suburbs you will see rainbow lorikeets, kookaburras and large birds such as ibis and brush turkeys. At night thousands of fruitbats may be seen flying overhead in their nightly search for fruit and nectar.

Climate and weather

Brisbane has a subtropical climate (the official tropics start halfway up the Queensland coast, at Rockhampton). Summer days can be hot, but not as overwhelmingly or consistently hot as some parts of the tropics, and there are many lovely warm summer evenings to enjoy. Occasional summer nights are uncomfortably hot if you are without fans or air-conditioning, especially if there are storms brewing, but there are cool green mountain forests to escape to within a short drive or bus ride. In winter the days are usually pleasantly warm or mild, and although nights  can be cold they are very rarely sub-zero.

Rainfall follows the tropical pattern of relatively wet summers and dry winters. This usually means a wealth of sunny days and clear starry skies in winter, interspersed with a few wet days now and then. Rain in summer does not come every day, nor does it usually last all day. If you experience a few rainy days, remember that without them we couldn’t have our wonderful rainforests. At times there will be spectacular electric storms, strong winds and flooding rains, but we don't have the cyclones that sometimes strike the northern coasts.

Weather forecasts can always be checked by dialling 1196.


How to Get To Brisbane, where to stay, and where to meet Araucaria Ecotours

Getting there and accommodation, and how to connect with Araucaria Ecotours

Brisbane has both a domestic and an international airport. From either of these you can catch an air-train to the Brisbane Transit Centre on Roma Street, or a taxi to your accommodation.

You can also take a bus or train from Cairns, Sydney, or other cities and large towns. All long-distance buses and trains arrive at the Brisbane Transit Centre on Roma Street.

There are  a number of hotels and hostels close to the Transit Centre, which itself is just a few minutes’ walk to the main shopping area of Brisbane (Queen Street Mall) or across the bridge to Southbank and the Culture Centre (museum, library, art gallery and performing arts).

Some hostels further a field have a courtesy bus which will pick you up from the Transit Centre.

Pick-up by Araucaria: Brisbane Transit Centre or your accommodation

At the start of extended tours, Araucaria Ecotours  can pick you up from the door of your accommodation in the city or some south-side suburbs.

Brisbane Transit CentreIf you are staying further afield we ask that you meet us at the small parking bay on Roma Street next to the Holiday Inn (which is in the same building as the Brisbane Transit Centre), across the road from Tin Billy Hostel and Transcontinental Hotel. It is a short walk from many other hotels (Explorers Inn, Ibis and others) hostels (City YHA, Yellow Submarine and others and guest-houses (Annie's Shandon Inn and others).

Day-tour guests
We prefer to pick up everyone from the Brisbane Transit Centre on day-tours so that we can quickly get  out of city traffic and into the areas we wish to visit.
However, if you are coming on a day-tour and may have difficulty reaching the pick-up point on Roma St let us know and we can often pick you up from your accommodation or elsewhere

Pickup from airport
With prior arrangement, if it does not clash with the interests of other guests, we can pick you up from the airport on the morning of your tour. We charge an additional $44.00 (which can be shared between guests) on standard tours for this service and it is built into our charges for custom tours. However we generally advise that you arrive at least the day before to get some rest after your journey, as the first day of our extended tours can be tiring if you have not slept well the night before, and other guests for the day may not wish to miss out on seeing kangaroos etc. so that you can arrive early at your tour accommodation. An airport pick-up also delays  the escape from city traffic to forest. Brisbane has plenty of attractions worth spending some time exploring (see the end of this page).

If you have a hire vehicle or your own car, we may be able to arrange to leave your car parked in the area we normally leave our tour vehicle (in the southern inner city suburb of Yeronga) if you can meet us there on the morning of your tour.

Some of the places  that are convenient for Araucaria Ecotours to pick up from (or at least nearby) include:

  • West End Apartments – very close to a row of ethnic restaurants (Vietnamese, Lebanese, Thai, Greek, Mexican ….), 5 minutes walk to Queensland Museum, 10 minutes walk to Southbank., 20 minutes walk (across bridge) to city.
  • Sapphire Resort – a little further up the road from West End Apartments, mid-range accommodation (cheaper than West End Apartments), and has its own Asian restaurant and cafe but will be closed for a while in 2017 for renovations.
  • Brisbane Backpackers - or Somewhere-to-Stay – hostels in West End south of the river. Easy walk to ethnic cafes bookshops public transport etc. Both have double or twin rooms as well as dormitories.
  • Hotel Jen (adjacent to the Transit Centre, in same building) - we can pick you up at the door, and it is an easy walk to main shopping district. A good choice if you are catching the air train to or from the airport, as it leaves from the same building – also if you are catching a train to Australia Zoo or the Gold Coast or ore distant locations such as Cairns or Sydney.
  • Base Backpackers Brisbane Uptown (formerly Tin Billy Hostel) – very handy to public transport and easy walk to main shopping district ( we ask you to cross the road to meet us at the pickup point as shown above, as this hostel is opposite the Transit Centre).
  • Abbey on Roma. Also just across the road from the Transit Centre so again we ask you to cross the road and meet us at the pickup point as shown above
  • City Edge Brisbane (formerly Explorer’s Inn) – one of the best value-for-money hotel in Brisbane if not wanting ‘frills’, very central and with its own restaurant. Rooms are a bit small and we can’t legally park outside, but if you don’t have loads of heavy luggage you can meet us under the bridge just down the road or at our usual pick-up point by Hotel Jen (5 minute walk)
  • Brisbane Hilton – in the heart of Brisbane’s main shopping area
  • Royal on the Park (which has been implementing some new environmental moves), Quay West and Stamford Plaza are all upmarket hotels near the Botanic Gardens and Brisbane River (short walk to city centre, and across the Goodwill Bridge to Southbank). Easy to pick up from the door
  • Sofitel – adjacent to Central Station and a short walk to Brisbane’s main shopping area
  • Ibis Hotel - about mid-way between shopping mall and Brisbane Transit Centre, and easy walk to Southbank. No longer so easy to pick up from but it's just a 5 minute walk to our usual pickup point at the Brisbane Transit Cenntre (Hotel Jen end ) or we can arrange to meet you at a nearby corner
  • Robertson Gardens Comfort Inn Motel – a bit isolated from shops etc. (it has its own restaurant, mid-range prices), in the suburbs but across the (rather busy) road from Toohey Forest which surrounds two Griffith University campuses, so you can easily take a stroll before breakfast looking for birds
  • Close to Transit Centre but not quite as convenient (narrow, crowded road with few parking options): Chill Backpackers, Brisbane YHA and various other hostels on Upper Roma Street in the city. If you are travelling light, we appreciate you walking down to the Transit Centre and meeting us there. If you have too much luggage for this, we can meet you at the door, but often cannot park easily, so it is important to be out the front ready to board fairly quickly.
accommodatipn near
                        Brisbane Botanic Gardens

We can also pick up from most other places in the city and south-side – some are just a bit more awkward than others when traffic is heavy (e.g. Bunk), and a few have nowhere at all to park (e.g. Explorer's Inn), meaning we have to meet you a little way down the road.

Dropping our guests off at their accommodation is never a problem unless they are staying some distance out of the city, in which case we can take you to a taxi stand or public transport – we will not leave you stranded in the dark at the end of a tour (we’ve had that happen to us more than once after tours).

Brisbane statues and Town HallThings to Do in Brisbane

  • Botanic Gardens –  there are two Gardens: one in the city just a few blocks from Queen Street Mall and another – after a bus-ride from Adelaide St – at Mt Cootha.
  • Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium (at Mt Cootha Botanic Gardens) – ask what special shows are screening.
  • Southbank Parklands – just across the river from the city centre (an easy walk) and close to the city’s main museum, library and art gallery. Swimming, markets, restaurants, gardens.
  • Queensland Museum – close to Southbank, and an easy walk from the city centre. Marine and terrestrial wildlife, fossils, history, physics.
  • Lone Pine Sanctuary – ride a ferry (e.g. with Mirimar Cruises) down Brisbane River past a large fruitbat colony to this wildlife sanctuary with many koalas, a platypus, friendly kangaroos and  other wildlife.
  • Brisbane by Bicycle. Join an interpretive cycling tour to interesting places in the city
  • City Cat  - riding this ferry down the river is one way of exploring, hopping on and off at various points or just relaxing and enjoying the ride (especially at night, with reflections of a variety of lights in the water).
  • Rock-climbing or kayaking with RiverLife at Kangaroo Point, or climb the Story Bridge stretching across the Brisbane River.
  • Fortitude Valley and Chinatown – many Asian restaurants and shops, weekend markets.
  • Many good restaurants are scattered throughout Brisbane – Mediterranean, Asian, seafood, vegetarian, and more. We especially like the cluster of ethnic restaurants around West End (Australian, all-you-can-eat sushi, Thai, Vietnamese, Lebanese, Greek, Mexican, others), south-side of the river (20 minute walk from CBD)., and the Ship Inn near the southern end of Southbank Parklands (great-tasting meals and coffee, free-range pork, chicken and other meats, vegan and gluten-free meals). Even the fast food court under the Myer Centre on Queen Street Mall has some interesting lunches, including Vegerama with gluten-free vegetarian options.
  • Heading out of town for the day.  Catch a train to Varsity Lakes and a connecting bus to Currumbin (frequent departures  throughout the day) to spend a day at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary or a train to Beerwah (with connecting shuttle bus) to spend a day at Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo
Also see:    Visit Brisbane and Our Brisbane for more ideas on things to do and see