JOIN US IN AN INTERVIEW WITH SUSAN GAN FROM BRISBANE, QUEENSLAND!
Susan is half of the team that makes up Thrifty after 50. She is an enthusiastic photographer who hates getting up early in the morning but loves photographing the sunrise. She and her husband John are empty nesters from Brisbane, Australia who enjoy spending their free time hiking and cycling, exploring museums and historic sites and sharing their tips on how to travel more for less!
The riverside city of Brisbane is the capital of Queensland. It is the third largest city in Australia and is known as “Brissie” to the locals. The city is situated on the Brisbane River and is known for its scenic beauty, perfect all year round climate and friendly people. It is Queensland’s major tourist destination and the gateway to the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast.
When in Brisbane visit the South Bank, get lost in an ancient rain-forest, hike the Tamborine mountains, visit the islands like Moreton and North Stradbroke or get away from the city to Bribie Island, the only island in Queensland with a bridge.
Are there enough activities to engage in Brisbane during off -season?
Yes, most activities in Brisbane revolve around being outdoors and because of our sub-tropical climate this can be done pretty much all year round. Brisbane residents are very active and take advantage of our beautiful sunny weather. Popular activities include enjoying picnics or BBQ’s with family and friends, bushwalking and going for bike rides on the numerous walking and biking trails throughout the city and its suburbs. With an average of 260 sunny days per year, swimming is also a popular activity.
What are the different modes of transport available in Brisbane?
The two main taxi companies in Brisbane are Black & White Cabs and Yellow Cabs; both have their own apps. A hire car is also a great option if you plan to visit other areas in Queensland. The two City buses are the red CityLoop and blue CityGlider buses. CityLoop takes you around the Central Business District of Brisbane while CityGlider takes you further to suburbs such as Fortitude Valley or the West End.
Cycling in Brisbane is a popular activity and there are numerous dedicated bike lanes and bikeways. If you don’t have your own bicycle, then hiring a CityCycle at one of the many bike-share stations across the city is a cheap and easy solution.
To reach the city from the airport, the options include:
- Hail a taxi. Drive time between the airport and the city is about half an hour.
- Airport Shuttle buses/Transfer Services.
- Brisbane AirTrain – the AirTrain travels from both the International and Domestic airports to the major inner city train stations; it then travels express to the Gold Coast. AirTrains run every 15 to 30 minutes.
Which is the best area to stay for easy access to tourist sites without putting a dent in one’s budget?
For convenient access to major public transport and tourist sites I would recommend staying either inner city or near South Bank. Both offer a variety of accommodation.
South Bank has the world’s only city beach which is open all year round. It is dotted with many galleries, art museums, amphitheatre and also the South Bank Young Designer Market. For more things to do in South Bank, use this local’s guide to South bank.
West End is within easy walking distance to South Bank and offers some cheaper accommodation options. It is a is an inner-city suburb of southern Brisbane which is mainly a residential area with many weekend markets. West End is quirky and colourful with vibrant food stalls, beer boutiques, artwork shops and vintage clothing stores.
Which are the best restaurants, cafes and bars in Brisbane? Is it a vegetarian friendly city?
The list is huge and comes down to the type of cuisine you enjoy and your price range. Zomato is a good app to use when searching for restaurants.
There are vegetarian/vegan friendly restaurants throughout the city though they tend to be focused in Brisbane’s West End.
Which are the top three places in Brisbane, which tourists generally overlook but should be visited?
South Bank Parklands is definitely the jewel in Brisbane’s crown and includes Australia’s only inner-City beach. The park sits on 17 hectares of prime riverfront land overlooking the city and includes swimming pools, BBQ areas, playground equipment as well as cafes, bars and restaurants. From South Bank Parklands you can catch the Free CityHopper Ferry for a ferry ride down the Brisbane River. The FREE CityHopper Ferry runs every 30 minutes from 6am through to midnight, seven days a week. It stops at eight different locations along the river from North Quay, which is a short walk to the top of the Queen Street Mall, to the Sydney Street Terminal at New Farm. You can sit back and enjoy the entire 90 minutes round trip or you can hop on and hop off as often as you like.
If you are interested in learning about some of Brisbane’s history then you can’t go past a visit to Brisbane City Hall. The Museum of Brisbane is open 7 days a week from 10am – 5pm and is free to enter. You can also go on a free tour of Brisbane City Hall and learn about its history or even do the free Clock Tower Tour a go for a ride in an old 1930’s hand-operated lift.
If you have access to a car and are travelling in the direction of the Gold Coast then you should take a side trip to Coombabah Lakelands Conservation Area. The 1200 hectares is home to over 270 species of animals including kangaroos, koalas, the powerful owl and the grey-headed flying fox. The kangaroos are very easy to find, just visit in the afternoon and you will see them hopping around on the grassy fields. One of their favourite locations is across the road from the parking area near the start of the Melaleuca boardwalk and another is across the road from the airfield near the start of the Koala walk.
What are the best day trips for nature, culture and history from Brisbane?
A holiday in Brisbane wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Mt Tamborine in the Gold Coast Hinterland. Mt Tamborine has something for everyone; hiking enthusiasts can spend their time exploring the 28 km2 of Tamborine National Park or admire it 30m above the valley floor on the Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk. Adventure enthusiasts can go on a treetop challenge at Thunderbird Park, go hang gliding for a birds eye view of the Gold Coast Hinterland or even head underground to explore the glow worm caves. If you are looking for something a bit more low key then there are local arts and crafts, antiques and art galleries as well as plenty of places to sit and enjoy a relaxing meal. Mt Tamborine is a one-hour drive from Brisbane and a 40-minute drive from Surfers Paradise.
Visit Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary on the Gold Coast to meet some of your favourite Australian animals. This popular Gold Coast attraction has been open since the 1940’s and is set in 27 hectares of natural eucalyptus bushland and rainforest. The sanctuary is home to a large number of birds, mammals and reptiles including; kangaroos & wallabies, dingoes, wombats, koalas, bilbies, echidnas, emus, parrots, crocodiles, tassie devils and many more. Cuddling a koala and hand feeding the kangaroos are always popular activities or if you are feeling brave you can take part in the daily crocodile feeding. Opening hours are from 8:00am to 5:00pm daily excluding Christmas & Anzac Day.
Tangalooma Resort on the beautiful Moreton Island is popular with both tourists and locals alike. The islands white sandy beaches are perfect for sand tobogganing, quad biking or just working on your tan. If you enjoy water sports then the crystal clear waters will definitely encourage you to take the plunge. Have a go at kayaking, parasailing or even snorkeling on the man made reef, the Tangalooma Wrecks. Between the 1960’s and 1980’s fifteen ships were scuttled ships just off Moreton Island and they now provide a safe haven for fish and other marine life including coral formations. Last of all, make sure you take part in the islands most popular activity which is hand feeding the dolphins.
Do you recommend any walking tours or travel photography tours to the visitors?
There are several companies that offer private photography walking tours.
Would you recommend any special show to music, dance and drama lovers visiting Brisbane?
Most concerts / opera / ballet performances are only available for a limited time but are generally held at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre in South Bank’s Cultural Forecourt. For years, this centre has showcased the best of local, national and international performing arts. This centre welcomes over 1.3 million visitors to more than 1,200 performances each year. Find one that suits your taste.
Which is the best place to visit in Brisbane for art lovers? Can you suggest where one should go to spot street art?
The Queensland Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA ) in South Bank is popular with art lovers and the majority of their displays can be accessed for free, the Brisbane Powerhouse at New Farm is also popular. Some exhibitions and special events have an entry fee and tickets can be purchased online or on site at the ticket desk.
QAGOMA is a two-site gallery comprising of Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) and Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), set 150 metres apart from each other.
Some popular locations for street art are:
- Fortitude Valley from Brunswick Street to James Street
- Brisbane Powerhouse at New Farm
- Back streets of West End and South Brisbane
Check out 52 of Brisbane’s best street art spots here.
Where to get the best exchange rates in Brisbane?
Travel Money Oz or AusXchange currently offer the best exchange rates. They both have several locations in the inner city.
How safe is Brisbane?
As with any city throughout the world you should be sensible and not take unnecessary risks when walking around at night. Most Brisbane inner city streets around the Queen Street Mall and Botanical Gardens are well lit. We often walk through the Botanical Gardens at night to feed the possums.
There are plenty of free activities at South Bank making it another popular and safe location at night. You can walk through South Bank late at night and see families still playing in the playground, having a BBQ or even swimming in the pool after the lifeguards have gone off duty at 10pm.
Inner city grocery stores are generally open till 9pm Monday-Saturday and 6pm on Sunday’s.
Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley is the nightclub district (and one of our less-safe locations for walking around at night) and is open till early morning.
Do you want to give any helpful tip to the visitors coming to Brisbane?
If you are from a cold climate then you will love a Brisbane winter (June, July August) with our average temperature ranging from 10 degrees Celsius in the morning to 21 degrees Celsius in the middle of the day.
Our summer months of December, January and February are generally hot and humid, with February being the wettest time of the year.
IF YOU ARE TRAVELLING TO BRISBANE OR WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT SUSAN’S TRAVEL EXPERIENCES THEN BE SURE TO FOLLOW HER ON