17th – 19th December 2015
2 night stay at Brisbane YHA
After bidding farewell to pretty Noosa I made my way onto Brisbane! At this point, I did not have long until I was due to arrive in Sydney for Christmas; therefore I only spent 2 nights in Brisbane. However I would strongly suggest at least a 4 night stay – this town has plenty to offer and I absolutely loved it! In hindsight I would have certainly made more time for it.
Brisbane Highlights – what to do?
- Visit Lone Pine Sanctuary – see Emu’s, feed kangaroos and hold a Koala bear
- Take a dip in the Brisbane Lagoon and wander the Southbank
- Visit the botanical gardens
- Take a ferry ride around the city
I found Brisbane was best enjoyed by foot – you can easily spend hours just wandering the town and see what gems you come across!
Day 1 – Arrival
I arrived by Greyhound bus from Noosa in the early evening (around 7pm). The greyhound stop is on the top level of a bus station, and the YHA was a 10-15 minute walk slightly uphill. It was not too hard to find, thanks to my trusty google offline maps mode, and after dropping off my bags and checking into my room (which was nice and spacious – see my review in Australia accommodation) I set off to explore the town.
Brisbane town at Christmas is dazzling. I wandered around the Christmas market first – which was all cute and bright and magical. It was the first time I had felt Christmassy out in Australia since I’d arrived in November and alas, I felt the first wave of homesickness. (London does Christmas to the point its over-hyped, but we do great Christmas markets all over the city and mulled wine available in takeaway cups on every corner.) However, I also felt the familiar giddy feeling that it’s Christmas. I bought some metallic signs I found at a stall which thought I would frame when I got home to hang in the hallway and serve as a reminder of how happy I was at this moment in time wandering through the markets in Brisbane. (I still have yet to frame and hang these signs).
I ventured around the lagoon as night fell, a very surreal experience for someone experiencing their first hot Christmas away from cold wintery England. Children and adults playing in the warm water whilst the Grinch was played on a huge screen put over the lagoon was different in a good way! I grabbed dinner at one of the takeaway places next to the Southbank walkway and enjoyed a leisurely walk back across the bridge to my hostel before getting to bed past mid-night sometime.
Day 2 – Lone Pine Sanctuary & Les Misérables!
I woke nice and refreshed, ready to meet my friend Jamie (who I had met in back in Noosa a few days ago) for a trip to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary! This was my main reason for coming to Brisbane, after reading such good reviews of this place before I left home and was desperate to hold a koala whilst in Australia. Mainly to see if they were as fluffy and cuddly as they look 😉
Tip – You can only hold a Koala in Queensland; you cannot do this anywhere else in Australia. Therefore if you do not come to Brisbane, you can also do this at Australia zoo or near Cairns in Kuranda. However I thoroughly recommend a visit to Lone Pine first and foremost to do this! The sanctuary is very good and the animals are very well looked after. The price they charge for entrance and the koala pictures is not expensive for what you get.
We got the bus very easily from Brisbane town center which took around 30 minutes to the sanctuary and stopped right outside the gates. It was not a particularly busy day which made it even better. Along with getting the obligatory holding-a-koala- picture (yes I did this twice – so worth it!) there were Emu’s and lots of Kangaroos to feed. We had a fun morning getting selfies with the animals (the curious Emu’s seemed to like this most) and enjoyed the place to the max. After some lunch we got the bus back into Brisbane town.
We wandered around the high street and came to stop off at a lovely wine bar, where we proceeded to work our way through a bottle of red between us whilst swapping travel tales and life stories. By the time we were done and started walking back towards the Southbank it was early evening. We saw signposts around the town advertising the musical Les Misérables which was currently showing at the Southbank theatre, and as Jamie had not yet see it before (and I only once in London) we decided to ask at the box office if there were any tickets available on the off-chance for that evening. As luck would have it whilst we were standing there conversing to the lady selling the tickets, two had been released in prime center stalls. We snapped them up and got great discount on them, paying only $45 each. Amazing! We then had an hour before the show started and had a quick tapas for dinner at a restaurant on the Southbank before returning to the theatre – ShowTime!
(I can’t forget to mention here that Jamie, not having his glasses on him, finished dinner early and made a miraculous dart back to the hostel to retrieve said glasses, and managed to return in time for the start of the show. It’s amazing how fast a man can be when they want to be 😉 )
The show was very good and I was pleased we got the chance to see it here. It is my favorite musical in the London West End and it was a great experience to see it performed somewhere else. It was a fab end to a fab day! By the time we got back to our hostel it was late and I bid a hasty farewell to Jamie, needing to pack up the rest of my belongings before my early morning greyhound bus straight to Byron Bay.
In the end I decided to skip visiting the Gold Coast due to the following 2 reasons:
1. I was out of time and only had 3 days until I was due to arrive in Sydney for Christmas.
2. I had heard very mixed reviews about it and in hindsight am glad I did miss it. Based on fellow travelers thoughts and reviews, it is quite expensive and overrated for a beach town and only good if you are really dying to get on some roller-coasters. Otherwise I would give it a miss and spend more time in other areas of the east coast. If you do go, you do not really need longer than 2 nights here.
Day 3 – A quick breakfast and it was time to head on, my bus leaving for Byron Bay at 9:30am. Farewell BrisVegas! I will definitely be returning one day 🙂
Next stop – Byron bay!