What an amazing city! Each place we’ve been to in Australia has impressed us but Brisbane may have just taken the top spot!
It was difficult to decide where to stay as there are a lot of different areas that all have their benefits. We put all our filters into Hotels.com and found a place in Southbank that was in a quiet area but close to the fun of Southbank and also right near a ferry stop, done and done! (Yes, we used Ebates to get our cash back… please click our links to sign up so we get credit!)
Speaking of ferries… the city of Brisbane makes it so incredibly easy to get around. They have a free ferry, the CityHopper that makes stops along the river that Brisbane is centered around. Just hop on and off! It also makes it so easy to explore areas we wouldn’t normally!
The Southbank area has so much to do and see, and it’s clear that they care about their city and their people. The walkways that go all throughout Southbank are lined with trellises cloaked in vines with blooming flowers. If you’d rather walk along the water, no problem, it’s lined with green grass and subtle lighting. Everything was well thought out and beautiful. They had a ton of little “walks” along Southbank as well. They had a “Rainforest walk” which looked and felt exactly like a rainforest with all the trees and plants you would see. They have a Nepalese Pagoda walk that allowed you to walk in and around. All free of course. Southbank also had a man made beach right in the center of things. It is pretty much a pool, but is surrounded by soft sand leading into the water. Feels just like being on the beach, just without the waves. We were stunned and elated that the city provided all of these things for free for its residents and tourists!
A quick ferry ride across the river and you’re in the center of the city. The ride was filled with lovely views of the water, city and beautiful bridges. We loved exploring it!
Perhaps the best part of our stay in Brisbane was the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary located just 5 miles out of the city. Just like everything else in Brisbane, it was effortless to get there. They had a public transport bus that went right from the center of the city directly to the sanctuary.
Koalas everywhere! From koala kindergarten to a “rest home” for the older koalas, even many other homes for the middle-aged koalas! There were so many other animals too! Kangaroos, emus, wallabees, wombats, snakes, birds etc. For a few dollars more, you could even hold a koala! Yes, they are just as soft and fluffy as they look and they smell like eucalyptus! They also had a huge grassy area where all the kangaroos and emus live. You can go in and play for as long as you want! The emu’s were there to greet you as you walked in and there to stop you from leaving. They were huge! There were so many kangaroos too, they were adorable and incredibly friendly. We laid down and relaxed with them in the shade and took tons of selfies with them. (We wouldn’t recommend doing this in the wild!) They were so soft too! Definitely one of the best days we’ve had for obvious reasons. Who wouldn’t want to lay down and relax with kangaroos?
We were then off to check out the Gold Coast, specifically Surfers Paradise. Some people warned us about this area and told us it was very touristy and similar to Miami Beach. While it definitely had high rises along the coast and was a bit touristy, we loved it! It was absolutely gorgeous and lots of things to do and eat! We found a great condo/hotel (using Hotels.com and Ebates) called Rhapsody. The room was gorgeous and had a beautiful view of the ocean, just right across he street, and it was just far enough from downtown to be peaceful but still be walkable to the main drag. Plus, it had an amazing 41st floor roof deck with sweeping views!
With only one full day here, we packed it with heading into the mountains to see the amazing waterfalls we had read about. First we went to Curtis Falls. Just 45 minutes from our doorstep, along a short path through tall trees, flowing vines and vibrant greenery and there it is, the first real waterfall either of us have ever seen in real life! We could have stood there forever just watching the water flow down into the pool below. A few steps further down the path brings you to the flying fox colony, (fun fact: they are the largest breed of bats!) but you really need to know what you’re looking for! There are so many sounds going on, it’s hard to figure out if you’re hearing birds or the bats. If you keep looking up, however, there they are! All curled up in their wings sleeping the day away. It was so awesome to see them in the wild.
After a quick stop back at the hotel for some beach time, we were off to explore yet another waterfall we had researched, the Natural Bridge, that was also known to have glowworms inside if you stayed past sunset!
The hike to the waterfall was another easy one and we arrived at the waterfall in no time. It looked different from every angle! Walking into the cave brought yet another vantage point and at this time it was clear this is where this areas bats lived. Not the large fluffy (even cute!) flying foxes from before though, these were the fast, quick turning small ones, and they were EVERYWHERE! As the sun set, the bats started their evening festivities into the darkness. They darted out of the cave by the hundreds (no exaggeration!) It was definitely a sight to see! As the night got darker and darker, the glowworms started to light up, and after just a short time the cave was lit up with them. We felt so lucky to be able to see them now twice! Since last time was on a tour, we couldn’t take photos.. but this time we were on our own and as long as the flash wasn’t on, we could take as many as we wanted. It was like looking up into the starriest night sky! On our way back to the car, back through the darkness, we saw small glowing spots on the side of the path, and were curious as to what they were as they were much bigger than the pin sized glow of the glowworms. Upon closer inspection, and the help of our IPhone flashlight, we saw that they were actually glowing mushrooms! Little tiny bioluminescent mushrooms! We did some research and found out that they’re called “Ghost Mushrooms” and you can only see them a few weeks out of the year. It was awesome! You can check the picture we took of it on our Instagram Such an incredible end to an amazing day of nature.
Miel Burger: Our long day of travel into Brisbane left us starving and since Miel Burger was the top place on every list, we decided to give it a try. It was the perfect thing to fill our bellies! Located in a bright red shipping container, the seats were limited! Whether you choose off their classic list of burgers or make your own, they all looked fantastic. Dean chose the Miel Classic. A grassfed beef patty with crisp lettuce, juicy tomato, sweet onion jam, smokey bacon, dill mayo and “tasty” (their words, not ours) cheese. All the classic elements that make up a delicious burger. I made my own creation and got a grilled chicken breast with grilled zucchini, grilled pumpkin(Aussies love their pumpkin, even grilled), caramelized onions and “tasty” cheese. A weird combo, yes.. but it worked! Both were huge sandwiches that filled us for hours.
Bavarian Bier Cafe: We found this place while looking for happy hour and it has been the best one we’ve found so far! $5AUD for a half liter of their local “crafty” beer, Dean was in beer heaven! For me, they had a delicious Lychee Express that was so easy to drink. Vodka, Lychee liqueur and pineapple juice. Join their club and get a free warm pretzel with butter.. yes please!
Sushi Kotobuki: Located in a small neighborhood food court and it was clear this is where the locals go. There were so many delicious rolls and noodle bowls that looked appetizing. We decided to share a little bit of everything and got a Kotobuki Roll, a roll stuffed with vegetables and Teriyaki chicken and then completely tempura battered. Yum! We also got a Cream Cheese Chicken Roll that had crispy chicken, cream cheese and avocado, and a bowl of their Kotobuki Noodles. Hand pulled udon noodles with chicken and vegetables in a savory soy based sauce, topped with Japanese mayonnaise and bonito flakes. This place was so good, we went twice!
Miss Kay’s: Craving a breakfast spot, we found Miss Kay’s in CBD Brisbane. While my breakfast turned out to be a dud, Dean’s was super fun and delicious. He got the Sausage Party Burger and it sure made him want to dance! 2 Pork and Parsley “Chipolatas” (sausages) with cheese and egg topped with BBQ sauce on a english muffin. He added a hash brown and it took it took the sandwich to a whole new level. The crispy hash brown with sweet and smokey BBQ sauce combined with the snap of the sausage and the richness of the fried egg was breakfast perfection.
Vietnamese Food Corner: We found this tiny hole in the wall on the streets of Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast. We always got Bahn Mi’s in Boulder and when we saw this place the flavors all rushed back to us. I got a grilled chicken bahn mi and Dean got BBQ pork (that typical bright red pork we are all familiar with). Served on a rice flour baguette that’s super crispy on the outside but soft and pillowy on the inside, our bahn mi master lathered peanut and soy sauce on the top and bottom and then layered the carrots, cilantro and cucumber before piling on our meats of choice. All these delicious Asian flavors crammed into a sandwich made our lunch exactly what we were looking for.
Naz Kebab: As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, we love kebabs! How could you not? Middle eastern meats cooked on the spit stuffed in a crispy but soft Laffa flatbread with lettuce, tomato and onions, served with your choice of sauce. It’s a classic that never disappoints us! This place, however, had a fun twist that made us not only happy once, but had us coming back for more the next day! They had a HSP, a Hectic Snack Pack, which was an order of fries covered in cheese and topped with your choice of lamb, chicken or both, then coated in whatever sauce you want. The warm meat melted the cheese perfectly so digging in and grabbing a fork full brought up a little bit of everything. They piled each portion high with the delicious meat. Kebab heaven!
Burger Project: The burger culture in Australia is strong! There are so many burger places that take themselves very seriously, and for good reason! We found this place on our last day and we’re happy yet again with another burger meal. This time, Dean got the Aussie Burger, Grassfed beef, (of course!) thick slice of beetroot, cheese, onion, pickles, tomato, lettuce and secret sauce. I got the Fried Chicken Katsu Burger, Free range chicken, coleslaw, pickles, lettuce and katsu sauce. Yum!
Our last day in Australia was completely washed away by Cyclone Debbie. It started and hit much farther north than us, but the storm slowly made its way south and our last day was filled with rain and wind. We were so sad our last day was spent inside but it was good to have some downtime to book some future hotels.
We knew we were going to like Australia but, boy, were we impressed! The people were incredibly friendly, the food was delicious and the scenery was unforgettable. There is so much more we want to see! We will DEFINITELY be back! Next up we start our Asian adventures! First stop, Bali, Indonesia (if we can get out with all this rain!)