With its warm, sunny weather and glorious fig trees, Queensland’s largest city, Brisbane, has a distinctly tropical flair. This sprawling city has Australia’s third-largest population (almost three million) and two football teams – the Brisbane Broncos (rugby league) and the Brisbane Lions (Australian rules). With car hire in Brisbane you can explore every inch of the city, from its hilly suburbs to the lush City Botanic Gardens, and take adventurous day trips to the Queensland coast.
Mount Coot-tha, or ‘a place of honey’ in the Aboriginal Turrbal language, is Brisbane’s largest peak at 287 m above sea level. The best way to reach this lookout is by organising a car rental in Brisbane. Climb the winding Sir Samuel Griffith Drive to the mountain’s summit, where you’ll be greeted with spectacular views, steep cliffs, and the occasional jogger or cyclist who treat the mountain as a physical challenge. At the top, grab coffee at the Kuta Café, or enjoy dinner at the Summit Restaurant and Bar, with its panoramic views of the city.
From this peak you’ll be able to see the cluster of skyscrapers belonging to the Central Business District (CBD), the snaking Brisbane River that divides the city north and south, plus the Soleil Tower, the city’s tallest building at 243 m.
With car hire from Brisbane Airport cruise to South Bank on the Brisbane River, which was created for Brisbane’s World Expo ’88. Once dilapidated lots and docks, South Bank has morphed into a real eye opener. It’s now home to theatres, museums, restaurants, shops and a manmade beach (open year round thanks to Queensland’s wonderful weather). Located opposite Brisbane CBD, it also has parks and a Nepalese Pagoda where you can take a break.
Take a ride on the Wheel of Brisbane, the city’s only Ferris Wheel, completed in 2011. It’s just a stone’s throw away from the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, that has classical concerts, ballet and musicals. If jazz is your thing, make for the Brisbane Jazz Club, for local and international artists.
If you’re an art lover, the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art – or GOMA – is the place to visit. Located at Kurilpa Point, adjacent to the massive Queensland Art Library and the State Library of Queensland, GOMA has exhibited many of the modern masters of art and design, from Picasso, Andy Warhol and the mannequins of Valentino, to the hyper-realistic work of Ron Mueck.
Out-of-town Brisbane also packs a visual punch. Less than half an hour’s drive from the CBD are the shores of Wynnum, a coastal suburb where you can relax and take a dip in a huge man-made wading pool. From Wynnum you’ll see Moreton Island – also accessible by rental car. You can camp and drive all over the island, snorkel above the Tangalooma shipwrecks and spot wild dolphins that swim into the shallows. For more wildlife encounters, visit Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo, just one hour’s drive from Brisbane, along the Bruce Highway.