Brisbane (play /ˈbrɪzbən/) is the capital and most populous city in the Australian state of Queensland and the third most populous city in Australia. Brisbane is also known as the River City and has the self-proclaimed title of Australia's New World City. Brisbane's metropolitan area has a population of over 2 million, and the South East Queensland urban conurbation, centred around Brisbane, encompasses a population of more than 3 million. The Brisbane central business district stands on the original European settlement and is situated inside a bend of the Brisbane River approximately 23 kilometres from its mouth at Moreton Bay. The metropolitan area extends in all directions along the floodplain of the Brisbane River valley between the bay and the Great Dividing Range. While the metropolitan area is governed by several municipalities, a large proportion of central Brisbane is governed by the Brisbane City Council which is Australia's largest Local Government Area by population. The demonym of Brisbane is Brisbanian, but is known to be Brisbanite.
Brisbane is named after the river on which it sits which, in turn, was named after Scotsman Sir Thomas Brisbane, the Governor of New South Wales from 1821 to 1825. The first European settlement in Queensland was a penal colony at Redcliffe, 28 kilometres (17 mi) north of the Brisbane central business district, in 1824. That settlement was soon abandoned and moved to North Quay in 1825. Free settlers were permitted from 1842. Brisbane was chosen as the capital when Queensland was proclaimed a separate colony from New South Wales in 1859.
The city played a central role in the Allied campaign during World War II as the South West Pacific headquarters for General Douglas MacArthur. Brisbane has hosted many large cultural and sporting events including the 1982 Commonwealth Games, World Expo '88 and the final Goodwill Games in 2001. Brisbane is the largest economy between Sydney and Singapore and in 2008 it was classified as a Beta− world city in the World Cities Study Group’s inventory by Loughborough University. It was also rated the 16th most livable city in the world in 2009 by The Economist.
All of Brisbane’s urban villages do things a little differently, from Australia’s premier live music scene in Fortitude Valley, to exclusive world class exhibitions at Australia’s largest Gallery of Modern Art at South Bank and to the natural splendour of Moreton Bay and the Scenic Rim, Brisbane enjoys a lifestyle that the world envies.
The main tourist districts are:
The CBD is where Brisbane's major businesses are interspersed with several shopping malls, cinemas, parks and many of Brisbane's historical tourist sites. Queen Street Mall in the heart of the CBD is Queensland's premier shopping destination and a must see for all visitors.
South Bank (often misspelled as 'Southbank') has ethnic restaurants, edgy cafes, riverside boardwalks and an inner-city beach. Located at South Bank is Queensland’s Cultural Precinct, which includes the Performing Arts Centre, Queensland Museum, the State Library, Queensland Art Gallery and the spectacular Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA).
Fortitude Valley (or "The Valley") combines Brisbane's Chinatown, alternative shopping and vibrant nightlife. Eclectic bars with emerging and innovative DJs and world-class super clubs have brought a larger than life feel to the Valley precinct. Home to the best live music and entertainment scene in Australia.
West End, located just behind South Bank, is an edgy, bohemian district with artsy shops and cafes. West End is where you’ll find alternative books, cult video stores and organic produce and quirky locals.
New Farm, located next to The Valley, features upmarket shopping and trendy dining places. A confirmed favourite of the locals, New Farm is high up on the hot list of places to be and to be seen.
Portside Wharf, located at Hamilton, is where the cruise ships dock on the Brisbane River. This area was formerly known as Brett’s Wharf and offers world class dining, cinemas and speciality shopping. A great place to wander and have a meal.
Paddington / Rosalie / Milton. Paddington is quickly becoming the place to shop with many little, unique boutiques full of local designs and hard to find fashion gems. Rosalie is home to many quaint bars, markets and restaurants. Milton has two of Brisbane’s most famous icons placed side by side the XXXX Ale House and Suncorp Stadium.
Mount Coot-tha, a suburb as well as a mountain (more accurately, a large hill) approximately 6 km (4 mi) west of the CBD, iconised by the large TV and radio antennas that line its peak. You can take a scenic drive through The Mount Coot-tha Reserve which visits the peak and has majestic 360° views of Brisbane and the surrounding region. Also features the Brisbane Botanic Gardens, the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium and numerous walking and bicycle tracks.
Most inner-city suburbs, or those close to the CBD have their own style and offer some small, unique attractions to the city, notably cafés, restaurants, historical sites or artistic ventures. Some of the other major districts are Spring Hill, Indooroopilly, Manly Harbour, Toowong, St. Lucia and South Brisbane.
Brisbane has a year-round living climate. When the wet season hits the northern Australian tropics, Brisbane enjoys hot and clear summer days (with afternoon thunderstorms). When winter hits the southern capitals of Sydney and Melbourne sending temperatures into the low teens (°C) the Brisbane climate stays mostly dry and sunny, with daytime temperatures usually remaining above 20°C.
Humidity is high during the summer months and daytime temperatures can get as high as 35°C with night temps rarely dropping below 20°C. Occasional heat waves can raise the temperature in excess of 40°C, however these are not common. Just about any outdoor activity you do at the height of a regular summer day in Brisbane will leave you bathed in sweat. In summer, a t-shirt with shorts and thongs (sandals) is appropriate attire for most casual activities, and air-conditioning will ensure you of a comfortable night’s sleep. Summer storms with hail and heavy rainfall are common in afternoons on hot humid days. They usually pass quickly and often put on a good lightning show.
Limit your outdoor physical activity in the summer until you are used to the heat and drink plenty of water. Cover up with sunscreen, loose clothing, and sunglasses to protect from sunburn.Getting anywhere in Brisbane is extremely easy. The CBD is relatively flat and condensed, which makes it perfect for walking or cycling and virtually all other areas can be reached by public transport.
However, some areas can be difficult to navigate through a combination of dead ends, winding roads and steep slopes. This applies to some inner-city suburbs, but especially outer suburbs. If you find yourself lost, it's advisable to head to the nearest main road as more than likely it will be serviced by buses or trains. If you are driving, a street directory is an essential addition to your car. Locals are generally friendly and more than willing to help you out if you are lost, so don't be afraid to ask.