So the beautiful Brenda is our guest today and shares her top tips for sightseeing with guests around our beautiful Brisbane, thanks Brenda x
We were very fortunate over the Easter school holiday to have my daughter and son-in-law come from Colorado. We planned on seeing and doing a lot while they were here and accomplished almost everything on the list. I would like to share our experiences and hope it gives you some ideas and helps with your planning when it is your turn to be the tour guide.
They arrived on Saturday, a bit tired and jet lagged so we had planned on an easy day. After getting a chance to unpack, clean up and grab some lunch at the house we went to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. We are lucky to have such an amazing spot so close to us. Lone Pine is smaller and quieter than other zoos. It has a limited but good selection of Australian native animals. It is also less expensive and a shorter wait time to “cuddle a koala.” You can then purchase a bag of “roo food” from the cafe and head into the kangaroo pen to pet and feed the kangaroos and wallabies. It was a good start to their visit and a nice way to revive after the long flight.
As Sunday was Easter, that day was planned to be at home. Coming from America, we don’t have holidays anymore where everything is closed. That is not true in Australia. If you have guests over a public holiday, make sure you check to see if where you want to go will be open.
Monday was a holiday as well but the Rainforest Skywalk was open so we were off to Tambourine Mountain. The hike is easy and not very long. The admission price was reasonable and worth the experience. It is a beautiful hike even though at one point I was not crazy about the platform swaying and wobbling from everyone walking on it, but that is just me, everyone else enjoyed it. From there we went to the Gallery Walk at Tambourine Mountain. There is a great selection of shops and cafes along the street, make sure to check out the spice of life cafe, Be prepared though, this is a very popular destination. Parking can be tough to find and you can get stuck in some pretty slow moving traffic. If you choose to visit this area, I would recommend scheduling your trip mid week as opposed to the weekend or a public holiday. It will be much more relaxing and enjoyable.
On Tuesday, they were ready to get out and see more. We visited Australia Zoo in Beerwah on the Sunshine Coast. Yes, we watched Steve Irwin in America. This is a very nice zoo. It is large, very large, with a lot to see. You really do need to schedule your day to make sure you see the croc show in the crocoseum. It is fun and since I have been there on a school excursion and during school holidays, I can say there is more going on during the school holidays and you have a good chance of seeing the Irwin family at the croc show. As you walk through the zoo, you will come across zoo keepers with various animals, such as snakes or wombats. They are happy to answer your questions and give you an up-close animal encounter. There is also the opportunity to feed and pet the kangaroos and they have a koala walk where you can get closer to the koalas and some can be petted under the supervision of a zoo keeper. Australia zoo is a little bit of a drive but it is definitely worth the trip.
It was time to hit the beach on Wednesday. We discovered a quiet beach on Bribie Island over the summer so I took them there. Woorim Beach is the surf beach on Bribie Island. It is less crowded than the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast. The waves were perfect for some body boarding. There are also a couple nearby cafe’s that make packing a lunch optional. We were also lucky to see a school of dolphins in the distance. Make sure your guests understand how intense the Australian sun is and suggest they reapply sunscreen often.
Tangalooma Island was our destination for Thursday. I purchased the day pass which gets you the catamaran trip out and back, and access to the resort facilities. I purchased the dolphin feeding as well that happens right before you head back to Brisbane. There are two departure options from Brisbane to Moreton Island, we took the 10:00 departure. The catamaran was nice and we were lucky to be in the cue early and we secured a table by the window for our trip. Once we arrived at the resort we used our lunch vouchers we received with our booking to grab something to eat. There are not a lot of restaurants at the resort, we had lunch at the Beach Cafe and dinner at Fire and Stone. Both were nice but I felt if I had to spend a couple days there, I would get bored with the choices. The resort is also undergoing a facelift. There are renovations going on and from the look of things it was needed.
What we did not realize is that if you intend on taking part in the free activities on the island you need to book them early. We missed out on a couple things because we did not realize this. We also opted not to purchase any of the other tours feeling some of them were quite expensive. So the combination of choosing to do free things instead of paying for activities, then realizing we missed out on booking the free activities and it being too late to do the paid activities made for a long day of walking on the beach and wading in the water. We did spot some starfish near the shore and water was beautiful and clear but I was wishing we had done more.
The sunset was stunning and as evening gets closer you can spot stingrays from the pier and the dolphins start to arrive for their evening snacks. Everyone gathers on the pier to get a briefing on the dolphins, you then line up on the beach. They only allow a couple people in the water for each dolphin at a time. You will pick up your fish and wade into the ocean, from there you are instructed on feeding them by lowering your hand into the water and the dolphin comes and takes the fish from you. It was quick but a lot of fun being so close to them. Take the time to read the pamphlet you receive regarding how this program came to be, it is a touching story. We got to feed Tinkerbell! I would recommend Tangalooma for a day trip, and make sure you book your activities when you arrive.
On Friday we took them to Caxton Street for a dinner at Statler & Waldorf before heading to the Broncos game. This was their first rugby league game and they really enjoyed it. We lived in Denver, Colorado for 10 years so I am glad to still be able to cheer for the Broncos.
Saturday was a good day to walk along Southbank and hit the ferris wheel for a lovely view of Brisbane. A unique destination for food is the Eat Street Markets in Hamilton. This is a collection of shipping containers that have been converted into mini restaurants offering the broadest selection of food choices in a small area I have ever seen. There is something for everyone. The food is delicious and affordable. The tables are recycled cable spools and you may end up sitting on a milk crate. I did notice more chairs this time though. The admission is $2 and they are only open Friday and Saturday from 4:00-11:00. They open on Sundays during the winter. Parking can be difficult here but it is free. DO NOT try to park along the street unless you read the signs and know it is legal. We saw several people getting ticketed by a team of officers.
Sunday we took a break from the sightseeing for a family BBQ but headed back into the CBD on Monday. We walked through the courthouse and down the Queen Street mall. We decided to pop into Jamie’s Italian for an amazing lunch. I would recommend making reservations, we got extremely lucky that we only had to wait 15 minutes. It is well worth the wait. If you are driving in to the city here is another tip on parking, book in advance through the Secure Parking website or app, it will save you a lot of money.
Tuesday evening we had tickets to Totem, the Cirque du Soleil show playing in Hamilton. I am a huge fan of Cirque du Soleil and have seen the permanent shows in Las Vegas and Disney World as well as the touring shows. I love them all and Totem did not disappoint. The acts are always unique and mostly family friendly. Just because you have seen one show, see another, and another, they are all so different. One word of advice, make sure it is Cirque du Soleil. There are other shows that tour with Cirque in their name but they are not the same and in my opinion the quality of the performances are not as good.
Wednesday they spent the day getting ready to leave Thursday morning for a day in Sydney before heading back to Colorado. But we made one more trip into the city for dinner at Jellyfish. They say reservations are required but we have managed to pop in on a weeknight with only a short wait. The view of the Story Bridge at night is fantastic but that is just the beginning. I think one thing people look forward to when visiting is fresh seafood and Jellyfish is an excellent choice for this. We always seem to take guests here and they love it. If you have a non-seafood person in your group the steaks are also great so it can work out for everyone.
One thing we really wanted to do but missed out on was the Story Bridge climb. The weather forecast kept teasing us with the possibility of rain and I was not even remotely interested on being on the top of the Story Bridge in the rain. So I waited. When we finally got a forecast that looked clear, the days we could do the climb were completely booked. If you are interested in doing the climb, book early, especially if it is during the school holidays. It leaves us something for their next trip but I was really kicking myself for not checking their website and availability as well as checking the weather.
This ended up a very long blog and if you stuck with it all the way, thank you. I hope you got some ideas for your guests and some of the things I learned during our busy week and a half help you out.
The Joy Girls xx