Queensland Diaries: Your See-Eat-Do Guide To Brisbane City & The Sunshine Coast

Queensland Diaries: Your See-Eat-Do Guide To Brisbane City & The Sunshine Coast

Anita Desai once said, “Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” I really felt this on my recent trip to Queensland. This Australian state was named in honour of Queen Victoria after she signed the Letters Patent on the June 6, 1859 for separating the colony from New South Wales. Known for its pristine beaches and lush tropical rainforests, Queensland deserves a spot on every adventure traveller's bucket list!

This year, I visited two iconic places in Queensland - Brisbane City and the Sunshine Coast. Brisbane’s got that hustle and bustle vibe which I love, and the Sunshine Coast brought me closer to nature. However, a common link that I noticed about these two places is their love for outdoor activities. The Aussies really do justice to the term 'leisure'. When not at work, they’re either out on a trek, exploring the woods, catching the waves at a nearby beach, or having a barbecue party with their pals - they love the active life. That attitude is slowly growing on me, too. The thrill to explore, the thrill to learn more about wildlife behaviour and the thrill to sometimes just take time to breathe and meditate - Queensland, you’ve been an eye-opener. 

In case you’re making a trip to Queensland soon, I’d love to be your virtual guide. Here’s me planing your see-eat-do guide to Brisbane City and the Sunshine Coast. 

Table of Contents

    The Journey Begins…

    Here’s a fun fact  - Australia is twice as big as India. The distance between the two countries is 7,809 km. I travelled to Brisbane by Singapore Airlines. It was a 15-hour long journey from Mumbai. I did have a layover at Changi Airport in Singapore, which I spent in Singapore Airlines' plush SilverKris Business Class Lounge. The lounge was equipped with EVERYTHING! Bartender services, wifi, wheelchair-accessible restrooms, shower and nursing rooms. Here’s a sneak peek into the lounge area.

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    Beautiful, right? No wonder I walked out of Brisbane airport feeling energised and looking fresh as a daisy. 

    What To Do In Queensland

    Queensland is the hub for all things fun and awesome. Whether you want to spend your time exploring Brisbane’s nightlife or catch the waves at Noosa on the Sunshine Coast, it all boils down to what your preferences are. You can also find information about upcoming events and activities on Tourism & Events Queensland’s website. Here are five activities you MUST do in Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast. 

    1. Hug A Koala At Lone Pine!

    When I was little, my dad gifted me a cute Koala bag from Australia. From no angle did it look like a regular backpack. It had fluffy arms and legs and when I carried it around, from afar, it looked like the koala was clinging to my back. I was super attached to that bag and more so, to the koala. It never crossed my mind that one day, I'd be holding a real one. This picture was taken at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Australia. It's about 12km from Brisbane City and it’s open all week from 9 am - 5 pm. It's home to 130 koalas and over 70 species of native Australian animals like the dingo, emu, kangaroo, platypus, wombats, Tasmanian devil and more. According to the Guinness World Records, it is the world's first and largest koala sanctuary. How cool is that, right?

    Entry Fee: Rs 2,057 for adults & Rs 1,224 for children. 

    Website: https://koala.net/wildlife-au

    Contact: +61 7 3378 1366

    Address: 708 Jesmond Rd, Fig Tree Pocket QLD 4069, Australia

    2. Go Kayaking At The Brisbane River

    If ever you are in Brisbane and you have the time to do something adventurous, then you should take up kayaking at the Riverlife Adventure Centre. Located at the base of the Kangaroo Point Cliffs, it offers kayaking tours and standup paddleboarding. This picture was clicked moments before I almost toppled from my kayak boat. Initially, it was tough to find my balance but I was able to adapt within 15 minutes. The entire tour lasted for an hour-and-a-half and post the activity, I was rewarded with a platter of fresh ocean king prawns, bread rolls and beer!

    Entry Fee: Rs 5,000 approx (Night Paddle & Prawns) 

    Website: https://riverlife.com.au/

    Contact: +61 7 3891 5766

    Address:  Naval Stores Kangaroo Point Cliffs Drive, Kangaroo Point QLD 4169, Australia

    3. Go For A Beer Tour!

    I love my beer thick, frothy and bitter. The two breweries in Queensland that did justice to my tastebuds were Brouhaha and Felons Brewing Co. Brouhaha is all the way up on the Sunshine Coast and the Felons Brewing Co is located at the heart of Brisbane City. The thing I love about Brouhaha is the packaging of their beers. They’re rolling with aesthetic pastel hues and clean font for their craft beer cans. Interestingly, all the ingredients used in their food are fresh and locally sourced too. At the Brouhaha brewery, you could also pick up merchandise like tees, hats, bottle openers, stickers, that will make a pretty addition to your bar at home.

    Price for two: Rs 2,000 approx

    Website: https://brouhahabrewery.com.au/

    Contact: +61 7 5435 2018

    Address:  6/39 Coral St, Maleny QLD 4552, Australia

    The Felons Brewing Co, on the other hand, has a charm of its own. Their brewery at night looks like a scene straight out of the Netflix show Stranger Things. This place is also bustling and packed, you may want to come here early to get yourself a table. The brewery is dedicated to the four felons in 1823 who were the first to discover the Brisbane River. The Crisp Lager and Natural Ale were my favourite beers!

    Price for two: Rs 4,398 approx

    Website: https://brouhahabrewery.com.au/

    Contact: +61 7 3188 9090

    Address: 5 Boundary St, Brisbane City QLD 4000, Australia

    4. Go Swimming At Honeymoon Bay

    Remember I told you about Queensland’s pristine beaches, right? I have pictures to prove it! If you intend to go on the Great Beach Drive, you need to dedicate an entire day to it. If you do not have your own vehicle, you can book one with a tour from greatbeachdrive4wdtours.com. The prices start at Rs 5,870 and the private tour starts at Rs 48,187. While the affordable package comes with a planned itinerary, the private tour gives you an option to pick and choose your destination from the drive. However, I would suggest before visiting or choosing to camp there, you need to do a quick check on the tides forecast chart. The last thing you would want to happen to you is being stranded on the beach or have your vehicle crashed against the shore. Now that’s off my chest, here are some of my favourite spots from the drive. 


    Rainbow Beach Be So Colourful

    One of my favourite spots here is the rainbow beach. In hues of pink, white, red, yellow and brown, the sand here gets its colours from vegetable dyes and iron oxide. Just look at this place? I didn’t feel like leaving.  

    Red Canyon

    If you climb up the Red Canyon, you will see a stunning view over the Teewah Beach. Here’s a picture of me at the peek, isn’t it just gorgeous?

    The Lighthouse

    It was a long drive to the lighthouse, but the journey was worth it. Not everyone is allowed to drive all the way up the lighthouse because you need a special permit for it. Confirm with your tour person before you embark on this journey. Once you’re up there, you get 360-degree views across the Pacific Ocean and the Great Sandy National Park. If lucky, you may be able to spot turtles, sharks, manta rays, dolphins and Humpback Whales. Please Note: The whale season is from June-October. 

    5. Go Jacaranda Spotting!

    Any Brissy will tell you how much joy the sight of Jacaranda trees brings them. You will find them in full bloom from mid-end October. I was lucky to not only spot a purple Jacaranda but a rare white one as well at the Spectacle Garden. Rumour has it that if Jacaranda falls on you, it will fetch you good luck. You’re also a 20-minute walk away from the City Heritage Botanic Gardens from here. You’ll learn that the place is the actual site where the first Jacaranda tree in Australia once stood and first bloomed! 

    6. Check Out The Art Scene At The Brisbane Powerhouse

    There’s always something cool and exciting going on at the Brisbane Powerhouse. Located in New Farm, the power station first began its operation in 1928, it was later decommissioned in 1971. They reopened it in 2000 and today it’s a modern entertainment club that offers a variety of performing arts, visual arts, festivals and community events. Since there’s a different event happening every day, you can head to their website to book your tickets for them.   

    Where To Eat In Queensland

    When I speak about food to my friends living in Australia, they’re the first to recommend places in Melbourne and Sydney. I’m sure the food would be amazing in those two cities, but Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast score high too. From a foodie to another foodie, here are the best places to eat in Queensland. 

    1. Enjoy Fresh & Crispy Seafood At The Noosa Heads Surf Club

    My very first meal in Queensland was this Seafood Basket and Beach Burger from Noosa Heads Surf Club. Yum food and generous portions. I loved the beach-facing location, too. My beer, delicious food and the gorgeous view of the beach - life’s good. 

    Cost for two: Rs 1,000 (approx)

    Website: https://www.noosasurfclub.com.au/

    Contact: +61 7 5474 5688

    Address: 69 Hastings St, Noosa QLD 4567, Australia

    2. Dinner At The Tamarind

    For the best Asian cuisine on the Sunshine Coast, you must reserve a table at The Tamarind. Awarded one Chef Hat in the 2020 National Good Food Guide, their dishes are a mix of sweet, spicy and sour. Try the Koji Marinated beef tataki with crisp oyster daikon, black beer ponzu, miso mustard and wasabi as your first dish. Follow it up with black pepper venison with Mooloolaba prawns as your main course. For dessert, pick soft coconut pudding with sticky black rice. 

    Cost for two: Rs 1,500 (approx)

    Website: https://spicersretreats.com/restaurants/the-tamarind/

    Contact: +61 1300 311 429

    Address: 88 Obi Ln S, Maleny QLD 4552, Australia

    3. Try The Cheesy At Ben’s Burger

    Ben’s Burgers is one of the best burger joints in Brisbane. They even have interesting names for their burgers like The Cheesy, The Elvis and The Veg.  I chose The Chessy with cherry cola. Best decision EVER!

    Cost for two: Rs 1,500 (approx)

    Website: www.bensburgers.com.au

    Contact: (07) 3113 9535

    Address: 5B Winn St, Fortitude Valley QLD 4006, Australia

    4. Eat Fresh & Organic At The Brouhaha Brewery

    I previously praised Brouhaha for their craft beer. Let me tell you that their food deserves a special mention, too. I tried the Layered Heirloom Tomato dish. The tomatoes are stuffed with little white goats cheese, lemon oil, fresh basil, zucchini relish and toasted sourdough flatbread. I mean, just look at the tomatoes on the plate! They’re fresh, bright red and juicy. Also, their Wagyu beef burger, beer-battered fries, Fraser Isle spanner crab soft tacos and cured Tasmanian salmon are to die for!

    Price for two: Rs 2,000 (approx)

    Website: https://brouhahabrewery.com.au/

    Contact: +61 7 5435 2018

    Address:  6/39 Coral St, Maleny QLD 4552, Australia

    5. Try Gelato On A Stick At Happy Pops

    The people of Noosa love their gelatos (even if it’s on a stick!). With a variety of flavours to choose from, I was spoiled for choice at the Happy Pops shop in Noosa! I chose this yum lemon and blood orange sorbet and it was gone in a few quick minutes. 

    Cost for two: Rs 700 (approx)

    Website: http://happypops.com.au/

    Contact:  +61 404 314 468

    Address: 69 Hastings St, Noosa QLD 4567, Australia

    Where To Stay In Queensland

    Queensland is home to scenic places such as Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Cairns, Toowoomba, Fraser Coast, Townsville and many more. It’s paradise on earth, I tell you!

    Peppers Noosa Resort & Villas At Noosa Heads

    I’m putting it out there, universe! I’d like to settle in Noosa should I retire. This place is quiet, peaceful and delightfully refreshing! I love the laid-back beachside vibe and the surfing culture. There are plenty of pretty properties at Noosa to stay at, on this trip, I stayed at the Peppers Noosa Resort and Villas. Whether it’s a modern studio apartment or a swanky penthouse you’re looking for, you’ll find the perfect vacay home here. What I loved about staying here is that it felt like home. My room had a fully-equipped open kitchen, cosy hall, spacious bedroom, a laundry room, airy bathroom and a gorgeous balcony with a view of the woods. You can also unwind at the spa on the property, workout at the gym and laze by the pool with a book. 

    Price: Rs 12,000 upwards per night for two people

    Website: https://www.peppers.com.au/noosa/

    Address: 33A Viewland Dr, Noosa Heads QLD 4567, Australia

    Contact:  +61 7 5455 2200

    Narrows Escape Rainforest Retreat At Montville

    They say, “Get lost in nature and you will find yourself.” That quote summarises my time at the Narrows Escape Rainforest Retreat. This place is an hour's drive from Noosa. Ali and Xochi are a power couple who own this gorgeous, luxury property which is adjacent to the Kondalila National Park in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast Hinterland. The boutique five-star luxury resort has six fully self-contained secluded pavilions nestled over two hectares of lush rainforest. Xochi even pointed out that one of the best things about staying at the Narrows Escape is that in spite of being in the middle of the rainforest, you are a seven-minute drive from some of the best restaurants, craft breweries and wineries in the area  - you get the best of both worlds here. Whether it’s to spend quality time with your family or your partner, the Narrows Escape offers you plenty of choices. As for me, I was happy as a clam staying here. Jacuzzi in the living room, the sweet chorus of birds chirping in the background, a fireplace to keep my heart and soul warm. It felt as if I was on a honeymoon with myself! Did I mention that Ali makes the most amazing croissants for breakfast in the morning? 

    Price: Rs 20,000 upwards per night for two people


    Address:  78 Narrows Rd, Montville QLD 4560, Australia

    Contact: +61 7 5478 5000

    Ovolo The Valley At Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley

    A cool hotel that I stayed at was Ovolo The Valley in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley. As soon as I walked into the lobby, my eyes were in for a visual treat. Colour and design splattered everywhere! Unlike most hotels, this one is on point with its technology game. Walking into the elevator, I was greeted by pop music. Checking into my suite and I was welcomed by Alexa and a huge TV screen that displayed my favourite Netflix shows! I couldn’t be happier to have found a hotel that totally gets ME. You will also be delighted to know that this hotel has a rooftop lap pool, business and fitness centre! In short, this Instagrammable hotel triumphs in every space!

    Price: Rs 14,000 upwards per night for two people

    Website: https://ovolohotels.com.au/

    Address: 1000 Ann St, Fortitude Valley QLD 4006, Australia

    Contact: +61 7 3253 6999

    Finally, I’d like to share a few pointers with you from the trip. The hottest months in Brisbane City and Sunshine Coast are from November to March. Make sure that you’re wearing at least SPF 50 and above to protect your skin from sun damage. Also to make your travel experience around Brisbane City pleasant, try to get hold of a G-Link Pass for public transportation services. I used the Translink Go Card to travel around Brisbane via the City Cat ferry. This is how the card looks like! Learn more about them on their website.

    If you’re not comfortable using public transport, you can hire a car. Rentalcars and Hertz are good places to book a car for the number of days that you intend to travel. For all things luxe, you can travel around Queensland by hiring an Audi or Mercedes from Limoso Limousines. They offer luxury travel experiences in South East Queensland. Bon voyage!

    Images: Writer's own

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