The Big Bus offers a great range of Brisbane city tours. There are no booking or credit card fees when you book with us, and if you find the same tour elsewhere at a cheaper price, we will beat it by 10%. Some conditions apply*. Local writer Marianne Diaz checks in with a list of the ten must-see sights to tick off around the Brisbane CBD…
The Story Bridge opened in 1940 and is the longest cantilever bridge in Australia. It spans the Brisbane River, just to the east of the city. For the adventurous visitor, Story Bridge climbs are available at dawn, during the day, and at twilight.
Towering above the Brisbane River on the opposite side to the CBD, the Kangaroo Point Cliffs were once part of a quarry where convict labourers mined for volcanic rock known as ‘Brisbane Tuff’. Today, Kangaroo Point is a popular picnic spot, and offers some of the best views of the river, the city and the mountains beyond. The best time to see the cliffs is at sunset, when the umber faces come alive with daring abseilers.
2. Commissariat Store
The Commissariat Store is believed to be one of only two convict-built buildings left in Queensland (and it’s the younger of the two). Built in 1829 using the rock mined from the Kangaroo Point Cliffs, the store is only surpassed in age by The Old Windmill in Spring Hill (another must-see for history buffs). Today the Commissariat Store is home to the Royal Historical Society of Queensland’s museum.
4. Treasury Building
Located just a stone’s throw from the Commissariat Store and built in stages between 1886 and 1928 in the Italian Renaissance style, the grand Treasury Building once housed the Queensland Government. For anyone who fancies a flutter, add this to the to-do list, as today the building is home to the Treasury Casino.
5. City Botanic Gardens
The City Botanic Gardens site was first earmarked for a public garden in 1828 and originally planted out with crops to feed the convicts (by the convicts themselves of course). By 1855 the site had been designated a Botanic Reserve and was used for experimental work. Plantings of mango, pawpaw, ginger, tobacco, sugar and grape vines were tested to see if they could survive the Queensland climate and ultimately be profitable. Many of those plants and trees are still there today, offering a beautiful shaded sanctuary in the heart of the city.
6. City Hall
Situated alongside imposing King George Square, the Brisbane City Hall was officially opened in 1930. It’s almost 90-metre-high clocktower made it the tallest building in Brisbane at the time. Today City Hall houses the Brisbane City Council and free guided tours of the building are offered seven days a week. You can also visit the excellent Museum of Brisbane, which is located on level three.
7. South Bank Parklands
The South Bank Parklands occupy what was the site of World Expo 88, and are located on the southern side of the Brisbane River directly opposite the city centre. Featuring rainforest gardens, restaurants and Streets Beach (Australia’s only inner-city beach), South Bank has become a much loved part of the city. Check out the eclectic selection of wares at The Collective Markets from Friday to Sunday, or take a spin in The Wheel of Brisbane.
8. Eagle Street Pier
Eagle Street Pier is one of Brisbane’s most spectacular riverfront precincts. Restaurants and bars line the river and while the pier is bustling with activity during the day, it’s at night that it really comes alive with the vibrant colours of the twinkling city lights. Eagle Street Pier also has a CityCat terminal. Board one of the city’s iconic ferries and cruise up and down the Brisbane River.
9. Customs House
Topped by a large copper-sheathed dome, and renowned for its grand Corinthian columns, the impressive Customs House was built in the 1880s. Today, the beautiful boardrooms, award-winning restaurant and spectacular ballroom make this a highly sought-after events venue.
10. Anzac Square and the Shrine of Remembrance
Anzac Square in the heart of the city commemorates Australian service personnel who have fought and died in the service of their country. Opened on Armistice Day in 1930, the square is home to the Shrine of Remembrance and its Eternal Flame of Remembrance — which burns continuously in a bronze urn. On the western side of Anzac Square, below the Shrine of Remembrance, you’ll find the Queensland Women’s War Memorial. It was unveiled in 1932.
Do you have any suggestions to add to our list of the top sights in Brisbane? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
Additional images: Bigstock
This list of key sights is provided as a guide only and is not covered in its entirety on every Brisbane city tour offered by The Big Bus. Please check the itinerary notes for your preferred tour for a list of the included sights and stops.
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About the writer
Marianne Diaz is a research scientist by day and a freelance travel writer by night! She has travelled to Sri Lanka to explore her children’s part-heritage, and enjoyed research trips to Japan, and Bloomington, Chicago and Boston in the USA. Marianne’s main travel goal is to get to the Italian Aeolian Islands to check out the other half of her children’s background. She also loves exploring history-laden Australian country towns.