Things you didn’t know you could do in Brisbane
Been there, done that – think you’ve ticked it all off your list? Think again. We’re pretty confident that you haven’t done everything on this list, let alone heard of some of them.
Get a pen and paper (read: open your phone’s notepad app) and jot down these things you didn’t know you could do in and around Brisbane.
Helicopter pub crawl
Holy goodness. Drinking beer is fun, yes. But arriving at pubs like you’re the country version of James Bond to drink beer is, well, legendary. Pterodactyl Helicopters’ Captain Mike will take you on the pub crawl of a lifetime, even stopping for lunch.
Night kayaking at the wrecks
It’s pitch black as you push your clear Perspex kayak off the shore of Moreton Island – relying on the moon and two LED strips as your guide. The historic, rusting wrecks are all the more eerie and quiet at night. Your bright LED lights attract fish that will leap at your vessel. But all the better, curious turtles might come to say hello – and you’ll follow them drifting 200m offshore without a care. Australian Sunset Safaris offers the experience as part of its overnight Moreton Island tour.
See performing arts that’s truly underground
Head beneath the surface to the refurbished Spring Hill Reservoirs for performances from The Underground Opera Company and small theatre troupes. Built between 1871 and 1882, these large underground spaces held the city’s main water supply until it was closed in 1962. Now you can catch live opera or theatrical performances down there. The acoustics are truly something.
Dive with manta rays
Over the summer months Manta Rays flock to the Manta Bommie dive site just off North Stradbroke Island. Ranked in the top 10 dive sites in Australia, Manta Lodge will take you out there where you’ll come face-to-face with the large creatures plus leopard sharks, guitar sharks, turtles, wobbegongs and bamboo sharks, octopus, pelagics, bull, eagle and other rays plus lionfish and much more.
Walk over to King Island
Look, it’s no tropical island paradise but at low tide a sandbank appears in the bay off Wellington Point. Stroll across to King Island, tick it off your list and keep an eye out that the bank doesn’t disappear on you. It’s all about timing.
Stroll the streets of Brisbane with novelist Rosa Caroline Praed (1851 – 1935). A woman well ahead of her time – she’s returned with her quick wit and social commentary. From the prolific novelist's perspective, strolling Brisbane together, discover many of the extraordinary female characters who have contributed to our city’s soul. Learn how challenges were faced and how innovation has been achieved by women across the spectrum … marriage, science, politics, education, employment and careers, transport, religion, cultural awareness perspectives, the arts … all will be upturned!
Dance in the dark
The phrase 'dance like no one is watching' is totally achievable with No Lights No Lycra in West End. As the name suggests, you dance in a dark room with friends, strangers and future friends to be, as you listen to sick tunes and let your inhibitions free. Liberate yourself as you attempt those dance moves you've always been too timid to try out in public. Strangely therapeutic and ridiculously fun, this one is a must-try.
Eat all the wacky ice cream flavours
Retro ice-creamery Ungermann Brothers is the mastermind of MasterChef runner-up Ben Ungermann. Don't expect to find your average cookies and cream ice cream here, oh no, these interesting and unusual flavours are one of a kind. All made using natural ingrediants, the flavours change seasonally but you can usually find favourites including pumpkin seed oil, strawberry balsamic, lavender honeycomb and salted caramel, bacon & pecan.
Hoot Camp is the new boot camp
Skill up and get fit at the same time by ditching boot camp and trying hoot camp. It’s a circus school for adults that runs every Wednesday night with the folks at Flipside Circus. Your party tricks just got better.
One of Brisbane’s closest national parks is home to the historic Fort Lytton, built in the 19th century to protect the city from possible enemy raids by ship. Now, the fort can be explored while actors bring the story of decorated WW1 hero and Brisbane local Raymond Augustus Stanley to life at night. Theatre performance, sound, light and a projection transport you to another time.
Slip through door #37 for a barre class at the Spring Hill Baths
Unanimous winner of the unofficial "cutest public pool in Brisbane" award, the Spring Hill Baths were built in 1886. Slip through changeroom door #37 to a small conjoining room for a class with Brisbane Barre Studio.
Wheel over to one of two drive-in cinemas
Everyone knows about the Yatala Drive-In Theatre, so the other one is our better kept secret. Heading towards Ipswich, the Tivoli Drive-In operates every Saturday night, with a fully serviced cafe on site to cater to those hunger pangs.
Go on a day trip to the Great Barrier Reef
Feel like the reef is a world away? If you’ve got just one day and a little cash to splash, a small plane departing Redcliffe will take you to Lady Elliot Island for the day (or weekend). Here you can snorkel and dive around the coral cay, considered one of the best spots to do so on the reef.
Ride through the city in the last steam locomotive to be built in Australia
Choo choo! All aboard for Steam Train Sunday. Travel through Brisbane on a historic steam train to relive the romance of travel from a bygone era. The one-hour journey travels through city stations, with you wandering about the restored old-world carriages.
Immerse yourself in a bit of history
Once a year, wannabe kings, queens, knights and peasants of medieval times come together and throw a medieval festival spanning an entire weekend. Let history come to life before your eyes with jousting tournaments, knighting ceremonies and dance and combat displays at the Abbey Medieval Festival.
Fly like a bird over Mt Tamborine
You might have seen hang gliders leaping off the western side of the mountain. The great news is that experience isn't needed – you can join them for a tandem flight.
Visit the house inside the Walter Taylor Bridge pylons
If you’ve driven over the heritage-listed Walter Taylor Bridge in Indooroopilly, chances are you’ve wondered what’s behind the small windows. Climb inside with a Brisbane Greeter tour and learn about the history of the suspension bridge that was built in 1936.
Hand feed wild dolphins on an island
If you don’t know this one then you haven’t been paying much attention to us. Every night at dusk, wild bottlenose dolphins rock up to the Tangalooma Island Resort jetty and you can hand feed them. More on the program here.
Break it down with hip hop yoga
Let yo booty do that yoga. If you've always wanted to bend your back to Janelle Monae's aptly titled song, Stretch Yoga is the spot. Your vinyasa flow is all the easier thanks to a sweet soundtrack of yeezy, Beyonce and MC Hammer. Hip hop tracks will have you flexing into downward dog in no time. Be warned, it gets sweaty.
Abseil off the Story Bridge
We are assuming you’re well acquainted with the Story Bridge Adventure Climb (one of only three bridge climbs in the world), but did you know it also offers abseil climbs? This means you climb the top of the bridge as per normal, but on the last leg abseil 30m straight down the pylon. Phew.
Tour Pumicestone Passage in a gondola
Imagine this – you and your beloved, arm in arm watching the sun set over the Glasshouse Mountains while cruising the picturesque passage. Bliss. Bribie Island Gondola makes all this a reality.
Treat yo’self to bulk cheese
This is basically a cheese lover’s dream come true. Makers of the best halloumi this side of Athens, Olympus Cheese opens the factory during the week where you can buy 2kg tubs of the good stuff plus big tubs of fetta and ricotta.
Experience Australia’s best land-based whale watching
From June to October, Humpback Highway cruises right by Point Lookout on North Stradbroke Island. Do the North Gorge Walk or simply sit on the headland (a scoop of fresh Oceanic Gelato in hand) and watch the magical sea beasts swim by. Here's our handy guide to whale watching.
Visit local Buddhist and Hindu temples
Constructed in the Chinese palace architectural style with red and gold theming, Chung Tian Buddhist Temple is a little community worth visiting. Stop by the tea room for a ceremony, wander the art gallery, museum and prayer spaces, learn to speak Chinese at a class or enjoy a meal at the teahouse. Not too far away is Sri Selva Vinayakar Temple, a Hindu temple that has recently been rebuilt in South Maclean.
Drink rainbow lattes
The creative barista at Piggy Back Café in Jindalee has some pretty mad skills when it comes to latte art. Forget pouring plain milk into coffee, head barista Emily Coumbis makes mesmerising rainbow latte art using food colouring. Head along, order the red velvet French toast too and light up your Instagram feed.
Play Quidditch with fellow muggles
Harry Potter fans get in line. Now is your time to ride a broomstick, throw quaffles and find that sneaky golden snitch. The QUT Qudditch society is super active in the City Botanic Gardens and you don’t have to be a student to play – everyone is welcome. Best of all, membership is just $2 for the year.
Go skiing any time of the year
Brisbane is home to the largest indoor ski and adventure park. Urban Extreme offers snowboarding and ski lessons all year round, as well as time on the dry training slopes for the more experienced. Want more? There is plenty on offer including inflatable climbing walls, laser tag and parkour obstacle. For fun, there is sno-way this place can be beat.
Tick tock, ride to the top of City Hall
At 92m high, Brisbane City Hall reigned over Brisbane as the tallest building for more than 30 years. Built in 1930, the clock tour and elevator have been in operation since the beginning, taking you to an observation platform 76m high. The tower has been restored, with free tours available every 15 minutes daily. Access is via the Museum of Brisbane.
Crack a tinnie with local oysters on a sand island
At the bottom end of Moreton Island is the area’s most remote bar – the Gutter Bar. Located in the tiny township of Kooringal, the Moreton Island Oyster Farm just offshore provides the fresh goods perfectly paired with any cold drink. Cheers!
Celebrate the full moon with fire and dance
The West End Fire Festival has been setting up in Orleigh Park every full moon since 2006. The community night welcomes all to come along, bring a mat and food and either sit back to enjoy or join in fire twirling and a drum circle.
Eat croissants with your gluten-free friends
French pastries are all but a dream for your gluten-free friends (c’mon, we’ve all got at least one right?). Enter Marche du Macaron, the cutest street-side patisserie in Gordon Park and Ashgrove that serves gluten free eclairs, croissants, macarons and more.