Brisbane is a nice city, one that can be explored on a very tight budget. On the 8th day of our journey, we checked out of the hotel in Gold Coast early, saying goodbye to the forever sunny city boasting with ever-ending blue ocean. We took the 740 bus to Nerang station, then changed to the AirTrain going to Central Station in Brisbane city. A tip here – buying bus and train tickets on the bus saves a lot of money, and time. But I didn’t have enough small notes at that time, so I had to buy the bus tickets first, then when we got to Nerang station, I bought the train tickets separately. Cost 2 of us more than 10 AUD more.
What we did that afternoon was a completely free itinerary, taking advantage of Brisbane’s awesome free transportation. And I’m gonna tell you exactly how to do it.
Brisbane City has 2 free bus routes called the City Centre Free Loops and the Spring Hill Loop. Why City Centre Free Loops? Because they include a clockwise and a counterclockwise route, which are almost the same, just parallel to one another. Take a look at this map to see what I meant.
Got off the AirTrain at Central Station. The City Centre counter-clockwise loop stops at this point – Central Station Stop – on Ann Street. Take this red bus, you will recognize it immediately because the word “FREE” is quoted on the digital board on top of the bus very clearly. The bus will circle Brisbane CBD within less than 20 minutes, driving you past major attractions – Brisbane City Hall, Queen Street Mall, Treasury Building, Land administration building, Queensland parliament, City Botanic Garden, King George Square, and Anzac Square. Just like a free and to-the-point hop-on, hop-off bus.
After taking the bus for a full loop, stay a bit while longer and get off at Queen Street Mall stop. Yep, you can go to the mall, do some shopping, but we had a different plan in mind – to take the free City Hopper ferry – a free cruise along the Brisbane river. The City Hopper ferry runs between North Quay and Sydney Street, with the upper deck that offers stunning view of the city skyline and suburbs. The North Quay dock where you would board the ferry was only 100m from the Queen Street mall bus stop, opposite from the Parliament. So when you got off the counter-clockwise bus, walk in the opposite direction of the bus. You will see it, signs and posts showing where to go for the ferry.
The one-way trip takes about 45 minutes. You will see Kangaroo Point, go under the historic-listed Story Bridge, take into your view wonderful skylines, and have the chance to hop off at points of interest – Eagle Street pier (a place that’s bustling with restaurants and shops), Maritime Museum, or, in our case – South Bank.
South Bank, unlike its skyscrapers-ladden North Bank, is filled with green and air. A wonderful picnic location, a small artificial beach (with sand and all), and the famous Brisbane wheel. There are plenty of restaurants with different food choice there: my mom chose a Malaysian rice dish, while I went for a Donald Trump combo (it’s a burger, if you’re wondering). You can take as long as you prefer in this area, it’s like a ecological park, so green and pretty.
My review of the Brisbane Wheel – mediocre. The wheel takes you 5 or 6 rounds in its air-conditioned cabin, with recorded commentary introducing different buildings and landmarks in sight. If you want that commentary part, then go! But if you’re one of those “I can look them up online” types, then the free ferry will suffice. That’s what I think. If you do go on the wheel, here’s how the view will look like.
I suggest walking back to North Bank along the river walk via Victoria Bridge, because that’s when you can pass by this iconic sign.
That’s about it, wrapping up a short and pleasant afternoon in hot Brisbane. It was 30 degrees.