We’ve hit that spot of summer where summer to-do-lists are starting to dry up, people are going back to work and schoolchildren are getting antsy. For those in Brisbane and the Gold Coast, this is a fun time to look a little closer to home. And if you’re elsewhere in Australia, it might be time to take advantage of those new year travel deals for a weekend getaway. So you can at least pretend you’re still on holiday, right?
Brisbane Greeter’s Tour
If you’re absolutely new to a city, the Global Greeter’s Network is a program where volunteer local tour guides conduct walking tours for two, three or four hours in the area for free. With our guides, we walked around Fortitude Valley and New Farm in Brisbane and got to peer into interesting places like boutique hotels, clubs (quiet at 11AM in the morning) and into the high end shops of Fortitude Valley. This is a great idea for street photographers as you get to explore the streets and also learn about what you’re seeing. And if you’re travelling alone, this is a great way to meet other people.
If you enjoy perfume, you must visit Libertine Parfumerie, which specialises in stocking various international luxury perfume brands in an exquisitely designed store.
I admit – I was a segway sceptic. But after doing the X-Wing Mini Segway Tour, I’m officially been sold, especially if you do it on Brisbane’s South Bank, which is full of nice, smooth pathways along the river. X-Wing Segway’s segways are smaller ones that are much more manoeuvrable and lightweight. A quick 5 – 10min practice session prior to the tour was enough to get the hang of the movement. A Segway will let you travel a significantly greater distance to maximise the efficiency of your sightseeing around Southbank, with plenty of photo breaks along key lookout areas, and it really is quite fun, even if you do look a little dorky.
If you’re led by a guide like Scott, the trip is incredibly entertaining as well – I laughed a lot more than I was expecting to ever laugh while standing on a segway.
Queensland Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA)
With a large permanent collection, including some really interesting contemporary Asian art, and regular exhibitions, the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art is a light-filled and serene place to spend a hot day, a date night evening, or to just satisfy your inner arts and culture buff. The gallery is also located in South Bank’s Queensland Cultural Centre so the State Library, Queensland Museum, Queensland Performing Arts Centre and Queensland Art Gallery are all next door. And you’re also right next to GOMA Restaurant. I mean, it’s worth going to, just for that.
Abseiling with Riverlife
If physical activity is more your speed, you don’t need to leave the Brisbane CBD to get your fix. Riverlife takes full advantage of Brisbane’s river to offer travellers and locals opportunities to go paddle boarding, kayaking and abseiling. Not being a water person, I opted for abseiling, which was really quite fun, especially as we did it during sunset where you could get a beautiful view of the skyscrapers and river in the background (prior to abseiling). How many times you will get to abseil will, unfortunately, depend on the number of people in your group.
I would probably recommend the paddle boarding if you want to something more physically active as the paddle boarders were on their boards and working hard the entire time, and got to enjoy the sunset over the river like we did.
The area where the Riverlife headquarters is located is full of small pagodas and table areas, perfect for picnics or barbeques. This is a great place to spend a day with a group of friends or family.
Go to the Gold Coast
No, really. Colour me extremely surprised it only takes an hour via Brisbane Airtrain to get to the Gold Coast from Brisbane and even less time if you want to go to any of the theme parks. I still remember driving a whopping 10 hours with my family to get to Dreamworld. Take advantage, Queenslanders.
It’s always a good idea to find the highest point you can reach in a new city and look down – and the Gold Coast is definitely a place you want to look down at because the beach and city skyscrapers create a beautiful contrast of natural and man-made environments. Get to the top of Skypoint Tower for this gorgeous view. The restaurant at Skypoint also serves a very thoughtful selection of modern Australian cuisine. The Skypoint climb does get cancelled if the wind is too strong – as we found out the hard way – but if you enjoy heights, a birds eye view and pick a day without freakishly strong winds, this is definitely an activity for you.
Gold Coast iFly
If you’ve always wanted to try skydiving, iFly will give you the experience of freefalling in the air without the whole potential-parachute-malfunction-and-death part. The experience essentially involves diving onto a gigantic fan at the bottom of a clear wind tunnel that will propel you up in midair, while an experienced supervisor helps you hover. Believe me, it’s actually quite a workout and if you’re really into, you can even take lessons to do flips and aerobatic tricks like the instructors. You also get some pretty awesome commemorative photos if you can keep your expression serene. Alternatively, just completely disregard your face – the photo might even turn out better that way (I’ll spare you mine! Though they’re hilarious).
If you’re not based on the Gold Coast, iFly also have branches in Penrith, NSW and Perth.
I Ate My Way Through participated as guests of the companies and Brisbane Airtrain