On November 13, 2012answered the question:These days there is no shortage of nightlife in Brisbane, which boasts a thriving live music scene and emerging small bar culture. The latter has seen a range of venues open up across the city in recent years catering to just about every type of night owl. For live music, Forbes Travel Guide editors suggest you head to the inner-city hubs Fortitude Valley and West End, where you’ll be able to find everything from indie rock to jazz. Looking for a slightly quieter night? Many of the boutique Fortitude Valley hotels offer rooftop bars where you can make the most of Brisbane’s balmy evenings and sip cocktails while enjoying unbeatable views of the city. Make sure you also pay an after-dark visit to the city center, where sophisticated venues like The Laneway, located above Urbane restaurant on Mary Street, offer fun and innovative cocktails.
On November 13, 2012answered the question:A great way to cover as much ground as possible is to hire a bicycle through Brisbane’s CityCycle bike, in which you can rent a bike from one of 100-plus locations throughout the city. Once you’ve got your set of wheels, Forbes Travel Guide editors suggest you head to the trendy inner city suburbs Fortitude Valley or New Farm to grab breakfast at one of the many popular cafés perfect for people-watching. Spend the morning browsing the boutiques of up-and-coming designers before jumping back on your bike to head over to South Bank. Have a wander through the Parklands and, if it’s the weekend, browse the arts and crafts at the South Bank Lifestyle Market or grab a bite to eat at one of many nearby cafés and restaurants. While away your afternoon at the South Bank Cultural Centre, where you’ll find the Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art, Queensland Museum and Queensland Performing Arts Centre. Once the sun goes down, head back to Fortitude Valley to dance the night away at one of the suburb’s numerous clubs and bars.
On November 13, 2012answered the question:Brisbane’s shopping scene may not be as famous or robust as Sydney’s or Melbourne’s, but Forbes Travel Guide editors think fashionistas will likely be more than satisfied with the retail therapy options in the Queensland capital. Queen Street Mall in the heart of the city boasts more than 500 specialty stores, including a mix of chains and boutiques. If you’re looking for more unique pieces, head to the Elizabeth Arcade on Elizabeth Street in the city, or to the trendy suburbs Fortitude Valley and New Farm to browse the wares of up-and-coming designers. Love markets? The South Bank Lifestyle Market is held every Friday, Saturday and Sunday and boasts arts, crafts, fresh produce and live music. On the first Sunday of the month, keep an eye out for the South Bank Young Designers Market, the place to go for fashion, accessories, jewellery and homewares.
On November 13, 2012answered the question:In addition to the range of family-friendly activities, Brisbane is easy to get around and lacks the frenetic pace of bigger cities like Sydney and Melbourne, making it an ideal destination to visit with kids. Forbes Travel Guide chose five top things to do and see with children in tow:
1. Riverlife Adventure Centre. Active kids over the age of eight will love Riverlife Adventure Centre for the range of outdoor and water activities; their parents will love it for tiring them out. Choose from paddleboarding, kayaking, rock climbing, cycling and rollerblading—all activities have qualified and experienced instructors.
2. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. With more than 130 of these adorable animals, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is the world’s first and largest koala sanctuary. As well as cuddling a koala, kids can also handfeed kangaroos and lorikeets, get up close and personal with other Aussie wildlife, and even hold a python if they’re feeling brave.
3. Sciencentre. Young Einsteins can indulge their science obsessions at Sciencentre, part of the Queensland Museum. Along with its extensive range of interactive displays and exhibitions, it also holds a rotating program of live theater shows in which kids can help bring science to life.
4. Children’s Art Centre at QAGOMA. An art gallery may seem an unlikely attraction for kids, but if you’ve got a budding Picasso in the family make sure the Queensland Art Gallery’s Children’s Art Centre is on your itinerary. The gallery collaborates with Australian and international artists to develop programs for families, offering a range of exhibitions, projects, installations and workshops for children of all ages.
5. Visit Moreton Island. Just 75 minutes from the center of Brisbane by ferry, Moreton Island is the world’s third largest sand island and a natural playground for big and little kids alike. Book a stay at Tangalooma Island Resort to take part in sunset dolphin feeding, where guests have the opportunity to hand-feed the pod of wild bottlenose dolphins that visit each night.
On November 13, 2012answered the question:Whether you’re a culture fiend, sports fan, foodie or beach-lover, you’ll have no shortage a diverse range of attractions and activities in Brisbane. Our Forbes Travel Guide editors chose five must-dos:
1. Relax in the South Bank Parklands. Once the site of Brisbane’s World Expo ’88, the South Bank Parklands now provide locals and visitors with acres of green space in the heart of the city. Spend a sunny afternoon strolling along the riverfront promenade, take a spin on the soaring observation wheel, or catch one of the many festivals and events that are held here throughout the year. Feeling the heat? Cool off at the man-made Streets Beach, Australia’s only inner-city beach.
2. Check out the Queensland Art Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA). These two galleries, located on the same site adjacent to the South Bank Parklands, boast an impressive display of Australian and international art works. The permanent collections include a diverse range of sculptures, indigenous, Asian and pacific art, while past temporary exhibitions have included works by renowned artists like Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. The galleries also offer free guided tours.
3. Catch a game at a world-class sporting venue. From rugby league in winter to test cricket in summer, Brisbane is home to some of the country’s best sporting action. Visit Suncorp Stadium to catch a home game of the Brisbane Broncos rugby team in the winter or Brisbane Roar soccer team in the summer. For a game of Aussie rules football or a cricket match, head to the Brisbane Cricket Ground, known by locals as The Gabba. Missed out on a game? Both venues also offer tours year-round.
4. Take a XXXX Brewery Tour. XXXX is as quintessentially Queensland as sunshine and surfing, so what better way to get acquainted with this iconic beer than with a brewery tour? The Castlemaine Perkins Brewery, home of XXXX, was first established in 1878. On the tour, you’ll learn about the company’s rich 130-year history as well as brewing and production processes. The tour is finished off with some icy cold samples of the beer itself.
5. Scale great heights on a Story Bridge Adventure Climb. For an unbeatable view of the city and surrounding areas, there’s nothing quite like the vantage point from the top of Brisbane’s Story Bridge. On the way up, you’ll learn about the history of the city and the bridge itself. Feeling particularly daring? Try the new Abseil Climb, in which you can abseil back down one of the piers into the park below.
On November 9, 2012answered the question:The Great Barrier Reef is undoubtedly the highlight of any visit to Cairns, but not every voyager wants to dive straight into the crystal-clear waters. Luckily, there are a number of options for experiencing the reef that don’t require a snorkel mask. Whether it’s by helicopter, seaplane or a small airplane, a scenic flight is a great way to experience the majesty of the reef, and there are even options to land on a floating pontoon and then cruise back to Cairns by catamaran. The pontoons themselves also offer a variety of ways to experience the reef without diving, including presentations by marine biologists and glass-bottom boat tours.
On November 9, 2012answered the question:Handcrafted jewelry featuring local Australian gems such as opals and freshwater pearls is the best thing to bring home from Cairns. While opals are mostly mined in the southern states of Australia, you’ll find an abundance of stores selling rings, necklaces, bracelets and brooches in Cairns, many of which offer tax-back options for international tourists. If you want a really unique piece, visit the Cairns Esplanade markets on Saturday or the Port Douglas markets on Sunday to check out the creations of local artists and designers. These markets are also a great place to pick up unique artworks, fashion and accessories.
On November 9, 2012answered the question:Eating crocodile is just one of the more unique food experiences you’ll find in Cairns. The area offers some interesting native foods, as well as a plethora of fresh seafood, exotic fruits and vegetables, delicious nuts and coffee and lots more. Here are our Forbes Travel Guide editors’ picks for the best food experiences in Cairns—crocodile bites included.
1. Ochre Restaurant. Many international visitors find the idea of eating native Australian animals a little strange at first but are pleasantly surprised once they try it. Ochre Restaurant is renowned for its Australian game and native bush foods like salt and pepper crocodile with prawns and chargrilled kangaroo sirloin.
2. Food Trail Tours. Food Trail Tours takes small groups from Cairns to the nearby Atherton Tablelands, where much of the region’s produce is grown. There is no shortage of food inspiration on this tour, which takes in a family farm, winery, cheese factory, coffee plantation and macadamia farm.
3. Flames of the Forest. This unique rainforest dining experience, just 50 minutes from Cairns, takes the Australian love of eating al fresco to another level. Flames of the Forest features a fresh, tropical menu accompanied by premium Australian wines and a stunning rainforest backdrop.
4. Farmers’ markets. Any weekend visit to Cairns has to include a stop at Rusty’s Market, which is held in the city center every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There you’ll find plenty of fresh and exotic local produce, including indigenous food from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stallholders. With over 180 stalls, there is an abundance of products including fruit, vegetables, local seafood, cheese, nuts and organic items.
5. Visit a tropical fruit winery. Why stick to grapes when you can make wine with mangoes, lychees, passionfruit or pineapples? The region boasts a number of tropical fruit wineries, all within driving distance of Cairns. Head to the award-winning Shannonvale Tropical Fruit Winery in Mossman, Murdering Point Winery in Silkwood East or de Brueys Boutique Wines in Mareeba to sample some of these unique wines.
On November 9, 2012answered the question:Cairns is often considered a top backpacker destination but luckily there’s much more to the city’s nightlife than hostel bars and jammed nightclubs. Whether you’re looking for culture, cocktails with a backdrop or simply a cheap drink, you’ll find it in Cairns. Tanks Arts Centre in the Cairns Botanic Gardens precinct features a regularly changing program of live theatre, music and cultural performances. Meanwhile, the waterfront Pier Shopping Centre overlooking Trinity Bay boasts cosmopolitan bars such as Bá8 and Bellavista, where you can enjoy the views over a delicious cocktail. Otherwise, there’s the popular Cairns Courthouse Hotel for $4 Coronas, live music and big screens to watch all the local sporting action.
On November 9, 2012answered the question:If you only have one day in Cairns, there’s no question the best way to spend it is to explore one of the world’s most spectacular sites – the Great Barrier Reef. Whether you’re a seasoned diver or first-time snorkeler, the easiest way to see the reef is to take one of the numerous day trips that depart daily from Cairns. Most of them visit two or three different sites over the course of the day and include equipment, lunch and experienced instructors. Once you’re back in Cairns after your day on the reef, recover with a cocktail and dinner at one of the many popular waterfront restaurants on the Esplanade.
On November 9, 2012answered the question:When you’re not viewing the abundance of gorgeous scenery in Cairns, you might want to pick up some goods or simply take a little shopping break. Here’s where to go.
1. The Pier at the Marina. Boasting a range of local and international designers, this is a great spot to find some stylish new swimwear or pick up an outfit for your next night out. Shop the boutiques and then enjoy a well-earned glass of Australian wine at one of the waterfront restaurants.
2. DFO Cairns. Bargain hunters will love the factory outlets of DFO Cairns, located just a few minutes from the center of Cairns. You can score big discounts on more than 100 Australian and international brands.
3. Jonsson's Farm Market. North Queensland is renowned for its fresh produce. Head to this market to support the local farmers and get a taste for the area’s delicacies. Look out for Daintree tea, Gallo Dairyland gourmet cheese, Mungalli Creek Dairy yogurt and rich Skybury roasted coffee.
4. Rusty’s Market. With more than 180 stalls, this is the place to come for local produce, organic meat, fresh seafood, exotic fruits, locally produced cheese and charcuterie, plus a selection of handicrafts. It’s on every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
On November 9, 2012answered the question:Kids will love Cairns because there is so much for them to do, and you’ll love Cairns because all of these activities are guaranteed to keep the dreaded phrase “I’m booooored” at bay. Here are our Forbes Travel Guide editors’ top picks for things to do with kids in Cairns.
1. Go white water rafting on the Barron River. It’s only 20 minutes from the center of Cairns and is a guaranteed fun day for the entire family. Never tried white water rafting before? The spectacular Barron River is perfect for first-timers (note that all participants must be at least 13 years old).
2. Get up close and personal with native Australian wildlife at Cairns Tropical Zoo. And when we say up close and personal, we really mean up close and personal. Your kids can cuddle a koala, hold a lizard, meet a wombat and even pole-feed a crocodile as part of the new “Zootastic 5 Wildlife Encounter” at the zoo. Make sure you book the day before.
3. Zip through the Cairns Wildlife Dome. Give your kids permission to fly with parrots, cockatoos and lorikeets as they zip along on the new “Cairns ZOOm” zip-line at the Cairns Wildlife Dome. There is also a scenic walk available if you’d prefer to keep your feet on the ground.
4. Get lost in the bush. Take in the unique North Queensland landscape, including rainforest, mangroves, sugarcane fields and native bushland on a guided horse-riding tour with Blazing Saddles. They also offer quad bike tours for those ages 12 and older.
5. Walk on the sea floor. Take a memorable stroll through the Great Barrier Reef with Seawalker at Green Island (less than an hour from Cairns). Just pop on a special helmet and the team will guide you through the rest of the process –you won’t even get your hair wet and it’s safe for non-swimmers.
On November 9, 2012answered the question:As the gateway to tropical North Queensland, there is so much to see and do in Cairns. Here’s what our Forbes Travel Guide editors recommend.
1. Visit the Great Barrier Reef. A trip to Cairns without seeing the Great Barrier Reef would be the equivalent of heading to Paris and missing the Eiffel Tower. Whether you’re a seasoned diver or a first-time snorkeler, you can acquaint yourself with the unique coral and marine life of the reef on one of the numerous boat trips that depart from Cairns each day.
2. Relax at Cairns Esplanade. Whether you feel like cooling off in the water or taking a relaxing stroll, Cairns Esplanade is the place to be. The Esplanade Lagoon, in particular, is a favorite of locals and tourists alike and offers a safe, saltwater swimming area year round.
3. Enjoy the scenic view. The immense beauty of Cairns and the spectacular reefs and rainforests are best taken in from the sky. A scenic helicopter flight is a great way to see the reef and many local companies provide tours.
4. Hop on board the Kuranda Scenic Railway. This rail journey is one of the most popular ways to travel to the rainforest village of Kuranda, about 15 miles from Cairns. Travel through century-old tunnels as you learn about the history of Cairns and enjoy the picturesque surroundings of World-Heritage listed Barron Gorge National Park.
5. Discover Aboriginal art. Learn about Australia’s indigenous culture by visiting Canopy Artspace, a gallery and studio that showcases the work of the best established and emerging indigenous artists in Queensland. You might even find a piece of fine art to take home as a souvenir.
On October 31, 2012answered the question:You don’t need a reservation to dine at Monsoon. The restaurant is busiest during lunch service and then again between 7 and 8:30 p.m. However, because the focus is on fast service, turnover is quick so don’t expect to wait long for a table. Monsoon offers a set lunch Monday to Saturday between noon and 3 p.m. The menu features classic dishes such as braised pork belly with cabbage and spring chives or stir-fried vermicelli with beef and bitter melon in black bean sauce (the photo menu can help you decide). The Macau restaurant can accommodate any size party, so just go on in.
On October 31, 2012answered the question:The scene at Monsoon, an Asian café specializing in local dishes, is laid-back. The restaurant offers quick service without a hassle. Far more casual (but still upmarket) than the other Altira Macau restaurants, Monsoon’s main clients are gamers and local neighborhood residents (because it’s in a casino, no children are allowed in Monsoon at any hour). It’s the perfect spot for a bite after a winning streak on the slot machines or after a late night at the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel’s swanky 38 Lounge. Slide into one of the booths to count your winnings or grab a quick bite before heading back into the casino.