Read Caption
Populated with pools, restaurants, and parks, South Bank is Brisbane's latest watering hole. (Photograph by Norbert Eisele-Hein, AWL Images)

Brisbane Makes a Splash Down Under

In Brisbane’s pedestrian-friendly urban center, the cackle of a kookaburra is more common than a car horn. But don’t let the subtropical city’s laid-back impression fool you: The G20 chose the jacaranda-scented metropolis as host of the November 2014 summit, and Lonely Planet recently named it Australia’s Hippest City.

> Walk this way: Explore the newly renovated 20-mile Riverwalk along the serpentine Brisbane River on foot or bike-share wheels.

Path highlights include the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art and the restaurant precinct at Eagle Street Pier, where you can take in the view of Story Bridge with Aussie-inspired tapas on the open-air deck of Chef Matt Moran’s Riverbar.

> Park it: Kick back like a local at South Bank Parklands. The lush, 42-acre site of the 1988 World Expo now hosts outdoor movies and concerts, complete with public grills and a swimming lagoon.

> Koala hugs: Roma Street Parklands offer parrot and possum sightings, but for the full Aussie experience, don’t miss the historic Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary for some marsupial face time.

> Travel Trivia: Brisbane is also known as BrisVegas and by its indigenous name, Mian-Jin (“place shaped as a spike”).

This piece, written by Diane Selkirk, first appeared in the November 2014 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine.