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The Olympics may be a decade away, but Queensland’s sun-soaked capital is ready for its turn in the spotlight.

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Manly Boathouse


Among the many diners that have made Fish Lane one of Brisbane’s favourite dining precincts, Southside Bistro rules the roost. Take a seat amid the cascading ferns to enjoy punchy pan-Asian flavours such as char kway teow with Moreton Bay bug and lap cheong, or slippery housemade noodles served with an aromatic masterstock duck. The cocktails are just as inviting: anyone for a plum wine negroni?

No surprises that the team behind the acclaimed Agnes and Same Same restaurants have knocked it out of the park again with their newest venture, Bianca. Bring a healthy appetite when you head to this elegant James Street Italian. In addition to trying the house made pastas (think maccheroni alla grici or campanelle with prawns and pistachio) and classic mains – perhaps a porchetta or an escalope Milanese – you’re going to want to leave room for the lush desserts.

In the mood for a long lunch? Ideally by the water, with ocean-fresh seafood elegantly presented, and sleek all-white interiors? Manly Boathouse (pictured above) ticks all the boxes. Order up a selection of plates to share – make sure the Tassie scallops with miso mayo and crisp panko is among them – a cool glass of beer or rose, and let the sunlight sparkling on the waves send you into chillout mode.

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Story Bridge Climb


What’s better than a country pub crawl where someone else does the driving? A country pub crawl where someone else does the flying. With Pterodactyl Helicopters Country Pub Crawl, you can sink a brew at some of the region’s best watering holes – and enjoy a pub lunch to boot.

For a memorable theatre performance, head to the country town of Beenleigh where Spirits of the Red Sand unfolds. The audience moves through the town as the  epic – and true – tale of one Indigenous family plays out in various locations.

Let’s be honest – Brisbane’s Story Bridge is nice, but it’s no Sydney Harbour Bridge. So why would you sign up for a Story Bridge Bridge Climb experience? Because it offers something that Sydney doesn’t – the chance to abseil down the bridge at the end of the experience. Talk about a big finish.

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Cocktails at Dirty Sultan


The view from Iris, atop Fortitude Valley’s new Hotel X, is outstanding, with the Story Bridge framed perfectly in front of the CBD towers, but it’s the vibe that has made this an instant hot spot. Cleverly conceived by the team behind Donna Chang and Boom Boom Room, the olive trees and hanging wisteria make this a sky-high oasis.

If you lean more towards laidback than dolled-up, Nundah’s Fitz + Potts is your kind of place. Choose your perch from the various retro furniture pieces arrayed on the AstroTurf and find a tipple to suit your mood, whether it’s a vegan wine or one of the six martinis on offer. The plant-based snack menu ranges from rice paper rolls to old-school jaffles.

Take a virtual trip to Turkey without leaving Fortitude Valley at Dirty Sultan atop the Tryp hotel. From the shisha lounge to the cocktails – try the Rose Turkish Delight or the espresso martini made with Turkish coffee – not to mention the more-ish street food meze, this is the closest you’re likely to come to the Mediterranean for quite a while.

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Moreton Island


Bring your snorkelling gear with you when you jump on the 90-minute ferry ride to Moreton Island (above)– the best action here is underwater. As you explore the 15 deliberately sunken ships off the shore, you’ll have the chance to spot more than 100 species of reef fish. Keep your eyes peeled: you may even see dolphins or wobbegong sharks.

Ipswich is just a 40-minute drive away, but a real trip back in time. The elegant colonial architecture of Queensland’s oldest provincial city is home to plenty of buzzing cafes and boutiques, particularly in the Top of Town precinct. The vintage shops are a huge draw, especially the two-storey Ipswich Antiques Centre, while the ornate Queens Park’s glass houses, rotundas and a Japanese garden make it a great place for a stroll.

Just an hour north of Brisbane, Caloundra has all the seaside action you’d expect from a Sunshine Coast town, with kayaking, paddle boarding, windsurfing, and jet skiing all on offer. Looking beyond the beach, head to the Caloundra Street Fair on Sunday mornings to discover talented local artisans or take the local art trail to discover the town’s distinctive murals.

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Nook - West End


Tucked into the front rooms of a West End worker’s cottage, Nook has been the place to discover creative artisans for more than a decade. From ceramics to stationery and kitchenware, owner Michelle Gillies has a sharp eye for talent from Australian and beyond, including Each to Own’s laser-cut jewellery and Milly Dent’s ceramics.

It’s not just the feminine designs that set Fortitude Valley’s Alice Nightingale apart from the crowd. It’s the sumptuous fabrics that designer Alice Veivers uses for her wearable pieces. Veivers focuses on vintage, second-hand and discontinued fabrics, making these pieces sustainable as well as beautiful.

Brisbane’s best destination for antique lovers, Camp Hill Antique Centre offers two floors of super browsing in a mid-century building. Don’t rush your visit: there are plenty of treasures to find, and the Miami art deco-inspired Tart Café to fuel up in afterwards.

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Crystalbrook Vincent


The name has changed from The Fantauzzo to Crystalbrook Vincent but the most remarkable feature of this Howard Smith Wharves hotel – the museum-class collection of works by award-winning portrait artist Vincent Fantauzzo – is still in place. We also love the handy location and the inviting rooftop.

For high-rise glamour, the Emporium Hotel South Bank takes some beating. A living wall of orchids rises behind the reception desk, while the signature Shard Wall is made of 400 pieces of glowing red laser-cut glass and the lifts feature abstract video displays. The expansive rooms have panoramic views and there is also an inviting rooftop bar.