Visiting Brisbane

Brisbane is both the capital city of the state of Queensland and its largest cirty. Brisbane is located on the coast in the state’s south east corner, some 100 km north of the New South Wales border. For many years, Brisbane was never considered a tourist destination in its own right, but rather a place you have to pass through on your way to somewhere else, be it the Sunshine Coast, the Gold Coast or some other Queensland destination. That began to change as a result of Brisbane hosting the Commonwealth Games in 1982 when it came of age as an international city and began to develop and promote itself as a destination in its own right.

That perception of Brisbane being a destination on the way to somewhere else still exists to a degree, but there are enough things to do and places to see in and around Brisbane to keep the traveller amused and avoid a visit becoming just a drive-through.

The coastal attractions in the Brisbane region, which are many, are well worth seeing, as is the very attractive hinterland which extends north from the Bunya Mountains to the Blackall Range, south to the ranges that surround Tamborine and Lamington National Parks, and further inland to Toowoomba and beyond (the Darling Downs and Granite Belt). Day drives to and through these regions, using Brisbane as a base, are highly recommended.

Queensland’s Sunshine Coast to the north, and Gold Coast to the south, are both just an hour’s drive away from Brisbane and therefore can each be visited in a single day, however they are major destinations in their own right and a day’s drive to either one would barely scratch the surface of what they offer. Both have magnificent beaches and attractive mountainous hinterlands that cry out to be explored.

How To Get There

By rail: Queensland is linked by rail to the rest via a standard gauge line that terminated at Roma Street Station in Brisbane. A daily XPT service is operated by NSW’s Counrtrylink rail service between Roma Street Station, Brisbane, and Central Station Sydney. The journey north (Sydney to Brisbane) is a night service; the journey south (Brisbane to Sydney) is a day service. Rail services from Brisbane to various localities across Queensland are operated by Queensland Rail.

By Air: Brisbane International Airport handles international and interstate air traffic. The airport has immigration and customs processing facilities. Regional and national airlines servicing outlying areas of Queensland also operate out of Brisbane Airport. Brisbane Airport is connected to the Central Business District by road and rail.

By Road (coach): Numerous operators provide coach services between Brisbane and Cairns (17 hrs. 30 mins.); Airlie Beach, Whitsundays (6 hrs. 30 mins.); Mt. Isa (26 hrs. 15 mins.); Noosa (2 hrs. 50 mins.); Surfers Paradise (1hr 20 mins.); Sydney via coast road (17 hrs. 30 mins.); Sydney via New England Hwy (14 hrs. 30 mins.); Melbourne direct (24 hrs. 45 mins.); Melbourne via Sydney (37 hrs. 30 mins.).

Best Time To Go

Brisbane has a subtropical climate with hot, moist summers and mild, dry winters. Brisbane is subject to high humidity, mainly from November through to April. Summer thunderstorms are common, and Brisbane frequently experiences hailstorms, cyclonic winds and more recently severe drought during the summer months. May to October are definitely the months where heat and humidity is at its mildest, and would be the preferred months to visit if there is a choice. That having been said, I’ve visited Brisbane in the hotter more humid months and found them quite bearable, no doubt because Brisbane is only sub tropical.

Mean January maximum temperature – 29 degrees C (85 degrees F)

Mean January minimum temperature – 21 degrees C (69 degrees F)

Mean July maximum temperature – 20 degrees C (69 degrees F)

Mean July minimum temperature – 10 degrees C (49 degrees F)

Mean annual rainfall – 1146 mm (45.1 inches)

Wettest month on average – January, 160 mm (6.3 inches)

Driest month on average – August, 46 mm (1.8 inches)

Travel to and from Brisbane


All international flights into Queensland pass through Brisbane or Cairns. The main domestic routes in and out of Queensland are:

Brisbane to Sydney: 1 hour 25 minutes
Brisbane to Darwin: 3 hours 45 minutes
Brisbane to Cairns: 2 hours 25 minutes
Brisbane to Townsville: 1 hr. 40 minutes
Sunshine Coast to Sydney: 1 hour 35 minutes
Sunshine Coast to Melbourne: 2 hours 15 minutes
Gold Coast to Sydney: 1 hour 20 minutes
Gold Coast to Melbourne: 2 hours 5 minutes
Whitsunday Islands (Proserpine) to Sydney: 4 hours 40 minutes via Brisbane
Whitsunday Islands (Hamilton Island) to Sydney: 2 hours 30 minutes
Cairns to Sydney: 3 hours 10 minutes
Cairns to Melbourne: 3 hours 15 minutes


Brisbane is linked to Sydney by a daily XPT service operated by NSW TrainLink. To travel to Brisbane by train from other state capital cities, you must first go to Sydney, then take the XPT to Brisbane.

Queensland Rail operates rail services from Brisbane to major regional centres throughout Queensland.

Brisbane – Sydney: 16 hours 5 minutes
Brisbane – Charleville: 16 hours 45 minutes
Brisbane – Rockhampton: 11 hours 30 minutes
Rockhampton – Townsville: 11 hours 55 minutes
Rockhampton – Longreach: 13 hours 40 minutes
Townsville – Cairns: 6 hours 55 minutes
Townsville – Mt. Isa: 20 hours 55 minutes (via The Inlander)
Normanton – Croydon: 5 hours (via The Gulflander)
Cairns – Kuranda: 1 hour 45 minutes (via Kuranda Scenic Railway)
Cairns – Forsayth: 11 hours 15 minutes (via The Savannahlander)

Road (coach)

Numerous operators provide coach services between the major cities and regional centres of Queensland.

Road (private motor vehicle)

Queensland’s towns are linked to each other, and to towns and cities in other states by a network of well signposted, well maintained sealed highways and major roads which allow for easy travel between localities.

In Queensland, the speed limit on the open road is generally 110 kilometres per hour. In Queensland, a driver s licence from your home country or another Australian state will usually suffice for up to three months, as long as it has photo identification and it s for the same class of vehicle you intend to drive. If you re staying more than three months, you ll need to get a WA drivers licence.

Road distances

Brisbane to Sydney: 980km
Brisbane to Rockhampton: 637km
Brisbane to Townsville: 1,369km
Brisbane to Cairns: 1,715km
Brisbane to Toowoomba: 128km
Brisbane to Charleville: 746km
Brisbane to Mt. Isa: 1,813km
Townsville to Mt. Isa: 850km
Rockhampton to Longreach: 680km
Charleville to Longreach: 500km

Transport in and Around Brisbane

Brisbane is the hub for the integrated south-east Queensland Public Transport system that extends from Noosa to Coolangatta and west to Helidon. Brisbane’s state owned public transport system includes buses, trains and ferries on the Brisbane River, all operated by TransLink. They provide a great online system for checking the best route and planning connecting transport.

Go Card

Go Card is TransLink’s electronic ticket to fast, easy and convenient travel. Use go card on all TransLink bus, train (including Airtrain), ferry and tram services in greater Brisbane, Ipswich, Sunshine Coast, and Gold Coast regions.

The best part about go card is it’s:

cheaper than the cost of a paper ticket
convenient to manage
easy to top-up and use
available for adults, children, concessions, seniors.


Buses service all of Brisbane’s suburbs. Most services operate to and from the Brisbane CBD. Get your tickets from bus and ferry operators, newsagents and City Council Customer Service Centres. Children under five years travel free and those aged five to fifteen years travel for half price.


CityCat services operate up and down the Brisbane River from 5.50am to 10.30pm every day. Buy your tickets and timetables from bus and ferry operators, newsagents, and Brisbane City Council Customer Service Centres.


Citytrain rail services extend from the centre of Brisbane south to Beenleigh and Robina on the Gold Coast, north to Ferny Grove, Shorncliffe, Caboolture and Gympie, east to Cleveland and west to Ipswich and Rosewood.


Both Yellow Cabs (phone 131924) and Black & White Cabs (phone 133222) service Brisbane and surrounding areas. Within the Brisbane CBD, taxi ranks are located near most major hotels. Brisbane’s inner city NightLink services offer extra public transport security on Fridays and Saturdays. There is a surcharge for ordering a maxicab or Business Class taxi. Taxis with wheelchair lifts are available on request. Most taxis offer EFTPOS and credit card payment facilities. An additional fee is charged for all taxis leaving the Roma Street Transit Centre and the Brisbane Domestic and International Airports.

Tourist services

There is a free Council bus service that circles the Brisbane CBD and provides a convenient way to access some of Brisbane’s shopping precincts and attractions such as the City Botanic Gardens, Queen St Mall, Riverside Centre, QUT and King George’s Square. For more information about this service, visit the Council’s website and click on services & transport info.

To and from Brisbane Airport

Brisbane International Airport handles international and interstate air traffic. The airport has immigration and customs processing facilities. Regional and national airlines servicing outlying areas of Queensland also operate out of Brisbane Airport.

Brisbane International Airport is located approximately 15-20 minutes drive (13 km) from Brisbane CBD, 75 minutes drive from the Gold Coast and 105 minutes drive from the Sunshine Coast. Airport transfers are readily available from the airport and there is a regular train and bus service straight to the city. Visit the Information Desk found in both the International and Domestic terminals for help with transfers. The Brisbane AirTrain is a direct rail link to the city and Brisbane airport. An additional fee is charged for all taxis leaving the Roma Street Transit Centre and the Brisbane Domestic and International Airports.


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