brisbaneCreativecommons.org/Chris Skitch

Brisbane was founded in 1824 as a penal colony – but oh how the times have changed!

After Brisbane abandoned its reputation as a penal colony, Brisbane was, for many years, just considered a big old country town. However, the streets and glittering skyscrapers that now mark the city's booming business district are smattered with boutiques, markets and outdoor attractions for luxury travellers to enjoy.

Enjoy An 'Only In Australia' Shopping Experience

bris shoppingCreativecommons.org/David Jackmanson

Only in Australia can shoppers find high fashion right next to stores selling handcrafted aboriginal arts or farmers’ markets, all of which are weaved in between skyscrapers.

Those who revel in high fashion will find no shortage of it in this city. They have all those big labels such as Chanel, Hermes and Louis Vuitton. However, that is just a small portion of Brisbane's fashion scene. Fortitude Valley which is a hot bed for local talent like Easton Pearson, Paul Hunt, Tengdahl and Tom Gunn, and fashionistas can be the envy of their friends by hopping on these labels before they truly take off. For those that are visiting Brisbane on the first Sunday of any month, head down by the river for the Young Designers Market, where the future icons of Australia’s fashion scene gather to show off their newest creations.

Brisbane also has one of the biggest markets for aboriginal art and goods like hand crafted didgeridoos and boomerangs. The best place to purchase these goods and assure they are authentic is the Mookin Bibonmari art gallery.

If there is one item in Australia that cannot be missed, it is opals. The country is prized for them. If you want a custom crafted piece, head down to Opals Down Under. There visitors can pick out opals they like and have them crafted into perfect pieces of jewellery. Visitors can bring their own designs or choose from the sample designs that the shop offers.

Brisbane From The Air

balloonCreativecommons.org/Allan Henderson

As Brisbane suffers from such sweltering heat, there are quite a few ways to take to the air to feel that cool breeze rustling through your hair. The more daring adventurer should head on down to Pterodactyl Helicopters for a helicopter ride around the city and the surrounding countryside. However, instead of just flying around, seeing some cool stuff and then heading back home, the helicopters land for a little extracurricular adventure before heading back, giving travellers a chance to check out prime hiking areas, country pubs or wineries or fine dining restaurants.

Hot Air Balloon Brisbane takes visitors over the city and through the lush countryside, where it stops at the Cangungra Grand Winery for an organic meal and Champagne. Afterwards, the winery offers a free wine-tasting.

Dive The Sunshine Coast

sunshine coastCreativecommons.org/Paul Arps

The Sunshine Coast is famed for its warm sun, white sand and beach activities. Diving is a popular activity all throughout Australia, but nowhere more so than on the Sunshine Coast, because of its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef.

Scuba World is always ready to take folks out to what has become one of the biggest diving destinations in the world. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the largest underwater ecosystems in the world and is essential to this particular part of the world. For those who don't know how to dive, Scuba World offers classes and certifications for any willing visitor who wants to learn. The diverse marine life will take your breath away.

For visitors who crave a little fresh seafood, the dive guide will take fresh fish and sea urchins to the beach to grill it up. The seafood is harvested sustainably, of course. The dive guides never pluck protected or even threatened species of fish, so visitors will not have to worry about harming the reef.

Enjoy Fresh Seafood

Jellyfish is the most popular upscale seafood restaurant in town. It combines the elegance of fine dining with the laid back attitude that is prevalent all over Australia. From the smart contemporary indoor decor inside to the breezy outdoor terrace, this restaurant certainly isn’t lacking style. The menu features modern Australian fare which changes daily, including eight to 14 different species of fish that change over the season. H restaurant specializes in Kingfish flavoured with watermelon and mint, as well as tempura battered soft shell crab.

When it comes to professional rankings, E'cco consistently ranks among the best restaurants in Brisbane. The white columned entry way leads visitors into a warmly toned dining room with an elegant open kitchen. E'cco serves up a seasonal menu of Mediterranean and Asian inspired dishes like grilled quail or wagyu rump steak. While diners are indulging in these succulent treats, let the award winning sommelier Alan Hunter pamper you with the restaurant’s eclectic wine list.

Take Pleasure In Contemporary Accommodation

Spicer's Balfour excels when it comes to service, style and hospitality. Staying at Spicer's Balfour is a welcoming experience that is perfect for the weary traveller looking for a home away from home. This hotel is small, but because it only hosts nine rooms, visitors can get the most customized and pampered experience in Brisbane. The rooms come with scenic verandas that overlook the tropical gardens and the river. Guests are greeted with a gourmet breakfast every morning and complimentary canapés in the rooftop bar at night.

The Emporium Hotel is a contemporarily designed establishment that bills itself as a luxury boutique hotel. The hotel boasts a rooftop swimming pool that overlooks the city, an exquisite cocktail bar and quick access to the city's best restaurants. Each room comes with a kitchenette, a luxury marble bathroom, Molton Brown toiletries and a Bose sound system. All manner of extra little gifts are offered at the Emporium Hotel, such as chocolate dipped strawberries or rose petals and Champagne to create an extra romantic atmosphere.

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