In recent years, food critics around the world have been abuzz about the restaurant scene in Brisbane’s restaurant scene: The city has become “a vibrant destination for food lovers,” according to Australia’s Good Food Guide. Renowned chefs helm celebrated restaurants, which range from cool and contemporary to classic and colonial. Brisbane’s cocktail scene is also attracting attention, with mixologists pouring their handcrafted creations at stunning bars with sweeping city views. Today, the city of Brisbane—famous for its mild climate—is now also known as one of Australia’s coolest destinations.
Even better, this wealth of culinary magic has extended beyond city limits, with delicious, innovative restaurants sprouting up all over Queensland, including on the Gold Coast. That’s why this six-day luxury and culinary itinerary covers both destinations. From gourmet meals in the city to leisurely dining by the sea, this trip is exactly what you’re looking for if you want an Australian holiday that includes a heavy focus on indulgence.
Itinerary / 6 DAYSPLAN YOUR TRIP
DAY 1Your First Taste of Brisbane
You may be tempted to hole up in your suite with views of either the Brisbane River or the nearby hills. Each suite has exquisite handcrafted touches and the latest in-room technology, including Bose audio systems and high-definition televisions.
Take a quick power nap—after selecting from the “exquisite sleeps” pillow menu—then venture out into the city. The Emporium Hotel South Bank has a central location ideal for exploring Brisbane—it’s just a block from the river and next to the South Bank Parklands. Galleries, museums, and theaters are all nearby, and the South Bank train station is across the street if you want to venture farther out.
DAY 2Brisbane Highlights
You’ll then explore some of the city on foot. On a Laneways & Cafes tour, you’ll stop into some of the city’s many cafes and restaurants—there are over 1,500 of them at last count. Your guide will steer you to cafés that are the favorites of locals looking for a perfectly prepared coffee (or tea, iced chocolate, chai, or other drinks). You’ll also have chances to sample baked treats and discuss the finer points of coffee artistry with baristas. Be sure to get some restaurant suggestions from your guide before you part ways.
In the evening, you’ll be on your own for dinner and free to choose from the city’s many culinary highlights. If it’s a Friday or Saturday night, the Eat Street Markets is a must. Located downstream on the north shore of the river, Eat Street Markets features some 180 colorfully painted shipping containers that house dining options that span the globe—Asian noodles, Turkish kebabs, Hungarian fried bread (langos), and more. Live music and other performances help create a friendly, festive atmosphere. If you’re visiting on some other night of the week, Visit Brisbane’s Eat & Drink pages are a helpful resource as you search for the restaurant that fits your style—from white-tablecloth options to casual beer gardens.
DAY 3Cape Moreton Scenic Tour
Your outing begins with a cruise across magnificent Moreton Bay, stopping at the famous Tangalooma Shipwrecks and the island’s Western Beach. Later in the day, a 4WD outing along the postcard-perfect Eastern Surf Beach will be followed by a soak in the naturally bubbling Champagne Pools. Depending on the season, you may also have an opportunity to sample traditional bush tucker—the name for seeds, berries, and roots eaten by the indigenous people on the island. Your guides today will describe not only culinary aspects of the “Island Way of Life” of the local Ngugi clan but other aspects of their culture and history.
Moreton Island also offers some incomparable opportunities for wildlife spotting: Turtles, dolphins, sharks, manta rays, and whales (when they’re migrating) all swim in the breathtakingly beautiful “Blue Lagoon” and off the island’s coast. You’ll also enjoy a picnic lunch and drinks on the beach. After a day of exploring Moreton Island, you’ll return to Brisbane around 6:30 pm.
DAY 4Brisbane to the Gold Coast
Your base for the next two nights will be the Crowne Plaza Surfers Paradise, located between Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach. Your room will feature an ocean view and a private balcony, so take full advantage, and enjoy the hotel’s tropical gardens. When you’re ready to explore, major shopping centers and award-winning restaurants and cafes are all within walking distance, though you’ll likely head straight for the world-famous surfing beaches outside your door.
In the afternoon, you’ll be on your own. Choose to head to one of Queensland’s most famous natural attractions, Tallebudgera Creek. Running between the Burleigh Heads National Park on one side and Palm Beach on the other, it’s a popular swimming hole. At its mouth where it empties into the Coral Sea, it has a mesmerizing range of blues and greens.
DAY 5Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
There are also opportunities to feed red and grey kangaroos by hand and meet some of their smaller cousins, wallabies. The fun doesn’t stop there: Currumbin also plays host to dingoes, Tasmanian devils, red pandas, lemurs, and many others. Plus, the sanctuary is a haven for birdwatchers: In fact, it was originally dedicated to providing a home for colorful lorikeets, and it stays true to its bird-centric roots with four different aviaries.
Currumbin is more than just a place to admire Australia’s wildlife. The Currumbin Wildlife Hospital rescues and rehabilitates some 11,000 animals each year. Include a stop there on your visit to learn about the hospital’s efforts and wish the patients speedy recoveries.