18 Things Brisbane is Known and Famous For

Brisbane is the capital of the state of Queensland and the fastest growing city in Australia. With nearly 300 days a year of sunshine and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world it should come as no surprise! Even in the winter months, the temperature rarely drops below 70°F (20°C), so it’s suntans all year round.

Brisbane is famous for Lamingtons, koalas, sports, and for being the home of Steve Irwin’s world-famous Australia Zoo. It’s also known for its unique underground opera house, the 1982 Commonwealth Games, and much much more! 

Here are 18 things that make Brisbane the truly unique place it’s come to be.

1. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Koala at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary Brisbane

The koala was officially named the animal emblem of Queensland in 1971, and Brisbane lives up to this reputation by being home to the largest Koala Sanctuary in the world.

Lone Pine Sanctuary is famous for being a prime spot to experience close-up interactions with koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, and wombats. I can personally recommend the opportunities for koala hugging!

2. Markets

People shopping at Jan Powers Farmers Market in Brisbane City
Editorial credit: ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock.com

Brisbane is well-known for its huge variety of markets, offering everything from food and fresh produce, to clothes, gadgets, and handicrafts.

In Bakery Lane, Boundary Street, and across the West End, you can find a wide selection of local cuisine and culture, as well as Asian and African-themed markets.

3. Australia Zoo

Two beautiful wallabies at the zoo, Brisbane, Australia, Travel

A small journey outside the center of Brisbane will take you to what is perhaps the most famous Zoo in the entire world. The Australia Zoo was founded by the parents of Australia’s world-famous ‘crocodile hunter’ – Steve Irwin.

After his tragic death in 2006, a memorial was held for Steve Irwin at Australia Zoo, and his legacy lives on there today. A variety of world-famous exhibits continue to attract visitors from around the world, including the Tiger Temple, Crocoseum, and Bindi’s Island.

4. Suncorp Stadium

Panoramic view of Suncorp Stadium during the AFC Champions League between Brisbane Roar and Muangthong United
Editorial credit: mooinblack / Shutterstock.com

Formerly known as Lang Park, Suncorp Stadium is the home of Australia’s A-League and National Rugby team. First established in 1914, it is now frequented by fans of the Brisbane Broncos, Queensland Reds, and Australian Wallabies.

Something most people won’t know about this famous stadium is that it was actually built on the site of the city’s first cemetery, which was established in the 1800s. A memorial graveyard and small church can still be found at the stadium site today.

5. Lamington Cakes

Australian lamington cake

Lamingtons are enjoyed by Aussie communities around the world and are an unmistakable part of Australia’s heritage. As it happens, the great city of Brisbane can take credit for being their original cultural home!

The delicious combination of vanilla cake, chocolate, and coconut was originally put together in 1900 by the personal chef of Lord and Lady Lamington in Brisbane.

After proving extremely popular with guests, chef Armand Galland decided to name the cake after his employer Lord Lamington, who was the Governor of Queensland at the time.

6. Brisbane City Hall

City Hall in Brisbane Australia from King George Square

At the time of its completion in 1930, Brisbane City Hall became famous for its sheer size. It was the second-largest construction project in Australia’s history after the Sydney Harbour Bridge. With a clock tower that reaches over 300ft into the air, it remains a key engineering marvel of the city.

After a recent five-year redevelopment period, it reopened in 2013 and is still well known today for the views of the city it can offer from its observation platform.

7. Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts

You might be surprised to know that over 70% of the world’s macadamia nuts can be traced back to a small town near Brisbane. In fact, Australia is the only place on earth where macadamia trees flourish naturally as a native species! 

Although most macadamia nut production now takes place in Hawaii, most of the trees there and indeed across the world are actually clones of a single tree that came from Queensland in the 19th century.

To get some insight into this special heritage today, you can check out the oldest known cultivated macadamia tree at Brisbane’s City Botanic Gardens. It was first planted in 1858 and is still on show almost 200 years later!

8. Mount Coot-tha Botanic Gardens 

Japanese Gardens at Mount Coot-tha Botanical Gardens in Brisbane

Nature lovers and sightseers flock to the famous Mount Coot-tha Botanic Gardens which are situated just a few miles outside of Brisbane.

As well as being home to some truly breathtaking views of the city at the Mount Coot-tha Lookout, there is a huge variety of species of bamboo, cactus, fragrant plants, and indigenous plants to explore. You can also check out the largest collection of Australian rainforest trees in the world.

To top it off, entry is totally free to all!

9. City Botanic Gardens

Brisbane city botanic gardens with palm trees and skyscrapers
Editorial credit: patjo / Shutterstock.com

As the name suggests, City Botanic Gardens is a famous natural oasis much closer to Brisbane city center. 42 acres of beautiful plant collections and green space has acted as a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of the city since 1825 and is loved by locals and visitors all the same.

10. The Wheel of Brisbane

A giant white ferris wheel with clear blue sky at Southbank, Brisbane, Australia, Horizontal

The Wheel of Brisbane was opened in 2008 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the state of Queensland. To this day, it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city and continues to treat visitors to one of the best views of the city available. It’s nearly 200 feet up at the top!

11. The 1982 Commonwealth Games

A Stamp printed in Australia shows Boxing, 12th Commonwealth Games, Brisbane, series, circa 1982
Editorial credit: IgorGolovniov / Shutterstock.com

An event that really put Brisbane on the map in recent decades was the Commonwealth Games in 1982. Events were split between the QEII Stadium in Nathan, Brisbane, and the Sleeman Sports Complex in Chandler, Brisbane.

One of the most enduring memories many people will have of the games is of Matilda the famous kangaroo mascot. She was hard to miss during the event as a 43-foot mechanical version was paraded around the stadiums, winking to all the spectators!

Another memorable part is of course that Australia came first in the medal table, with a total of 39 gold, 39 silver, and 29 bronze medals.

12. Underground Opera

Opera songsheet

The famous Underground Opera House in Brisbane attracts visitors from all over the world. It might not be as famous as another Opera House we have all heard of, but it is no less stunning once you get inside!

The venue was created by transforming an old reservoir and now features breathtaking design, acoustics, and performances. If you’re looking for a bit of nightlife that is a little more refined than hitting the clubs until the early hours, look no further!

13. Kangaroo Point Cliffs

 A group of young people climb on the rocks the Brisbane River. Kangaroo Point, Brisbane, Australia.
Editorial credit: iPostnikov / Shutterstock.com

The Kangaroo Point Cliffs are famous for being a prime spot for runners, climbers, and sightseers. The formations are semi-natural, with some parts encompassing a now-disused quarry. If rock-climbing is your thing, you will be completely spoiled for choice here, with routes to suit all ability levels. 

Residents and visitors alike flock to the cliffs to catch a great view of Brisbane’s skyline and snap some truly impressive pictures. Those who make the journey to the 82-foot peak will also be rewarded with a chance to take a tour around the beautiful Scout Park.

14. Queensland’s Gallery of Modern Art

Water mall, Queensland Art Gallery, 
Editorial credit: maodoltee / Shutterstock.com

The Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane is one of a number of museums and galleries that make Brisbane known for being a major cultural center of Australia. Although the Gallery of Modern Art has a history that stretches back to 1895, you certainly won’t find any art from that era here today.

Collections include a variety of exhibits that feature Indigenous Art, works by Picasso, and several experiences aimed towards kids. 

Other important venues which are on the to-do list of most tourists in Brisbane are The Queensland Museum, Queensland Art Gallery, and the Queensland Maritime Museum.

15. Gondwana Rainforest

Small waterfall in the Lamington National park, Queensland

A little outside the city of Brisbane is the famous and ancient Gondwana Rainforest. One of the oldest in the world, the plants and animals you can find here today are not all that different from what you would have found in the same place over a million years ago.

Gondwana is famous for being home to a wide variety of species that can be found nowhere else on the planet, and as such is a World Heritage-listed site.

16. Its role in WWII

Sunrise aerial shot of Brisbane, the Story Bridge and the Brisbane River

Following the bombing of Pearl Harbour, Brisbane became a vitally important submarine port for the US in their war against Japan. The city acted as a hub for more than 75,000 American troops, who utilized the strategic location to gain an advantage against Japan.

The river and wharves which flow through Brisbane also became key to American efforts by giving ample room for their ships to dock and be repaired before returning to battle. 

17. Moreton Island

An aerial view of the Shipwrecks on Moreton Island, Queensland, Australia

A tourist trip to Brisbane is rarely complete without a visit to the famous Moreton Island. It’s the 3rd largest sand island in the world and a beautiful spot to do some sunbathing or snorkeling.

Visitors can snorkel a group of fifteen junk ships known as the Tangalooma Wrecks, which were sunk around the island to create a safe entryway for small ships. Seeing the variety of wildlife that has taken over the wrecks is truly stunning!

18. Live music

live guitarist brisbane

Brisbane is known for its huge and growing live music scene. Around Fortitude Valley you can find a whole host of music venues, bars, and pop-up performances that feature new and undiscovered talent.

Most prominent in the live music scene is what has become the biggest annual music festival in Australia – The BIGSOUND Festival. Also located in the Fortitude Valley, here you can find a whole host of fresh new musical talent year after year.

Brisbane is famous for such a wide range of sights and cultural experiences that the list could never be complete. Did we miss any important elements of Brisbane’s culture or history? Let us know in the comments!

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