15 Lesser Known Things to See and Do in Brisbane

We, at Five Star Car Rentals, are a bit like a friendly B&B. But without the bed … and without the breakfast. What we do have though is a wealth of local knowledge and affection for our beautiful city that we just love to share with our customers! (If you are looking for a great B&B we could probably refer you to one too).

Here is our list of 15 of the greatest lesser-known things to do in and around Brisbane. The best way to see the city is by car, so if you are looking for car hire in Brisbane, be sure to check us out ;)!

  1. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is located 12km south of Brisbane city center and only 50 minutes from the Gold Coast. It is the premier tourist attraction and the world’s first and largest koala sanctuary in the world! It is home to some 130 or so koalas, plus kangaroos, birds and other Aussie critters. You can cuddle a koala anytime. The sanctuary provides a full day of fun for your family – especially for the kids! Their opening hours are 9-5pm, 7 days a week.

  1. Mount Coot-tha Lookout

Mount Coot-tha, formerly known as One Tree Hill, is located about a 15-minute drive from the city of Brisbane. It has the highest peak in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia at about 287 meters above sea level. The lookout has been a favourite destination for locals and visitors for over a Century! In the day, it offers spectacular panoramic views over the CBD out to Moreton Bay and in the night, offers up a romantic wonderland of lights!

  1. Roma Street Parkland Events

Roma Street Parkland is an oasis in the heart of Brisbane city with over 16 hectares of green space! Here, you will find BBQ fun, forest artworks, spectacular vistas, an open-air amphitheater, colorful children’s playgrounds and so much more! With five separate sections of gardens, you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to picking a favourite family picnic spot!

  1. City Botanic Gardens

The City Botanic Gardens are located in Alice Street – just a mere 15-minute walk from Brisbane’s city center, Roma Street and Central railway stations. The City Botanic Gardens collectively make up the oldest, most matured public park in Brisbane and feature many attractions such as the Bamboo Grove, Fig Avenue, Mangrove Boardwalk and Walter Hill Fountain. It is also bike-friendly and a favoured trail among cycling enthusiasts!

  1. The Wheel of Brisbane

The Wheel of Brisbane, located in Russel Street, South Brisbane, is known as one of the most thrilling additions to the Brisbane City skyline! A leisurely ride on the Wheel is a truly inspiring experience, allowing you to take in a 360 degree, panoramic views of the city! It takes you about 60m above the ground in the protection of a fully enclosed and air-conditioned capsule. There is no need to book and the Wheel is open seven days a week at the following times: Monday to Thursday from 11am – 9.30pm; Friday and Saturday from 10am – 11pm; and Sunday from 10am – 10pm.

  1. St Helena Island

Queensland’s most historic island, St Helena Island, was previously a colonial prison island! It is located 7km north of Brisbane, just a 45 minute trip by ferry. The southern corner of the island is open to the public by guided tour. Qualified tour guide options range from interesting educational day tours to nighttime ghost tours! They include visits to the blacksmith’s shop, punishment yard, sugar mill, the lime kiln, olive grove and the incredible renovated museum.

  1. Museum of Brisbane

The revitalized Museum of Brisbane is located on top of Brisbane City Hall. The museum forms part of the living history of the city and examines the changing face of Brisbane. Visitors can learn and explore the people, places and stories of Brisbane. The Museum provides an escape from the city, housing five galleries and a theater. The Museum also offers fascinating views of two of the buildings most beautiful architectural structures: the clock tower and the copper dome. The Museum of Brisbane is open seven days a week from 10am to 5pm. It is closed on Good Friday, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years.

  1. The Giant Drop

The Giant Drop is located in the Dreamworld theme park on the Northen end of the Gold Coast. It has become a well-known Australian landmark after The Guinness Book of World Records formally declared the Giant Drop as the “tallest, vertical free-fall ride in the world”! The ride is 39 storeys high (119 metres above ground) and boasts a freefall speed of 135km/hr within seconds!

  1. Pumicestone Passage

Pumicestone Passage is a waterway that separates Bribie Island from the mainland. It is about an hours drive from Brisbane and stretches from Caloundra in the north down to Deception Bay in the South. This catchment receives fresh water inflows from a network of streams including Bells, Coonowrin, Coochin, Mellum, Hussey and Elimbah Creeks. It is home to an important marine park featuring dugongs, which frequent its’ waters seasonally to feed on the seagrass on the bottom of the channels. The passage is most famously a sheltered sea playground, presenting excellent opportunities for boating, paddling, fishing and swimming and attracts many locals and visitors each year .

  1. Bribie Island

Bribie Island is located only 40 minutes north of Brisbane and is known for its’ astounding beaches, coastal waterways, arts, traditions, food and laid back nature. The Pumicestone Passage is a major attraction of this wonderful area for local and international tourists. We are fortunate to be able to show you the beauty of Bribie Island on a smooth water journey aboard the Ferryman. You can select from a variety of cruises to explore the beautiful Island.

  1. Fortitude Valley

Fortitude Valley, or “the valley”, as it is affectionately known, is the entertainment district. The central Brisbane suburb is a contradiction in itself – raw, yet sophisticated. It is where elegance and style meet grungy and offbeat, and heritage-listed properties proudly stand among contemporary buildings. Live music thrives and international DJs are drawn to the clubs and chic bars. The impressive Chinatown Mall is a hub of exotic Chinese supermarkets and restaurants. The Emporium complex channels a European village feel, James St showcases Australian fashion labels and Brunswick St is home to multicultural dining options.

  1. Alchemy Restaurant and Bar

One of Brisbane’s invisible gems, award-winning Alchemy Restaurant and Bar ticks all the boxes with exceptional food and a dazzling view over the Brisbane River. International visitors and locals alike have been delighted by a beautiful dining experience here. Alchemy also has a special room upstairs with its own sound system and lounge area, perfect for private events such as office Christmas parties and those special birthdays.

  1. Aria Restaurant

Located in the Eagle Street Pier zone, Brisbane. This restaurant is designed to replicate Brisbane’s lifestyle with inspiring water views and stunning decor. ARIA offers a modest and memorable dining experience. The innovative and up-to-date menu makes use of the freshest Australian produce while the wine list showcases many of Australia’s iconic wineries.

  1. South Bank Young Designer Markets

The Young Designer Markets in South Bank, Brisbane feature some of the best of Brisbane’s up-and-coming designers and artists selling a range of fashion and accessories including jewellery, homewares, design, furniture and art. Visitors and locals also get the chance to meet and buy directly from these talented designers. You can check out the Young Designers Market between 9am-3pm, Monday-Friday.

  1. Eat Street Markets, Hamilton Wharf

The Eat Street Markets are set on an old, disused container wharf, located in the center of Brisbane. With an Asian night-market type feel, this market has something for everyone! It features tasty street food peddlers, fresh produce, flowers, cocktails, art, original crafts, clothing and music. It’s a great place to shop, browse, meet up with friends and just to soak up all the sights, sounds and aromas! As the sun sets over the river and city skyline, Eat Street Markets are a colorful budget dining hub for all the family. They operate every Friday and Saturday night from 4-10pm. A small entry fee is payable for adults.

Do let us know if you have any local secrets or favourite haunts that you’d like to share!