Confusingly, Brisbane is named after a former governor of New South Wales. More confusingly, people seem to call it “Bris Vegas” as a self-mocking reference to the city’s laidback lifestyle, although how one of Australia’s harshest penal colonies turned into such a relaxed place remains a bit of a mystery. Want more facts? I could keep ’em coming all day (well, at least until I’ve copied over the whole Wikipedia page…). However, there’s only one important fact you need to know about Brissie – it’s where the Bee Gees call home.
06:30 The high life Okay, so the mission I accepted was to do Bris-Vegas proud in just one day. No problem, I said, I’m yer man, let me at it. Well, said Mr Editor, you better start off by getting as high as you can, as early as you can. Sweet, sure I can manage that… Oh wait, like high up…Yeah I guess that’ll be good too. So it’s still first light and here I am 80 metres above the city, wearing a climb suit and walking over the Story Bridge. The views are amazing and the journey slightly surreal. I’m no morning person, but I’d be a happy man if every day started like this. The details: www.storybridgeadventureclimb.com.au
10:00 River cruise I’ve seen the skyline from up high, but one of the best (and relaxed) ways to see the city is from the Brisbane River – so I jump on a cruise. After admiring the suburbs from the water I’m handily dropped off at my next destination. The details: www.mirimar.com
11:30 Cuddle a koala There was no time to head up the coast to Steve Irwin’s loud and proud Australia Zoo. And that’s fine by me. Instead I’ve come to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, the world’s oldest and biggest koala sanctuary. I’m told to do my best impression of a tree and then there she is, the cutest little bundle of fur reaching out to me, looking up with her stoned-looking little eyes. Holding on tight I dutifully pose for my mum’s new favourite picture. The details: Get the 430 or 445 bus from town, www.koala.net
14:00 Adrenalin rush Next it’s Kangaroo Point Cliffs, a spot popular with local abseiling junkies. I’m strapped up and stepping off the 20 metre-high rockface before you can say “nice helmet”. For an extra buzz I try rap jumping, where you run down the cliffs face-first, Spidey-style. Shit scary but very cool. The details: www.riverlife.com.au
15:00 And so it begins… Yeah, we’ve all seen the ads, but here in Brissie they really don’t give a Castlemaine XXXX for anything else. After a quick demo of just how Queensland’s favourite brew has been churned out for the last 130 years, it’s time for something I’ve been trying to delay for as long as possible – the first beer of the day… Or four. The details: www.xxxx.com.au
16:00 Tour the Gabba From one Queensland institution to another, I race down to the southern suburb of Woolloongabba to explore one of the country’s sporting icons, The Gabba. The Brisbane Cricket Ground, to call it by its proper name, has witnessed over a century of cricket, and more recently been home to one of the few Aussie Rules Football teams to have challenged Melbourne’s dominance of the sport. Fittingly, it’s thought the name Woolloongabba is Aboriginal for “fight talk place”. The details: www.thegabba.org.au
18:00 Get a bit of parklife Brisbane’s all about city life at a slower pace, so I make my way to the Botanic Gardens, strolling alongside the river and admiring the giant bunya pines. The details: The gardens are at the southern tip of the CBD.
19:30 Chow down My head’s getting lighter so I get in a cab and race up to Chinatown. I’m now just around the corner from the liveliest part of town, Fortitude Valley. Luckily there’s endless eateries jumping at the chance to help me with a little stomach lining. The details: Explore around Brunswick Street.
21:00 Finding Fortitude Agh, is that the time? There’s still a long way to go and I’ll be honest, I’m starting to struggle. Luckily I’m in the Birdee Num Num (608 Ann St, next to Bunk Hostel), a bar full of skinny jeans, crazy-ass haircuts and some fellow travellers. Plus there’s a DJ in the corner knocking out the sort of hyperactive tunes you just can’t help but get up and go mental to… A few hours disappear. I’m not sure where to but I’ve got a feeling Jaegermaister knows. The details: God knows? I need an ATM, www.birdeenumnum.com.au
03:00 Take a gamble at the Conrad Treasury Drunken desires for naked flesh satisfied, there’s nothing quite like risking all your cash, just when you’re most tired and thinking least logically. Play the high-roller, take it easy on the pokies or merely watch the regulars at Brisbane’s 24 hour casino. Whatever you do, keep the credit card in your wallet. The details: www.conradtreasury.com.au
05:00 Swim at Streets Beach on the South Bank My 24 hours is coming to an end so there’s just time to head to Australia’s only inner-city beach on the South Bank to relax while the sun rises, take a revitalising dip in the crystal clear lagoon and then, at last, lie back and close my eyes. The details: www.visitsouthbank.com.au