Having grown rapidly to more than two million residents in recent years, Brisbane is by far the largest city in Queensland, its fortunes booming.
It’s a port waiting to be appreciated on an MSC Grand Voyages cruise excursion. Home to a glut of good cafés, gourmet restaurants and music venues, the city is focused around the meandering loops of the Brisbane River, with the triangular wedge of the business centre on the north bank surrounded by community-orientated suburbs.
Nestled into an elbow-shaped curve of the river, Brisbane’s Central Business District (CBD) has been heavily developed since the 1990s, with glassy high-rises sprouting alongside the waters-edge restaurants and shops lining upmarket Eagle Street; the few surviving old buildings are hidden like jewels in among the newer constructions. When your MSC cruise takes you to Brisbane, you’ll discover that the city’s mainstream retail activity is centred around the bustling Queen Street Mall and along Adelaide Street, while Sunday mornings usher in the Riverside Markets at Waterfront Place.
Queen Street is Brisbane’s oldest thoroughfare, the stretch between George and Edward streets a pedestrian mall flanked by multistorey shopping centres. MSC Grand Voyages cruises also offer excursions to Lone Pine Sanctuary. Here, Australian fauna can be seen in its natural state which, in the case of the sanctuary’s 130 or so koalas, means being asleep for eighteen hours a day. In nearby cages you’ll find other slumbering animals, including Tasmanian devils and fruit bats.
Australia Zoo instead became famous through the antics of the late zoo director Steve Irwin, otherwise known for his “Crocodile Hunter” screen persona. The staff continue Irwin’s tradition of exuberant exhibitionism here, and it remains one of the largest and most enjoyable commercial zoos in Australia, with plenty of hands-on experience with foreign and native animals.