We have just returned to Chiang Mai from Australia where we had so much fun celebrating Christmas and New Year with family and friends. We got to catch up on all the local gossip and sampled all the traditional Christmas treats. Our trip from Thailand to Australia took us to Brisbane before moving on to our home town of Bundaberg Queensland.
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Brisbane is the state capital of Queensland, commonly known as the Sunshine State due to its subtropical climate. The best time to visit Brisbane is during the summer months between December and February.
I have fond memories of Brisbane from my time living there in my early 20’s, a time when Brisbane had the reputation as a sleepy overgrown country town, overshadowed by its more glamorous sisters Sydney and Melbourne.
Brisbane city centre
We visit Brisbane often and you can’t go past the Queen Street Mall and Myer Centre for shopping. There are so many great restaurants to choose from in and around the Queens Street Mall, a local favourite is Jimmy’s on the Mall, the place to sit back, relax and watch the world go by.
For me no visit would be complete without stopping off at one of my favourite places, the Brisbane Arcade. I love shopping in the old-world style of this Art Deco beauty. I take time to admire the exquisite bridal gowns at Darb Bridal Couture, browse the antique jewellery shops and indulge in High Tea upstairs in the charming rose themed Room with Roses.
Another fun area is Eagle Street Pier. With its large selection of restaurants, stunning views of the Brisbane River and Story Bridge it is a much-loved venue for locals. One of our favourites is the Bavarian Bier Café which serves traditional Bavarian food, imported and Australian Beers.
For the adventurous a popular attraction is the Story Bridge adventure climb. The Story Bridge adventure climb it is a great way to learn about the history of the Story Bridge while taking in panoramic views of Brisbane.
Where to Stay in Brisbane
We have stayed at many hotels in Brisbane CBD. Our favourite, the Sofitel is located above Central Railway Station with easy access to Brisbane International and Domestic Airport.
To us the Sofitel is the best hotel in Brisbane, we have stayed there many times. The rooms, award winning restaurants and bars and service are first class. Facilities include club rooms with club lounge access, pool, state of the art gymnasium and spa. The rooms are tastefully decorated, beds and pillows are a dream. We have enjoyed dining at Thyme2 and met friends for drinks and dinner at Harlequin Jack Bistro. Located above Central Railway Station with connections to regional Queensland and Air-train services to the Domestic and International Airport.
The Capri by Fraser
We discovered the Capri by Fraser on our last trip to Brisbane. We stayed in a stylishly decorated studio with a well-equipped kitchenette, microwave and Nespresso machine. The room had a work station and the bed and pillows were comfortable and we enjoyed a good night’s sleep. The hotel facilities include indoor swimming pool, fitness centre and sauna. The hotel feature club rooms with access to club lounge facilities. Asana by Chef Pete Evans serve nutritious meals that feature the best of local Queensland produce. The Capri by Fraser is within walking distance to the CBD and the Botanical Gardens.
South Bank Brisbane
Crossing the Victoria Bridge from Brisbane CBD you will come to South Bank, Brisbane’s cultural hub and playground.
The Queensland Performing Arts Centre stages the latest ballet, theatre, and concert performances and has a range of fine dining options on site.
Queensland Art Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art are the places to view art from around the world. With permanent and visiting exhibitions you will find that art comes in many surprising forms.
The Queensland Museum and Science Centre is one of my favourite places, not only do you learn more about the natural world but it gives you a glimpse into the past, add the Science Centre and you have a winner for young and old.
The State Library of Queensland has an extensive First World War database containing photographs, letters, photos, diaries and interactive time lines of the War, invaluable for those researching family history.
South Bank Parklands
South Bank Parklands is a 17-hectare expanse of gardens. The Parklands contain walkways, barbecue and picnic areas and comes complete with its own beach, a haven for families on Brisbane’s hot summer days.
The Wheel of Brisbane towers over the Parklands and is a great way to get a bird’s eye view of this fantastic city. The Wheel of Brisbane is spectacular at night when its lights shine across the Brisbane River.
South Bank Parklands has a huge range of cafés, bars and restaurants with a selection of International of cuisines on offer and is a popular meeting place on the weekends.
The Collective Markets are held each weekend from Friday evening through Saturday and Sunday. The Collective Markets sell a range of funky arts and crafts, fashion and home wares.
From South Bank take the CityCat Ferry and explore the Brisbane River. A popular stop is Regatta, the home of Brisbane’s iconic Regatta Hotel. This Grand Lady of the Brisbane River has been a Sunday afternoon meeting place for generations.
Where to Stay at South Bank
We have stayed at South Bank twice now and have found it within easy reach of the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, where we have attended concerts and graduations. We can highly recommend the following hotels.
Rydges South Bank
We enjoyed our stay at Rydges South Bank. Our room had a separate lounge/dining area with a fold out sofa bed, kitchenette and microwave. Both beds and pillows were comfortable and the room modern. The Staff were friendly and welcoming. Rydges facilities include onsite restaurant, pool fitness room and sauna.
Rydges South Bank is in an excellent location, walking distance to Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Queensland Museum and Science Centre and South Bank Parklands.
Mantra South Bank
We stayed in a one bedroom apartment at Manta South Bank. The apartment was small but well equipped with a kitchen. The Staff were friendly and welcoming and we enjoyed our stay here. The bed and pillows were comfortable and the room nicely decorated. Mantra’s facilities include onsite restaurant and bar, pool and fitness room.
Mantra South Bank is in an excellent location, walking distance to Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Queensland Museum and Science Centre and South Bank Parklands.
Arriving in Bundaberg we were excited to be home with family over the Christmas/New Year period. We met friends for lunch at the very popular Spotted Dog Tavern and caught up on all the gossip. We enjoyed days at the beach, kicking back with coffee and cake at Rock Latino Café Bargara Beach.
Bundaberg famous for Bundaberg Rum, Mon Repos Turtle Rookery and is gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. The city is surrounded by picturesque Sugarcane fields and its long coastline is home to pristine beaches.
Click here to read more about Bundaberg and the Great Barrier Reef…
Our time in Australia went quickly and soon it was time to return to our second “home” in Chiang Mai Thailand. Leaving family is always difficult and we sometimes feel we leave our hearts in two countries.
Chiang Mai Changes
This time returning to Chiang Mai felt very different, our beloved home for the past year, Peaks Garden Condominium had been rented and we were returning to Chiang Mai homeless, I must admit it was a little scary.
Fortunately, we secured an apartment in Siri Condominium in the trendy Nimmanhaemin area of Chiang Mai. Now we have a cosy one bedroom apartment with views overlooking Doi Suthep Mountain and it feels very much like home.
Highlights of this condominium are the gym, pool and a spectacular rooftop terrace with views overlooking Chiang Mai. The rooftop terrace is the perfect place to sit back with a cool drink to watch the sunset over the surrounding mountains.
Nimmanhaemin is a very popular on area for young Thai’s, Expats and tourists. Nimman has a thriving restaurant and café culture and is within walking distance to Maya and Kad Suan Kaew shopping Malls. Nimmanhaemin is on a flight path so can get noisy but we found that once the windows and doors of our Condominium are closed the noise was greatly reduced.
We are love our new apartment and enjoy meeting up with friends in this fascinating city.
Where to Next?
Now that we are back after our trip from Thailand to Australia, we will enjoy a couple of months in getting to know our new neighbourhood in Chiang Mai.
Our next stop will be the United Kingdom, where we begin our next round of house sitting assignments. We have house sitting assignments booked over the next few months that will take us to Bristol, Stowmarket and we will be returning to some of our favourite animals on the Black Isle in Scotland. We enjoy this lifestyle as it gives us a chance to enjoy pet company while exploring the new regions living like locals.
To learn more about this lifestyle read our House and Pet Sitting story…
So, as you can see this looks like the start of another busy year of lifestyle travel, full of new travel experiences. We look forward to sharing our adventures with you.