Brisbane Travel Guide



For many thousands of years prior to European settlement, the Yagara Aboriginal people lived on the floodplain where the greater Brisbane region is situated. The Australian English phrase "hard yakka" - meaning "hard work" - comes from these people, and is certainly what the European settlers faced in Brisbane's humid sub-tropical climate.

In 1823, John Oxley was the first English colonist to explore Brisbane, which was then selected by the colony of New South Wales as the location for a new jail, intended to house dangerous prisoners in a remote location. The settlement was named "Brisbane" after Sir Thomas Brisbane, the Governor of New South Wales at that time. This original settlement was established in what is now the suburb of Redcliffe but was later moved to a location further down the bay.

A series of major immigration events took place in the following decades which brought with it strong industry and commercial development in the region. In 1837, free settlers moved to the area and pushed to close the jail and to release the land in the area, and in 1859 a gold rush led to the establishment of the colony of Queensland with Brisbane as its capital. Ipswich, a coal-mining centre immediately to the west of Brisbane was initially proposed as the capital city, but was ruled out for being too far upstream with no shipping access.

In 1925, the Queensland State Parliament created the City of Brisbane Act that set up a single government for the city of Brisbane, still the largest metropolitan authority in Australia, and one of the largest in the world by area.

Subsequent years to the present has seen strong immigration into Brisbane and the surrounding region, both domestically and internationally, with large communities from Asia, United Kingdom and New Zealand. This was driven by cheaper house prices than other Australian cities, a pleasant climate and good employment opportunities, especially within the mining and tourism sectors.

Recent years have seen Brisbane go from drought to flooding rains. In the mid-2000s, lower dam levels led to severe water restrictions for residents. The campaign to lower water usage was so successful that the city can boast one of the lowest average water use per resident of any developed city in the world. From 2010-onwards, a number of extremely wet summers has refilled local water supplies and you're not likely to find the tap dry or see any visible signs of the shortage. However, it is still expected you keep your showers relatively brief and expect the locals to be horrified if you walk away from a running tap.


Brisbane has a climate that is enjoyable year-round. When the wet season hits the northern Australian tropics, Brisbane enjoys hot and clear summer days (with afternoon thunderstorms). When winter hits the southern capitals of Sydney and Melbourne sending temperatures into the low teens (°C) Brisbane's climate stays mostly dry and sunny, with daytime temperatures usually remaining above 20°C.

Summer (December–February) humidity is high and daytime temperatures can reach 35°C, with night temperatures rarely dropping below 20°C. Occasional heat waves can raise the temperature in excess of 40°C, however these are not common. Just about any outdoor activity you do at the height of a regular summer day in Brisbane will leave you bathed in sweat. Loose-fitting clothing that protects you from the sun is appropriate attire for most casual activities, and air-conditioning will assure you of a comfortable night's sleep or ride on public transport. Summer storms with hail and heavy rainfall are common in afternoons on hot humid days. They usually pass quickly and often put on a good lightning show.
Autumn (March–May) sees a cool change in Brisbane with average daytime temperatures between 20-30°C. Most tourists not used to a humid climate will find this the best time to visit Brisbane, as the humidity lowers and the region shifts into a more comfortable, dry and sunny weather pattern, perfect for outdoor activities. Night-time temperatures usually drop to 10-20°C, with ambient heat from the day still radiating from the ground, keeping the early evening still warm and comfortable, though a light jacket and jeans might be required later at night.
Winter (June–August) signals the region's dry season, with Brisbane experiencing cool, sunny, cloudless days. Temperatures reach up to 25°C during the day with night-time temperatures rarely dropping below 5°C. The early-morning chill usually disappears by mid-morning and most of the daylight hours are relatively warm, however it is still recommended to have something warm to wear as this is not always the case. The eastern suburbs tend to be cooler as sea breezes blow in from the bay.
Spring (September–November) sees the revitalisation of the city with warmer days and fresh sea breezes coming in from the bay. Weather is similar to Autumn months, with increasing humidity as summer draws closer.

More detailed information on Brisbane Climate and Weather is available online at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology .


The damaging effects of the Queensland sun should not be underestimated. The state has the highest per-capita rate of skin cancer in the world and tourists often come unprepared. On a sunny day in Brisbane, it is common to be sunburnt after as few as 15 minutes under the midday sun, but sunburn can also occur on overcast days. This is not exclusive to summer, but can happen all year round, even in winter.

If you are planning a long day outdoors, always cover up with sunscreen, loose clothing, a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself. Limit your outdoor physical activity in the summer until you are used to the heat. Immediately seek shade or an air-conditioned area and drink plenty of water if you are feeling the effects of heat exhaustion, including headache, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, confusion or fainting.

Visitor centre

The Brisbane Visitor Information Centre and Booking Centre on the Queen Street Mall is open M–Th 09:00–17:30, F 09:00–19:00, Sa 09:00–17:09, Su and public holidays 09:30–16:30 but closed Good Friday and 25 Dec. ☎ +61 7 3006-6290.

source: Wikivoyage

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