Fort Lytton is a pentagonal fortress, built near the mouth of the Brisbane River, erected in 1881 to aid the controlled river mines in defending the Port of Brisbane until the end of the Second World War. It was Brisbane’s front line of defence and is regarded as the birthplace of Queensland military history. The fort is surrounded by a water-filled moat and connected by underground passages (although these underground passages do not appear to be visible anymore). After the Second World War, the fort was no longer deemed ‘useful’ and as such fell into a state of disrepair until Ampol took over the site in 1963 and later became a national park in 1988.
By the turn of the century, the Fort consisted of six gun pits and two machine gun posts. The arsenal included (Most of which can be seen at the Fort either in their original placing or in the historical museum – some of the larger fixed emplacements are replicas now):
- 2x 6 inch BL 5 tonne Armstrong guns
- 2x 6 pounder QF Hotchkiss guns
- 1x 4 barrel 1-inch Nordenfelt machine gun
- 1x 10 barrel 0.45inch Nordenfelt machine gun
- 2x 64 pounder RML guns
The Fort is open every Sunday and on public holidays from 10am until 4pm. Entry fee is $4.50 for adults (includes a tour or self-exploration if you wish) but is a small price to pay for a good afternoon of historical exploration. Additionally (unconfirmed if this is every Sunday or only during certain times throughout the year) they fire one of the cannons three times during the day. When I visit the site the times posted were 11am, 1pm and 3pm. If you’re a budding photographer I would suggest arriving just prior to 11 am to catch the first cannon firing and then after spending the next two hours wandering around and having a bite to eat (great spot for a picnic lunch – portable bbq’s are welcome) it will be time for the second firing. You might be surprised how quick the firing happens, I certainly was!
Update: I’ve been told that they fire the cannons the first Sunday of every month.
Lamington National Park is approximately two hours drive South / South-West of Brisbane, next to Springbrook. Like Springbrook Lamington National Park is covered in luscious green fields and mountains, long, windy roads, and plenty of natural beauty to experience up close and personal. Although the national park occupies a large area and boasts over 160 km of walking trails, one of the more popular areas to visit is O’Reilly’s .
Situated 930 metres above sea level, in the heart of Lamington National Park, O’Reilly’s is a great starting point for discovering the surrounding area. Accessible only via a two way, single lane, road up a windy mountain it would be wise to take your time and enjoy the scenery – ensuring you watch out for the Kangaroos around dusk, as they pop out from the foliage. One thing you will notice while ascending the mountain is the rapid change from bushland to rainforest; suddenly less light is able to penetrate to the road and there is a distinct drop in temperature. Although it can still get fairly hot, I would suggest packing an extra set of warm clothes, just in case, as it does typically tend to be cooler in the rainforest areas.
Although O’Reilly’s has been able to – with marvellous engineering – provide a canopy walk of the rainforest, it is not very long or overly fascinating. Throw in some time feeding the birds at the resort and you may have been able to occupy yourself for an hour or two, but the real rewards await on some of the trail walks. With walks ranging from between 1 km to over 20km, you’re sure to find one to suit you.
One particularly enjoyable track is the Moran’s Falls’ track, which takes you on a leisurely 4.6km (return) through a sub-tropical rainforest to the top of Moran’s Falls’. Although the Moran’s Falls’ track takes you across the waterfall, to a picnic area with spectacular views (see image above), those more daring (ensuring all safety precautions are taken) can follow the stream a bit to the edge of the waterfall. Please do be warned though – this is a very high cliff face and any slip could lead to serious or fatal injuries or death.
Note: Prior to visiting Lamington National Park, as with all National Parks, it is important to check the EPA website for any warnings or closures.
Springbrook is about an hour drive South-West of Surfers Paradise (approximately 2 hours from Brisbane) and is lined with luscious green fields and mountains and is renowned for its waterfalls and natural beauty.
From the moment you leave the M1 and pass through the outer suburbs of Advancetown you are presented with a completely different, more relaxed and peaceful, surrounding. Billboard and tall buildings replaced with tall trees and mountains. Houses after house replaced with long fields of green grass, with the occasional house erected amongst the fields.
During my visit, it had been a fairly overcast and dismal day (as South East Queensland seems to be often lately), however, I was fortunate enough to have had a break in the weather. With the clouds sparingly parting I pushed on with great reward as the sunlight shines through gaps in the cloud, selectively lighting the surround hills, providing spectacular views on a peaceful drive. Unfortunately, I did not take the chance to capture this moment on digital film so I’m hoping that will not be the last time such events occur!
Not only is Springbrook good for visiting, it’s also great for passing through. With long windy roads pathing the way, it’s sure to be a joyful drive for any keen travellers or riders. A word of caution: Some of the roads are hilly with sharp corners and as a result are known black spots.
With plenty to discover in Springbrook and surrounding areas of Binna Burra, Lamington National Park and Natural Bridge this must do will take many full day visits to truly take in all it has to offer. I for one will certainly be revisiting the area on a number of future occasions.
Pumicestone Passage is a narrow channel of shallow sand banks and islands which separate Bribie Island and the mainland. Bribie Island is located approximately an hour and a half’s drive north of Brisbane, Between Redcliffe and the Sunshine Coast.
This must do is not particularly one of my favourites; however, Bribie island is home to numerous parks and surf beaches which would make a great day out for those wishing to bring along the family or simply have a seaside picnic and possibly a swim. There are also a few recreational activities readily available throughout the island. The 150 must do campaign website also suggests taking a tour of Pumicestone Passage aboard the Bribie Island Ferry or exploring the passage on a small hire boat.
The few times that I have been to Bribie Island it appears to be a windy area, with an offshore breeze certain to come in and stir things up of an afternoon. Along with the winds, although the actual parks are luscious and green, some of the surrounding rivers are not the most healthy looking or smelling. However, after all, is said and done, if you are looking to take the family for a BBQ picnic Bribie Island certainly is a place to investigate.
Queen Street Mall is Brisbane CBD’s main shopping strip. Boasting over 700 retailers, five major shopping centres, two department stores and four shopping arcades, Queen Street Mall is host to a large array of retail outlets, restaurants, cafes, bars, cinemas, salons, hotels, and the Conrad Treasury Casino. The mall is located in the heart of the city on Queen Street which ensures it is constantly filled with shoppers and diners alike.
Constantly undergoing upgrades, as with the rest of Brisbane, the mall is ever changing. One reason achievement is the refurbishment of the intersecting Albert Street and the underground busway, giving greater access and more modern feel to the mall. The upgrades have also seen the introduction of regular artists playing both ends of the mall on weekends, along with the more traditional buskers performing shows during the week and on weekend at various times.
Working in the city means regular visits to the mall so this must do is not particularly a big feat for me, but for tourists and visitors of Brisbane shopping at Queen Street Mall is a great way to explore what Brisbane has to offer. With plenty to explore on the mall and with the rest of the CBD within walking distance, it is a great way to start or end a day exploring Brisbane CBD.
Australia Zoo is a wildlife conservation located approximately an hour and a half north of Brisbane, in Beerwah on the Sunshine Coast. It is was the home of the Australian Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin, and is now run by Terri Irwin. One of the first things that you will notice about the zoo is its size. Currently situated on over sixty acres of land, you will have plenty of places to explore throughout the entire day.
Entry fee is $53 per adult and $31 per child or alternatively, a family of four (two adults and two children) pass can be purchased for $157, saving you $11 on entry fees. In my case, I was lucky enough to obtain free entry due to failing EFTPOS machines!
One thing to note about is the car park. There are two car parks; a small one at the front and a larger one at the rear. Due to the fact that only the small car park is visible from the main road, and is always full, it may deter some people from visiting. However, rest assured there is a much larger car park just beyond the front car park, with lots of parking and still only a very short walk from the main entrance.
Along with all the traditional zoo displays, there are three main Exhibitions at Australia Zoo: Tiger Temple, Elephantasia and The Crocoseum. The Crocoseum is the main stage, capable of seating 5,000, and is used for live animal shows and special performances such as Bindi and The Crocmen.
Mt Coot-tha is best known for its spectacular views of Brisbane city from its lookout. Approximately only a short ten-minute drive from the CBD of Brisbane, Mt Coot-tha is a great spot to go for a quick or lengthy visit during the day or at night. Personally, I would recommend going both during the day and at night to see the contrasting landscape as night falls over Brisbane.
On top of the lookout, there is a small café and gift shop, as well as the Summit Restaurant — which can get fairly busy as it is often considered to be a romantic restaurant with great views. The views and romantic feeling of the place are also the reason why you will often find newly weds getting their wedding photos taken on top of the look out.
While the lookout is the star of the show, Mt Coot-tha does have more to offer; Mt Coot-tha is home to the broadcasting stations in Brisbane (including seven, ten and nine) and also has a few parks, treks and picnic areas including JC Slaughter Falls and Simpson Falls. There are also plenty of places to pull over and park on the mountain road, which also offers great views, and tends to be filled with plenty of people during the annual Brisbane RiverFire.