Brisbane Lookout, Mount Coot-tha#5 in Best Things To Do in Brisbane
For sweeping views of Queensland's capital, head up to the Brisbane Lookout, Mount Coot-tha. Located 5 miles southwest of Brisbane's city center, this free viewing platform offers more than just a spectacular vantage point: The lookout sits on a 544-acre bushland reserve with several attractions and scores of walking trails.
Start at the observation deck, which features coin-operated telescopes, a gift shop, a restaurant and a cafe. The Kuta Café offers small bites, while the Summit Restaurant & Bar features contemporary Australian fare, such as barramundi (a type of seabass). Past visitors say grabbing a drink at the bar while watching the sunset from the lookout is an amazing way to enjoy the vantage point. However, once you've seen the view, travelers admit there isn't much to do at the lookout. After you've taken advantage of the photo-op, move on to the area's other activities.
Several walking trails start at the lookout (where you'll also find a few nearby picnic areas) and lead to the reserve's other main attraction, the Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mount Coot-tha. The 138-acre gardens are located about 1.5 miles from the lookout on Mount Coot-tha Road at Toowong. Popular walking routes include the Summit Track, the Aboriginal Art Trail, the Simpson Falls Track, the Ghost Hole Track and the Honeyeater Track. Consult the Brisbane City Council's website for a complete trail description and map. Recent visitors warn that the forest terrain is best traversed in sturdy shoes, so leave your flip-flops at the hotel.
The Brisbane Lookout, Mount Coot-tha is open 24 hours a day and is free to visit; note that the restaurant, cafe and gift shop have set opening and closing hours. Charges apply for items purchased on-site and use of the observation deck's telescopes. If you choose to drive to the lookout, you'll find a parking lot steps from the viewing deck on Sir Samuel Griffith Drive. If you don't have your own set of wheels, hop on the No. 471 bus in downtown Brisbane; a bus stop for the route is located alongside the parking lot. To find out more about the Mount-Coot tha Lookout, and view cafe and restaurant menus, check out the website.
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#1 Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mount Coot-tha
After you've admired the sweeping views at the Brisbane Lookout, Mount Coot-tha, walk (or drive) about 1.5 miles northeast to the Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mount Coot-tha. At this 138-acre subtropical conservatory, you'll find a host of native and exotic plants, not to mention the largest collection of Australian rainforest trees in the world. Within the garden you'll come across several themed spaces, including the Japanese Garden, the Lagoon and Bamboo Grove, the Fern House and the Fragrant Plants and Herb Garden – all containing different varieties of plantlife. When you're not admiring the spectacular flora, see if you can spot the fauna: Visitors say you'll likely come across iguanas and other reptiles, not to mention plenty of insects and birds.
Past visitors said the gardens provided a beautiful setting for kids to burn off some energy. The Brisbane City Council also offers a "Hide 'n' Seek Children's Trail" with surprises and facts for youngsters to discover as they make their way through the garden. And do be sure to bring your camera since this outdoor attraction boasts plenty of photo-op-worthy spots, including areas with superb views of the city.
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