A few days in BrisVegas? Plan your BILTANZ trip

BILTANZ 2018 will for the first time be held in Brisbane – at the Royal International Convention Centre from 24-26 May. The conference accommodation will be right across the street at Rydges Fortitude Valley.  The venue is a part of the Brisbane Showgrounds, a historic area which is also now undergoing redevelopment with a whole street of new bars and restaurants having opened recently around the corner on King Street.

If you are coming from out of town and haven’t been to Brisbane before (or even in a while) you might be wondering if its worth adding a few extra days onto your trip to check out BrisVegas.  If you are from overseas, you might be wondering what the heck?   BrisVegas has become a common term, perhaps of affection, and I decided to consult google to find out where the term had originated.  I had not expected so much hot debate.  Let’s just say lost to the mists of time (the early 90’s), the term BrisVegas likely started out as an ironic poke at Brisbane’s lack of nightlight life and single casino (even poker machines weren’t allowed in Brisbane back then).

Not so today.  Whilst standing outside the conference hotel, you might wonder where the nightlife is, the heart of Fortitude Valley, Brisbane’s nightlife scene is just 15 minutes walk from the hotel.  And being a Sydney sider (home of the antinightlife lockout), I can say that these days Brisbane’s nightlife seems to be busier than Sydney’s! For several blocks, clubs such as the long lived Cloudland, small whiskey bars, through to large barn pubs line the streets (the main strip of which is pedestrianised).  Follow King St down the hill and you are sure to find a pub, bar or club that suits your tastes.

If you actually have some daytime to spare (before or after the conference of course), Southbank is the main destination within the city.  Stretching along the water front opposite the main business district, Southbank is a large parkland (complete with fake beach) with galleries, theatres and a number of restaurants areas.  There are often special events, markets and exhibitions taking place throughout the venues and parkland.  There is also now a ferris wheel (the local equivalent of the London Eye) for views out over Brissy.

Southbank is a great point for starting a walk or cycle along the River. Via multiple bridges you can link back into the CBD (I’d pick the one that takes you to the Botanic Gardens) and further afield to explore Brisbane’s suburbs.  Many of the inner city suburbs are worth exploring if you have just a few hours up your sleeve.  My pick would be New Farm and in particular the Brisbane Powerhouse.  A converted historic powerhouse which is an arts and cultural venue, its a fantastic place just to explore even if you are not seeing a show.  New Farm itself has a great range of restaurants, cafes and bars or you can picnic at New Farm Park.

If you have further time to explore and want more ideas, Visit Brisbane is the city’s main tourism website.  If you are planning a longer stay, (in particular for our international guests), Brisbane is also just one hours drive from the Gold Coast and two hours from the Sunshine Coast, where you will find beaches, fun parks and lots more to do.


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